Speed-focused lenders help buyers get ahead of the queue

David Castling, head of intermediary distribution at Atom Bank, discusses the importance of speed as increased levels of demand translate into greater competition in the mortgage market.

Related topics:  Blogs,  Mortgages
David Castling | Atom Bank
2nd April 2024
David Castling Atom Bank
"Those prospective purchasers need to know that when they spot the right property they will be able to get the required funding in place swiftly"

It has been a positive start to 2024, a fact made clear by the latest data from property portal Rightmove which found that buyer demand is currently 8% higher than it was at the same point last year.

That demand is actively leading to greater numbers of transactions too, with sales up by 13% annually.

Those are significant improvements, even allowing for the fact that 2023 started in a rather subdued manner given the chaos that followed the mini-Budget.

The healthier activity levels seen in the first few months of the year is down to a greater level of confidence among buyers, who have seen mortgage rates drop noticeably in recent months. Combine this with average asking prices remaining lower than the peak of May 2023, and the door has been opened for purchasers to secure a better value deal.

It’s not just buyers who are feeling reassured by the more competitive pricing, but remortgagors too, who are better placed to take advantage of the rates on offer.

This represents a welcome outbreak of positivity and optimism given some of the challenges faced by the market over the last few years. With rates expected to fall still further this year, perhaps just a taster of the even greater activity levels that lie ahead.

Beating the competition

That increased level of demand translates into greater competition, however. When a decent property hits the market, there will now be far more interested parties not only taking a look but potentially putting down an offer.

As a result, the ability to move quickly has become even more important.

Those prospective purchasers need to know that when they spot the right property they will be able to get the required funding in place swiftly, allowing them to push on with their offer and secure the keys to their next home.

Buyers of all kinds, whether first-timers or those with plenty of property experience behind them, know that the longer the process takes, the greater the chances of a rival stepping in and outbidding you, causing the deal to collapse.

The need for speed

Given this, it’s crucial for mortgage lenders to be able to deliver on speed. If they can provide a speedy response then the borrower avoids those sleepless nights, worrying about whether they will be able to secure that mortgage or what they may need to do if the response to their initial application is a negative one.

There’s an impact on brokers too. When clients are left too long without a response to their application, they will understandably turn to their broker for answers, which means the intermediary has to set aside time each day to chase for updates.

It’s because of this that Atom bank has worked extensively on refining our processes so that we can trim the timescales involved significantly, delivering greater certainty at speed to both borrowers and brokers.

We’ve seen great results too, with around a quarter of applicants getting an answer the very same day, and one in three getting a response within two days. That industry-leading speed is just what would-be buyers need in the current market, and means brokers have more time at their disposal, rather than having to chase up lenders.

What matters to brokers and borrowers?

This has not been about speed for speed’s own sake. The changes we have made at Atom bank have been motivated by our understanding of what really matters to brokers and borrowers, what they need from a lender.

We know that a faster, more efficient process delivers significant benefits to all stakeholders, which is why we have dedicated so much time and resource towards delivering it.

At its heart this comes down to recognising what really matters to those we work with, and this attitude has led to the strong relationship Atom bank enjoys with intermediaries.

Ultimately there is more to the advice process than simply pinpointing the lowest rate - brokers will also take into account the service on offer, and how smooth the experience will be for their client.

Given the growing activity levels in the purchase market, it is lenders who can combine competitive pricing with that swift process who will stand out from the crowd.

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