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Specialist underwriting: the value of a personal approach to Buy-to-Let lending

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Charles McDowell


Author Icon

Charles McDowell


How lenders can help intermediaries to successfully navigate changes in the Buy-to-Let market.

How lenders can help intermediaries to successfully navigate changes in the Buy-to-Let market

In the wider context of the UK economy, the mortgage industry is playing an important and exciting role. Yet, the Private Rental Sector is certainly in unchartered waters. With changes to mortgage interest tax relief being phased in until 2021 and stricter mortgage affordability checks in place from 30 September.

At Aldermore, because we’re a specialist lender in the Buy-to-Let market, we can help brokers and landlords through our expert manual underwriting and personal approach. To support this we have focused our efforts in product development to ensure ourselves, brokers, and landlords, are not only prepared to meet these required changes, but are still able to progress portfolio plans.

What do the changes actually mean?

Last year, the Prudential Regulation Authority (part of the Bank of England) announced it would introduce tougher requirements for Buy-to-Let borrowers. We all know that these new rules require landlords to bring in higher levels of rent relative to their mortgage costs and those with four or more mortgaged Buy-to-Let properties will face additional stress testing. Simply put, more stringent affordability assessments and in-depth portfolio evaluations.

Lenders across the market will start applying a more specialist underwriting approach. As we’re a specialist lender that already has experts underwriting applications for all types of landlords, we’ll continue to support the Buy-to-Let market to ensure landlords and companies can continue to invest in Private Rental Sector or refinance their portfolios effectively.

We understand that there is limited support out there for brokers and landlords who need to adapt to these changes in an already turbulent market. To support you and your clients, we have created short guides for landlords and brokers. We also outlined our approach to the new standards in the summer and introduced new document templates before the implementation deadline to make providing additional information easier.

Why Aldermore?

We work differently to other mortgage lenders. We are agile and committed to providing excellent service for brokers and Buy-to-Let landlords with portfolios of all shapes and sizes.

We consider all the facts, taking personal circumstances into account, assessing each case on its own merits, and making decisions on credit worthiness through individual underwriting not just via automated credit scoring algorithms.

Our product range

At Aldermore, we have a wide range of flexible options available for professional landlords, so we can help you to help your clients.

From standard flats or houses, multi-unit freeholds, and HMOs for individuals and companies, our expert underwriters will assess each case individually and give you updates at key stages of the application. We publish our current underwriting and offer timescales at so you know what to expect from us.

We’ve refreshed our Buy-to-Let range and added more flexible fee options so landlords can minimise their upfront costs. We’ve also introduced a 5 year fixed Portfolio Remortgage product for individual landlords remortgaging standard flats or houses with no product, application, valuation or legal fees to pay. These rates include a 0.2% discount on our 5 year fixed fee free remortgage only rates, for your clients with an existing Aldermore mortgage, or new customers submitting a second or subsequent application(s).

Furthermore, higher overpayments are now accepted. Previously, overpayments were capped at £5,000 per year, but now your clients will be able to overpay up to 10% of the outstanding mortgage balance in any 12 month period not to mention lower early repayment charges on new purchases and remortgages.

No portfolio limits

With talk of interest rate rises on the horizon, now might be the right time for clients to remortgage to secure financial stability over the next few years. If your clients have other properties with other lenders, you could apply to remortgage them all with us as we have no background portfolio limits.

Buy-to-Let still a great investment

Despite the added regulation, for landlords serious about Buy-to-Let, it can still prove to be a positive long term investment as the UK rental market has shown no signs of slowing down in 2017 so far. The perpetual property supply and demand issue sees the rental sector increasingly recognised as integral, so the Buy-to-Let mortgage sector will continue to be a significant part of the UK housing and mortgage markets. We remain committed to the Buy-to-Let market, doing everything we can to support brokers and landlords and we hope they will too.

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Charles McDowell


Charles McDowell is the Commercial Director for Mortgages at Aldermore and has worked in financial services for over 15 years across a number of disciplines within the sector. He joined Aldermore as Group Financial Controller to support the Bank’s premium listing on the London Stock Exchange and inclusion within the FTSE250. In his current role he is responsible for driving the products and propositions strategy of Aldermore’s mortgages business across Commercial, Buy to Let, Residential and Property Development.