Listening to Alison Platt, CEO of Countrywide, giving a talk at an industry event last week it was clear that, for them, the £15bn of mortgages their associates wrote this year is a central, significant and guarded part of their income. Indeed no one knows buyers like agents yet the agent/in house broker/borrower relationship has become besmirched. Anyone asked whether they need a mortgage by an estate agent now associates that with dodgy practice – which it’s not.
Data protection stops in house mortgage brokers telling the sales staff what the applicant can actually afford but everyone is working towards the same goal so long as they know what they’re being offered, and most buyers should take the advice offered in good faith.
Whilst in house brokers have suffered, independent brokers now dominate and yet, for some reason, have equally been hampered by the belief that they’re expensive. Luckily they’re not and, as personal bitter experience has showed, they can easily be worth their weight in gold – especially when measured against what your time is worth.
What I am perhaps not so sure about is how modern brokers actually make it easy to be in contact and talk. Most good ones don’t care if you’re borrowing £50k or £5m and will dispense free advice, in the first instance, on an equal basis. So the ability to have a simple Skype/facebook/gotomeeting button on broker, or even associated agent, websites would surely be a massive step forward. Even if a searching punter couldn’t get an immediate face to face, and I understand the resource issue, then it is possible to book a qualified appointment into a broker’s diary online or even give a one-way interview with questions preselected so the applicant is better qualified immediately and the broker even better informed. We use these one-way interviews at Viewber and it’s a massive help when our Viewbers are going through the vetting process. Actually seeing them answer questions gives us an extra way of vetting them.
In an age of easy visual connectivity [how many people do you see wandering down the street facetiming these days], and given 70% of human communication is visually transmitted, this would surely seem the next way for savvy brokers to be offering their services out in an increasingly competitive market.