The start of a year is a great time to make resolutions. In the Knowledge Bank office there were plenty of resolutions that we will definitely keep beyond January. One resolution that we’re hoping each and every broker is making is to decide this is the year they ditch the spreadsheet.

Tracking criteria changes by calling lenders and updating spreadsheets has become virtually impossible over the past few years. Lenders are constantly updating product ranges and with 46,000 criteria changes in 2021, trying to keep these up-to-date on spreadsheets is virtually impossible.

Emphasising the point perfectly, January was a busy month for criteria changes. Buy-to-let products were refreshed by four lenders and a further two added their criteria to the Knowledge Bank platform.

Let’s dive into the key changes.

Week one – WC 3rd January

If the start of 2022 is any indication of the year ahead, the next twelve months will be filled with criteria changes.

The year started with updates and rate reductions across a range of sectors. Skipton International loosened its lending criteria for UK buy-to-let mortgages for overseas residents. The change in criteria allows rental income cover to be 110%, rather than the standard 125%, on loans over £250,000.

House prices continued to rise in January and in response, United Trust Bank increased its maximum mortgage size for first-charge residential loans to £1m, up from £750,000.

January also had a range of lenders adding their criteria to Knowledge Bank, and the first of these was commercial property finance lender, JMT Finance Ltd. JMT is a privately owned and funded commercial property lender and is able to offer 80% LTV.

Week two – WC 10th January

The second week of January started with Habito enhancing its loan to income (LTI) criteria for its fixed-for-life Habito One mortgage, with eligible applicants now able to borrow up to seven-times their salary.

To qualify for Habito’s enhanced LTI, applicants must work in specific professional fields, including emergency services, teaching, accountancy, law and surveying, as well as earning a minimum basic salary of £25,000 per annum.

Accord increased maximum LTV for flats and will now offer 90% LTV on new build flats and 95% LTV on non-new build flats.

There was further good news for first-time buyers and those with smaller deposits as Loughborough Building Society launched a 95% LTV joint borrower sole proprietor product.

Vida undertook a brand refresh, which includes making a number of changes, such as expanding its offering from ninety products to more than 270. The lender announced the changes to reflect its aim to provide brokers and clients with solutions to complex needs.

There was also important news in the commercial mortgage market. As part of its new wider short-term funding offering, Tuscan Capital entered the commercial lending market with the launch of its first-ever product dedicated to property landlords and developers.

Week three – WC 17th January

The third week of the year started with good news for brokers working with disabled borrowers. Halifax and Scottish Widows increased the percentage of Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment incomes used in their affordability calculation from 60% to 100% for residential applications.

There was also positive news for self-employed borrowers as Suffolk Building Society announced it will now use share of net profit after tax, plus salary for freelance applicants.

Pepper Money made some changes to buy-to-let criteria. Key amongst the changes was reducing minimum income requirements to £15,000 for existing landlords, and lifting some restrictions for limited companies.

Barclays launched new products as part of its Green Home Mortgage range so customers buying an energy efficient new build home-to-let can be rewarded with a lower rate.
After a successful test scheme, Newcastle Building Society has issued a new range of First Homes products. The First Homes scheme is a government programme that offers buyers a discount of at least 30% on new build homes to local first-time buyers and key workers.

Week four – WC 24th January

The final week of January featured a range of new buy-to-let products and criteria changes. The rental market in the UK remains buoyant as demand for properties remains incredibly high and lenders are reacting to the interest in the market.

Firstly, West One’s buy-to-let division launched a range of new products for landlords, including increased loan sizes and two new limited-edition products for Houses in Multiple Occupancy.

Market Financial Solutions (MFS) then introduced new buy-to-let mortgage products. These included a new maximum loan size of £3m and increased portfolio lending to £10m. MFS also made existing deals that were previously piloted to 17 intermediary partners in October 2021 available to all brokers and direct clients.

Finally, Kent Reliance for Intermediaries replaced its buy-to-let products with a completely new range which includes no maximum limit on products with up to 85% LTV.
The month ended with news of another lender adding its criteria to Knowledge Bank. Sancus, the specialist property, bridging and development lender joined the Knowledge Bank platform as a short-term property finance provider.

January was an exceptionally busy month in the Knowledge Bank office. Two new lenders had their criteria added to the platform, taking the total number of lenders on the search system to over 270. There was a raft of changes to criteria in the month and plenty of new buy-to-let products. If January is an indication of what is to come, then there is one resolution that definitely needs to stick this year. It is time to ditch the spreadsheet.

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