Trying to broker a mortgage case in this era of regulatory and lender scrutiny is almost as frightening as a Freddy Krueger movie, but there is one reason why you should never be afraid, writes Prolific Mortgages managing director Lea Karasavvas.
"Whether you are on a train, walking down the street or in a Marks & Spencer (hang on, we stopped shopping there post credit crunch - make that Tesco), mortgage brokers stick out like sore thumbs.
Why? They are the ones with the unsightly bruises on their faces. The ones walking on crutches, or with a plaster cast on their arm.
They are hunched over, their posture is all wrong, or they are limping. Long story short, they are the injured amongst us.
Why broking a mortgage case today is as petrifying as a Freddy Krueger movie
When the credit crunch hit in early 2008 we looked around and thought: 'some of us are not going to make it', and many didn't. Some of us, not all, got through it and lived to fight another day, but we saw the number of brokers fall to a low of around 8,000.
Now, we find ourselves at this junction again. Criteria changes, broker rates not being comparative when you look at the direct deals, and now the recent reductions in proc fees too.
Let's face it, we have taken a beating over the last few months. Some senior people in the industry have even asked whether there is a role for the mortgage broker in today's market.
In a rapidly changing market there is nothing more important than advice. Gone are the days when mortgage broking was simple. Every case is now a puzzle and we are the ones that must complete that puzzle. Sure, sometimes we get the wrong piece, but put it down, pick up another and find the one that fits.
If mortgages were as simple as finding the lowest rate, we would all be out of a job. That is a fact.
However, the role of a mortgage broker is so much more than that. Credit profile, income streams, property exposure, unusual build types, agricultural ties, live/work units, there are so many hurdles in this industry, and so many the public know nothing about. But we do.
We find ourselves at a point where some are questioning their ability to survive and brokers nationwide should be telling themselves that if we are still in the industry now, if we are still broking mortgages, it is because we are damn good at what we do.
It is also because people value our advice. Targets for lenders rise and fall, and right now it is clear that direct business is below target and is being compensated for, but when this is back up to target, our own intermediary offering will become more attractive again.
I speak to many brokers that lose sleep over cases. You are taking that stress away from that client and it is only right that by taking that stress away, you are remunerated for it. If lenders want to reduce/abolish proc fees, then fine. We will charge because, as Cheryl Cole puts it, we are 'worth it'.
Freddy Krueger - remember him? - turned many of our dreams to nightmares in the 80s, and right now it seems some cases are proving more scary even than that.
However, like in most horror films, the good guys always win and so long as we are giving, honest, helpful advice to our clients, we are taking away their stresses and getting them to where they want to be. We will pull through whatever this industry throws at us.
Next time someone questions your fee, or what it exactly you do, or even the next time you feel an element of self doubt, think about the stress and anxiety you put yourself through to get that case offered and completed, and be proud of the work you've done and the service you've provided.
This job is no walk in the park anymore, but the sense of satisfaction on that day of completion makes it so worthwhile, and makes you worthwhile to that client.
Now go and broke like you have never brokered before."
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