COVID-19 shifts customer’s borrowing priorities, study finds

The pandemic has shifted the priorities of customers when it comes to looking for a mortgage lender, according to a new study from Masthaven Bank.

Masthaven surveyed 186 brokers and found that eight in ten (79%) say flexible lending criteria is now a bigger priority for customers compared to pre-pandemic times.

According to the research, other factors which have significantly increased in importance are speed (56%), flexible product features (54%) and customer service (52%). Only 26% of brokers said low rates were more important now than pre-COVID.

Masthaven suggested the greater emphasis on the importance of flexible lending criteria was also highlighted by 28% of brokers expecting to see more borrowers financially impacted by COVID-19 in the next 12 months, including customers who took mortgage payment holidays, those who have been furloughed or those have been put on the government jobs support scheme.

A further 19% said they expected more business from borrowers with an impaired credit history.

Masthaven director of intermediaries, Rob Barnard, said the findings show that borrowers “no longer just want low rates from their lenders”.

“They want flexibility, efficiency and good customer service and there’s no doubt that the pandemic has been a major driver behind this shift in priorities,” Barnard commented.

“With so many borrowers financially impacted by COVID-19, many of these individuals are now looking for lenders who have a personal and flexible approach to lending to help them meet their needs.

“While lockdown restrictions may have come to an end, the future still looks uncertain and the full extent of the impact of the pandemic is yet to be felt. However, the housing market has proved itself to be resilient, and by working together, lenders and brokers can ensure borrowers have access to the flexible products they want and need.”

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