‘Visa’ searches revealed as 2020’s top mortgage criteria search by L&G

Mortgage searches relating to buyers with a “visa” was the number one criteria search among advisers in 2020, according to data from Legal & General Mortgage Club’s SmartrCriteria tool.

The mortgage club suggested the rise in visa-related enquiries could be attributed to several factors including the weaker pound, increased interest from Hong Kong-based buyers as well as the uncertainty facing EU nationals and expats being able to qualify for a mortgage post-Brexit.

Revealing the top five searches across the mortgage market in 2020, L&G Mortgage Club stated that the second most searched criteria related to the “maximum age” a lender would lend to a customer. The club said this could have been driven by older borrowers, including those seeking to downsize, or those who were looking to benefit from the stamp duty holiday.

The third highest mortgage criteria search related to buyers interested in taking out their first buy-to-let mortgage. The club suggested that this popularity could also be explained by landlords looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday as well as the rise in “holiday lets”, which was the fourth most searched mortgage criteria in 2020 by advisers.

SmartrCriteria’s data also revealed the fifth highest search in 2020 belonged to “expats who were not in the UK”, which the mortgage club suggested that in addition to the rise in visa searches, showed that overseas buyers were reacting to several factors across the UK housing market.

Head of mortgage transformation and operations, Clare Beardmore, commented: “As demand and complexity increases along the home buying journey, advisers are embracing new technologies like SmartrCriteria.

“As housing transactions are taking longer to complete, upwards of 17 weeks since the pandemic, narrowing down the types of lenders that will accept a client is crucial to delivering a quick outcome for customers. Technology is absolutely critical to addressing this challenge.”

SmartrCriteria was launched by L&G in January 2019 and as of its two-year anniversary this week, the tool has over 7,500 registered advisers.

“The insights that SmartrCriteria have given us these past two years have been invaluable as we continue to develop new tools that push our industry forward and emerging insights through adding affordability will provide even more exciting insights going forward,” Beardmore added.

“Last year’s top searches also highlight that despite ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic, the mortgage market remains open to all types of borrowers. There are clearly options for many borrowers, whatever their circumstances and speaking to an independent mortgage adviser who can help borrowers to navigate the available products should be everyone’s first step.”

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