Taking out a mortgage from bank staff shirking from home was a nightmare

When I first started out as a buy-to-let investor, getting a mortgage was easier than buying a pint of milk. 

They were heady, dizzying days, and it’s crazy when I think back to how things were. You could buy a property in the morning and remortgage it in the afternoon for more money.

Obviously, such insanity could not last – which was one of the reasons why we had the financial crisis.

Fast forward another decade and a heap of regulation to tighten up such farcical behaviour, and we enter a new era of lending. When apparently banks want to lend (and the government is begging them to), but seemingly not without knowing your blood group, previous sexual partners and what your mother had for breakfast. 

Two months ago, I started a mortgage application for a property that has been in my portfolio for ten years. It is owned in a company with a small mortgage and the five-year fixed rate deal was expiring. 

I called up the current lender and asked them what my new rate would be. Their response surprised me: they said they could not give me any details as they only dealt with brokers. My protestation of being a current client and that I didn’t want any additional borrowing, just a product switch option, fell on deaf ears. Go to a broker they said. I did, and the broker found me a better priced deal. And so, the remortgage debacle commenced.

I have previously dealt with this lender, and it knows I have a clean track record. But to assist the bank in their decision I have had to provide not only the last three months personal bank statements, but also my personal property portfolio, my credit report (the fully comprehensive one from three different agencies), my personal spending, my tax year overviews, my SA302s and now my SA100s (this is my full tax return). 

Over the last two months I have been quizzed about my personal spending (what has my Netflix subscription got to do with this?), asked to provide a detailed history as to how I obtained the wealth to build the portfolio (twenty years of hard graft!) and why my husband changed jobs last year. The level of inanity is mind-boggling. 

This is the result of post-pandemic-but-still-working-from-home lending decisions. 

Dom Sheahan, of broker The Mortgage Branch, said: “What’s happened is that usually an underwriting team would be in an open plan office, all helping each other. Now, they’re all sat at home in their underpants, not wanting to WhatsApp Dave the senior team leader, so just ask for another document… just in case.”

That is the reason why such crazy inane questions are being levelled at anybody who is trying to get a mortgage. Knowing this doesn’t make my life any easier, but at least I can now understand why this level of detail is being requested. 

Obviously, the image of a mansplaining-underpants-wearing-(hopefully)-underwriter-too-scared-to-text-the-boss is not something I wish to conjure too often, but it has enabled me to have a bit more patience with this ridiculously drawn-out process.  

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