With an estimated £10 - 15 million worth of enquiries and upwards of 15 valuations instructed as a direct result of the Only Bridging Workshops, B&C Distributor caught up with the duo behind the seminars, Simon Juniper, Director at Only Bridging, and Roger Morris, Sales Director at Precise Mortgages, as well as some of the delegates who attended the sessions and gave us their thoughts…
B&C Distributor was lucky enough to be invited to attend the seventh jam-packed workshop in Southampton which had a room full of attendants who were looking to expand their portfolio and increase their incomes by gaining a better understanding of the bridging market.
Kicking off the lunchtime session, Simon began talking to the room about the benefits of using a packager who knows exactly what lenders want. He told the audience that words like ‘maybe’, ‘probably’ or ‘I think’ on initial applications will almost certainly lead to a decline as lenders need to know definitive information right at the outset.
Simon advised brokers to spend a little more time at the pre-application stage to ensure that all the information that the lender might need is fully disclosed at the outset.
Whilst on this subject, a broker in the room shared a bad experience he had had with a bridging lender which he believed fell through because they kept requesting more information. This meant the terms and conditions were continually growing, so the broker ultimately sought an alternative financier because he felt that the initial lender was never satisfied that all their information requirements were met.
However, Simon told us this is one of the biggest misconceptions about bridging. He said: “Brokers perceive bridging lenders as the ones moving the goal posts during a deal but when a broker is to provide additional information about the client further down the line, the lender has little choice but to amend the terms of the deal.”
And as Simon explained on the day, this is where the benefits of using a packager lie, as they know exactly what is required. The brokers in the room noted that the most important elements when selecting a lender for their client is good communication, so that they are constantly aware of the progress of the deal.
Simon added: “We can genuinely help the client out because we will immediately know which lender will have an appetite for the deal.”
With this level of lender knowledge, Simon provided a cautionary message to the broker audience. He explained that that there have been occasions when brokers have declined his quote on the basis that it is too expensive. However, inexperienced brokers often get misled by headline rates which aren’t always applicable to every case as the very nature of bridging means that every deal is different. He further highlighted that packagers, with their wealth of lender relationships, often have access to exclusive rates.
Stealing the spotlight from Simon for the second half of the session, Roger Morris began his presentation with a poignant statement, giving the room a huge confidence boost: “If the last few years haven’t been the best, you’ve not been working the market properly. Two thirds of broker competition has fallen out of the market so whether you intend to or not, you will be writing more business.”
Roger offered constructive ways for brokers to maximise the amount of business they do into the year ahead. He told the audience that they are in the wrong business if they are conducting tasks in avoidance of contacting potential clients. But, what should brokers actually be doing?
“If you’re not good at talking on the phone, employ someone to do this for you – it’s all about relationships,” he said.
Further encouraging brokers to be more pro-active in their marketing, Roger added: “Brokers who send out emails to a database of contacts will get a huge spike in enquiries. Sunday morning is the most receptive time for families as this is when the financial decision makers are usually home. You have to market yourself, or how will anyone know what you have to offer?”
Thinking outside the box for referrals was also one of Roger’s key messages: “An underestimated positive sales tool is the Yellow Pages – write to builders and developers telling them you have access to unlimited funds for financing their projects.”
Roger said that letting agents also provide huge scope for income as they come across streams of people who require properties in a specific areas.
“Set yourself a target and work backwards from it. Mark off all holidays and the times of the year your audience is likely to be the least responsive. Break this down monthly, then weekly and set small goals.”
As a landlord himself, Roger is aware of the challenges property investors face and is thus able to mentor brokers through these funding obstacles.
What happens next?
Both Simon and Roger told us that at each session they were met with brokers from a diverse range of professional backgrounds, some of which had a reasonable understanding of the market and others that had never done a bridging deal before.
We asked whether Only Bridging would run future sessions to cater for the different levels of knowledge, to which Simon said: “It was brilliant seeing someone who knew nothing about the market get the information they needed to get their deals done – not only by us but their peers in the room. The sessions allowed those from a number of backgrounds to learn from one another’s personal experiences, which gave an added reality to the presentation.”
Simon said that after the sessions he is always available for the delegates to speak to if they have any queries, day or night. Stressing just how important this post-session contact is, Simon added: “If we’re in front of 200 people, it would be criminal not to offer aftercare support. We’ve given the delegates our presentation on a disk and our sales director is following up with the information the brokers requested.”
The overwhelming concerns from the brokers we spoke to at the session regarded service levels and speed as the most important priorities to them in a bridging deal, above any commissions. With the help of Roger and Simon in their workshops and continued aftercare, the broker community should feel a sense of confidence in their bridging deals in the year ahead.
The brokers we spoke to all came for one thing – knowledge – and it would appear that brokers were excited about the new opportunities Simon and Roger have presented to them.
Only Bridging is planning to conduct further advanced sessions, tailored specifically to the feedback of the attendants. Simon said: “After finding out exactly what brokers want, we are now equipped to offer more improved seminars – we’re also looking to go to even more places up and down the country.”
Simon exclusively revealed to B&C that the next round of seminars will have their very own theme... watch this space for the official announcement!