The Government announced a third national lockdown that began at midnight on the 6 January 2021. Following advice from our valuation provider we are pleased to advise that physical valuations remain available during this lockdown and we will continue to accept applications for properties.
Keeping your clients safe
Our valuation provider will contact your clients to arrange a physical valuation. As part of the booking process, our valuation provider will carry out a risk assessment to check that it is safe to visit the property and that clients are happy to have a valuer in their home.
If we're unable to obtain a physical valuation we can provide a desktop valuation option. Please note that when we calculate the amount we can lend, this will be based on 95% of the desktop valuation.
How do I contact you?
We remain open for business and the vast majority of our staff are now able to work from home. We’re available across the usual channels
How are you conducting property valuations?
Our number one priority is the health and safety of customers and the valuers who visit their homes. Our valuation provider will carry out a risk assessment to check that it’s safe to visit a property and that clients are happy to have a valuer in their home. Valuers will follow the Government guidance, wear the appropriate PPE throughout the valuation and take a number of precautions to minimise additional risk.
While most clients are opting for a physical valuation, it may not be necessarily be appropriate or possible for everyone - including if people in the property are shielding, high risk or isolating. In the event that your client would prefer a desktop valuation they can notify us when arranging appointment. Please note that when we calculate the amount we can lend, this will be based on 95% of the desktop valuation.
To protect the health and safety of customers and solicitor firms during social distancing, the Equity Release Council (ERC) have temporarily changed their Rules and Guidance, enabling the conveyancing process to complete without a face-to-face meeting with a solicitor.
The temporary process that has been agreed by the ERC requires that the additional steps below must be taken:
The customer must be advised that it's usually a face to face advice process and consent to proceeding without face-to-face advice.
There now must be four Mandatory Contact Points between solicitor and customer (number not previously prescribed).
Advice must be provided to all parties to the lifetime mortgage in writing. This must then be followed with video or telephone calls which are recorded (by playback or note).
The solicitor must confirm, insofar as it's reasonably possible from their interactions, that the customer has mental capacity and is not under any duress or undue influence.
The solicitor must confirm the identity of the witness to the mortgage deed (and explain witness must observe social distancing).
How will Porting and Further Advances be affected?
For existing customers looking to move home (and port their mortgage) and those seeking a further advance, we will now be able to accept applications that are able to have a physical valuation.
Previously we had taken the decision to temporarily suspend new applications and pipeline cases where a physical valuation had not yet been undertaken. This was because any other valuation method is unlikely to result in a good outcome. With the introduction of physical valuations, we will now be able to re-consider these requests again on request.
For customers who have had their lifetime mortgage for more than 12 months, they will now be able to request a further advance, as per the product terms.
Can my client still use their drawdown facility?
Yes. We’re pleased to confirm that we're currently able to maintain a good service for our existing customers and there is currently no impact to drawdowns.
Are payment holidays available for Optional Payment Lifetime Mortgages?
During this difficult period we've changed our process to allow our customers to miss any number of payments up to and including 28 February 2021, which won’t count towards their 6 missed payments total allowed in the product terms. We hope this will help our customers during this time.
Alternatively, if they wish, they can stop making monthly interest payments at any time and convert to interest roll-up, but remember if they do this, they can’t restart making monthly interest payments.
My client has moved into long-term care but they're unable to get a certificate from a GP to confirm this. What can they do instead?
We understand it is difficult for our customers to see a GP at this time, so we've changed our process to make things easier for them. Long Term Care Certificates can now be signed by a registered carer.
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