One-on-one interview: Craig Hall, Legal & General Mortgage Club

Posted 13 July 2017 by Keith Osborne

This week's exclusive Q&A speaks to Legal & General's Craig Hall about choosing a mortgage for new build homes...

Finding the right mortgage may be even more tricky than finding the right new home at the moment, so we have spoken exclusively to Craig Hall of the Legal and General Mortgage Club about how they can help homebuyers match the right home loan to their new build property.

Hi Craig, please tell us a little about yourself and Legal & General Mortgage Club.

Legal & General Mortgage Club started life in 1995 and at 22-years-old, we are the original and largest mortgage club in the industry. To date, we’ve delivered more than £375bn in mortgage completions, and are considered a key distribution route for lenders with over 65 lender partners and 9,000 registered members (mortgage brokers).

I have 22 years’ experience in the financial services industry, spending the first 11 years in the retail banking sector. In recent years, I have held different roles within Legal & General general insurance and mortgage club divisions, responsible for profitable growth and business development through intermediary distribution.

As new build manager for Legal & General Mortgage Club, I am responsible for the delivery and ongoing development of the new build proposition and relationship management of our specialist broker firms, builders, housing associations, trade bodies and lender partners – with the aim of delivering of a sustainable new build mortgage market.

You specialise in the new build sector - are you pleased with what government and housebuilders are doing right now?

Over recent years the has been plenty of government support for the demand side, via schemes such as Help to Buy equity loan and Shared Ownership, however despite seeing increases in housebuilding we are some way off the 250,000-300,000 required new homes per year. The recent government housing White Paper covers a range of measures that go some way to addressing the problem but unfortunately there are no quick fixes.

If you could prioritise one thing in the housing market, what would it be?

Build more new homes, in the right places, now. It is as simple as that. 

What type of new build products does the mortgage club offer?

As a mortgage club we don’t sell any of our own products as we are distributors of various lenders' mortgage products. The new build part of the mortgage club has been running for over three years now, working to deliver a wide range of choice for our members. I talk regularly with over 25 lenders about the new build market covering a range of issues relevant to the sector. Through the new build club’s work with brokers, lenders, builders and housing associations at a range forums, conferences and working groups we have delivered benefits in terms of lender choice, new criteria and lobbying – which benefits all parties.

What buyers are new build lenders tending to see and which are finding the finance market the easiest/most difficult?

As we have seen from the Help to Buy statistics, first-time buyers made up 81% of all completions via the scheme since it launched in April 2013 and according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), first-time buyer transaction numbers are about to overtake movers for the first time since 1996. This is largely due to the lack of available stock on the housing market, fees to move (stamp duty, estate agents and solicitor’s fees etc) and homeowners choosing to stay put and improve or extend their current home.

One area the government should focus on is downsizing through a stamp duty waiver. Legal & General’s analysis of older homeowners shows there are 3.3million homeowners who are aged over 55 and looking to downsize in the future. This is according to data from Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) Last Time Buyers report. These ‘last-time buyers’ (LTBs) are sitting on £820bn of property wealth and 7.7million spare bedrooms. The equivalent to 2.6million family homes: this represents 10 years of housing supply based on government targets – or 20 years based on current housing completions!

Do you think customers do a lot of research before coming to speak to lenders?

The mortgage market is becoming increasingly more complex due to a range of regulatory and legislative changes. Many borrowers seek the guidance of a qualified independent mortgage broker. Brokers will conduct a thorough review of every customer’s personal situation and requirements prior to assessing the market place and giving their advice.

Is there a simple 'to-do' list that you'd recommend all buyers complete before talking to a broker?

There is no magic formula but my top tips would be:

  • Maintain a good credit history where possible
  • Make sure you have your last three months payslips and P60 or if are self-employed, your last two yearly accounts or tax returns
  • A full breakdown of your outgoing along with any outstanding credit commitments – this includes credit cards, loans or any other finance.

Are there key points that contribute to Legal & General Mortgage Club's reputation in the market?

Legal & General Mortgage Club is one of the largest and longest-running mortgage clubs in the country. It seeks to promote quality, choice and competition within the mortgage market. It provides education on and access to a wide range of sectors for lenders and brokers through formats such as educational videos, social media and through our Mortgage Support Service which in 2016 took over 90,000 calls from our members.

Legal & General Mortgage Club is backed by Legal & General Group which was founded in 1836 and today helps over 10million people globally with saving, investing, building retirement income and insuring – we are market leaders in a number of areas including protection and mortgage distribution.


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