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Revealed - 500,000 mortgage applicants could be shut out the market by 2030

A significant nationwide study by leading specialist lender, Together predicts the UK specialist residential mortgage market will treble to £16 billion by 2030, driven by changing employment and living patterns.

Gerald Grimes, group chief executive officer designate at Together said: “Our research into the residential mortgage market highlights the growing need for specialist lenders and the problems faced by borrowers who are categorised as ‘non-standard’ in realising their ambitions to own their own homes.”

“The UK’s mainstream mortgage system just isn’t adapting fast enough to how we live. Every year, an increasingly large group of potential homeowners must navigate a needlessly complex, intrusive, and time-consuming mortgage journey, with many facing outright rejection at the end of it. If our aim is to support ambition and make homeownership more inclusive and achievable, it's time the industry, supported by the Government, rethinks how borrowers can access finance to realise their dreams of homeownership.”


The study, carried out in partnership with economist Dr John Glen, also forecasts that the overall UK residential mortgage market will expand by 56% over the next eight years and, that of this rise, as many as 500,000 mortgage applications will be dependent on specialist lenders doubling their market share to 4% of the overall UK mortgage market.

Dr John Glen, economist and visiting fellow, Cranfield School of Management, commented: “At a time when the government is seeking to extend homeownership, this study shows that as many as half a million future applicants could be locked out of the mortgage market without the support of specialist lenders. This highlights systemic issues with the mainstream mortgage process which currently bars many potential buyers who have non-standard criteria.”

Drivers of specialist market growth

There are two key factors that underpin the predicted growth in the specialist residential mortgage market, according to Dr Glen. Firstly, considerably more potential homeowners are expected to fall outside of traditional mortgage selection criteria in coming years as structural changes, such as the rise of the gig economy and increasing trend towards flexible working, along with the emergence of the non-nuclear family, alter our housing needs.

Next, the shorter-term risk appetite of mainstream lenders will also be a key factor as they continue to tighten lending criteria at the same time as potential homeowners grapple with the current cost-of-living crisis.

The overall impact of inflation will also dent potential borrowers’ ability to access consumer credit.

Data to back the claim

Conducted for Together by Opinium, the study of over 7,000 consumers shows that in 2021 just 7% of applicants had taken out a mortgage with a specialist lender. Looking at the UK, 53% of the adult population who took part in this research fall into one or more criteria category classed as ‘non-standard’. However, when examining just those who have applied for mortgages, this figure rises to 62%, suggesting there is a large existing demand for a more flexible lending landscape.

Including multiple and complex incomes or being self-employed, 22% of respondents’ results showed that having non-standard income was cited as a key reason for being rejected for a mortgage. Having thin or impaired credit or being over 55 or divorced and considered a non-standard profile (both 21%) also worked in opposition for applicants, as did being in a non-standard buying situation (26%), like shared-ownership, or wanting to purchase a non-standard property (12%).

Many customers are left underserved as mainstream lenders tend to employ a highly automated approach to assessing mortgage applications and typically tighten their underwriting criteria in times of austerity. This traditionally fuels an increasing need for support from specialist lenders, who use expert personal underwriting to understand each applicant’s individual situation.

This greater level of lending flexibility could help the 19% of potential homeowners who were rejected from the mortgage process in the last 5 years, according to the results of Together’s survey, which also highlights the undue emotional and mental stress which can lead to fear in applying for a mortgage, or apathy about the process altogether.

Expanding homeownership

The clear limitations inherent within mainstream lending criteria is highlighted by the research which needs to be addressed if the government’s housing blueprint is to be realised. If the forecast growth in the specialist residential mortgage market does take place, then there should be a halo effect in terms of expanding homeownership.

Dr Glen anticipates a fifth of new specialist mortgages (approximately 100,000 applications) would come from borrowers who have not previously had a mortgage. Together’s study supports this notion, with 13% of respondent who have never made a mortgage application saying this was because they expect to be rejected or be deemed ineligible from the get-go.


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