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Contact Us

If you want to talk to us, please use one of the numbers below:

For new business enquires:

Holly Andrews: 01799 582885

L&G, L&G Mortgage Club and all affiliated firms, PMS Club, Sesame


Debby Tedder: 01799 582925

3mc; 3mc Club, Tenet, Complete FS, Intrinsic, Mortgage Intelligence, Next Intelligence


Lewis Wheeler: 01799 582894

AToM, Brightstar Financial; Brightstar Club, John Charcol, Knight Frank Finance,, Platinum Options, Private Finance, Sammon Mortgage Management Ltd, TBMC, Vantage Finance


For cases in progress call:

Mortgage Team: 01799 582966


For technical support call:

Emma Hall: 01799 582966 option 2
Head Office

Saffron House, 1A Market Street,
Saffron Walden,
Essex CB10 1HX.
Telephone: 01799 522211

Intermediary Mortgage Portal

The Mortgage Portal enables you to select a Saffron mortgage product, request a DIP, submit a full mortgage application and monitor all your clients' cases. Designed to be easy to use and all of the instructions you need are on each screen but if you need it there's also a Quick Start Guide.

Register for the Intermediary Mortgage Portal:


Login to the Intermediary Mortgage Portal:


Frequently Asked Questions

For any queries take a look at our FAQs or if you still require further help you can contact us on 01799 582966 and select option 2.


Market Trends in Buy To Let

The buy to let business has been of real interest recently. There was a lot of concern for the future with the new legislation last year, and fears that the market could become depressed and start to falter. However, according to the latest Property Investor Surveyor, 44% of landlords were described to be ‘unperturbed’ by the new affordability calculations and specialist underwriting rules introduced by the Prudential Regulation Authority.

The report suggested that as many as 48% believed they had not been affected by the new affordability and tax changes, but did caution that this could be because some landlords have not yet applied for finance since the guidance was introduced.

While legislation might alter the dynamics of the market that many people are accustomed to, a change of this kind can present new opportunities and force those within the industry to adapt their approach in order to continue to thrive. Over the last year I’ve been keeping a close eye on market developments and a few trends have been quite revealing.

Easter Activity

In January I read a good article in Mortgage Introducer, about the potential surge in the buy to let business which many are predicting will occur this spring. April 2018 is precisely two years after the clamour to get deals done before the 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced. A significant number of landlords took out two year fixed rate deals, and could very soon now be making plans to refinance.

The article reported that the estate agent chain Haart saw a 35% increase in property exchange activity in the week before the regulation was enforced at the beginning of April 2016. With the recent predictions of rate rises later this year, buy to let landlords may well be looking to lock in their rates for the foreseeable future.

An alternative view was that less experienced landlords might decide they want to cash in and move on. They may decide to sell, rather than continuing in a period of tighter controls and reduced short-term profitability. This could increase the amount of available property on the market.

Pensions for the young

Is property still a good long term investment? While stock market values have been steadily increasing over the last two years, the recent falls have been a clear reminder about volatility. Is property about to become fashionable again? Research from the Commercial Trust showed that only one segment of the buy to let market (the 20-40 age group) has continued to increase since 2015. One explanation is that younger people may think it more worthwhile to invest in bricks and mortar than in other asset classes such as shares and government or corporate bonds.

The largest market share is still held by the 40-49 age group, which consistently accounts for just under a third of all purchase applications. In addition, with the increased cost of university education, some in the parents in their mid-40s are opting to buy a property for their children at university and use the extra income from rented rooms to subsidise this increasingly significant cost.

Maybe property and buy to let is starting to become a major part of long-term investment portfolios amongst the young?

Portfolio Landlords Struggle

While some market segments are reporting positive sentiment, other parts of the industry are clearly feeling the pain. According to Foundation Home Loans, nearly three-quarters of portfolio landlords have found it more difficult to secure a mortgage since the PRA changes were introduced. The study found that 70% of landlords with four or more buy to let (BTL) mortgages have found it hard to obtain finance, and 51% of those with three or fewer BTL properties said the same.

As with all new regulation there will be a period of difficulty as people adjust, so it’s important to look at the long term trend rather than to read too much into the immediate response. The change in regulation could drive out inexperienced landlords, leaving a higher concentration of professional ones who see property as a full time occupation. According to research from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, just over a fifth (21%) of landlords have indicated that they plan to reduce the size of their portfolios.

It will be interesting to see how the market develops over the next year.


I mentioned in last month’s article that I feel the industry is currently relying too much on robo-advice and artificial intelligence to make mortgage application decisions. I believe that lending decisions are becoming more complex with the change in working patterns, the uncertainty over Brexit and regulation. This particularly applies to buy to let, as regulation has left everyone sailing in unchartered waters.

That’s why I think experienced lenders with the flexibility to review complex cases will continue to be in high demand over the next year. So while these are certainly challenging times it is still possible to lend successfully in the buy to let sector.

The solution for complex applications

The world of financial services sometimes seems obsessed with efficiency at the expense of understanding the changing needs of customers and society. Occasionally it feels as though some large organisations want to keep the mortgage production line rumbling along with applications from people who all look quite similar. This can work quite well until people stop looking similar and start to look different.

The changing face of British home owners

Brokers know better than anyone else that every client is different. As more people start to work for themselves, with several part-time jobs or a salary heavily based on performance targets, things can get more complex.

Some differences may be small and easily accommodated within standard lending criteria but others will leave many lenders scratching their heads wondering how to deal with it all. The result of such deliberations can often be a firm ‘no’ to avoid slowing the production line, rather than taking the time to identify a solution.

The changing face of lenders

We think diversity and difference is a good thing. Our approach acknowledges the importance of speed in mortgage applications, but we also believe in taking the time and making the effort to find a solution. Our experienced underwriters assess each and every mortgage application that comes to us and aim to find a solution. We also have a range of products designed specifically for more unusual circumstances:

  • landlords wanting to refurbish properties before letting them
  • ex-pats investing in property back in the UK even if they are a first time buyer or a landlord
  • self-employed borrowers with only one years trading
  • contractors who have daily rates of pay dependent on hours worked
  • people looking to build their own property even if it’s their first home

Additionally, if you have a client whose needs can’t be met even by our specialist products, but who is nonetheless creditworthy, we’ll consider developing an individual solution just for them.

Your weird is our wonderful

We’re used to dealing with unusual circumstances, so there is no way you’ll be able to surprise us. We don’t wince when we see applications that are a little bit different, but see them as an opportunity. We can’t promise to say yes each and every time that something unusual is passed to us, however we can promise to give it our full attention and explore every conceivable option before coming to a decision.

As a broker, we know you need support and options to help you to deal not just with the everyday applications, but with different situations that require a more thoughtful approach. The next time one lands on your desk, think about Saffron.

Taking the ‘Complex’ out of Complex Income Mortgages

Every mortgage customer has a different income story. Those with a regular income will be eligible for most high street products whilst others with a more ‘complex’ income may not. Help is available with tailored mortgage options that are ideal for the growing number of contractors, the self-employed or those needing low interest rates in the early years of their mortgage.

Teaming up with the right lender with the ‘best fit’ mortgage product is essential.

So what does complex income really mean and how does it apply to mortgages? For many lenders, the term covers people who don’t have a typical nine to five job providing a predictable monthly or weekly income.

The world has changed a lot, and many workers are now looking for more flexible arrangements or different approaches to earning a living. I believe many lenders have failed to keep pace with changes in working practices, and adapt their mortgages and lending policies accordingly. Many can have a very narrow view of what is an acceptable profile for a prospective customer. It’s important to see the bigger picture and to ascertain all the details relevant to an individuals’ financial situation enabling families the best opportunity to buy or build a new home. I’m a firm believer in trying to help wherever possible, after all home ownership brings so many positive benefits, it’s a well-documented fact.

But before talking about how this can be achieved, let’s take a quick look at what the industry might classify as ‘complex income’.

What does complex income really mean?

  • Your customer might just have started their own business and have only one or two years of accounts. There are specialist mortgages for the recently self-employed.
  • They might be a regular contractor who finds their arrangements deter high street lenders.
  • They could work in a niche industry considered too risky to lend to, such as the performing arts or professional sports.
  • Their income might regularly contain bonuses or overtime, and make up a high percentage of the total. The variable nature of bonuses and overtime can make the income fluctuate and therefore more difficult to predict.
  • They might be going through a separation and needing a lender that can help them with a mortgage when divorced, and to acquire their new home whilst undergoing this major life change. When couples separate their finances undergo a significant change and therefore may look very different and less predictable in the short term.
  • They could have more than one job.
  • They may be relying on investments or a pension for their income and need a mortgage when retired.
  • They may have had some financial difficulties in the past, but are now in a better position and looking for help to move on.
  • They could be an agency worker, for example an NHS nurse working via an agency.

These are examples of what the industry would define as ‘complex income’ and we know it can be difficult for people to get access to a mortgage. There are many other examples, and the problem people face is that their circumstances don’t easily fit the various boxes that mortgage providers have to tick for their computers to make a decision.

How can you help people who don’t conform to the so-called ‘norm’ to buy a home?

It’s not necessary to have a complex income mortgage product as a one size fits all solution rarely works. What is important is to have the flexibility to look at a customer’s circumstances and make every effort to find a solution that will work for them.

This is the approach I favour as do some other lenders who think laterally, giving the broker and customer more mortgage options. The chances are that lenders taking this approach have already helped people in similar circumstances to your customers who are already settled in their new homes. It’s important to look at everything surrounding your customer’s application and take into account the wider facts before deciding how to best help. For example, we’ll look at your customer’s income structure over several years and their plans for the future.

In my opinion it’s preferable to think more broadly in the mortgage application process rather than assessing your customer against a narrow set of measures. What I do see working well are brokers that get to know their customers and their future plans. This enables them to match people with the most appropriate mortgage possible, including products for the self-employed.

In conclusion, there are a range of options out there for those who traditionally may not have been able to secure a competitive mortgage – assess their situation individually and create a positive outcome for you and your customer.

Home is where the heart is

Let’s show our customers the love this Valentine’s Day

The proverb ‘Home is where the heart is’ may mean different things to different people but to many, including mortgage customers, it will create imagery of a ‘forever home’ with a loved one, a sanctuary, may be a place where fond family memories will be created or where significant life events will take place.

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days in the year to make a commitment as a couple – one of the biggest acts of dedication will of course be buying a house together. What a great opportunity to engage with first time buyers!

The opportunity for a mortgage broker is clear but the key to success will hinge on how best to engage with these existing or prospective customers. How can the relationship be optimised?

Lessons in Love

There are many routes to making a partnership work with principles and best practises found in a personal relationship, also relevant in business:

  • Everyone is different – let’s not try and squeeze our customers into a ‘one size fits all’ mortgage – find a product that exactly suits their circumstances. With the changes in how people work it’s now more important than ever before to understand their needs and plans for the future.
  • Good communication – we all thrive on timely, informative communication keeping everyone on the same page, the mortgage application process with a customer is no different. Setting expectations and delivering against them is important, and people will forgive you for taking their time if they know you are working hard for them.
  • A listening ear – it’s important we listen and understand the needs of our customers. They may have slightly unusual circumstances or a complex situation but listening carefully can help to bring about a successful outcome.
  • It’s good to talk – partner with a lender who has a team at the end of the phone who can answer any questions you and your customer may have. They have a responsibility to listen carefully too.
  • Reliability – you need to work with a mortgage provider who will deliver what they said they would and when. Your customer needs to feel secure and not left hanging or facing the unknown during what is often a stressful time.
  • Always there when needed: work with a lender who you can always rely on, who gives a wide range of options and who will provide great customer service.

Valentine’s Day is a timely reminder of the importance of relationships – how they are formed, developed and grow. Whether it’s in our personal lives or in a business context, the time, understanding and consideration that we put into any relationship will benefit us all in the long term – no more so than in the relationship between the mortgage broker and customer.

Support Built around you

We know that intermediaries are under increasing pressure to deliver for their customers. Brokers are dealing with people who are navigating their way through one of the most stressful periods of their lives. More often than not, your customers will have set their hearts on a new property enabling them to start a significant new phase in their lives; maybe to start a family, to have more space for their children, or use an extra room as an office for a new business.

In addition, the world of employment is changing as more companies use freelancers, contractors or other non-permanent workers hired for individual projects. In one survey nearly half of executives interviewed said they expect to increase the use of flexible staff – and it’s a trend that’s growing1.

The question for those of us in the mortgage industry is whether we can adapt to the growing demands from customers and the change in the way people earn money? I sometimes wonder if financial institutions are becoming fixated on the need to process efficiently, with speed taking priority over considered decision making. Is getting an instant ‘no’ better than a ‘leave it with us, we’ll see what we can do’?

That’s why we put great importance on trying to get the right result for our brokers and your customers. We aim to achieve this through an approach that is able to cope with the demands of the modern world.

How do we achieve this?

First, it’s important to note that we don’t underestimate the importance of a quick response. When a straightforward application comes to us we work quickly to find the answer. However, if the case is more complicated, our approach is much more nuanced – we explore possibilities and look for ways to achieve the right results.

Our underwriters always get involved and ask questions, with the freedom to use their experience to help you. They look at different options and possibilities but, most importantly, they are allowed to use their judgement. This approach is helping brokers and customers alike to get the right results.

We don’t stop there though.

As we prepare to face the challenges of today and tomorrow, our teams are looking to identify more flexible ways of working. Laura Bright, responsible for product design, has been developing our range to provide brokers with refined solutions. Our CEO Colin Field has recently shared his perspective on improving and refining our products.

At every level, Saffron Building Society is constantly looking at different ways of achieving the right support for you and your customers. To find out about our products and criteria please visit our website. Or if you’d like to discuss an application please refer to our broker support page for contact details of our BDMs.

1 The Gig Economy, Deloitte

Here when you need us

At Saffron we are always looking to improve our service. We recently launched our Live Chat for brokers, designed to provide you with another channel of communication and to help you get the answers you need quickly. You can send questions and queries to our team while still reading your emails and getting through your to-do list.

The service is available Monday to Friday during business hours (9am to 5pm), and our Business Development Managers are here to take your questions and reply. Please note that during peak times we do prioritise calls, however, if one of our BDMs are available a box will pop up on the Saffron for Intermediaries website.

When Live Chat is available you’ll need to enter your name, email address and the company you’re working for. We hope you too will find it useful. We are always looking to improve the service to you and your customers, so please email any comments on your experience to me:

Other ways we help

Our Business Development Managers, with their extensive experience in the mortgage industry, are on hand to discuss any enquiries or questions regarding lending policy and potential new business. Our team can support you and your customers in many different areas. For example:

  • Manual underwriting, which means that each case is individually assessed. We can work with you to look for different ways to get the answers you need.
  • We work on a case-by-case basis, and will be happy to discuss any queries you have

In these uncertain times it’s important for us to work together, to try to simplify complex situations and increase the chances of finding the right result for your customers.

Products for today’s world

We asked our CEO Colin Field to share his perspective on the mortgage market and how we plan to help Brokers and their clients.

We sometimes hear that Brokers are frustrated by how long it can take to find providers who can offer an intelligently built product which is able to deal with the issues of today. At Saffron we have developed a highly refined product range which can help you to go back to your customers with good news.

A quick glance at a handful of key indicators reveals some of the difficulties faced by people looking for a property:

  • first-time buyers must typically save for eight years to afford a deposit, and a typical 20% deposit in London is now more than £80,0001
  • over 305,000 parents helped their children onto the housing ladder in 2016, with the value of their support averaging £17,5002.
  • just under five million people are self-employed in the UK and this number continues to grow3.

Our product team looks to continually evolve and move with the times so we might offer products which reflect the changing world. If you have a few minutes I’d like to share a few examples with you.

Gifted Deposits

A gifted deposit is an effective way of raising money with the help of a relative, usually a parent. You’re probably aware that this is a sum given by a family member which forms all or part of the deposit when you buy a property. Some lenders won’t touch them, but at Saffron we accept gifted deposits for all our mortgages. It’s one of the ways we have attempted to overcome the need for a larger deposit as house prices rise. In addition, we can offer a 40 year mortgage, fixed rates up to 5 years and a 95% LTV product to assist people in their move.

Freelancers, Self Employed and Contractors

For the self-employed, we accept applications from people with only one year’s trading history – even if they are first time buyers. We also have a specialist contractor mortgage, for individuals working on a short-term contract basis. We take into account the contractor’s circumstances and income structure, and review the application in conjunction with our underwriting team.

Our specialist range; Self Builders, Expats and developers

Our underwriting team will always review every application we receive and go into more depth if required when there is a borderline decision. We want to increase the chances of accepting an application, so our underwriters will ask questions and use their experience in an attempt to help out the brokers. They work closely with the product team, which has enabled us to create specialist products for:

In every instance, if the decision seems borderline or the application is complex, our underwriters will see if they can bring about a successful conclusion, even on our everyday mortgages.

If you want to discuss an application or find out about how we work, speak to our dedicated sales team who will be happy to help. Please visit the Broker Support section of our website for the relevant contact details.

1 Buying a home: How long does it take to save a deposit?, BBC News, Jan 2018
2 The Bank of Mum and Dad, L&G, Feb 2017
3 UK Labour Market, ONS, Dec 2017

Are Robo-advisors good judges of mortgage applications?

I returned to work in January to read several predictions for the financial services industry in 2018, with many commentators talking about artificial intelligence and how it won’t be long until we’re all replaced by computers. However, contrary to the many sages and futurists out there, I’m not sure I agree.
In my view, the judgement and value of an experienced mortgage broker can’t be replaced by machines. I think the importance of artificial intelligence and automated advice is overstated. Before I explain why, I just want to clarify that I’m not denying the importance and benefits of technology. Clearly, computers can do some things faster and more accurately than humans, but I think it’s important to make clear distinctions as there are some decisions they struggle with.

Mortgages are unique

When assessing complex situations or a borderline application, it’s crucial to examine the detail of the people involved. If someone is self-employed, a contractor, or relatively new in a job you need good judgement rather than relying solely on machines. You need a human being who can ask questions and provide the type of knowledge that only comes from an experienced broker. Technology is part of the process but it can’t see the full picture. Changes in society and the world of work mean that future earnings and living costs are not as easy to predict as they once were.
That’s why it’s good to talk.

Decision making versus judgement

Last July, an article in the Harvard Business Review called ‘How Artificial Intelligence will change the way we make decisions’ discussed whether there would be more or less work for humans in the future. The key point was the distinction it made between decision making and judgement. Illustrating this was an example of a credit card network deciding whether or not to approve transactions.

The mortgage industry can learn from this.

All card networks want legitimate transactions to pass through and fraudulent transactions to be declined. They use artificial intelligence to decide whether attempted transactions are fraudulent. If this were done perfectly, the network’s decision-making process would be easy: decline if and only if fraud exists. However, even the best technology makes mistakes.

What does this have to do with mortgages I hear you ask?

Well, the people who run credit card networks know from experience that there is a trade-off between detecting every case of fraud and inconveniencing the user. And since convenience is important in the credit card industry, that trade-off is critical. It means that to decide whether or not to approve a transaction, the network has to know the cost of mistakes. How bad would it be to decline a legitimate transaction? How bad would it be to allow a fraudulent transaction? There is a judgement required on where the line is drawn.

I think that most of us would agree that we want machines to prevent fraud. They can take decisions in split seconds to stop foul play and I’m happy to be mildly inconvenienced if the machine is set to err on the side of caution. With mortgages however, it’s completely different, as sound judgement is more important than rapid decision making.

This is where the mortgage industry has to reflect on the use of robo-advisors and technology. I saw recently that one organisation had launched an online service to residential and buy-to-let customers. This service will offer an initial search function, based on the customer providing basic information, which will give some indicative product details. The customer then has the option of providing further information online for a more tailored search and full mortgage illustration, or they can be transferred to speak to an adviser. In principle, it sounds like an improvement on the belief that only automation can work.

However, I think those predicting the future are wrong to believe that machines can do the majority of jobs currently undertaken by humans. The mortgage industry needs technology to help with its decision making, but should not rely on it alone. There will be some providers who depend on their IT to complete straightforward mass market applications, but sound judgement and a thoughtful approach in the more complex cases will always be needed. And with the way the world is changing, it’s likely that there will be a greater need for judgement rather than for rapid decisions and efficiency.

Advice is irreplaceable

I think a mortgage broker’s service is irreplaceable. Consumers will always appreciate the good judgement and experience of someone investing energy and commitment into helping them secure their new home or review their mortgage arrangements on their existing home.

Getting it wrong for somebody could have considerable consequences. This is a decision that could change a family’s long-term future. It could be the difference between securing a property they love or the crushing feeling of despair at missing out on a place they wanted to call home. A place where their children would grow up and where they would celebrate many Christmases together. Seen this way, it’s clear that a mortgage isn’t just a financial product, but a critical ingredient in helping people to fulfil their ambitions and realise their desires.

If you went to work early in January worrying about the future of the advice industry, I’d urge you to relax and question those emotive headlines.

Mortgages for struggling second-steppers

‘Second steppers’ planning to move up the property ladder are finding it a tougher task than getting their first mortgage, according to recent research*.

Nearly a third say they had to turn to the bank of mum and dad to help fund their next house move. Limited equity in their first home and modest savings meant that moving into a larger home was a real challenge.

There is help at hand for homebuyers facing this predicament. Here at Saffron for Intermediaries, we have two mortgage products that are ideally suited for struggling next steppers:

Next Step Mortgage – a 5-year discount that is available up to 95% LTV.

Owner occupied 3.29% 3-year discount mortgage – we’ll lend up to 90% LTV and there is no arrangement fee.

And if parents or grandparents want to help by gifting a deposit, that’s fine with us, we’re happy to accept this form of help on many of our mortgages, and have produced a useful article which explains Gifted Deposits if you want to know more.

If you have any questions about any of our mortgage deals, please speak to either Debby Tedder on 01799 582925, Holly Andrews on 01799 582885 or Lewis Wheeler on 01799 582894, who will be happy to help.

Anita Arch
Head of Mortgage Sales

* Lloyds Bank research, June 2017.

New rules for Portfolio Landlords

A new set of rules are being introduced by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) with effect from 30th September this year, which govern the way lenders assess buy-to-let mortgage applications from landlords who own 4 or more mortgaged properties (portfolio landlords).

There is concern that many landlords are unaware of these changes and that they could cause a lot of problems for those seeking to raise mortgage finance after 1st October.

What changes are being made?

The PRA has stipulated that lenders must adopt a specialist approach when underwriting applications from portfolio landlords, who will be required to provide detailed information about their properties, business and income and expenditure.

In summary, the new rules state that portfolio landlords must provide the following:

• A schedule showing all the individual properties which make up their total portfolio and a summary of their experience as a landlord
• A statement of assets and liabilities, including future tax implications and all outstanding mortgage balances
• A cashflow forecast
• A business plan

Lenders have to assess a landlord’s total portfolio of properties and not just those against which they already have or are applying to have a mortgage.

Although this sounds onerous, it’s not terribly different to the procedures many lenders have been adopting for some time, so the level of disruption will probably be far less than many commentators have been predicting.

What will Saffron Building Society’s approach be?

The answer is that it will be almost identical to our existing approach!

• The minimum income coverage ratio we require on properties being financed is:

  • Remortgages with no capital raising: rental cover of 125% of the pay rate.
  • Remortgages with capital raising and a new BTL: rental cover of 140% of either the pay rate +2% or 5.5%, whichever is the higher.
  • 5 Year fixed rates: rental cover of 140% of the pay rate

• All other BTL assets in the portfolio not financed by the society must meet rental cover of at least 125% of the pay rate, both individually and collectively.
• We’ll lend on up to 10 properties in aggregate, with a maximum exposure of £1.5 million to any individual.
• We’ll lend up to a maximum of 75% LTV on each property (which includes fees to be added)

All applications will be individually assessed by an underwriter and exceptions to the above will be considered on a case-by-case basis. This will be dependent on the borrower having alternative sources of income to support shortfall from operating cash flow.

At full mortgage application stage we will require four additional documents:
Business plan, cash flow forecast, property portfolio schedule and a statement of assets and liabilities, which can be found here:

For further information

If you would like further information about the way in which we will treat applications from portfolio landlords, please feel free to speak to our Business Development Managers who will be happy to help:

Debby Tedder – 01799 582925
Holly Andrews – 01799 582885
Lewis Wheeler – 01799 582894

We look forward to being able to help you and your portfolio landlord clients.

Anita Arch
Head of Mortgage Sales

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Best Service from a Mortgage Provider - Moneyfacts Awards 2014