25 April 2022

New Business Director, Craig McKinlay, gives a Kensington overview to Haysto

By Kensington Mortgages

Craig was interviewed by the team at Haysto - an online mortgage broker specialising in clients with bad credit, self-employed, and complex situations.

Some people might not have heard of Kensington, can you give us an overview?

We are the UK’s biggest Specialist lender for Residential Mortgages and have recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. We are focused on helping customers with complex circumstances such as self-employed customers and those who’ve had credit issues in the past.

Why are you able to help, when the high-street banks won’t?

Every mortgage application that Kensington receives is reviewed by a human underwriter (like Haysto, there’s no “computer says no” here!). This allows us to understand a customer's unique circumstances and take a common-sense approach and try to find a way to say YES. This flexibility means that if you have a low credit score or rely on variable income such as commission or even zero hours contracts, we will still look to try and help you.

Why do customers have to use a specialist broker to access your mortgages? Why can’t they come to you directly?

We believe it’s in the customer’s best interests to get professional advice from a specialist mortgage broker. A mortgage is a big financial commitment and there are huge amounts of possible options and choices in terms of lenders and products. An independent advisor is best placed to use their knowledge and expertise to help customers navigate their way through.

It’s a common misconception that self-employed people can’t get a mortgage - how can Kensington help address this?

We are primarily known as a self-employed lender because this accounts for around half of our business, whereas most lenders do a very small amount. Our underwriters are experts in understanding self-employed applications and we have a very flexible policy such as requiring only 1 year’s accounts for customers who are newly self-employed and we’re able to lend up to 90% Loan to Value.

What three pieces of advice would you give to self-employed people looking to get a mortgage this year?

1. Don’t give up! There are plenty of solutions that a mortgage broker can help you find that are beyond the obvious big lenders.

2. Get your paperwork together – personal and business bank statements, tax returns, company accounts etc. The more evidence you have, the better.

3. Check your credit file – there are lots of free credit check companies online that can show you if your credit data is correct so you can fix any issues before you apply for your mortgage.

What types of cases are you seeing more of at the moment?

We’re seeing lots of self-employed customers being refused by the big high street banks - even though they have a very strong application. There’s also a big increase in customers who have low deposits and are struggling to find a lender.

What do you think the biggest opportunities are for the specialist mortgage market to innovate?

We have always been at the forefront of innovation – we were the first specialist lender to understand the importance of green mortgages and launched our ‘eKo’ range to offer enhanced cashback to borrowers who improve their home’s energy efficiency. We also launched the ‘Hero Mortgage’ offering enhanced affordability to specific key worker roles who have been so exceptional throughout the pandemic. Most recently, we launched long term fixed mortgages up to 40 years, providing peace of mind over rising interest rates – and in a way that allows those with a deposit as small as just 5% being able to have a larger loan than would otherwise be available. We have a busy roadmap of product launches this year and have lots of exciting plans. Watch this space!

What is your personal goal for the next 12-18 months?

To help as many people as possible achieve their home buying dreams, especially those left out in the cold by the big banks.

What changes do you hope to implement in the industry?

I would like to see a far bigger focus on customers' needs rather than what size deposit they have. We have addressed this through products like our ‘Hero Mortgage’, ‘self-employed mortgages’, ‘long term fixes’, and ‘eKo Mortgages’. The pandemic has affected a huge amount of people, so it's really important that we help them find a way to get on the property ladder by showing some understanding and flexibility.

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