Who will be the A Team of the Mortgage Industry in 2012?

Lea Karasavvas

Industry expert, Lea Karasavvas, shares his thoughts and opinion in the “Secret Diary of a Mortgage Broker”.

“In 2011 a crack commando unit of lenders were sent to Coventry by most brokers for money they didn’t lend. These lenders promptly escaped from a credit crunch to the London underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as mortgage lenders of fortune. If you have a mortgage requirement, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can apply for a mortgage to…

the A-Team.”

The A-Team are:

“Hannibal” Smith (Halifax)

Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Northern Rock AKA Virgin Money)

H.M. Murdock (Woolwich)

B.A. Baracus (Abbey For Intermediaries)

2012 is going to be a pivotal year for mortgage lending. With most predicting stability, the talk is of £120 – £130 billion being the target again, similar to that of 2011. My personal thoughts are that the base rate will not change and the aggression of rates will be dictated purely by the lenders individual desires to gain market share rather than being driven by swap rates. Those that want the share, and to a certain extent the risk, will reduce margins and have a go.

So, what can we expect from the lenders? Well, I think I can best explain this with the use of the A – Team. We will have our villains, our “extras” if you will, that will have bit parts in our A – Team film. They will play the role of the people that seldom speak, or if they do they will over act in an attempt to get noticed, but mainly there will be several extras that will play roles pivotal to our film, but nothing so big as to overshadow our A-team.

So lets focus on the A – Team of lenders. Or should I say, who I will be casting as my A – Team.

“Hannibal” Smith (Halifax)

Yes, we all know the catchphrase. “I love it when a plan comes together”. Hannibal is the strategist of the A – Team, the one they all depend on, the leader of the pack and the one who is most stable. Hence, there could only be one lender in this role. For me personally, Halifax has always been my favourite lender but they went a little off the pace in 2011. The reason for this was pretty simple. They wanted to. Halifax never topped the leaderboard with their rates in 2011 but I think they will have a strong 2012. Service levels never faulter with them and they remain the constant for brokers, the one we all depend on when others have let us down. With a little more agression in their pricing, I expect Halifax to have one of THE major roles in the mortgage industry in 2012.


Templeton “Faceman” Peck (Northern Rock AKA Virgin Money)

What can I say about Faceman AKA Northern Rock. He is all about smooth, charisma, attraction, and seduction. Expect all these things from the new look Northern Rock. As approachable as Halifax in their underwriting, they will play a big role in my film of 2012. I see them getting stronger and with their strengths we’ll see branding and attention to detail that will kick others into touch. With a variety of talents (and product range) they will be one of the leading roles that the public will really warm to. Aesthetically pleasing, they will be a lender that others will want to be. Above all, they will always be your best friend and will always try to help and maybe even…take a bullet for you. If you pick up a phone and call Faceman, he WILL answer your call. Northern Rock really pushed themselves in 2011 with some excellent product ranges covering most loan to values from 60% to 90%. More of the same from them will break them into the top five of lenders for sure this year.

H.M. Murdock (Woolwich)

Murdock. Slightly crazy in persona, very unpredictable but every now and again pulls out a piece of magic. Woolwich, through all my time in the industry can be one of the most frustrating lenders. Sometimes, they can completely steal the show with their product range and offerings, but will let themselves down with levels of craziness, mostly from their service centres. When levels of service are good with them, they really are one of the best lenders in the industry, but this is pretty rare. They are one of the characters in my film that is full of potential, full of promise, but more often than not will let themselves down just a little bit. Woolwich are very much like Murdock. You don’t want to get in a plane with them, but sometimes you are in a situation where they will be the only ones that can fly you to your destination.

B.A. Baracus (Abbey For Intermediaries)

The muscle, the power, the strength and the aggression. That is what B. A. is all about and so too is Abbey. I expect them to play a similar role this year in 2012. With the addition of a buy to let range to its portfolio, this year there will simply be no messing. They will be big, they will be bold and I expect another year of Abbey being near the top of every best buy and increasing its market share more. Levels of service started to slip a little towards the tail end of the 2011, but there were reasons behind that. Rather like B.A. and his aversion to flying, Abbey have but one real pitfall as a character (the levels of service), but if they can sort that out, we will have quite possibly the most favourite character in our film. Halifax or should I say Hannibal, will command the lead for his stability and reliability but B.A. has the power and strength to take over should they wish to.

So there we have it. Our A-Team for mortgage lending in 2012. We hope no offence has been caused to others that have not made our casting. Many auditioned for the role, but we have taken a view of where you have been, where you are going, and most importantly who your agents are! This is going to be a challenging year, we all have a part to play, but with our leading cast above, some enthusiastic “extras” and perhaps a good bit of direction, we will all be involved in a Blockbuster.

I do love it, when a plan comes together.

Oh shut up…Fool.


Prolific Mortgage Finance





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