On 1 October, BLG Wonen will lower mortgage rates for homes subject to mortgages that cover 88% or more of the market value. First-time buyers on the housing market are thus also moving into view for BLG Wonen.
“This decrease is our response to changes in the market and the needs of customers and advisors,” says Sales Director Frank Soede. “On 1 July, the National Mortgage Guarantee maximum was lowered once again, from € 265,000 to € 245,000. House prices are still on the rise, often exceeding the National Mortgage Guarantee maximum in the Randstad conurbation in particular. Having limited funds of their own, many first-time buyers are forced to take out maximum mortgages, while many existing homeowners sell their homes without surplus or even below market value. They, too, are looking for a loan in this category,” as Soede summarises market developments.
The right time
According to Soede, this decrease comes at the right time for advisors as well. “They know us as an enjoyable and professional lender to work with, but it was mainly our National Mortgage Guarantee rates that were competitive. Advisors increasingly encounter customers who need a loan of 88% or more of the home’s market value, which is what we have started to offer now.”
“BLG Wonen aims to offer its customers financial solutions at different stages of their housing careers, helping them make their housing wishes come true. First-time buyers are an important target group to us in that respect. This decrease underscores our growth ambitions and our pursuit of a larger market share. We can see that it is working, as four in ten of our new customers are now first-time buyers,” says Soede.
Soede believes that financial advisors should embrace the possibilities offered by the digital advice scene. “Personal – face-to-face – contact and digitisation can go hand in hand just fine. Advisors should make a difference by focusing not on technology but on the relationship as the linchpin of their financial advice. This also emerged from the AFM Consumer Monitor, in which the personal connection with the advisor was stated as the main reason for choosing a particular advisor. The more empathy, involvement and proactiveness from the advisor to his customer, the better,” Soede argues.
Soede is seeing two key developments. “First-time buyers’ access to housing is a major point of focus. Buyers contributing their own funds is becoming increasingly important. We also see that parents often help their children buy a home by gifting money to them. That option should also be discussed in the context of financial advice. Another key issue, I think, is customers’ invariable need for advice. I believe that digitisation should really be used to support customers and advisors, not to replace the personal contact between them. The advisor’s role is as important as ever. We at BLG Wonen also commit ourselves to maintaining face-to-face contact with advisors and customers. We have noticed that they appreciate this.”
Soede finds it very understandable that regulatory authority AFM is keeping a close eye on developments in the area of payment arrears. “Distressing situations must be avoided as much as possible – this is a responsibility shared by customers, advisors and ourselves. I see that consumers still underestimate the financial effects of life events – such as unemployment, disability or divorce – far too much. And although such events often lie at the heart of payment arrears, only 6% of consumers say that they will definitely call in a financial advisor if such an event occurs. Advisors, on the other hand, still focus too much on product advice instead of comprehensive advice encompassing all housing costs, in my view.” Soede therefore urges his advisors to offer more wide-ranging, comprehensive financial advice, looking not only at mortgage costs but also at such matters as energy costs. “Those are the biggest cost item, aside from the mortgage.”
Interest rate averaging
The subject of interest rate averaging is currently stirring up a great deal of interest. Soede indicates that BLG Wonen also recognises the advantages of interest rate averaging. “We are currently investigating the options of offering this in the near future.”