The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) is reaching out to its members to gather information on the practical impact of COVID-19.

IMLA aims to draw on these insights and work together with industry stakeholders to identify possible solutions to the challenges causing delays in mortgage applications.

The mortgage market has faced high levels of demand since reopening after lockdown, but this demand has also presented challenges for lenders.

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High levels of uncertainty over both the economic climate and individual applicants’ incomes or job prospects have led lenders to take a more in-depth look at applications, which has inevitably lengthened the time it takes to complete mortgage applications.

IMLA will survey its members in the coming weeks to understand how each business has been affected, following which it aims to identify possible solutions.

Kate Davies (pictured), executive director of IMLA, said: “We are currently seeing very high levels of demand from borrowers, prompted by the pent-up demand created during the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis, and further fuelled by the temporary stamp duty holiday.

“This demand is inevitably creating huge challenges for lenders and intermediaries.

“The focus of lenders remains, as it should, on acting prudently and lending responsibly within their regulatory commitments and – ultimately – to protect borrowers.

“However, the current situation is clearly continuing to impact service levels and we need to identify the main reasons for this, and try to find ways of alleviating the logjams.

“We also need to be clear about what is realistically achievable and try to manage borrowers’ and intermediaries’ expectations in terms of what lenders can deliver.

“The COVID-19 crisis has emphasised the need for borrowers to be given good advice about their mortgage options, and I believe that most borrowers will understand and appreciate that good advice and responsible lending may take a little longer in these exceptional times.

“We now know that we all face further restrictions on our lives – probably for another six months.  But we also know, from the way the industry has coped so far, that we are up to the challenge.

“We owe a lot to the valuers, who started getting straight back out into houses and flats when the market re-opened in May, and to the intermediaries who have responded to enormous demand from borrowers, and helped smooth the process for lenders by continuing to package and present cases excellently, despite the difficulties of working from home.

“There will inevitably be further bumps along the way during the next few months – but I’m confident that we can work together to improve service levels and support our intermediary partners whilst maintaining responsible and prudent lending.”

Robert Sinclair, chief executive, Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), said: “We have an incredibly busy mortgage market at the moment.

“While the strong levels of activity we are seeing is certainly a positive sign of the sector’s resilience, it is continuing to present difficulties for lenders as they battle demand.

“Whether we are advisers or lenders, we are all in this market together and it is vital that we work in partnership to find ways of overcoming these difficulties.

“This is a welcome step from IMLA towards highlighting and resolving factors that are impacting service levels for customers and we are eager to work jointly with its members as they evaluate their findings and identify solutions to the current challenges we are all facing.”