The vast majority of brokers (94%) said that the effects of COVID-19 have increased the need for shopping around  to secure the loan sizes requested by their clients, according to research by the Mortgage Market Alliance (MMA).

The research found that affordability was the biggest challenge for 47% of brokers, while 34% said that loan-to-values (LTVs) were the biggest challenge.

Brokers unanimously agreed that lenders are taking a more cautious approach to affordability as a result of COVID-19, and 81% said they are finding it harder to secure the loan size requested by their self-employed clients than they did before lockdown.

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Three-fifths (60%) of brokers said they work with lenders that are able to ignore whether a client has been furloughed when it comes to affordability if they have returned to work at full salary.

Alex Hammond, director of the Mortgage Market Alliance, said: “The mortgage market, as with most elements of our lives, has changed almost beyond recognition since the start of the pandemic, but headlines heralding a squeeze on mortgage availability tell only half the story.

“The overall number of available products has certainly fallen, particularly at higher LTVs, and lenders are looking at applications with more scrutiny, but there continue to be opportunity for customers to secure the loan sizes they need. It’s just more important than ever to shop around.

“For brokers this means working with a more diverse group of lenders and for customers this means seeking professional advice from a broker who is able to research the whole market, as this will give them a much better chance of securing the mortgage that they need to make the next step in their lives.”