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Countrywide mortgage consultants - are they good?
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# 1
asheranti
Old 22-02-2011, 11:59 AM
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Default Countrywide mortgage consultants - are they good?

We are currently shopping around to see what mortgage deals would be available to us and an estate agent we visited suggested we spoke to their mortgage consultant as he considers deals from the entire market.

He turned out to be from Countrywide and gave us a lovely brochure to go with a very glossy sales pitch! He seemed very helpful and even in our first meeting was giving us lots of explanations, tips and advice. His services sounded great as Countrywide can look after the whole process, includiing negotiating for you with estate agents on house prices, arranging surveys etc, or you can just use them for the mortgage and arrange for them to use people of your own choosing eg solicitors.

My only issue was that a I had a little nagging feeling inside that it was all just a bit too good to be true. I asked him about charges as he made it clear that there were no charges until the mortgage is arranged, and then it is a straightforward fee of 199. He insisted that this was definitely it and that there are no other charges apart from those you have to pay to other people. This doesn't seem right to me. Surely they get money from elsewhere? Maybe a commission from the mortgage lenders? While thinking this he seemed quite keen on pushing us towards a Halifax mortgage which may just have been that he thought it was the best deal, but on his computer screen it was quite far down the list (it had ordered them in terms of best interest rates) so I was a little sceptical.

I was just interested to know what people think about Countrywide? Has anyone used them before and were your thoughts? Is the 199 really all they charge or do they get other payment from elsewhere?
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# 2
kingstreet
Old 22-02-2011, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
he considers deals from the entire market
I thought Countrywide had a restricted panel?

On their website it reads;-

Quote:
Countrywide provide advice on products* from a bespoke panel of mortgage lenders. Our Mortgage Consultants can also consider products from other lenders, if there are no suitable products on our panel.
I assume you were given an Initial Disclosure Document?

On the front, section 2 should tell you whether you will receive whole of market advice, a restricted panel of lenders, or just one lender's products. The reverse should tell you how they are remunerated.

Find a whole market or independent broker who will find you the best deal.
I am a Mortgage Adviser. You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 3
Meeper
Old 22-02-2011, 12:21 PM
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In response to the quetion in the title: No.
I am an Independent Financial Adviser

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# 4
DVardysShadow
Old 22-02-2011, 12:26 PM
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Very bad idea to use a mortgage advisor in the estate agent through whom you are buying. Far from unknown for the advisor to tell the negotiator how much money you are good for.
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# 5
koexelek
Old 22-02-2011, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVardysShadow View Post
Very bad idea to use a mortgage advisor in the estate agent through whom you are buying. Far from unknown for the advisor to tell the negotiator how much money you are good for.

All true.... but some estate agents ( illeigally) won't even let you view a property unless you use their people

If you have your heart set on a specific property, you sometimes have to plat the game .
I am a Mortgage adviser
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# 6
kingstreet
Old 22-02-2011, 12:31 PM
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I once knocked on a vendor's door and told him what his agent was doing and asked him if this kind of practice was more or less likely to sell his house.

My client got his viewing the following day.
I am a Mortgage Adviser. You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 7
Conrad
Old 22-02-2011, 12:39 PM
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I was once a regional manager for them.

I see they still lie about saying they will help you negotiate the property price, lol! They NEVER do this, it's just a line.

As for arranging a survey - anyone applying online for a mortgage necessarily causes the surveyor to be instructed, so another line!

They do not use every lender.

The staff tend to be relatively new, so have not had time to build meaningful links with less well known lenders.

Thier experience is lacking so customers end up with all manner of mistakes which can lead to losses.

They will sell you a life assurance policy which you will get cheaper by either going to a small independant broker and asking if he will refund some commision (I do this so it is more than possible), or by trying gocompare or similar.

Thier lawyers will usualy cost more too.

Straight forward clients do not need a broker in any event.

Lenders offer DIRECT deals which are cheaper.

Brokers are only there for more complex cases.
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# 8
dunstonh
Old 22-02-2011, 1:01 PM
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Estate agent advisers have the worst reputation going. Except for the small independent agents who use local advisers you should not use an estate agent for mortgage advice.
I am a Financial Adviser. Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
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# 9
betmunch
Old 22-02-2011, 1:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meeper View Post
In response to the quetion in the title: No.
Are you telling me that ALL Countrywide Mortgage Advisors are not good?
I am a Mortgage Adviser
You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 10
kingstreet
Old 22-02-2011, 1:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betmunch View Post
Are you telling me that ALL Countrywide Mortgage Advisors are not good?
You can have a good adviser who is constrained by his/her employer's practices so he is unable to do what a good adviser with a whole market broker can do.

Who benefits from a restricted panel of lenders?
I am a Mortgage Adviser. You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 11
koexelek
Old 22-02-2011, 1:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingstreet View Post
I once knocked on a vendor's door and told him what his agent was doing and asked him if this kind of practice was more or less likely to sell his house.

My client got his viewing the following day.
Nice one.
More of that needs to happen.

Often estate agents do not work in the best interests of their vendors.... sometimes preferring the offer of someone who needs to mortgage themselves to the hilt( via their in house adviser)and will probably struggle to get a mortgage full stop, to that of someone who is a cash buyer with no chain.
I am a Mortgage adviser
You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 12
betmunch
Old 22-02-2011, 1:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingstreet View Post
You can have a good adviser who is constrained by his/her employer's practices so he is unable to do what a good adviser with a whole market broker can do.

Who benefits from a restricted panel of lenders?
Thank you KingStreet, that is all I wanted to hear.

In my opinion there a tons of good advisors in Countrywide group. (and tons more sharks to be fair.)

You are right though, they are constrained by their employers practices, which is a huge shame. There is no denying that Countrywide benefit from having the constrained panel. But that does not mean the advisor himself, or the advice is bad.

I agree that, that same advisor given access to the whole of the market can in many cases get better products.

I just didnt like that ALL Countrywide Advisors are not good, and I thank you for having a more balanced view of the situation.
I am a Mortgage Adviser
You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 13
betmunch
Old 22-02-2011, 2:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koexelek View Post
Often estate agents do not work in the best interests of their vendors....
The Corporate ones in general will ONLY work in their own interests and rely on the fact that in many cases (not all) this will tie in with the best interests of the Vendor.

Having said that I have recently been to a meeting and told that buyers doing a mortgage through our in house advisor should get preference over cash buyers!!!
I am a Mortgage Adviser
You should note that this site doesn't check my status as a Mortgage Adviser, so you need to take my word for it. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Mortgage Adviser Code of Conduct. Any posts on here are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as financial advice.
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# 14
dunstonh
Old 22-02-2011, 2:12 PM
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Personality of the individual is not something that that is unique to one type of adviser. You could have a very nice tied agent and a horrible independent/whole of market or vice versa.

However, the limitations of what a limited panel/tied agent can offer are unique to that type of adviser. Also, a salesforce mentality can slip in to even the nicest of advisers. Hence why national/regional salesforces should be avoided along with limited/tied advisers. It doesnt matter who they are. Even a salesforce IFA should be avoided.
I am a Financial Adviser. Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. Different people have different needs and what is right for one person may not be for another. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from a Financial Adviser local to you.
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# 15
johnmd
Old 22-02-2011, 10:38 PM
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I'm a FTB and new to this but I spoke to a countrywide mortgage adviser on Saturday.

Worst I've dealt with so far. He glossed over the section that mentioned he was whole of market and when I asked him about the rather high figures he was giving it was put down to anyone else I had seen only showing me the cheapest rates, not the ones that I could actually get, no explanation why.

Would use him if a house depended on it.
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# 16
InMyDreams
Old 23-02-2011, 10:10 AM
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We used a countrywide adviser when we bought our first house, young and naive and needed the hand holding. To be fair, he did get us a good mortgage (but we couldn't have been a more straightforward case as far as clients go - two incomes, married, both good credit, had saved a good deposit, modest property).

BUT

With it he managed to sell us an endowment. (This was in 2000.) What he failed to explain to us (or at least when we looked back at the paperwork it was all there, so he hadn't done anything 'wrong', but he had certainly glossed over it at the time when speaking to us) was that the (countrywide) endowment and the mortgage were separate products. So whilst he was seeking out mortgage deals from a range of lenders, the endowment was from the company he worked for. There was no searching the market for that at all.

Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit that we didn't realise this and we have learnt many lessons as a result. Clearly with hindsight an endowment wasn't the best move but that's not what makes me cross a decade later. We were happy with the risks at the time, and they were explained. What makes me cross is that we trusted him to guide us through the minefield and he was clearly not acting in our interests but his own. We were unsure whether to go repayment or endowment. We didn't realise it would make a difference to him and thought he was impartial but in hindsight, looking back at the conversations, he was clearly very biased which he hoped we'd go for, and bigged up the endowment just enough to get us to sign. Whether or not we made an appropriate decision for our circumstances at the time, had we realised, we would never had based such a huge decision on advice from someone who had such a vested interest. Also, we didn't realise he was simply selling us one of his own products. We didn't even realise that having decided to go down the endowment route, there would be any choice of endowments - we thought it was tied to the mortgage in one product and he was seeking out the best deal for that. We knew and accepted that he would be earning a commission on the mortgage (I wouldn't expect him to work for nothing and that's why we trusted him) but we weren't aware at the time that he would be earning an extra even heftier commission on the endowment if we took it (and all the associated life cover) as a separate product.

Yes, we should have read and made sure we understood everything before we went ahead, but what's the point in using a broker with a conflict of interests? If he only makes sure you understand the bits that *he* wants you to understand? We even thought we were being clever as this broker was tied to a different estate agent than the one we eventually used. (The first property we tried to buy fell through but by then we had a relationship with him and trusted him, so continued to use him, having also learnt by then that using a broker connected to the estate agent isn't wise.)

I accept that not all brokers are like this. For our next mortgage we used a family friend and he was wonderful. (We weren't such an easy case then, young family, down to one income...) Since then we've done it ourselves.
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# 17
1967vike
Old 23-02-2011, 8:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betmunch View Post
Thank you KingStreet, that is all I wanted to hear.

In my opinion there a tons of good advisors in Countrywide group. (and tons more sharks to be fair.)

You are right though, they are constrained by their employers practices, which is a huge shame. There is no denying that Countrywide benefit from having the constrained panel. But that does not mean the advisor himself, or the advice is bad.

I agree that, that same advisor given access to the whole of the market can in many cases get better products.

I just didnt like that ALL Countrywide Advisors are not good, and I thank you for having a more balanced view of the situation.

Hi countrywide do use a preferred panel and this is disclosed in their IDD however that do have access to whole market lenders who accept introduced buz and often they do use off panels lenders if this is best suits their clients .Its worth noting that no one has access to all lenders as there are an increasing numbers of lenders who only accept direct applications so a supposed independant will not recommend the best product because he wont earn anything sothere is NO such thing as an independant whole market advisor .Countrywide charge a fee of 199.00 paid when completed which isnt bad.Like all advisors the lender pays a commission to the advisors company .. countrywide target their advisorsbased on same commission whichever lender - to give a balance view and not to be swayed by a higher commission paying lender.. unlike an indpendant who will be swayed by commission amounts in most cases .The panel lenders use countryide surveyors for the vals and come with a pledge which is good. Countrywide advisors work for a seperate co. to the EA albeit both owned by the same parent co .. the advisor cant disclose his clients personal details and finances to the Estate agency people its against data protection and can have severe consquences if in breach. Their is no reason why you wouldnt use an advisor in an Estate agent and you will find very experienced advisors but as with any walk of life there will be bad apples or trainees.
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# 18
1967vike
Old 23-02-2011, 8:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asheranti View Post
We are currently shopping around to see what mortgage deals would be available to us and an estate agent we visited suggested we spoke to their mortgage consultant as he considers deals from the entire market.

He turned out to be from Countrywide and gave us a lovely brochure to go with a very glossy sales pitch! He seemed very helpful and even in our first meeting was giving us lots of explanations, tips and advice. His services sounded great as Countrywide can look after the whole process, includiing negotiating for you with estate agents on house prices, arranging surveys etc, or you can just use them for the mortgage and arrange for them to use people of your own choosing eg solicitors.

My only issue was that a I had a little nagging feeling inside that it was all just a bit too good to be true. I asked him about charges as he made it clear that there were no charges until the mortgage is arranged, and then it is a straightforward fee of 199. He insisted that this was definitely it and that there are no other charges apart from those you have to pay to other people. This doesn't seem right to me. Surely they get money from elsewhere? Maybe a commission from the mortgage lenders? While thinking this he seemed quite keen on pushing us towards a Halifax mortgage which may just have been that he thought it was the best deal, but on his computer screen it was quite far down the list (it had ordered them in terms of best interest rates) so I was a little sceptical.

I was just interested to know what people think about Countrywide? Has anyone used them before and were your thoughts? Is the 199 really all they charge or do they get other payment from elsewhere?
Will get a comission as well just like any other advisor and will disclose this in the recommendation made 199 fee is cheap most IFAs charge 1 per cent of loan
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# 19
theduke2011
Old 23-02-2011, 10:34 PM
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Any adviser MUST issue you with an IDD (Initial Disclosure Document) before providing any formal illustrative quotes or providing mortgage advice. This will detail the following key points to answer your questions:
1)what level of service they offer - where its advice, non-advice, or if you have a choice of either
2)whose products they offer - whether its one lender (usually only the case with high street banks), a 'panel' of lenders (products from a limited number of lenders), or products from across the market.
3) details of any fees you pay for their services - e.g. there may be an option of paying a 'broker' fee or opting that the adviser is paid in commission by the lender, or both
The idea of this document (the reason its so important) is to enable to you make an informed decision whether to use their services or not. If you feel you would benefit more by going to a different provider, the estate agent MUST NOT decline viewing of properties - if this happens, please speak to someone senior. However, if you decline their mortgage service, its ultimately not in their interest to turn away potential buyers (especially considering how much they are struggling at the moment)
Regards,
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# 20
kingstreet
Old 23-02-2011, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 1967vike View Post
Hi countrywide do use a preferred panel and this is disclosed in their IDD however that do have access to whole market lenders who accept introduced buz and often they do use off panels lenders if this is best suits their clients .Its worth noting that no one has access to all lenders as there are an increasing numbers of lenders who only accept direct applications so a supposed independant will not recommend the best product because he wont earn anything sothere is NO such thing as an independant whole market advisor .Countrywide charge a fee of 199.00 paid when completed which isnt bad.Like all advisors the lender pays a commission to the advisors company .. countrywide target their advisorsbased on same commission whichever lender - to give a balance view and not to be swayed by a higher commission paying lender.. unlike an indpendant who will be swayed by commission amounts in most cases .The panel lenders use countryide surveyors for the vals and come with a pledge which is good. Countrywide advisors work for a seperate co. to the EA albeit both owned by the same parent co .. the advisor cant disclose his clients personal details and finances to the Estate agency people its against data protection and can have severe consquences if in breach. Their is no reason why you wouldnt use an advisor in an Estate agent and you will find very experienced advisors but as with any walk of life there will be bad apples or trainees.
1. Countrywide's website says advisers can step outside panel when "there are no suitable products on our panel" not "to ensure our client gets the best deal possible" which is completely different.

2. Many intermediaries have access to ALL lenders including those paying no procuration fee. For example, I have the option of charging a fee (which is lower than that charged by Countrywide!) to advise a borrower to apply to a lender paying no procuration fee and the "sale" will be accompanied by KFI and suitability letter and will be fully "advised" affording them full regulatory protection.

So this;-

Quote:
no one has access to all lenders as there are an increasing numbers of lenders who only accept direct applications so a supposed independant will not recommend the best product because he wont earn anything sothere is NO such thing as an independant whole market advisor
is inaccurate.

3. Countrywide gets survey kickbacks from panel lenders? That answers my question about who benefits from restricted panels, surely?
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