Meet the broker… Oportfolio

Meet Louis Mason of Oportfolio

Tell us a bit about your business.

Oportfolio mortgages was founded in 2009 by our managing director Oliver Whitehead with the vision of helping people with all their financial needs under one roof.

Oportfolio is a mortgage and protection brokerage currently made up of two senior advisors, three dedicated administrators, a content and communications manager, and a dog called Betsy.

Where are you based and where do you operate geographically?

Our head office is in Putney, Southwest London on the banks of the Thames.

We mainly operate in London and the south, but we have clients from every corner of the country.

We also have a lot of ex-pat clients based oversees that we help with UK owned properties like buy-to-lets.

What are the main issues impacting your local market?

The main issues impacting our local market in London now are mortgage affordability and property stock.

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of property in the country and in London it is on a whole different level.

Property demand is up 4% this year. We are finding that property isn’t coming on the market too often and when it does, the amount of people competing and trying to outbid each other is very high.

Cash buyers also make up 50% of the market so buyers getting a mortgage are often overlooked by sellers.

Another issue is the recent changes to mortgage affordability. Since lenders have increased their mortgage rates and affordability tests, we are seeing borrowers being offered much lower mortgages than they normally would.

The increase in mortgage rates is also forcing a lot of potential borrowers to delay their mortgage search, in hopes that rates will drop back down sooner rather than later.

What challenges are you facing as a broker?

Clients are getting conflicting information from the media, bank advertisements and conversations with friends, so it can make things difficult when they are thinking about their mortgage options.

We are seeing an increasing number of borrowers who have been told one thing by a third party and another by someone else, and people are losing their confidence and trust in what real mortgage professionals are advising.

Significant changes in the market and lending criteria have impacted the options available for buyers and remortgagers. 

So, lots of people are getting quite confused as to what is possible, lending criteria and affordability assessments etc, it is not that same as it was last year.

People need unbiased, independent, and up to date advice now more than ever before.

What are the main opportunities for brokers in your area and nationally?

People need independent advice, so now is a great time to speak with clients, even if it is just to stay connected and to keep them up to date with what is possible.

People will want to talk through any concerns about the market or rates.

Clients speaking to local advisers means the advice can be more specific and you can get more of an idea of the local market for sales and valuations.

Nationally, the opportunities are massive.

We have lots of London clients with property outside of London, whether a holiday home, rental properties or property for dependent relative.

When helping buyers looking for property nationally, it really opens things– not just for new home buyers due to the wider range of purchase prices, but also for those looking to buy a rental property as often the yield / rent to mortgage ratio is much better regionally than properties within London.

What could lenders do to help further your business?

Our main concern now is lenders speaking directly to our clients.

If they stopped doing this, it would be a benefit to the clients themselves and also to us, as the clients would get full independent advice.

Often the banks contact the clients and try to promote themselves or the rates, but the clients don’t know if these are competitive or not.

Ultimately the bank is just pushing their own agenda onto the clients, and this isn’t fair.

Banks will of course try to encourage clients to stay with them rather that remortgage to other banks, however they do not provide any advice on the options being offered.

The clients can end up trapped in a rate for longer than makes sense for their circumstances and having to pay a huge fee to get out of it.

Other things they could do is stop trying to encourage clients to take 5-year fixed rates.

It does make sense for some clients but not all of them – independent advice is important here, rather than listening to a bank that is only bothered about making money rather than looking after clients.

They make the 5-year rate look attractive, but it is ultimately a 5-year tie in clause with massive penalties if you break it early – for some lenders, the penalty is 5% of your mortgage balance.

If they leave the mortgage advice and guidance to brokers and focus more on keeping their rates and products attractive and competitive, getting business wouldn’t be a concern for them.

What sets you apart from the competition?

I think that the fact that we are such a tight, connected, and supportive team really makes a difference to our clients.

Unlike larger corporate brokerages that are more of a conveyor belt than advisors, we work together to make sure the entire process is well oiled, and our clients receive the best care and support they could possibly hope for.

We see our clients’ financial needs as something that we can help them with on a long-term basis, and we want to be there for them, to help in any way we can.

How should potential borrowers contact you?

We are a friendly bunch and are always available to speak to anyone who needs a helping hand.

Our office is open throughout the week and if you are local, stopping by for a cup of tea and a chat is definitely encouraged!

Our address is 5 St. George’s Court, 131 Putney Bridge Road, London, SW15 2PA.

Alternatively, you can always contact our team and we can go from there.

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