Together increases use of digital valuations across its personal finance product range

Together has updated its criteria to allow more automatic property valuations in a move designed to reduce costs and speed up mortgage applications.

The specialist lender estimates that the rule changes will mean more than half of its new personal finance cases can now be funded by using the HomeTrack digital platform – removing the need for physical property valuations.

This will make it easier for applications to progress, particularly during lockdown, and could benefit customers looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday by moving before the Government scheme ends in March, a Together spokesman said.

Sundeep Patel, the lender’s head of intermediary sales, said: “We estimate that changes to our rules mean we will be able to use Hometrack’s AVM (automated valuation model) in more than 50 per cent of personal finance applications, up from about a third of cases in 2019.

“It’s an incredibly useful tool, particularly under the current Covid-related lockdown restrictions, and could reduce costs for intermediaries submitting cases to us, while speeding up the application process by removing the time it takes for physical valuations of properties.

“We have brought in these rule changes to streamline the process at a time when hundreds of thousands of home buyers are looking to complete transactions ahead of the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of March.”

The enhanced AVM rules apply across all Together’s personal finance products, with a maximum LTV of 70 per cent (65 per cent for regulated bridging applications), to a maximum loan size of £250,000 and with a confidence level of 5+.

Previously, Together allowed digital valuations for its mortgages on properties worth up to £500,000. The lender will now accept automatic valuations for regulated bridging as well as first charge loans, with no maximum property value. The maximum property value for second charge loans has been increased to £750,000.

For home purchases, Together will accept the minimum Hometrack valuation or purchase price, or the council valuation for right to buy properties, while physical valuations will still be needed on shared ownership properties, those of non-standard construction and new-builds.