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By Donna Spence, BDM North – Hodge

2020 started with me joining the sales team at Hodge as the Northern regional BDM.

I travelled to head office in Cardiff on the 6th January to meet the team, and to grab my new laptop and phone in readiness to hit the ground running for the first quarter of the year.

Hodge Mortgages
T:  0800 138 9109

Hodge had recently doubled their sales team, and I was fortunate enough to have been the successful candidate to service the brokers and advisers of the North.

“I remember thinking that 2020 was going to be a breeze, after the year I’d had previously.”

I started 2019 off in Thailand, completely out my comfort zone, supporting a backpack for the very first time in my adult life.  Then, the sale of my house went through in the spring and August saw the wedding of the year! Yes, I tied the knot! Throw a change of job in there too, and I think you can safely say ‘Come on 2020, I got this’.

The workshops, roundtable events, breakfast meetings and coffee mornings were coming in thick and fast, just how I like it.

I planned to apply for my own Holiday Let mortgage through Hodge too as Scotland was quickly becoming a big part of my working week! Yes, so all you readers will be pleased to know that Hodge do lend in Scotland.

Weeks were rolling into months and before I knew it, my diary was jam packed leading into the summer months.

Unbeknown to me (and the rest of the world), this was all about to change.

Until then, my average morning consisted of jumping in my car, a soundtrack blasting, grabbing lunch on the go, and treating my wheels as my office. This regime quickly changed, and I was banished to my daughter’s room working from her dressing table unsure of how this would pan out going forwards.

I must add that Hodge adapted very well to the unprecedent times that were about to unfold, all staff were well equipped to work from home, reassuring our clients and brokers throughout the upheaval.

Riding out the storm, Hodge made changes in areas where necessary but all in all these were only small tweaks, as my key accounts and new advisers needed my assistance more than ever.

The uptake on new registrations and new business coming from advisers who hadn’t crossed paths with Hodge previously were now being welcomed onboard in a new virtual world (those vanity lights were a god send when on the zoom and teams calls!) and I found that advisers were keener than ever to find out about the later life market. Brokers who had maybe once passed this type of enquiry off to others in the industry, were upskilling themselves and making the most of every opportunity that landed in their inbox.

The later life lending market was thriving, and the pandemic appeared to have encouraged many people to get their mortgage deal reviewed, previously Hodge’s main motivation for borrowing had been pound for pound re-mortgages, but we began to see a wider range of borrowing needs.

Bank of Mum and Dad certainly played its part, as we saw the previous ‘new-buyer’ LTV of 95% drop to 85%. Clients simply wanting to reduce their outgoings given the current climate, with many reducing their outgoings through some debt consolidation. Movers and Porting cases were on the rise, as that dream home was now within reach, due to the stamp duty holiday Boris had introduced, and Hodge’s early repayment promise inspired many and kept the phone lines busy for us.

With my own summer holiday cancelled amongst many in a similar position, the UK staycation market was on the rise and the introduction of our Holiday Let product came into its own. With many of us still wanting our time to switch off, our USP’s (To name a few, no minimum income required, 90-day personal occupancy and first-time landlords accepted) and flexible criteria attracted many to this new proposition. With hotspots of Scotland, York, North Wales and The Lake District being perfectly placed within my region, I was not shy of enquiries of this nature.

I was getting the hang of this new normal, my loungewear wardrobe was filling up quite nicely and all the shoes I possess we just gathering dust, (the hubby thinks I’m a millipede) slippers had become my key accessory.  My bulldogs were enjoying the comfort of me just being around and if they could talk, they could probably relay every one of Hodge’s USP’s, as they have been there with me every step of the way. They do not grasp the concept of social distancing.

2020 has made me appreciate lots of things, from a family perspective, my health and wellbeing, but also this industry and the role I play. I never planned to be a BDM all those years ago.  It can be a lonely job when out on the road, until you catch up with your fellow peers in the bar. Now that has changed, and hearing kids in the background and other peoples’ pets, going off on one every time the doorbell goes, keeps my spirits up.

So, with that in mind I look forward to 2021, continuing where 2020 left off.

Visit Hodge here.