Imagine that lenders are shopping for customers, in some sort of horrible, sordid people-as-products supermarket (or don’t, if it makes you uncomfortable). The shelves are PACKED with people who want cash, and the lenders get to choose which types of people they want to transact with. Banks, for example, used to lend to loads of ‘risky’ people; then 2008 happened, everything went a bit horrible, and they mostly became a touch more risk-averse – meaning that they’re less likely to want to lend to people who might potentially be less certain to be able to keep up their repayments.
By contrast, some of the newer entrants into the lending market might be a little more willing to transact with people who traditional lenders are ignoring. Basically, it’s like dating: every lender has their own, often arbitrary and idiosyncratic, criteria and they’d all admit that it’s often a bit weird. Some lenders, for example, will look at the minutiae of your life, taking into account stuff like travel costs and whether or not you spend a fiver every day on frothy coffee; others are a bit more laissez-faire.
Much like love, mortgage lending is often pretty hard to fathom (and, on occasion, a really painful experience). Every lender has a slightly different profile of who they want to lend to. It’s not that some customers are necessarily better than others, just that lenders perceive themselves to ‘fit’ better with certain customers than others. And that’s where brokers come in – their job is basically to match people with the sorts of lenders who want to lend to people like them. If that makes sense. Sort of like a financially minded version of Guardian Soulmates, but with a slightly higher probability of a happy ending. If you’re under 18, you can’t get a mortgage; if you’re over 90, you probably can’t get a mortgage; if you’re unemployed, you might struggle; if you’re in prison, forget about it.
Otherwise, it totally depends.