Platform mortgage review: Is it the best intermediary-only lender?

11 min Read Published: 14 Jun 2022

Platform mortgages review What is Platform?

Platform is the mortgage arm of the Co-operative Bank. It came into being in February 2003, when Britannia Building Society subsidiaries Platform Home Loans and Verso merged, before becoming part of the Co-operative Bank in 2009.  It aims to set itself apart from its competitors by taking an ethical approach to mortgage lending, working with organisations such as homelessness charity Centrepoint in order to give something back to society. 

Its mortgages are only available through an intermediary meaning customers can't deal directly with the company. If you don’t have a broker, we suggest Habito*, which gives independent whole-of-market advice at no cost to the end consumer. 

Platform key features

  • Mortgages for first-time buyers, movers and those remortgaging
  • Residential and buy-to-let products
  • Professional mortgages with up to 5.5 time income multiples
  • Ability to overpay by 10% per year without paying an early repayment charge
  • 40-year maximum mortgage term

Platform pros and cons

Pros Cons
tick Socially conscious mortgage lender, which donates money to charity for each mortgage deal that's completed

tick Up to 5.5 times income multiples for applicants in certain professions

tick Free standard mortgage valuation

tick Cashback offers on some mortgage deals

cross You are unlikely to get approved for a loan if you have a significantly bad credit history

cross Customers can't get deals direct from Platform, instead having to go through an intermediary

What types of mortgages does Platform offer?

Platform predominantly offers fixed-rate deals for first-time buyers, movers and those who wish to remortgage. It has a comprehensive residential and buy-to-let range, which sometimes comes with incentives such as cashback. It is known for being competitive in the interest rates it charges and it often appears on best-buy lists, including our mortgage best-buy tables, provided by Habito*.  

Platform has recently added a professional mortgage to its range, which is available to people in certain professions that tend to have clear salary progression, including accountants, actuaries, architects, barristers, chartered surveyors, dentists, medical doctors, optometrists, pharmacists, solicitors and vets. These mortgages offer income multiples of up to 5.5 times annual salary, with a minimum income requirement of £35,000.

How much can I borrow with Platform?

The amount that you will be offered for a Platform mortgage will be determined by its affordability assessment, which takes into consideration your existing financial commitments and how much you can reasonably afford if interest rates were to rise substantially over the lifetime of the loan. Part of the calculation is based on the applicants' income, with multiples at the following levels:

  • 4.75 times annual income for loans up to 60% LTV
  • 4.49 times annul income for loans over 60% LTV
  • 4.49 times annual income for Help to Buy loans
  • Up to 5.5 times annual income for professional mortgages

What interest rates does Platform charge?

Interest rates across all mortgage lenders change frequently, so it is a good idea to check with your mortgage broker at the time you are planning to make your application for the most up-to-date deals. At the time of writing, Platform has 2-year fixed rates starting at 2.70%, 3-year fixed rates from 3.00% and 5-year fixed rates from 2.64%. Rates vary depending on the loan-to-value and mortgage size.

What fees does Platform charge?

In addition to the fees you pay to a solicitor for the conveyancing part of a property purchase, there are also charges levelled by the mortgage lender. In the case of Platform this can include a product fee for some of its mortgages, which can be as high as £1,499. This fee can be added to the mortgage total, although interest will then also be payable on it, at the same rate as the mortgage itself.

In terms of valuation fees, Platform offers one free standard valuation per application for residential and buy-to-let mortgages. There is the option to pay more to have a homebuyers report or building survey completed at the same time as the valuation, with the fees for this on a sliding scale depending on the asking price for the property. 

Can you make overpayments on your Platform mortgage?

It is possible to overpay your mortgage by up to 10% of the outstanding mortgage balance each year without incurring a financial penalty. Any payment over 10% will be subject to an early repayment charge. In addition, any cashback provided as part of the mortgage deal has to be repaid if the mortgage is redeemed during the initial offer period.

The exact terms of early repayment charges are detailed in the terms and conditions of the individual mortgage product and should be explained to you by your mortgage broker when you take it out.

What is the maximum mortgage term with Platform?

The maximum mortgage term is 40 years, although the exact length will be determined by the applicant's age when they take out the mortgage. It is possible for borrowers to take on a term that goes beyond retirement age if they can show that their pension income is likely to be sufficient to service the mortgage loan.

What credit reference agency does Platform use?

When you apply for a mortgage with Platform, it runs a credit check on you, looking at your past financial behaviour and overall creditworthiness. This helps determine whether it will approve your loan and, if so, how much you will be allowed to borrow and at what interest rate.

There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Platform primarily uses Experian for its searches, so it is a good idea to check both your overall credit score and the information in your credit report to make sure it's accurate before making your application.

Does Platform offer mortgages to people with bad credit?

Platform sits between mainstream prime lenders and specialist lenders with products specifically designed for people with impaired credit. While it will consider applications from those with mild adverse credit, including one missed mortgage payment or two unsecured loan payments within the previous 12 months, the applicant is required to provide an explanation to the underwriter and to also pass the broader credit score assessment.

Generally, Platform will not approve mortgages where the applicant:

  • Is bankrupt or has been discharged from bankruptcy in the previous 6 years
  • Has an IVA or an unsatisfied CCJ
  • Has had a CCJ in the past 6 years for more than £100
  • Has defaults registered in the past 12 months or defaults during the past 6 years totalling more than £500
  • Has had a repossession

Platform customer reviews

According to customer review site Trustpilot, Platform's parent company The Co-operative Bank scores 1.3 out of 5.0, based on over 2,500 reviews. The majority of respondents had negative views, with 79% claiming it was a "bad" company, mostly based on poor customer service. However, as these reviews don't specifically cover Platform, they aren't necessarily representative of the experiences of customers with the mortgage arm of the business. According to a review by Which? though, Platform is ranked 8th out of 16 lenders, based on a range of factors, including customer service and value for money.

Summary

Platform could be a good option for you if you are looking for a lender with ethical credentials, as well as if you have minor blips on your credit record. It may also be appealing to those in professions that mean they will qualify for a professional mortgage, which offers higher income multiples to supercharge your borrowing power. As you have to go through a mortgage broker, there should be the opportunity to weigh up how it compares to other lenders at the time you are looking for a mortgage, including whether you may be able to benefit from cashback or other incentives.

 

 

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