Don't Just Take Our Word For It
The Mortgage Store
The Mortgage Store makes getting a mortgage smooth, easy and very quick. We’ll sort out the house, and then you can make it a home. With thousands of different mortgage schemes available in the UK for people with varying circumstances, finding the right mortgage deal can be very time-consuming. This is why we pride ourselves on our exceptional, 5-star service in helping people find the perfect mortgage deal.
My name is Sonya and I have been in the Financial Services Industry since 2002 in the Home Counties area of the UK. I moved to the UK from Ireland in 1998 where I studied an Arts degree in Ceramics and Glass. Once I finished my degree, I went straight into finance, and I have never looked back since.
I have done various roles in the finance industry from residential repossessions, to working for high street lenders, to helping brokers as a business development manager, to being a broker. Having done so many roles within the industry, being a mortgage and protection broker is the best job. You have the satisfaction of helping clients from all walks of life either secure their first property or to assisting clients with complex financial needs. It is the job that just keeps on giving.
I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping first time buyers, adverse credit, complex property types, self-build, remortgages, Newbuild, Share Ownership, foreign nationals, self-employed, the list goes on. I thrive on being able to offer the best advice to any of my clients knowing that they have the best outcome for their needs and preferences. I can offer face to face meetings with clients in my office in Berkhamsted or I can also offer online video teams calls to work around your own family and personal schedule.
What Does A Mortgage Broker Do?
Sonya Willcocks introduces the branch and talks us through the role of a mortgage broker.
We act as an intermediary or a middleman – or woman – between the client and the lender.
Our job as a broker is not only to find the most suitable mortgage for the client’s needs and preferences, but also liaise with the lender for them, taking all the stress and worries away. We’ll also keep all clients informed throughout the journey and beyond completion.
What is the difference between going to a mortgage broker like yourself versus your local high street lender?
High street lenders can only offer their own products and rates, whereas a broker has access to a more comprehensive panel of lenders that offer the client more choice.
Your personal and financial circumstances may not fit with that bank’s criteria on the high street. However, a broker will be able to locate a lender who will lend the funds whilst taking into account your personal and financial circumstances.
We seek out the most suitable product for you – because every client’s situation, circumstances, and income is all going to be completely different from the next person. It’s a tailor-made service.
A broker can offer services for First Time Buyers and home movers, manage remortgages, Buy to Let investments and mortgage protection. We arrange Agreements in Principle and we deal with estate agents, solicitors and any other third parties involved in the process. The list is endless.
We can also help with any paperwork or queries that you may have along the way from a solicitor, for example. You might get a property information form to complete if you’re selling a property, asking complicated questions that you may not even know the answer to – and we can help with that.
We also remind you when your deal is coming to maturity, so you have plenty of time to arrange another product that best fits your needs at that time.
The sooner the better, really, as it’s important to know your affordability first before you start looking for a house. You might find an absolutely amazing house and want to put an offer in – and then realise that you can’t afford it.
Also, most estate agents require a Decision in Principle, and a broker can arrange that for you very quickly. That confirms your affordability and that you’ve passed credit scoring. It makes buying your first house or next house an actual reality, not just a dream.
It’s totally new as of October 2023. I joined the Mortgage Store for compliance purposes – they’re my compliance partners through the Mortgage Intelligence Network. I opened my office early in October this year.
I’ve actually been in the financial services industry since 2002. I’ve done various different roles from working for lenders, working with other brokers and becoming a broker. I decided to go out on my own and that’s where the Mortgage Store Berkhamstead started.
No, absolutely not. There’s no cost at all. The initial consultation is absolutely free. And that initial consultation could be anything from an affordability check to an in-depth conversation about how shared ownership or another property scheme works.
We can go through the whole thing with the client. It’s all about checking what the client wants to do and seeing if it’s viable or not. There’s absolutely no fee and there’s definitely no such thing as a stupid question. It’s always best to ask.
A mortgage is the largest debt that you’re going to have in your life. We will arrange your mortgage for you, and we will also arrange your protection needs.
That means products including life cover, income protection, critical illness and family income benefit. It’s always best to make sure that you’ve got the whole thing covered. Don’t just get the mortgage, get the house and then think later on down the line, oh, I should have done that. We do everything for you at the very, very beginning.
Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.
You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with your mortgage repayments.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate most Buy to Let Mortgages.
Outside of Work
I would like to describe myself as a bubbly, outgoing, engaging, hardworking, fun, caring, driven and passionate in everything I do and going that extra mile for people.
In my spare time I also teach boxing HIIT classes and go to the gym. It’s another passion of mine as I believe in keeping fit and having a balanced life is a must.
In 2014 – 2021 I competed in quite a few fitness modellingshows in the UK, Iceland and America, which was an amazing experience and I met some very interesting peoplewhist travelling to compete.
In Iceland I won the competition and won my Pro card which was the most amazing feeling ever. I had no idea at the time what a Pro card was but then found out this allowed me to compete in America at the World championships in Las Vegas.
The will power and the intense training was one of my biggest challenges I have ever done. I love to have goals and achieving them and I am like this in everything I do.
I also love going out with my friends for brunches, bars, dinners and shopping of course, most of us ladies love to shop. I also love walking and looking after my little man Arnie, my French Bulldog.
We act as an intermediary for clients and we introduce them to a lender. I would arrange an appointment with the client to discuss their needs and aspirations, and look at the most suitable option for them with regards to mortgages and protection and make a recommendation.
We walk them through the whole process, so for First Time Buyers in particular, the advantage is that we act as a guide. We will always keep our clients updated on the progress of their mortgage or protection journey.
The advantage would be that we can get exclusive rates, compared with going directly to the lender. We’ve got the best interests of the client at heart and can find a mortgage lender for them.
High street lenders such as Barclays or HSBC will only be able to recommend their own products, but we’ve got a whole range of different lenders. It can also save time and fees, as we find the most cost effective route for the client as well.
People often don’t have the time to fill out all the paperwork, so we do the applications and deal with the lenders and underwriters throughout the whole process.
A free initial consultation, so they can book an appointment and we can have an initial chat at the start and we give the best advice and recommendation based on the client’s needs and wants. We will then guide the clients from start to finish on their mortgage journey and give them regular updates. It saves the client a lot of time.
At The Mortgage Store Brentwood, we deal with Buy to Let mortgages, for both first time and more complex portfolio landlords. We also look at new builds, remortgages and adverse credit products. I specialise in self-employment and contractors because they often feel that they can’t get a mortgage, but they absolutely can.
The best time would be if you’re starting to think about buying a property. However, if you’re halfway through an application or you’ve changed your mind about something, you can absolutely come to us for help, as long as you’ve not exchanged or completed.
For the best advice, we advise clients to come to us when they’re starting to get an idea of how much they can borrow and see what’s affordable for them. We can do the Decision in Principle, so that when estate agents ask for some kind of confirmation that they’re serious about buying, they have it.
What I love about Brentwood is that it’s very friendly. It’s got a lot of countryside, however, there is still a London feel to it as well. There are a lot of main stations to get to London within thirty to thirty five minutes. It’s got really good schools and there are a lot of activities. Generally people who live in London are branching out to the area because they can get a little bit more for their money.
I’ve been a mortgage and protection adviser for six years and prior to that I’ve always been in the finance industry. I worked for Lloyd’s and always knew deep down that I wanted to be a mortgage adviser. This branch is a new venture for me and it’s very exciting as I’ve been wanting to do it for about 3 years, but covid delayed things. It was always a dream for me to open up a branch in Brentwood for myself.
Yes, it’s a free initial consultation because a lot of clients just want to know where to start, and what they can afford based on their circumstances and income. Then we charge on a case to case basis, depending on how in-depth the mortgage application is. I would clarify that during the free consultation.
Protection is also very important for any mortgage, and we do offer mortgage protection in different ranges, such as Critical Illness Cover and Income Protection. It’s very bespoke, based on what the clients can afford and what they actually need.