Internet Insite

Mortgage Strategy\'s weekly guide to what\'s hot and what\'s not on the web. Jeff Sutherland-Kay checks out the websites of brokers, lenders, mortgage clubs, mortgage networks and packagers

Rather than a set of three regionally based websites, I thought this week I’d have a look at three sites offering solutions for mortgages abroad. French Mortgage Connection and UK Mortgages Abroad are both UK based and offer help with buying property in France, Florida and Spain. The amount of interactivity in these sites is disappointing but they are both attractive designs. Expatriate Mortgage Solutions of Hong Kong is outside looking helping expats to sort out mortgages on property in the UK, but its website is not as strong as the other two.

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Expatriate Mortgage Solutions
This site is for British expatriates who want to buy or finance property in the UK. There are some good messages on the homepage – “talk to expats who understand what other expats are going through” is an empathetic touch that should sit well with site visitors. But otherwise the homepage isn’t impressive. A map of the world with seven major cities highlighted has the instruction to roll the mouse over the city name to get the contact details, but only one city has any details. The design just doesn’t look professional enough, with its black text on a dull yellow background. Still, the text generally reads well – until you get to the terms and conditions page where it all starts to get a bit heavy.

French Mortgage Connection
French Mortgage Connection’s site has quite a lot going for it. The site is aimed at prospective buyers needing a mortgage in France but much of the support information is just as helpful for customers using UK mortgages, in particular a wide range of useful links, plenty of information on the purchase process and a good set of FAQs. The site looks good too – a sophisticated page template in aqua and air-force blue with the text on a white background and, on the homepage, a photo of a lavender field which reminds me of holidays in Provence. But the pages are too lengthy – they need breaking up into separate pages – and a couple of the vast number of testimonials should be worked up into case studies.

UK Mortgages Abroad
There are three routes from the welcome page – Florida with a sterling mortgage, Florida with a dollar mortgage and Spain. Once into one of these sections there’s no route across, which may not matter for Spain but is unhelpful when it comes to Florida. There is product information in all three sections plus a calculator in the Florida/dollar section and the pages on Spain include a glossary of Spanish terms translated into English. Indeed, there is enough information generally to support site visitors in their quest for basic knowledge. I wasn’t sure about the page design initially – the basic layout has the text on the left on a coloured background and an illustration filling the right panel – but it’s quite striking and I ended up rather liking it.