Internet Insite

Mortgage Strategy\'s weekly guide to what\'s hot and what\'s not on the web. Kevin Paterson takes a look at lender websites, working his way from A to Z

Park Row Associates Three mutuals this week. It’s safe to say I was not looking forward to these reviews, and I can report that all my worst fears were realised. The absurdly named Saffron Waldon, Herts and Essex was a pleasant surprise. Not nice enough to give us any real functionality, but pleasing to look at and well laid out. From there on in it all goes downhill fast. And while I did not design it this way, the sites became progressively worse. Scarborough was also pleasing to look at, but did little more than offer an extended brochure site. Regarding Scottish, I would be offending brochure sites everywhere if I called its website one of them, so I won’t bother.
Saffron Walden Herts & Essex/www.swhebs.co.ukYou’d have thought that it could have come up with a more user-friendly name rather than the catchy Saffron Waldon, Herts & Essex. But aside from the title, I was encouraged when presented with a clean crisp homepage, which, unusually for mutuals, had a section on the navigation bar devoted to intermediaries. But my optimism was short-lived, as it became apparent that Saffron Waldon, Herts & Essex did not offer an online Key Facts Illustration. It reinforced this lack of service with a statement pointing out that only KFIs obtained direct from the society would be legally verified. But it promises to email a KFI within 24 hours. The lack of functionality does not end there – there’s no online AIP, application or case tracking.

Scarboroughwww.scarboroughbs.co.ukScarborough is another mutual that has clearly invested time and money into its website from a design perspective. But the lack of functionality once again lets it down. There is a dedicated intermediary website, which is great news. But you can’t do a KFI online, as it is once again emailed back to you. Admittedly the published service standard states the same day, and certain verified KFIs are available through the main sourcing systems. But once again you have to download and fax your AIP form, which is paper-based with no case tracking facility. As one of the larger mutuals, I had hoped that Scarborough would adopt a more proactive approach to intermediaries. I am sure more of us would like to use it, but additional investment is needed first.

Scottishwww.scottishbldgsoc.co.ukScottish has remained true to its origins of thrift, and nowhere is this more clearly evident than its website. A complete absence of any recognition of intermediaries doesn’t help, compounded by a total lack of site functionality. This agency-based lender, indigenous to Scotland, does little to build a distribution business through this website, which is devoid of anything useful apart from some basic product details. But given the lack of functionality, I would not feel comfortable relying on the website’s information. KFIs are not mentioned at all, but I’m sure regulation covers Scotland as well. It barely qualifies as a brochure site, and the graphic designer who put it together should be shot.