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Offer help through interest-only puzzle

Two hot topics at the recent Mortgage Business Expo in Manchester were lender service standards and interest-only mortgages.

Both are of particular interest to me as head of a mortgage club because of the emphasis on customer care.

The overall message on service standards was positive. I was encouraged to hear intermediaries take responsibility for presenting cases to lenders fully completed so they are processed quickly.

Lenders agreed that a thorough, efficient and speedy process is important to them as well as intermediaries’ customers.

All admitted the need to continually improve service standards and for better communication to ensure the mortgage case is processed swiftly.

Interest-only created a healthy debate, and was referred to several times by speakers including the Financial Services Authority.

Whether you agree or disagree with interest-only mortgages, the main question seems to be ’how much of the decision to enter into this type of arrangement rests with the applicants themselves?’

Lenders can be excused for changing their policy, as confusion exists on the future of interest-only mortgages.

However, there also needs to be sensible interpretation of the various publications and messages throughout the industry, so suitable customers can still take out interest-only, while being protected and fully understanding the implications of their actions.

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