It's a while since I visited central London on my round Britain tour of mortgage broker websites. So here are two big names and one I hadn't come across before. Xbridge is a large and fairly complex site with most of its focus on business finance and support services. And the website does it pretty well too. Alexander Hall, on the other hand, is rooted in personal financial services – a much simpler site but one that works well. As for Unlimited Mortgages – well, let's just say the website doesn't match the company name.
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Backed by Prudential, Boston Consulting Group and Linklaters & Alliance, Xbridge describes itself as “service and supplies for business”. It's not surprising then that much of the site is taken up with commercial finance information. And it's good stuff, like the well written commercial mortgage guide. The guide's well indexed too, complete with the facility to ask a question plus an information library and case studies, although the lender partners offered for commercial mortgages could be a wider range. It's a pity the same attention to detail is missing from the residential side but there's a mine of information here too, including a mortgage comparison tool supplied by Moneysupermarket.
Alexander Hall's strapline is “London's no fee mortgage expert”, so here's another firm that will have to review its use of the word 'independent' in its website. It's a good looking site in a simple red template with the name Alexander Hall contracted to “ah!” to give “ah! hello” on the home page, “ah! brilliant” for the mortgage pages and similar slogans elsewhere. Within the site it has gone for shorter pages and more of them which, coupled with good navigation from a left hand menu, works well. With a jargon buster, a simple mortgage calculator and an online enquiry form the site makes a good overall package. I can't decide, though, whether the attractive young lady on the homepage is relevant or just there to please the designer!
You would think that a company with such a great name and a strapline of “guaranteed mortgages” would have a pretty good website to back it all up. Er, no. The homepage has eight areas to click on – topics like CCJs, remortgages, buying a property – but, apart from 'letting' which shows properties the firm has to let (all two of them), every click-through ends up with two or three lines of basic text and the same simplistic enquiry form. Even clicking on the calculator brings up the same enquiry form rather than an actual calculator. The design is pleasant enough with its combination of blues but the template is a frame -not a good idea if you're looking for search engine prominence.