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

Kevin Paterson, national sales director, Park Row AssociatesLondon and the Home Counties get a visit this week. The Kensington site could hold its own with any of the big boys. It is broker-friendly with lots of functionality. But sadly Lambeth and Kent Reliance – no, it’s not a security company – cannot stand up against the big lenders. Down Lambeth way prepare yourself for the walk, as there is little in the way of online facilities, which is a shame as most brokers will tell you they quite like its products. If ever there was a lender that undersold itself, it’s Lambeth. By contrast, Kent Reliance has neither the products nor the presence and, to be fair, it doesn’t try to have either. Maybe that’s the problem.
Kensington Mortgages
Widely regarded as the original UK sub-prime lender, Kensington stole a march on this specialist sector of the UK market back in 1995. But it shows no signs of sitting on its laurels. Predominantly broker centric, Kensington has recently established a direct advisory arm, TML Financial Solutions. This is a good example of what a lender website should look like as it is clear and practical, if a little plain, and has lots of functionality. Registration is quick and easy with access to online decisions in principle, applications and case tracking. Key Facts Illustrations can be produced with automatic or manual product selection. There are lots of useful downloads from product spec through to bridging loan application and further advance application forms.

Kent Reliance
Despite the boring home page complete with disappearing and appearing cartoon wizard and what I think are a row of oast chimneys in the header, I was encouraged to see an intermediary link on the navigation bar and proceeded to register. Unfortunately, I got tired of waiting and moved on to see what functionality was available to the public, thinking that if there is an online KFI and DIP for intermediaries there was bound to be the same facility for consumers. But I was disappointed. Kent Reliance makes a play of the awards it has won, the one on the home page is not clear but it seems to be for a children’s savings account, and apparently it has won best regional lender this year from the Mortgage Magazine – although obviously not for the website.

This is another regional lender that would rather ignore the intermediary sector. Lambeth’s site is basic with next to no functionality. You are not able to get either a KFI or DIP online. It’s a shame because its products have in the past consistently gone head to head with the big boys. Its current five-year fixed rate is a respectable 4.89% but, bizarrely, this has a maximum loan facility of 200,000, which is a little odd given the society’s location. Brokers have been keen to use it and a straw poll in our office confirmed that most had used Lambeth and were quite happy with the service. So why on earth has it not invested in its site and courted the intermediary sector more actively? 33,614 registered users can’t be wrong