Internet Insight

Mortgage Strategys weekly guide to whats hot and whats not on the web. Kevin Paterson takes a look at lender websites, working his way from A to Z

A real trio of stars this week, and while it goes against the grain to blow sunshine up the proverbials of lenders I am struggling to say anything but good things about the three reviewed this week.

Each one is a lesson in how to provide a great online service to the intermediary sector, and the lowest score this week is 4. The Mortgage Express site is probably the most useful of the three, while the prize for the simplest must go to Mortgage Trust which, though simple, is effective. TMB borrows heavily from the HBOS whoosh system but is able to make the experience individualised. I must go and lie down now as Im running out of superlatives.

The Mortgage Business
As youd expect with one of the lenders in the HBOS stable, this website is comprehensive. The self-cert and large loan specialist enables brokers to run their clients details through a calculator, produce a Key Facts Illustration, apply online and complete the circle with online case tracking and email updates. You have to apply for a disc but once its loaded you can collate your application details offline and send the information when you next go online. It is clean, well laid out and easy to navigate. Im not sure what other facilities or benefits are available by registering as I was unable to complete the registration process due to a glitch, but Im sure all of the promised functionality works as this site borrows heavily from the Halifax original.

Mortgage Express
A lot of thought has gone into the Mortgage Express website. It is easy to use but at the same time extremely comprehensive. The online registration is fast and effective and allows you to do everything from obtain a binding, credit scored DIP through to online application and case tracking. Theres also some really useful information from the companys chief economist Peter Charles, which is published monthly and covers all the aspects of the economy that impact on the housing market as well as some hints on understanding MCOB. It is difficult to find anything but positive things to say about the site. This is what a true, intermediary-focussed website should look like.

Mortgage Trust
This specialist buy-to-let lender has a no messing website, but going for the minimalist approach appears to work. Because Mortgage Trust has only a handful of products aimed at the niche buy-to-let market it can afford to keep things simple. Again, Mortgage Trust only deals with the intermediary sector and it shows, with online applications, decisions in principle and case tracking real evidence of the investment it has made in the intermediary sector.

The only frustration is not being able to register online, but this maybe because, as a purveyor of an unregulated product, Mortgage Trust has no simple way of recognising a broker when most other lenders would typically use the brokers FSA number.