Remortgaging service could push solicitors out of picture

A subsidiary of banking giant Abbey National has launched a new 10-day remortgaging service that will cut the borrower's solicitor out of the remortgaging process.

The Household Mortgage Corporation (HMC) will this week go public with its Fastrak service that guarantees a remortgage within 10 working days. If the deadline is missed, the £200 fee for the service will be refunded.

HMC will use a scheme piloted by First American Title Insurance, which last week completed a similar re-mortgaging pilot with the Halifax.

First American director and Kent firm Marsons Solicitors senior partner Brian Marson refused to comment on the deal, referring all questions back to HMC.

However, in an interview with The Lawyer earlier this year, Marson said the First American remortgaging process worked through the use of electronic checks of the Land Registry information.

A title insurance contract for the remortgage was then issued, usually within an hour, and the form was then sent off to the customer to be signed and completed.

It is likely that the whole process will be completed by First American solicitors and legal executives acting for HMC. Overseas experience of the system has shown half a dozen staff can get through 8,000 transactions a month.

HMC head of customer services Philip Shama said that customers wanted funds quickly when they applied for a remortgage and did not want to wait weeks while solicitors swapped details.

“We believe this will be a very popular facility,” said Shama. He had introduced the scheme to attract more customers to his company and will be offering Fastrak at its normal rates for a remortgage. He refused to outline how many transactions they were hoping to achieve.

While solicitors face losing work, the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) may benefit from the scheme since if a remortgage does go wrong, the respective insurance company rather than SIF will be liable for any compensation.