Brokers slam Santander

The lender is said to have made intermediaries’ lives harder with under-staffed phone lines and long waiting times.

Independent mortgage broker Jonathan Burridge said: “My experience of Santander over the last 18 months has been extremely negative to the extent that I will warn customers not to use them, especially the self-employed.”

And Richard Hanlon, principal of Mortgage Planners, added: “Santander is very challenging to deal with.

“It has very attractive products but it’s oversubscribed.”

However, Burridge was impressed with one lender, the Halifax, for which he reserved special praise.

He said: “Every time I go with Halifax it’s so straight-forward I wonder why it can’t be the same with every other lender.”

“I believe there are lenders who have the propensity to lend and there are lenders who have the propensity not.

“Halifax and also Accord are very positive and open with their dealings with intermediaries.”

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, agreed with Burridge.

He said: “Santander have been slow and Halifax have been quick as long as the case fits.

But he added: “They’ve got a slick online process, although if it isn’t straight-forward Halifax can still take a while. Coventry Building Society are also very efficient providing it’s straight-forward.

“When things are looked at by a human being that’s when you tend to get the delays!”

After it was contacted about the criticism, a Santander spokesperson responded: “Whilst we can’t comment on the specifics of this case, we did receive unprecedented levels of applications prior to the MMR and high levels of demand for our products.

“We have continued to process applications throughout this period and always publish our latest service times on our website.”

Some brokers, including David Sheppard, managing director of Perception Finance, defended lenders such as Santander, as he attributed the delays to the Mortgage Market Review.

He said: “Santander haven’t been too bad. They did go through a particularly bad time but they’ve improved a bit since then.

“Woolwich’s time frames are not fantastic, but this is the nature of that regulation. You can’t bring in a raft of regulations and expect lenders to be up to speed from day one.

“I don’t think anybody is being horrendous at the moment - it’s all about managing expectations.”

And Matthew Fleming-Duffy, director at Cherry Mortgage & Finance, agreed.

He said: “We’re all struggling with changes to rules and regulations. Because it’s the market that’s changed I can’t really single out any lender that’s been particularly poor.

“The regulator is issuing comment which changes from the rules and regulations, making it harder for the lender to do what they’ve always done.

“To the credit of most estate agents they've understood that the market has changed. I was expecting more pressure to be put on lenders from them but we’ve not seen that.

“I do think things need improving but this will take place over a long period of time.”