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Now part of the Bank of Scotland Group, they appear to have been picked up from an Irish bank and slight rebranded as a telephone/internet mortage offering.
Having just remortgaged to First Active I have mixed views over the process...
Selecting ======== Checking the latest offers, FA offer an excellent rate on 3 types of mortgages (tracker, fixed, discount). We opted for the tracker which is pegged to Bank of England base rate for 3 years (currently 4.75%). The only minus is that they tie you in with an early redemption penalty for the life of the discount. The big plus is that all the offers are available to all applications, old and new, so you do not have to move mortgages to another lender to get the best rates.
Applying ======= I completed the internet form fairly easily. It allows you to save and return so that you can gather details and check numbers before submitting. A nice status display shows what you have yet to complete.
You are able to see how likely they are to lend to you based on your entered requirements.
The process requires all lending to be included but it is not clear at the start what all boxes should contain - thankfully you can go back and amend once the light dawns.
After clicking on the submit, a printed / electronic copy is available for your records.
Annoyingly, a pack arrives shortly containing *most* of what you spent ages entering online, but with crucial details missing so that you have to re-enter them manually onto your forms to be returned.
Returning the application has all the usual requirements for documents and evidence. A pre-paid envelope is included. *TIP* use a registered delivery to ensure it arrives with your documents safely.
Processing ========= It took about 8 weeks to complete the whole process. This is longer than they quote but it was over Christmas so we made allowances.
The offer includes use of their solicitors to process the application. They are an internet operation of a major firm and have a good telephone support - you can get through at convenient hours and speak to people. They do not always ring you back though. *TIP* check the redemption figure on your old mortgage carefully - they got this wrong to the tune of over £1000. Although your old lender will refund this eventually, it still is concerning that they can put an incorrect completion date on the process and get a redemption figure weeks ahead of that date.
The offer includes free conveyancing/solicitors but you have to pay a 'booking' fee which is high at £399. I suspect this is to cover the 'free' solicitors/valuations etc. rather than being related to the loan. You add this to the loan so they also get interest on this amount over the life of the loan.
Finally ===== The offer letters are returned and have to be witnessed and signed as per any mortgage.
They tell you when the repayments will start and that all went through painlessly.
Telephone contact to clarify a few issues and amendments was reasonable with person to person contact without too many queues.
As with all applications, the more complete and simple the process the better it will go. They did not seem interested whern I fed back the issues with the solicitors.
I suspect that complex issues and requirements will cause more problems than they can easily resolve by phone and internet.
Overall ====== Great deals. Flawed application process. Iffy conveyancing process. Recommended with reservations.