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*This is the second review I posted on Ciao and have edited it as it needed more information and an update*
For the purpose of this review I am writing about my experience of having a mortgage with Halifax and am not reviewing Halifax and it’s services as a whole. I am very much aware that for some they have had a great experience with them, but for me after being a loyal customer for such a long time. I felt that they had let me down and recently I realised that I had overpaid when my mortgage came to an end and successfully received a refund from them.
Halifax is a leading building society and has been providing mortgages for many years. I had been a customer of Halifax for over 10 years as my parents insisted when I was younger that I had a Building Society savings account (at the time it was the Little Extra Club) so that when the time came for me to get on the property ladder, it would make it easier to get a mortgage if I already had an account with them. So the time came in 2001 when my now husband and I went to Halifax for our first mortgage.
We chose Halifax as they were very competitive at the time and offered the best interest rate for first time buyers and my initial experience with them was great. We had a couple of meetings with a Halifax Financial Adviser who explained our repayment options and after providing what seemed like endless amounts of pay slips, P60s and payment details, in a matter of a 2 months our mortgage was being processed. I have to say that we were very lucky to buy our house at the right time, as the property market was in our favour and house prices were no way as high as they have risen to today.
We had been saving for around 1½ years before we bought the house and due to being first time buyers we were given a 5 year fixed rate mortgage and including insurances such as house and building contents, payment protection etc we were paying around £480 a month for a £60,000 mortgage (which at the time was the best offer with an interest rate of 6.5%). Not realising at the time, as we were happy that we had been offered a mortgage, we had no choice but to take the 5 year fixed rate as we had put down a large deposit on the house. Had we just paid a 1.5% deposit as first time buyers we would have been offered a 2 year deal instead, which in hindsight wasn’t fair as we were being penalised for actually saving money towards the house.
Everything was fine with our mortgage throughout the five years, payments went out of the account on the date it should have, we didn’t miss any payments, we received annual statements of the amount remaining and all was well. That was until we came to the end of the 5 year fixed term and it was time to look elsewhere for another deal.
Coming to the end of 5 years with them I contacted them by phone and explained that our mortgage was coming to an end in 3 months and I would like to speak to them about renewing my mortgage with them. I was told that I would be contacted closer to the end date. About 2 months before the fixed term ended, we received a letter from Halifax stating how much our payments would be for the next five years of our mortgage. I was shocked by this as I hadn’t even been offered an appointment to discuss taking out a new mortgage. The letter also stated that as a valued customer I would be offered a lower interest rate and I would be saving a grand total of £8.00 a month!!!
Obviously having had a mortgage with them for 5 years and not having missed any payments or had any delayed I wasn't impressed. When it came to telling them that I wouldn’t be accepting their offer and that I was going elsewhere this is when the problems started.
After searching for new deals, I decided I would go with Natwest as they were able to save me £110.00 a month, which is a massive saving. My mortgage with Natwest was delayed by almost two months because Halifax kept on sending incorrect Redemption Statements to the new provider. Once they finally sent the third redemption statement my new mortgage was processed. I then received a telephone call from my new provider explaining that once again Halifax had made a mistake with the redemption statement and that there was a shortfall of £145.
So, now panicking as the new mortgage had already been delayed, I sent the cheque to Halifax and within a week, the mortgage with Natwest was completed. Then to my delight I received a cheque in the post a few weeks later from Halifax stating that they had made a mistake and refunded me the £145 which I needn’t have paid in the first place.
This was really stressful time for my husband and I as I had spent lots of time (as well as my new provider) chasing Halifax for an accurate statement and I was starting to panic that my new mortgage wasn't going to go through.
Until 3 weeks ago I thought that my dealings with Halifax had ended, however having received an email from Money Saving Expert about reclaiming Mortgage Exit Fees, I was curious to see if I had been overcharged. I went through my old paperwork and following the instructions from Money Saving Expert, I contacted them through their dedicated phone number dealing with exit fees. I was informed that I had been overcharged by £100. I am now happy to say that I have received my cheque from Halifax refunding me the overpayment.
Overall, Halifax do offer good mortgages to first time buyers as we didn’t have any problems until we decided to change provider and for his reason my rating of their mortgage service is low. I am unlikely to return to them in the future as I feel that they do not reward loyal exiting customers. I would recommend looking elsewhere once your deal comes to an end as other lenders offer more competitive rates and deals.