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I've been a home-owner now for about eleven years: bought my first house as the market hit rock bottom and and am still there. Naive as I was then about financial matters, I took advice from a professional and ended up with an endowment mortgage. I expect you can guess what happened next. Actually it wasn't that bad: I still had fifteen years to run on my mortgage and am young enough to get another 25-year mortgage. So that's what I decided to do.
I have banked with Royal Bank of Scotland ever since they took over Williams & Glynn's Bank nearly 20 years ago and while I've had other bank accounts as well, both personal and treasurers' accounts for some clubs I've been involved in, as well as building society accounts, RBS have always won hands down when it comes to customer service and helpfulness. Also, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, you can phone your branch up and speak to a real person instead of phoning a call centre and going through endless menus in order to talk to someone who can't or won't help you. So when it came time to re-mortgage, I looked at the available options with the intention to go with RBS unless something spectacularly better came up. It didn't - in fact the current account mortgage I decided on had one of the best rates I could find and in addition, the Bank paid all the legal fees and the valuation fee.
The actual process was simple. I filled out the application form and sent it off with the necessary copies of my payslip etc. The bank made an appointment to send their surveyor round and my partner stayed home that day. The bank's solicitors did all the legal work: they are based up north but there is no reason whatsover, with a routine transaction, why I should have needed to see them in person, and I didn't. I did speak to them a couple of times and they were friendly, helpful and phoned me back when they said they would. I had to do very little myself.
The current account mortgage works like a huge overdraft secured on my house. I have my salary paid into it and all my direct debits etc. come out of it. The rate varies depending on how much you owe in relation to the value of your property – for me, fortunately, it’s in the lowest bracket. I am saving loads of money each month and actually paying the mortgage off, not merely paying the interest. I can use PC banking which was not available with the building society I had my previous mortgage with. There is no redemption penalty if I win the lottery and decide to pay the mortgage off. I could go on but you'd get bored.
The whole thing, from me deciding to re-mortgage to the money being in my new current account, took around six weeks. Whenever something cropped up, as things do, I simply rang my local branch (or they rang me) and talked to one of three ladies whose names I knew and who, despite being busy, took as much time as was necessary to sort out whatever needed sorting in the friendliest manner imaginable. There was one snag: the mortgage insurance. This is supposed to be free for the first six months and I expected the premium to start being taken out of my account at the beginning of this year, but this never happened. It seems that somewhere along the line, the application had gone astray: I've never established whether it was me, the bank or the insurance company who lost it. This is a minor problem - it had the potential to be major if anything had happened but I was lucky.
The Royal Bank of Scotland are only human, and do make mistakes from time to time. Little ones, in my experience, and not very often. They use their vast electronic machine to help, not to hide behind. I wish all banks were this nice!