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Nationwide reintroduces problem-prone free legals

Nationwide reintroduces problem-prone free legals

Nationwide, which pulled its free mortgage legals service in the middle of last year after complaints about delays, is reintroducing the service, while continuing to offer a cashback alternative.

Last year, the building society replaced the free standard legals option for remortgage customers, and, at the same time, increased the cashback alternative from £250 to £500.

The move followed complaints from brokers and customers that remortgaging was taking too long. Nationwide has said the conveyancer it used at that time, Breezeplus, wqould not be on the list of firms it will use for the new service.

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The change means customers can choose between the £500 cashback option and free legals.

“This gives customers the choice between utilising the cashback to use their own conveyancer or taking the free legals alternative,” said Henry Jordan, Nationwide’s director of mortgages.

The company has also increased its maximum loan size for those mortgage members borrowing up to 95 per cent loan to value (LTV) from £250,000 to £350,000.

Mr Jordan said this was to benefit those who are predominantly first time buyers in areas of higher house prices, notably London and the South East.

Jane King, mortgage adviser at Ash-Ridge Private Finance, said that the decision was an odd one. “It is working alright with the cashback,” she said.

“People can use the conveyancers they want and it all works out OK. I’ll probably be advising my clients to stick with the cashback option.

“By increasing the maximum loan size available to those with small deposits, it will enable more buyers to take their first step onto the housing ladder.”

Back in May last year Nationwide’s conveyancer Breezeplus revealed it was addressing problems that have led to delays of weeks or months on remortgage processing times.

The service came under fire from a broker back in May who claimed their client may require compensation after their fees-free remortgage through Nationwide was delayed by more than a month, leaving them paying the standard variable rate for longer than expected.