Post Office unveils mortgages drive


People visiting the Post Office will be able to apply for a mortgage deal under plans announced today.

The provider has stepped up its bid to become a top-10 lender by announcing plans for scores of mortgage specialists across its network of branches.

Seven mortgage specialists will initially be available in Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Luton and Norwich under a pilot scheme being rolled out in the coming months to include the larger branches across the Post Office's 11,800-strong network.

The Post Office hopes the number of specialists, who will discuss its own products with customers, will eventually reach three figures.

Until now, people have had to apply online or over the phone for a mortgage with the provider, which has offered mortgages since 2009. The Post Office offers deals for people with deposits as low as 10% and said it plans to "sharpen up" its range in the near future.

The Post Office said its new mortgage software will enable customers to find out how much they could borrow and view products and repayments on screen.

Customers can be provided with a printed approval in principle and have the opportunity to submit a full mortgage application under the plans.

Charlotte Nelson, spokeswoman for consumer help website Moneyfacts, said the range does not currently appear on its best buy tables, but the introduction of mortgage specialists would give borrowers more involvement in the "complex" process.

The Post Office offers mortgages, savings and credit cards as part of a joint venture with the Bank of Ireland. It did not say how many mortgage customers it currently has or how many more it aims to take on.

Mike Cook, head of Post Office mortgages, said the provider wants to build on its reputation as a trusted brand.

He said the ambition to become one of the top 10 largest mortgage lenders would take several years to achieve and there were no strict targets. The plans could help first-time buyers, many of whom have found themselves trapped in the rental sector.

While there have been recent signs of a mortgage war between lenders trying to attract less "risky" borrowers with big deposits, those with smaller deposits are expected to have a tougher time finding a deal in the coming months amid the weak economy.

Mr Cook said: "Last year over 40% of our borrowers were first-time buyers, which is something we are always open to."

The network's online and phone services will remain in place.