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Will Paperless Mortgages Change The Industry?

  02 Nov 2017

There are many important things in life but when it comes to buying a house and caring for loved ones, obtaining a mortgage is one of the most essential things in life. This is why anything new or interesting in the mortgage industry is worth checking out and weighing up. Most of the focus in the mortgage sector falls on interest rates but one interesting issue of note recently is the introduction of paperless mortgages by the NatWest.

There are certainly many mortgage lenders and financial institutions which have introduced digital elements to the mortgage application and review process but NatWest have taken the digitalisation further. There is no need for paper at all and this means that there will be a big environmental impact of switching to this way of working. The company believes that a digital approach will result in them using 4m fewer sheets of paper. Initially, the paperless mortgage option is only available to clients who apply for a mortgage over the phone but the firm is looking to roll this out to their advisers in branches across the country.

Time is of the essence with mortgage applications

The environmental impact is positive but there is also the fact that switching to a digital process should speed up the application process. NatWest believes they can speed the process up by 10 days and there was a study in Massachusetts in 2016 which saw 16 days removed from the application process. Given that this period is often a nervous one for the applicant, anything which reduces waiting time is likely to be seen as a positive thing.

However, speed cannot come at the expense of security and safety. NatWest say that they have many security processes in place, including requiring people to send images of themselves alongside other digital forms of ID but you can see why many people, and lenders, are still wary at the lack of a face to face meeting when it comes to ensuing everything is above board when it comes to a mortgage application. You get the impression that many companies are happy to sit back and watch NatWest take the lead with this style of mortgage application and if they can show it is safe and secure, there is every chance that other companies will follow suit.

However, there is not universal approval or backing for this style of mortgage application in the sector. There have been statements from institutions like Virgin Money and the Yorkshire Bank outlining the fact that they have no immediate plans to introduce paperless mortgages to their client base. Other organisations like Halifax and the HSBC say that they use digital processes as part of their mortgage application set-up and that this is something that is continuously being reviewed, so a change may occur in the future.

There is a lot of credit to be given to NatWest for the approach they have taken to introducing a new aspect to the mortgage sector but at this point in time, it is still early on with respect to the digital market. You can see that the potential is there but until the safety and security of paperless mortgages are shown, there will be people who are wary of what is on offer.

At this moment in time, paperless mortgages are likely to be a small part of the mortgage sector but if it goes well, you can expect this to be a game-changer with respect to speed of the application process.


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