Halifax has lost my mortgage!

30 September 2013

Q

I decided to remortgage my property, switching from Halifax to NatWest as I could get a better rate. I didn't need any more money - I just wanted a better deal.On 17 July, I received an email from NatWest's lawyer, Optima Legal, confirming my remortgage had been completed and the funds had been transferred to Halifax to pay off my existing mortgage. A couple of days later, I logged into my Halifax account and was surprised to see my mortgage account was still open and the balance unchanged.I contacted Halifax, only to be told it had not received any funds from Optima. Furious, I phoned Optima, which repeatedly told me the money had been paid and the transaction had been completed, so there was no more it could do. I'm worried I now have two mortgages and may end up in arrears through no fault of my own, destroying my credit rating.The current line is Halifax gave Optima the wrong account details, so the money is floating around somewhere in the Halifax system.Please can you help?
From
Julia Stimpson, London

A

With the simplicity of the task at hand, Julia should never have been left with two mortgages or had to deal with two companies refusing to take responsibility for the situation. It was disappointing to hear Halifax and Optima were not more proactive in trying to find the missing money.

We were able to speak to Halifax on Julia's behalf and discovered a full mortgage redemption statement was sent to Optima on 2 July but that the letter quoted the wrong account details. Halifax pointed out this is "a system-generated document, rather than a manually typed letter", and this is how the mistake was made.

Halifax said: "We do take this type of incident very seriously and as soon as we were made aware a problem existed, we immediately instigated a trace for the funds."

Once the mistake was noticed and the money located, Julia's mortgage was credited and the interest was backdated so she did not incur any loss as a result of the error.

Halifax pointed out that the incident "will not have had any adverse effect" on Julia's credit file.

While Julia is pleased to have the issue resolved, she remains frustrated by the poor customer service she received.

Tips to help you remortgage

1. Get advice

It's never been so important to seek financial advice from a professional. A broker will help you find the product most suited to you and can guide you through the lender's requirements.

2. Shop around

While seeking advice is important, you should always do your own research as well. Some products are only offered direct through lenders, so brokers won't have access to them. Only by combining expert advice and your own research can you be sure to find the best deal.

3. Snap up rate deals quickly

Mortgage rates are hitting all-time lows at the moment but many are only available for a short period, so if you find the rate you want make sure to snap it up fast.

4. Don't feel tied to your lender

While it never hurts to find out what your existing lender can offer you, don't feel under pressure to stay with it if you find a better deal elsewhere.

5. Don't overestimate the value of your property

Most of us base the value of our home on local 'for sale' prices, but a surveyor will do a valuation for a lender using 'sold' prices. We often tend to think our home is worth more than it really is, and this can cause problems when it comes to remortgaging.