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YBS - Raising the bar
Yorkshire Building Society
Member Name: roversjenny
Yorkshire Building Society
Advantages: Family feel, great staff
Disadvantages: Lack of faster payments
Back in December 2007 I was hunting for a mortgage as one of my friends was moving abroad and wanted to sell his house on the cheap, as we weren't actively looking to buy a house at the time, we had little by way of deposit and therefore most banks and building societies wouldn't look twice at us and if they did, they wanted to add on huge fees and charge extortionate rates. When I spoke to YBS, that all changed.
For the first time in my mortgage hunt, I felt valued as a potential customer. I had a 1 to 1 meeting with a mortgage advisor who explained all the pro's and con's of taking their 100% mortgage, including the risk of negative equity in a turbulent market and the fact that it was only a few days before the BoE were due to announce any rate changes.
Unlike most places, the advisor told me that if I signed an agreement in principal for the mortgage on that day, and the BoE rate went down, they would change the application before my other half signed it and we could have the best of both worlds.
Not only did YBS offer us a competitive fixed rate (at the time) they also offered us assistance with our legal fee's (all we had to pay was disbursements) and there were no product fee's on the mortgage meaning that we didn't get stung for an upfront fee like we would have done with most of them, and they even paid the Higher Lending Charge on our behalf.
The mortgage that we took came with an offset savings account, which in these tough times has been a god send, as our interest is earning us far more money than most savings accounts now offer, the downside of that is that we are now paying at quite a high rate due to the BoE cuts, however, as our mortgage is affordable, its not a big issue.
The offset account is an instant access account which comes with a cash card that can be used at any link cash machines throughout the country, however, it cannot be used to make purchases in shops or online. Another downside is that you can only withdraw £250 a day through their cash machines, and if you want to get money from the branch, it was restricted to £800. Whilst this seems high, we were wanting to shift money to our current account to pay for our wedding and we had to do it over the course of several days. This wouldn't have been a problem if YBS had a faster payments system, however, they don't and online transfers to a different bank/building society take 5 working days to clear, as do cheques, which is above the norm for banks (Halifax take 3 working days for cheques).
The YBS online system is not as good as the likes of Halifax and Barclays, however, it serves a purpose and you can make payments, transfer money, and see your latest transactions/balance in respect of the savings account, and then in respect of the mortgage, you can check your balance and see the latest statements. The interest on the mortgage is calculated daily and the online system is updated daily, so if you are like me and like to keep an eye on these things, its easy to check! At first it was a novelty and I would log on every day to see the value of my mortgage rise but now I look probably less than once a month.
Its not all been plain sailing with YBS, when we were having problems with the house and wanted to sell (we were broken into in the middle of the night and it caused me a lot of distress), we were pretty much told there was not a lot we could do, due to the negative equity (which we could afford to pay) and the early redemption charges on the account. If we wanted to avoid these we would have had to take another mortgage with YBS for which we would now need a 15% deposit. Whilst it was a bad outcome from our perspective, the staff at the Leeds branch were lovely and had a great meeting with them in which we left feeling really positive, afterall, they couldn't control our circumstances, the decline in the housing market, and they didn't put a gun to our head and force us to take a 100% mortgage!
I have been very impressed with the YBS since I joined, I feel part of something rather than them just holding my money, and I would certainly recommend them to any of my friends and family (or even strangers on Dooyoo!) if they are seeking advice on mortgages or savings accounts!
Summary: One of the best building societies out there
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