Julie Helen: The painful process of applying for a mortgage

In her weekly column Julie Helen talks about the stress and pressures of applying for a mortgage
Julie Helen: The painful process of applying for a mortgage

Julie Helen has secured a mortgage, but the process she said is flawed. Picture: Stock

MOST days when I sit of the desk, I feel a sense of relief that I do not need to make a call to a bank!

Throughout 2022, David and I were trying to secure a mortgage to build our own home. Actually, truth be known, we started the process in 2021.

I can put my hand on my heart and say it took us over 12 months to go through the whole process. One of us is a PAYE worker in the main and the other is self-employed, so we weren’t the most straightforward case in the world. Having said that, I really feel that every obstacle and barrier possibly conceivable was put in front of us by the banking institution.

Absolutely no part of the process was in any way user-friendly.

In theory, we should have been able to upload all of our documents to an online system and see all the progress right before our eyes. That never worked for us, not once. We could never log-in and every time we needed help we got a different person who basically gave a lecture on the merits of the online system that never worked.

Eventually, the staff member in question would agree to receiving information by email and we would be drip fed information about what was missing in our case.

There was no single individual responsible or at fault for the difficulties we had. The system of applying for a mortgage feels flawed to me. All we wanted to do was have a clear picture of what was going on and that was really hard to get.

It was obvious that each person we spoke to had to tick certain boxes, but never looked beyond it to the next step or the overall impact for us. Then that staff member would move on or be on holidays and we would be bounced to somebody new.

I deal with computers and with people every day and I would consider myself a pretty decent communicator, but in this process I seemed to falter at every hurdle.

I was trying to do as much of the leg work as I could for David because he works really long days and I could be a bit more flexible. At one stage, I actually had to hand over all contact with the bank to him because I really felt he was beginning to think I couldn’t manage the communication and that the errors and delays were lying with me, rather than with the bank, because they kept sending me spinning in circles.

So, one day, after a meaningless argument about it, I asked him to take over for one month to see if he could progress things more quickly. He had the same difficulties and after the month of chasing asked me to jump in with him again.

In the end, we were both chasing and phoning and stressed off our heads.

Luckily, just before Christmas the funds came through to our solicitor and I genuinely cannot remember a time when I felt more relieved. January feels brighter without having to chase documents, follow up on calls, or decisions or quizzing and questioning as to what we had to do next.

I know we weren’t alone, many friends went through a similarly painful process and I really don’t understand why it has to be so hard. I am very grateful for our mortgage and for anyone out there who is in the middle of the never-ending gloom, stick with it, keep records of every email you send, and you will get there.

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