Charcolonline, the web-based arm of broker John Charcol, is partnering lenders in the sub-prime sector as consumer demand in the credit impaired sector grows.
Products from Future Mortgages, Platform Home Loans, Bristol & West and Chelsea Building Society are now available direct to the public through the broker’s online arm.
Walter Avrili, Charcolonline’s product development director, said: “We have Future Mortgages, Platform Home Loans, Bristol & West and Chelsea all offering sub-prime products.”
Charcol offline already has some dealings with sub-prime lenders, but this latest move has been viewed as an endorsement of the sub-prime market and a clear signal that the sector has cleaned up its once poor image.
Avrili, who has spearheaded the online operation from the outset, added: “A lot of people do not want to talk to a broker regarding issues on credit and would rather do it via their computer.
“Everyone keeps telling us that this is a big market. This is just one way of us finding out whether it is or not. It is as much a learning experience for John Charcol as it is for Charcolonline.”
Michael Bolton, Future Mortgages’ marketing manager, said it had been working to improve the credibility of sub-prime lending in the UK, championing a better deal for the consumer at the expense of the high procuration fees paid by its competitors to brokers.
He said: “We have worked hard at providing the reassurances for John Charcol to feel comfortable entering this market through its online business. This is a vindication of our stance of putting the customer first.”
Guy Batchelor, sales and marketing director at Platform Home Loans, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside such an established brand. Our ultimate aim at Platform is to move away from being classed as a sub-prime lender. This goes a long way towards helping us achieve this.”
Charcolonline added the sub-prime category earlier this month after it revamped part of its site. It also now includes categories on buy-to-let and self-certification.
As yet Bradford & Bingley, which acquired John Charcol for £100m last month, has yet to confirm whether or not it too will be working in partnership with sub-prime lenders.
But Avrili said: “Bradford & Bingley has let it be known that it will let us row our own boat. It will not get involved in choosing the products we decide to sell or promote, or the types of things we do. We are pretty much left to our own devices in that respect.”
Toby Strauss, Charcolonline managing director, said: “We aim to provide a comprehensive range of carefully-selected products on the web and the launch of our impaired credit section covers what is a rapidly expanding area.”