The primarily state-owned lender was one of three lenders, including Barclays and Nationwide, to confirm NewBuy ranges for the official launch of the scheme today, with NatWest proving the most competitively priced with its two-year fixed rate at 4.29%.
While Nationwide has made its deals available through intermediaries only and Barclays said its deals will be primarily sold through IFAs, NatWest has chosen to sell direct through its call centre.
Frankish warned the move “could cause more issues than it resolves”.
He said: “Although we appreciate NatWest’s support of the scheme, the decision to distribute the product direct through a call centre is both frustrating and concerning.
“Advising a customer on buying a new home has become a specialist area of advice over recent years. Service has become the key with most of the activity happening around the weekend hours; indeed, it has become very ‘retail’.
“Open communication between customer, mortgage provider and developer is essential if the transaction is to run smoothly and within the timescale set down by the developer.
“My concern, and we have seen this many times before with direct offerings, is that this service element cannot be provided through a lender call centre environment.”
He noted that several mortgage brokers have dedicated systems and processes for dealing with the new homes industry, and placing the case with the right lender first time is vital to the customer having a good or bad experience.
Frankish said: “Here lies one of the main concerns, brokers can move customers from lender to lender; this is one of the key benefits. Dealing with lenders directly does not facilitate this and why should they worry if a case declines? They just move on to the next one.”
While he applauded NatWest’s excellent pricing and support of the scheme, he added: “We would have appreciated the opportunity to work with them to deliver their objectives rather than work against them.”
However, a spokeswoman for NatWest said the move to sell through its phone channel was a business decision.
She said: “Rather than making the NewBuy deals available to all channels, we can monitor it best through this one channel.
“We have no plans at this stage to sell through intermediaries.”