HSBC says the launch of an online property buying advice centre will not be used merely as a means to push HSBC products on first-time buyers.
The lender says the website, launched today, has been designed to provide an online advice centre for first-time buyers, offering what it says is access to “free, independent advice on the home-buying process” from an estate agent, solicitor, surveyor and a HSBC financial adviser.
Katherine Kowalski, a spokeswoman for HSBC, says it is “absolutely not” the case HSBC will be using the website to push its own products, but adds: “Of course, if people want to then go to our website and look at our products they are free to do so.”
That said, the website contains a link to both HSBC's product range as well as a link to the lender's quotation engine.
Fay Goddard, deputy director general at the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, says: "The actual website appears to be giving generic advice and it does look quite useful but whether first-time buyers will take action from it or just learn from it is another matter.
"The links to quotes does suggest the lender is using a generic advice model to link to what looks like a tied offering. There is some useful material there but I would question the independence of the advice apart from that."
The lender says the website will enable first-time buyers to submit questions on any part of the home buying process and get advice from the panel.
The panel is made up of:
- Manjit Hawkins who has seven years experience in the financial services industry and is employed by HSBC as a financial adviser;
- Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, who will provide property market and negotiation advice;
- Ash Oberoi is a specialist conveyancing and property solicitor who will give advice on the legal side of making a property purchase, and
- Jack Gould a chartered surveyor specialising in residential property who will be available to questions on what to look out for when buying a home and to provide planning and building advice.
Each month the panel will also look at different parts of the property-buying process via a webcast, with topics voted for by first-time buyers.
HSBC says the property panel site will offer first-time buyers a complete toolkit to guide them through their first property purchase, including a step-by-step guide to home buying, with tips, checklists and guides including how to work out a budget and make the right offer.
Carina Kemp, head of mortgages at HSBC, says: "The property panel has been designed to help first-time buyers find and buy their new home with confidence and success. Our panel of advisers will take buyers through the entire process, cut through the jargon and offer common sense advice and practical tips that will save time, money and stress."
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