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First Direct the latest lender to halt new mortgages; BANKING.

HSBC-owned First Direct has withdrawn mortgages for new customers to clear a backlog - after people flocked to the bank's relatively cheap rates as other lenders withdrew offers.

First Direct has stopped offering mortgages for a short period, not expected to be longer than a few weeks, to clear an administrative backlog after receiving five times the normal number of applications.

"We're famed for service and we're not prepared to accept that kind of disruption to our customer service while having to process the applications," said First Direct spokesman Rob Skinner.

While the backlog is being cleared, parent company HSBC will step in to offer new customers a two-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.99 per cent, Mr Skinner added. First Direct's move was seen another blow for consumer choice.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 3, 2008
Words:129
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