The Prime Minister and new Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins, dropped in to talk about the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, and hear about the new products launched.
Dave Fawcett, NatWest's local chief executive officer for the Northampton area, greeted the Prime Minister and showed him around the busy Drapery branch. He was joined by branch manager Rickesh Kanabar, personal mortgage adviser Helen Grigore, and Tracey Mackenzie, who only began as a mortgage adviser earlier this week! Together they talked the Prime Minister through the rates of the new 95% loan to value mortgage provided by RBS and NatWest, for first-time buyers and movers. The Prime Minister spent time speaking with Helen and Tracey asking for their feedback on the scheme, and how they thought it would benefit customers in their area.
The Prime Minister was keen to hear of the general interest in the scheme. Helen, who has worked at the bank for seven years, explained that in the last few days they've had many customers arranging meetings to discuss Help to Buy, and asking whether it might be the right product for them. To respond to the expected level of enquiry, over 740 branches are opening for longer over the next two weeks.
Freeing up the housing market
Two of these customers were in the branch today and able to speak directly with the Prime Minister. Christopher, 26 from Wellingborough, who is currently living with his parents, is hoping Help to Buy may allow him to get a first step on the property ladder. He explained that although he had been saving, he didn't yet have a 10 percent deposit. With today's announcement he may now be able to move out. Rob, from Northampton, is also looking to buy a property with his partner and their family. He believes schemes like these are important as they can help to free up the housing market, and allow others to buy.
While the Prime Minister was at the Drapery, there were customers logging onto the NatWest and RBS website, hoping to learn more about the scheme. At peak times the Help to Buy pages were being viewed 40 times a minute. Prospective first-time buyers, like Chris, have been particularly interested in finding out how much they could borrow - figures today have quadrupled when compared with the same time yesterday, and this is only set to continue.
After the customers meetings, the Prime Minister and Housing Minister stopped for a number of photos with staff, encouraging them to shout "NatYes!" into the camera, and with that they were on their way.