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Borrowers move to unfreeze loan repayments

Hundreds of mortgagors have chosen to unfreeze their mortgage repayments early, following a six-month repayment pause offered amid COVID-19, according to NAB.

Since mid-March, NAB has been offering both home loan and business customers experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 with repayment freezes for up to six months, however has now noted that customers are opting to willingly end these deferral periods early.

The major bank told Mortgage Business that it has had over 500 borrowers proactively contact customer support in order to re-start their mortgage repayments, following on from a temporary mortgage deferral period, granted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, the major bank has announced it is bolstering its customer support departments, bringing in over 400 new employees, in order to launch an initiative to contact the remaining of all 80,000 borrowers who have deferred their mortgage repayments.

The calls will be made in order to check-in and assist customers in understanding the current standing of their home loan, including the future impact of the repayment pause on their loan balance, and to discuss the customer’s plans for the months ahead, according to NAB.

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A spokesperson from NAB informed Mortgage Business that these calls would begin to be made to customers this week.

With the addition of the new roles, NAB has increased its customer support team by more than 1000 people throughout the COVID-19 crisis, including through the training and redeployment of existing bankers into customer support contact roles.

NAB chief customer experience officer, Rachel Slade, said NAB bankers would be calling as many customers as possible to assist them in their understanding of their financial situation.

“The past few months have been incredibly difficult for so many Australians and this is an opportunity for us to speak to customers who have requested a payment pause and check how they are doing,” Ms Slade said.

“The deferral has provided some immediate and much-needed relief, but if customers are able to make payments again we will be encouraging them to do so. We don’t want our customers to be in debt any longer than they need. We want our customers to choose what’s best for them.”

Ms Slade made note of the more than 500 customers who have already contacted the bank in order to begin their loan repayments, before the designated deferral period has ended.

“Already in the past week we’ve had hundreds of customers proactively contact us to reverse their home loan deferrals and resume making payments because they felt ready to do so.”

She concluded: “We know many of our customers will continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 for a long time and our expanded team will mean we can be available to support them through this.”

The news comes following the release of data from the Australian Banking Association, which suggests that approximately 429,000 home loan customers around Australia have deferred their repayments, to a total value of $153.5 billion.

When including business loans, personal loans, and credit card facilities, the figures jump to over 700,000 loans and $211 billion in payments.

“Australian families who are financially affected by this crisis have had the breathing space they need with a six-month deferral on their home loan repayment while they chart a path through to the other side of this downturn,” ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said.

[Related: Mortgage deferral total surpasses $150bn]

Borrowers move to unfreeze loan repayments
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