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A close rung thing

It will be a pressured year for mortgage brokers because regulatory changes will pile on the workload and costs.

The economic outlook is favourable as we believe low interest rates and low unemployment will be sustained well into 2004. Mortgageforce predicts that house price inflation will be between 7 and 10 cent. HBOS suggests that the North, Scotland and Wales will see the highest levels of price inflation and we agree.

Brokers will fight for market share as young buyers continue to face difficulties getting on the housing ladder. This will not just be in the South-east and London but nationally. Buying with friends, guarantor schemes and shared ownership will be increasingly called upon to bridge the affordability gap.

Discounted deals and some tracker deals will offer the best value in the first half of next year. Fixed rates will be selected by those seeking payment certainty but will not be the product of choice for the mass market due to current and likely pricing.

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