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Call for best-buy ban over high loan fees

Mortgages with sky-high arrangement fees should be banned from best-buy tables, says Savills Private Finance managing director Mark Harris.

Harris is calling for a radical overhaul of the best-buy system and describes lenders that deliberately shrink their rates only to simultaneously raise their fees simply to catch consumers’ attention and shoot to the top of the tables as opportunistic and acting against the spirit of FSA regulation.

He cites a number of lenders for this practice but says it is not just the smaller players that are guilty.

Harris names Halifax as an offender for its two-year fix at 4.49 per cent that has a 1,499 arrangement fee.

He says: “These practices have nothing to do with transparency or simplicity, which is what we are supposed to be concerned about as an industry. It goes against the spirit of FSA regulation and what we are trying to do.

“No worries about a 1.5 per cent fee, these lenders might argue, as you can always add it to the mortgage. But that is potentially 25 years of paying off the interest, turning a reasonably cheap mortgage into a far less attractive one. Mortgages with extended redemption penalties were dumped from best-buy tables for being patently unfair. These deals should go the same way.”

HBOS spokesman Paul Fincham says: “Customers can opt for a lower fee and a high rate if they want on the Halifax product. There is always choice for the customer.”

In March, BBC Money Box presenter Paul Lewis told guests at the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ annual lunch that mortgage lenders were hiding fees simply to get to the top of the best-buy tables.

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