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Product matters

range recently and its service standards have suffered as a result. It withdrew its market-leading two-year tracker at its last rate review and replaced it with a rate which was not quite so competitive. As a result, I think its service levels are returning to normal.

Looking at this range, it has improved its fixed rates slightly but I think this is mainly down to recent falls in swap rates, which make fixed rates cheaper to fund, rather than Abbey’s desire to win more business.

The two-year fixed rate at 75 per cent LTV of 5.14 per cent compares well with its main competitors Halifax, Woolwich, Nationwide and Northern Rock but is beaten by Chelten-ham and Gloucester’s 4.99 per cent rate, which come with a free valuation and free conveyancing for remortgages. The 5.24 per cent five-year fixed rate beats most of the Abbey’s bigger competitors apart from Northern Rock and Nationwide which have 5.19 per cent rates although admittedly the Rock deal has a much bigger arrangement fee of £695 compared with Abbey’s £399.

I do like the way Abbey has a 60 per cent loan to value banding. Too many other lenders are obsessed with creating products for high loan to values and neglect clients who have big deposits of amounts of equity. The two-year tracker at 4.59 per cent for 60 per cent LTV looks excellent.

I really like Abbey’s lifetime tracker deal at base plus 0.49 per cent for the life of the loan for clients who do not want to remortgage every couple of years.

Jonathan Cornell is associate director of Hamptons Intern-ational Mortgages

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