Customers should scrutinise application fees as closely as rates when choosing their mortgage product, moneysupermarket.com has warned.
Homebuyers can spend as long as 17 months just paying off their initial joining fee, the advice site claims.
Customers who buy the Northern Rock two-year fixed-rate mortgage, with an application fee of £5,250, will spend almost the entire mortgage period paying off the fee for a £150,000 mortgage.
By contrast, an application fee of £999 on an Abbey fixed-rate deal will take just four months to pay off.
What is more, twinning a lower rate with a higher mortgage application fee does not necessarily make the fee worthwhile.
With the above products, a Northern Rock customer would pay £49 a month less than the Abbey product but would end the two years £2,082 worse off.
"People should look beyond the monthly payments," moneysupermarket.com's head of mortgages, Louise Cuming, urged.
According to recent research from Find.co.uk, the average application fee for a fixed-rate mortgage has almost doubled, from £334 in February 2004 to £611 in February 2007.
Nevertheless, "neither a low headline rate nor a low fee can definitely guarantee you will pay less overall", Ms Cuming added.To learn more about the best mortgage deals, click here.
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