Which? is calling on George Osborne to use his Autumn Statement to put a stop to what it calls ‘sneaky fees and charges’ on mortgages and make it easier for people to find the best deal.
The consumer group said its latest research on the mortgage market found more than 40 fees and charges across the market, including set up fees, arrears fees and final repayment fees. It said providers were using different names for the same or similar fees – a booking fee can also be called a reservation or application fee.
It also found duplication with some lenders charging more than one set up fee, as well as increases to the cost of some fees – the average arrangement fees have almost doubled in the last five years, from £878 in 2009 to £1,588 in 2014.
As there was a wide variation between lenders in the cost of the same fees, Which? said this suggested fees don’t always reflect the true cost the lender incurs.
Which? found just 3% of people could correctly rank the cost of five two-year fixed-rate mortgage deals when displayed using typical information, including APR. This rose to 36% when presenting the total cost of the mortgages over 24 months.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said: “Homeowners could be paying over the odds for their mortgage because of the complex range of fees and charges that prevent them from finding the best deal.
“The Chancellor must act now to stop sneaky fees and charges and end mortgage confusion for consumers. The government and the regulator should also explore better ways of presenting the total cost of mortgages.”
The consumer group wants George Osborne in his forthcoming Autumn Statement to make mortgage price comparison easier: given the limitations with APR, the government and the FCA should explore other ways to present the total cost of a mortgage.
It also wants to make the full cost of a mortgage clearer now: All compulsory fees payable throughout the deal period should be expressed as a total of fees and included in the advertised costs. It should also be clear which fees payable over the life of the mortgage are compulsory and which are not.
Finally, it wants to ensure additional fees are cost reflective: Non-product fees and charges that are incurred after the purchase of a mortgage should reflect lenders’ actual costs.