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Saturday, January 9, 1999 Published at 02:29 GMT

Business: Your Money

Help for home buyers

New code should encourage transparency

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) is to tighten up its voluntary code following criticism from consumer groups and the media.

The BBC's June Kelly: Homebuyers should receive bwtter service
The improved code is intended to help consumers who are shopping around for a mortgage and protect them from unscrupulous salesmen.

The changes will mean staff must state whether they are giving consumers advice on the best mortgage for them or simply offering a range of products.

The new code also suggests that "best buy" tables and lenders' advertisements should be improved to make clear information on redemption charges and periods. These are charges levied if homeowners switch mortgages or repay the loan early.

At present the Mortgage Code is voluntary and lenders are not regulated by the government watchdog, the Financial Services Authority.

'Transparency and fairness'

The improvements follow a recent survey by the Consumers' Association, which highlighted some problems with the current code.

From the end of April, all customers will also receive a free mortgage leaflet explaining the code and basic information about the buying process.

The CML said it hoped in the longer term to introduce an information sheet on each mortgage in the market making it easier for consumers to compare products.

Michael Coogan, director-general of the CML, said: "The guiding principles of the Mortgage Code are transparency and fairness.

"We believe that the improvements we are announcing will provide practical ways of delivering good clear information to mortgage customers."

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