Age Concern hits back at high valuation fee claim

Age Concern has hit back at claims that it charges the highest valuation fee in the market.

MoneyExpert.com last week named and shamed lenders charging the highest product valuation fees. Top of the list was Age Con-cern, which uses Northern Rock’s equity release mortgage. It has one of the highest fees in the market at 405 compared with the industry average of 190.

The website reveals that these are basic valuation fees and customers borrowing larger sums face much higher fees. For example, on mortgages of 300,000 valuation fees can go as high as 565.

But Age Concern has hit out at the accusation, arguing that its valuation fees are not comparable with the other lenders mentioned as it offers an equity release deal.

A spokeswoman says: “Our product has a valuation fee but no completion fee and no lender’s legal fee, unlike many other equity release providers.

“One of the main advantages of the Age Concern scheme is that there are no redemption penalties. With the equity release product the focus is not on fees and rates but borrowers should examine the small print.”

Around 26 of the 134 lenders in the market will allow borrowers to add valuation fees to loans. But MoneyExpert.com warns that can prove costly in the long run. For example, putting the 190 fee into a loan will mean paying an extra 400 over 25 years on a 100,000 mortgage.

Sean Gardner, chief executive of MoneyExpert.com, says: “Borrowers tend to focus on their new home rather than the details of their mortgages and they can forget to look at the extra fees when they could make worthwhile savings with a little research.”

Money Partners was named as one of the lenders that doesn’t charge fees.

A spokesman for Money Partners says: “As a lender whose distribution is solely through in- termediaries we do not impose a valuation charge on borrowers. We believe this is best negotiated between the broker and the customer at the point of advice.

“We provide our brokers with access to a panel of valuer firms that offer competitive rates for their services.”