Market prices Research from Halifax Estate Agents shows that 73% of market towns have higher average house prices than neighbouring towns in the same county.

Lenders have defended ex-tended early repayment charges following criticism from Hamptons Mortgages.

The brokerage has de-nounced lenders that offer low initial rates accompanied by heavy ERCs for borrowers who apply for an extended period following the initial rate deal.

It claims that this type of hangover rate is considerably worse value than other deals without such tie-ins.

Jonathan Cornell, technical director at Hamptons Mortgages, says: “People tend to look at the headline rate, not the tie-in period or SVR.

“Lenders have a duty to ensure that the costs and consequences of such deals are made clear and intermediaries must make sure their clients are aware of the implications of sign-ing up to deals with hangover rates.”

But Rebecca Osbourne, sales and development officer at Market Harborough, which offers a low fixed rate with an extended early redemption charge, says: “We wouldn’t offer this product if there wasn’t demand for low initial rates.”

And Paul Howard, director of intermediary sales at The Mortgage Works, says: “Choice is important in the mortgage market. There is no point in throwing the baby out with the bathwater by killing something that offers choice.”

John Webster, chief executive of Swift Group, says this sort of product is ideal for borrowers such as young families who want a low rate until their circumstances change.

He adds: “The role of a broker is to find the best product for a client de-pending on their circumstances. As long as the overhang is disclosed this product has a place in the market.”