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Internet Investor

SPRING IS here and young lovers' fancies have turned lightly to... well, if the surveys are to be believed, house-hunting! This bank-holiday weekend is likely to see house-hunters out in force the length and breadth of the country. There is an alternative to at least some of the slog, however, on the Internet.

Interactive Investor has added a new section to its site, the Mortgage Centre, which includes a Best Buys rates selection, produced in association with John Charcol, the independent mortgage broker. Mortgage-related news stories and an archive Knowledge Bank section provide background information. The site also contains a directory of mortgage providers and has interactive calculators to allow your to work out your disposable income and estimate your monthly mortgage repayments.

John Blowers, Interactive Investor's UK Managing Director comments: "Time is often people's most precious commodity and beating up and down the high street to sort out a mortgage is very time-consuming. The Mortgage Centre will free up people's time to spend on more important things, like finding their perfect home."

However, Interactive Investor is by no means the only site which offers a review of available mortgages. Others include Moneynet, which includes details of mortgage offers from 100 banks and building societies. Calculators are also relatively commonplace on the Internet.

One of the longest established mortgage brokerages on the Internet is Paragon Mortgages, which has now launched its third-generation developments for electronic trading. Paragon was the first to offer mortgages direct on the Internet and believes that e-commerce mortgage applications are simpler than paper forms. "Of all applications in principle received by Paragon, 52 per cent come via the web. On average we accept 63 per cent of these," says John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages.

He adds that: "A great advantage of digital applications for mortgages and other financial products is that the forms are designed to ask the customer only for information that is relevant to their specific case. This is clearly not true of paper forms which are confusing and complex at best while our e-commerce forms have a degree of instant validation built in which helps the customer."

The Internet has empowered house-hunters seeking a mortgage, allowing them to compare rates from dozens of lenders rather than the handful in their local high street. (Indeed, it means they could end up borrowing money from a lender they may never have heard of before.)

So, happy hunting!

Interactive Investor's Mortgage Centre: www.iii.co.uk/mortgages/

Moneynet: www.moneynet.co.uk

Paragon Mortgages: www.paragon-mortgages.co.uk

Market Harborough Building Society: www.mhbs.co.uk

Robin can be reached at RobinAmlot@aol.com