Ben Griffiths, 29, (right) from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, is a depot manager at a builders' merchants. He and his partner, Tessa Lambourne, 24, a personal assistant, are first-time buyers who had found their ideal house, price pounds 72,950.

The couple had a deposit of pounds 10,000 to put down, so they were looking for a loan of 86 per cent.

After visiting several high street lenders, Griffiths and Lambourne felt they were "going around in circles", with no one able to advise them. To compound matters, they were still unsure whether to go for an interest- only mortgage linked to an endowment policy, or a repayment loan, and whether it should be fixed or discounted.

The couple approached Berkeley Financial Planning, an independent financial advice firm. Bryan Fisher, a consultant with the firm, took their details and prepared a report detailing the suitable options available from banks and building societies.Following this, they opted for an endowment mortgage with Northern Rock, called a "fee-free discount mortgage".

There is no mortgage guarantee premium (which saves them approximately pounds 620), the valuation fee of pounds 185 will be refunded on completion of the purchase, no arrangement fee (typically pounds 295) is levied, and the couple will also receive pounds 500 cash back to cover legal fees.

The mortgage has a 1.5 per cent discount on the standard variable rate for three years. Savings, including fees, over three years are pounds 4,230, based on current interest rates. The couple also pay no fees to either Northern Rock or Berkeley Financial Planning, as the fee was covered by the procuration fee and commission on life cover, and the endowment was taken out to cover the loan.

Mr Griffiths says: "I was very pleased. This is not just because of the deal, which sounds like a good one to me, but because Bryan was able to research the market for us and offer advice on what might suit us best."

Berkeley Financial Planning 01203 555240; Mortgage Intelligence 0500 101033; John Charcol 0171 611 7000; Tribune Independent Financial Planning 0171 467 3013.