FIVE TIMES as many people are opting for flexible mortgages than at this time last year, according to the Alliance & Leicester.

A&L commissioned MORI to poll 2,000 respondents on which features of a mortgage would appeal to them most. One in three said that for them the most appealing feature was the facility to pay off the debt long before 2025. A shorter mortgage term proved to be the most popular benefit chosen. Second on the list (20 per cent) was the ability to cut monthly payments at expensive times of year. This was most popular with the 35- 44 year old age group.

The idea of taking a complete break from their mortgage for several months appealed more strongly to women (16 per cent, compared to 11 per cent of men), reflecting the need to balance their career aspirations and plans to start a family.

A mortgage which could also be used to borrow for other purchases such as a car or holiday was most attractive to the youngest age group of 16- 20 year olds (13 per cent).

At the bottom of the list was the option to combine a mortgage and current account - only 3 per cent of people expressed an interest in this style of mortgage.