Mortgage firm offers cars to attract custom

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The Independent Online
Fierce competition between mortgage lenders attempting to increase business in the slow housing market yesterday led one to offer a free car with each loan of more than pounds 100,000.

But Chase de Vere Management's offer, in partnership with National Counties building society, which is restricted to 100 vehicles, was instantly criticised as a "gimmick" by brokers.

The opportunity follows a similar scheme introduced last week by the Mortgage Business, which offered one year's use of a Renault Clio with an option to buy it at the market value at the end of the period.

The latest limited incentive by Chase de Vere, which could net a pounds 30,000 Rover 800 Coupe with a loan of pounds 428,000, is a reflection of the stagnating housing market and a measure of the desperation among lenders to drum up business.

Cashback offers of up to around pounds 6,000 on mortgages of pounds 100,000 are easy to come by, but the offer of the more expensive cars, which is available only on remortgages, goes considerably further. A minimum loan of pounds 100,000 where no more than 70 per cent of the property's value is borrowed will attract a Mini worth pounds 6,381.

As the size of the mortgage grows, so does the value of the car. A loan of pounds 254,000 could bring a Rover 400, 416SLi or Rover Coupe, complete with air conditioning and leather trim.

Simon Tyler, of Chase de Vere, said: "Lenders are very keen to attract business and are prepared to put their hands in their pockets to do so."

But Patrick Bunton, of mortgage brokers London and Country, said. "Most people will see it as a gimmick. The financially aware will see through it.

"There are offers around where the borrowers can save almost as much in cash, to do with as they chose."