Walk into any high street bank or building society and mention that you�re looking for a mortgage, and you�re likely to be bombarded with leaflets, if not hurried into a private office to meet their mortgage advisor.

Mortgages are big business � and every large financial institution will offer several types of loan for buying property. It�s a good idea to check out as many different lenders as possible before making a decision � experts repeat the phrase �shop around� like a mantra these days and you could save yourself a lot of money by comparing what�s on offer.

Your own bank may be a good place to start � if you�ve banked with them for a while and have a good financial record they may be more confident about loaning you a large amount of money such as a mortgage. However, with relatively low interest rates and a booming market, these days the competition among lenders is fierce and you may find a better deal elsewhere. Don�t feel that you have to use the same bank for your mortgage as for your personal account.

There are a number of websites that produce tables of comparative mortgage offers � just type �mortgage� into your search engine and see the amount of results you pull up. �Which�, the magazine of the Consumer�s Association, is a reliable source of information on the current market. Check their website for guides on �Which mortgage� at www.which.co.uk

The financial pages in newspapers carry adverts as well as news on the latest deals � beware though of being seduced by adverts promising low rates without giving all the details � there�s more to finding the right mortgage than just picking the best rate. The bank are likely to advertise their lowest rate, and you are likely to have to meet certain criteria before qualifying for that particular deal. Check for things like hidden clauses or Higher Lending Charges � these are one-off charges applied to some deals that are supposedly to cover insurance protection for the bank when they lend to you. They will not, however, provide the lender with any security!

Ethical investment is also a consideration for some borrowers � Muslim banks, for example, are forbidden from charging or paying interest. You can find out more about ethical banking and investments at www.eiris.org The Islamic Bank of Britain complies with Sharia Law, contact them at www.islamic-bank.com

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