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Walk down any high street and you can soon feel overwhelmed about the sheer number of mortgage offers out there. Posters in bank and building society windows promise everything from low rates and free surveys to flexible terms and instant approvals.

But if you are shopping around for the very best mortgage deal the high street offers are only the tip of a very large iceberg. The latest estimate on the Mail on Sunday’s financial website suggests that there are more than 8,500 different mortgage deals available from well over 100 different lenders. Searching through all of those is clearly impossible. Which is why so may first-time buyers, home-movers, re-mortgage customers and buy-to-let investors are all looking for the same thing: good advice.

Buy-to-let mortgages now biggest niche sector

Prime buy-to-let mortgages continue to grow in popularity, now making up 21 per cent of financial advisers' business, the latest figures show.

Paragon Mortgages reports that despite interest rate rises, the first quarter of 2007 has seen "continued growth" for the sector, which now makes up almost double the 11 per cent of the mortgage market indicated in Council of Mortgage Lenders figures for last year.

After prime residential mortgages, prime buy-to-let is now the largest generator of business for intermediaries and constitutes more of the market than all other niche sectors, the firm said.

Managing director of Paragon Mortgages John Heron commented: "Data points towards the fact that in the face of today's financial environment, landlords are continuing to invest in properties and are enjoying increased tenant demand and higher rental incomes."

He added that sub-prime buy-to-let made up a "reassuringly small" proportion of the market, as buy-to-let is a largely risk-averse and mainstream sector.

Alliance and Leicester has predicted that the buy-to-let mortgage market will expand by more than 40 per cent by 2016 as it gains in popularity.

Landlord Mortgages “When you have over 800 products to sell you realise that the market is highly attractive to mortgage lenders. In 1999 we were recommending less than 30 Buy To Let Mortgages deals.”

Neil Simpson is a former Personal Finance Journalist of the Year and writes regularly on property, mortgage and insurance issues for the Mail on Sunday, City AM newspaper and many other publications.