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COVID Update – Can you remortgage or product transfer during the lockdown?

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the mortgage marketplace, with some lenders withdrawing altogether and thousands of products being withdrawn, but the outlook is not as gloomy as you may imagine if you need to think about a remortgage.

If your current deal is about to end, ends later this year or if you want to

consider remortgaging to consolidate commitments and re-organise your finances what options are there and what should you do?

If your mortgage deal is ending soon

Firstly, if your current deal ends imminently, whilst there has been a reduction in the number of lenders and products, many of those withdrawn are for house purchase or higher risk lending.

Most lenders continue to offer product-transfer deals for existing customers, many still offer Remortgage deals for new customers and we can arrange these for you without any advice fees, so we can typically advise you on options from the whole of market and your current lender at the same time.

If your income has been impacted by the crisis this might affect your ability to change lender, but should not prevent you from transferring to a new deal with the current lender.

If your mortgage deal is ending within the next 6 months

For anyone whose existing deal comes to an end by late Autumn now is an ideal time to think about remortgaging.

Several lenders offer remortgage deals which are valid for 6 months so you can apply well in advance, taking advantage of the extremely low current rates and set everything up ready to switch over as soon as the current mortgage deal expires.

There are several reasons why doing this now could be wise. Firstly, although lenders have not passed on the full rate reductions made by the Bank of England into new fixed-rate-mortgage deals, there is a good chance that this never happens.

With losses being so great in every industry, it is difficult to imagine lenders being keen to cut into vital profit margins when rates are already at all-time lows.

Conversely, we could see a reduction in house prices or even lenders pulling out of the market entirely creating a situation where you were better off applying today than in several months.

No one has a crystal ball to be able to say for sure how the market will progress over the year but the likelihood of rates getting significantly better than today’s seems dim.

Consolidating credit commitments into your mortgage

This is the area where the remortgage market has already shrunk significantly. So if you want to trim down your outgoings and reduce your typical monthly commitments then it may be wise to act now rather than waiting. 

Bear in mind though, that in many cases consolidating credit commitments into a mortgage does not represent the best value for money and may be more expensive than alternative options like balance-transfer deals or converting credit card debts into a personal loan for example.

It’s also important to note that you convert typically unsecured credit commitments into one secured against your home, meaning you stand to lose your most precious asset if you default, where previously there may have been no risk of this at all.

We can help you get a picture of whether a debt-consolidation remortgage is the correct solution in your circumstances. 

Changing your mortgage term

You don’t necessarily have to wait to remortgage to alter your mortgage term, and therefore your monthly payments (for anyone on a repayment loan).

If this is something you want to look at you can speak to your lender about this and may be able to do this midway through an existing deal even if you have early repayment penalties.

Again though, this is something that can also be done as part of a remortgage or product transfer and if you want to reduce your outgoings in this way get in touch and we can discuss your options.

If you are in financial difficulty

If you are experiencing difficulty making payments, your first port of call should be your existing lender to discuss what options they have to prevent you from getting into arrears, including the government’s payment-holiday scheme.

If there is a serious risk of you defaulting on obligations like credit cards, loans or hire purchase and other non-secured credit commitments, then consolidating these into your mortgage is a potential solution but it increases the risk of losing your home, by converting unsecured commitments into a secured debt.

We can help you get an understanding of whether consolidating commitments is a solution that could be viable for you, but you should consider speaking to stepchange.org & the Citizens Advice Bureau about the implications of getting into arrears on either type of commitment and other options that may be available such as an IVA.

What are the real costs of mortgage advice and who pays a brokers commission?

I’ve decided to write about the real costs of advice to consumers, to dispel some of the myths and preconceptions.

As a forward, I thought I’d explain my misconceptions prior to getting involved in financial services sometime back in 2005.

A few years earlier price comparison websites had appeared in the market launching with the message that they “cut out the middleman” and offered better value to the customer by removing their “margin” on the deal.

So before I started working in mortgages I believed that a broker was someone who took a product, added their percentage on top and sold it on.

Since working in the industry though, I have realised there is a myriad of similar misconceptions floating around.

Some people think the arrangement fees on a mortgage deal are to pay the broker.

Some are convinced the lender will offer a better rate direct.

But are any of those assumptions even remotely based on reality?

Let’s start with the idea that middlemen just add margin onto a products price.

I’m a keen photographer and if you share my interest you might well be familiar with the absolutely awesome Sony a7 range.

I won’t waste your time taking you on a photography lesson. But I will show you what you already know.

Sony a7 on the sony website

This picture above is from the Sony UK website for an A7 with kit lens showing a retail price of £1509.00 today on 08-06-2018.

Now we have the same camera and lens on sale with a “middleman” called Jessops and it is, after cashback 50% of the list price on the same day.

Sony a7 at Jessops

Sony’s own retail shops are selling the body only for the same price Jessops offer with the kit lens and the lens is upwards of £400 on its own.

In short buying direct from the manufacturer could cost you twice as much.

But you already know this. You already know that the idea of middlemen adding cost to everything is a fallacy.

Distributors in every industry will often have superior deals. We all see this every day.

Most of us have seen Trivago girl a million times telling us how they compare all the different prices for thousands of hotels daily, but does anyone really think you would get the best deal by phoning the hotel?

So how does pricing in the mortgage industry really work? And how much does our advice cost you?

Lenders whose products are the same through every channel.

Some lenders offer the same range of deals through every channel and have made promises to the market to never do what we call dual pricing.

This means whoever you go to be it direct to the lender, or any broker the deals available will always be the same.

Examples of this are Barclays and Coventry Building Society but there are many others.

For these lenders, if the broker offers you a fee-free service the lender is paying the cost of our commission.

You need to be aware though, that we might recommend a product based on best value for money, and another adviser might just recommend the lowest rate.

You need to discuss with both parties to work out why two different deals might have been recommended.

But if you have access to all the same deals through both, then you cannot be paying the cost of advice unless the advisor is charging an additional fee.

And this should not be confused with a product booking or arrangement fee.

Lenders will usually release multiple rates at the same loan to value.

Some with a lower rate, and an arrangement fee (often around £999) and other deals with no arrangement fees and slightly higher rates.

This is just offering deals to appeal to different customers with different sized loans and has nothing to do with the broker.

You can see in the example below Natwest offering various two-year fixes with different fees and cash backs.

And the best value product for each customer would depend on their loan amount, term, whether it was a repayment mortgage, and whether they would have to add the fee to the loan.

Lenders who do offer different prices and product ranges.

Other lenders like Natwest, for example, do offer different ranges direct at times to those they offer through brokers.

So, the assumption is that using us is going to be more expensive, right?

Think again.

For various reasons lenders might offer much cheaper products via a broker than they do direct. As counter-intuitive as this may seem.

Below are two more screenshots from February this year.

Example of Natwest products from our sourcing system

Disclaimer – These rates and products were available in Feb 2018 but are used for example purposes only and are no longer available.

The first is from our sourcing system showing deals available with NatWest at 90% loan to value.

The product highlighted in black with yellow text and the product in blue text are both exclusive rates offered through various mortgage clubs for brokers at the time.

And then below are all the deals NatWest were offering to customers via their website at the same time.

Image of worse rates available direct

Notice that our exclusive 2-year fixed was 0.5% cheaper than their direct deal, despite the lender paying us a commission of around 0.32% (the total is actually more as some will go to the mortgage club too).

So why on earth would the lender offer deals through brokers that in total cost them more than 0.82% in profits against their direct business?

You have to think about what we actually do because the lender would have to do all the same work.

That’s a professional adviser spending several hours on the phone to each customer. Hours spent processing documents, completing application forms, preparing compliance files and suitability reports.

They need the staff to cover this in a seasonal industry, so they would then have little to do half of the year. Those staff members go onto their pension scheme and pay national insurance and tax on their incomes.

They need to cover professional indemnity risks, telecoms cost, office space, computers, training, and development, staff turnover, and recruitment.

And then there is the fact that the broker market is also an advertising channel and comparative to paid advertising.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we will always have better deals with every lender. Often there will be little or no difference at all.

On occasion, their direct deals might be better.

Sometimes we will offer something a lot cheaper with the same lender. Other times our deals might not be as good.

Basically, there is no way to guarantee you get the best deal.

So the question really becomes one of time, stress, convenience and quality of service.

Do we end up pursuing the “best deal” when the cost of doing so outweighs the benefits?

I think the answer here comes down to the differences between using a broker and going direct.

In my view, with a good broker, you are going to be every bit as likely to get the best possible deal as you would be searching the market yourself with the difference being you don’t have to go through the hassle of doing that.

You’re also more likely to be protected from significant pitfalls.

I am going to follow this article with some others, one which highlights a life insurance provider whose contractual terms are so poor in comparison to their rivals I cannot justify recommending them and another one about the possible pitfalls of not taking advice.

Each article highlights how self-advising without a professional level of knowledge about implications like taxation, and different contractual terms could see you buy a cheap deal that incurs huge additional costs amounting to tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds over a lifetime.

Now we don’t want to scaremonger or imply that these risks apply to every transaction, but the point is to highlight the real benefits of advice that extend far beyond simply getting a good deal or better service and that even if that occasionally costs you more, it’s probably a cost worth paying for.

So make sure to come back and check out those articles over the next few weeks.

Can a foreign national get a mortgage on a visa?

A simple and (nearly) definitive guide to whether foreign nationals from outside the EU can get a mortgage.

One of our main areas of business is foreign nationals on visa’s, and it’s interesting to see how many people are asking on forums on other websites whether it’s possible for them to get a mortgage and how much misinformation is spread around.

So let’s dispel some myths first. Getting a mortgage on a visa isn’t difficult per se. The vast majority of lenders however will not lend at all on these cases.

So it’s very difficult for a member of the general public to try and find the right lenders and at the same time make sure that all other requirements are met too.

That’s why you see so many people on forums trying a lender recommended by someone else but then being told they cannot apply.

The benefit of an advisor like ourselves is knowing which lenders we can ignore altogether (and dealing with these applications frequently enough to know if they have recently changed their rules).

And at the same time knowing enough about all of the other eligibility rules to quickly and easily determine whether you will be able to get a loan.

It’s not something where the lender makes a case by case decision (in general), for most applicants if they meet the guidelines below then they will be accepted subject to credit scoring and all other rules.

We normally offer a fee free service, so there’s very little to gain in trying to DIY an application (whether you’re on a visa or not).

So the point of this post is to give you a simple answer as to whether we have lenders who can consider your application and visa status.

It’s also very difficult to be definite because this post basically compresses the true bulk of the different lenders eligibility rules to try and make things simple.

So if you don’t meet the rules below feel free to ask us about your situation and we will be happy to go into more detail.

So then, can we get you a mortgage?

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for more than 2 years

If you have resided in the UK permanently for 2 years or more, and have a 10% deposit we have lenders available.

This is regardless of the type of visa (except refugees; see below).

It obviously still depends on how well you credit score, and other factors like having suitable income etc.

It’s possible to get a mortgage up to 95% if you have been employed/self-employed continuously for 3 years or more.

In this instance continuously employed could mean working part time whilst studying for example, as long as you have been working for someone without a break of more than a few weeks between any 2 roles.

Or if you have more than 30 months remaining on your visa then again it’s possible to go up to 95% and this is also generally straightforward.

If you have a tier 2 visa then a letter from your employer confirming their intention to renew your work permit is also suitable with less than 30 months remaining.

For joint applications only the applicant who has a sponsored work permit would need the employers letter.

Bear in mind though that the visa is only one element of the application. Meeting the criteria for an applicant on a visa doesn’t mean you meet the rest.

That’s why one of our roles as your advisor is to make sure that you meet all the criteria required before application.

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for less than 2 years

If you have resided here for less than 6 months, it’s very unlikely that you will have sufficient credit score to get a mortgage (but there can be exceptions, especially if you have UK bank or credit accounts with longer term history).

So in most cases you will need to have been residing here for 12 months, it is technically possible in the first 12 months but will be very case by case dependent.

With less than 2 years UK residency, mortgages are still readily available up to 95% of the purchase price if you have more than 30 months on your visa.

For those on a tier 2 visa with less than 30 months remaining if your employer can confirm that they will look to extend your visa then again 95% is still possible.

Applicants on a tier one visa can apply up to 90% once they have resided in the UK and been employed for more than 6 months regardless of the remaining term on the visa.

If you have 25% or more deposit, then mortgages are available regardless of how long remains on your visa or how long you have actually resided here.

But for anyone with less than 12 month’s residency credit scoring will be a major factor so the shorter the UK residency history the less likely it is possible.

If you don’t have 25% deposit, have been here less than 2 years, and have less than 30 months remaining on your visa, and a visa such as an ancestry or spousal visa then it could be possible to buy a new build property under the help to buy shared equity scheme.

 

Very large deposits

If you have more than 30% deposit available, then describing a conclusive answer would be too complicated as there are far more potential lenders.

So if this applies to you but you don’t meet the criteria above give us a call to discuss it.

 

Self employed

We don’t see a lot of self-employed applicants on visa’s however this does not exclude you from application.

But being self-employed has its own criteria with each lender which is probably far more complicated so really you would need to get in touch with us to discuss this in more detail!

 

Refugees

Refugees are the main exception to the rules above. Most lenders won’t accept applications from refugees until permanent right to reside is granted.

If you have a deposit of 25% or more there may be options available though, once you have 12 month’s residency in the UK.

 

EU Nationals

EU Nationals still currently have full legal right to reside in the UK and so most lenders can accept your application.

However the length of residency is the main factor so if you have been in the UK for less than 3 years you may well still benefit from our assistance.

 

In summary

So then as you can see here, there are plenty of options available to meet most circumstances.

These are all standard products from high street banks. You won’t get a higher rate because of your nationality.

Every case is different which is why we cannot give you a completely definitive answer (it’s also ludicrously complex to detail in a blog post).

So always seek advice from a professional like ourselves.

We also don’t treat foreign nationals as high complexity cases. We won’t charge an advice fee purely because of being on a visa.

Most of our clients receive a fee free service including foreign nationals.

Those who we do charge fees are usually borrowing smaller amounts, or have other more complex issues (like multiple forms of self-employment).

For more information or to discuss your circumstances call 08454594490 or fill in our enquiry form here.

Buying a Property at Auction & Need a Mortgage? – Read our Do’s & Dont’s for Auction Finance

Do:

Your research…

Go to at least one property auction before you intend to purchase, just to see how they work.

Go and view the property you’d like to buy, at least once.

Compare the price and condition of the property to others that are similar that have recently sold or are currently on sale in the street/area. This will help you determine what you think the true market value of the property is and how much you are prepared to bid for it. Websites like Zoopla offer lots of information on previous purchase prices and average prices in the area.

Get a survey/valuation of the property in advance of the sale if this is possible.

Get hold of the Legal Pack and get a solicitor to check it prior to the auction. This pack contains all the information that your solicitor would normally check if you were buying a property in the more conventional way and usually includes key information such as special conditions of sale, title deeds, searches, leases and any legal issues.

Take advice from a mortgage broker or adviser on the suitability of the property for raising a mortgage.

If you can get a mortgage approved on the property prior to the auction or if not get a Mortgage Decision in Principle and an application near ready to submit, before you go into the auction room as you will usually need to complete within 28 days or forfeit your deposit.

Get initial quotes for remedial work if the property needs considerable work. You might be surprised at how much these jobs will cost – better to know up front than after you’ve made your purchase.

Ensure you have sufficient funds available for costs and remedial work if considerable as your mortgage lender will very likely retain part of the mortgage amount until these works are completed.

Have your deposit ready for payment on the day – usually 10% of the hammer price.

Don’t:

Bid on a property at auction that you haven’t seen and looks to be a real bargain in the auction room – there’s probably a reason why no-one else is bidding on it.

Get carried away in the auction room – know your maximum bid before you arrive and don’t get into a bidding war that pushes you beyond this maximum – be prepared to walk away.

Presume you’ll be able to get a mortgage after the event – you may need to shop around or get independent advice. If you can’t pay the balance within 28 days of the auction you will pay hefty interest and possibly forfeit your deposit.

For mortgage advice on short term finance for property auctions visit us here rightmortgageadvice.co.uk

Shorter Mortgage Term vs Making Overpayments – The Smart Way to Reduce Costs

Most of us would like to keep the term (length) of our mortgage as short as possible – no-one wants to think of paying a debt up until our old age. Financially it makes good sense to keep the mortgage term as short as possible – the sooner the mortgage is paid off the less interest payable.

However, there are several things to consider before formally committing to the limit of your budget for the sole purpose of keeping the term as short as possible.

The down side to putting everything you have into paying off your mortgage is that it can be difficult to access these funds once paid in and the exercise is often timely and costly as it may involve
re-mortgaging.

There are other ways to shorten the term allowing more flexibility that you may wish to consider…

Most mortgage products have overpayment facilities that allow you to make regular overpayments that will in effect reduce the term of the mortgage. There can be several benefits to this kind of arrangement.

Providing the chosen mortgage product has a regular overpayment facility then you can make overpayments that will in effect reduce the term of the mortgage and the amount you will pay in interest but if you find yourself short of money you aren’t obliged to make the higher payment.

If the product has the added benefit of a draw-down, you may also be able to draw from these overpaid funds if you find yourself in need of a cash injection. An offset facility could be a good alternative as well with the same kind of benefits.

Making regular overpayments is key to ensuring that the term is reduced. If you are not good at managing your money then perhaps this route is not the best for you.

Rather than committing all of your savings to reduce the term of your mortgage, it is good financial practice to keep a ‘rainy day’ fund that you can draw from if the worst happens, without affecting your mortgage payments and ultimately risking your home.

So in today’s unpredictable climate thinking outside the box can give you exactly the same effect as paying as much off your mortgage as possible without the risk of finding the barrel empty if the unexpected happens.

For more advice on mortgages or to speak to an adviser you can contact us on 0845 4594490.

How the potential collapse of the Euro could affect your mortgage costs

Whilst it remains to be seen how close we really are to a collapse of the Euro one thing is for certain, predicting how the fallout would affect financial markets is not an easy task even for seasoned financial experts.

In pure mortgage terms one set of products appear to be particularly risky in the current climate – any product which tracks a variable rate as opposed to the Bank of England base rate. These include discounted rates, variable rates and Libor linked or Libor rate deals.

All of these products could be subject to large rises in this potential scenario even if the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England decides to keep interest rates low. As we saw when the BOE base rate was reduced heavily in 2008 many lenders did not pass these cuts into their variable rates for some time as doing so would have seriously jeopardised their ability to remain afloat.

Similarly in the scenario of the collapse of the Euro and or the default of a nation such as Greece, Spain or Italy this would undoubtedly cause a similar crisis in the banks leading to a drying up of money markets and an upward pressure on banks variable rates.

Most discount rate mortgages are offered by smaller building societies who in general have a much lower risk exposure and would be better insulated against having to raise their variables rates significantly if this happened and this was mirrored by the rate reductions in 2008. However they are not immune to this risk, rates which are more concerning though are Libor linked deals as these are effectively priced against the going rate of lending between UK banks and as such could rise a lot if we saw more market turmoil.

Even so tracker deals could still be a risk, who knows how the different repercussions of this kind of event could ultimately play out? So when looking at current products comparing the difference between fixed and variable rates in general is well worth doing and I would take a pragmatic approach where the difference is minimal as it seems likely that the last string of bailouts may yet prove to be the tip of the iceberg.

Get your fix quick. The downgrading of UK banks likely to increase fixed mortgage rates

If you have been thinking about fixing your mortgage by remortgaging to a new deal then now really might be the prime time to do it.

Fixed rate mortgages have been dropping steadily for several months with the expectation that interest rates in the UK are now likely to remain low in the long term. However the downgrading of several major banking groups in the UK by the rating agency Moody’s last week is likely to put pressure on the big UK mortgage lenders to increase the cost of these deals.

It could be a flash in the pan though, rates were beginning to rise early this year when the economic outlook was less gloomy but the effects of the Tsunami in Japan and the subsequent concerns over the Eurozone were enough to revert the trend.

What is certain though is that there are fixed rate mortgages available which are several percent lower than the average mortgage interest rate paid by borrowers over the last 25 years so if you are concerned by the possibility of higher rates and don’t have too much to lose by switching to a fixed rate deal there have definitely been far worse times to take a fixed rate.

New Mortgage Calculators Launched by Rightmortgageadvice.co.uk

We have recently launched the first of several new mortgage calculators which aim to bring much more sophisticated systems for borrowers to assess their lending ability online.

The most important of these new calculators is the maximum loan calculator which actually models some of the more complex systems for affordability lenders are using to assess customers borrowing potential.

Lenders are increasingly stepping away from using pure income multiples and the large high street banks and building societies now take into account many factors including credit scoring, number of financial dependents and overall debt to income ratio to decide on an appropriate borrowing figure.

The calculator is as far as we are aware the only one currently available which actually illustrates how different types of lenders calculations vary and takes into account dependents, existing credit commitments and credit scoring.

There are several more new tools in development which will soon be added so keep an eye out for more to come.

Does a fixed rate mortgage make sense in the current market?

This is probably the biggest mortgage related question on everyone’s lips at the moment and it is certainly very difficult to tell what is going to happen with interest rates. I can remember a conversation with a client almost 18 months ago where media coverage suggested interest rates were going to shoot up and they were worried the tracker product I had recommended might end up being very expensive.

In my opinion the question of whether to fix your interest rate comes in two parts. Firstly your attitude to risk should be taken into account and the severity of the risk assessed too. If you have ample income to afford higher interest rates then it comes down to your preference as to whether to gamble on variable type products, but if you simply couldn’t afford for your mortgage payments to go above current figures then not only should you be considering a fixed rate but also trying to reduce your borrowing levels asap.

The second part of the answer comes down to the difference between fixed rates and variable products, if the difference between a suitable variable product and a fixed is relatively low then even if you are a little risk averse it may be worth opting for a fixed rate. However when the difference is greater it becomes harder to say.

Let’s compare for example a 5 year deal currently on offer with one lender of 6.49% with a 25% deposit, compared to their 2 year fixed and 18month tracker product this is 3-4% higher and this means the chances of it being good value for money long term are much lower as it would require average interest rates over the next five years to be over 5% or so which is a big increase from current rates, hence I would only really recommend this scenario to someone who was really on the borderline of what they can afford and needed absolute long term security.

Many lenders are touting products with an option to switch to a fixed deal at a later date without early repayment charges, but for those who would be at serious risk of being unable to afford their mortgage if rates went up this is probably a poor option, as the reality is that fixed deals available at the time are likely to be higher than now as well.

It remains quite likely that while interest rates must increase at some point, that overall market competition will do too and to some extent increases in bank base rate are likely to be met with at least some reduction in lenders margins. Current two year fixed deals come with an average margin of about 3% over the bank base rate which would have been unthinkable three years ago, so at some point slowly but surely these differences must be eroded by competition as the market improves too.

Mortgages and concrete constructions properties

There are literally thousands of different concrete construction types which have been used in the UK and some of these are very difficult if not impossible to arrange a mortgage on.

In general it is properties from the post war era of a pre-fabricated construction type which can be difficult however even establishing which type of construction has been used can be a challenge. Most properties built after 1984 are likely to be ok as the introduction of Building Regulations established a suitable guideline for ensuring properties were not defective.

Some concrete construction types particularly those which contain structural iron or steel elements built between the early 1900’s and 1970’s have been found to suffer from concrete corrosion and either require significant work to prevent failure of the concrete or are indeed not suitable to mortgage at all, these are classed as defective types. In these construction types contaminants in the concrete react with the Iron in the steel rotting the concrete and steel beams from the inside out.

There are some very common concrete construction types such as Taylor Wimpey No Fines which should not be a problem though too so if you are looking at buying a property which is a concrete construction type you should inform your mortgage advisor at the outset and they should be able to check with local surveyors to see what construction method has been used and who if anyone might be able to lend on them.

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