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The value of mortgage advice – An unmarried couple with children making an application in a sole name

In this series we’re exploring the hidden value of mortgage advice.

Most of the time when people think about why to use an advisor the slightly cliched norms of being whole of market, inside knowledge and getting the best deals is what springs to mind.

We like to think about getting a little bit off the rate, some lower arrangement fees or being guided on the pitfalls of certain products. But what about the transaction itself as a whole?

The real value of advice could be much greater, like hundreds of thousands of pounds greater.

We can all be a bit rate obsessed and inclined to focus on the numbers that are most apparent, but the biggest risks to the consumer are often those they haven’t thought about.

Most customers might only have one transaction in a lifetime where they could make such a monumental bad decision, but would you know enough to see those pitfalls when they exist?

This week a client who had previously taken recommendations as an unmarried couple came back to me to refresh those recommendations, and this time had decided to apply in sole name only.

Like many customers, as his spouse had recently ceased working he thought it would be best to apply in sole name. Whether for simplicities sake or because he thought it had to be sole.

Many people think that without an income you cannot be an applicant, it would limit the maximum loan a little but for most people might not be detrimental and an adviser can always make a recommendation showing options both sole and joint.

But this decision could have far reaching consequences and I would immediately advise them to get tax/inheritance planning advice and legal advice about other implications.

So what difference would it have made applying in sole names, and how could it go monumentally wrong?

Now we are not tax specialists but my understanding of the tax position on this application would be as follows;

If you are not married or civil partners, you don’t benefit from the joint inheritance tax thresholds totalling £650k and you also do not benefit from joint main residence allowance totalling £1 million. You can’t have joint ownership without a joint mortgage, and there is no such thing as “common law” marriage outside of divorce settlements.

It’s fair to assume that tax allowances and property values will increase in future, but if we look at numbers based on the purchase price of £600k and todays tax allowances it gives a sort of analogue for how these might compare in future.

Whether or not they have a valid will, this means they will only be able to use the applicants IHT allowance to pass the property onto children in the future. As his partner never went onto the ownership of the property her £325k allowance would effectively go unused if she died first.

In todays money, that would mean paying £110k in inheritance tax when the property was left to children. However, if the applicant died first, and left the whole property to his partner in the will they could use both allowances in series, but as they don’t combine in the way a married-couples would this could lead to paying even more inheritance tax.

So, a £110k payment would still be required, and that could force his partner to raise a lifetime mortgage or similar finance to pay the bill. When she then left the property to her children the whole asset would be chargeable again. Potentially leading to a total of over £200k in inheritance tax plus any costs for financing the initial tax burden.

If they had arranged a suitable will, they could have avoided some of the tax by leaving something like half of the property value to the children and half to the partner, but ultimately would still be looking at paying the £110k.

That could also have its own pitfalls though if the applicant died whilst the children were still minors as raising any kind of loan to pay the tax burden with a property co owned by children is not likely to be easy if even possible at all.

If they had entered a joint mortgage they could have split ownership 50/50 and used both of their £325k allowances to pass the property onto children with no IHT at all in today’s money.

Similarly, a civil partnership for tax purposes would allow even larger benefits. This is relevant as it’s quite likely that this type of affluent customer ends up with larger savings sums that may be passed onto children as well and could bear even more tax.

If they had arranged the mortgage in a sole name and had not made a valid will (it’s estimated that something like 60% of people die without a valid will) then the consequences could be even more dire.

If the applicant died first without a valid will, the laws of intestacy would leave the property entirely to the children.

I am sure you can imagine that as the children would own the property, and if they were still minors it would need to go into a legal trust to be held for them until they were 18 that this scenario with a looming tax bill of £110k and a property you don’t technically own or could mortgage, would be about as much fun as DIY dentistry and something no one sane would even consider leaving as a possible pitfall.

There could be some benefits to keeping ownership in a sole name if the customers were likely to invest in other properties later, but this wasn’t the case at the time and either way they would benefit from having been advised by a tax specialist, so they could understand the options, and by a legal advisor so they would know the implications too.

One of those would also be that the partner was effectively gifting her deposit to the applicant and would likely need to sign various affidavits relinquishing her right to those funds and to reside in the property, something that could be very problematic in an acrimonious separation.

This all goes to show that arranging a mortgage can have wide reaching technical consequences that can have huge impacts financially and emotionally, and so if your working with a good adviser whose looking for these things you are much more likely to avoid them than you are self-advising.

Whilst we aren’t tax or legal specialists at least having someone with a moderate knowledge of the area is likely to catch those situations that have huge potential outcomes and guide you to take further advice on those decisions that might be questionable.

Don’t believe the tripe; self-employed mortgages – do you need an accountant?

The internet is awash with misleading nonsense, out of context facts and the well intentioned leaving a wake of misinformation.

In this series we’re out to debunk the myths and illustrate the value of a decent mortgage advisor, and to highlight why you should be very careful about making decisions based on information from someone that is not an industry professional however esteemed a source they are.

Today I took a look at the following;

Mortgages for the self-employed – The Guardian

From the article;

“In general, the longer you’ve been self-employed, the better. If you have two years of accounts, you’ll have more choice of lenders; three years is even better. Most lenders insist accounts are prepared by a chartered or certified accountant.

Lenders will also want to see the income you’ve reported to HMRC and the tax paid. SA302 forms show this information, as does a “tax year overview” – HMRC can provide both.”

This is a prime example of most of the statements floating around the internet being part truth, but in this example they have actually got some seriously crossed wires.

The initial statement is completely valid. Most lenders do like 2 or even 3 years trading for self-employed applicants and suitable evidence of the performance of trading. Note the word most.

The final statement however, is extremely misleading.

Technically, it’s probably true. Most lenders would require “accounts” to be made up by a chartered or certified accountant.

The problem is though, most lenders don’t insist on using “accounts” as your proof of income, and most company owners may not even be aware of the difference between their HMRC tax returns and formal accounts.

The article implies that you are not only going to need formalised accounts from a chartered accountant but also your self-assessment returns.

The reality is lenders will usually be taking one or the other, and the type of self-employment may affect what they expect.

But for all types of self-employment there are still plenty of mainstream lenders who can accept just using your self-assessment returns with no need for an accountant to be involved regardless of the legal type of business (i.e. sole trader, partnership or limited company etc).

For the majority of sole traders or applicants in a bare partnership then the usual proof of income accepted by the majority of lenders is called an SA302 (a statement from HMRC declaring what income has been recorded on your submitted tax returns).

Most will also want to see accompanying tax year overviews that confirm whether your tax account is up to date.

There are also plenty of lenders who will accept this as a proof of income for shareholders of limited companies and limited liability partnerships.

Some lenders might insist for shareholders in LTD companies and LLP’s that formally made up accounts are used as proof of income and not SA302’s etc.

For those lenders they would then expect a professional accountant to have completed these.

So this article basically reads like you are going to struggle massively to get a mortgage if you’re not using an accountant. The reality is this is total nonsense.

The advice that more than one years of accounts is needed by most lenders is fair, although notably they go onto say that specialist lenders may be able to help those who only have a single year’s accounts.

We can direct you to high street lenders with normal interest rates anyone else would be offered with a single year’s accounts, and for those contracting on a day rate there could be options available from the high street with several more lenders.

So, directing people onto much more expensive non-high street lenders simply because they only have one year’s trading is again hugely misleading and could cause many people to “self-advise” into taking a much more expensive mortgage than was needed.

This article then is a great example of how someone writing who is not an industry professional can (with I’m sure the best of intentions) actually end up writing something that is downright dangerous, and simply not correct and will mislead people into poor decisions on a wholesale basis.

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.

Is a 10 year fixed rate mortgage a good idea and should you get one?

10 Year fixed rate mortgages have been reducing significantly in cost, and for the first time in the UK it’s now possible to get a pretty competitive rate fixed for 10 years but the big question is; should you get one?

Question 1- Is a fixed rate even appropriate for you?

Forget 10 years. Should you even have a fixed rate mortgage?

Lots of people are caught out by significant early repayment penalties due to not properly considering the question of their long term plans before buying.

Will you be moving home, repaying large balances early, hoping to raise significant additional finance from the property or could you be eligible for better deals in the short term if your own circumstances improve?

Before even considering a fixed rate mortgage you should take a look at our guide to fixed rate products and see how they work versus other types of rates, and pay real consideration to whether the points above could leave you paying redemption penalties of many thousands of pounds.

You should definitely speak to an independent mortgage broker like us as well.

Question 2 – Will fixing for 10 years be competitive long term?

If you had a crystal ball you could answer this question, but no one can see into the future.

When a lender prices a product it’s either based on the cost of loaning that money from another bank or investor and turning it into mortgages or on the expected rate of interest they will pay to their own depositors over that time.

So the simple fact is that a fixed rate mortgage will be priced based on the expectations of what will happen to interest rates over the term and the Bank will be expecting to profit.

That means the current glut of competitive long term fixed deals indicate that the banks expect a prolonged period of relatively low interest rates in the UK well into the future.

So like odds given by bookies, most banks won’t be expecting average interest rates over the fixed period to be higher than the rate they are offering you. So you are in effect betting against the bank, but they have to be known to be quite spectacularly wrong in the past.

The smaller your mortgage though, and the shorter the remaining term (for someone on a repayment or capital and interest mortgage) the less differences in rate will impact long term cost.

Because of this for each loan there will come a point as remaining term decreases when small differences in rates are outweighed by the repeated fees and charges involved in refinancing a mortgage, and changing product regularly becomes poor value for money.

This is very case specific, but once your mortgage reaches that point the potential downsides of long term fixes may become insignificant.

Question 3 – So who should take a 10 year fixed rate mortgage?

If you are very worried about increases in costs, have no circumstances that would indicate other rates like variables could be preferable, and very sure that the early repayment penalties won’t be likely to cause an issue then you just need to decide whether you feel it’s worthwhile gambling long term and risking paying more than you might need to or whether to take a short term product in the hope that you can secure another competitive rate again in a few years.

This decision is mainly going to come down to the margin between short term fixed rates and long term ones and the probability that changes to your own circumstances make better deals available to you in the short term (such as better income making more competitive lenders available, or works to a property decreasing your loan to value), and whether you feel the additional cost is good value for the extra security.

A mortgage advisor such as ourselves will discuss your circumstances with you and give guidance on whether a fixed product is really more appropriate for you. If a fixed rate is the best option for you, but it comes down purely to a decision between long and short term deals then this is very much a decision best made by the customer, but at least we can present to you the best options available over the different periods so you can make a more informed decision between them.

If you’d like to know what the best deals available to you both in the short and long term could be then complete out enquiry form and an advisor will contact you, to discuss your options and provide you with advice.

If you have an interest only mortgage now could be the time to consider switching product before the window closes.

In the last two weeks both Natwest and Coventry Building Society ceased offering interest only mortgages for residential property following on from Nationwide’s decision to do the same some time ago.

Add to this the vast number of lenders who have restricted interest only borrowing to less than 75%, 66% or even 50% of the property value and the market for these mortgages is now stricter than ever.

Borrowers on interest only mortgages currently sitting on their lenders variable rate should consider changing their mortgage to a new product now before the market contracts further.

With the FSA’s announcement that interest only lending would become part of their mortgage market review following the credit crunch many lenders have reacted in a kneejerk fashion eliminating the option for customers with a suitable repayment strategy to refinance their loan regardless of the plausibility of their circumstances.

This is already creating a large number of mortgage “refugees” unable simply due to lenders criteria to arrange a new mortgage and who then become trapped on a variable rate without the option to move.

Whilst this may not be the end of the world whilst the Bank of England Base Rate is low it could result in thousands more repossessions in the event of the collapse of the Euro.

This scenario would almost certainly see wholesale increases in lenders standard variable rates which many borrowers might find too large to handle.

For those in the last years of an interest only mortgage or perhaps even half way through with a borrowing of more than 50% of their properties value waiting too long to consider a move to a new product could see them shut out of the market in the long term.

Of course for those borrowers without a suitable strategy for repaying an interest only loan then this should be the right time to think about switching either to a full repayment mortgage or if investment’s such as endowments are not performing and predicted to fall short of requirements whether a part repayment and part interest only loan could be suitable.

For more information contact one of our whole of market advisors on 0845 4594490

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 offset mortgages work: The basics of offsetting explained Rightmortgageadvice.co.uk

An offset mortgage has a linked savings or current account and rather than receiving interest on money paid into that account you don’t pay interest on the same balance of your mortgage.

You can normally set an offset facility to work in two ways. It can act as an over payment reducing your mortgage term or you can opt to make it reduce your monthly payment instead.

The main benefit of using an offset account against over paying your mortgage is the fact that you can readily access the funds in the future without having to refinance although this would affect your payments or term.

You can also use it to borrow money in advance but only pay for it when you take the money out of the offset account although again you need to consider how borrowing extra money will effect interest rates, loan to value and arrangement fees too.

Offset isn’t really a type of product so you can still get all the normal types of rates with an offset facility such as fixed, discount and tracker deals for example.

The main thing with any mortgage is to make sure any additional cost you have to pay in order to get this option will be justified by the benefits you receive and that is something we can consider for you in the advice process. You can get more information or to get expert advice on offset here

Broker Q&A: Mortgages with older and elderly or retired applicants over the age of 70

Can someone over the age of 75 go on a mortgage?

We are often asked if we can arrange mortgages for elderly or retired people of 70, 75, 80 or even 90 years of age.

This will depend on the circumstances – whether the mortgage is for a Buy to Let or Residential property, if it is a joint application and if the income of the older applicant is being used in the affordability assessment.

For BTL mortgages, most lenders do have a maximum age up to 80 but there are a few who have no maximum age.

For Residential mortgages, where the income of the elderly applicant is being used in the affordability assessment, most lenders will not go beyond the age of 75-80.

If it is a joint application with a younger applicant who can afford the mortgage without the elderly applicant’s income being used in the affordability calculation, then there are lenders who will ignore the age of the elder applicant entirely.

There are of course other mortgage products available to more senior applicants, such as Lifetime mortgages and Home Reversion Plans which work in very different ways to a normal mortgage and require specialist advice.

It is important to remember that all applicants of a joint mortgage would be responsible for the payments regardless as to whether their income was used in assessing the case. Therefore, as part of the advice process we would consider arranging protection in case of death, illness or injury to either party.

To get expert advice just call or fill in our short enquiry form here

Mortgage Advisor Q&A: Securing a mortgage whilst on maternity leave

Is it possible to get a mortgage whilst on maternity leave?

As many couples think about moving to larger homes when their family starts to grow, it is not surprising that we are often asked if it is possible to get a mortgage when on maternity leave.

The simple answer is yes for almost all circumstances. However, there are lots of considerations and lenders do vary in the way they calculate affordability during this time.

Some lenders will use only the income during maternity leave in their affordability calculation which will often leave the maximum loan available too low.

However, other lenders will use the ‘usual’ salary or the ‘return to work’ salary in the calculation if return to work is within the next few months. If return to work is not anticipated for a longer period of time there are still one or two lenders who will consider the application under these terms.

In order to evidence this, lenders are likely to request a letter from the client confirming the ‘usual’ salary and the current income. They will also request a letter from employers to confirm the return to work date, the terms of the contract – hours and ‘return to work’ salary.

It will be important that mortgage payments can still be afforded during the maternity leave so evidence of savings to substitute the difference in income and mortgage payments will often be required for the remainder of the maternity leave.

Consideration as to future child care costs when calculating affordability should be made as well to ensure that the mortgage will be affordable long term.

To request a call back or further advice just fill in our brief enquiry form here

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