April 2023

Newsletter

Remortgaging – Don’t do it without professional help!

There are a number of reasons why you may wish to remortgage, however it’s always worthwhile seeking advice to check whether the mortgage you hold is right for your current situation.

If your current deal is coming to an end
Most mortgages are granted on an initial deal (fixed, tracker or discounted variable) that lasts for between two and five years. Many lenders will then put you onto their Standard Variable Rate (SVR).

Since you took out your mortgage, with repeated rises in interest rates in recent times, it’s likely that the rates now are higher than the rate on your original mortgage deal. Therefore, it’s likely that if your mortgage lender places you on their SVR, then you could end up spending more than you need to on your mortgage repayments.

We would encourage you to book a no-obligation appointment with us to look at your exact situation to see if there are other available deals that may be more suited to your requirements. We’d recommend that you contact us at least three months before your existing deal is about to end, to ensure adequate time to find the most suitable deal for you.

If you’re looking to find a more suitable mortgage
Interest rates have risen constantly for the last eighteen months, so it’s likely that the marketplace has changed since you took out your last deal, and it may not be right for you. Furthermore, your own circumstances may have changed, your income, your outgoings, your lifestyle or your family for example – all these elements can have a big impact on whether you’re able to commit to your regular monthly outgoings.

With such a complex set of changes in recent times, it is vital to see professional mortgage advice to establish whether you are still on the most suitable mortgage deal for your circumstances. It might be that you are seeking to make a change, but with our advice we can present you all of the facts and details of any hidden costs you may not be aware of, before making a decision that could have serious consequences for you and your family.

If you’re seeking to raise capital
You might want to borrow more money for a number of reasons – for example to pay for home improvements, to fund a car or simply to consolidate credit card and loan debts into a more manageable lump sum.

A remortgage could be a suitable option to do it but whatever the reason you want to borrow, we can help advise on the deals that can fit your own specific circumstances and give you the advice you need to make an informed decision to realise your own financial goals.

Keep your house safe during the holiday season

Spring is finally with us, and with thoughts turning to holidays, it’s important that we don’t just walk out of the door with the buckets and spades in hand and forget to make sure that our homes and belongings are as secure as they can be.

Going on holiday

  • Don’t advertise you are away!

Take care when posting social media updates about your holiday – it’s easy to unwittingly give thieves all the information they need to know about when you’re away from home and for how long. Make sure your settings are set to private, and ideally wait until you’re home before posting those gorgeous holiday pics.

  • Adopt the ‘buddy’ system

Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house, pick up any post or packages and even water the plants outside. You can then reciprocate when it is their time to go on holiday.

  •  Light timers and smart lighting you can operate from an app

Even in the summer, invest in inexpensive timers which you can use with your indoor lights to come on for part of the hours of darkness. Cheap, simple and effective. Smart lighting both inside and outside, a more expensive addition, but an extra layer of security, can also act as effective deterrent.

  • Turn off your hot water/heating

Unless it is a winter holiday and you need to keep the house and your pipework from freezing up, turn off/turn down your hot water and central heating. This can help to save you money and reduces the likelihood of any water leaks, or worse, whilst you are away.

Staycations

Whether you are staying at home and just planning day trips or making the most of the sunny weather at weekends, here are a few more tips to keep your property safe.

  • Windows and doors

Tempting though it may be to open all of your windows and doors when it is hot to keep the house cool, it also is an open invitation to potential thieves, particularly at night. Better to be uncomfortable than robbed, so keep your downstairs windows closed at night.

  • Keep it locked

Spending time in the garden means that you might not hear signs of a break in. Make sure access doors are kept locked to avoid unwanted visitors.

  • Remove temptation

Many break ins are opportunist crimes rather than part of some grand plan. Leaving valuables in plain sight near open windows, even near cat flaps and letterboxes increase the likelihood of opportunist crime. It only takes a second to reach in and steal.

  • Burglar alarm

Not exactly original but highly effective as a deterrent, particularly against the opportunist thief. Seeing a large coloured alarm box on a property will deter the majority of would be thieves. Even a decoy alarm box has the power to deter. 

  • Neighbourhood Watch

Your neighbours are your best defence. The Neighbourhood Watch scheme is highly effective at minimising crime, and if there isn’t one in your road, take the initiative and set one up, your local Police force should have useful tips and guidance on their website.

  • Check your buildings and contents policy

How long has it been since you reviewed your policy and what is covered? If you’re going away for an extended period of time, take extra care to make sure you are still covered.

Tips for viewing a property

Spring is a great time for moving home, however property viewings can be an overwhelming experience, so we’ve a few top tips to help you focus on the most essential items.

1. Don’t be pressured into not taking the time you want to view the property
Make sure you spend a fair amount of time viewing a property – 20 to 30 minutes at least – Don’t feel you must rush because the estate agent is looking at their watch.


2. Look at the structure of the building
Make sure you walk around the outside of the house to check the exterior. Look for damp and hairline cracks in the walls, missing or loose tiles on the roof and broken guttering. If you find signs of a problem, ask questions to find out what the cause is and whether it will be fixed.
Always have an independent house survey done so an expert can conduct more thorough checks.


3. Look and smell carefully
The seller doesn’t have to tell you about problems – in fact, they may even try to hide them. Common coverups include painting over damp and hiding wall cracks or floor problems with furniture or rugs.

Damp can give off a musty whiff even if you don’t see physical signs, so be on your guard for unusual smells, including air freshener.


4. View the property more than once
Even in a fast moving market, it’s best to go and see the property more than once if possible. The more times you view, the more likely you are to spot potential problems.
We’d recommend viewing the property two to three times, at different times of day, to find out how the light, traffic and surrounding noises change.


5. Confirm what land is included with the property
If there’s any uncertainty over who owns a garden or parking space, make sure you find out the answer and get it confirmed in writing before committing to buy the property.


6. What is included in the sale?
Always ask the seller what furniture or white goods will be included in the sale.


7. Try to take someone with you
Take someone you trust along with you. They can share their opinion on what they make of the property.


8. Have a professional survey done
Mortgage lenders only request that you have a ‘valuation survey’ carried out. You should always have your own independent survey carried out in order to uncover any hidden issues with the property you’re buying.


9. Find out how energy efficient the home is
Every property being sold must have an energy performance certificate (EPC). It details information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, as well as recommendations about how to reduce usage and save money.


10. Investigate the neighbourhood
Spend at least half an hour walking around the general area to see how close the things that matter to you, such as cafés, schools, transport links or local shops, are. Also, revisit the area at rush hour and when the pubs close, and on weekends and weekdays.


11. Talk to the estate agent
If the property you’re viewing is a serious contender, talk to the estate agent to find out more about the property and why it’s being sold. The estate agent is legally obliged to tell you if they know of any serious problems with the property.


12. Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions
At the end of the day, sellers and estate agents are trying to get you to buy a property. Therefore, they may not be forthcoming in telling you all the ins and outs.
So, questions are crucial in getting the full picture on what you’re buying. Don’t let the estate agents dictate the viewing, make sure you keep them on their toes and find out every nugget of information, with email or telephone follow ups.

What happens when you miss mortgage payments?

Missing just a couple of payments can have pretty serious consequences, but what exactly happens?

A shortfall equivalent to two or more months’ repayments means you are officially in arrears.1

A failure to pay your mortgage will trigger a report by your lender to the major credit bureau and they could lower your credit score, which will make it more challenging to seek credit elsewhere. After your grace period (this is usually one week to fifteen days after the payment due date) a late fee will be added on to the payment you failed to make.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

What to do, and what not to do

The most important thing is not to stick your head in the sand. Talk to your lender as soon as you think you may have some difficulties. If you fall behind your mortgage payments by 90 days, this is considered as defaulting on the loan, and your lender can start proceedings to repossess the property, however there are avenues of assistance that can prevent you reaching this stage.

By speaking to your lender, you may be able to make a plan for the payments you owe, or even to create a forbearance agreement with your lender, to allow a short-term solution to catch up on your payments.

We recommend that as well as speaking to your lender if you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and let us know if you have any challenges, we can take a look at your specific circumstances.

Your lender’s obligations

Within 15 working days of falling into arrears, your lender must:

  • Tell you how much your arrears add up to
  • List the missed payments
  • Explain how much is outstanding on the mortgage
  • Outline any charges

Your lender must then treat you fairly by considering any requests about changing how you pay, perhaps with lower repayments for a short period.

Any arrangement you come to, the FCA points out, will be reflected on your credit file – affecting your ability to borrow money in the future – as will any missed payments.1

Your lender might also suggest or allow you to extend the term of the mortgage or let you pay just the interest for a certain period of time.

If in doubt, please do get in touch with us as well as your lender if you think you may be struggling, help is at hand.

For additional assistance, you can also visit the Citizens Advice website which contains further detail about what to do – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/mortgage-problems-debt-and-money/

Sources

  1. BBC News (2023) Mortgages: What happens if I miss a payment? Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63486782 [Accessed 25 Apr 2023]

All the information in this article is correct as of the publish date 27th April 2023. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. The information provided in this article, including text, graphics and images does not, and is not intended to, substitute advice; instead, all information, content and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.

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