“This Month We Talk – Recession, Selling Your Home, Savings And Extensions”

How a Recession Could Affect Your Mortgage

According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the UK fell into a recession for the final three months of 2023. Here, we look further into this to find out what it can mean for the average person with a mortgage1.

What is a recession?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes figures for the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which is the value of all the goods and services produced by the UK for a given time period.

The GDP figure would typically rise and fall over time, as incomes rise or the economy shrinks, for example. ONS data for 20231 has shown that the GDP figure has fallen during the last two quarters of 2023, which is officially classified as a recession.

Understanding the Impact on Mortgages

The economic landscape has shifted, leading to potential changes in mortgage rates, housing values, and the broader property market. The Bank of England’s measures to combat inflation have resulted in interest rates increasing to 5.25%, impacting many homeowners with variable or tracker mortgages2. However, there might be a silver lining as hints of future rate cuts could potentially alleviate some pressure for those looking to remortgage or secure new mortgage deals.

What This Could Mean for You

  • For Prospective Homebuyers: The current situation presents a mixed bag. While higher interest rates may seem daunting, the potential for rate cuts and a decrease in housing prices could create unique opportunities. It’s crucial to assess your long-term affordability and consider locking in rates if you find a suitable deal.
  • For Existing Homeowners: If your mortgage deal is nearing its end, or you’re on a variable rate, now is the time to review your options. Chances are that rates have increased since your preview mortgage deal, however they are currently below the highs seen in late 2022. Fixed-rate mortgages may offer stability on monthly payments, although tracker mortgages can offer the chance to see immediate reductions in monthly payments should Bank of England Interest Rates fall as 2024 progresses. 
  • For Those Looking to Remortgage: Aside from homeowners remortgaging when their existing deals come to an end, there may be other reasons to remortgage, whether to access equity in a property or release funds to pay off existing debts for example, however with an uncertain market, some may wish to wait longer for greater clarity on what’s proving a challenging and uncertain market to date.

Strategies to Consider

  • Review Your Financial Health: Take a comprehensive look at your finances, considering your income, debts, and emergency savings. Understanding your financial position is critical to making informed decisions.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest economic news and mortgage rates. Awareness of market trends can guide your decisions and timing when considering remortgaging or purchasing.
  • Seek Professional Mortgage Advice: Our role is to support you through these uncertain times. Whether you’re contemplating a new mortgage, looking to remortgage, or simply seeking reassurance about your current situation, we are here to offer expert advice tailored to your individual needs.
  • Consider Additional Support: If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, several resources are available. Engaging with organizations like Citizens Advice can provide guidance on managing debt and financial planning.
  • Stay Protected: In these unpredictable times, it’s worthwhile protecting the things that matter to you, and how long you and your family can maintain your standard of living should the worst happen – whether it’s a loss of income, a critical illness or worse – having protection in place can give valuable peace of mind when you need it most. Speak to us to find out more about how we can assist. 

Final Thoughts

While the economic forecast may seem daunting, opportunities exist for informed and strategic decision-making. Our commitment to you, our valued client, is unwavering. We are dedicated to providing you with the support and advice needed to navigate these challenging times confidently.

Together, we will explore all avenues to ensure your mortgage and protection arrangements are as resilient and beneficial as possible. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or with any concerns you might have.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other debt secured on it.

Sources

  1. Office for National Statistics (2024) OGDP first quarterly estimate, UK: October to December 2023. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/grossdomesticproductgdp/bulletins/gdpfirstquarterlyestimateuk/octobertodecember2023 [Accessed 26 Feb 2024]

Spring Sales: Get Your Home to Market

With days getting longer, and a certain something in the air – Springtime has been proven to be the best time to sell a home. We look at a few quick tips on how to seize the moment and get your home ready for sale.

Why is Spring so popular?

According to research from property advice experts The Advisory1, and reports from a number of other estate agents, Spring is the most popular time for selling properties, from mid-February through to late June being the peak, and representing a great opportunity to get your home on the market if you’re looking to make a move this year.

Top Tips to Get on the Market

We’ve assembled a few useful and budget tips that you may find helpful to get the most from your property sale, both to maximise value and increase the chances of a quick sale this Spring:

  1. Deep Clean and Declutter: A sparkling clean home not only looks appealing but also signals to buyers that the property is well-maintained. A declutter is recommended to help buyers envisage what the property would be like if they lived there – however, there is a fine line between having a clear out and leaving the property like a generic hotel, so leave some personality there if you can.
  2. Garden Grooming: Enhance your home’s curb appeal with a well-manicured garden. First impressions are crucial, and a blooming garden can be a deciding factor for potential buyers – be sure to clear pathways and ensure fences & gates are in good condition too.
  3. Perform Repairs: Addressing minor fixes before listing can significantly impact the perceived value of your home, making it more enticing to buyers and something that they can move into straight away.
  4. Cleanliness Comes First: Clean everything until it sparkles. Get rid of limescale, clean and repair tile grout, wax wooden floors, get rid of odours, hang up fresh towels. This will make the place more appealing and allow viewers to imagine living there.
  5. Interior Refresh: Consider a fresh coat of paint in neutral tones to brighten interiors and appeal to a wider audience.
  6. Smell is Important: It almost goes without saying but a bad smell at your property is likely to be a big turn-off for prospective buyers – don’t just mask the smell but find the source and eradicate it. It’s also worthwhile clearing drains, emptying and washing bins, and opening windows to allow a good airflow to remove old cooking smells too. One tip to remove any stale cigarette smells is to leave bowls of vinegar around the property for a few days to neutralise the atmosphere.
  7. Light it Up: Ensure your home is well-lit, and if feasible, scheduling viewings that take place during the hours of daylight will help showcase your home in the best possible way, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere.
  8. Maximise Kerb Appeal: First impressions count – research from YouGov has demonstrated that prospective buyers say well-maintained windows and a roof appearing in good condition, were the most important external features when viewing a property2.

All these tips can help you get the most from your property when it comes to sell. By making it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to fall in love with your home and to see themselves living there, the easier it is to get a quick sale, and potentially even increase the final sales value that your property goes for.

Dedicated advice for your circumstances

Don’t forget that we’re here to help you on your journey. Our dedicated team can provide the seasoned professional mortgage & protection advice you need to help make the transition to your new home even easier. Just get in touch with us to find out more and we’ll be there for you every step of the way.

Sources

  1. The Advisory (2024) When is the Best Time to Sell Your House?. Available at: https://www.theadvisory.co.uk/house-selling/best-time-to-sell-house/ [Accessed 27 Feb 2024]
  2. HomeOwners Alliance (2024) 12 Tips for selling your home. Available at: https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/top-tips-how-to-make-your-home-more-saleable-and-valuable/ [Accessed 27 Feb 2024]

Are Your Savings Working For You?

Recent times have seen a dramatic rise in interest rates, and we’ve all seen the impact on monthly mortgage payments as a result, but what’s less publicised is how your savings could now be working harder for you. We take a look at some tips on how to make the most of higher interest rates.

A feature by MoneyHelper, a consumer-facing support service from the UK Government, highlights some key points that we can take some inspiration from.

Switching Accounts

With interest rates having shot up over the past two years, top rates are now ten times higher than they were, however according to Moneyhelper1, you may need to move your savings around to access the highest rates.  

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, in December 2023 the average interest rate for instant access savings was 1.99%, and 3.52% for fixed rate accounts2. While this is higher than the same numbers earlier this year, there are quite a few accounts paying 5% or more in interest for both fixed and instant access accounts1.

Rising interest rates might mean that you’re spending more on your mortgage or other borrowing, but it can also earn you a bit extra on your savings. This is why it’s important to look around to ensure that your money is saved in the right places to benefit from increased interest rates.

Moneyhelper have put together some further tips on how to boost your interest rate:

  1. Check that you’re using the right type of account. If you’re eligible, some savers may be able to earn up to a 50% bonus with a Help to Save account or 25% with a Lifetime ISA
  2. Check what your savings currently pay. You can usually find the rate and if there are any restrictions or penalties for withdrawing cash:
    1. via online and mobile banking
    2. checking statements
  3. Compare against the top paying accounts – have a look around online for comparisons on financial services consumer websites, or speak to an independent financial adviser.
  4. Choose a new account to open. These days, most of the accounts paying competitive rates can all be opened online, and the process may only take a few hours to do. Moneyhelper have also put together some guidance – Get help before choosing an account
  5. Move your money. Use your new account details to transfer or pay in money. 

If you have a fixed-rate savings account or bond, you’ll usually have to wait until it matures (ends) before you can do this1. Other types of account should let you move money more freely, but always double check before starting.

Be prepared to move your money again

It’s a wise idea to check rates on a regular basis, as banks compete against one another to be the best, or have the most stand-out savings rates – be prepared that another bank may offer a more attractive rate in due course, and you may wish to move your funds accordingly.

Your bank might not increase your rate automatically 

Be prepared that even if your bank is offering a competitive rate to new customers, they may not offer the same to you automatically.

It’s worth keeping an eye on the market and if you see a better deal, query with your own bank as to how you can take advantage of what’s being offered.

Will you pay tax on savings interest? 

There’s a set amount that people can earn in savings interest each tax year (6 April to 5 April) without paying tax, based on your annual income.

Moneyhelper have put together a guide that covers how tax savings and investments can work – https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/savings/types-of-savings/tax-on-savings-and-investments

Types of savings account

When it comes to finding accounts with the higher savings rates, there are different types available, with their own pros and cons –

  • Instant and easy access accounts – these can be a good idea if you’re getting started with savings and might need to dip into them.
  • Easy-access cash ISA – all interest is tax-free, you can save up to £20,000 before 6 April1.
  • Premium Bonds – no interest, instead you’re entered into a monthly prize draw1.

Work around restrictions to maximise the return

Moneyhelper have put together a range of useful links for different types of savings and how to maximise these across the different types of accounts available:

  • Lifetime ISA – offer a 25% bonus on savings used for retirement or buying a first home, you need to be aged 18 to 39 to open one.
  • Help to Save – if you claim certain benefits you can save up to £50 a month for four years and earn a 50% government bonus. 
  • Regular savings – let you save a set monthly amount in return for a higher interest rate, but you might not be able to withdraw money.  
  • Fixed rate savings bonds – guarantee an interest rate for a set period between six months and seven years, but you can’t withdraw your money until the end.
  • Fixed rate cash ISA – a guaranteed interest rate between one and five years, interest is tax-free and you can usually withdraw for a fee
  • Notice accounts – to take out money you’ll usually need to give between 30 and 120 days’ notice.

In summary, this period of increased interest rates offers an opportunity for those with savings to consider how they may get more from their investments. The tips and methods shared here are all from the UK Government Moneyhelper website, which is packed full of advice and suggestions on how to keep safe financially.

We hope that this is a useful feature and would always encourage you to seek professional advice from an Independent Financial Adviser before making any changes to your finances.

Sources

  1. Moneyhelper (2024) Are you getting the best rate for your savings?. Available at: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/blog/savings/how-to-find-the-top-savings-accounts [Accessed 26 Feb 2024]
  2. Financial Conduct Authority (2024). FCA update on cash savings – December. Available at: https://www.fca.org.uk/data/fca-update-cash-savings-december-2023 [Accessed 26 Feb 2024]

Home Extensions: Where To Start?

If you and your family are thinking of needing extra space – the natural thought can be to simply search for a new property. However, with the turbulent housing market and rising cost of mortgages – one answer might be right under your feet.

Adding Value to Your Home

Not only can a home extension offer the much-needed space, but it can add some real value to your home in the process too. A survey by Checkatrade revealed that an extension can add between 5-8% to your property value, depending upon the size, style and design of the extension itself1.

However, before getting started with the building tools, it’s wise to do a little research on the key considerations to be had when embarking on an extension project.

Planning Permission

Depending on the size and location of your planned extension, you may or may not need planning permission from your local council. There are permitted development rights allowing some single-storey rear extensions to be built without the need for consent. However, it’s important to check the specific measurements and regulations to ensure your extension complies.

Building Regulations

Even if you don’t need planning permission, building regulations approval will still be required. The extension must meet minimum standards for structural integrity, insulation, electrical safety and so on. Using a qualified builder can help ensure regulations are followed.

Inform Your Insurer

Let your home insurance provider know about your extension plans, as this could affect your cover during the works and once completed. Additional rebuild costs may increase your premiums too.

Speak to Your Neighbours

Be considerate and talk through any disruption the works could cause. You may also need neighbours to agree to plans if building on shared walls or boundaries under Party Wall laws. Maintaining good relations is key.

Finding the right Architect & Building Firms

This is arguably the most important decision. Do your research to find an experienced and trustworthy builder or architect. Get recommendations and read reviews. Make sure they have the specific expertise you need.

Get Multiple Quotes

Its worth getting at least three itemised quotes from different builders outlining the full costs. Compare these in detail before selecting who to hire.

Hopefully these tips give you a good overview of key things to consider at the start of your extension journey. It certainly pays to conduct proper planning early on to smooth out and manage the key processes in an effective way – and to turn your place into your dream home, without having to move properties.

ReMortgage

If you need to raise funds for such work on your home then a remortgage might be an option to consider, get in touch and we can assess your current mortgage and personal circumstances to establish if a remortgage will be the most suitable option. – https://qmortgages.co.uk/remortgage/

Sources

Checkatrade (2024) How much does an extension add to the value of a house?. Available at: https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/expert-advice/extension-add-value-house/ [Accessed 26 Feb 2024]

All the information in this article is correct as of the publish date 29th February 2024. 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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