“This Month We Talk : Securing your Mortgage Rate, Attendance Allowance, Build your Own Grand Design & Pocket Money Budgeting”

Act Fast to Secure Your Mortgage Rate

The process of buying a home or arranging a remortgage can feel stressful enough, but it’s being made more challenging by recent data that reveals the average shelf-life of a mortgage product has dropped from 28 days down to just 15 days1, making it more important than ever to act fast to help secure a deal that’s suitable for you.

Why don’t mortgage deals hang around?

Put simply, mortgage lenders are seeking to shield themselves against any interest rate risks involved with lending money on fixed rate mortgages.

Whilst inflation and interest base rates have been more settled as 2024 has progressed, the market forecasts and predictions remain changeable, and this impacts upon mortgage lender’s confidence in keeping their existing mortgage deals available for too long.

Lenders could also alter their mortgage products range depending upon their service levels, for instance they could switch off a product for which they have had a sudden spike in demand because of it being favourably priced for the customers.

What does this mean for you?

If you’ve got a new home purchase in mind this year or coming up to a remortgage period, it’ll be more challenging to provide an upfront forecast of the exact deals and opportunities available, because there is no guarantee that they’ll still be available after a short while, especially with notice periods from mortgage lenders sometimes just being a few hours ahead of the intended changes.

We’re here to help you navigate

It’s important not to panic – speak to us and we’ll be here to help find you the deals that are most relevant to yourself, having talked through your circumstances and located a deal that matches your own situation.

We keep an eye on the fast-moving marketplace and with eyes across a wide variety of lenders, mortgage deals and some exclusive not-on-the-high-street, we are best placed to guide you on the mortgage product that meets you bespoke needs.

Stay ahead of the game

As you may have guessed – speed is of the essence when putting in your mortgage application. With the fast-moving nature of the market, we’ll put our expertise to good use in aiming to find the most suitable deal for you. Here are a few tips to help secure a mortgage application:

  • Plan ahead – try to prepare a good six months in advance of your intended home move/remortgage date, and get in touch with us to help.
  • Get your Deposit in order – if you are putting a deposit down on a property, it’s helpful to have this clearly set aside and available to view, to help allow a mortgage application to process smoothly. In general, the larger amount of deposit you have available, the increased chances of finding a suitable deal at a favourable rate.
  • Create a clear paperwork trail – A big part of the process is checking your documents and passing to the mortgage lender for them to review and approve your application. By having key documents to hand, such as the last 3 month’s pay slips, identity documents, bills with proof of address and more, this can all help for a speedy application to be made. Take time to check that your identity documents are all up to date – featuring your latest address and if you’ve got married recently – the name on the documents too.
  • Know your Credit Score – if you’ve got time on your side, it’s an ideal opportunity to build up your credit score. Find out what your credit score is, and if necessary look at ways to improve this ahead of a mortgage application. Little things like using certain credit builder credit cards can make a difference, as can paying off unsecured debts and closing unused credit card accounts.

Here to help you

It’s likely you’ll see a lot of information in the media and online about mortgages and, but we’re always here to help answer any questions you may have and work with you to advise on the most suitable options to fit your exact circumstances, for now and the future ahead.

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. BBC News (2024) New mortgage deals being pulled within days. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-68574065 [Accessed 18 Mar 2024]

Attendance Allowance: Support for Those Receiving Care

If you have an elderly family member or someone you know who is in receipt of the state pension, it’s worth checking to see if they are eligible for the Attendance Allowance. With the current high cost of living, it makes sense to be aware of what existing benefits already exist that they may be eligible for.

What is Attendance Allowance?

This is an important benefit for elderly people who need help to care for themselves. It’s worth up to £101.75 a week, and you don’t need to be hard-up to qualify. It is for people over state pension age who need help at home because of an illness or disability1.

The Attendance Allowance isn’t taxable, so your savings or income won’t affect your claim, and according to Age UK2, claiming also won’t affect any other benefits you may already receive. In fact, it can actually help you get other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Reduction2.

There are currently two rates of Attendance Allowance, which is payable every 4 weeks1:

  • Lower Rate – £68.10 per week – for those needing care during the day, or at night
  • Higher Rate – £101.72 per week – for those needing care during the day and night, or who are terminally ill

The criteria for claiming Attendance Allowance is set out as follows1:

  • You’re over State Pension age (if you haven’t reached it, you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment instead).
  • You have any type of disability or physical or mental illness, including sight or hearing impairments and conditions such as dementia.
  • You could benefit from help with personal care, such as getting washed or dressed, or supervision to keep you safe during the day or night.
  • You have needed help for at least 6 months. But if you’re terminally ill you can make a claim straight away.

Where to find more information & arrange a claim

The Government have a dedicated web page for this benefit, where you can find out more about Attendance Allowance, how you can help an eligible relative to claim they amount they are due, together with a downloadable Claim Form, at https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance, or by telephone to 0800 731 0122.

Sources

  1. Gov.uk (2024) Attendance Allowance. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]
  2. Age UK (2024) Attendance Allowance. Available at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/benefits-entitlements/attendance-allowance/ [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]

Is Now the Time to Build Your Own Grand Design?

With a shortage of properties available in certain parts of the UK, we look at whether it could be the ideal time to consider the popular self-build home route and create your own ‘Grand Design’.

Where we are now

The UK housing market is at a crossroads in 2024. With house prices predicted to fall by between -2% and -4% due to broader economic challenges, and pressure on household finances, notably from inflation and higher interest rates impacting housing affordability, the landscape for potential homeowners and investors alike is evolving1​​.

At the same time, there is a chronic shortage of housing in the UK, and the Competition and Markets Authority has highlighted the need for more, better quality homes and a streamlined planning system to address the scarcity that has been driving up prices​​2.

Amid these challenges, the notion of self-building emerges as a compelling alternative. Building your own home is not just a dream for those seeking a ‘Grand Design’ but could increasingly be seen as a practical solution to find a way out of the constraints in the traditional housing market – but why consider this route, and what does it mean for potential self-builders?

The Case for Self-Build in the Current Market

There are a number of benefits that may be had from going down the self-build route – whether it’s creating that personalised dream home or even saving money versus a comparable property on the market.

Self-build projects can also be a way to sidestep the high prices and competition for existing homes, particularly in areas where the housing shortage is most acute. Despite a slight improvement in market confidence and transaction volumes expected in 2024, affordability remains a concern for many, and data from HM Revenue & Customs has shown that housing transactions having fallen 19% year-on-year​​3.

Financing Your Grand Design: Self-Build Mortgages

Financing remains a crucial consideration for anyone looking to embark on a self-build project. Self-build mortgages are designed specifically for this purpose, offering a different funding structure compared to traditional mortgages. Funds are usually released in stages as the build progresses, reducing the lender’s risk and helping manage cash flow throughout the project.

Given the current economic context, with mortgage rates starting to steady following a turbulent past two years, it could be an opportune time to explore self-build mortgage options – you might be surprised at what’s available. The potential for a bespoke home and the chance to potentially save money compared to a traditional home can make for an attractive proposition for those looking to create their dream home in this period of market uncertainty.

Navigating Challenges

However, potential self-builders must be prepared to navigate the wide range of varying challenges that come with the self-build project option – from securing a plot, obtaining planning permission, and managing construction costs as the build progresses. The government and industry are making efforts to address the housing shortage by fixing the planning system and increasing the number of quality homes are steps in the right direction, but they also highlight the complexities involved in bringing new homes to fruition [2],[4]​.

Conclusion

In a market characterised by a shortage of properties and shifting economic indicators, building your own home presents a viable alternative to traditional homebuying paths. With thoughtful planning, appropriate financing through self-build mortgages, and a keen eye on the evolving housing landscape, your grand design could be more than a dream—it could be your future home.

Embarking on a self-build project is not without its challenges, but for those willing to navigate the complexities, it offers a unique opportunity to create a personalised living space that meets their needs and preferences, potentially at a lower overall cost. As the UK housing market continues to evolve, self-building stands out as a beacon for those seeking not just a house, but a home they’ve truly made their own.

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. Lloyds Banking Group (2024) UK housing market review and outlook for 2024. Available at: https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/media/press-releases/2023/halifax-2023/uk-housing-market-review-outlook-2024.html [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]
  2. Reuters (2024) UK builders and government need to fix housing shortage, regulator says. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-antitrust-watchdog-starts-probe-into-homebuilders-2024-02-26/ [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]
  3. Mortgage Strategy (2023) HMRC figures show transactions falling 19% year on year. Available at: https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/news/hmrc-figures-show-transactions-falling-19-year-on-year/ [Accessed 22 Mar 2024]
  4. House of Commons Library (2023) Tackling the under-supply of housing in England. Available at: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7671/ [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]

Pocket Money Budgeting for the Future

A Cambridge University study once found that a person’s financial habits were established by the age of just 7, so we look at some ways that could get kids off to a flying start1.

Pocket money saving

In days past, it was likely that most children were granted pocket money each week – often cash rewarded in exchange for chores completed, and helped to give kids a good understanding of how money works and how to manage the money they receive from a young age – skills that will hopefully last them throughout life.

Moneyhelper2 have put together a range of ways to help educate children of different age groups to the importance of budgeting and saving money – which can be accessed here – https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/talk-money/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-money

As children get older, moving away from the piggybank, one option to consider could be bank accounts, where a range of savings options exist:

Debit card – a prepaid debit card could provide a means of introducing children to personal finance. As they familiarise themselves with the digital world of banking, being able to show them how to instantly check the balance on their card together with the convenience of being able to top it up easily, will help a parent or carer give a child more confidence in managing their money.

Current account – this option could be used for storing pocket money or earnings from part-time jobs (from the age of 16 upwards), and provide a further means of saving and spending money aside being reliant on cash. It’s important to bear in mind terms and conditions from the bank providing the current account service before setting it up.

Savings account – if there is a considerable amount of funds saved, then there are options around a savings account or ISA, which may hold additional benefits in terms of interest rates or taxation further down the line when children are older. It’s always recommended to seek independent financial advice before making a decision.

Methods like these can all be of valuable assistance in the effort to help children understand the importance of managing money from an early age, and hopefully set them up well for the financial decisions they will make in the future.

Sources

  1. The Money Advice Service (2024) Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children by Cambridge University 2013. Available at: https://mascdn.azureedge.net/cms/the-money-advice-service-habit-formation-and-learning-in-young-children-may2013.pdf [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]
  2. Moneyhelper (2024) How to teach kids about money. Available at: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/talk-money/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-money [Accessed 20 Mar 2024]

All the information in this article is correct as of the publish date 28th March 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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