Monday, 30 January 2017

Paul Kelly our Senior Mortgage Advisor for Bristol and Expat Specialist

Paul Kelly has been our Senior Mortgage Adviser since 2014 and has been in the financial services industry for over 25 years.  Paul is married with a daughter and has an excellent knowledge of the Bristol Market for both residential and investment. Paul is based at our Head Office in Henleaze but is happy to visit clients at home to fit in with their busy schedules. Paul is also a specialist in Expatriate mortgages and deals with clients from across the world looking to fund properties in the UK.

Our clients really appreciate his expertise and knowledge and this is reflected in the high number of Google and Facebook 5-star reviews he receives!

In his spare time Paul enjoys time with his family and is a long-suffering QPR fan.

To meet more of the team pleaase visit our Meet the Team section of our website

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Government's first-time buyer schemes explained

This blog has been adapted from a very interest Zoopla article written by Laura Howard on January 4, 2017.
Please contact us on 0117 325 1511 for any queries regarding items in this article and we will be delighted to help.

Struggling to get a foot on (or up) the property ladder? Here's our round-up of Government schemes that could provide just the boost you need.
Being a first-time buyer usually means forking out rent, saving for a deposit and playing catch-up with ever-rising house prices all at the same time. No easy feat. 
But the good news is there are a range of Government schemes available which could provide just the boost you need to make it to the first (or next) rung of the housing ladder. We've outlined them below.

Help to Buy
Help to Buy provides a leg-up to buyers who can only muster a 5% deposit. While the scheme is not limited to first-time buyers, the vast majority of applicants fall into this category.
When Help to Buy was launched back in 2013, there were two parts to the scheme, Equity Loan and Mortgage Guarantee. As planned, the latter part (whereby the Government offered a guarantee to banks and building societies of up to 15% of the property price to encourage them to lend larger loans) was scrapped at the end of 2016.
Mortgage Guarantee did leave a legacy, though. According to Moneyfacts, there's been a four-fold increase in the number of small deposit mortgages available since its launch. In fact, some of the cheapest were not even part of the scheme as we explain in this news story.

5 key property takeaways from the 2016 Autumn Statement
Help to Buy Equity Loan
The remaining part of Help to Buy is called the Equity Loan. It requires a minimum 5% deposit of the property value with the Government offering an interest-free loan of a further 20%. The remaining 75% is covered by a standard mortgage.
As an example, if you wanted to buy a £200,000 property under the Equity Loan scheme, you'd need a minimum deposit of £10,000 and to qualify for a £150,000 mortgage. The Government then provides an equity loan of £40,000.
This is how the £40,000 equity loan works:
There is no interest to pay for the first 5 years
In year 6, interest (known as a 'loan fee') kicks in at 1.75%
The rate increases every year thereafter at the RPI (retail prices index) measure of inflation plus 1%
You can opt to pay fees in a single annual payment or by monthly direct debit. But bear in mind they are purely fees and will not go towards repaying the equity loan.The idea with the Help to Buy Equity Loan is that, because you're theoretically only borrowing 75% from the mortgage lender, rates will be cheaper than on a 95% mortgage. However, just like with the now-archived Mortgage Guarantee, don't assume this is always the case. Make sure you independently compare mortgage deals.
When you come to sell your home (or at the end of the 25-year mortgage term if you decide to stay put), the Government will take back its 20% share regardless of whether that's at a profit or a loss. You can opt to repay the loan at any time during the first 25 years but only in minimum 10% increments of the property's current market value.
The Help to Buy Equity Loan is only available on new-build properties in England worth up to £600,000. The scheme will remain open until 2020.
The Welsh version, which was due to end in March 2016, is now entering a second phase which spans until 2021 and will support the construction of 600,000 new homes in Wales. You can find out more here
Help to Buy ISA
The Help to Buy ISA which launched on 1 December 2015 is designed to boost first-time buyers' savings pots. For every £200 you save into the account, the Government will add £50. This is up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 (which applies to £12,000 of savings).
It's important to note however (and this transpired some time after the account was launched) that the Help to Buy ISA bonus cannot be put towards your initial deposit which is payable at exchange. Instead, the tax-free lump sum will be paid directly to the mortgage lender at completion.
In other words, you'll have to save the initial deposit yourself and use the bonus to reduce the overall mortgage amount and subsequent monthly repayments.
There are other limitations on the account too, such as a £250,000 price cap on property the bonus can be used to buy, although this rises to £450,000 in London.
Only one Help to Buy ISA is permitted per person and you won't be able to pay into any regular ISA at the same time. However, you can use your Help to Buy ISA savings in conjunction with any other Government scheme such as Help to Buy or Shared Ownership.
Banks and building societies offer their own Help to Buy ISAs and interest rates vary so be sure to shop around. You can find out what's on offer here. Some accounts incorporate an upfront bonus that falls away after an initial 'honeymoon' period, which is something to watch for when saving over the long term.

Lifetime ISA
In his 2016 Budget, the Chancellor announced the introduction of the new Lifetime ISA which offers a tax-free boost of up to £1,000 a year towards either buying your first home or saving towards retirement.
Savers aged 40 or under can open these accounts which will become available from April 2017 and put away up to £4,000 each year. The Government will then boost returns by 25p for every £1 saved and pay the bonus directly into the account at the end of each tax year.
You can then opt to use your Lifetime ISA cash as a deposit on a property worth up to £450,000 anywhere in the UK, so long as you are a first-time buyer. And you will be able to roll up any cash in your Help to Buy ISA into your Lifetime ISA without losing the tax-free benefits.
Starter Homes scheme
In March 2015, the Government announced the launch of a new Starter Homes scheme. Having gone quiet for a while, housing minister, Gavin Barwell recently confirmed that construction on the first Starter Homes would get underway in 2017 with first completions earmarked for 2018. You can read more on this here.
Starter Homes will be available to buyers aged between 23 and 40 who don't own a home and have never owned one before.
The 200,000 new homes built under the scheme will be sold at a minimum discount of 20% of the market price. The discount is made possible by the Goverment's 'double whammy' of offering developers the chance to build on cheaper brownfield commercial land and waiving taxes.
There's a £250,000 price cap on homes available under the scheme, rising to £450,000 if you're buying in London. Starter Homes cannot be resold or rented at their open market value for at least 5 years after the initial sale.

Shared Ownership
As it says on the tin, Shared Ownership schemes allow you to purchase just share of a home (between 25% and 75%) from a local Housing Association and pay an affordable rent on the part you don't own.
Under a process known as 'staircasing' you'll then be given the chance to buy back chunks as and when you can afford to until you own 100% of the home. These chunks will be priced at the home's current market value as assessed by the Housing Association. You will also have to pay a valuer's fee each time.
To qualify for Shared Ownership, you don't have to be a first-time buyer but your household income must not exceed £80,000 or £90,000 if you're buying in London. The scheme is available on both new-build and resale properties. You can find out more about Shared Ownership with our guide.

Right to Buy
Right to Buy enables council tenants with at least three years’ consecutive years tenancy (reduced from five years in May 2015) to potentially buy their home at a significant discount. You can find out if you are eligible for the scheme at the Government website.
Since 6 April, 2016, council tenants (or those living in their homes when it was transferred to another landlord) will benefit from deeper discounts if they want to buy their property. These stand at £77,900 or £103,900 if you live in London.
In his 2016 Autumn Statement the Chancellor, Philip Hammond announced a new ‘large-scale’ regional pilot of Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants which will enable a further 3,000 tenants to buy their own home at a discount. Watch this space.

All information correct at date of publication.

For more information about how we can help you with all your mortgage requirements please visit

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Let Us provide you with your critical illness cover

As an Independent Mortgage Broker, we are not only mortgage specialists, but we can also access the whole market for your insurance protection needs too.

Many banks and building societies and estate agents are “tied” to one insurer, and therefore cannot compete with an Independent specialist like us on cost or benefits as they only offer one product. This is a complex area and, in our view, is sometimes a more important decision than the mortgage. Whereas a mortgage deal may only last two or three years, the right protection could last the whole term!

We therefore always have a free face to face consultation with you and one of our experienced advisers to discuss your individual requirements to help us with our personal recommendations.
We have listed below a brief description of some of the many types of protection currently available, which may help narrow down your choices. Please feel free to call us and we will arrange an appointment with you at home, in your office or at our offices in Henleaze or Topsham.

What is critical illness cover?
Critical illness insurance will pay out if you get one of a number of a specific medical conditions or injuries listed in the policy. But be aware that not all conditions are covered and policy will also state how serious the condition must be.
Most policies will also consider permanent disabilities as a result of injury or illness. A critical illness policy only pays out once and then the policy ends. Some policies will make a smaller payment for less severe conditions, or if one of your children has one of the specified conditions.

What is not covered?
Some serious illnesses might not be covered, for example, some cancers and conditions not listed in the policy. You probably won’t be covered for health problems you knew you had before you took out the insurance, and this type of insurance does not pay out if you die. What’s covered and what’s not, will be set out in the policy details so make sure you’re fully aware of them and that they cover your needs. We guide you through all the considerations to find the right policy to meet your needs.

Do you need critical illness cover?
State benefits might not be enough to replace your income if something goes wrong. If you’re eligible, welfare benefits range from around £70 a week to just over £100 a week, depending on your circumstances (i.e. whether or not you have children, a certain level of savings, or if your partner works).

Critical illness cover could be considered if:
·       you do not have savings to tide you over if become seriously ill or disabled
·       you do not have an employee benefits package to cover a longer time off work due to sickness

Who does not need it?
You might not need it if:
·       you have enough savings to fall back on and can adequately cover expenses such as bills, loans, medical costs or a mortgage.
·       you have a partner who can cover living costs and any shared commitments, like a mortgage
·       You might already have some cover included in other products or work benefits.

How much does it cost?
Your monthly payments will depend on a number of factors, including:
·       age
·       whether you smoke or have previously smoked
·       health (your current health, your weight, your family medical history)
·       job (some occupations carry a higher risk than others and may mean you have to pay more each month)
·       the amount of cover you take out

For more information about anything relating to your house purchase or move, your mortgage or protection or insurance, please get in touch  
Call: Bristol office 0117 325 1511 or Exeter office 01392 690 888
Please visit the protection pages on our websites for more information

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Let Us Help You with Making an Offer- a Free Guide

On each of our websites we have a Useful Information Section

 We have also developed a number of FREE GUIDES for you to download.
The featured guide today is “Let Us Help You with Making an Offer”, this is applicable for First Time Buyers and Existing Home Owners looking to move.
Key Information sections include
  • Making an offer on a house or flat
  • Comparing properties to calculate a suitable offer
  • Making an offer below the asking price
  • Common reasons for offering less than the asking price
  • When to offer the asking price (or more)
  • Making an offer to an estate agent
  • Selling yourself as a prospective buyer.
  •  Before you make an offer
  • When you make your offer
  • After your offer is accepted
  • Sealed bids
  • New-build offers
  • Pros and cons of buying new-build homes
For more information about anything relating to your house purchase or move, your mortgage or protection or insurance, please get in touch by email
Or call: Bristol  0117 325 1511 or Exeter  01392 690 888