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Monthly Archives : October 2017

Self Build Homes

What are your grand designs?

What are your grand designs?

Are you a budding Frank Lloyd Wright with ambitions to design and build a home to your exact specifications?

If you’re choosing to build the property of your dreams and you have the knowledge and skills required, you could opt for the DIY route and take on as much of the work as you can. Or you could choose to employ professionals to do some, or all of it for you.

Self-build mortgages
Whichever route you choose you’ll need to think about financing the project – unless of course you have enough cash to fund such a project. You won’t be able to apply for a residential mortgage, which means you’ll need to look specifically at specialist self-build mortgages.

With a self-build mortgage you won’t receive all of the funds in one lump sum as you would with a residential mortgage. Instead, these types of mortgages tend to pay out funds during different stages in the process. For instance, once you’ve bought the land, or when the foundations are laid, or when the roof and windows have been installed.

The timing of the release of funds will differ depending on the materials you’re using to build your home, or if you’re renovating a property rather than building from scratch.

Self-build advantages
Every year 13,000 people from all walks of life take the plunge and build their dream home and it’s not surprising when you consider the benefits. You can choose where to splash out and where to save. You can design your living space around the needs of your family, so if you love cooking you could make the kitchen the heart of the home. You could also make sure your home has a low carbon footprint by installing solar panels and using eco-friendly building materials.

If you find a plot priced under the £125,000 threshold you could also save thousands on stamp duty as it is only payable on the purchase of the land.

If you have a grand design, or you’re looking for advice on non-standard mortgages, please get in touch. We can help find the right mortgage whatever your property ambitions.

HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen.

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

Mortgage Advice

The value of our advice

The value of our advice

Good financial advice and planning helps people to protect and build their assets, make the most of their investments and help to achieve the goals and lifestyle they desire.

Establishing priorities
Every client we meet has a unique and varied range of financial planning needs, so it’s important to establish priorities right from the start if we are to create a meaningful and relevant plan.

As time passes, your financial plan will need to evolve, and regulatory changes can impact the effectiveness
of any structures already in place. That’s why we recommend a regular review to ensure that your plans remain on track and relevant.

The importance of ongoing advice and service
If you choose to receive ongoing advice and service from us, we’ll invite you to regular meetings where we will monitor the progress of your plans and discuss any adjustments required in the light of changing circumstances.

We believe that ongoing service can help you continue to make well-informed choices and give you the best chance of achieving your goals through key life stages.

Five promises we make to our clients

  1. We will help you arrange your finances so that they work as effectively as possible towards funding your life goals.
  2. We will help you take steps to ensure your income, assets and family are protected from the impact of long-term illness, disablement or death.
  3. We will advise you on how your investments can benefit from relevant tax reliefs and allowances. We will also advise you on the most effective way of withdrawing income or capital from your arrangements when the need arises, or how best to pass wealth to your intended beneficiaries.
  4. We will help you keep your plans in focus by regularly meeting with you to review and refresh arrangements. This might be a result of changing personal circumstances, legislation, new opportunities and any other factors relevant to your situation.
  5. We will be accessible and responsive whenever you wish to contact us with queries or requests.

For more information about any of our services, please get in touch.

Financial Advice

The value of mortgage advice

The value of mortgage advice

With so many mortgage lenders offering their products on the high street and online, it can be tempting to cut out the middleman and ‘go direct’.

But when you’re making such an important financial commitment, the guidance you can get from a qualified mortgage adviser can be invaluable. Here are five ways we can make a difference to your mortgage search:

  1. We know what a good deal looks like
    We have access to a wide range of well-known lenders and thousands of mortgage deals, so we can find a
    rate that suits you. But we also look beyond the rate. Lender administration and booking fees, length and
    type of loan, valuation costs and repayment methods can all affect the total amount you pay. By considering
    all these elements, we can recommend a solution tailored to your individual circumstances.
  2. We know the market
    If your needs or circumstances are ‘out of the ordinary’, it may be much harder for you to find a mortgage now than it was a few years ago. This is particularly true if you’re self-employed or a small deposit, or are
    borrowing into retirement. We can save you the time and hassle of trawling the market, and help you find a
    lender willing to provide your loan.
  3. We’ll do the hard work for you
    Selecting the most appropriate mortgage is just the start. We’ll work with you to complete all the necessary
    application forms, liaise on your behalf with solicitors, valuers and surveyors, and help to make the
    process as smooth as possible.
  4. We’re professionally qualified
    Unlike many branch and telephone-based mortgage sellers in banks and building societies, we’re qualified
    to advise you on a broad range of lenders and products. This means you benefit from genuine choice coupled with quality advice.
  5. We go beyond the mortgage
    We can help you safeguard your investment in your home by advising on a range of products that can
    financially protect your home, and your family, should the worst happen.

If you’re looking for a new mortgage, we’d love to help.

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

Adviser Jobs

The business of protection

The business of protection

Every business has a lifecycle; from its early development through to start-up, expansion and, hopefully, maturity and exit. At any stage, though, it’s important to consider how key assets or loans are protected in the event that something risks the ability to continue trading.

Key person protection
Perhaps the greatest asset of a business is its people. Despite this, Legal & General’s latest ‘State of the Nation’s Small and Medium Enterprises’ research found that more than half of the UK’s small businesses think they would cease trading in less than a year if a key employee died or became unable to work. This stark figure highlights the importance of protecting the people responsible for the continuing success or growth of the business.

If your business relies on certain employees, it’s important to arrange protection against the financial loss caused by their death or serious illness.

An insurance policy often referred to as Key Person Insurance can be taken out on the life or health of such an employee. This may be appropriate where that individual’s knowledge, work, or overall contribution is considered uniquely valuable to the company. It can cover the costs or losses that may be caused by the loss of that person.

Business loan protection
After the initial whirlwind of setting up a business passes and thoughts turn to growth, the business owners might choose to borrow money to fund its expansion. In fact, the research from Legal and General shows two thirds of businesses have some form of borrowing.

The most common type of borrowing taken out over £50,000 is for business loans, overdrafts and Directors Loan accounts.

Most types of business loans can be protected with a policy that provides a lump sum to cover loans and other credit facilities if a business owner dies, or in some cases becomes seriously ill (if critical illness cover is included).

Share protection
Once a business is more established, a share protection policy might be appropriate because it can help cover the value of an owner’s share of a business. If an owner dies or is diagnosed with a critical illness, share protection written in trust can provide the other business owners with enough cash to buy out the shares and continue to run the business.

Whether you’re just starting up, or looking to expand your business, we can advise on a range of business protection options that might be suitable. Please get in touch.

Life Insurance

Peace of mind for the cost of a coffee

Peace of mind for the cost of a coffee

Many of us pick up a morning coffee on the way to work – it’s a little bit of luxury to start the day for just a couple of pounds. But did you know you could provide something even more satisfying for you and your loved ones for less than the cost of that coffee?

Peace of mind
Protection insurance (or, more specifically, life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection) should be considered essential – especially if you have a mortgage, or people who depend on your income.

A life insurance policy can provide much-needed funds if you’re no longer able to work through illness, injury, or worse. There are even some policies that will also cover you for unemployment. Cover provides peace of mind because you know you and your family will be financially supported if the unexpected happens – and cover might be cheaper than you think.

When it comes to a claim…
If you’ve declined the offer of protection insurance in the past because you don’t believe your insurer would pay out, think again. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 97.3% of all protection insurance claims paid out in 2016, totalling £4.7bn. That’s around £13m a day paid to households hit by the emotional and financial distress and disruption that an unexpected accident, serious illness or death can cause.

Things change – and so should your cover
Even if you already have one or more of these types of plans in place, it’s still important to regularly review your cover levels. Personal circumstances can change and you should make sure your level of cover remains appropriate.

Choose security
Next time you’re in the queue wondering whether to go for a flat white or hazelnut mocha, why not consider a third option and choose long-term financial security for you and your loved ones. The satisfaction it can provide you is far greater than that from a coffee.

Based on latest data, a 35-year-old non-smoker looking for £250,000 decreasing life assurance and critical illness to cover a 25-year repayment mortgage, could pay a premium of £58.54 per month, equivalent to £1.88 per day based on a 31-day month.

Figures correct as at 7/8/2017

If you’d like more information on what sort of protection insurance would suit your circumstances, please get in touch.

Family Cycle

Protecting your mortgage repayments

Protecting your mortgage repayments

We think protection advice is imperative when you have a home or family you want to protect. So, talk to us about a mortgage and we’ll talk to you about life cover.

Buying a house could be one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll make: getting a deposit together
can wipe out your savings and paying your mortgage will take a chunk out of your income. So how would
your family continue to meet this commitment if you stopped earning?

When taking out a mortgage, it’s essential to consider how you would continue to cover your mortgage
payments if you fell ill or died unexpectedly. There are a number of ways you can do this:

Life Insurance
If you died suddenly, a Life Insurance policy would pay out a cash sum to your dependents. They could
use this to pay off their mortgage and keep the roof over their heads.

Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI)
Also known as Accident Sickness and Unemployment (ASU) cover, MPPI covers your mortgage related
repayments if you can’t work because of redundancy, accident or ill-health. Benefits are usually paid for 12
months although some providers offer 24 months’ cover.

Critical Illness Insurance
Critical Illness Insurance pays out a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a specified critical illness such
as cancer, stroke or heart attack. You can use the cash payout to clear your mortgage, pay for medical
treatment, take time to recuperate or anything else you choose.

Income Protection
Income Protection can replace part of your income if you’re unable to work for a long time due to illness
or disability. It will pay out until you return to work or the policy ends – whichever happens first. Income
Protection plans usually have a waiting period before the benefit becomes payable.

Choosing to protect yourself

When you take out a mortgage through us, we’ll ask if you want to take out protection as well. What’s more, we will analyse your lifestyle and any protection shortfall and recommend a protection plan that will help protect you and your family from the financial consequences of serious illness or death.

Plugging the protection gap

Plugging the protection gap

If you’re one of the increasing number of people who’ve become self-employed in recent years, you may have found the switch has left you without the employee benefits you previously took for granted.

Making the change from employed to self-employed is a big step and it’s one more people are taking.
The number of self-employed people in the UK now stands at 4.80 million, representing 15% of the working population.

But while some may find they can earn more as a result, they might overlook the importance of replacing lost employee benefits like income protection and life insurance.

Death in Service
Many employed people automatically benefit from life insurance arranged on their behalf by their employer. This would pay a multiple of their annual salary were they to die while still employed, which could then be used to pay off a mortgage or maintain their family’s lifestyle.

Some employees receive a proportion of their salary for a period of time if they become unable to work due to illness or injury (over and above statutory sick pay levels) and may benefit from access to private medical treatment.

Clearly, moving from employment to self-employment would mean these benefits cease, and potentially
leave a protection ‘gap’.

Mind the gap
Fortunately, the benefits you may have received automatically as an employee are also available to you as a self-employed individual – and they may be more affordable than you think.

Income protection insurance will pay you a monthly income if you become unable to work through illness
or injury. Self-employed workers should consider this an essential piece of protection because it can help
prevent your family suffering financial hardship and allow you space to recover more quickly without the
burden of financial worry. Many insurance companies also provide support for customers to help them return
to fitness as quickly as possible.

Life and critical illness plans can be individual plans or combined. Life insurance will pay out a lump sum or
a regular income to your dependants if you were to die during the term of the cover. Critical illness plans pay out a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a specific illness. Both can help secure your family’s financial future.

Private medical insurance (PMI) may be considered less of a priority than either income protection or life
insurance, given the treatment you are entitled to via the NHS. For those seeking to replicate all the benefits
they may have enjoyed when employed, there are a range of policies available at varying price levels. If you are interested in PMI we can introduce you to our PMI referral partner.

Are you covered?
If you’re self-employed it’s easy to make sure your employment status doesn’t put your long-term financial
security – and that of your family – at risk. Get in touch to discuss your protection options.

Mortgages

Mortgage-savvy millennials

Mortgage-savvy millennials

When it comes to their mortgage, are younger people making better financial decisions than their older counterparts?

The term ‘millennial generation’ applies to people born somewhere between 1980 and 2000, a 20-year span which also saw a huge rise in property prices. At the start of 1980, the average house price was £22,677, but by the end of 2000 this had risen to £81,628. Today the figure stands at £209,971.

A recent study shows the dramatic rise in property prices means just one in five 25-year-olds can afford to buy a property, and the average age of a first-time buyer in the UK has been pushed up to 30. Despite the financial challenges, almost three quarters of UK millennials intend to buy their first home in the next five years.

Repayment vs interest-only
The millennials who’ve bucked the trend and already made the first rung of the housing ladder obviously prefer the concept of reducing their loan month by month, with the vast majority (92%) of 18-34 year olds choosing a repayment mortgage, compared with 68% of those aged 55 and over.

Fixed rate
Younger borrowers also seem to prefer to know what their mortgage repayments are going to be, with nearly 70% opting for a fixed-rate deal compared with 35% of their older counterparts. They also seem happy to shop around, with a quarter remortgaging to potentially reduce their monthly payments, whereas 82% of those aged 55 and over have stuck with the same mortgage.

Offset mortgages also appear to be more attractive to younger generations with one third of 18-34 year olds taking out an offset mortgage (where they will use their savings to either reduce the term or repayments on their mortgage) compared to just 11% of over 55s.

If there is a conclusion to be made from these statistics it could be that millennials are more savvy when it comes to their mortgage, but remember, interest rates have remained at record lows for nearly ten years; something that’s very much in their favour.

Figures correct as at September 2017

Whatever age you are, whether you’re looking to buy for the first time, remortgage or move up the housing ladder, please get in touch to see how we can find the right mortgage for you.

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

conveyancing

Do you know your credit rating?

Do you know your credit rating?

If you’re looking to take your first steps onto the housing ladder you may have sacrificed your takeaways and holidays to save the deposit and scoured hundreds of houses online. But have your checked your credit history?

Even if you’re remortgaging or moving up the housing ladder your credit history will be important.

What is a credit score?
A credit report includes details of your credit history including any credit you’ve applied for (like loans,
credit cards, and overdrafts), credit you’ve been given and how you’ve managed the repayments. Also included are your address details (current and previous), public records such as county court judgments and financial associates (someone who is financially linked to you eg. a joint mortgage or bank account).

All the details in your credit report are analysed to calculate your credit score. This score is used by
lenders as an indication of how you’ll manage and repay the money you borrow.

Scores on the doors
The general rule is the higher the score the better, and the more likely you’ll be accepted for a mortgage or other credit.

If you’re looking to take out a mortgage or remortgage, check your credit score regularly. You can usually get a simple overview for free and it pays to check with several different sources. Noddle, Equifax, ClearScore and Experian all offer a service to help you understand your rating.

According to research from Experian, when the home buyers who were surveyed checked their
credit 18% found their score was lower than expected. The good news is that there are ways
to improve a low score:

  • Pay more than your minimum payments on credit cards
  •  Bring your overdraft down
  • Close unused credit accounts
  • Register for the electoral roll

Happily, 54% of those surveyed found their score was higher than expected and 25% were surprised
by their score. Given that 43% of people haven’t checked their credit score it may be that many are unaware of the impact it may have until they come to apply for a mortgage.

If you’re a first-time buyer looking for a mortgage or a homeowner looking to remortgage, please get in touch to see how we can help find the right mortgage for your circumstances.

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

home-insurance-fire

Bonfires and fireworks

Bonfires and fireworks

Autumn has arrived, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. You may be preparing the garden for winter and arranging any rubbish for a seasonal bonfire. And, at this time of year, where there’s a bonfire there could be fireworks.

Keep your distance
Bonfires and fireworks can be a good excuse to bring together family and friends to enjoy the autumn nights, but they do require a bit of caution as many people, including children, are at risk of injury. In fact, in 2015-16, there were over 5,200 injuries caused by fireworks.

Often the best way to enjoy fireworks and bonfires is at larger public displays, where ‘official’ health and safety precautions are in place. With private displays, you might be tempted to ignore basic rules like making sure people are a safe distance from where you’re launching the rockets or setting off the Catherine Wheels.

Take sparklers, for instance. They could be seen as harmless, given you can hold them when lit, but be warned! Sparklers can burn at temperatures similar to a welding torch, upward of 1000°C so it’s important to take precautions by wearing gloves and supervising youngsters.
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Are you covered?
One thing you should also check before you organise this sort of event is whether your home insurance covers you for any accidental damage. This could be caused by things like stray fireworks or bonfires spreading to a shed, or worse, your house.

Safety first
If you decide to have a bonfire, or put on your own fireworks display with sparklers, consider
these safety tips to make it safe and enjoyable.

  • Keep spectators at a safe distance.
  • Always light your fireworks at arm’s length and never return to it once it’s been lit.
  • Have one person in charge of the bonfire, making sure it can’t spread and always have a bucket of water or sand nearby as a precaution.
  • Supervise children at all times around fireworks and bonfires.
  • Wear gloves when using sparklers, and don’t hold them near your face.

If you’re not sure what your home insurance covers or you’d like to review your cover, please get in touch