Are interest only mortgages good or bad?

Tuesday, 3rd July, 2018

Interest-only mortgages are a bit like life. They’re not simply all bad or all good, they’re not clear-cut and they’re often right for some people, but not others.

However, from recent reports that suggest that the interest only mortgage is making its comeback, you could be forgiven for thinking that UK homeowners are about to revert to the pre-crash days and readopt the interest-only approach to home ownership.

In fact it wasn’t that long ago that interest only mortgages were commonplace.

It was only the financial crisis of 07/08 that provided what is now seen as a much-needed reset. Up until that point, people were applying for a mortgage on the strength of what they said they could afford as opposed to what they really could afford.

What made this palatable was that house price growth created a safety net as interest-only homeowners were banking on significant equity growth to pay down their mortgage when the time came. However, given the slowdown in property growth over recent years, this is less of a dead cert.

So what’s the difference this time, then?

Well, first of all a little context is needed. Data recently published by Moneyfacts, the financial analyst and comparison site, has revealed that 33 lenders now offer interest only mortgages – up from only 12 offering the product in summer 2013.

However, as stated by a Moneyfacts finance expert in a recent interview with industry title Mortgage Strategy, there were 73 lenders offering interest only mortgages back in June 2008, which reveals we have a long way to go before we reach those levels.

Furthermore, unlike days of old, to apply for an interest only mortgage today you have to have a low loan to value ratio – something that rarely got in the way of a deal pre-crash and certainly before the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review, which resulted in a severe tightening up of the mortgage market after it was put in place.

Yes, interest only mortgages seem to be gaining ground once again – however this type of interest only mortgage seems reserved for those who aren’t banking solely on property growth to pay for their mortgage decades down the line, as you will need to have a repayment strategy in place at the outset that is acceptable to the lender. Evidence also suggests that in addition to a large deposit, those looking to get an interest only mortgage will also need to earn a large salary.

Back to the original question, then: are interest only mortgages good or bad?

As a Guildford mortgage broker that has witnessed the ups and downs of the mortgage market both pre and post-crash, I’ll say that it completely depends on the individual’s circumstances. And for that reason, we would always advise that anyone thinking of applying for a mortgage – of any kind – appoints the best mortgage brokerage they can to help guide them through that process and provide that peace of mind.

If you’re considering applying for an interest only mortgage contact a member of the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. Remember, we also specialise in buy to let mortgages, commercial mortgages, adverse credit mortgages and limited company buy to let mortgages, too.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Is the robo-adviser redundant already?

Thursday, 28th June, 2018

At a time when there is continual debate around whether or not the human workforce will eventually be replaced by robots, I have to admit that I experienced a degree of pleasure this week upon reading an article that called into question the efficacy of robo-advisers.

The Financial Conduct Authority has issued a warning that robo-advisers could be misleading customers over fees and the nature of the advice offered – something that those applying for a mortgage should now be taking note of.

In a world where apps are standard fare, automation has become de rigueur and the perception that automation equates to better, this warning shot from the city’s watchdog pulls into focus the delicate – and often complex – nature of mortgage guidance.

It also raises the question of whether or not a service so nuanced and personal, such as that offered by experienced mortgage brokers, can simply be replaced by apps or web-based platforms.

As a Guildford mortgage broker we are all too aware that getting a mortgage is a big decision – and one that is underpinned by many variables, most of which cannot be expressed or picked up on through an automated process. A personal approach, such as that available via face-to-face meetings or even via a telephone call, enables the mortgage adviser to pick up on the small aspects that make up the bigger picture.

It also enables the adviser to ascertain the mortgage applicant’s own understanding of their obligations and commitments with respect to the nature and size of the mortgage they require. An automated platform is a standardised approach and one that doesn’t take into account swathes of people who, for example, may be more vulnerable when it comes to making big financial decisions and who, therefore, would benefit from a conversation with an expert.

I’m not anti-automation. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that there are many services and aspects of modern life that have improved since becoming automated. However, in my opinion, mortgage advice and mortgage brokerage services do not – and should not – fall within this category.

If you want to speak with actual people when it comes to getting a mortgage in the UK, contact Complete Mortgages on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. We specialise mortgages for the self-employed, mortgages for teachers, adverse credit mortgages, buy to let mortgages and limited company buy to let mortgages.


Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupation Mortgage licences

Thursday, 14th June, 2018

The rate of change across the mortgage market really is astonishing (yet another reason to use a mortgage broker!), and this time it’s Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licences that have come under scrutiny – and that are set to change from 1 October 2018.

For those who don’t know, the UK government defines a HMO as:

A property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g. a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

A good example of a HMO is a student property. 

What’s changing?

 

 

Pre-October 2018

 

Landlords require a HMO licence if their property:

  • Is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
  • Is at least 3 storeys high
  • Includes tenants who share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
 

Post-October 2018

 

Landlords will require a licence if the property is only two storeys high.

Landlords will also have to ensure that:

  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51 square metres
  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22 square metres
  • The floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64 square metres
  • Any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not used as sleeping accommodation

The Residential Landlords Association estimates that this change will make an additional 177,000 HMOs become subject to licencing, which will impact on a substantial number of landlords across the UK.

I’m a HMO landlord – what does this mean for me?

  • Rooms that fail to comply with the new minimum requirements cannot be let
  • Those depending on renting all of their current rooms out – including those that will be deemed too small as of October 2018 – in order to make HMO mortgage repayments may find that the new rules make their investment less viable
  • Fewer lending options when it comes to applying for a HMO mortgage

What can I do to get HMO-ready? 

As a Guildford mortgage broker, Complete Mortgages is well placed to get you equipped for the forthcoming change by a) exploring – in detail – how it could affect you, and b) looking at ways in which to mitigate the changes by ensuring you have the appropriate HMO mortgage in place.

With almost four months until the changeover, there is plenty of time to make any necessary changes to your current mortgage.

What should I do next?

Whether you’re interested in arranging a new HMO mortgage, looking to explore your buy to let mortgage options or simply want to remortgage, Complete Mortgages can help. Contact the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk to find out more.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Self-employed friendly mortgages

Monday, 5th March, 2018

Sometimes, it’s as though those who take the most risks are penalised the most.

At least that seems to be the sentiment of 71% of self employed people who feel that they are discriminated against when it comes to getting a mortgage, according to new research from The Mortgage Lender.

Yes, mortgages for self-employed people seem to be that little bit harder to come by, which is a huge shame – particularly when it’s this demographic who play key roles in growing the UK economy and given how, according to new research by Data Line for Business, there are now record numbers of self-employed people in the UK.

Data Line for Business’s research highlighted how:

  • One in seven people now work for themselves
  • The number of self-employed people have grown by a million since a decade ago
  • Self employed women have grown 24% to 300,000 since Q2 2013

Whilst this is great news when it comes to the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit, it’s very much at odds with the barriers – and the perceived barriers – to self-employed mortgages.

What’s the problem with getting a mortgage if you’re self-employed? 

We often get self-employed people asking, ‘Why is it hard to get a mortgage, even when my monthly mortgage repayments would be significantly less than my current rental outgoings?’.

The truth is that lenders find it hard to assess self-employed people as they might pay themselves different amounts at different times. Some may choose not to pay themselves much at all in order to keep cash in the business.

Prior to the financial crash, self-certification mortgages enabled business owners to get a mortgage relatively easy. After the crash, lenders became less inclined to lend on the basis of what the applicant claimed they earned.

However, there are a number of accessible self-employed mortgages on the market right now. Also, as a Guildford mortgage broker that specialises in contractor mortgages and mortgages for the self-employed, we are well placed to help all business owners – from sole traders to owners of limited companies – get a mortgage.

Our advice would be to get in touch on 01483 238280 or email us on info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. Also, in advance of speaking – or meeting – with a member of the Complete Mortgages team, we would recommend that you gather the following documentation in readiness: –

1. Two years’ accounts (if you have a Limited Company or Partnership)

2. SA302 forms and Tax Year Overviews for the two past two years. Here’s a link for more information on how to obtain them

3. Proof of a deposit (or equity in your property, if remortgaging) of at least 5%

Getting a mortgage if you’re self-employed isn’t unachievable. It just requires a little more work. However, as a mortgage adviser in Guildford, we’ll handle the legwork on your behalf.

Remember, Complete Mortgages doesn’t just specialise in mortgages for self-employed people. We also specialise in mortgages for teachers, adverse credit mortgages, buy to let mortgages and limited company buy to let mortgages.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Why the sudden interest in interest only mortgages?

Friday, 23rd February, 2018
interest only mortgages

First it was the interest rate rise. Now it’s the interest only mortgage. So, what’s with the sudden interest in all things interest-related?

Well, an interest rate increase is always enough to create debate (and keep an eye out for more articles from us on this topic as we watch – with interest – to see whether another interest rate rise happens in spring), however the debate around interest-only mortgages is a reoccurring one.

It wasn’t until the financial crash of 2007/8 that interest rates found themselves under scrutiny. Up until that point it was assumed that property prices – and therefore equity – was going to continue growing, leaving the homeowner with a pot of gold when they sold their property.

Now, with property prices beginning to slow, it would seem that the opportunity to make money on property like days of old is no longer a sure thing and this has the potential to leave homeowners exposed. On that basis, it’s no doubt one of the reasons why the Financial Conduct Authority has brought the interest-only mortgage back into focus.

According to Which?, new research has revealed that there are three points over the next decade-and-a-half whereby a large number of the UK’s interest-only mortgages will reach maturity, with more recent borrowers most at risk of a shortfall.

If you are currently on an interest only mortgage deal and concerned by the recent media coverage surrounding them, then our advice would be to contact a good mortgage adviser, who will be able to go through the pros and cons of interest only deals in relation to your own circumstances. However, for now, here are a few things you will need to consider.

1. Place your head in the future – not the sand

Will you be able to repay your mortgage at the point of maturation based on your current circumstances and income? If the answer’s ‘no’, then maybe it’s time to switch to a repayment mortgage. There really is little point in ignoring the issue or putting it off until tomorrow. Besides, the sooner you address it the sooner you can apply for a repayment mortgage or remortgage.

2. Seek mortgage advice

As a Guildford mortgage broker, helping people to establish the right mortgage for them is what we do well. And given how it’s our job, we know the mortgage landscape inside out as well as the best alternatives to interest only mortgages currently available.

3. Equity release mortgages may be an option

Even if you’ve come to the conclusion that you’ve gone too far and for too long on an interest only mortgage to be able to pay the balance, there are still options. Applying for an equity release mortgage is one of those – and one that may mean you don’t have to compromise your current standard of living. As an equity release mortgage specialist Complete Mortgages can guide you through this process.

Regardless of mortgage type, we always recommend that you speak with a reputable and trusted mortgage adviser – even if it’s not us. By doing so, you will be able to shortcut the process, save time and energy on researching the market and get professional guidance and advice when it comes to making a decision that’s right for you.

If you’d like to discuss your options when it comes to switching from an interest only mortgage to a repayment mortgage, contact Complete Mortgages on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


How to remortgage

Tuesday, 13th February, 2018

2018 is the year of the remortgage.

If you didn’t read my last piece and are wondering why 2018 is any different to 2017 – or any other year for that matter – then read on.

Going up? 

Nobody knows when or even if interest rates will go up in 2018, however there is much talk and speculation that the Bank of England could raise the Base Rate of interest by up to 0.50% at some point this year.

To put this into context, it would mean that someone on a variable rate mortgage borrowing £200,000 would face up to a £600-a-year increase.

Getting the most from your mortgage 

First of all, and despite what you may think, arranging a new mortgage is really straightforward – particularly if your mortgage broker is handling it on your behalf.

As a Guildford mortgage broker we see it all the time; people resisting remortgaging due to the perceived ‘hassle’, only to be pleasantly surprised when it’s all done and dusted without much effort on their part.

Here are Complete Mortgages’ top tips on remortgaging to get you started:

1. Dig out your paperwork 

Having an understanding of how much is outstanding on your mortgage, the mortgage term and any fees attributable with changing your mortgage will make it easier to navigate any questions that you will inevitably have to answer.

2. Know what you spend 

The process of getting a mortgage has changed over recent years, in as much as lenders now want to see clear evidence of your outgoings and, more importantly, your ability to comfortably make the mortgage repayments. Having some idea of what you spend on a monthly basis in advance will save time to-ing and fro-ing.

3. Do your homework

It may sound obvious, but take some time to find out what mortgage products are out there. New mortgage products are entering the market all the time, so make sure you pick the right mortgage for you and your lifestyle. More importantly, make sure that you’re set to benefit from a mortgage switch and that any financial gain from a new mortgage isn’t wiped out with exit fees from your existing mortgage.

Is there an easier way of doing this?

Of course there is. Using a trusted mortgage broker, such as Complete Mortgages, will save you a lot of legwork, time and possibly a bit of heartache, too.

If you let us handle your remortgage we’ll not only manage the entire mortgage application process on your behalf, but we’ll also spend the time finding the right mortgage for you, from the hundreds available (including the many broker exclusives that we have access to). What’s more, depending on the product chosen, there may not even be a fee for you to pay at all.

See, remortgaging really isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Contact the team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk to find out more. Even if you’re not looking to remortgage, don’t forget we’re also specialists in buy to let mortgages, limited company buy to let mortgages, adverse credit mortgages and commercial mortgages, too.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


New Year, New Mortgage (but don’t leave it too late)

Monday, 29th January, 2018

Now that the New Year is fully underway, we’re urging our clients to start taking steps towards getting a new mortgage.

Whilst there are still a few lenders that are yet to increase their rates in line with the recent interest rate rise, the majority have already done so. Now, if you’re on a fixed rate mortgage then this won’t affect you.

However, if you’re currently on the standard variable rate (SVR) – or are about to enter the realms of the SVR – then this may be of interest.

1. Some lenders still haven’t raised their rates

For those who haven’t been thinking about their mortgage and what the interest rate rise means for them over the last few weeks, there’s still time to switch to a pre-interest rate rise mortgage deal – but you’d better be quick.

2. Beat the New Year rush

Whilst 2018 is in full swing, it can often take a few weeks before people start to really think about their next mortgage move. In fact, sometimes it’s February before the mortgage market really gets going. Put simply, if you act fast we can get you ‘mortgage-ready’ before everybody starts to want to do the same thing.

3. To rise or not to rise

There is already speculation that the next interest rate rise could come as early as May 2018, which means that if you haven’t already noticed the difference to your monthly mortgage repayments, then you may well do if the next interest rate rise comes as early as spring.

As a Guildford mortgage broker that has been in business since 2005, we’re still amazed to see the reaction on our clients’ faces when we explain how easy it is for them to remortgage. It’s even easier if you let a reputable mortgage adviser manage the process on your behalf.

So, if any of the three points raised here are relevant to you and you feel that you’re ready to remortgage – or at least you’re thinking about remortgaging in 2018 – then call us so that we can get your mortgage application underway.

Even if you aren’t looking to remortgage and simply need to arrange a mortgage, either for the first time or on a new property, then call us on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.

Remember, we also specialise in buy to let mortgages, commercial mortgages, limited company buy to let mortgages, equity release mortgages and adverse credit mortgages.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


The buy to let mortgage goalposts have moved… again

Thursday, 28th September, 2017

Staying on top of the buy-to-let mortgage market has become a job in its own right.

Some changes are small and relatively inconsequential – the inner workings, or behind the scenes details, if you will, that we tackle as part of the mortgage application process and that don’t need to burdened on our clients.

Others, such as the upcoming Prudential Regulation Authority changes, which will be applied by 30 September 2017, do need some light shed on them.

After all, current landlords and those in the process of applying for a buy to let mortgage are coming to us and asking ‘what does it mean for me?’.

In order to make the information accessible to everyone, we’ve prepared our Prudential Regulation Authority changes made simple.

This should clear a few things up, however if you still need clarification then please call a member of the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280, who will be more than happy to help.

So, if you’re a landlord and wondering ‘how will the new buy to let rules affect me?’, then read on.

1. Size matters

As part of what appears to be a crackdown on buy to let landlords who have ‘stockpiled’ mortgaged properties, the new rules really impact those who have four or more properties within their portfolio.

It’s also important to note here that the figure of four doesn’t relate to the number of mortgages you have – but the number of properties. If you own four properties under one mortgage then you will still be treated as a portfolio landlord. If you have two or three mortgaged buy to let properties, the new lending criteria will not affect you.

2. Down to the last detail

If you currently own three buy-to-lets and are looking to buy a fourth, or if you already own four and are looking to buy more, then you will be required to prove that your other properties – or at least your ability to cover the cost of the other properties – won’t be affected by taking on another.

To do this, lenders will:

a. Want to review income from other sources – including that derived from your existing portfolio – to ensure that can cover maintenance and void periods

b. Assess your experience as a landlord

c. Apply an Income Coverage Ratio, which is dependent on a number of factors including all your earned income. Note: this will vary from lender to lender

d. Require full details of the entire portfolio in order to assess the overall risk, potentially including assets/liabilities, cashflow and investment intentions.

Essentially, lenders will want to carry out stringent checks to make sure that taking on an additional property – or properties – will not be too much of a financial stretch.

3. Getting personal

Of course, as part of these checks, lenders will also want to know your personal liabilities and outgoings, too.

Expect the following areas to be explored as part of the review:

a. Credit cards and their balances

b. Vehicle financing agreements

c. Loans

d. General outgoings

The buy to let mortgage market is a constantly evolving sector. As a result, it’s important that you don’t get caught out.

As a Guildford mortgage broker our advice for buy-to-let landlords is to contact a mortgage adviser to find out how the new changes might affect you personally.

Likewise, we recommend that all new and aspiring landlords find a reputable mortgage broker to advise them on how to apply for a buy to let mortgage in the context of the impending new rules.

Contact Complete Mortgages on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. Remember, we also offer specialist mortgages including limited company buy to let mortgages, equity release mortgages and adverse credit mortgages.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Mortgage wars: a battle that shouldn’t be fought on price alone

Wednesday, 13th September, 2017

The Telegraph recently published a story that focused on the ‘battle for mortgage customers’ and the intensification of a war that is seeing lenders cut both their rates and penalty fees.

As a Guildford mortgage broker, Complete Mortgages feels and acts on the launch of each and every new mortgage product and the fluctuation of rates associated with those that already exist on a daily basis; indeed, it is our job to do so.

However, our view on the language used by the national media that places home buying in the context of a war – and the portrayal that the mortgage market is an arena in which only the cheapest product and lender will win – is bad not only for the mortgage industry, but also those applying for a mortgage.

Firstly, it’s important to highlight that the cheapest mortgage isn’t necessarily the best mortgage.

Evidence suggests that the average rate of two and five-year fixed mortgages has significantly decreased over the last seven years, and that’s undoubtedly a good thing. The more competitive lenders are, the more attractive their mortgage products become.

However – and this is very important – not everyone’s circumstances are the same. So, whilst a five-year fixed mortgage may be ideal for candidate A, it may not be so effective for candidate B.

Simply distilling mortgages and the mortgage application process down to a price war – something more akin to inexpensive consumer products such as bread and milk – doesn’t take into account the nuances surrounding each individual’s lifestyle and financial position.

It could also panic those looking for a mortgage into running headlong into a mortgage deal that may not necessarily suit their needs in the long (or even short) term.

The same Telegraph article suggests that lenders are already braced for a surge in new applications as a wave of existing fixed-term deals come to an end this autumn.

If this surge of applications originates from mortgage applicants who are well informed then we fully support that – but finding a mortgage broker who can guide you through the process and establish the right mortgage for you before you commit to anything should be your first port of call.

As an award-winning mortgage broker, our recommendation to those looking to secure a mortgage – or remortgage – is to seek professional mortgage advice; advice that treats a mortgage for what it is, which is a long-term commitment and not a simple day-to-day purchase.

If you’re looking at getting a mortgage – or remortgaging – this autumn then don’t get caught up in the bottleneck. From specialist self-employed mortgages and commercial mortgages through to first time buyer mortgages and adverse credit mortgages, Complete Mortgages can recommend a mortgage to match your own personal circumstances.

Contact us on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk for an insightful, thoughtful and expert view on the current mortgage market – and a professional opinion on where you might fit within it.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Complete Mortgages recruits ex-Countrywide highflier

Sunday, 20th August, 2017

Guildford mortgage broker, Complete Mortgages, has bolstered its rapidly expanding team of mortgage experts by recruiting one of Countrywide Mortgage Services’ most successful mortgage brokers.

Lee Cousens, who joined Complete Mortgages at the end of March, was ranked one of Countrywide Mortgage Services’ top 20 brokers from a pool of 700 located nationwide.  He is now working full time out of Seymours Estate Agents’ flagship Woking office.

During his time at Countrywide Mortgage Services, he carved a national reputation for delivering a professional service and expediting the mortgage applications of his first time buyer and second time mover clients.

With a prominent financial services career spanning over 10 years, eight of which were spent at Barclays where he worked with high net worth individuals, and including roles at prominent FTSE 250 companies, Lee has consistently generated first-class results within the residential and buy to let mortgage markets.

On joining the Complete Mortgages team Lee comments: “After a rich and varied career spent working at some of the financial services industry’s most prominent companies, I’m now looking forward to apply the knowledge I’ve accrued during that time with a view to supporting Complete Mortgages’ growth plans. The firm already has a solid UK-wide reputation and it’s an exciting time to the be joining a company that has so much more growth potential.”

Outside of work Lee, who lives in Chertsey, spends his time playing cricket and golf, as well as watching his team Brentford FC. He also ran the 2017 London Marathon on 23 April.

Complete Mortgages’ Director, Mark Finnegan, adds: “We’re delighted to welcome Lee to the team and thrilled to have attracted such an accomplished and well-regarded industry professional away from the UK’s largest property services group. Lee is a great fit for the team and will no doubt help Complete Mortgages continue to expand its customer base and strengthen its 8 year relationship with Seymours Estate Agents, whilst providing exceptional levels of customer service, industry insight and professional advice.”

For more information or to arrange a mortgage with Complete Mortgages contact 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.

Image caption: Lee Cousens (centre) with some of the Seymours Woking team.