Equity release mortgage checklist

Saturday, 25th July, 2020

Equity release mortgages are now more robust than ever following the Equity Release Council’s decision to expand its checklist for mortgage advisers – a guide to help mortgage brokers decide whether or not an applicant is suited to an equity release product – from 12 to 24 points.

The move, which follows a review by the Financial Conduct Authority that concluded firms must do more in order to provide people with appropriate equity release advice, means that mortgage advisers must delve deeper – and more holistically – during the application stage.

Now, for example, the checklist helps mortgage brokers determine whether an applicant has recently experienced any physical or mental health issues, or any other traumatic events such as divorce, bereavement or financial problems, all of which may impact a person’s judgement.

As a Guildford mortgage broker, Complete Mortgages welcomes the update. Firstly, equity release mortgages provide a great way in which those aged 55 and over can free up equity ‘locked’ in their property. However, there are risks. These include reducing the amount of inheritance their beneficiates may receive, and the fact that ready access to funds – whilst simultaneously allowing the applicants to remain in their property – is offset by the fact that they will get less then if they sold the property on the open market.

As convenient as equity release is, it’s important that there is a formal process in place to help make applicants fully aware of this and prevent mortgage advisers from offering inadequate advice. Increasing the checklist’s size by 100 per cent is, in Complete Mortgages’ view, a positive way in which to do this.

Secondly, as an award-winning mortgage broker in Surrey and one that has always taken into account the broader picture of each and every equity release mortgage application, this checklist will help bring the standards of other, less meticulous mortgage brokers up to the highest possible level. This is not only a good thing for those applying for an equity release mortgage, but also for the mortgage industry as a whole.

You may have read in our last article that Complete Mortgages has boosted its equity release service after Lee Cousens, one of our mortgage brokers, secured the Certificate in Regulated Equity Release at the beginning of June. This means that he can offer informed and regulated equity release advice to those interested in equity release products. It also means that we’re operating at the highest UK standards.

If you’re considering, or maybe even concerned about, taking out an equity release mortgage, then we can help walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Contact the Guildford equity release mortgage team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk for more information on applying for equity release mortgages. And don’t forget that we also specialise in first time buyer mortgages, adverse credit mortgages and buy to let mortgages, too.


Equity release during lockdown is easier than you think

Tuesday, 19th May, 2020
Equity release during lockdown

Without wanting to labour the virtual mortgage broker point that we’ve made in recent articles (to summarise, it’s that we’re continuing business as usual by conducting mortgage consultations via video), we thought it might be worth highlighting that getting an equity release mortgage during lockdown is very easy.

Although equity release mortgages can be slightly more complex than standard mortgages – and whilst there is arguably more to consider when it comes to releasing equity from your property – the mortgage application process is broadly the same.

However, as a Guildford mortgage broker that has arranged countless equity release mortgages for its clients over recent years, Complete Mortgages can guide you through the process and discuss with you the pros and cons of equity release.

But before we get to that stage, let’s address some of the basic equity release questions that we’re currently being asked.

Is now a good time to apply for an equity release mortgage?

There is a raft of great mortgage deals available right now – and the recent interest rate cut has contributed to this. However, the answer to this question is less about COVID-19 and more about your personal circumstances. In terms of applying for an equity release mortgage – and us processing it – then there really is no difference between now and pre-COVID-19; we’re still offering the same service (albeit remotely).

The real point to consider is whether or not now is the right time for you. This is a point that a Complete Mortgages equity release mortgage broker can help you establish during a video mortgage consultation, which you can arrange by calling 01483 238280.

Is it better to wait until everything’s back to normal – or is remote mortgage advice okay?

In an ideal world, meeting face-to-face to discuss equity release would be the preferable option. Sadly, we’re not living in an ideal world right now. Not only that, but we have no idea when we’ll return to a world that resembles life pre-Coronavirus.  So, that takes us back to the previous question. If you’d rather meet face-to-face and there’s no pressure to arrange equity release, then maybe wait to see what happens. If not, then through our video mortgage broker service we can progress it immediately.

What about the equity release paperwork?

This isn’t a problem, either. We’ve recently started using Eversign, so that ALL documentation can be safely and securely signed from your home. You can read more about it here.

Regardless of the type of mortgage you’re looking to apply for, Complete Mortgages can handle all applications via a combination of video and digital documentation technology. ‘Is equity release right for me?’ is the question you need to start with – and if you still can’t answer it, then pick up the phone and let us help you decide through our award-winning, impartial mortgage advice.

Don’t let COVID-19 put your life on hold. For equity release mortgage advice contact us on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.

By Mark Finnegan at Complete Mortgages


Getting to grips with equity release mortgages

Wednesday, 11th March, 2020
equity release mortgages

I know, I know. We’re banging the equity release mortgage drum quite hard at the moment, particularly given how we only recently published an article covering what you need to know about equity release mortgages. However, there are two reasons for this.

Firstly, we wanted to draw your attention to the fact that we recently featured in the Daily Express after the newspaper’s financial journalist, Harvey Jones, asked Complete Mortgages for its view on the equity release mortgage sector (you can read it here).

Secondly, the piece of equity release mortgage advice included in this article could save you a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the long term.

The rise of equity release

Equity release mortgages in Guildford and the surrounding areas are on the up. And, as a Surrey equity release specialist, we can tell you that it’s because equity release represents a straightforward way in which to release capital from your property.

According to UK Finance, a collective voice for the banking and finance industry, there are around 20,000 borrowers aged 65+ with interest-only mortgages set to mature in 2020 – and who will still owe over £100,000.

Whilst £100,000 is still a sizeable balance, UK Finance suggests that the average amount of equity in property owned by those aged 65+ is £387,000. So, how do you pay off the balance if you’re retired, earning less than you used to or simply don’t have the money? The answer: equity release.

Retirement interest-only (RIO) mortgages have been popular for some time, however, the rise in strict affordability checks has seen many people go through the RIO mortgage application process only to fail to qualify on affordability checks. Importantly, equity release mortgages do not require affordability checks and applicants often find that they can release equity from their property very quickly. Having handled large volumes of mortgages in this space, we can see that the success rate of equity release mortgages vs. retirement interest-only mortgages is much higher.

Not only that, but we’ve recently halved our clients’ mortgage rates and saved them considerable amounts of money by moving them from their standard variable mortgage rate to an equity release mortgage.

If you’re considering equity release as a way in which to free up capital and you are over the age of 55, then Complete Mortgages is a team of Guildford mortgage advisers that can advise and guide you through the process. We have access to a wide range of equity release mortgage products and will handle the entire application process on your behalf.

Contact the equity release mortgage team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk. Remember, we also specialise in first time buyer mortgages, adverse mortgages and buy to let mortgages, too.


Equity release mortgages revisited

Monday, 17th February, 2020
equity release

The equity release mortgage is becoming increasingly popular. It’s also playing a significant role in helping older people pay off debts and mortgages, with figures suggesting that equity release is seeing £10m ‘withdrawn’ from homes each day.

Those reading this who are new to the world of equity release may be asking themselves ‘what is equity release?’ and ‘how does equity release work?’ Well, if that is you, then read on as this quick guide to equity release mortgages will fill in any gaps you might have.

1. What is equity release?

Equity release is a way in which older people, typically those aged from 55-60 and upwards, can unlock the value of their home – or ‘cash in’ – without needing to actually move home.

2. How does equity release work?

There are two main routes into equity release: lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.

The lifetime mortgage is typically the most popular route, and involves borrowing a portion of your property’s value at a fixed or capped interest rate. You don’t make repayments. Instead, you make a lump sum payment – which includes compounded interest – when the house is sold. There is an opportunity to get a lifetime mortgage with a drawdown option built in, whereby you can pay back the interest and sometimes even the capital, too.

Home reversion plans are generally geared towards those aged 65+ and will see a lender pay you a tax-free lump sum whilst allowing you to remain in the property – rent-free – until you die. When this happens, proceeds from the sale are split based on the percentage split agreed when the home reversion plan was taken out. If the property rises in value, so too does the amount the lender gets when the property is sold. Please note that Complete Mortgages does not give advice on home reversion plans.

3. How much can I borrow?

This will depend on your age and the value of your property. Your health is also likely to be taken into consideration. A good mortgage broker will be able to help you establish this once they have a clearer picture of you and fully understand your circumstances. As a Guildford mortgage broker that manages a high volume of equity release mortgages on a daily basis, we’ll be able to assist you at every step of the equity release mortgage application process.

4. What next?

Equity release mortgages are very individual-specific, so our advice to anyone thinking of going down this route would be to arrange a meeting with a specialist mortgage broker, who will be able to source a selection of competitive equity release mortgages for you.

Just make sure that you’re fully aware of any mortgage broker charges along the way. Complete Mortgages, for example, only charges a one-off flat fee of £699 and for that we’ll handle the entire mortgage application from the beginning until you receive the money.

Whether you’re looking for an equity release mortgage or any other form of complex mortgage, Complete Mortgages will be able to help. Contact the team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.


Make peace not mortgage war

Tuesday, 17th December, 2019
mortgage war

Christmas is a time for family, forgiveness and festive cheer.

It’s certainly not a time for war – or, at least, ‘mortgage wars’ – which is what’s being reported in one national newspaper (clue: the one that’s most likely to run a headline with the words ‘mortgage’ and ‘war’ in the same sentence).

Although, in reality, it’s not a war but simple economics that is seeing competition amongst high street mortgage lenders increase, which, in turn, is seeing the cost of fixed rate mortgages decrease.

In fact, fixed rate mortgage rates covering five-year fixed rate mortgage deals, ten-year fixed rate mortgage deals and even fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages are at their lowest level on record, with two-year fixed rate mortgages nudging towards record lows, too.

With Christmas only around the corner we expect that most of you will be winding down and preparing for the festive period. However, if you are in a position to take advantage of the cheap mortgage deals currently available UK-wide, our advice would be to look at our mortgage deal search tool. Not only will you be able to get an idea of just how competitive mortgages are right now, but you’ll also be able to work out your monthly mortgage payments, too.

As a mortgage broker in Guildford with access to a competitive portfolio of mortgage products from a wide panel of lenders, we can quickly (and efficiently) pinpoint a mortgage that works for you.

And whilst our mortgage deal search tool is a great way in which to get a good sense of what products are out there right now, the best way of getting up to date mortgage advice is to contact the Complete Mortgages team direct on 01483 238280 or email us at info@complete-mortgages.co.uk to arrange a mortgage consultation.

Failing that, and if finding a new mortgage before Christmas is just too much of an ask, then simply kick back, enjoy the holiday period and get in touch in the New Year.

Complete Mortgages offers a wide range of specialist mortgages, from first time buyer mortgages and buy to let mortgages, to adverse credit mortgages and equity release mortgages. Contact us on 01483 238280 for more information.


Putting the ‘ease’ in Equity Release mortgages

Thursday, 31st October, 2019

There are numerous reasons why aging homeowners would want to release property wealth.

Whether it’s to boost the pension pot, help your children (or grandchildren) afford their first home or simply free up some money to buy that dream car you’ve always wanted, equity release mortgages have come to represent a viable route in which homeowners can convert bricks and mortar into ready cash.

Furthermore, thanks to the proliferation of equity release mortgage deals over the last few years, it’s also an easy and cost efficient route, too.

According to the Equity Release Council – a trade body that represents the equity release mortgage sector and promotes high standards of conduct and practice in the provision of and advice on equity release – a staggering £1.85billion in housing wealth was released in the first half of 2019.

And this growing popularity is also helping to drive down equity release mortgage rates, too, with some lifetime mortgage rates coming in at under 3 per cent. In summary, going down the equity release route is now a very easy process to carry out.

If you’re about to apply for an equity release mortgage and would like to know more about how they work, then read our guide to equity release mortgages. Similarly, read the top tips on equity release mortgages to get Complete Mortgages’ take on what you should be considering before you start the process.

However, as easy as it is to get an equity release mortgage, there are a few things to consider:

1. Borrow in stages

Regardless of the amount you agree to free up via equity release, don’t take it all in one go (if you can help it). After all, as soon as you borrow, interest – and the effects of compound interest – quickly begins to have an effect. If you think £20,000 can cover you for 10 years, just take that and wait before taking the next sum. There’s little point paying interest on money you don’t need.

2. Quality counts

As mentioned previously, the Equity Release Council exists to promote high standards and uphold quality. So, make sure that when it comes to applying for equity release, you use a company that is a member of the Equity Release Council.

3.  For your benefit…

Check your benefits status. If you’re entitled to – or currently receiving – benefits, a significant injection of cash (which is treated very differently to equity locked in a property) may change your benefits status. In fact, it could result in the reduction, or even the complete stoppage, of your benefits.

4Get good mortgage advice

A good mortgage broker in Guildford, such as Complete Mortgages, will be able to help you make the right choice when it comes to equity release. There is a lot to consider when it comes to this type of mortgage, so speaking with an expert is an absolute essential from our perspective.

As an equity release mortgage specialist, let Complete Mortgages help you decide if equity release is the best way forward for you. Contact the team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-motgages.co.uk.


Are high LTV mortgages good or bad?

Friday, 28th June, 2019
high ltv mortgage

In many ways, the mortgage market is similar to the fashion industry.

Just as denim jackets seem to make a comeback every decade or so, high loan to value (LTV) mortgages seem to be widely available once again.

For those of you who may not remember the impact of the financial crash of 2007/8, such as young first time buyer mortgage hunters, then I’ll just say that it was a very challenging time and one that went from lenders offering very high LTV mortgages to lending almost nothing at all.

However, high LTV mortgages are on the rise and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Prudential Regulation Authority, which has raised concerns about lenders’ willingness to increase their risk in order to maintain profit margins.

For example, Moneyfacts recently reported that the average two-year fixed-rate at 95% LTV has fallen from 5.33% to 3.25% over the past five years. Similarly, at 60% LTV, average two-year rates have fallen from 2.96% to 1.90%, making both 90% and 60% LTV mortgages more accessible.

As the debate opens up around ‘risky’ high LTV mortgages, here’s Complete Mortgages’ view.

1. Apples and pears

Lenders often talk of income multiples in order to ascertain a mortgage applicant’s affordability threshold – and the current debate around the acceptability of lending six times income is gathering momentum. However, given how low the Bank of England base rate currently is, then a multiple of six times income based on today’s available mortgage rates requires lower monthly mortgage payments than five times income based on the interest rates prior to last decade’s financial crash.

2. Helping the next generation of homeowners

Getting on the property ladder has become increasingly difficult. Property values have outstripped salaries, the result of which has priced out young people from getting a first time buyer mortgage. High LTV mortgages, which typically only require a 5 – 10% deposit, help first time buyers become homeowners, which is important.

3. Current earnings don’t necessarily reflect future earnings

First time buyers, who are relying on buying a property with only a 5 – 10% deposit, may have to go down the high LTV mortgage route as their earnings may be small in relation to the sum they’re looking to borrow. However, it doesn’t take young professionals long to move up the career ladder and increase their salaries, thus reducing their level of mortgage risk by default.

4. Post-crash regulation

Despite what is being reported in the news, structures imposed by regulatory bodies, such as the Mortgage Market Review, make it very difficult for mortgages to be handed out to those who are unable to afford the repayments.

High LTV mortgages may have increased, but so too have the number of variables and considerations that mortgage applicants are now assessed on. It is, of course, important to note that the Bank of England base rate is very low and could change at any time, however any changes to interest rates are quickly integrated within lenders’ affordability tests.

If you’re about to apply for a mortgage, looking for a professional mortgage adviser in Guildford or think you need to apply for a high LTV mortgage but are concerned by the potential risks, then contact the team at Complete Mortgages, who can assess your affordability levels prior to your mortgage application going to the lender.

We help our clients secure high LTV mortgages, buy to let mortgages, limited company buy to let mortgages, equity release mortgages and adverse credit mortgages.  Contact 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk for more information.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages


Six top tips on equity release mortgages

Wednesday, 20th March, 2019
Equity Release Mortgages

If you’re considering going down the equity release mortgage route, then you’re probably aware of the overall concept behind them, how they work and the benefits of releasing equity from your home – particularly if you’re 55 years old and above and looking to free up capital.

If that’s not the case, then read our ‘Are equity release mortgages good or bad?’ article, which provides a quick and easy guide to equity release.

However, if you are further down the line and are now thinking about the wider implications, then these six tips may be of interest.

1. Consider the alternatives

Equity release mortgages are effective and their growing popularity reflects this, however it’s always good to know your options. When it comes to alternatives, then the most cost effective way of raising capital is to downsize. However, if space is important to you and you want to stay in your home and have more money at your disposal, then applying for an equity release mortgage could be a more suitable route.

2. Keep your family in the loop

Equity release is a big decision and one with a number of potential repercussions for children and family members later on down the line. Our advice, when it comes to equity release mortgages, is to make your intentions clear to all those who may be affected by an equity release contract in the future.

3. Big decisions require good mortgage brokers

As a Guildford mortgage broker, we’ve seen – and helped people through – the effects of poor equity release decisions made on the back of bad advice. Getting an equity release mortgage is a significant decision and one that needs to be backed up by sound advice. Make sure that choosing a good mortgage broker is on your list of priorities before committing yourself to anything.

4. Know the numbers

Fees and compound interest form part of equity release mortgage deals. It’s no different from any other mortgage agreement in that regard, however this may have more implications on those who, as they get older, are likely to work and earn less. Know where you stand and how much it’s going to cost you before you sign the paperwork.

5. Equity release is convenient…

…but it can also be an expensive way to borrow. If, after getting good advice from a mortgage broker, you decide to apply for an equity release mortgage, then make sure you don’t take out more than you need, as any excess money will be accruing interest up until the point that your property is sold.

6. Lowest isn’t always the best

Choosing a mortgage with the lowest possible rate is pretty much a priority for everyone. However, when it comes to equity release, lowest isn’t necessarily the best. Equity release mortgage deals often include special features, such as offering the borrower the ability to make monthly repayments to avoid interest rolling up. Whilst the premium for this may be a slightly higher interest rate, it may work out more beneficial on a long-term basis and provide a greater degree of flexibility.

Still unsure about equity release mortgages? Contact one of our equity release mortgage specialists on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk to find out more. Remember, we’re not just specialists in equity release mortgages but also first time buyer mortgages, buy to let mortgages and commercial mortgages, too.

By Mark Lucas, Equity Release Specialist at Complete Mortgages


A guide to commercial mortgages

Tuesday, 8th January, 2019

There’s never a shortage of debate around residential mortgages and buy to let mortgages. Even equity release mortgages are currently basking in the sunlight after the amount of equity released from the properties of UK homeowners hit over £1bn. However, one type of mortgage that often gets overlooked is the commercial mortgage.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, there were 5.7 million private sector businesses at the start of 2017 – up 197,000 from 2017 and 2.2 million more than in 2000.

It stands to reason, then, that whilst the process of applying for a commercial mortgage doesn’t get as much airtime as residential mortgages (there are less UK businesses than UK properties, after all), commercial mortgage applications are on the up.

As a mortgage broker in Guildford, an area where there is a high concentration of business owners, we have seen an increase in the number of people interested in getting a commercial mortgage over the years. Yet when comparing applicants’ knowledge of commercial mortgages with residential mortgages, there are huge gaps.

So, here’s our brief guide to the commercial mortgage in the hope that it provides you with enough information to get you started.

1. What is a commercial mortgage?

Commercial mortgages are used to buy land or property for a business. Equally, a commercial mortgage can be used to expand an existing business or for property development. It’s generally a long-term loan spanning 10 to 20 years and lenders are generally willing to lend up to 70% of the total value of the property, although they can consider lending more where they are happy with the overall circumstances. The remaining funds are expected to come from the business.

2. What are the benefits of taking out a commercial mortgage?

If you run a business and want to protect yourself against escalating rental costs, then owning a business premises is a great way of controlling this particular overhead. Also, just like residential properties, commercial property values can increase, the equity of which can give you an added buffer in fallow periods or when cash flow is poor.

3. Are commercial mortgages easy to get?

There are many lenders offering commercial mortgages. The trick is finding the one that works for you and your business. As a commercial mortgage specialist, Complete Mortgages can help you identify a lender from a wide pool of commercial mortgage lenders that we work with and that can support your short and long term objectives.

4. What about commercial mortgage rates?

They are typically higher than residential mortgage rates and tend to vary. A good mortgage broker will help you identify a commercial mortgage that best suits your needs.

5. Is my credit rating still important in order to get a business mortgage?

Yes, it is important. However, rather than just looking at your personal credit rating, a lender will also be able to get a good indication of whether or not you’re a ‘safe bet’ by looking at your business as a whole, which is a good thing.

6. Is there anything I need to be aware of?

The commercial mortgage journey is arguably less predictable than that of a residential mortgage. Residential mortgages are quite linear; you need somewhere to live and once you’re on the property ladder, the chances are you won’t get off. Businesses are different. Many grow, many fail and sometimes businesses owners simply decide to go and do something entirely different. As a result, you need to be aware of the financial commitments of a commercial mortgage and have a good idea of what you’re looking to achieve before taking out a commercial mortgage.

This is only a brief guide to commercial mortgages. If you’re interested in finding out more information then contact the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280 or email info@complete-mortgages.co.uk to find out more.


Are equity release mortgages good or bad?

Tuesday, 11th December, 2018
equity release

The simple answer to what is a rather broad question is that it all depends on where you are in life in terms of finance, goals and objectives.

What can’t be avoided, however, is that the equity release mortgage is growing in popularity.

According to the latest Equity Release Council figures, homeowners released over £1bn of equity from their homes in the third quarter of 2018 – and £11m of property wealth is being ‘cashed in’ on a daily basis. As a Guildford mortgage broker we’ve certainly seen equity release mortgage applications rise.

Whilst the figures are compelling, we are regularly asked, ‘Is releasing equity in my property a good thing?’ So, to help you make your own mind up, we’ve provided a list of equity release pros and cons.

However, before we look at the fors and against equity release, let’s start by briefly explaining how equity release works (note: for a more in-depth equity release mortgage Q&A click here).

What is equity release?

If you’re a homeowner aged over 55, equity release enables you to release money from your property – without having to move. You can take a lump sum, as a drawdown (taking smaller amounts at different times) or as a home reversion plan (selling part of your property to the lender in exchange for money).

The pros 

1. Staying put

If you don’t want to leave your property, but need more money in order to continue living there, then equity release mortgages enable you to stay where you are whilst providing you with the funds required to do so.

2. No negative equity – guaranteed

Lenders who are members of the Equity Release Council – and Complete Mortgages tends to only work with those that are – have to include a no negative equity guarantee, which means that if there ever was a crash and the value of the property became less that the value owed, the lender would cover it, not you.

3. Beat inheritance tax

Nobody really likes the idea of being taxed on inheritance, so releasing equity against the value of your property can represent a way in which to pass on your wealth in a tax efficient way.

The cons

1. Compound interest

Equity release mortgages do not work in the same way as residential mortgages. Whereas homeowners with residential mortgages typically pay off the interest charges on a monthly basis, equity release mortgage interest is typically added to the overall debt. This means that the outstanding equity release mortgage balance can rise quickly.

2. Hard to go back

If you thought early repayment charges on fixed mortgages were high, then you might be surprised to learn that early repayment charges on equity release mortgages can be as high as a quarter of the amount borrowed. As a result, you need to be absolutely sure that equity release is for you before going down that route – and also that your mortgage broker goes through everything with you in detail.

3. Benefit or no benefit?

Those who receive means-tested benefits may find that a sudden cash injection results in these being taken away. Make sure you understand the wider financial implications before committing to a long-term decision.

Still not sure? Why not contact the Complete Mortgages team to find out more on 01483 238280 or by emailing info@complete-mortgages.co.uk.

Complete Mortgages also specialises in other mortgages over and above equity release mortgages. We can also arrange mortgages for the self-employed, mortgages for teachers, adverse credit mortgages, buy to let mortgages and limited company buy to let mortgages.

By Mark Finnegan, Director at Complete Mortgages