There’s barely a single area of our increasingly busy lives where we don’t have the option to do things for ourselves at home in front of a laptop, and the process of choosing a mortgage product is no different. From online grocery shopping to switching your car insurance or energy supplier, increased competition for business has put control of just about everything in life within one click of a mouse or swipe of a finger. But is that a good thing? As with most things, the answer is yes … and no. When it comes to having your groceries or that last minute Christmas present delivered, it’s very difficult to argue against the convenience that’s to be had from doing your shopping online. Pick and pay for it one day, have it delivered the next – and if you happen to forget an urgent item, there’s usually always the option to go out to a real shop to get it. But for the more important things in life, a little caution is healthy. This is especially true when it comes to mortgages. Whilst there’s no harm in using price comparison websites to get a feel for what might be available in the market, limiting your search just to those products you’ll find on comparison sites may risk missing out on a product that’s better-suited to you. Here, then, are 5 good reasons why it might pay to look beyond the online ‘high street’ to finance your property. You won’t have access to all the products that are available The simple truth is that as comprehensive as the price comparison or lender sites might look, they may not include every product you might want to consider. At Oportfolio, for example, we work with a wide range of lenders with whom we have long-standing relationships, and because we are Appointed Representatives of PRIMIS Mortgage Network we often have access to mortgage products you simply wouldn’t know about if you searched for your mortgage yourself. From attractive fixed rates and fixed term mortgages, to incentivised products that offer you a saving in the overall cost of your mortgage, a professional mortgage broker will be able to properly assess your needs and then find suitable products to review with you. You probably don’t have the market knowledge to make the best choice Unless you’ve worked in the mortgage industry there’s a very good chance you won’t have the expertise or knowledge to lead you to the right product. There’s also a danger that you might overlook future opportunities and/or risks in your own life that will – or should – influence or shape your decision. We’ve helped hundreds of people to find the right finance to buy or improve their dream home and we know the right questions to ask – not just of prospective lenders, but also of you – to ensure your mortgage will be fit for purpose today and in the years to come. DIY mortgages can be stressful There’s no doubt that applying for a mortgage can be a tense and stressful time – it’s not by accident that making an application, together with the actual practical process of moving house – is recognised as one of the most stressful events in life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be dealing with your prospective lender yourself, which takes time, and will have the added burden of having to follow up on your application and check on its progress. Stringent affordability criteria that lenders must observe also means you’ll need more detailed personal and financial information than was the case before the financial crisis of 2008. In fact, if you’ve not applied for a new mortgage or additional borrowing since then, you’ll find the landscape has changed significantly. By contrast, working with a professional mortgage broker like Oportfolio will take the guesswork out of what information is needed and we certainly work with all our clients to fill out their application with them. That means we’re as sure as we can be when we submit the information that everything the lender needs to know is included. Your broker should then manage the process from start to finish, so you can get on with the important things in life whilst you wait for the lender’s decision. You’re at the mercy of your own knowledge Reputable mortgage brokers are trained, qualified and regulated, which means there’s a certain level of reassurance for you that the advice you’re given and the products they recommend are the result of expert knowledge. By contrast, if you choose the DIY route, you’re only as good as the information you have and the things you don’t know that you don’t know. If you apply for and agree a mortgage that later proves to be the wrong product for you or doesn’t offer the same benefits as you might otherwise have had, you’ll have less recourse to resolve things. It takes time you probably don’t have Mortgages are the lifeblood of a professional mortgage broker’s business. That’s what they do all day, every day. You, on the other hand, probably have a job, family and other demands to juggle – and unlike applying for some credit cards, applying for a mortgage isn’t something you can just do when you have ten minutes to spare. You’ll spend time rooting out information you need, time filling out the application, time on the phone with the lender going through the application and time chasing the application once it’s complete – even if you get a decision in principle reasonably quickly. There are lots of things in life that make sense to do yourself but applying for a mortgage isn’t necessarily one of them. For a stress- and hassle-free experience that is more likely to give you the mortgage product that’s most suitable for you, it pays to have expert help from a professional mortgage broker like Oportfolio that can manage the whole process from end to end. If you’d like to talk to us about how our expert and friendly advisers can help you achieve success with your mortgage application, call us for a no-obligation chat. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
Is it harder to get a mortgage when you’re self-employed? It’s a question we get asked quite a lot and the most simple answer is that it’s not necessarily more difficult, but the way in which affordability is assessed by prospective lenders is inevitably a bit different. In the end, there are a few simple things that you’ll need to remember and to bear in mind if you work for yourself and you want to change your existing mortgage arrangement or increase your borrowing to move home. There’s no such thing as a self-employed mortgage Mortgage products designed specifically for people who run their own businesses, either as a limited company or a sole trader, don’t exist. Whether you’re in a salaried job with an employer or you’re working for yourself, you’ll be applying for a standard mortgage product just like everyone else. That means you’ll be subjected to exactly the same strict affordability tests that every regulated and reputable lender applies to every loan application they receive. So far, so much the same. So, if the products and the affordability tests don’t change, what does? One obvious difference is the way in which your income is measured. The other is in the fact that you’ll have access to lenders who may specifically cater for the self-employed market and may therefore offer more flexibility when it comes to how they apply their lending criteria. Assessing your income If you’re in full-time employment and receiving a salary lenders will typically want to see a certain number of payslips going back over a prescribed time – usually 3 to 6 months, depending on the lender. Some people who are self-employed do pay themselves a salary through their company, but more often than not this isn’t the case. If you don’t receive a regular salary, then in order to assess your income for repayment purposes, lenders will instead want to see net income or dividends detailed in 2 years of company accounts prepared by an accountant (if you operate through a limited company) or 2 years of tax returns (if you’re a sole trader). Some lenders do accept financial information reflecting only 1 year, but they’re in a minority. If you’re a contractor, then a lender is likely to look at the value of your current and previous contracts, your experience and your professional history in order to reach a leanding decision. In most cases, the income you show in this way will be averaged out, although if you show income increasing year-on-year over time some lenders may use the most recent year for the basis of assessing affordability. Might my age count against me? The term of the loan (in other words, how long you want to take to pay it off) may be an issue for some lenders. The most recent data from the Office for National Statistics suggests most self-employed people retire later than their peers who are in full-time employment. Factors that drive this include pension value and the fact the same data suggests entrepreneurs opt for self-employment much later in life – and so require longer to build their businesses. There’s no statutory upper age by which you must have repaid your mortgage loan, but typically most lenders would need to give special consideration to any application for a mortgage that went beyond the age of 75 or 80. Why use a mortgage broker to help you apply for a mortgage if you’re self-employed? The key benefits of using a professional mortgage broker like Oportfolio are that we have existing relationships with lenders and we often have access to products you won’t be able to find for yourself online or on the High Street. What that means in practice is that we can identify the lender and product most suited to your needs now and in the future. Because we’re mortgage experts, we can also take the guesswork out of what information you need to provide, reducing your stress and hopefully making the process a little bit more efficient. The long and the short of it is that all things (and especially affordability!) being equal, people who work for themselves have just as much chance of getting a mortgage as anyone else – but it takes understanding and organisation. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
So, your current mortgage deal is coming to an end and the big question is whether you should stay with your current lender or move to a new one. What to do? Forty years ago, it was probably common for people to spend their whole life with the same bank, mortgage lender, power supplier and insurance provider – and we were rewarded for doing so, sometimes through financial incentive or maybe the personal relationships that equated to better customer service. The consumer landscape is very different now than it was a generation ago. Part of the reason is that denationalisation opened up markets that had previously been state-run monopolies, spawning more competitive markets. As a result, we now tend to live in a ‘switch society’ where the benefits of our consumer activity are often to be found in shopping around for a better deal elsewhere. The same is true of the mortgage market. Loyalty is all very well and good, but relatively recent research from Citizens Advice shows that sticking with your lender when your mortgage deal comes to an end can actually cost you money. On average, the report says, the average cost of doing nothing at the end of your existing mortgage arrangement – what’s known as the mortgage loyalty penalty – is £439. For 10% of borrowers, it’s £1,000 or more. The best advice, always, is to shop around at the end of your deal to see what other lenders are offering. One of the benefits of a more competitive market is that it’s highly incentivised, so there are always deals to be had – the question is whether they’re right for your specific needs not just now, but in the future as well. When it comes to the question of whether or not to switch lenders, there are a lot of things to consider. Here are just a few. The potential benefits of staying with your current lender One key attraction to sticking with your current lender is that as long as you’re not increasing your borrowing, you’ll avoid paying out any fees that might be associated with moving to a new deal elsewhere. Typically, fees might include solicitors’ conveyancing costs, new lender arrangement fees and possibly exit fees charged by your current lender. Remortgaging through what’s known as a product transfer means minimum fuss and stress, and no financial outlay. That can be appealing in the short term, but switching to a new lender could save you money over the lifetime of the loan or any fixed deal – so if you don’t get advice from a mortgage broker like Oportfolio, we’d always recommend you do your research on total costs. Naturally, staying put also saves you time. Moving to a new lender who doesn’t know you will entail credit checks, paperwork, conveyancing and affordability checks – and that all takes time to pull together. By contrast, a straightforward product transfer with your existing lender can often be done quickly. That said, the issue of what you’ll pay over the lifetime of a deal may well be different if you spent the time going through the process of switching lender, so research here is key. The problem is that as the Citizens Advice research included earlier suggest, close to 40% of people say they simply don’t have the time to shop around. That’s where it can pay to work with a professional mortgage expert like Oportfolio who’ll do the groundwork for you and handle the application process on your behalf if you choose to switch. The potential benefits of switching The biggest potential advantage to moving your mortgage to a new lender – or at least taking the time to shop around – is that you’ll have access to some of the best deals available. And if you work with Oportfolio, you’ll also often be able to access products you won’t be able to find yourself, because they’re not available online or on the High Street. From 2-year and 5-year (and, occasionally, 7 and 10-year) fixed term deals, to tracker rates and fixed interest products, there’s a lot out there to choose from. Over the lifetime of your mortgage, you may see significant savings when compared to the deal you’re currently on – so it’s definitely worth doing the sums to find out just what the benefits might be. At Oportfolio, we’ll do all the calculations for you and then sit down with you and talk you through the options, so you get the product that suits your needs. And with competition in the mortgage market still high, there are all sorts of incentives out there to tempt you across to a new lender. From the waiver of legal and arrangement fees to cashback offers, there are a lot of golden hellos to catch the eye – but you need to be careful: the rates associated with these products may be higher than a standard product without the attractive bells and whistles, so be sure to check the costs. The watchword here is research. Whether you think you want to stay with your current lender or you’re leaning towards moving away, it’s really important to do some research and work out the long-term benefits of the products you’re considering. A professional mortgage broker can do this for you, and at Oportfolio our aim is to take away the stress of the application process (although you’ll still need to put in the time to gather all the information that might be needed). If you’re ready for a new mortgage, we’re ready to help you get it. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
So, you’ve done it. You’ve taken the plunge, found your dream house, sorted the mortgage (hopefully through us!), found a buyer for your own property and contracts have been exchanged. All that’s left now is to sit back, put your feet up and wait for moving day. Well, that’s what you might do if you miss having unnecessary stress in your life. But if you’d like to wake up on the day of the move feeling calm about the 24 hours to come, there are some things you can start doing the moment the move is guaranteed to happen. Declutter, declutter, declutter! First of all, it’s time to get rid of what you don't need. This is particularly important if you’re downsizing, of course, but even for those of us who are trading up to something with more space, it pays – literally, in fact – to get rid of the things you can before you say goodbye to the home you’re in. Whether you hire a specialist removal company or plan to shift the contents of your old home yourself in a hired van, every single item you transport from one property to the other will cost you money – either in the cost of the box it gets packed in, the cost of the people who arrive to carry it in and out of the lorry or in the cost of the van you have to hire. And of course, everything you pack needs to be unpacked at the other end, so the more you take, the longer it will be before you’re shipshape in the new place. Bottom line, it makes no sense at all to move stuff you don’t need to keep – so use the time you have now to get rid of it. Declutter outside, too! If you’re decluttering the inside, do the same outside. Dispose of the things you won’t be taking with you, especially anything that might be hazardous, like old paint, weedkiller, caustic soda, old barbecue gas containers and so on (making sure to take them to a facility that can dispose of them safely – your local tidy tip will be able to give you advice on the best way to do this). The same goes for the things in the garage and sheds that won’t be making the trip with you – that rake with the missing or rusty tines, the leaf blower that no longer works, the bike that’s too small for your youngest child. The same applies here as it does inside the house – why spend time and money moving something you haven’t used in years and don’t need? Be organised Pack smart by labelling the boxes with the rooms they’re going to go in when they arrive at the other end, especially if it’s not immediately obvious from what’s in the box. It also makes sense to prepare matching labels for the rooms themselves at your new home – matching Joe’s Bedroom with a room labelled Joe’s Bedroom is a lot easier for the movers than trying to match Joe’s Bedroom with Bedroom 1 or, worse, with rooms that aren’t labelled at all. Be prepared As you go through the packing process, have an Essentials box into which you put everything you might need in the first few hours at your new place. This might include plates and cutlery, mugs, enough glasses for everyone, coffee, tea and sugar, a book, pet food if appropriate, a packet of biscuits or other snacks and just about anything else you could possibly need before you get stuck into the task of unpacking in earnest. Don't forget to look after yourself Finally, on the day, take time to be kind to yourself. In most cases, there’s no deadline involved in unpacking into a new home other than the deadlines we set for ourselves, so be realistic about what you can and will achieve. In fact, if you’re super-organised, you might even arrange your packing so you know which boxes are priority boxes and which aren’t. Moving home can be stressful enough without adding to the pressure by setting yourself impossible targets. On moving day, take time to stop for something to eat and drink and to enjoy the sensation of being in a new place. You’ve worked hard to get there – so allow yourself to savour the moment by doing the hard work early rather than leaving it to the last minute. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
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