News & Views

Mortgage Advice

Technology may have its frustrations, but there’s no doubt it has made life much easier when it comes to the business of sorting out personal financial matters like car insurance, choosing a mobile phone provider and buying cheap flights.Price comparison websites have revolutionised the way people now shop for products and services, and the mortgage market is no different.Go online now and search “mortgage comparison sites” and you’ll be presented with enough options to comfortably keep you out of mischief for a good couple of hours as you trawl through the various mortgage products, rates, fees, and terms.So, if you’ve got the whole of the mortgage market just a keystroke away, why on earth would you want to pay a professional mortgage broker like Oportfolio to arrange your home loan?It’s a good question, and one I get asked often by people who often seem genuinely surprised that there’s still demand for mortgage brokers in a digitally savvy world where people can buy more or less anything and everything they want themselves.The equally good answer to that question is that the majority of people have very limited experience – if any – of the mortgage market and, because they lack that knowledge, they don’t really know what they’re looking at when they find themselves on a comparison site.So, here are XXX good reasons why working with a professional mortgage broker could well be the right way to secure your next mortgage.1. What product do I need?In order to make the right choice for your personal circumstances now and those in which you may find yourself in the future you need to consider a number of factors that go a long way beyond the headline interest rates for the products on offer.What are the set-up and early exit fees? How much flexibility would you have if you wanted to pay off more of the mortgage at times? Are there any special terms attached to the product you’re considering?What level of certainty does that product give you and what is having that certainty worth to you? These days it’s possible to tie yourself into a ten year fixed rate – but it’s not going to be in everyone’s interests to sign up to that type of commitment.A professional mortgage adviser like Oportfolio will be able to use their comprehensive knowledge of the market to identify the mortgage product most suited to your need to marry affordability with flexibility.2. A professional mortgage broker can head off problems before they become problemsAnyone who’s been through a mortgage application will know that it can be a stressful time. Even back in the days before the 2008 financial crisis, when lenders were far more relaxed about their lending criteria, applying for a home loan was still an anxious process for many people.Since 2008, of course, there has been far more scrutiny in how mortgage providers lend and who they will lend to – and that scrutiny has only increased further in these pandemic-hit times.Many people who apply directly to a lender often don’t really know how much they’ll be able to borrow or whether they meet that mortgage provider’s lending criteria.There are lots of mortgage calculators out there – and at Oportfolio we have our own, which you can access here – and they’re brilliant for giving you a broad sense of what might be possible in terms of how much you may be able to borrow and what that would cost in monthly repayments.But in reality, the amount a provider might lend you is only decided when that lender has taken a detailed look at your financial circumstances and your credit history.A professional adviser will know what criteria each lender applies when considering an application and so can match your financial position to a lender who is more likely to approve your application. Equally, your broker will be able to avoid lenders who are unlikely to say yes to you.Nothing is ever guaranteed when large sums of money are involved but having the expert knowledge – sometimes backed by a personal professional relationship between lender and broker – can help to avoid a lot of the stress associated with mortgage applications.3. Hassle-free processA professional mortgage adviser worth the name will ensure they take on as much of the work that goes into a mortgage application as possible.There’s no getting around the simple fact that lenders require a fair bit of documentation and, understandably, only you will be able to get all of that together.But right at the start of your relationship, your broker should be able to give you a comprehensive list of the information the lender will need, based on their knowledge of that lender’s process.We know, for example, that there are occasional circumstances when a lender would sometimes like to have additional paperwork – and because we know that, we include that request right at the start – which means that as far as possible we can avoid having to ask for endless additional documents.And once the application is in, your adviser will be the point of contact for the lender, fielding any further inquiries based on the comprehensive information they should have about you and your circumstances.All of which hopefully adds up to a smoother process that results in you being able to move into your dream home.If you’d like to find out more about Oportfolio and how we can help you to secure the mortgage you need for your next move, please call us, and speak to a friendly member of our team. Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct AuthorityYour 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.

by Oliver Whitehead  -  31 March 2021

Market Trends

Exactly one year on from the start of the first lockdown of 2020, how has the housing market changed – and what does the future look like? Oportfolio’s founder, Oliver Whitehead, looks back on a year like no other.It seems incredible to think that it’s been a full year since we battened down the hatches and began a very different life confined largely to our homes.It’s been a year of sacrifice for all of us in one way or another. Those sacrifices have been more acute for some than they have been for others. Lives have been lost, health has been compromised, finances impacted.None of us should forget the terrible toll this pandemic and the restrictions that were implemented to combat it have taken on some people over the past 12 months.Yet, as is the case in every crisis, some areas of life have benefited from the measures we have lived with these last 365 days – and, on paper at least, the residential housing market is one of them.The internet is awash with statistics and data relating to the market at various points over the year, but in a nutshell two conclusions seem to have been drawn from the past year:First, the market has been stable over lockdown and second, that recent extensions to both the Stamp Duty holiday and furlough may well be enough to prevent the downward turn that was predicted before Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his 2021 budget.So, what does a snapshot of residential housing in 2020 look like?Stamp Duty holidayThe launch of the Stamp Duty holiday in July 2020 was designed to kickstart the housing sector that had been all but closed as part of the stringent early lockdown measures, and it worked.Between June and the end of the year, housing transactions outperformed the same months in 2019. Which? magazine reports that figures released in January this year showed a year-on-year increase in house sales of 24%.There’s little doubt that the potential to wipe up to £15,000 off your Stamp Duty fee played its part in driving that activity.But it’s also fair to assume that the scheme’s success also owed much to the fact that being cooped up at home for weeks on end, and the likely continuation of remote working after the pandemic ends prompted many people to reassess what they needed from their living space.A seller’s market and rising pricesThe sudden rise in demand for houses created a seller’s market, combined with the Stamp Duty holiday, created a ticking clock for people to get their purchases over the line by March 31 of this year (although, as we now know, that deadline has since been extended to September 30).As the Which? report bears out, that in turn triggered a spike in house prices.Whether that spike was artificial or not remains to be seen, although prior to the extension of the Stamp Duty holiday some estate agencies and lenders, including Savills and the Halifax were predicting that prices would fall during 2021 as the effects of both the pandemic and Brexit began to be felt.Whatever the reality of the long-term effect on house prices, Land Registry figures show that on average prices were 8.5% higher in January than they had been a year earlier.The (temporary) end of the 100% mortgageUnderstandably, the pandemic, Job Retention Scheme (furlough), and the uncertainty caused by the virtual long-term closure of key sectors such as hospitality, arts and entertainment gave lenders reason to be particularly cautious during 2020.One of the effects of that was the withdrawal of the 100% mortgages which had begun to make a reappearance.These have since begun to re-emerge, with the Yorkshire Building Society being the most recent to announce a 100% mortgage product in the last few days.Even so, first-time buyers have found the market a tough place since lockdown began.Low interest rates, longer fixed-term rates, and longer repayment terms Amid all the uncertainty, the Bank of England has kept the base rate at an all time low of 0.1%, making borrowing cheaper (though obviously that has been bad news for savers).There has also been a rise in the number of long fixed-term rates available. These had already begun to become a fixture of the mortgage sector before the pandemic hit, though Santander’s recent decision to offer  40-year repayment periods may well change the landscape again.And what about 2021? Well, as I’ve always said, only a fool would make predictions about the UK housing market – no one, after all, could have predicted the year we’ve just had.For me, in all the uncertainty and upheaval of first the decision to leave the EU and then the pandemic and then our official departure from Europe, there has always been one truth: if you have a secure income and are able to afford to move, now is the time to do it.On average, according to the latest Land Registry figures, it’s taking an average of 67 days to complete a property transaction, and whilst this is down from the 60 days the Registry reported in the autumn, it is still plenty of time to get a purchase done and dusted by the time the Stamp Duty holiday ends in September.All other things being equal, some reports suggest interest rates look to be relatively stable for the next two years, while mortgage lenders are also understandably keen to keep the market moving in a positive direction.So, if you’re considering a move in 2021, get in touch and talk to one of our friendly expert team to see how we can help you to buy your dream home this year. Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct AuthorityYour 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.

by Oliver Whitehead  -  23 March 2021

Income Protection

If the pandemic and its three lockdowns have taught us anything at all, it’s that no one ever quite knows what lies around the corner.All being well, the UK will start a cautious reversal of the current social distancing measures in the next few weeks.The Government says it’s working towards a summer when all legal social distancing measures will be lifted and normal life can resume – though this won’t be before June 21.But the reality is that although normal life may look and feel a lot like pre-pandemic life, it will be discernibly different, not least in how the country recovers from the economic impact of effectively shutting down the hospitality and non-essential retail sectors for a good proportion of the past year.We already know the economy has slumped, and the decision by the Chancellor to extend furlough to the end of September is designed to give businesses the chance to ride out the difficult first few months of rebuilding once late May rolls around and shops, cafes and restaurants are expected to be open again.But the extension of furlough and the cautious lockdown exit strategy simply underline the uncertainty that lies ahead.Women are especially vulnerable. Statistically, the majority of frontline hospitality roles – those that tend to be public facing – are occupied by women. In the retail sector, it’s a similar picture with women employed in 58% of all retail roles.And of course, it is precisely these sectors that have not only been most adversely impacted by the government’s measures to combat the spread of Covid-19 but are also most likely to be affected when furlough ends in October and some businesses find themselves having to make hard decisions about the future.On average, hospitality, arts and recreation businesses have furloughed around 50% of their staff since the pandemic started and there are warnings that unemployment will surge in October when furlough ends.In addition to making up the majority of the workforce in the hardest hit sectors, women also make up the majority of the army of the nation’s carers – whether for young children, the sick or the frail.All of which points to potential hardship in event of a hard recession, and although the majority of insurance policies that safeguard personal finance are taken out by men, there is now a clear need for more women to put plans in place to protect themselves.Income protection insurance to guard against being unable to work due to illness or injury or, with some policies, because of loss of employment is an obvious area to consider.Income protection cover pays out a tax-free income should you find yourself unable to work either permanently or temporarily for any valid reason specified in the policy. Be sure to check what is and isn't covered to make sure the policy properly meets your needs.The regular payments would typically represent between 60% and 75% of your gross salary, depending on the terms of the specific policy, meaning that because they are tax free their real terms value would be closer to your actual net pay.If you return to work, these payments will end, but in most cases cover (and premiums) will usually continue.The cost of covering your salary should you find yourself out of work will vary depending on the amount of income you wish to protect – inevitably, the cost of replacing a salary of £75,000 is going to be significantly more than a policy that covers an income of £25,000.Income protection insurance is different to critical illness insurance (Cancer Cover) and premiums are generally significantly cheaper.If you’d like to start exploring your options for income protection or putting a financial plan in place to help support you in the event of a serious or terminal illness, why not get in touch with a member of our friendly team. Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 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. 

by Oliver Whitehead  -  19 March 2021

Coronavirus Advice

Following on from speculation at the back end of last week that the Chancellor will use his Budget speech on Wednesday to announce an extension to the stamp duty holiday, this weekend's news also suggests Wednesday's Budget statement may have more glad tidings for buyers.The past 12 months have made the housing market a challenging place for first time buyers to do business as lenders steadily withdrew or limited the available deals at the higher end of the Loan to Value spectrum.Until the pandemic arrived, 95% home loans had become relatively commonplace, and even the odd 100% loan – all but extinct for a long time – cropped up on some lenders’ product lists, though these were still rare.Then the UK went into lockdown and the housing market was effectively closed for three months. When it opened for business again at the back end of June into early July, those 95% loans began to disappear as mortgage providers took an increasingly pragmatic approach to lending.Over the last six to eight months, first time buyers will have needed to find a minimum of 10% of the purchase price – and in many cases 15% - to put down as a deposit on their new home.The Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday, which is now expected to be extended until the end of June this year, breathed new life into the market, but that hasn’t really helped first time buyers with small deposits.Now Rishi Sunak is widely expected to underwrite a mortgage deposit guarantee for first time buyers which is designed to encourage lenders to reintroduce the 95% loans which the Treasure says ‘virtually disappeared’ during the pandemic.Under the scheme, which will be available to lenders in April if the measures are passed into law by MPs when they debate the Chancellor’s Budget after he presents it to the Commons on Wednesday, the Government will guarantee a proportion of a home loan up to £600,000.What this means in all practical sense, of course, is that the Government is making a financial investment into the market.According to the Financial Times, this will inject confidence into the sector on the grounds that if the Treasury is financially exposed then the Government is more likely to act to prevent house prices from falling.Indeed, one analyst quoted by the FT suggests the move could lead to a repeat of the spike in house prices that was triggered in part by the stamp duty holiday last summer.The deposit guarantee scheme is said to resemble a similar scheme that ended in 2013 and helped an estimated 100,000 people to get a foot on the housing ladder.Crucially, the proposed new scheme will also be available to existing homeowners who want to move but who may not have built up enough equity in their current home to represent 10% or 15% of the value of the home they might want to buy.It’s too early to know exactly how the mortgage sector will react to the proposals and there is not yet any detail on how the scheme will be integrated into the mortgage application process.However, subject to the Wednesday’s Commons announcement being confirmed, it seems that buyers with small deposits might want to start putting the wheels in motion for a post-April mortgage application.With the stamp duty holiday expected to be extended to June, there will be an 8-week window in which to benefit from the new mortgage deposit scheme and the potential stamp duty savings that may be had if a transaction can be completed by June 30.If you’re considering buying a first home or you’re an existing homeowner looking to move with a small deposit to put down, come and talk to us.As a professional mortgage adviser, we can help you to be in the best possible position to take advantage of the Government’s incentives and secure the keys to your new home.  Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 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.

by Oliver Whitehead  -  27 February 2021
Disclaimer

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 of £395.
Our Product Transfer fee is £295.

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By submitting this information you have given your agreement to receive verbal contact from us to discuss your mortgage requirements.
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