News & Views

Coronavirus Advice

The coronavirus lockdown has been an absolute game changer for anyone who had spent the first quarter of 2020 planning a spring or summer move. It hasn’t just been down to the Government’s measures effectively shutting down the residential housing sector; other factors have also had a significant influence on how buyers and sellers will – or perhaps won’t – approach the business of moving now the restrictions on property transactions have been relaxed. In just seven short weeks the face of the day-to-day business of moving house has been radically altered in several different ways. Prices Opinion is a little divided on the long-term impact of lockdown on house prices. Depending on what you read, prices may flatline for a short period before recovering (Rightmove); they could tumble by 13%, shaving £30,000 off the value of the average UK property and pushing the average house price below £200,000 (Centre for Economics and Business Research); or we may see gentler fall of between 5% and 10% in prices but a steeper decline in transactions to 20-40% of the 5-year average (Savills) And, of course, there are all sorts of different forecasts and predictions from other sources that add to the noise and uncertainty over precisely how the market will react to nearly two months of stagnation. Additionally, the real picture will be different depending on where in the country you live. Areas that have traditionally been highly desirable may see little or no adverse impact, while others experience a more acute negative effect. The important thing to remember, though, is that wherever you are geographically, the local impact will be broadly the same for everyone. So, if you’re planning on moving within the same area and the pre-pandemic value of your property falls by, say, 5%, the value of the property you might buy will likely have seen a similar if not identical fall. In this case, and all other things being equal, the real-terms effect of falling prices on your planned transaction may well be negligible. The price factor is likely to be more significant, in terms of increasing the amount of borrowing you need, if you’re hoping to move to an identifiably more desirable area, where the value of your current home falls and that of your intended property remains static or grows. Interest rates The decision by the Bank of England to reduce the base rate to an historic low of 0.1% has means it’s now possible to borrow what you need with lower repayments than might have been the case pre-lockdown. And depending on your specific needs and circumstances, if you choose a rate that’s fixed for 2 to 5, or even 10 years (not all lenders offer a 10-year fixed rates, and it’s not always in your best interests to tie yourself into such a long-term deal), you’ll not only benefit from a cheaper loan, you’ll also have a degree of certainty over your repayments for the same period. That said, not all lenders will pass the benefit from the interest rate drop onto their customers, so it’s worth doing your homework here – and ideally you should work with a professional mortgage broker like Oportfolio who will have access to off-market products and deals that you won’t find on price comparison sites or  through dealing with lenders direct. Affordability Inevitably, mortgage lenders are going to be paying particular attention to the affordability criteria as they consider new applications from those planning to buy a new property, so the benefit of having your finances in good shape is as clear now as it was before the pandemic. However, for some people hoping to secure mortgage lending it’s going to be especially tricky given the impact the lockdown measures have had on the economy and employment. If you work in a field that’s been particularly affected by the country coming to a sudden standstill – e.g. the hospitality sector or non-essential, non-online retail – lenders may approach your application with a little more caution. Again, working with a professional mortgage adviser is a smart move because they will be able to identify the areas in your financial circumstances that may be a cause for concern and will be able to give you advice to put you in the best possible position to have your application accepted. Negative equity Negative equity is what happens when economic factors drive house prices down to a point where you owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth. One concern – particularly among those potential buyers who have only a small deposit to put down – may be the prospect of buying a property only for prices to crash if the economic effects of the pandemic suddenly come into play. This is where prudence is required. For most people, a property purchase is a moderately long-term investment. Historically, it’s been generally accepted that on average people move four times in their lifetime, bringing the average time in any given property to around 20 years. No one really knows how the market will perform in the future, but it’s probably fair to assume that any ‘losses’ we see as a direct result of this crisis will be offset by future growth – and of course the more time you expect to stay in the property you buy, the more time you’ll have to rebuild equity. But again, a professional mortgage adviser can advise you based on your specific circumstances and ambitions. The bottom line is that there are plenty of opportunities in the housing market right now – but getting professional mortgage advice can give you the peace of mind of knowing you’ve considered all eventualities before you set the wheels in motion on your purchase or sale. At Oportfolio we pride ourselves on offering highly professional and friendly advice backed by many years of experience and a thorough knowledge of the mortgage market   Please note: all information contained within this article was accurate at the time of publication.   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  -  4 June 2020

Moving House

Moving home – or buying your first property – can be a really exciting time, but it can also seem a bit overwhelming, even if it’s not your first rodeo in the property market. According to the lifestyle magazine House Beautiful, studies published last year suggest the average person in the UK moves house once every 23 years, which equates to between 3 and 4 times in a lifetime. You only have to look back at the last 12 years to see that the process of buying and selling property can change significantly between you moves, and it’s this lack of familiarity with what’s required that can be the source of anxiety when it comes to diving back into the market. But other than providing the financial information that’s required (you can read our blog on that topic here) really there are only 5 things you need to know when you’re buying somewhere new to live – your budget, the area you’re moving to, the costs involved, the interest rates and range of products available and, of course, the process. And the good news is that a professional mortgage adviser can help you with at least 4 out of those 5 things (and if they’re local to the location you’re moving to, maybe even all of them). Budget This is crucial if you’re going to refine your search to ensure you buy something you can afford and for which you’ll be able to get a mortgage. A mortgage calculator like ours will give you a rough idea of what’s within your financial reach, but arriving at a more accurate figure depends on the lenders under consideration and your own income. It’s a good idea to talk to a mortgage professional before you start house hunting to get a realistic budget for your new home. Knowing an accurate figure will give you the confidence that you’re likely to be able to secure the loan, and also enable you to identify a strategy for negotiating, based on whether you need to spend money on what you end up buying. Neighbourhood Knowing the area you’re looking in makes a lot of sense. If you have children, you’ll want to consider the quality of local schools. Is the property close to transport links you might need for work? What about local amenities like parks, shops and restaurants? Visit the area on different days and at different times of the day to get a feel for potential upsides and downsides. Is your dream house on a busy road? Is it quiet at the weekends? Are there people around during the day? Understanding the best and worst of the area will also give you an insight into whether the house is worth the asking price – and, crucially, whether it’s going to be an attractive proposition should you want to sell in the years ahead. Costs For lots of people, the formula in their heads goes something like: Cost of New House minus Equity in Current House = Mortgage Required. What they forget, of course, is that selling and buying property isn’t cheap. Stamp duty, legal fees, surveys and removal costs all add up and if you’re buying at around, say, the £600,000 mark, it’s not unrealistic to expect to have shelled out around £30,000 before you’ve even picked up the keys to your new home. Again, a professional mortgage adviser will build the costs of moving into your mortgage requirement and advise you on the best mortgage strategy, depending on whether you need a bit of extra money to carry out work that’s needed or for additional expenses. Products & Rates This is where a dedicated mortgage broker comes into their own. At Oportfolio, we work with a wide range of lenders to ensure we can offer our clients the best possible product that’s suited to their specific and unique needs. And because we’re specialists, we have access to products and rates you probably won’t find on the High Street or on a price comparison website. Different products will attract different rates of interest, but the lowest rate isn’t necessarily always the best rate for you because of the fees, limitations and tie-ins that can be involved. A rate might look really attractive when you see the monthly repayment figure. But maybe that product won’t allow you to overpay the mortgage as you might wish, or perhaps it has a prohibitive exit fee attached to it. All of these things need to be considered when you’re looking to finance a loan as large as a mortgage, and a professional adviser is the right person to do that for you to ensure you’re getting the mortgage that suits your circumstances. Process Buying and selling property is actually relatively straightforward, but it can be slow and frustrating at times. At Oportfolio, we’re here to take all of the stress of the mortgage application away from you, and to support you on your journey. We can also give you valuable insight into when you need to engage surveyors and solicitors and what it’s reasonable to expect from them in terms of service and turnaround times on key steps, like the legal searches that are required. In any property transaction, it’s always better to walk into the process fully prepared and with as much knowledge as you can gain – and your mortgage broker should be a key part of helping you to make the journey into your new home as easy as possible. If you’d like to know more about our award-winning mortgage service, why not get in touch and talk to 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  -  18 March 2020

Mortgages

Many people find the prospect of applying for a mortgage to be a source of stress, and although that’s understandable because a dream move is often riding on a successful outcome, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the anxious time that people expect. There are two key things you should be doing to give yourself the best possible chance of submitting an application that’s likely to be successful. Start preparing early If you know you’re likely to want to move, then getting all your ducks in a row in terms of financial information that your lender will need is always going to serve you well. Waiting until you’ve found the house of your dreams to start your mortgage planning is always likely to be a more stressful experience because you’re immediately competing against the clock and running the risk that another buyer will be in a more advanced position to complete a purchase on the property you’ve set your heart on. Talk to a professional mortgage adviser Although it’s tempting to use one of the many online comparison sites to choose and then apply for your loan, it’s unlikely you’ll find the very best deals available as there are some products that might not be accessible to you. And unless you really know the sector, you may not be in the best position to decide which of the many mortgages that are available to you is the right one for your circumstances today and in the future. What information do you need? One of the keys to a successful mortgage application is having the right information to begin with, which is why when we sit down with a client to look at their mortgage needs, we as them to provide us with a fair amount of information about their financial situation. Having detailed information serves a number of benefits. First, it means your mortgage adviser will have a broad overview of your financial situation and will be in a better position to be able to guide you to a mortgage that will secure the property you want without you having to overreach yourself financially. After more than a decade of austerity, stricter lending criteria together and a more circumspect and prudent approach to lending by banks and building societies, we are now in a more competitive environment where lenders still apply rigorous affordability but are in many cases prepared to offer higher salary multiples than they were a few years ago. But as a borrower you need to remember that while securing a mortgage is one thing, paying for it is another.A prospective lender may not know, for example, that you’re thinking about starting a family, or buying a second home or going on a round the world cruise. But by sharing your plans with your mortgage adviser, he or she can build that into their thinking as they talk through your options. Most lenders may want, as a minimum: Copies of your passport or driving licence to prove your identity Proof of address (this is usually a formal document such as a utility or bank statement) Between 3 and 6 months of bank statements from all your accounts (if you have more than one) Proof of all your income, including overtime (this will usually be your P60, if you’re employed, or a minimum of two years of audited accounts if you’re self employed or run your own business) Details of your existing debts (credit cards, loans, HP agreements, store cards etc.) Your tax history for at least two years. If you’re self-employed or have income from more than one source, this will usually be the SA302 tax return form A breakdown of your monthly financial commitments – this will include motoring expenses, regular childcare commitments, personal and property insurance policies, utility and phone costs and any other costs which the lender might reasonably expect you to have to continue to pay during the life of the loan. It’s important that your mortgage adviser knows as much about your financial situation as possible. If there are potential problem areas in your finances that might be an issue for your prospective lender, it’s better that you and your mortgage adviser are aware of them so you can identify the right mortgage strategy from the start.Being blindsided by those issues coming to light during the lender’s credit checks not only delays the process, but it may jeopardise your application completely. At Oportfolio, we ask you to provide all of that information before we sit down with you so that we can all make the most of the time we spend together and get the application process moving quickly. But once you and your mortgage broker have a clear picture of where you need to head, you should then be able to leave your broker to see the process through from start to finish, while you get on with the important things in life. Being prepared has another advantage, too. Mortgage offers are valid for between 3 and 6 months, depending on the lender, so if you have your loan in place before you start house-hunting, you’ll be a much more attractive proposition for estate agents and sellers alike. If you’re thinking of moving this year, why not get in touch and see how our friendly team can help you into your dream 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 Oportfolio  -  23 February 2020

Moving House

As we wave farewell to a year that has, by all sorts of measures, been pretty momentous, and usher in the third decade of the millennia, it’s time to start thinking about that house move you’ve been planning. One of the mistakes people can make when it comes to trading up (or maybe down, depending on your circumstances) is failing to plan properly and put arrangements in place that will ease the buying, selling and moving process when the time comes. Spring is traditionally the time when many people choose to put their property on the market with the aim of being in their new home during early to mid-summer. But your chances of selling quickly and moving in your ideal timescale can be helped if you make sure you’ve got everything sorted out well in advance. Here are 5 things you should think about doing in order to maximise your chances of getting the right price for your current home, being an attractive potential buyer and moving quickly once contracts have been exchanged. Talk to a professional mortgage advisor  A professional adviser can work with you to identify the best mortgage to suit your needs and personal and financial circumstances. He or she will also talk you through the information you’ll need to supply in order to make your application and have the best chance of it being accepted. Getting that information together early is less stressful and much easier than scrabbling around at the last moment and rushing a mortgage application while the clock is ticking on a purchase you’ve agreed. Even if you’re not planning on moving for a few months, having everything in one place so you can lay your hands on it easily is a good strategy for success. Get a mortgage offer in principle, ideally BEFORE you start house hunting If you know what you’re after and you’re confident you’ll find what you’re looking for quickly, then having a mortgage offer in principle before you start your search is a good strategy. But bear in mind that mortgage offers – whether in principle or not – are time-limited (for how long depends on your prospective lender), so make sure you apply for your mortgage at the right time. Your professional mortgage adviser can help you to make the decision about when you should start the application process. At Oportfolio, we also fill out and manage your application on your behalf, making sure that everything that should be on the form is there and improving your chances of having it accepted (we find this also helps to reduce the stress for you!) Having the money in place to buy your new home makes you a much more attractive buyer than someone who hasn’t. It shows the selling agent and the seller that you’re serious about your move and that your offer is likely to turn into a sale. Get your own home market ready Declutter, decorate and repair. Remember that your own personal tastes are not always going to be shared, so aim for neutral tones to present your home as a comfortable place to live – but with enough of a blank canvas to allow would-be buyers to see the potential your property offers. Take time and spend a little money to make obvious cosmetic repairs. Peeling wallpaper or paint or broken tiles hinder the selling process. So a bit of inexpensive cosmetic TLC can go a long way in helping your property to catch the eye. Tidy the garden and remove anything that might be an eyesore. Inside, get rid of clutter as much as you can. Think carefully before investing money you won’t recoup. A new kitchen may look impressive, but unless you’re going to get back what you’ve spent or it’s going to be the difference between selling quickly to get your dream home or not, it may not be worth it. Identify a solicitor, surveyor and removal company  Moving requires the advice and support of other professionals, so even though you may not be ready to appoint them yet, do your research and choose your suppliers in advance to save time once you’ve had an offer accepted. Once you’ve identified the property you want to buy and your offer has been formally accepted, instruct your solicitor and book the survey with your surveyor. As soon as you have a confirmed moving date, boom your removals company. Some companies will let you make a provisional booking – so if you get a provisional moving date, this might also be an option. Once you’re sure the purchase will go through, sit back and relax Early preparation means less stress throughout the process, giving you fewer sleepless nights and a lot more time to check off your to-do list. And what that means is that you can then look forward to your move at every stage, knowing everything is in place. If you’d like to speak to us about a move in 2020, why not get in touch and have an informal conversation 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  -  2 January 2020
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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