Additional benefits of General Insurance

Whether you live in a one bedroom flat or a five-bedroom detached house, you’ve worked hard to make your house your home, so it’s important to have the correct protection in place in case something should go wrong.

Though you might believe the unthinkable would never happen to you, what if it did?

Firstly, if something were to happen to your home, would you be in a position to afford moving into some form of house or temporary accommodation and continue to pay off your current mortgage? How would you survive financially during such a stressful and emotional time?

And secondly, you can actually enhance your general insurance policies with some added extras to tailor your cover to suit your personal needs and to add some real value to your policy. So it might be worth considering your options.

What are some of the additional benefits?

Home Emergency Cover

It’s the middle of winter and your boiler has stopped working, what do you do? Adding Home Emergency Care to your policy can provide you with immediate assistance from professional tradesmen in your time of need. From broken boilers to leaking roofs, Home Emergency Care can give you the peace of mind you deserve.

Accidental Damage

Accidental Damage can cover you from the unexpected and the unintended. It can provide you cover for your building as well as your contents. So, if you’ve spilt some wine on your carpet or knocked over an expensive ornament, Accidental Damage will have you covered.

Personal Possessions

You can also bolster your general insurance with Personal Possessions. This add on is particularly valuable in today’s society as it can cover your personal belongings while you’re out and about. It covers you for anything portable from phones and laptops to jewellery and pedal bikes if they’re lost, damaged or stolen.

Family Legal Protection

Family Legal Protection is designed to help you through what can be difficult and often stressful times. Adding Family Legal Protection to your policy can give you peace of mind knowing that if a legal problem, like Infringement of your Property Rights, Property Damage, Identity Theft or other legal problems do occur, solicitors will be there to support you and give you expert assistance and support.

While this is only a brief overview, there are in fact a number of other additional benefits that you can add to your general insurance policy. It can become quite confusing, which is why using an adviser can be incredibly invaluable, they will be able to find you the cover and added benefits that works for you and your personal circumstances and provide you with the peace of mind you deserve.

If you want to find out more about the additional benefits you can add to your general insurance policy, contact one of our advisers today.

Why are current mortgage rates so low?

Despite what some commentators are describing as a flat economic and mortgage market, many of you across the country are still finding ways to purchase your dream home. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, home mover or buy-to-let investor, now may actually be a great time to consider your options.

This is because of the current pricing competition amongst mortgage lenders – the competition intensified at the beginning of the year with a number of lenders cutting their rates, and this trend continued into the latter stages of 2019, resulting in current mortgage interest rates being at near-record lows.

But why are interest rates so low?

There are a number of reasons why current mortgage rates are so low. The Bank of England sets interest rates, also known as the base rate, in response to current events and expected economic performance. The Bank of England base rate can sometimes influence how much other banks and lenders charge you to borrow money.

The base rate is currently 0.75 per cent, far lower than the base rate before the financial crisis. However, despite the base rate having increased twice since November 2017, mortgage rates have remained at near-record lows.

So the main reason for the low mortgage rates we are currently seeing is the price war amongst mortgage providers.

A number of lenders cut their rates at the beginning of 2019 and the pace of cuts has been quickening in the last quarter of the year, according to Moneyfacts.

According to new figures released from Mortgage Brain’s quarterly product data analysis, two-year fixed mortgages have seen a reduction of between 3.71 per cent and 4.30 per cent in the last three months. And although smaller, five-year fixed rate mortgages have also seen reductions, with rates down between 0.46 per cent and 1.63 per cent in the same time period.

Finding the right mortgage with the right rate for you and your personal circumstances can be confusing, which is why seeking professional advice can be invaluable.

If you want to make the most of near-record low mortgage rates, contact one of our advisers today.

Additional costs of buying a house

You’ve found the home of your dreams and it’s within your budget, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a home mover it feels like a dream come true! But have you prepared for the additional costs of purchasing your new home?

There are a number of hidden costs associated with buying a property that you may not know about until you start your mortgage application, so we’ve put together an overview of a number of costs you might need to be prepared for.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a government tax that can add thousands of pounds to the cost of purchasing a property. It is a tax on homes of which the thresholds and first-time buyer exemptions vary in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales which is why seeking professional tax advice is so important.

If you’re purchasing a second property or a buy-to-let investment then there will be an additional stamp duty surcharge to be paid on top of the normal amount so it is worth seeking professional tax advice before making a purchase.

Conveyancing

These are the fees for the legal processes when buying your new home. They include various local searches on your potential property to check, for example, if it’s a listed building or located in a conservation area.

The cost of conveyancing fees can very depending on a number of factors like the value of the property, whether it’s freehold or leasehold and the local searches that need to be completed.

Surveys and valuation fees

Your mortgage lender will carry out a valuation survey that will look solely at the property’s worth – it doesn’t cover structural issues and won’t highlight any problems with the property, and you may be liable to cover the costs as part of your mortgage product. Dependant on the property that you’re buying you may want also want to commission an independent report to highlight any structural issues and problems.

There are different types of reports which will examine the property in different ways so it worth seeking professional advice before you go ahead with one. Depending on the property’s value and what type of report you go for this could cost anywhere from a few hundred pounds to over one thousand pounds.

Mortgage arrangement and other fees

These fees are sometimes charged by mortgage companies and will vary depending on each lenders stance and which product is selected. Some lenders might insist that you pay the fees up front which means you won’t be paying interest on it – others might add it to your mortgage which could be better if you can’t afford another financial outlay at the time of purchasing your new home.

There are also potentially a number of other fees you may need to be prepared for such as administration fees and electronic transfer fees to name a few. All lenders will take a different approach with regards to costs which is why a mortgage adviser can be so invaluable. We do not charge any fees for our mortgage advice.

Estate Agent Fees

It is important to factor in estate agent fees if you are selling your current home at the same as purchasing your new one. But, if you’re a first-time buyer, don’t worry, the seller will cover these costs!

Insurance

It is important you have the correct protection in place in case the worst should happen. Life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection can all provide a source of money for you or your family in your time of need which can help cover the cost of any debts like your mortgage. Whereas general insurance can be used to protect the economic value of your assets against accidents, damages or loss.

Removals or furniture

If you already have your own furniture then you might need to factor the costs of hiring a professional company to help you – unless you have little furniture and very energetic friends to hand!

If you don’t currently own any furniture then this of course is a definite cost you will need to factor in. Unless you’re prepared to sleep on the floor and drink warm milk you’re going to need a bed and a fridge as well all of the other furniture that you will want.

While this is only a brief overview of many of the additional costs you may be faced with when purchasing a home, it does highlight why it is worth seeking professional advice. Your mortgage adviser will be able to find a deal that’s right for you and your personal and financial circumstances.

If you would like to discuss the cost of purchasing a property, contact one of our advisers today!

Should you use comparison sites for general insurance?

When looking for general insurance it’s easy to open up your laptop, head straight to a comparison website, enter your details and take out the cheapest option for cover. However, the cheapest option may not always be the best!

Remember that comparison websites will try to hook you in by showing you lots of cheap prices but it’s important to know that these policies might not be such great value. They might have a high excess, meaning that you will have a bigger financial outlay at the point of claim, or they simply might not provide the cover that’s right for you and your personal circumstances.

Unlike an insurance broker, comparison websites do not give ‘regulated advice’. This means that they only provide you with product information, and not whether the policy you are purchasing has the correct type and level of cover suitable to you as an individual.

Comparison websites are also not normally suitable for complex insurances cases; comparison sites normally only feature ‘standard products’ and won’t necessarily take your personal circumstances and needs into account.

Because they don’t give advice, any questions you might have about an unusual home, property or belongings you would like insured are unlikely to receive an answer through a comparison site which is why using an insurance broker can be invaluable.

Using a broker will give you access to expert advice, they will be able to give you guidance on the products and policies that best suit your personal needs.

A broker will ask you about your personal circumstances to find you the right policy – they’ll also be able to tell you if you’re already covered by your existing insurance policies so you don’t overlap, and they will often get you a good deal by comparing prices and product features.  

As well as this, comparison websites won’t give you access to specialist providers whereas using a broker will. They can provide bespoke cover, so if you need to insure something of high value high-value like a unique antique or an expensive piece of art an insurance broker will know how to help.

If you would like to talk through your general insurance options, contact one of our advisers today!

Landlords are looking to use limited companies for purchasing property

In recent times there have been a number of changes that have directly affected landlords in the UK. If you’re a landlord you’ll know all about the tax changes and stamp duty changes, the tenant fees act and the proposed removal of section 21 which will stop landlords from removing tenants after the end of a fixed-term contract.

With the regulatory framework of the buy-to-let market continually changing, landlords are reacting. New research by Precise Mortgages shows that more than half of landlords intend to use a limited company to purchase properties in 2019.

Out of the landlords that were surveyed, 55 per cent stated that they would use a limited company structure to expand their portfolio, compared with 24 per cent who plan on purchasing more houses as an individual.

In the last quarter of 2018 the figure stood at 44 per cent followed by 53 per cent in the first quarter of this year showing that the number of landlords looking to use a limited company structure is continuing to rise.

Landlords with large portfolios are most attracted to using a limited company as 71 per cent of landlords with 11 or more properties are intending to use one, while 51 per cent of landlords with 10 or fewer will look to use one.

But if you’re currently a landlord or looking to take your first step into this area it’s important to seek professional tax advice before making a purchase. A specialist tax adviser will be able to help you decide if a limited company structure is the best for you and your personal circumstances. Your mortgage adviser can then find you the best mortgage deal and take you through the mortgage process from start to finish.

If you’re a landlord looking to expand your portfolio, or just want to talk through your mortgage options, contact one of our advisers today!

What to do Pre-Application

For you or your loved ones getting a mortgage may seem a little bit like climbing Everest. The summit is incredibly far away and it’s going to be a long journey that requires a lot of commitment. That’s because the process of buying a home doesn’t start by selecting a property that’s within your budget – it can take months, even years of preparation to get fully mortgage-ready.

There are a number of things you can do in advance to prepare for a mortgage application that will make the whole process a lot easier and smoother for you. These include but are not limited to:

Saving for a deposit
This might sound like a simple and obvious piece of advice but it is still incredibly important. The more you’re able to save for a deposit means the less you will need to borrow from the lender, which means that you’re taking on less debt.

This means that you will have a smaller loan-to-value which will generally allow you access to lower mortgage rates so you will be paying less interest across the mortgage term. Ultimately having a larger deposit can save you money in the long run and your adviser will be able to help you secure the deal that’s right for you dependant on the size of your deposit.

Register to vote
Registering to vote, if you’re not already on the electoral register, is the easiest thing you can do to get yourself mortgage-ready. Without being registered it’s almost impossible to get a mortgage as the majority of lenders use the electoral roll data for identity checks – for this reason, it’s also important that you make sure your address history is up to date and that your forms of identification are accurate.

Build up your credit score and review your credit history
Check your borrowing history in advance. This will allow you to dispute any inaccuracies so that lenders will receive the correct information on your ability to repay your debts. Your credit score, on the other hand, will give an indication of how creditworthy lenders may find you. If your score is low, you may want to see if there are any credit habits that you need to improve on before making a mortgage application. It’s important to note, though, that scoring bands can vary among different credit reference agencies which is why seeking professional advice is important.

Clear your debt or reduce your debt-to-income ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio is the proportion of debt that you have in relation to the money you earn – the higher this number, the more debt you have. Lenders typically prefer applicants with a lower ratio as it means you’re more likely to have the funds to make your monthly mortgages repayments. If you’re in a position to be able to clear your debts completely this will make you more attractive to potential lenders.

Saving for other fees
Whilst saving for a deposit is somewhat obvious, there are also a number of other fees and costs that you realistically need to be saving for before applying for a mortgage. There are conveyancing fees, paid to your solicitor to cover all of the legal work associated with buying a home, and moving costs that, among other things, need to be considered.

While this is only an overview of just some of the things you can do to get yourself mortgage-ready your mortgage adviser will be able to give you more detail on how to fully prepare yourself.

If you want more advice on how to become mortgage-ready contact your adviser today. If you’d like to discuss the options available to you, contact your adviser today.

If you’d like to discuss the options available to you, contact your adviser today.

Record number of deals for first-time landlords

British landlords have seen many changes to the Buy-to-Let sector in recent years, some of which have driven some landlords to sell up. From the tenant’s fees bill, stamp duty surcharge and stricter affordability testing it’s been enough for some landlords to leave the market and look for alternative investment opportunities.

But what about first-time landlords? Is it all doom and gloom? Is it worth purchasing your first Buy-to-Let property when seasoned landlords are leaving the market?

If you’re thinking about purchasing your first investment property and becoming a landlord for the first time then right now may be a good time to consider your options. The number of deals available for first-time landlords has reached a record high, according to figures from Moneyfacts.

Over the past five years the number of Buy-to-Let mortgage options on offer for potential first-time landlords has more than doubled. In 2014 there were 645 deals on offer – compare that with a massive 1,405 deals that are available today! Providers are continuing to offer a wider selection of products amidst the current uncertainty in the property market.

In the past year alone, product numbers have increased by 137 and two-year fixed rates now start below 1.5%, Moneyfacts states. As well as this, for those of you who would be looking to fix your rate for longer, you could benefit from a significant improvement in rates over the past five years. The average five-year deal for firsttime landlords has fallen by 1.16% since July 2014, down from 4.68% to 3.52% today.

This is why, when thinking about purchasing your first investment property and becoming a first time landlord and being faced with so many options and having a host of different products available, seeking professional advice can be invaluable.

*Average deals and rates available correct as of July 1st

If you’re thinking of becoming a first-time landlord and want to discuss your options, contact one of our advisers today.

Protection: do you know what it means?

Life insurance and critical illness cover, do you understand the jargon or are you confused by the industry terms?

Research by Legal & General has revealed that most customers are confused about the language used for protection products. Legal & General surveyed 2,000 people, and found that many consumers didn’t know what was meant by protection.

The survey found that only around one in 10 people associated the term ‘protection’ with life or critical illness cover, whereas some 40% assumed it related to protection against physical harm or protective clothing, while 19% of people did not associate the word with anything at all.

Protection is a term used when talking about critical illness cover and life insurance in the sense that it can financially protect you and your loved ones in case the worst were to happen. This type of protection can be invaluable.

If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness and can’t work, do you know what you’re entitled to from the state? How will you keep up your mortgage payments? If the worst were to happen, would your family be financially stable? These are the questions you must ask yourself!

Just over half of those surveyed by Legal & General did not have any life insurance or critical illness cover in place yet two thirds said they would be willing to pay between £10 and £20 a month for cover.

Seeking professional advice when looking for protection is important; your adviser will be able to find the cover that is best for you and your individual circumstances, as well as talk you through the industry jargon!

If you’d like to discuss your protection needs, contact one of our advisers today.

Mortgage Administrator Apprentice

We are looking for a Mortgage Administrator apprentice to join our small busy team, learning all aspects of working in an office environment whilst studying towards your Business Admin Qualification.

You will be working towards your L2 Business Admin apprenticeship by assisting in a range of duties relevant to your studies. You will also be set aside time to complete your learning.

Duties include:
Answering phone calls, email enquiries and greeting any clients that have appointments in the office or are dropping of documents that need to be photocopied.
Checking various documents, then packaging the documents to upload to mortgage lenders and email solicitors.
Upload documents to our back-office system to complete mortgage files.
Phone solicitors and mortgage lenders to check the progress of cases.
Enter messages and queries on diary system to update mortgage advisers and clients.

Will pay minimum of minimum wage based on age, not the apprentice rates – this will be reviewed after 2 months.

Working Week:
Monday to Friday- 9AM to 5PM
40 hours per week including 1 hour for lunch- we have small staff room.

Possible permanent position upon completion of apprenticeship. Please send CV and covering letter to julie@warrenifa.co.uk.

Most first-time buyers don’t know when the Help to Buy ISA ends

First-time buyers are living in a time when it appears to be much harder to get that first step onto the property ladder than ever before. House prices have increased by a massive 554% in the last 30 years and the time it now takes so save for a deposit has also substantially increased.

According to Nationwide, a decade ago it would take the average first-time buyer in the UK less than five years to save a 10% deposit of £14,080. Contrast that with today when it takes on average six and a half years to save a 10% deposit of £18,480.

This is why many first-time buyers have turned to the government Help to Buy ISA – launched over three years ago, the Help to Buy: ISA offers first-time buyers the opportunity to save up to £200 a month with the government topping up their contributions by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000.

But… many first-time buyers aren’t aware of the scheme’s details. Almost two thirds of prospective first-time buyers are unaware of the cut-off date for the Help to Buy ISA, research by specialist bank Aldermore has found.

The deadline to open a government Help to Buy ISA is 30 November this year but contributions can still be made until November 2029, and the cut-off date to claim the bonus is 1st December 2030 – so there’s still time for your loved ones to open an account and start claiming their 25% bonus for their first home.

Over four fifths of potential first-time buyers don’t know what the minimum government bonus is either, while 80% don’t know what the maximum is. There is also a lack of understanding about the scheme from parents too.

Almost nine in 10 parents of first-time buyers are unsure what the minimum government bonus is, while a similar proportion are unsure what the maximum bonus is. But, when the parents were given an explanation of what the Help to Buy ISA is, 86% said they would encourage their child to save into a Help to Buy ISA.

So, with only six months to go, if you or your loved ones would like to discuss the Help to Buy ISA so that they can start boosting their savings for when they’re looking to buy a home in the next three, five or even ten years, you should seek professional advice today.