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Nationwide are leading a host of industry front-runners across the housing, construction, financial and energy sectors, to encourage the Government to call for a green retrofit revolution in order to achieve its net zero targets by 2050. A green housing strategy is pivotal in enabling us to fully decarbonise homes and tackle climate change.

Working together, this group of 14 proactive companies, has identified seven key principles:

1. To build green homes for the future, now

A roadmap is needed to bring the Future Homes Standard forward. A very small number of new builds are currently built to EPC A standard and, until that changes, houses that are not fit for the future, continue to be built.

2. Create new jobs in retrofitting

The number of skilled installers and tradespeople is limited and the Government needs to work with the industry to stimulate demand and create a skills strategy, which will in turn provide good quality jobs throughout the UK.

3. Make it fairly financed

The Government needs to commit to grant funding and help those who cannot afford to pay.

4. Make property fit for future

The EPC needs to become a ‘living document’ to reflect changes made to the home.

5. Support green homes with green power

Clean energy and heat are key to any national retrofit strategy and the release of a Heat and Buildings strategy is anticipated.

6. Regulate green retrofitting

A call for the Government to regulate and ensure that retrofit installers are Trustmark certified and compliant with PAS standards.

7. Inspirational public information campaign

The Government needs to help people understand what is possible for their home.

For more information visit https://www.nationwidemediacentre.co.uk/future-of-society/futureofhome

The very idea of finding a mortgage can feel overwhelming, especially if you are a first timer. At Top House, we have a wealth of experience and have drawn on that to provide you with a few ideas to help prepare you for your initial mortgage appointment.

PLAN

As much as possible, try to think ahead and get your finances in order, paying special consideration to:

Monthly outgoings – what is your monthly expenditure? It is excessive? Can you cut out any unnecessary or luxury spending? Be honest with yourself and consider what you can actually do without.

Spending habits – record your spending as it’s important to have all the figures when you apply for your mortgage.

Credit rating – check for any monthly payments you are committed too and, to improve your credit rating, consider setting up direct debits on regular outgoings such as credit cards and utility bills. Also make sure you are on the electoral roll as this helps lenders conduct their background checks.

SAVE

As well as paying a deposit and monthly mortgage repayments, you will need to make allowances for additional monthly costs such as utility bills, insurance etc. It may be an idea to start saving for them or to get used to having the additional expenditure, coming out of your account each month.

Setting up a savings account with restricted access is a good way to stop you spending, start saving and make you more aware of your spending habits.

Regularly reviewing your bank account can also help – where you notice there is excessive spending, with entertainment, food shopping, clothing for example, try to make savings. Maybe consider setting yourself sensible monthly budgets.

GET ADVICE

It is best to arrange a mortgage appointment before you even start looking for your dream home. As mortgage advisers, we are able to assess your finances and determine how much you can borrow; you can then tailor your property search to suit. Loan approval can also take a little time, so it’s best to get ahead of the game.

As brokers, we provide a ‘whole of market’ service, meaning we aren’t linked to specific lenders. Not only does this mean we can provide you with completely impartial advice, but we can also identify the very best offers and mortgage type* to suit your own specific circumstances and requirements. With regard to fees, we don’t currently charge for our services, however if the loan amount is below £125,000, a nominal fee of £199 would be payable upon completion. 

PREPARE

Lenders will require various forms of documentation in support of any mortgage applications we make on your behalf, so it’s really helpful to have this prepared prior to our initial appointment.

The more information you provide, the quicker we can get you moving – you will need:

Proof of Identity

Proof of Income

Proof of Address

Additional Information

Please note that you will need to provide original documents – copies will not be accepted.

NEXT STEPS

As soon as you’re ready and we’ve had our initial meeting, we will provide you with a few a few options for comparison, talking you through fully so that you can make a fully informed decision. Once your preferred mortgage option has bee chosen, we will collate all the required documentation and submit it, along with your application, to the lender. The lender will then assess your application. While they are doing this, it may be possible to obtain a pre-approval letter, comprising an estimate of the loan value – this will help show you are a previous buyer and will help your start your property search. Once you have a formal offer from the lender, your mortgage will be in place and ready to go. If, for any reason, the initial application isn’t approved, we’ll simply look at other options.

 

EXTRAS

As well as mortgages, we are also able to offer second charge loans and insurance, including:

BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT

If you need any additional help and advice, or wish to book an appointment with a member of our experienced team, please get in touch:

Top House Mortgage Solutions

Victoria House

Lowside

Outwell

Wisbech

PE14 8RE

01945 773945

enquiries@tophousemortgages.uk

*Mortgage types include

For more information about mortgage types, please visit our website – https://www.tophousemortgages.uk/mortgages/

Image for blog containing question marks

Buying a house? Where do you start? You may well have lots of ideas bubbling around in your head – ideas about your ideal home, where it is, how many bedrooms it has, does it have outdoor space, are you after a new build or a period property packed full of character?

Whatever your aspirations, buying a house can be incredibly stressful – there is an awful lot to consider. And not only will you be dealing an Estate Agent, but a mortgage adviser and solicitor, and possibly a surveyor too. All with their own professional jargon to navigate your way through.

When speaking with your agent, ask direct, honest, probing questions – the last thing you want to do is buy your ‘dream home’, only to discover underlying problems later down the line. And, by then, it could be too late.

The key is to identify potentials hitches, problems, as early as possible. Do your research. Do some damage control.

Firstly, make sure you have an agent – an agent with strong credentials; someone who is highly regarded and respected, someone considered trustworthy and knowledgeable with a strong hold on the local housing market. You need honesty and straight-talking.

So, exactly which questions should you be asking your Estate Agent when looking at potential property?

1 How long has the property been on the market?

May be the owner just hasn’t found the right buyer or they are waiting on the purchase of their next home before selling. You can usually find this out on Zoopla, but its wise to ask in order to determine if there is anything unwelcome that you should know about. 

2 Why are the owners selling?

This links in with the following question, but their answer could reveal something you need to consider – Do they get on with their neighbours? Does it cost too much to heat? Are there any structural problems with the property? It is a really noisy road to live on? 

3 How long have they lived there?

If the property has had lots of different owners over the last few years or have the current owners only lived there a short while?  This could flag up some concerns – so consider asking the owners this question directly.

4 Has any recent work been done at the property?

Has the property had more than a lick of paint to freshen it up? Has work been done to disguise and problems? Are there any underlying issues?

5 What’s included in the sale?

Fixtures and fittings. Fixtures are usually included the sale and is the term for any items that fixed to the house – kitchen units and bathroom furniture for example. Fittings include can carpets, lighting, white goods (washing machine, dishwasher, fridge), which the owner can choose to leave or take with them, when they move. Are they planning on taking anything, that could be a deal-breaker for you?

6 Is there a chain?

Its always a good idea to know if there are other buyers and sellers in the chain, also if the person you are buying from, has an idea of when they are planning to move out. Does it fit with your timeline? 

7 Has the value changed?

It is possible to find this out online – has the value gone up or down? Value may be on the increase due to the area being ‘up and coming’ or there has been renovation work done. Maybe its decreased – what is the area like? Has the property been on the market a long time?

8 Which way does the property face?

Want to make sure the sun will be shing in your garden? Then ask which way the house is faced.

9 What does the planning permission landscape look like?

Is the property Listed? Is it up to code – was planning permission sought by the current owners for the lovely extension or conversion of the garage to living accommodation? Has planning permission every been denied? If so, for what and why was is denied?

10 Don’t be shy!

Don’t be afraid to ask – about anything! Buying a property is a huge investment, so you want to make sure you get it right.

Happy House Hunting!

What is Equity Release by Top House Mortgage Solutions

There are two types of Equity Release – a Lifetime Mortgage and Home Reversion plans.

It allows people aged 55+ to release money from the property they live in, without the worry of having to make monthly repayments. It can be used to withdraw money – either as a lump sum, or smaller, regular withdrawals – against the value of your home; allowing you to remain in your home AND raise money. 

This can prove fundamental for some; reducing the financial worries sometimes faced by those in retirement.

If this is something you are considering, an equity release plan will need to be drawn up, but before that, there are several things to consider, aided with a list of pros and cons that are based on your personal circumstances... something our specialist team will be able to talk through with you, weighing up your options, any tax or benefit implications, along with the benefits.

While there is no real reason why equity release should affect your tax position, it could affect any benefits you are currently entitled to. For example, if any of the Equity Release loan is kept as cash savings, this may well take you over the threshold that entitles you to certain benefits.

Be sure to assess your personal circumstances and equity release needs fully. Discuss your requirements with an advisor and make sure you know all the facts, before making an informed decision.  

Whatever your needs, there are various options available to you and, working together, we can help identify a plan that meets your needs.

What are the Options?

Lifetime Mortgage

A Lifetime Mortgage does not require monthly repayments (although some plans will allow you to if you so wish). You will remain the owner of your home for the rest of your life – the same goes if you are a couple; the surviving person will be able continue living in your family home, either until their passing or should they move into a care facility on a permanent basis.

At such a time, when the house is sold, the interest accrued over mortgage term will be added to the loan amount, and the total repaid by your estate.

Home Reversion plan

A Home Reversion Plan gives you the opportunity to access part, or the full value, of your property, while still retaining the right to remain living in your property – rent free – for the rest of your life.

The plan provider will purchase all or part of your home, and based upon your age, health etc, will afford you either a lump sum – or again, regular payments – along with a lifetime lease. This lease guarantees you the right to continue living in your property, without having to pay any rent, for the rest of your life.

Both equity release options have variables that can be matched to your current and future needs, thus ensuring the plan in place for you. 

The first step is to get some professional advice – please feel free to get in touch and speak with a member of our specialist team. Gather all the information you can, weigh up the pros and cons, consider the key features and any risks involved, and then discuss your options with your family. You should then be in the best possible position, to make an informed decision.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has a informative guide to Equity Release on his website you may like to read by clicking the following link. Should you Equity Release?

Call us 01945 773945.

MORTGAGES

Whether you are a first-time buyer, looking to sell up and move on, purchase a second home or even re-mortgage – no matter what your circumstance - Top House can help. And make things even easier, we will not only liaise with your chosen mortgage provider, but also with your solicitor and estate agent.

Our aim… to make your transaction as stress-free as possible.  

We will work with you to fully understand your exacting requirements, enabling us to offer you completely personalised options, ensuring you choose the mortgage that is right for you.

Priding ourselves on our mortgage knowledge, we offer practical solutions and excellent customer service. Our client relationships are long-term; looking after you from start to finish, updating you every step of the way.

Types of Mortgage   

There are so many different types of mortgages on the market it can be a minefield trying to determine which is best, so let us guide you through the various options out there.

Standard Variable Rate (SVR)

This varies from lender to lender; each with their own standard variable rate (SVR) that can be set at whatever level they want and change by any amount at any given time - especially if there are rumours of the Bank of England base rate increasing in the future.  

In November 2020, the average interest rate on a 2-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.53%, while the average SVR was 4.44% - meaning repayments on a SVR mortgage could be far more expensive.

An SVR is higher than most mortgage deals currently on the market, so if you're currently on an SVR, it's definitely worth shopping around for a new mortgage. 

To find out more, get in touch with our team of specialist advisers at Top House.

Fixed Rate

A fixed-rate mortgage means you pay the agreed interest rate – regardless of interest changes elsewhere - for a set period of time. You will know exactly how much you need repay each month.

There are usually far more fixed-rate mortgages available than any other type of deal, albeit this number of has fallen significantly since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The most common terms are two-and five-year deals. At the end of which you'll usually be moved on to your lender's standard variable rate (SVR). 

Discount

A discount mortgage means you pay the lender's standard variable rate (a rate chosen by the lender, that rarely changes) with a fixed, discounted amount.

For example…

If your lender's standard variable rate is 4% and your mortgage came with a 1.5% discount, you'd pay 2.5%.

Standard variable rate 4% - Discount 1.5% = 2.5%

Discounted deals can be ‘stepped’ – this means that if you take out a three-year deal but pay one rate for six months and then increase the rate for the remaining two-and-a-half years.

Some variable rates have a 'collar' – a rate below which they can’t fall – or are capped at a rate that they can’t go above.

Top House can help you with these features when choosing your deal.

Tracker

A tracker mortgage, ‘tracks’ the Bank of England base rate, which currently stands at 0.1%.

For example, you might pay the base rate plus 3%

Base rate 0.1% + 3% = 3.1%

In the current mortgage market, you'd typically take out a tracker mortgage with an introductory deal period, usually of 2 years.  After that period, you would be moved on to your lender's standard variable rate.

However, there are a small number of 'lifetime' trackers where your mortgage rate will track the Bank of England base rate for the entire mortgage term.

Capped

A capped rate mortgage moves in line with the lenders standard variable rate (SVR), but being capped means the rate wont increase above a certain level.

Offset

An offset mortgage is where you have savings and a mortgage with the same lender and your cash savings are used to reduce – or 'offset' – the amount of mortgage interest you're charged.

Specialist

Everyone’s circumstances are different and for some it may mean that you need a specific type of mortgage. 

Self-Build

There are two main types of self-build mortgages - arrears stage payment and advance stage payment.

Arrears Stage Payment

Most commonly, funding will be released in stages after the construction of each section is completed. A valuer will normally visit the site before the payment is released. With an arrears stage-payment you may need a loan to cover the work before your mortgage is released, so you must factor this into your decision.

Advance Stage Payment 

Sometimes it’s possible to get a self-build mortgage where the lender releases the money before you pay each bill. This is not usually offered by mainstream lenders so you may be limited to specialist providers.

Self-employed

Without an employer to vouch for your income, being self-employed means you’ll need to pass the lender’s affordability tests in the same way as any other borrower by providing additional evidence of your income than other borrowers.

First time buyer

As a first time buyer it can be difficult to save enough money to qualify for a mortgage, so help get on the property ladder, the Government schemes in place to help buy your first home.

‘Help to Buy’ can assist you getting a mortgage with a small deposit – they offer equity loans, meaning that when they lend you money, you can use that towards your deposit and repay it later. 

‘Shared Ownership’ offers shared ownership – you buy a share of your homes value (between 25-75%) and pay rent on the portion you don’t own. This enables you to purchase a home with a smaller mortgage, which in turn means a smaller deposit too.

‘Lifetime ISA’ – if you are over 18 and under 40, you can consider a Lifetime ISA – this government incentive helps you buy your first home and save for your future. Under the rules, you can add £4,000 a year into the ISA until you are 50. The government adds a 25% bonus to the money you save yourself, to a maximum of £1,000 per year.

Retirement Interest Only (RIO)

Retirement-interest only mortgages (RIOs) are a relatively new set of products designed to help older borrowers who may struggle to get a standard residential mortgage. They allow you to borrow against your property and only pay back the interest (and not the loan itself) each month.

Buy to Let

Property is a great investment and with the If you are seeking rental yield or capital growth, property is great investment - especially given the lettings market – and a Buy-to-Let mortgage

Bridging Loan

A bridging loan is a short-term finance option for buying property. It 'bridges' the financial gap between the sale of your old house and the purchase of a new one. 

If you're struggling to find a buyer for your old house, a bridging loans could help you move into your next home before you've sold your current one.

This would mean that you'd own two properties for a short time, potentially leaving you with a large amount of secured debt if it takes a long time to sell your existing property, if the buyers withdraw completely, or you sell your home for less than you expect.

Re-mortgage

If your current deal is coming to an end – or if you haven’t changed lender in a while – now is the time to think about changing to a more cost-effective mortgage deal.

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home. You home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or another other debt secured on it.

Are you struggling with mortgage repayments?

It’s fair to say that we have all been struggling with the financial uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus over the last year. Some have not been able to work. Income has been reduced. Living costs have increased and monthly finances have gone array.

Whatever the reason for you struggling to keep on top of your mortgage payments, you may have started to build up a debt… and you won’t be alone.

You may have missed one or more monthly payments or paid less each month than agreed, but whatever the reason, it is always best to get in contact with your mortgage broker or loan provider as early as possible.

If you know there’s going to be shortfall in your finances for a period of time, your lender may just be able to help – a ‘payment deferral’ would allow you to pause your mortgage payments for three months.

Our advice? Find out what you owe in total – your debt is only likely to increase if you don’t and we are all aware when it comes to mortgage repayments, you could end up being taken to Court and your home being repossessed.

But there are options out there, so don’t give up and hope the problem goes away. It won’t.

Instead, take the time to carefully consider what you could do to get back on top of the debt – draw up a budget to show your monthly income and outgoings, look at ways to cut costs and come up with some ideas of how you may be able to repay what you owe.

Once you've worked out a way of dealing with your debt, you will need to come to an agreement with your mortgage lender.

If you don't have any options for paying off your debt or can't reach an agreement with your mortgage lender, you should get help from an experienced debt adviser straight away.

Further advice on how to repay your mortgage debt follows…

Making extra mortgage payments

If you’ve got some money to spare each month, you may be able to pay back what you owe by making extra payments on top of your usual monthly mortgage payments.

To work out if you've got extra money to spare and how much, you will need to work out how much money you’ve got coming into your household each month and how much you need to pay out on bills and other expenses. This is called working out a budget.

When you've worked out your household budget, including any extra income you can earn, you'll be able to see how much money you have left over to pay off your mortgage debt. You will need to write to your lender and explain what you’re proposing to do.

Looking at your budget

If you've fallen behind with your mortgage payments, you will need to take a good look at your household budget. This will tell you if you've got any money left over which you can use to pay off your debt.

You will need to make a list of all the money you’ve got coming in and all the money going out of your household. This should include any other debts you owe. Make sure that the amounts you put down are realistic.

Think seriously about whether it's possible to increase the money you've got coming in or make cutbacks on your spending.

For example, you may be able to:

There are lots of different ways to boost your income and spend less on your outgoings.

An experienced debt adviser can help you work out how much money you’ve got to pay off a mortgage debt and any other debts you owe. They can also advise you about ways of increasing your income and spending less money.

Struggling with mortgage payments

Adding what you owe to your Capital

You might be able to clear your mortgage payments debt by adding the money you owe to your capital (the amount you borrowed) and paying it back over the remaining period of the mortgage. This is known as capitalising the arrears. You could also ask to extend the term of the mortgage in order to keep your monthly payments down, although you will end up paying a much larger amount in total.

Giving up your endowment policy

If you have an endowment mortgage, you could think about giving up your endowment policy or selling it off to an investor. This will provide you with a lump sum of money which you can use to help pay off the debt. However, you should think very carefully before doing this. You will need to find another way to pay off your mortgage loan and you will also need to find alternative life insurance cover. You will also need to find out whether there would be any penalties or other costs involved in bringing your endowment policy to an end.

Get independent advice first. You will need to write to your lender and explain how you're proposing to clear your debt.

Borrowing money

You could see if it’s possible to take out a loan, or borrow money from someone you know, to help you pay off the mortgage debt. Don’t borrow money from someone you know unless you know them well and can trust them. Be careful not to borrow from loan sharks.

You will need to write to your lender and explain how you're proposing to clear your debt.

If you take out a loan, check whether you can afford the repayments by working out your budget. It may also be a good idea to get advice from an expert debt adviser first.

Personal pensions for those over 55

You could take some of your pension money to help deal with your mortgage debt if you’re over 55 and have a defined contribution pension. ‘Defined contribution pensions’ are pension pots that are built up over time through regular payments.

You should consider the following before taking out some or all of your money:

You should speak to a financial adviser before taking money out of your pension pot to pay off mortgage debt.

Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance

If you’ve lost your job or had a temporary loss of income, check whether you have mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI). You may have taken a policy out at the same time as you got your mortgage or afterwards. The MPPI policy may cover your mortgage payments if you can't work because of unemployment or sickness.

There are lots of circumstances in which, even if you have a payment protection policy, it won't pay out. You will need to check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to see if you are covered. You may need to get advice about this.

You might also like to read our blog: What is Equity Release?

Source: Citizens Advice Bureau

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Top House Mortgage Solutions Ltd
Head Office: Victoria House Lowside, Outwell, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, PE14 8RE
Company No 06584434
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