Rates Could Fall Further as Approvals Hit Six-Month High

The mortgage market is seeing more movement as approvals hit a six-month high, partly thanks to the low rates around at the moment. Bank of England figures show that 61,760 mortgages were approved in February – that’s a 1,000 rise on the six-month average figure.

Low rates are encouraging remortgaging, as well as first-time borrowing. Two-thirds of people who remortgaged in February said they did so because of the current low rates. Borrowers are using the money to pay off debts, reduce monthly payments, pay for home improvements and help children buy their own home. Around a third increased their borrowing, with some opting for an additional £10,000.

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Posted in Mortgages, Remortgaging

200,000 discounted homes, more rent-to-buy and other election promises

The election campaign is well and truly heating up with the Conservatives promising to build 200,000 discounted homes in England for first-time buyers if they win.

The pledge doubles the original target, which was announced under the Starter Homes Initiative in December 2014. Buyers under 40 can already apply for a 20% discount on their first home, but if Cameron remains in power, twice the number of new properties will be available. The limit on value outside London is £250k, and in London it’s a maximum of £450k. Both are realistic for young home owners I think.

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Posted in First Time Buyers, Mortgages, News

House Prices Up Last Year, But Growth Slows in Q4 – Yet North of England Continues to Rise

Nationwide’s latest quarterly report tells us that although house prices increased between Q4 2013 and the same quarter last year, growth has slowed down.

Although this sort of decline is expected towards the end of a calendar year, it’s interesting to see that the North of England bucked the trend. Could this indicate a shift in demand for property in the region perhaps? In contrast to the rest of England, the region’s house prices went up 0.1% at the end of 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013.

London prices are down from a 21% growth between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014, to 17.8% year-on-year in Q4. Annual figures for the East of England show that price growth between Q3 and Q4 has dropped by 1.2%.

Although the growth has slowed pace somewhat, the UK still experienced an overall 8.3% house price rise in Q4 2014 compared to Q4 2013.

The average house price in the UK is now £189,002. Unsurprisingly, London is the most expensive with the average cost clocking in at £406,730 – property there is now 35% more expensive than the peak in 2007. The East of England’s average price sits at £194,212, with the cheapest average price found in Northern Ireland at £120,685.

Scotland’s average property price is currently £142,527 – that’s 4.2% up on 2013 annual figures – with the most expensive Scottish city being Aberdeen.

In terms of an annual price increase, the best performing locations are St Albans, Reading, Belfast, London and Nottingham. Manchester, Cardiff and Sunderland are among the worst performing.

And on a local level, Cambridgeshire’s housing market has risen by a third over the last decade, with an annual Q4 increase of 15%. Suffolk has gone up 21% in 10 years, with an annual 13% increase. Norfolk’s 10-year rise is a more modest 14%, and an annual figure of 9%. Yet, Peterborough’s property prices remained at the same level between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014.

Posted in Buy-to-let, First Time Buyers, Mortgages, News, Next Time Buyers, Remortgaging

Think Your Insurance Covers Burst Pipes? It’s Worth Double-Checking.

So far this winter we haven’t been hit too harshly by the weather. Apart from a few dips into sub-zero temperatures and expected snowy conditions, we’re doing all right…so far.

But don’t rest on your laurels – polar conditions could descend upon as at any time. This is Britain after all.

This is particularly important when it comes to looking after your property during winter. Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst or leak, potentially causing serious water damage. So, if you haven’t done so already, check that your home insurance covers damage caused by freezing pipes. You’d probably expect it to be included, but, sometimes, it isn’t.

Insurers handle policies differently, with some including a so-called ‘thermostat clause’ in the small print. A policy might require you to leave the thermostat set at a minimum temperature if you leave the property for five or more days, for example.  So, keeping your heating on a timer for an hour in the morning and evening or relying on the thermostat frost setting might not be enough should the worst happen and you need to make a claim.

With one in five claims originating from burst pipes and escaping water during the winter, and the average claim for related damage ranging from £6,500 to £7,000, you’re best advised to make sure you’re covered as soon as possible.

If you’re in any doubt, give us a ring or call your insurer.


Posted in General Insurance, Insurance

Buy-To-Let in Retirement?

It has been a few months since we were made aware of the pension changes, and from April 2015, pensioners will have greater access to their retirement savings.

Many retirees are looking at potential investment options to maximise their income. (And, if they are not – now is a good time to start investigating, April isn’t very far away.)

Buy to let properties come up a lot when people look to investments, and mortgage options are opening up all the time for older buyers and investors.

It is still a complex area, however, and lenders have different requirements for age, income, and credit rating – to name three. As an example, Aldermore has quite a high maximum age you can be at the end of the mortgage term – 85.

Like with any investment, however, it is more than just a balance between price (interest rates, fees, etc) and return (rental income). Risk plays its part, and with pensions, it’s very important indeed.

If you are looking for buy to let options, and you are nearing retirement, or already receiving your pension, let’s look at the whole market together.

Posted in Buy-to-let