Top Tips for Selling Your House Fast – winter edition.

If your house has been on the market for a while or if you are concerned about going on the market during winter months here is our advice for getting your house sale moving.

  1. Tackle DIY. Everyone has some minor, nagging defects in their home which they are putting off fixing. While you might write them off as a minor nuisance, to a potential buyer they could be quite off putting and cause them to be concerned about what else is wrong with the house.  Small defects can give the impression that a house has not been maintained and will costs money to put right.
  2. Smells good! It might be tempting to make your home seem more attractive by spraying scents but these can be overpowering. Opt instead for subtle scents or use natural smells by baking bread or cookies, vanilla is a very pleasant smell.  If you light a candle, make sure you blow it out before potential buyers arrive. Natural smells are the most attractive, synthetic room sprays can also trigger allergic reactions so avoid using these. Likewise don’t be cooking a casserole or have had a fry up in the morning if you know there are viewings that day. Grease and strong meat smells can be offensive.
  3. Winter warmth. One of the best things about winter is walking in from the cold to be enveloped by warmth. Warm lighting, knitted throws on the sofa and lighting the fire can create the perfect, cosy atmosphere.
  4. Let there be light! Natural light is scarce in winter. Open blinds & curtains, use lamps to brighten darker spaces. And avoid viewings after sunset. Good lighting will create positive feelings toward the house.
  5. Tidy the garden. Gardens can get neglected during winter. Buyers are hugely influenced by outdoor space. Tidying the garden will boost the appeal of your property and enable buyers to see its potential. Make sure paths are swept, especially the front path to the door and any debris from treefall is tidied up. Put away garden tools and toys, if it’s a dry day show off your patio furniture highlighting its potential for socialising. 
  6. Man’s best friend (aka Pets). As cute as they may, some people are put off by pets. If possible keep your pets elsewhere during viewings and also vacuum any stray fur or feathers to ensure there’s no risk of triggering a viewer’s allergy.

Contact us to arrange your first or next mortgage.  Our advisers will find you the best mortgage to suit your circumstances and have access to products that are not available on the High St or on comparison websites.

Posted in Guides, Mortgages, Uncategorized

Five Tips for Saving Toward a Bigger Deposit

We know that it can be hard to find the extra money every month to save towards your first or next home.  We’ve compiled these five tips – some of them a bit easier than others – that you could implement to save money.

  1. Reduce your food bills – some simple meal planning will help you reduce food and money waste. Spend half an hour every week planning the week ahead and write your shopping list to fulfil that menu.  Also consider changing supermarkets to one of the lower cost ones such as Lidl or Aldi for all or part of your shop.  Cook from scratch – convenience or ready meals are expensive, a healthy family meal can be made in under half an hour and will save you hundreds of £’s over the course of a year. Reduce your restaurant or takeaway meals so that they are treats – you will appreciate them all the more as will your back pocket! If you can’t resist the pull towards a pub or restaurant sign up to loyalty schemes or emails to take advantage of offers.
  2. Consider taking in a lodger – if you have a spare room or if your children could share for a short period while you are saving you can earn up to £7500 a year without having to pay tax (sign up to the Rent a Room scheme).
  3. Take a staycation – we all love to holiday but the average family holiday abroad (according to Expedia) costs £4800 plus £280 per week spending money.  Instead of booking a holiday away stay at home, book the time off work and spend days out with the family or as a couple.  If your single and saving then take some time off to visit with friends or family you haven’t seen in a while.  Explore the area you live in – go for bike rides.  If you really need to get away then consider camping, narrow boating or a lower cost holiday cottage in the UK instead of going abroad.
  4. Review your insurances and utilities – reviewing your insurance and utility contracts annually could save yourself a lot of money, utility and insurance providers rely on us having such busy lives that we don’t review our policies.  Price and policy rises can happen unnoticed and before you know it you could be paying a lot more than you realise.
  5. Manage your money – sounds simple, but if you set yourself a monthly budget and set up some standing orders into separate savings accounts e.g. a holiday fund, house fund, clothing fund that get transferred on pay day you are far less likely to fritter money. 
Posted in First Time Buyers, Guides, Mortgages, Next Time Buyers, Remortgaging, Uncategorized

Four BIG reasons to save for a BIGGER house deposit

1. Cheaper monthly repayments – the bigger your mortgage deposit, the smaller your loan will be. The smaller your loan is, the cheaper your monthly repayments will be.

2. Better mortgage deals – a larger deposit will also make you less risky for mortgage lenders and they’ll generally offer you lower interest rates.

3. Improved chance of being accepted – lenders calculate if you can afford the mortgage repayments. If you put down a big deposit it’s more likely you will pass as the monthly repayment will be affordable.

4. Less risk –if you own more of your home you are less likely to fall into ‘negative equity’. Being in negative equity can make moving or remortgaging very difficult.

Watch out for our “Tips for saving a deposit” blog coming soon!

Posted in First Time Buyers, Guides, Mortgages, Next Time Buyers, Remortgaging

Our A-Z of Mortgage Jargon

The language of the property industry is filled with acronyms and terms that both seasoned property owners and first time buyers may not be familiar with.  With new government schemes and lender promotions the vernacular often changes, with this guide we focus on mortgage jargon and aim to keep our clients up to date with the current terminology.

Arrangement Fee

A set-up fee. Most lenders will allow customers to add this fee to the loan, but the customer will pay interest on it for the whole term.


This means a borrower has ‘defaulted’ at least once on their mortgage repayments, ie you have missed a month’s payment.

Capped rate

If a mortgage deal has a capped rate, the interest rate charged will never exceed the upper ‘capped’ limit, regardless of increases to the Bank of England base rate.

Cashback mortgage

The lender gives the borrower an amount of cash on completion. The cashback should be factored this into the total cost of your mortgage over the contract term to decide whether it’s a good deal.

County Court Judgement (CCJ)

These are made against a person for non-payment of debt, and could make it harder to get a mortgage.


If a mortgage deal has a collar, the interest rate will not fall any lower than the specified amount. e.g. if rates drop to 3% and your deal is collared at 4%, you’ll miss out.

Current account mortgage

A mortgage, credit card and loan debts and your current and savings account balances are combined into one. The credit balances offset the debts, so you interest is paid on the difference.

Discounted-rate mortgage

The interest rate charged is a set amount less than the mortgage lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). e.g., if the lender has an SVR of 5.5% and the discount is 1%, you will pay 4.5%.

Equity release scheme

Allows older homeowners to release cash tied up in their property. There are two types: lifetime mortgages & home-reversion. They should only be taken out after getting independent advice.

Fixed-rate mortgage

The mortgage interest rate stays the same for the initial period of the deal, can be from 1 to 10 years. Customers will know exactly what they will be paying out every month, the rate won’t change with the Bank of England base rate.

Flexible mortgage

Allows the customer to overpay, underpay or even take a payment holiday from your mortgage. This can help pay off your mortgage early and save money on interest, but flexible mortgages are usually more expensive than conventional ones.

Freehold (v Leasehold)

Freehold means a person owns the building and the land it stands on. Leasehold means a person owns the building or part of the building (flat) but not the land it stands on for a certain period of time.

Guarantor Mortgage

A home loan where a family member takes on some of the risk by acting as a guarantor. This may involve offering their home or savings as security against the loan, and agreeing to cover the mortgage payments if the homeowner defaults.

Help to buy Isa

A tax-free savings account, the government pays first time buyers a cash bonus towards the purchase of a property. For every £200 saved, the government will deposit an additional £50, up to a maximum of £3000.

Interest-only mortgage

Customers only pay the interest on your mortgage each month, without repaying any of the capital loan. The idea is that you build up enough money to be able to pay off the mortgage at the end of the term in other ways.

Joint mortgage

A mortgage taken out by two or more people. This might be used if you buy a house with a partner or friend, and can also be used by parents who want to help their children buy a property.

Land Registry

The official body responsible for maintaining details of property ownership.

Leasehold (v Freehold)

Leasehold means a person owns the building or part of the building (flat) but not the land it stands on for a certain period of time. Freehold means a person owns the building and the land it stands on.

Mortgage term

The amount of time someone takes out the mortgage out for e.g. 25 years.

Negative equity

When the value of a property falls to a level that is below the amount remaining on the mortgage.

Offset mortgage

An offset mortgage links the mortgage with savings and, sometimes, a current account. The credit balances are offset against the mortgage debt so interest is only paid on the difference, while also paying off the capital.

Peppercorn rent

A nominal amount of rent e.g. a peppercorn. In order to enforce the terms of a lease a ground rent must be set, but in the past many leases had tiny ground rents so in some cases freeholders stipulated that the rent should be a peppercorn to save them the trouble of collecting the money. 

Rebuild cost

For insurance purposes this is the cost of rebuilding a property if it is destroyed. Borrowers will be required by a lender to have buildings insurance.

Repayment vehicle

Required by lenders with an interest-only mortgage, the means by which the borrower intends to pay off the mortgage debt at the end of the term – e.g. another property, or stocks & shares portfolio.

Right to Buy scheme

Originally intended to enable tenants of council houses to buy the homes they lived in, this is now being opened up to housing association tenants too.

Service charge

The fee paid to a managing agent for the ongoing maintenance of a leasehold property.

Shared ownership

The buyer purchases a share of a property (usually between 25% and 75%) and pays rent on the remaining share, which is owned by the local housing association.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty land tax is payable when purchasing a property for more than £125,000 (or £40,000 if it’s a buy-to-let property or second home). You can calculate stamp duty by following this link

Standard variable rate (SVR)

The default mortgage interest rate that a lender will charge after the initial mortgage deal period ends. This could be higher or lower than the original rate.

Tie-in period

This is the period during which a borrower is ‘locked in’ to a mortgage deal. To leave the mortgage during this period the borrower will have to pay an early repayment charge.

Tracker mortgage

The interest rate on a mortgage tracks the Bank of England base rate at a set margin above or below it.

Valuation survey

Lenders carry out a valuation survey to check whether the property is worth roughly the amount being paid. Buyers should have an additional survey done too, to check for structural problems.

Variable rate mortgage

The interest rate on a variable rate mortgage can go up or down according to your lender’s standard variable rate

We have attempted to be as comprehensive as possible with this guide, however if you couldn’t find a mortgage term definition please do get in touch and we will help. or email

Posted in First Time Buyers, Guides, Mortgages, Next Time Buyers, Remortgaging, Uncategorized

First time buyers increasingly reliant on the “Bank of Mum and Dad”.

Are you a parent or relative wanting to help your family to purchase their first home in the Cambridge area? As local mortgage brokers we are seeing an increase in the number of parents helping or wanting to help their children take their first step on the property ladder.

In 2018 over 310 000 first time buyers were  given a helping hand by family members to purchase their first property.  Financial support was provided by receiving a monetary ‘gift’ for the deposit on their purchase. A financial ‘gift’ means a non-repayable transaction, with the family member holding no financial interest in the property. We know that not all families have savings, investments or assets that they can afford to ‘gift’ to their family.

As an independent mortgage brokerage Limetree advisers are fortunate enough to have access to first time buyers mortgage lenders that understand families may have assets to support their family but can’t afford to offer these as a gift. There are a number solutions to enable families to support their children taking that first step onto the property ladder. This could include utilising an additional stream of income, offering property or assets as security, or fixing savings into a security deposit account.

Certified mortgage brokers have the capacity to look at flexible financial solutions. We are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, meaning we maintain compliance to provide peace of mind to our clients. With decades of experience our team of mortgage experts can advise and arrange first time buyer mortgages that take account of your personal circumstances, we are able to secure mortgages that are best fit rather than one size fits all. For advice and support please contact us today.

Adam Nunn

Mortgage & Protection Advisor

01223 266140

Posted in First Time Buyers, Guides, Mortgages