20 July 2017

Don't talk the market down, it's ticking over nicely!

There have been a number of comments made in the national press recently regarding the market being in a lull and how mortgages are becoming harder to obtain.  I do think sometimes that people talk the market down, rather than reporting the actual situation.

As both a specialist mortgage provider, as well as whole of market (including the high street lenders), AToM has actually seen an increase in business recently rather than a drop in activity.  From talking to our peers we are aware that they are experiencing this growth too! 

We have also seen a number of  new lenders enter the market and there are others due to launch soon.  This would not be happening if any lender thought the market was in decline!

One lender, Masthaven Bank, launched recently in to the residential sector looking specifically to fill gaps in the specialist market.  These include allowing gifted deposits and equity, contractors, self employed - straight forward or complex, customers borrowing in to retirement and those who fail credit scores, to name just a few.  With rates starting from under 3%, this is a lender who is looking to lend and they should be applauded for such innovation and great launch products.

Other recent 'game changers' include Kensington Mortgages who cater for those with historic blips and with only a 10% deposit.  Precise Mortgages and Kent Reliance, who are both positively active in the Buy to Let sector, especially with regards to Houses of Multiple Occupation, Ltd Company BTLs and with new underwriting regimes on the horizon for Portfolio Landlords (those with more than 4 properties) and these are definitely ones to watch.  Tipton Building Society and Dudley Building Society for allowing lending in to retirement and above average income multiples. And there are so many others who I don't have space to mention!


So the bottom line is simple.  Just because the high street says no, or your mate down the pub says 'you'll never get a mortgage' because of your situation, find an experienced mortgages specialist who may be able to open up a door to a wide range of opportunities available to you.

13 July 2017

Arranging a repayment vehicle for an Interest Only loan is not a job for ‘tomorrow’.

There has been increasing commentary recently regarding Interest Only and Repayment mortgages. With an Interest Only mortgage, you only pay interest and no capital and so, at the end of your chosen term, you still owe the lender the same amount as when you began. Normally with this method, it is recommended that you contribute to a savings or investment vehicle to generate funds to repay the mortgage at the end of the term. However, this is usually optional but the lender will maintain contact with you during the term to investigate how you will eventually repay them.

With a Repayment Mortgage, you pay both interest and capital each month. Initially, this appears more expensive, but does mean that you pay back the loan with no debt outstanding at the end of the term on the reasonable assumption that you meet the required payments on time. 

Why the recent attention to these repayment options?  Simply, because many borrowers who stepped onto the property ladder chose the cheaper monthly payment (interest only) promising to review their payment plans at a later date. The problem is that the ‘later date’ never seems to arrive! As we all know, people generally live within their means. Many borrowers on this scheme have no savings or viable plans to pay back the debt and this is worrying! 
For a customer to get to the end of their mortgage term still owing exactly the same as when they took it out, with no form of repaying the loan apart from selling their property, creates a major headache for the lender, especially when they want their money back!  This is also part of the reason why so many lenders have historically moved away from offering interest only all together.


In addition, most high street lenders will only lend until normal retirement age, so those looking to extend their loan beyond normal retirement age, may only find a small number of mortgage lender options.

That said, Interest Only mortgages can be right for certain professions - people entitled to annual bonuses: the fluctuating income of self employed: or employments where lump sums are received after a number of years in service. It is not an exact science however and every case is different.

Arranging a repayment vehicle for an Interest Only loan is not a job for ‘tomorrow’.  As we all know, tomorrow never comes.  So, do it now!  Sort out a plan of action and put it into motion. Speak to your current lender or mortgage broker and review the options available to help you achieve repaying the loan over a specific time period.  But don’t delay…the clock is ticking!

06 July 2017

Stick with your current lender?

So, your mortgage product is coming to the end of it's term.  You may have fixed for an amount of time, maybe two, three or five years.  And now your rate is due to change to the lenders variable rate, which in the main, is higher than the rate you are currently on, and your monthly payments are about to increase.  But hold on, your current lender has seen the light and decided to offer you some 'fantastic' products to keep you.  Even though you are four months out of your product change, they've given you just fourteen days to decide whether to choose a new product to stay with them.  What do you do?

One recent example a customer showed us, had some very attractive rates.  However, when we looked, the same lender was offering better rates through the intermediary sector, with the same fees, etc.  I always say do your homework, and lucky this customer did as it saved them 0.1% on the rate over a three year period.

Even though some lenders put a deadline on any new offerings, remember most are contacting you three or four months before your product changes, so there is plenty of time to review your options and choose the best one for you. 

This is the biggest debt you will ever take on, take your time and ensure you will not regret it further down the line.  Always seek advice! 


With this in mind, we've seen a lot of rate changes and reductions over the last few days.  TSB, Santander, Halifax, Harpenden Building Society, Accord, Platform, Saffron, Kensington, Virgin Money and Precise Mortgages have all made changes, to name but a few.  Key highlights include 5 year fixed rates from 1.75% up to 65% LTV, Buy to Let fixed rates from 2.99%, ExPats in Australia can now be First Time Buyers in the UK, more options for lending in to retirement and many many more positive enhancements.    Lenders want to lend!

22 June 2017

If the credit score computer says ‘no’, you will tend to find most high street lenders doors shut.

I haven't mentioned it for a while, but it certainly is causing a lot of customers an issue.  Credit scoring!  This is an assessment on all available financial information and calculates a 'score' for the lender.  It also includes a search on your overall credit history covering, in the main, all of your financial transactions over the last six years.

Most lenders credit score applications to try and assess your ability to repay any loans.  This will take in to account many factors including the amount of credit you have, whether you are on the electoral role, your recent payment profile on any existing credit and the number of recent credit searches you have on file.  Nearly all financial institutions will register a credit search against you.  So, if you have recently updated your car insurance, home insurance, taken out a mobile contract and just got a new credit/debit card, that’s probably four searches in a short amount of time! Be wary that some 'comparison sites' may have also searched you just whilst seeking a new insurance quote.

If the lenders computer says ‘no’, you will tend to find most high street lenders doors shut to you.  But fear not, if you have a reasonable deposit and can prove all income, there are lenders who do not credit score, but will manually review and underwrite affordable applications on an individual basis. 


I always suggest that you speak to an independent mortgage broker with access to whole of market mortgages.  Banks may only advise on their product range. Estate Agents ‘in-house’ mortgage advisers may only be able to offer mortgages from a select panel of lenders. Therefore, in order to get best advice, make sure you do your homework, speak to a whole of market mortgage broker who can advise on the most appropriate mortgage in the market to meet your requirements, whether this be with a credit score or just a credit search.

08 June 2017

Coming to the end of the mortgage product term. What next?

We're seeing some issues for those coming up to the end of their product promotional rate period, especially where the lender is not offering them anything attractive to stay.  Lenders want to lend, but in some cases are not able to, or may choose not to, even to existing customers.   The simple reason being that the customers may not pass the same lenders new criteria.  Reasons can include, original borrowing on a multiple of income, age, small equity levels in property.  Lending rules have changed dramatically over the last few years and more stringent measures are in place, as well as tougher reporting to the regulator.  Lenders have to be sure the customer can afford their mortgage for a number of years ahead and stress test against possible rate rises. Seek professional advice if you are concerned or are looking for an alternative lender as some might be considered to be hiding behind the rules!

Remortgaging away from your current lender should not be looked upon negatively.  Many lenders will cover the cost of surveying your property, as well as covering the legal fees in transferring your mortgage from one lender to another.  But most of all, you should think of number one as this could save you money on your monthly budgets and, subject to terms and conditions, this can only be a good thing.


Products continue to increase and one of the fastest growth markets seems to be in the Ex-Pat sector. A British Ex-Pat in good employment abroad is favoured by a growing number of lenders who are willing to provide a mortgage to help them obtain a Buy to Let property in UK. The rules are tight but there are lenders who will advance up to 75% of the property value. Incomes usually need to be from a recognised and preferably multi-national business abroad and in a region upwards of £40000 sterling equivalent. A couple of lenders will also allow Ex-Pats to own a residential property in UK and where their family, usually off-spring, will reside pending their return to UK.  

01 June 2017

Choosing the right mortgage is difficult - use a broker!

Choosing the right mortgage can be a difficult task.  Many people are swayed by the marketing leading and highly promoted incentive interest rates.  But actually, when you add on any lender fees, along with any valuation costs and look at the true cost over a period of time, these can sometimes prove to be more expensive.

Of course, this is the beauty of using a mortgage broker.  They will have access to many lenders that you have probably never heard of and products that are not usually visible to the public eye.  There is so much information readily available and over 11,000 mortgage products to choose from, but key information can get lost in translation.  Therefore seek advice.  Yes, it may cost you a small fee to have someone research the market on your behalf and make recommendations, having assessed your short to long term needs and requirements.  However, the broker will stand by their recommendation and, more importantly, it could save you thousands in the long run, versus choosing the wrong products yourself, usually from a single provider.

In addition, any professional will seek to build a long term relationship with you and contact you at the time your current rate is coming up for renewal to ensure you have access to the best rates available at all times.

This also goes for the Solicitors where they are needed to act for both yourself and the lender in a mortgage transaction.  Remember that on some re-mortgage products the lender will cover the cost of standard legal work and valuations.  HOWEVER, this is not always the best or cheapest option.  These can be slow, depending on the volumes received by the lender and sometimes it's better to pay the extra amount to get the job done quicker.


There are a huge number of legal firms in both local and more regional areas.  Prices vary from company to company and you can decide exactly who to deal with (assuming they are acceptable to the mortgage lender).  Shop around before committing and as with everything, make sure you read the small print!

18 May 2017

Payday loans won't help your mortgage application.

I have mentioned previously the impact that Payday loans can have on a mortgage application and lenders decisions. It is fair to comment that the incident rate on these went quiet for a while, but over the last few days there has been a marked increase in enquiries from those who might have used a Payday loan in the last twenty four months.  I need to reiterate that these are classed as an ‘adverse entity’ with most lenders (not that some would admit it!).  However, even the lenders who accept customers with historic CCJs, defaults, or missed mortgage payments registered against them, may choose not to accept someone who has taken out a recent payday loan.  So, although these may be right for a customer in certain circumstances, they will almost definitely limit the number of lenders available to you when you come to apply for or change mortgages.   With this in mind, lenders will also look closely at an individual’s payment profile, how many recent credit searches have been incurred by financial institutions and more. The more credit searches you have on your profile, over a recent period of time, the more likely your credit score will be lower as a result.  Every financial institution, including Payday loan lenders, will credit search you, so beware!

The other issue tends to be around lender affordability.  Difficult to detail when I have minimal words, but in the main, lenders will stress test all mortgages against a possible rate rise and underwrite the customers based on their ability to pay at the higher rates.  The regulators want lenders to ensure the customer can afford their mortgage for at least the next five years.  So, for example, a shorter term deal may be stress tested at a pay rate of 3% plus 3 percentage points higher than the prevailing rate at origination, so in this case 6%.  Whereas a five year (or longer) deal may be stress tested against the pay rate, which might only be 3 or 4% in current climates.  This can make quite a difference when it comes to calculating the affordable loan amount over the first five years of the loan, subject to the lenders terms and conditions.


There are however many opportunities, whatever your circumstances and lenders are willing to have a conversation in order to do the right deal.  Of course, rates and terms will vary depending upon the type of mortgage written. Lenders have varying degrees of risk assessment calculations and this will determine the loan to value and charging rate levels.  Finally, remember to always read the small print and understand all fees involved.  The lowest rates on offer may not always be the most cost effective over a period of time for you.