Mortgage Lending Levels hit highest level since January

According to the latest Bank of England lending report, mortgage approvals rose again in October to 29,358 and the number of loans for property purchases went up to 52,982.

The total value of the loans increased slightly from £12 billion to £12.1 billion.

Remortgage approvals also increased to 29,358, significantly above the previous six-month average of 27,602, and new house purchases and remortgage levels increased for the third consecutive month.

What does this mean for the market place? Typically January sees a lot of activity for a variety of reasons and the remortgage market sees a comparative spike compared with other months of the year. It is therefore seen as a ‘peak’ month in the mortgage market. The market has also experienced a lull over the Olympic period which has probably filtered through during the months afterwards. Although this is likely the situation, it is still  a positive sign as the market is moving nevertheless.

To find out how you can benefit from reviewing your mortgage – or if you are looking to purchase a home, contact the team at Harvey Bowes on 029 2115 6918

Your home is at risk if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

NAEA – Estate Agent licensing is launched

A licence for estate agents has been introduced by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) for the first time in a major push to raise standards in the industry.

The licence has been launched by the National Association of Estate Agents, who state that more must be done to protect consumers from unprofessional agents.

A licensed estate agency branch means consumers are guaranteed that at least one agent within that branch is qualified in residential property sales, either through a formal qualification or through length of service in the industry.

Currently, there is no restriction to anyone setting up and practising as an estate agent, whether they have industry experience or not. This new licence is not a legal requirement, which means that it is purely optional for an agency to join.

Therefore, while it is a positive step to have such a qualification available to the reputable agents who wish to substantiate their professionalism by obtaining the licence, it will fall on consumers to be educated that it is available and to choose whether this makes a difference in the agency they will choose to use for selling their home.

Many agencies, in these difficult times, may opt not to be licenced purely on a basis of cost. And the same applies for the rental market, where many letting agents are not members of any association (such as ARLA) which offers a code of conduct to adhere to in an effort to ensure there is a quality service to consumers.

Take a look at our blog for top tips on choosing an agent to sell your home.

Top tips on choosing an estate agent to sell your home

There are many agencies offering competitive services. From the online agencies to the independents and the corporate giants. The question is, in a tough market, how will you find an Estate Agent that will work hard to sell your property and give you good advice?

Firstly, some key points to be aware of:

1)      To win an instruction to sell your home, an agent may ‘high ball’ you. This is one of the terms used for persuading you that they can get a higher price for your property than even they think is realistic. The idea is just to win your instruction and while in the sale contract they will try to then persuade you to reduce the price. Certainly the corporate agencies specifically target staff to win instructions and then at a pre-defined time, maybe 4, 5 or 6 weeks later target them on getting a price reduction on your property. This may sound ridiculous, but I can assure you, having lasted a whole 3 months (I couldn’t take anymore of the tricks) working as a mortgage broker for a major corporate I watched this happening first hand.

2)      Agency fees are typically quite high. But so are the costs of selling your home. Rightmove alone is a costly form of advertising. Then there is advertising in local papers and other media. Time has to be paid for, in terms of accompanied viewings of your property etc. The thing to watch with fees is that some agents quote it as a percentage, but the sale contract you sign states a set fee. So if you take a reduction on your asking price, you’ll still pay the same fee to the agent as if you sold at full asking price. From our experience, not too many agencies try this one, but it is a trick of the trade to look out for nevertheless. The advantage of making sure you paying a percent of the house price and not a set fee is that it should encourage the agent to work that little harder to achieve the best price as it is also in their interest to do so.

3)      VAT – you should make sure you factor in the VAT at 20% (currently) on the agency fee quoted. The fee is often a percentage of the sale price plus VAT.  And if the agent you are using is not VAT registered, they cannot be selling a lot of properties, so beware! A savings of 20% of the fee is usually comparatively small compared with the value of a home – is it worth it to have a sleepy agency?

4)      Media advertising is key to selling a property in the modern age. Make sure the agent you choose is active on Rightmove, Zoopla and other online advertising tools. These generate significant enquiries – yet because of cost, some agents will only be active on one or the other. Yet the fees you may pay the agent will be similar to another agent who is active on all of them.

How to find a good estate agency

Top tips for finding the right agency:

1)      Look at their website and other advertising. What is the quality of the property descriptions and clarity of pictures? You can then gauge what your property might look like advertised by the agency.

2)      Do they advertise on all available property websites, especially the big ones like Rightmove and Zoopla. Do they also advertise in the property section of the local newspaper or house-sale magazine? If not, you’d hope the cost of selling through them would be less to reflect a lesser service.

3)      Mystery call them. It might sound bizarre, or a little frightening. If you are worried about it, get someone you know to call them up and ask about a property they have for sale. Do they have time to speak to you? Do they ask the right questions to ensure they are offering you the right type of property? This is a real-time gauge as to how hard they really work to sell properties and how well they know the properties they are selling. You might also try emailing them and see how long it takes them to respond.

4)      When they come to see you and assess your property, do they offer you advice on how to make it appear more appealing? Do they genuinely take an interest in the property and in any quirks or good selling points?

5)      Ask them for recent comparisons of properties they have sold in your area and price band. Then check it out on a website like Zoopla or Nethouseprices to confirm what those houses sold for.

6)      Code of conduct – are they members of an association such as the NAEA which encourages professionalism. You do not need any skill, experience or qualifications to set up an estate agent.

7)      Look at what instructions they currently have. Do the prices compare with similar properties online? How long have the properties been advertised for?

What questions to ask when they visit:


1)       How many similar properties have they sold? At what price?

2)       How many viewings and how long did it take to sell the properties?

3)       How many buyers are on their database currently looking for properties like yours?

4)       Are they a member of a professional body?

5)       What price would they market your property for? What house price would they expect you to get? What price would they value your home for a ‘quick sale’?

6)       Who will do the property viewings with interested parties?

7)       Can you have a copy of the agency’s contract?

8)       How and where will they promote your property? Which property websites will the property be advertised on?

9)       What are its charges (a full break down) – and when do you have to pay?

Do you want to know more?

If you are currently looking to sell your property, why not talk to Harvey Bowes today? We may be able to offer you more sound advice on selling your property and would be delighted to give any mortgage advice you may need. Contact us today on 029 2115 6918.

Buying your council home ~~ council right to buy

There is nothing like owning your own home. If you currently rent a home from a housing association, charity or local authority; they may consider selling the house to you at a discount. This process is known as ‘Right to Buy’. Normally the discount is based on how many years you have lived there, or at least with the same association even if not in the same property. This may be a great opportunity to buy your home, as you may be eligible for a discount on the property which is enough for the mortgage lender to take that discount as the deposit – meaning that you able to buy the property without finding money from your own resources to put down.

Normally, a tenant of this type of property only becomes eligible to apply to purchase the property if you have lived there for 5 years. With some housing associations and councils, you have to be a tenant for a minimum of 5 years, but it does not necessarily have to be in that house or flat – so if you have moved, the discount you have built up can still apply. The longer you have lived there, the more discount you can normally qualify for.

What are the first steps?

If you want to buy your home by way of a ‘Right to Buy’ mortgage, it is best to find out from your council or housing association if you are eligible. But before making an application to them, you should contact a mortgage broker to discuss the mortgage. This is because buying your home is a big committment, you have to be sure you can afford to buy it and that you are comfortable affording the mortgage payments. Your mortgage broker can also assess the viability if getting a mortgage and talk you though all of the steps involved. To do this, you will need to show your mortgage broker details of your outgoings and income.right to buy mortgage broker cardiff

After meeting your mortgage broker, if you are happy to enquire further, you can then ask the council or housing association for the relevant application form. If needed, you can ask your mortgage broker for help completing the forms – we see them frequently, but for you it may all be new. The council will then send a valuer around to find out what they think the value of the property is. They will let you know the value and the discount that they are willing to apply. If the discount is enough, you may not need to find any deposit to buy the property.

At this point, if you still want to proceed, your mortgage broker will make a formal mortgage recommendation and apply for the mortgage to the lender on your behalf. This will mean gathering all the required information from you and managing the process. Once the application is complete and a ‘mortgage offer’ is issued by the lender, you can then look to complete the transaction and own the home. There will also be two solicitors involved, one acting for the seller (council or association) and one for you. If you do not know a solicitor, your mortgage broker can recommend one.

Typically, for arranging a Right to Buy mortgage, Harvey Bowes will charge a fee of £600 or 1% of the balance borrowed, whichever is greater. All fees are always quoted up front and even if we have to do more work, we do not increase the fee we quoted at the start. This fee only applies if you proceed with the mortgage, so you will not pay a fee for all the advice your mortgage broker gives you to at the beginning.

To find out more about buying your home, contact Howard at Harvey Bowes mortgages: 029 21754150


Advice for tenants & landlords as we approach cold winter months

As a tenant in a rented property it is your responsibility to make sure the pipes do not freeze and cause any short or long term damage. Speaking to Aaron Barker of Gordoon Barker lettings, his advice is to ensure that you have the heating on constantly, through the winter, albeit on a low level for the majority of the time and then increase the temperature when you feel the need. When pipes freeze they can cause a lot of damage and it can be a very expensive exercise to put it right, so ensure there is hot water flowing through the pipes on a regular basis.

The same applies to a landlord with properties that are empty over the winter period. Please ensure you have the heating on, at the very least, a couple of times a day to ensure there is hot water flowing through on a regular basis. Otherwise the first you might know about a frozen pipe is when your agent turns up for a viewing and swims down the hallway…

Contribution by Aaron Barker, Gordon Barker Lettings of Bournemouth.

Fantastic new fixed mortgage from Santander

Santander have launched a fantastic fixed rate mortgage product, which is only available for 7 days. All applications have to be submitted by 8pm on November 29th 2012. This new fixed rate product is 1.99% (the overall cost for comparison is 4.3 % APR)

This mortgage product has a £1495 arrangement fee which can be added to the balance of the loan, and benefits from a free valuation for both purchases and remortgages. This is available up to 60% loan to value meaning that home owners will need 40% equity in their property or a 40% deposit for a purchase.

Early repayment charges apply to this mortgage during the fixed rate period. The early repayment charge is 3% until 02 January 2015.


Besides anyone who is currently looking to purchase or is currently looking for a remortgage, this mortgage could also be of benefit to anyone sat on their lenders standard variable rate, even  some of the most competitive standard variable rates on the market are at a higher rate than 1.99%. Also it is possible to reserve this rate if you are approaching the end of your current deal rate with your lender. This mortgage can be applied for up to 4 months in advance which means that anyone with a deal rate ending between now and the end of March 2013 could benefit.

To find out if this mortgage deal could benefit you, please contact Howard or Rachel on 029 2115 6918 to discuss your requirements.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Are you looking to raise funds – but can’t remortgage? There is a solution

Are you looking to raise funds – but can’t remortgage? There is a solution 

There are many reasons why a secured loan may be a viable option. For example, you may have a long term tracker mortgage at a great rate, which you do not want to move; or you may have been declined a remortgage by a high street or specialist lender.

Many homeowners in this situation are turning to Secured Loans. According to data from the latest Secured Loan Index, the amount lent between January 2012 and October 2012 is significantly higher than the entire year of 2011.

Secured loan lending in October stood at £31.9m, an increase of 1.6% on September’s figure of £31.4m. This modest boost emphasises the effects of the UK’s move out of a recession in the third quarter.

October is the fourth month in a row where lending has reached over £30m.

The annual increase in secured loan lending was 38.7% higher than in the same period in 2011, where it stood at £23m. This is the only annual increase October has witnessed since before 2009.

A secured loan, which will take second or third charge on a property, may be a viable way to raise extra capital. This money can be used for a wide variety of reasons, from paying a tax bill or investing in business, to wrapping up other loans or making home improvements.

It would mean that the current mortgage stays in place and the secure loan will sit behind it in legal terms, with the loan being securitised on your home. If a person has been declined by a high street lender due to adverse credit history or affordability, a secured loan is another option to consider.

The interest rate on a secured loan would normally be higher than a traditional first charge mortgage and it is important to run through your affordability with your mortgage broker to make sure you are happy that you can meet the mortgage payments each month.

If you are interesting in finding out more about a secured loan, talk to the team at Harvey Bowes today: 029 2115 6918

Get ready for the cold nights – are you confident your home insuarnce will really cover you?

Get ready for the cold nights – are you confident your home insurance will really cover you?

There are many things we do to get ready for the winter, dust off the winter coat, start thinking about Christmas presents to buy, but it is also important to ensure your home and possessions are properly protected.

Insurance claims traditionally rise in the winter months for a number of reasons which can include snow damage, frozen pipes and property damage from winter storms.  There is also an increase of home break-ins due to opportunist thieves taking advantage of the darker nights. Statistics show that the number of house fires also dramatically increases due to electric or gas heaters, use of candles, overloading plug sockets with Christmas decorations or even using old Christmas lights.

Ensuring your home and possessions are adequately covered can help you to protect against the unexpected. There is a wide range of cover available including new-for-old policies that will provide a replacement or repair the cost of any damaged or stolen items and some policies will also automatically increase the level of cover at Christmas time to include the additional items that are in your home.

As well as protecting the contents in your home, it is also essential to check that your home itself is covered. Check that your home insurance policy covers against damage from cold weather, floors, frozen pipes and any other restrictions. You may also find that your policy excludes damage to fences and gates, which could be protected with the right cover in place.

Talk to an adviser today to discuss all the options available. We can recommend a policy that is right for you.  Call us on 029 2115 6918 or email to find out how you can avoid a costly bill this winter should the unexpected happen.


Has your mortgage lender recently raised their SVR

You may have seen recent press articles that some lenders have increased their standard variable rate (SVR). Meaning your monthly mortgage payments would increase if you are a borrower on SVR with these lenders.

Despite the Bank of England Base Rate staying at an all-time low, your lender may have the ability to increase their SVR. While not all lenders have made an increase some lenders could make a change at any time. Lenders could also have the option of increasing the cap on how much they can increase their SVR by, so it is also worth checking your contract to see if this may apply to you.

As an example if you had £100,000 left to pay on your mortgage with 15 years left on your term and experienced an increase of rate from 3.25% to 3.75%, this would equate to an increase of approximately £24.55 to your monthly mortgage payments. If you are on an interest only mortgage this would be higher still.

It is always a good idea to keep your mortgage under review to see if you are on the best rate for your circumstances. There are many options currently on the market, including product transfers with your existing lender. This type of offer can often mean there is no upfront fee to pay.

Here at Harvey Bowes, the team can take the hassle out of remortgaging and can help find the best deal for you. We are able to provide a full advice service and guide you through all the options available. There are many things to take into consideration when taking out a mortgage such as general insurance and protection; thankfully we all offer a full service in insurance and protection so why not contact us today? You can call on 029 2115 6918

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Mortgages for people with poor credit – they are available

Mortgages for people with poor credit

Has the global recession left you with a few blips in your credit rating? If so, you are not alone. And the good news is that there are lenders out there who recognise a few credit blips may not mean that you are a bad payer. There are options available for ‘subprime’ borrowing.

It must be said, that if you are currently experiencing difficulty making payments to your mortgage, loans and credit cards on time, then there is little chance of getting a new mortgage. However, if your problems are in the past and you have a clean run of two years or more, there are lenders offering competitive rates who will consider lending.

This includes previous mortgage arrears, defaults and CCJ’s.

Thought you could not get a mortgage?

The press paint a very dim picture of the real position. There are lenders lending to people with poor credit. The key is to be able to show a lender that the difficulties are in the past. And if you are now conducting your credit accounts properly and paying on time, you may be considered for a new mortgage or remortgage.

What will a lender expect to see?

Typically, lenders will expect to see a clear run for two years, with no missed mortgage payments or late payments on loans. They will also want to see that you are in stable employment, or if self-employed, that at least the last years accounts demonstrate that you can afford the mortgage. Whatever the case, you will need to have firm proof of income. Some lenders in this field will consider lending based on commission income and other variables, such as overtime and bonus, as well as basic income. This may help meet affordability.

What Loan to Value is available?

It is highly unlikely that if you have any poor credit recorded on your credit file within the last 6 years that you will be able to get a mortgage for more than 85% loan to value. If your credit file shows good conduct for the past 2 years, you may be able to get a loan for 80% loan to value and at 75% there should be more choice available.

This means that if you are buying, you ideally need a 20-25% deposit and if looking to remortgage, you need 20-25% equity in your property.

What sort of rate can you get?

We can only give you an idea based on the current market, correct at time of publishing this blog, 21st November 2012.

At 75% Loan to Value, Kensington Mortgage Corporation has a 3.44% fixed rate mortgage available. (The overall cost for comparison is 4.4% APR)

Early repayment charges apply to this mortgage, which is 3% of the balance borrowed during the fixed rate period (Two years).

This mortgage is available in England & Wales with a maximum loan of £1million. The loan size available will depend on how much you can prove is affordable for you to repay.

This mortgage deal has a £999 arrangement fee that can be added to the loan and for remortgages they offer a free valuation fee.

What other fees may apply to this mortgage deal?

Harvey Bowes mortgages will charge a broker fee for this type mortgage. Our fee will always be quoted up front and will depend on the amount of work we need to do to make your application successful. Typically, this fee is £600 or 1% of the balance borrowed, whichever is higher.

Is this the only deal available?

Not at all. There are a range of lenders offering mortgages for those with a poor credit history in the past. Kensington, Aldermore and Igroup are the better named mortgage lenders offering poor credit mortgages, however, there are more lenders operating in this market.

If you would like to know more about poor credit mortgages, please call Howard or Rachel, in confidence, on 029 2115 6918.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep repayments on your mortgage

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