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good estate agentSelling your home can be a very stressful time and finding an estate agent who can manage the processes and look after your interests can be a difficult task. Most people who sell their home rarely go through the whole process without some hiccups such as withdrawn offers, problems with buyers and other glitches, so finding an excellent estate agent is really important.

As a mortgage broker I hear about the good, bad and ugly – my clients are often keen to offload their estate agent woes on me! So here are some tips to help you find the best estate agent and sell your property.

Ask People You Know for Recommendations

Probably the easiest place to start is to ask people for recommendations of estate agents that they have used or had contact with. That may be family members or friends. It may be worth putting a quick status update on various social media platforms such as Facebook where a lot of people can see your query and hopefully be able to help.

Naturally I can give you my thoughts from my perspective, sitting on the sidelines of many house-selling stories!

Google Search

Performing a quick Google search of estate agents in your local area is a great way to find out which estate agents are out there, but also how well they rate. Most estate agents will have a presence on Google and will often have ratings and comments about service. Be sure to read all of the comments and look out for recommendations for specific agents and also look at the poor reviews to see what potential problems might arise with using that company.

Check Agency Credentials

Estate Agents are all required to be members of The Property Ombudsman or The Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme. They may also be members of various trade bodies that requires them to adhere to codes of conduct and can indicate professionalism, diligence and a higher level of service. Some top trade bodies to look out for are:

  • Guild of Professional Estate Agents (GPEA)
  • National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

You can find out if an estate agent is a part of one of these trade bodies either on the bodies’ websites or indeed the estate agents website.

Test an Agency as a Potential Buyer

It may be a good idea to visit a few prospects and pose as a potential buyer for a similar property to your home. You need to decide whether they are the type of company that you want to handle the sale of your property and ask yourself if you would buy a property from them.

Invite Estate Agents to Value Your Property

Once you have a shortlist of estate agents, invite two or three of them to value your property. You are looking for the estate agents to be honest and fair with their valuation and don’t be duped into going with the agent who values your property the highest as they could just be pandering to you to win your business.

Choose Between Sole and Multi-Agency and Haggle for the Best Price

You need to decide whether you want to work with one agency or multiple agencies. Using one agency will be cheaper but they will have a small catchment area compared to using a few agencies. Using more agencies will increase the exposure of your property and the chances of you getting a quicker sale. It may be worth going with one agent first, and then move to a multi-agency strategy if you are not getting the amount of viewings and offers you would like.

Whatever strategy you decide to go for, be sure to haggle for the best price. There is always room for negotiation and playing different agents prices off of each other will help you drive the price of their services and commission down.

Start Looking for a Great Estate Agent!

Finding a great estate agent is crucial when it comes to selling your property with the least amount of stress. By following the tips in this post you should be able to get a decent shortlist of agents and have the tools at your disposal to choose the right agent for you.

If you would like a few recommendations, get in touch. More importantly, if you haven’t yet thought about mortgages and what you need for your next property purchases – if you’re selling and buying – give me a call for an impartial chat about your mortgage options. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

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remortgaging, home extension, LondonAre you thinking about moving house in London in order to get an extra bedroom for a growing family or just to get a more spacious property? While the thought of this may be exciting, it can be extremely difficult to find a London property with more space for a great price. However, another way of getting more space, and also increase the value of your current home, is to extend it with an extension or loft conversion.

Is it worth moving house in London for more space?

Moving house in London can be expensive business. The average two-bedroom property price in London is around £600,000 and for that price you may be lucky to find a property on the Zone 2-3 border.

In order to move up to a three-bedroom house in the same area, you would need to increase your mortgage to the tune of £150,000 to £200,000 as the average three-bedroom house in Zones 2-3 is £750,000-£800,000.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the large amount of stamp duty, solicitors’ fees, moving costs and potential increases in council tax that will come your way.

The thought of a new home may be alluring, but it might not be the most cost effective way of getting more space.

Why extending your London home may be the best option

According to a survey by Nationwide Building Society, you can increase the value of your property by as much as 22% by building a home extension or loft conversion.

With this in mind, the average two-bedroom property in London could increase its value by £132,000, which is an incredible potential profit for a future sale and a great way of increasing the space in your current home. With the demand for larger properties being that much higher in London, the addition of a loft conversion or extension can add a large amount of value to your home beyond the national average.

While increasing the value of your home is a great motivator, it’s not the only reason to do it. Maximising your space can improve your quality of life, help you move forward with growing your family, provide you with space to work from home, or even allow more friends and family to stay.

The average loft conversion or extension can cost anywhere between £20,000 to £45,000+, depending on the size of the project. So it’s clear to see that if your property is suitable it can be much more cost effective to increase the size of your current home rather than moving.

Of course, getting £20,000-£45,000 may not be that easy to come by, which is why many people consider remortgaging their home to get the capital.

Remortgaging your home

Remortgaging is where a homeowner takes out a new mortgage on a property that they already have a mortgage for. It can be a way to replace an existing mortgage for a product with better interest rates, or to borrow money against your property. Around a third of all home loans made in the UK are actually remortgages.

But before you call me to ask for help securing a new mortgage for your home extension, have you pursued other ways to raise the money? Remortgaging may be not be the cheapest way to get a loan; and because it is a loan secured on your home, it is not without risk. If other avenues of finance are not open to you then by all means give me a call!

Generally, the first step for remortgaging should be to speak to your existing lender to see whether they can increase your mortgage. You will need to go through the same application process as you would if you where applying for a mortgage from a new lender; so factors such as your credit score, current circumstances and the value of your home will be important. If your circumstances have changed, for example if you’ve taken a pay cut since taking out your current mortgage, you may find that your lender is not prepared to lend more, regardless of your history.

Therefore, before laying your cards on the table it may be a good idea to test the market first. You will need various bits of information to see whether you’re eligible for a mortgage that covers your home extension costs. These include:

  • Your income and outgoings
  • The current value of your home
  • A quote for building works (with contingency)
  • Estimate of the value of your property once the extension is complete

At this point you might want to talk to a mortgage adviser to explore your options and see whether your current lender is still the best mortgage provider for your needs.

If you are struggling to remortgage give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

airbnb, london propertyI heard a statistic recently that Airbnb is the world’s largest property company and doesn’t own any property. Not sure if the statistic is correct but it is certainly believable. Airbnb have shot to prominence in the last couple of years. Loads of my friends use it to book their holidays ahead of old favourites such as Owner Direct.

So what about becoming a host on Airbnb? Earlier this year research from Colliers said bookings in London had risen by 130% in the year to July. An amazing 4.62 million nights of accommodation were booked on the site.

If you have property in London, one of the most popular global destinations, you could make significant sums. In fact, one Airbnb landlord reportedly made £11.9 million in 12 months, albeit they do own/manage 881 properties not just one apartment or family home! Increasingly many of the properties on the site are managed by property management companies, not private individuals renting out their owner occupied property or second home.

That doesn’t mean you can’t cash in, but you should do so with open eyes.

What Homeowners Need To Think When Hosting On Airbnb

Do your research, start with Airbnb itself. They have a guide on there to talk you through what is involved and how it all works. You’ll need to pitch your price correctly, again some local research will help here.

It is not without risk, extreme stories have surfaced this year with “pop up brothels” appearing that have been booked via the site. You are letting strangers into your home so you really need to be confident it is right for you.

Next you need to consider what your mortgage company might think. I am going to assume that many of the host Airbnb-ers in London have elected not to tell their lender they are renting out a room, rooms or even their whole property. This is very likely to be a breach of their mortgage terms and conditions. If you are renting out your whole home then your lender will probably insist you apply for consent to let, this may trigger extra interest charges and an admin fee. Usually when you get consent to let the lender is assuming you are doing it long term and any tenant will be subject to an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. However this won’t be the case if you are renting your house out for a week via Airbnb. Definitely a grey area.

If you are just renting a room then lenders tend to be OK if it is a lodger type arrangement. In this situation a lodger would need to sign an occupiers consent form (this is for the benefit of the lender – if the mortgage is not paid and they need to repossess the lodger waives their squatters rights). Again this is not practical if the lodger is only there for a night or two.

I have asked lenders how they would feel about Airbnb and have had different responses from flat no, to a flat yes and lots in between. Annoyingly though I have had different answers from the same lender at different times. I think they are not entirely sure how to deal with it. They obviously know it is going on and it is too impractical to police it.

I think problems will only arise should something go wrong. What I mean is something may happen while a room is occupied that results in an insurance claim. Has your insurer been notified? If so when you claim they may well check that your lender is aware. If your lender is unaware then that could invalidate a claim, leaving you out of pocket.

So I would say you need to be very careful as lenders have not really published any rules for Airbnb but some have been quoted as saying they will work with each individual case on its own merits. If your lender says ‘no’ and you still want to pursue Airbnb you could consider remortgaging with a lender who says ‘yes’. For advice and support in this process, contact me on 020 3355 4841 to discuss your specific circumstances.

In summary if you are thinking of Airbnbing your London home: do your research, speak to your lender and make sure you have the correct home insurance. Good luck!

moving to EssexChristmas is often a catalyst for moving house. A houseful of guests shows you just how cramped your London home has become, or perhaps a visit to someone’s country pad inspires you to start looking at making a move.

If you currently live and work in London, and have no plans to up sticks and find a new job elsewhere, moving out of London will probably involving looking at the home counties. Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hertfordshire are traditionally viewed as the home counties because of their close proximity to the capital.

In this post I’m going to look at moving to Essex, exploring the best areas to buy and the things you need to think about if you’re planning to commute into London.

Why Move To Essex?

Unless you live there or visit regularly, chances are you have slightly preconceived ideas about what Essex is like. Stereotypical ‘Essex Girl’ jokes haven’t helped, nor has TV show The Only Way Is Essex, but as you might expect this doesn’t reflect the whole of county at all. As with other regions of the UK, Essex has plenty to attract people from all walks of life; you don’t need fake tan to live here!

The county has many attractive towns that offer good shopping and leisure activities, a variety of housing, excellent schools, transport links etc. Essex also boasts some stunning countryside and coastline. The Thames Estuary is flanked by seaside resorts like Southend – including funfairs, the pier, games arcades, fish and chips etc. – but once past Shoeburyness there are stretches of mudflats, salt marshes and creeks, much of which are nature reserves and therefore protected from development.

Where To Move To In Essex

If you’re planning to commute to a job in London, a decent train service will be a top priority. So the towns below are chosen based on that criteria first, then on other nice to haves. Of course, you might like to be more rural and opt for a village that’s an easy trip to a mainline station, so I’ve also included a few villages around these hubs to give you more options.

Before starting your property search, I would highly recommend that you get your finances in order. Find out how much you can afford, get a Mortgage Offer In Principle and if you need to sell your current property to make the move, get it on the market! Then you’ll be in a much stronger position to put an offer in on the right property.

Chelmsford – if you’re not quite ready to leave the city

Chelmsford is Essex’s county town but is actually a city. As such it offers shops, entertainment, sporting activities, pubs and restaurants, as well as job opportunities if you’re thinking of quitting the capital completely.

Commuting to Liverpool Street is easy, 35 minutes and four trains an hour. An annual season ticket costs £3,832.00*. Stansted airport is also just half an hour away for you jetsetters. Schools are generally ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ if you have children, or are planning a family when you move, and on average a semi-detached family home will set you back £369,273*.

Overall the average price of property in Chelmsford is £341,475, with the majority of sales involving flats in the last year. Nearby Old Moulsham is a little cheaper and desirable (£322,170), or consider moving further out, and paying more, to a popular village like Great Waltham (£414,954).

Colchester – get back to Roman roots

Colchester was a Roman garrison town and was actually the UK’s first city, more important than London at that time. Now it’s popular because of its historic buildings, period houses and it’s location – not far from the coast but still close enough to London to be part of the commuter belt.

That said, a train to London Liverpool Street does take 55-60 minutes, so Colchester might be on the outer reaches of your search. Season tickets currently cost £4,928.00, but you might be prepared to pay this to get more property for less money (compared to towns situated closer to London).

The average property price in Colchester is £260,549*, with semi-detached properties fetching £269,936. Schools are a big draw for families, with many rated ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’.

Outside of Colchester villages in the Colne Valley, such as Earls Colne are very popular with people working in the City. Overall average prices in Earls Colne are higher at £309,702*.

Saffron Walden – if you like medieval market towns

This area of the county boasts some of the most expensive property as a result of being picturesque, and steeped in history. There are over 3,500 listed buildings in the district of Uttlesford and Saffron Walden, a naturally these don’t come cheap.

However, if you have the budget what’s not to like? A good range different period property – as well as suburban housing – good schools, shops and leisure activities, weekly markets and commuting distance to London.

An annual season ticket to London Liverpool Street from Audley End will set you back £4,380.00*, and the train journey takes 55 minutes on average. Saffron Walden is also very well connected for Stansted Airport – some might say too close – just a 15 minute drive.

Saffron Walden itself is affordable – many of the neighbouring villages are a lot more expensive – with an average property price of £371,804*. Semis are around the £389,000 mark, with flats closer to £197,000.

For country life Clavering is nearby with the average price for property current standing at £530,079*.

Southend-On-Sea – traditional seaside resort

Southend may be closer to the stereotypical image of Essex, but it’s not all fake tan, bare legs and high heels on a cold January night out. In recent years there have been attempts to gentrify the town with arts festivals and Jamie and Jimmy filming TV shows in the café on the pier, but it still retains that traditional seaside appeal.

Schools are good or outstanding so great for families, and there are lots of residential areas such as Westcliff, Chalkwell and Leigh-On-Sea to bring up the kids.

Property is priced affordably, especially for those selling up in London, with average property prices currently at £272,748. Areas that are popular with families such as Westcliff-On-Sea are also similarly priced, although Thorpe Bay (the posher end) is more expensive with house prices averaging at £505,592.

It will take you around 60 minutes to get to London from Southend, but there are five to seven trains per hour. An annual season ticket from Southend East costs £3,408.00. Southend Airport is also a draw flying to many European destinations.

If you want to be in this part of Essex but Southend is not for you, Brentwood (£££), Billericay or Rayleigh might be worth a look.

Like I said before, if you’re seriously thinking about moving to Essex, it’s really important to sort out your finances first. Then you’ll know exactly how much you’ve got to spend, and be in the a good position to get an offer accepted on a property when you see the right place. Increasingly estate agents are not letting people view properties until they’ve got a Mortgage Offer In Principle and have put their own house on the market (if necessary); so while window shopping is great to see what an area is like and what’s available, serious buyers will have all of this lined up first.

If you are struggling to find a mortgage, give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

* All figures correct at the time of publishing

mortgage guide

London, property prices, first time buyer, interest ratesTiming is something first time buyers often get hung up about. Is now the right time to buy your first property in London? Should you wait to see whether house prices go down or the market crashes as some scaremongers are predicting? If the market does crash, what happens if you want to sell in five years?

So many ‘what ifs’ and I haven’t even got started on interest rates yet!

At the end of the day, the best time to buy your first home – whether in London or elsewhere – is when you’re ready. Naturally you should pay attention to what’s happening in the market and economy in general, but it’s your personal circumstances and objectives that matter most.

Do you have a deposit? Can you afford the mortgage repayments – have you stress tested these against possible further interest rate rises? What area do you want to buy in, and what type of property? What about the future? Do you plan to sell and move up the property ladder in the next 3-5 years? All these questions will help you decide whether now is the right time to buy.

First Time Buyer In London

Take for example a first time buyer in their late 20s planning to buy a small flat in London with some cash available from savings and a mortgage offer in principle. They’re fed up with paying rent to a landlord and would like somewhere to call their own.

However, they hope to outgrow that small flat in the next 5 years. Hopefully they will meet someone and want to settle down, start a family etc. Their ‘what if’ is “what if house prices go down and I can’t sell when I want to?”

One thing we should establish is that although the housing market has slowed, property prices in London still remain higher than a year ago. Prices may remain sluggish for the next few years, but most economists agree that a crash is highly unlikely. Credit ratings agency Moody’s has also forecast that if prices did fall by 10% only 0.3% of borrowers in the South of England would go into negative equity.

Even if we did see prices dipping, or a crash on a similar scale to 2007, historically it didn’t take long for prices to recover in London. The national average after the 2007 housing crash was 7 years and 7 months, whereas in London it was 4 years and 7 months before price were back to pre-crash levels.

What About Interest Rates – Can I Afford A Mortgage?

Another ‘what if’ for first time buyers is interest rates. Many people who are considering buying property for the first time have never experienced an interest rate rise in their adult life – which makes it a bit worrying.

Having bought, sold and paid mortgages on properties during periods of much higher interest rate rises I’m not unduly concerned about the latest rise to 0.5% or the forecast that we will see another couple of hikes in the next 2 years. When I took out my first mortgage the base rate was at 7%! However, I appreciate that we’ve had a decade of very low interest rates so any increase may be alarming.

One answer to this ‘what if’ is stress testing. Once you’ve found a mortgage deal that you can afford at 2.0%, for example, see whether you can afford it at 3.5%, 4% or even 6.5%. By law mortgage lenders have to stress test whether you can afford your mortgage repayments if base rates were 3 percentage points higher than they currently are. While this regulation has come into some criticism for ‘locking out’ potential borrowers as 3 percentage points is viewed by some as too high and unrealistic, it does help illustrate how interest rates could impact on your ability to repay your mortgage.

The other solution is, of course, a fixed rate mortgage. With Mark Carney clearly stating that he plans to increase the base rate again in the next two years, securing a fixed rate mortgage now may be a good idea for many first time buyers*.

Another consideration that I think people can lose sight of, is that for most first time buyers the plan is to buy a property and sell in the next 3-5 years. Although a typical mortgage term is 25 years, you may only have that mortgage for a few years before selling up and shopping around for a new house and a new mortgage product.

So in answer to whether now is a good time to buy your first home in London, I would suggest that you start looking at what mortgage lenders would be prepared to allow you to borrow and whether that could secure you a first home. With a better idea of how much you’ve got to spend and how much your repayments will be, you’ll also have a much better idea of whether the timing is right.

For a free chat about your plans and to start exploring potential mortgage products, give me a call on the number below.

If you are struggling to find a mortgage, give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

* subject to your own personal circumstances

mortgage guide



interest rates, mortgagesThe Bank of England decided to increase the interest rate last week from 0.25% to 0.5% and this news will not have passed you by unless you have been living under a rock all week. Yes those pesky folk on the Monetary Policy Committee decided to ignore my sage advice and put the rate up.

The media flew into a frenzy, “rates have gone up for the first time in ten years!”, which is true of course. Lets get a bit of perspective though, they may have doubled but they have gone from extremely low to very, very low (working on the basis that very very is not as low as extremely!).

Please do not all panic with fear of 80’s/90’s style interest rate highs. If that happens we are all screwed and I cannot see the Bank of England putting us all in the poor house.

Lenders have been pulling their lowest ever fixed rates but they haven’t then subsequently gone up by 0.25%, more like 0.05% to 0.1% so you can still get some great deals. With the right amount of equity/deposit you can secure a five year fixed rate at below 2%, and this is very competitive if you are looking for that sort of security.

I still stand by my previous musings that interest rates will only go up to pre-2008 levels in the event of a booming economy with huge wage growth and minimal unemployment. The future outlook I think is so uncertain that to put rates up any further in the near future seems unlikely.

The base rate sat at 0.5% from March 2009 to August 2016, a long time and I can see another three or four years with the rate not going above 1%. The highest the rate has been since 1999, significant as my first year as a mortgage professional, has been 6%. I think all of the above and my previous wise words should hopefully give you some reassurance that the interest rates are not about to go crazy.

As always, if you want to have a chat about mortgages, interest rates and anything in between, you know where you can find me! Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

surrey property market vs LondonThere has been a long established trend for people living in West and SW London to move further west and buy property in Surrey. Whether it’s because they’re priced out of desirable London boroughs, because of a growing family, or just because of a desire for more space and different way of life; Surrey is without doubt a popular destination for West London migrants!

I split my time between London and Surrey, with an office in Carnaby Street W1, but also an office and home in Farnham, Surrey (just about as far west as you can get in this county). So I understand firsthand what’s involved in making that decision to move out of London.

As a Surrey resident, but with my Lancaster roots firmly imprinted in my pysche, I can’t sing the praises of Surrey enough. Yes of course it’s a bit posh in parts, the population in some towns is heavily weighted to the older generation, and as a result it’s not exactly cheap. But there are also many benefits to living in this part of the world – not least the easy access to the capital.

So if you’re thinking of moving out of London, here are my insights into buying property in Surrey.

Buying Property In Surrey

Surrey is a diverse county, stretching away from London across Southern England. As such you will find that the areas close to London (some are within the M25) are more suburbian, whereas the farther you head out, the more greenbelt and real countryside you get to enjoy.

But before you fall in love with a 60s modernist house in the suburbs, or a country cottage in the Surrey Hills, some practical considerations:

Work – presumably you’re planning to continue to work in London, or at least in the short term. This will involve commuting and that means time and money. Even if a town has a station it may not be on a main route into London, or it could have a limited service at times (for example evenings and weekends). Therefore you should consider how long your commute might be, including getting to and from the stations both ends, and what you’re likely to be paying in fares.

If you’re thinking that long term you would like to move jobs and not commute to London, then the area you choose to live in must have potential for work. A sleepy village is not going to have much demand for professionals, whereas as a market town or city like Guildford will have.

Family – one of the main reasons people move out of London is because they’ve started a family. Renting a tiny flat in Ealing is no longer a romantic idyll when you’ve got a toddler running up the walls. Similarly once children get to school age many parents don’t want to be part of a postcode lottery or put their children through the 11+ to get a good school; Surrey boasts some of the best state schools in the country, both primary and secondary, so becomes a very attractive proposition for parents.

That said, good and outstanding schools are often oversubscribed, so expecting to buy a home in Surrey close to your preferred school and instantly secure a place for your child may be a bit unrealistic. If you’ve already got school age children, speak to schools in your preferred areas before you buy to see what the chances of getting a place are.

For families with pre-school children you’ll need to find a house in the right catchment area for your preferred school, and have moved in before the January deadline for applications for primary schools. Otherwise your application will count as a ‘late application’ and if it’s a popular school you may not get your first choice.

Lifestyle – moving out of London involves a lifestyle change. You will probably find that you can’t get an emergency pint of milk at 11pm as all the shops shut at 9pm or earlier. You may also find that after a night in the pub all the takeaways are closed and unless you’ve booked a taxi you don’t stand a chance of getting home!

While your local Waitrose does stock pomegranate molasses, you won’t find a multi-cultural market at the end of your road – it can be a culture shock.

So think about what you’re going to spend your leisure time doing in Surrey. If you think you’ll be making a beeline for the bright lights of Central London, you should probably be looking for a home on the eastern fringes of the county inside the M25. But if you think that your weekends will involve walking the dog or a bike ride, a leisurely coffee on the high street, a trip to the cinema or a pub lunch; you’ll be able to get this in any part of Surrey.

Budget – finally let’s talk money. Your budget will determine where you can afford to buy and what size and style of property. Having considered what you want in terms of access to work, schools and lifestyle options, you can narrow your search down further by looking at property sites.

Not surprisingly desirable properties in Surrey don’t stay on the market for long – you’ll find there are plenty of other Londoners also with the same requirements as you – so make sure you’ve got your finances in place with a mortgage agreement in principle and deposit. If you have property to sell in London, you’ll find it easier to get an offer accepted on the house you want to buy if this is already sold or under offer.

If you are struggling to find a mortgage, give me a call and we can explore your circumstances in more detail. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

remortgagingIn this day and age speed is of the essence. With all the technology we have at our fingertips you would think that there would probably be an app on your phone enabling you to switch mortgage lender at the drop of a hat.

However I’m afraid it isn’t all that simple but do not despair! If you are keen to switch or get your hands on some extra cash for the all important new kitchen or bathroom you can still get remortgage relatively quickly.

The main reason it can’t happen instantly is that if you are remortgaging you are changing mortgage provider, this is a legal transaction. Therefore the new lender has to appoint a property lawyer (or you do) to carry out the usual checks, a bit like when you bought the house in the first place.

The usual process, once the mortgage application is underway, is that the lawyers send you – the borrower – and a questionnaire to complete. I always tell my clients that it is vitally important not to delay completing this, as it will have a real effect on when the mortgage will complete. If you are using a mortgage broker they will be able to assist you in completing the questionnaire. It is usually a bit repetitive and asks you the same questions your mortgage company will have asked; things like who your home insurance is with, who your existing lender is etc.

Along with the questionnaire they also send out a mortgage deed which has to be signed and witnessed.

How To Speed Up The Remortgaging Process

So given the above you think it would take weeks and weeks to sort out, sometimes this can be the case as you are reliant on the efficiency of the lawyers. However my record for a remortgage was seeing the clients on a Friday and the remortgage completed the following Friday.

How did this happen? Well lenders are becoming more innovative when it comes to the application process so the process to get you to mortgage offer can be really quick, potentially the same day!

Some high street lenders have really streamlined their systems with automated valuation systems so you don’t have to wait in for a day so the surveyor can come round and check the value of the property. Another innovation is a lender using data from your Experian credit report to verify your income so you don’t have to give them payslips (your broker still needs at least 3 months worth).

Depending on how much you want to borrow and how much your property is worth (what the Loan to Value is or LTV). The lender may see you as very low risk and issue the mortgage offer very quickly and instruct the lawyers straight away.

If you want to borrow more than you currently owe for home improvements then the lender may want to see plans and estimates, in which case the mortgage offer might not be that quick.

In summary I always say as a rule of thumb three to four weeks is the average time it takes for a remortgage to go through, but as I said above one week is certainly possible if you have all your paperwork in place and it’s a straightforward request.

If you would like to discuss your mortgage requirements in confidence, contact me for an informal chat to get started. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

mortgage guide

mortgage valuationIf you’re looking to purchase a property and need a mortgage to do so, your lender will require a lender’s valuation.

House buying has all sorts of jargon and terminology wrapped up in the processes, so it’s important to know what all of them are really about. Here’s what you need to know about your lender’s mortgage valuation, and how it affects you as a buyer.

What is a mortgage valuation report?

The mortgage valuation report gives your lender some independent confirmation of the value of your property, to ensure their investment is well placed.

The valuation will also tell the lender if there are any major problems with the property which could affect its value. It will check the prices of similar properties in the local area, and that your property is not one of a type which they will not lend against, such as those in a high flood risk area.

What happens during the mortgage valuation?

Your lender probably already has a relationship with a surveyor, and will contact them themselves to arrange a suitable date for the survey. In most cases, this will take place within two weeks of your mortgage application.

The valuation surveyor will visit your prospective property, and will inspect for condition and any major problems. This whole process will take only 15 – 30 minutes and will only usually pick up on obvious, visible problems. Their report back to your lender is short, just two or three pages usually, and although you may receive a copy of it, it’s not particularly beneficial to you.

What is the valuation fee on a mortgage?

Typically this will cost between £150 and £1,500 depending on the value of the property you are buying. Normally you, the buyer, will pay the fees for this valuation, this can be an upfront cost or added to the term of your mortgage. In some cases, lenders may waive these fees as part of a package of offers for you, but this varies from lender to lender. Check your mortgage terms and conditions early on, or ask your lender about survey fees, to make sure you know what you’re responsible for.

Don’t rely too much on a mortgage valuation

The mortgage valuation is commissioned by your lender, and is conducted for their benefit, not yours. The inspection is too brief and too standardised to really provide any insight into the condition or true value of the house. While you can certainly expect to receive a copy of the valuation report, or at least an excerpt of it, you should not rely on this to inform any offers you make or your purchasing decision.

In order to be fully informed about the condition of the property you’re considering purchasing, you will need to commission your own homebuyers survey. This is usually done through an RICS surveyor, who you can find on the RICS website.

What is in a homebuyers survey?

You have a choice of survey types available to you, to suit your needs as you see fit. These include:

  • The RICS condition report: The most basic report available, this is a quick, easy way to ensure everything is OK. It’s most suitable for relatively new properties.
  • The RCIS homebuyers report: A more detailed report, this will take around two to four hours to take place, and includes advice on any repairs or maintenance issues with the property.
  • The SAVA Home Condition Survey: This covers pretty much all the things the RCIS homebuyers report would cover, but without any market valuation included.
  • The RCIS building survey: This is the most thorough survey you can get, this is an ideal choice if you are buying a period property or something which needs a lot of work. It’s also a good choice for homes of a non-standard construction, and will generally take around a day to complete.
  • New build snagging survey: in addition to these survey types, if you are looking to buy a brand-new property, you can have a quick and inexpensive ‘snagging survey’ done. This flags up any defects, cosmetic issues and other problems, so that your contractor can rectify these issues before you move in.

Whatever your property valuation has said, you should always instruct your own thorough survey in order to ensure you are not hit with any nasty surprises later down the line.

If you’re ready to explore different mortgages and find one that’s right for you, give me a call. I’d be delighted to talk you through your options. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

mortgage guide

London property pricesYou might have been renting for what seems like an eternity but if you’ve finally scraped enough together for a deposit, you want to make sure you choose the right place to buy. You don’t want to end up paying over the odds when it comes to the purchase price, or your mortgage, so make sure you spend some time researching before you jump straight in.

Registering with lots of estate agents, Rightmove and OnTheMarket should be top of your to-do list if you haven’t already. It’s wise to make an appointment with a mortgage broker to discuss your budget and how much you can afford to pay every month in mortgage payments too. It could be that you can borrow more than you thought, or less, so finding out before you begin your search can save you valuable time as you won’t go viewing properties that are outside of your price range.

London prices are at a premium to the rest of the country, with the average London flat setting you back £508,217 and the average terraced property costing £645,982 in 2016. The overall average price of a property in London is £585,516.

The most expensive parts of London* are:

  • Kensington, average price of a property is £1.7 million with the most expensive house on the market being £30 million.
  • Chelsea, average price of a property is £1.3 million with the most expensive house on the market being £25 million.
  • Knightsbridge, average price of a property is £1.3 million with the most expensive house on the market being £35 million.
  • Notting Hill, average price of a property is £1.1 million with the most expensive house on the market being £13.5 million.
  • West Brompton, average price of a property is £1 million with the most expensive house on the market being £6 million.

Think like an investor

You mightn’t get much for your money in Kensington, Mayfair and Knightsbridge, unless you have a budget that runs into the millions but investors are snapping up properties in nearby Bayswater/Queensway. A two-bedroomed flat still costs in the region of £3 million in Bayswater though so you might need to look elsewhere if you’re looking to make your first step onto the property ladder.

House prices have been rising in Dalston/Kingsland because of how close it is to the North London Line with Whitechapel, Holborn, Streatham and Stoke Newington also becoming hot spots for investors looking to make a fast buck in the near future. You ideally want to steer away from expensive areas and those that are popular with investors if you want to grab a bargain. However, there’s no reason why you can’t take a leaf out of an investors book.

If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, why not see what auction properties are available in your chosen borough of London? You should definitely speak to a broker well in advance of any auction as rules around auction properties and mortgages can be confusing if you don’t know your stuff.

Top tips for finding a property to buy in London

When deciding which properties to go and view, you should always try to keep an open mind and don’t dismiss a property that looks unattractive in its Rightmove / estate agent photos. It could be that it’s a hidden gem and only require a bit of TLC to get it up to scratch. If the photos have put off other people, there might not have been much interest to date so you might be able to snap it up for a dropdown price, especially if the current owner needs to sell fast.

Repossession properties are another avenue you might want to explore, to find them, make sure you have a good relationship with estate agents in your chosen area and ask them to call you if any come up.

It’s worth bearing in mind that you might need to compromise if you have a long list of requirements or are buying with a loved one. If you can’t afford to buy your dream property now, don’t fret as you can always buy a property that needs work, add value to it and put it on the market, using the money you make to put down a bigger deposit on house number two.

Searching for your first property should be fun and not a chore so don’t let it stress you out. If you miss out on a property don’t let it get you down, an even better property could be just around the corner.

Ready to take the next step and start looking for a mortgage? Contact me today to get a better idea of how much you can afford to spend. Call 020 3355 4841 or email info@thelondonmortgagebroker.co.uk

mortgage guide

* http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/100115/most-expensive-neighborhoods-london.asp