Do I Need a Mortgage Broker?

The Cotswold Mortgage Broker is an approachable, family-run firm in frequent contact with prospective clients, looking for guidance on a range of mortgage related questions.  We are always pleased to advise without expectation of custom.  One of the most frequently asked questions is ‘Do I need to use a broker?’

The short answer to this is no, and where appropriate, we advise our enquirers accordingly, even though it may seem like we are turning away business.  Reputation is everything and we won’t take a fee that we cannot justify.

The truth of the matter is that if you are looking for a mortgage, you are employed, have good equity and no credit impairment in the background, you are probably better off applying to your existing lender in the first instance.  The same applies if you fulfil this criteria but are looking to move, though if you are a first time buyer, you may well benefit from a broker researching for you.  Regardless, we are always happy to ‘shop around’ on your behalf and if we can save you money, then we will advise you accordingly.  If we cannot save you money, or the amount you save is not worth the hassle of changing lenders, then we will tell you honestly at the outset. 

So, when would you use a mortgage broker? For almost any other scenario.  Every lender has a different underwriting process so where one may have stringent guidelines that preclude self-employed workers, another will not.  Where one will decline the case if the applicant has a CCJ, another will take that client.  If your income multiples are insufficient, if you receive other sources of income, if your age is a factor, if your house is of an unusual construction, if you are purchasing for investment or you have been declined by a lender, then that is when your mortgage broker comes into his own.

Mortgage brokers are highly regulated, regularly scrutinized and work just for you.  At the Cotswold Mortgage Broker, we have decades of combined experience in mortgages and property.  If you become our client, we will find you the most suitable deal, steer you through the application process, manage your expectations (mortgage applications, like conveyancing, are rarely swift-moving) and we will fight like tigers to ensure that your application goes as smoothly as possible through underwriting.  We cannot promise it will be entirely stress free as the underwriting process regularly changes, but we promise to find you the most suitable product for your aspirations, save you money wherever possible and guide you all the way.

Our broker fee (heavily discounted for first time buyers and returning customers) only becomes payable when your mortgage is offered.  If our efforts don’t result in a mortgage offer, then you don’t pay our fee.  Unlike some other brokers, we NEVER charge our broker fee or any part of it up front.

If you would like advice or guidance on any further mortgage related matter, call Lee on 01242 673341

A Question of Loyalty

LoyaltyThe subject of a certain motoring organisation and their pricing policy arose during a conversation with a family member last week.  The family member concerned, having been a member of the said organisation in excess of 50 years, discovered he had been paying greatly in excess of the discounted rate given to new customers for many years.  When he challenged the lack of loyalty to long standing members, the customer services operative seemed baffled, implying it was the FM’s fault for not phoning and asking for a discount each and every year. Whilst a long way from ideal, it is at least, an option for young, fit and able bodied people but not always possible for the elderly.  Some find it harder to ‘shop around’.

Likewise, the utility companies have jumped on the same bandwagon caring nothing for loyal customers who remain with them, rewarding those who jump ship every year.

Loyalty, “a strong feeling of support or allegiance” according to the Oxford dictionary, seems to have become a dirty word in business terms.  It is absent entirely from call centres and unused by many salesmen who are only concerned with new customers, considering long standing customers a commodity to gain extra fees.

The Cotswold Mortgage Broker is four years years old and we have not increased our fees from the day we started.  We decided from the outset that we wanted to make loyalty a key feature of our company and not only do we discount our standard fee by 50% for first time buyers, but we also reward loyalty to the tune of a 50% discount from the standard fee of £495.00 for every subsequent mortgage after the first.  No customer is ever asked to pay a full broker fee more than once, not even if we arrange a string of buy to let mortgages. Furthermore, our fee does not become payable until the property or re-mortgage completes. If the property purchase does not happen, we do not get paid, regardless of how much time we have taken to process the application.  

We hope this approach sets us apart from other Mortgage Brokers.  We care about our customers and want them to come back to us.  Loyalty is important – it matters.

Property – Utilising the garden: The Bird’s & Bees

A good sized back garden is an asset to any property and can be used for a multitude of reasons including growing plants & keeping livestock.  Livestock within reason,  that is;  we don’t suggest you pop out to the local cattle market and head home with a dozen merino sheep, a herd of Angus cattle & two pot-bellied pigs unless you have a substantial amount of acreage.  There are smaller & more sensible options if you like the idea of having your own animal products.

The Birds……

 

We kept chickens until recently when we lost them to a fox strike. The chicken keeping experience was rewarding with the girls enriching our lives becoming little characters in their own right as well as prolific egg layers. It is worth doing some research before considering chickens so they may live comfortably and happily alongside their humans.

Firstly chickens need a good home.  It need not be expensive but it is important to consider the size of the chickens in relation to their accommodation.  When we looked for a coop, we considered purchasing online where there was a good range of cheap hen houses.  We settled on one in principle but visited a local poultry seller locally before the final decision – and it was just as well.  The size shown in the photograph was deceptive and the poultry seller had purchased a similar version to demonstrate its unsuitability. Whilst there is no need to take out a mortgage to buy a hen house, something too cheap would not provide adequate shelter.  Our poor girls would have been cramped and uncomfortable had we proceeded with the first choice.  We ultimately bought from eBay having checked the potential new hen house first, paying careful attention to dimensions and fox proofing.  It came flat packed but was easy to build and had a run attached.    To finish, we put a fence around to give the chickens a good sized area to scratch around in.

Chicken run

Chickens are surprisingly easy to keep.  We cleaned our coop every 3/4 days which took about 10 minutes.  Once cleaned mite powder was sprinkled into the corners and on the perches.  We changed food and water  every few days and the chickens often enjoyed our left over vegetables and grass clippings.  They were also partial to a handful of porridge oats as their daily treat.  Chickens are very sociable and ours squatted down for a stroke whenever we entered the run.  They were friendly enough to tolerate being picked up & cuddled by children.

Chickens, like other animals occasionally get sick.  Some illnesses are treatable at home but others need intervention.  When our Columbian black tail chicken was poorly we consulted the vet who prescribed antibiotics but they did not work and we ultimately lost her. 

LuluHowever, the two surviving chickens, Lulu & Doris thrived and lived long, happy lives.  When they were older and their laying diminished, they were joined by two legbars (Cream & Daphne) who took on the main egg laying responsibility while the other two became well-loved pets.

If chicken keeping appeals, try a local poultry stockist like Fosters of Quedgeley or consider re-homing an ex-battery hen through the British Hen Welfare Trust.

……And the Bees!

 

There has been a dramatic decline in the number of bees over the course of the last few years, not just in this country but throughout the world, which is a worthy reason to consider keeping them in your back garden providing the neighbours have been consulted and don’t have any major objections.  As natural pollinators, bees are a gardener’s friend and are naturally interesting to observe in their own right.  They produce delicious honey and provide beeswax for polishing furniture or making candles.

Whilst beekeeping sounds like an interesting hobby with relatively cheap start-up costs, we have yet to attempt it in our garden.  It is something to consider in the future, subject to approval from the neighbours. A good starting point for would-be bee keeper is to visit the website of the local branch of the Beekeepers Association  for advice & help on how to get started.

 Whether you opt for the birds or the bees (or something larger), keeping animals is a productive and rewarding experience.  Relaxing by the hen house, listening to the soft chirruping of chickens is a great stress buster after a tough day.

A Day in the Life of a Mortgage Broker

Its 9.15 Monday morning and the phone is ringing off the hook as it did several times yesterday afternoon.   And despite the fact it was Sunday afternoon, it was answered.  Lee is nothing if not dedicated to his customers which is great for them but less so for me as we had friends due round.  Oh the joys of working from home!

But I digress.  Back to Monday morning & Lee picks up the phone.  It’s a call from a lender.  One of our client’s is depending on the quick arrival of her mortgage offer but the underwriters have decided they need to see further documentation before they can issue it.  Lee phones the client.  She is at work but her mother is home and can retrieve the paperwork but she doesn’t drive.  It’s not a problem though.  Lee considers it part of the service and jumps in his car to collect it.  The client is local so he is back in half an hour and faxes the papers to the lender straight away.

By now there are 5 messages on the answer phone.  Two are from potential new clients.  Lee phones them back immediately and takes detailed notes of their requirements.  One is a first time buyer and completely new to the mortgage process.  Lee was an estate agent before he was a mortgage broker so can easily give his young client the guidance he needs.  Lee already has an 8.pm appointment tonight but the first time buyer has seen a property he likes so Lee arranges a home visit for 6.30.

The second call is from a previous client.  He is purchasing another buy to let property and his wife recently gave birth to their third child so he wants to increase his life cover.    Lee takes ten minutes for a chat (they always got on very well) and arranges to pop down to Bristol on Thursday to complete the paperwork.  

“Don’t forget to discount the fee,” he reminds me. 

We discount our fee by 50% for first time buyers and for any customer who uses us more than once – loyalty is a big deal and should be rewarded.

“Don’t go via Matala’s” I retort.  There is an Indian spice shop in Bristol that Lee spends far too much time and money in whenever he is down that way.  He is a big curry fan.

The door bell goes and a shadow looms against the glass front door.  It is a one of the Business Development Managers who has come to discuss the latest mortgage products.  Lee puts on the kettle, grabs some digestives and listens.   I watch Lee’s face as he processes the information.  You can almost see the light bulb above his head as he works out which clients could benefit from the new products.

As the representative leaves the postman arrives bringing a couple of mortgage offers.  Lee checks the details and rings the clients with the good news.  One of them asks if Lee can help with her buildings and contents insurance.  Lee sources the best product, calls her back and completes an online application.  She asks Lee if he might be able to help her friend Mike who has just had his mortgage application declined by a high street lender.

Lee telephones Mike, chats for a while then puts down the phone looking grim. 

“He’s had two pay day loans, “he sighs.

We exchange glances.  Pay day loans are the kiss of death to mortgage applications.  It’s a terrible shame that people don’t understand the consequences of taking these loans out. 

“He seems such a nice lad,” says Lee shaking his head sadly.  We both know he won’t be able to help.

It’s now 1pm and Lee breaks his day by walking our grumpy border terrier.  He lets the chickens out and sits back down at his desk for an hour’s admin while the chickens potter past the window.

2pm arrives and Lee prepares for his evening appointments based on the information he has already taken.  He sources a selection of suitable mortgages and is just printing off his recommendations when the phone rings.  It is a lender calling with bad news.  A heated conversation ensues but the upshot is the underwriter won’t allow the mortgage.  Unfortunately no matter how carefully we research, things do go wrong sometimes.  Mortgages are approved in principle but something in the full application may spook the lender and provoke concerns about their level of exposure.  In this case, there has been some undisclosed credit and it has produced an unequivocal “No”.

Fortunately Lee usually researches with a ‘back-up’ lender in place.  He immediately contacts the other lender who anticipates a successful application even with the credit problems and Lee phones the client to explain.  It turns out the client had genuinely forgotten to enter one of his wife’s credit cards on the application but is happy to proceed with the new lender.  Lee books another appointment for tomorrow night to sign the new paperwork. 

Lee spends the rest of the afternoon sourcing bridging finance for one client and public liability insurance for a horse show for another while I man the phones . He grabs a quick bite of tea (curry) and gets suited and booted for his evening appointments.  Just before he leaves, the fax line rings and a mortgage offer churns through.  It is for the client he collected the documentation for earlier in the day so he tucks the mobile under his chin & calls her with the good news as he walks out the door.

It’s 9.25 by the time Lee gets home.  He opens his briefcase and puts both lots of paperwork on his desk ready to process tomorrow.  It looks like he can help both clients so he’s in a good mood.   He checks his email before settling down for the evening television.  Among the new enquiries and emails from lenders is an unexpected and rather heart warming testimonial; a perfect end to a long day.

By Jacqui Beard

Welcome to our Re-branded website

Welcome to our shiny, new, re-branded website.  We hope you like the new colours.

Re-branding is never an easy decision to make and it is something we have considered for some time.  Although we pride ourselves in being a local mortgage broker with particular interest in the Cheltenham property market, we find that we are increasingly dealing with customers further afield.  Lately we have helped a number of clients in the Cotswolds and it seems right to have a more inclusive company name that better reflects the locale of our clients. So goodbye to The Mortgage Broker Cheltenham Limited:  hello Cotswold Mortgage Broker.

When we first set up our mortgage company, we decided to provide the best possible service to our customers by keeping appointments convenient to them.  Where geographically possible, we travel to you to complete the paperwork.  Although primarily Gloucestershire based we are happy to meet clients who live in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and as far south as Bristol, Bath and Swindon providing daytime, evening and weekend appointments. Some customers prefer to meet at work or other neutral environment.We have even been asked to meet at a library and a church!  We are extremely flexible and will always try to work to your best convenience.

So we start the New Year with new colours and a new name.  Do call us on 01242 6733341 if we can help at all with your mortgage or insurance requirements.  Alternatively feel free to email lee@cotswoldmortgagebroker.co.uk

By Jacqui Beard