Showing a house – what they don’t tell you……

In a former life, before becoming a mortgage broker, Lee was an estate agent (don’t judge). This month he shares tips on the best way to get your property ready for viewing

Home protectThe do’s & don’ts of showing a house ought to be obvious but from past experience we’ve found that in the excitement of the move, people forget to give their house its manicure, leg wax and makeover and get it in good shape for its big date with the viewing public.

It’s easy to make a house appealing.  From the moment a viewer leaves their car, walks up the clean, weed-free pathway into the tidy hallway with the aroma of freshly perked coffee, their mood is already receptive to the charms of the property.  However, this glitch-free scenario does not always play out in real life.

One particular problem is clutter; especially when the home owner is oblivious to it.  Rooms always look smaller than they are if over-filled with large, dark or mismatched furniture.  Add to that surfaces strewn with miscellaneous knick-knacks, cupboard doors that don’t shut because they are filled to bursting point and bookcases stuffed beyond reasonable capacity and you can be sure that the viewer is distracted from the more pleasing aspects of the property.

So de-clutter – give anything you don’t need to charity, stow all the ornaments away – you have to pack for the move anyway and if you haven’t opened the boxes in the garage/attic/store room since your last move, you don’t need them.

Buy a big tin of Magnolia to paint and freshen up the house, tidying the paintwork as you go and de-personalising the property (you don’t want to be remembered as the vendor with the lime green bathroom no matter how nice you may have thought it looked at the time).  Re-grout your bathroom tiles, polish the chrome and hang new kitchen doors if they are looking tired.

Pay careful attention to cleaning your house – sweep away cobwebs, keep carpets vacuumed and clean the windows.  Check the front door – paint it if necessary then take the lawnmower out of retirement, mow the grass, weed the beds and consider purchasing some cheap, flowering plants to brighten things up.

There are some things that it can be hard to discuss with a vendor.  Just because they love ‘Mauler’ & ‘Killer’ their two Rottweilers it doesn’t follow that viewers will.  Pets are best kept away from the property and pet accessories should be removed until after the viewing.  Which leads me on to the awkward subject of cat litter trays, which should be neither seen nor smelt.  We will never forget the vendor who insisted that every viewer took their shoes off at the front door of the property.  Unfortunately, he owned an elderly cat with very poor aim, invariably missing the litter tray positioned carefully in the centre of the hallway.  Prospective purchasers frequently left the property with cat-urine soaked socks.  Needless to say, the house did not sell.

The other unmentionable is the over-enthusiastic vendor.  Whilst it may seem helpful to follow the viewer around the house pointing out all the electric sockets and each & every light switch, a potential buyer needs to feel comfortable in the house and this is more likely to happen if they are left alone with the agent.  Worse still is the vendor who feels the need to discuss every flaw in the house, recount horror stories about the behaviour of the next door neighbours and mention all the deficiencies in the local schools.  Far better to leave the house, walk the dogs & let the agent get on with it.

That old cliché about freshly brewed coffee works surprisingly well.  There is nothing more off-putting than entering a house to have one’s nose bombarded with strong, unfamiliar or unpleasant smells.  Try to avoid cooking highly-spiced curries – save your baked kippers for another day.  Instead burn a candle or use an air freshener. Try highly-scented cut flowers – sweet peas have a glorious smell.

And when your house is all dressed up, smells beautiful and is clean and sparkling – don’t spoil its big date by keeping it in the dark!  Make sure the lighting is suitable for the time of day and try to avoid viewings after dusk.  Above all, make sure that curtains are drawn & perhaps even consider removing heavy drapes.  Use mirrors to make the most of the light & space and before you know it you will have received a great asking price offer……

From there it’s just a simple matter of arranging the mortgage & insurances for your new property, pack your boxes and pick up your new keys!

Mortgage Market Review – Managing Expectations

clockThe much heralded mortgage market review is now upon us and the consequences of this new legislation are taking shape.  Designed to “hardwire common sense” into the mortgage application process, MMR has brought stringent affordability checks combined with ‘stress’ testing to take into account future interest rate increases. 

The effects so far have been mixed.  We have encountered stress testing by lenders projecting interest rates up to 7% before agreeing the mortgage.  Affordability checks have produced questions about food types, pets, and shopping habits.  One of Lee’s colleagues was asked to clarify her client’s shoe purchase tendencies last week!

The biggest effects so far have been an increase in timescale.  High Street lenders have seen their average mortgage interview time change from 45 minutes to up to 3 hours per appointment and, anecdotally, estate agents are reporting long periods of inactivity in chains while buyers wait for a mortgage appointment. 

So far, we are pleased to say that all mortgages submitted by The Cotswold Mortgage Broker due to complete post MMR, have been offered without undue delay.  However, it is important that buyers are fully prepared for a longer wait than usual and should allow at least 12 weeks for conveyancing.  That’s not to say it can’t happen quicker, but this should be seen as a silver lining rather than the norm.

We have seen a steady increase in enquiries over the last three weeks as clients begin to appreciate the convenience of using a broker able to conduct a mortgage interview at the customer’s home outside normal working hours.  This avoids the inevitable queues of High Street Lenders and is a much more comfortable experience for all concerned. The process is quicker still if all documentation requested prior to the appointment is readily available when Lee arrives.

If you are having any difficulties in securing a mortgage appointment, or like one of our newest customers, have been made to wait three weeks for an approval in principle, please call Lee on:

 

01242 673341 07900 554819

or email lee@cotwoldmortgagebroker.co.uk

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

Purchasing Property – The Professionals

PURCHASING PROPERTY – THE PROFESSIONALS!Professionals

In the past property professionals languished somewhere between rats & cockroaches in the popularity stakes, no doubt heaving a collective sigh of relief when bankers slipped to the bottom of the pile during the banking crisis.  This reputation is largely undeserved with agents & brokers fulfilling an important & necessary role.  Working long hours & usually receiving considerable training, your property professionals are key to a successful house move.

You will encounter several property professionals in the home buying process.   Arguably the first you should consult is the mortgage broker, top of the list because it is crucial to know how much you can afford to borrow before you fall in love with a house you couldn’t afford without a substantial lottery win.  Lee Beard, Managing Director of The Cotswold Mortgage Broker, advises prospective purchasers to “consult your broker at the outset to get a clear & realistic idea of the price of property you should be aiming for.  Your mortgage broker will assess your credit & ability to afford the monthly mortgage payment before selecting the most suitable product for your needs”.

Once you are confident about your purchasing power, it is time to find the house of your dreams.  Even in this internet age, there are definite benefits to registering with your local estate agent be it in person, by phone or by email.  An estate agent goes to many property appraisals throughout the day, and is consequently able to let you know about brand new properties coming to the market before the details are made public on the internet.  If you are selling as well as buying and have not already done so, you should also have your own property appraised, not only to establish its value but also to ascertain how long it is likely to take to sell in the prevailing market conditions.

Once ready, view some properties, make an offer and once your offer is accepted and your mortgage paperwork is completed, you will need the third property professional – the surveyor.

Usually a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, this property professional is crucial to the house buying process, establishing the true condition of your property prior to purchase.  There are three different kinds of survey report starting with a basic valuation carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender to check that the agreed price is correct.  The Homebuyer’s Report is more thorough advising the general state of repair of the property and pointing out any defects such as damp and timber issues.  It will recommend any works required and identify items needing further investigation.  The Daddy of all survey reports is the Full Structural survey, an extremely detailed report generally recommended for old, unusual or listed properties.

Finally you will need the services of either a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who transfers ownership of a property.  The conveyancer checks title, prepares contracts, answers enquiries and performs a multitude of other legal requirements necessary for a successful property transaction.  At the point of completion the conveyancer co-ordinates payments, deals with problems and ensures all monies are received before keys are issued by the estate agent.

So there you have it – The Mortgage Broker, The Estate Agent, The Surveyor and The Conveyancing Solicitor – all very necessary and highly qualified; all experts in their own field but working in symbiosis.  Choose carefully – ensure your property professional is a member of their regulatory body – and you will find they are invaluable in your property acquisition.

Cotswold Mortgage Broker Burgundy small

www.cotswoldmortgagebroker.co.uk
lee@cotswoldmortgagebroker.co.uk

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