Mortgage and Protection Guidance

Choice Mortgages UK

We hope you find the below information helpful during what is an uncertain time for many. As your advisers, we want you to know we are here to help in any way we can. If you have any questions around either engaging your lender or more broadly around your mortgage, protection policies or the wider impacts of the Coronavirus on your financial position please do get in touch.

We do not charge any fees for the advice we give.

Existing Mortgage Borrowers

You should take the time to check whether you are paying the standard variable rate or whether you are tied into a specific product. If there are no early repayment charges, you should consider the options available with your existing lender or even a remortgage to another lender. You may be able to obtain a lower interest rate and save money each month.

Depending on your circumstances and how your finances have been affected by the Coronavirus, you may want to explore a payment holiday with your existing lender.

Mortgage Applications currently being processed

There is no doubt that lenders are struggling to manage the operation implications caused by the Coronavirus, with service levels being significantly affected. Phone lines are extremely busy, and, in some cases, lenders have closed their support lines completely. Most lenders are underwriting applications remotely, but the updates are taking longer than usual due to reduced staff. Mortgage brokers are being urged to contact lenders via their business relationship manager (all of whom we hold personal mobile numbers and email addresses).

All physical valuations have been cancelled and where possible lenders are trying to carry out these by a desktop appraisal. If this is not possible, mortgage offers will be delayed until when the situation improves and valuations can be arranged. 

Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme

Have you reserved a new home, or are you in the process of applying for a help to buy equity loan? Depending on where the property is located, this will determine the agency responsible for assessing your application. You should know that the applications are taking between 5-8 weeks to be assessed by the government agency. Some agents have closed, and there is no response to phone lines or emails. Others have an online portal that we can use to monitor the progress. Builders and developers are very understanding, and in most cases will relax the original exchange deadlines on the reservation agreements – providing clients have instructed solicitors and submitted the application to the Help to Buy agent. 

Mortgage Product Availability

Within the last 24 hours, Barclays, Halifax and Santander have withdrawn their product range for anyone requiring a purchase or remortgage loan in excess of 60% of the property value. We would recommend speaking to our advisors so they can establish your circumstances in order to research all lenders. As we are independent, there may be some lenders still offering products suitable for your needs.

Are you considering a house move?

Whilst none of us know what the coming months will bring, there is a possibility that mortgage funding may become restricted. Whether this is due to the reduced number of products or you have specialist borrowing requirements such as being self-employed, have multiple income sources or have missed any payments.  

Now is the time to explore your options. Do it sooner rather than later, so you fully understand your position. What can you borrow? What are the costs involved? Are there other problems you might face? And how can these be overcome? 

Are you considering a remortgage?

Now might not be the right time to think about remortgaging to another lender, due to the reduced mortgage products, delays in applications, a hold on valuations and the effect on legal services. 

However, if your current mortgage product is due to expire within the next 3-5 months, it is an ideal time to review your options. You might have options with your current lender, and you might be surprised to discover the products still available within the market. Lenders might be able to carry out a remote desktop valuation where you will get an idea of the process. At the very least we can try and give you a timeframe of what action to take. 

Existing Protection and Insurance Policy Holders

For those clients with life, critical illness or income protection policies already in place, you can be assured that the insurers are all responding positively and will pay all valid claims. Please check your existing policies, particularly Income Protection or Accident & Sickness policies for details of your deferred or waiting periods. 

Your current policy may contain valuable benefits as they were taken out before the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether this be a guaranteed insurability option or additional support services – it is worth checking. You could find remote GP Access, advice lines for broader health and wellbeing issues or counselling services. 

Whatever you do, keep your policy in place. And if you have missed a payment, speak to your insurer to see whether it can be reinstated.

Looking to Purchase a New Protection or Insurance Policy

Protection policies are designed to provide a vital safety net for you and your family if you were unable to work due to illness or accident, or if the very worst happened and you were to die. 

Whilst there have been some changes to insurer policy conditions and a tightening of medical underwriting in recent days, products remain available and are often far more affordable than people think. 

What the pandemic has highlighted is how unprepared most people are when it comes to them losing their income. Now is the time to review your circumstances, and if you feel exposed and want peace of mind, there are protection policies available that will give you the security needed in the future.

Remember – we can help. Whatever your query, please call us

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Choice Mortgages have provided me with a fantastic consultative service for over 10 years. I've had absolute peace of mind that everything related to my mortgage, home insurance, life insurance and critical illness insurance has been in hand. Nicki and the team have always given me informed guidance and I've had every confidence in their recommendations and products. A first-class service that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

A first-class service that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Emma and her daughter