A woman walking past the Bank of England in London

What does the Bank of England’s Base Rate rise mean?

The current financial situation is not one that is likely to bring many smiles to faces. From big business to people simply trying to make ends meet, the cost of living is proving a challenge across the board.

As a homeowner, or as somebody wanting to be able to call themselves a homeowner in the near future, this current situation is one to keep an eye on for sure. 

A specific change has taken place recently which is worth knowing about, and it involves the Bank of England. They have increased their base rate, which has repercussions across the financial climate here in the UK. 

In this blog, we take a look at what this means, and what the effects could be for you as somebody who owns, or is looking to own, their own home.

What is the Bank of England’s Base Rate?

The Bank of England’s base rate is the rate it charges to other banks and to mortgage lenders when borrowing money. So with regards to a person’s mortgage, lenders will borrow money from the Bank of England and then that money will be used to cover the cost of purchasing a property. The homeowner then pays that figure back to the lender in the form of mortgage repayments.

Lenders themselves however have to cover the interest rates they are being charged by the Bank of England. One typical way in which they do this is by increasing their own mortgage rates for borrowers.

What increase has taken place?

The big news is that the Bank of England has recently increased the base rate of interest it charges. 

The rate was previously 0.75%. Unfortunately however, this rate has now been raised by 0.25% to 1%.

What effect will this have on my mortgage?

This depends on the type of mortgage you have. If you have a fixed rate mortgage, then no change should take place until the end of the fixed period for which you have signed up.

If you have a variable rate mortgage however, then you can expect to see some unwanted but unavoidable increases to your mortgage repayments in the near future.

If this applies to you, then this is some more unwanted financial news on top of all the other less than desirable headlines over the past few weeks and months.

What should I do?

If you are approaching the end of a fixed mortgage term, or entering the market and looking for a fixed mortgage deal, then opting for another fixed rate deal is not a bad option. This will at least provide stability and consistency in terms of your outgoings.

This will also be beneficial if the cost of living crisis and general financial upheaval continues for a sustained period, which many expect it to do. 

A variable mortgage at this point in time is a riskier option, as the economic market seems to only be moving in one direction at present. A variable rate is an option that leaves you susceptible to fluctuation and the potential of having to make repayments beyond what you had anticipated.

It is of course possible to switch from a variable rate to a fixed rate, and this is an option worth considering – provided you can find a deal that works for you.

Stick or twist when getting on the ladder?

If you are considering making the move onto the property ladder any time soon, then the cost of living crisis, base rate increase, and your own affordability criteria are all factors that need to be carefully looked into.

It is by no means impossible to get onto the property ladder at present, and there are ample reasons for doing so. But it should be stressed that doing so haphazardly and without the right level of planning and careful decision making could backfire.

For contractors and freelancers who are looking for a mortgage, our free mortgage advice can set you on the right path to find the kind of deal which will serve you well over time. But be sure to consider all factors before diving into a mortgage, as the current economic situation is one that needs a careful approach to say the least.

A plant growing from a vase of coins

Don’t let the cost of living ruin your mortgage plans

If you have noticed yourself taking a few sharp intakes of breath due to the cost of bills and other outgoings recently, suffice it to say you are not alone.

The cost of living crisis is the term being given to the current economic situation, and it will have been hard to miss the increase in costs for certain products and services.

If your finances were tight previously, then they are likely to be even tighter now. Equally, if you are looking to save up towards a specific goal, then being able to continuously squirrel away the amount of cash you desire can quickly get tough.

One reason for doing the latter is saving for a home. But finding the right balance between living in the present and saving for your future home can be a difficulty.

In the latest Roots Mortgages blog, we have put together a few ideas to help you stay on track with your savings, while not having to suffer too badly in the present. Take a look.

1 – Shift your cash around straight after payday

Payday is something we all look forward to, and it’s nice to see your accounts fill back up after a few weeks of spending.

If you are planning on putting money aside in order to save for a home, we recommend getting a fixed amount in mind and doing this as soon as your pay cheque comes in. 

This way, your saving is less likely to be based on what’s left at the end of the month, and you get a consistent stream into your saving pot by being proactive.

You also have the option of taking money back out of your savings pot if absolutely needs be, but hopefully that won’t be the case!

2 – Look at your monthly spending and make some decisions

If you are serious about saving up, we recommend going through your monthly spending with a fine comb and finding the areas where you can avoid some expenditure.

Things like the places you shop and finding cheaper alternatives, and cutting back on your household energy use, are a good place to start.

Another popular option many people are choosing to do is cut back on their streaming service subscriptions. There may be other things you are paying for each month, but rarely or simply never use anymore. The only reason they’re still on your outgoings is that you’ve just not got around to ending them or cannot be bothered!

That kind of approach will only elongate the amount of time it takes for you to get your dream home sorted. So make some positive changes now and start saving.

3 – Cut back on treats, or find different ones

Saving for a home comes with an element of sacrifice, as you could be spending your money on other things. But you have a choice about what and how many things you give up in the name of saving.

If there are a few personal treats that you like – be it a fancy dinner with your partner or a mini break for example – then this chunk of money could be spent elsewhere if you were willing to give such luxuries up for a few months.

And that’s not to say you can’t do nice things. Used to fancy hotels? Camping’s a good alternative and will give you all the more motivation to save and get a proper roof over your head sooner rather than later!

4 – Consider getting fit on your commute

Petrol prices have been one of the biggest risers during the cost of living crisis. And while post-pandemic, many of us are working at home more frequently, plenty of us are still guzzling up the miles, potentially on the commute.

Public transport can also be a big drain on your finances over the course of time while commuting. So finding ways to keep this as cheap as possible is a great idea.

Asking for more time working from home is a good idea, while cycling to work is a great option if you are not too far from your office. In fact, many places of work these days have initiatives in place to support cycling to work, with some having shower facilities to ensure you don’t stink out that morning meeting. And what’s more, cycling is a great way to lose some excess pounds.

Walking or running to the office, if feasible, are equally excellent ways to save some cash, move closer to your goals, feel better within yourself and lose some weight. What’s not to like!

5 – Get a clear idea of what you need to save

One really good way of arranging your savings is for you to take the time to set a clear goal to work towards. That way, you can more easily plan out your monthly savings goal, and get a clearer idea of when you will be able to start looking seriously for a mortgage.

Planning and being conscientious is a really positive trait when it comes to getting your mortgage sorted. The more information you have and good advice you get, the better stead you stand yourself in.

We at Root Mortgages are specialists in contractor mortgages and freelancer mortgages, as well as having plenty of experience of dealing with residential mortgages. We are therefore in a great position to provide you with free mortgage advice and give you a clear idea of the path you want to be taking in order to get the home you need.

Saving for a home is not always easy but it is hugely worthwhile once you get hold of the keys to a place you can call your own. Getting in good habits despite the adversity of the cost of living crisis can turn your vision into a reality sooner rather than later.

Length of Mortgage – Things to consider

In the modern age, we have all got used to having things available and ready to use in super quick times. Be it our ability to watch a video online or get our favourite takeaway delivered, we like things to be readily available for us to enjoy.

Despite this, there are still plenty of things that need to be given time. A fine wine is a good example. But a more relevant one for us is securing a mortgage. This is something it’s best not to rush.

We at Roots Mortgages are experts in providing contractor mortgage brokerage services, as well as freelancer mortgage and residential mortgage guidance. As part of this, we feel it our responsibility to ensure all areas are covered when you are putting together a mortgage application.

One thing to bring into your thoughts is the length of your mortgage, and particularly the age at which you will pay off your mortgage.

Looking into the future

There aren’t many things we have to think about which involve having to mentally fast forward a few decades, and envision ourselves a lot older and (possibly) a lot wiser.

But buying a home is one of those things. The very nature of a mortgage commitment is one that will likely span decades. But this could mean that you will be, to be blunt, getting on a bit by the time the full amount is paid off.

When looking into mortgage options then, it is vitally important to consider the age you will be when your mortgage repayments conclude. 

Retirement age vs Mortgage repayments

When a certain age is reached, you can start to turn your thoughts to your retirement and what that extra time may be able to afford you the opportunity to do.

But depending on the length of your mortgage deal, there is a chance that your envisaged retirement age, and the age at which you finish paying off your home, could be very close to one another.

They could even overlap, meaning that you might still be paying off your mortgage after you stop working. Given the reduced income retirement brings, this is not an ideal situation.

Striking a difficult balance

There are a few factors at play that make striking this balance between retirement and mortgage length a particularly tricky thing to do.

One is the increasing average age at which a person takes the step onto the property ladder. Data from Trussle indicates that this average age has risen from 29 to 32 over the course of the past decade.

Additionally, longer term mortgages are increasingly the go-to. This provides an applicant with more affordable mortgage repayments on a monthly basis, and gives them the chance to purchase the home they want sooner rather than later.

The downside of this of course is the higher likelihood of mortgage repayments being something still to consider in older age. 

This is something of a growing trend, as the last decade has also seen a huge rise in 35-year-mortgages. The Financial Conduct Authority has released information indicating that over 63,000 mortgage deals covering 35 years of repayments have been taken out by UK buyers in the past 10 years. This is a 75% year-on-year increase.

Considering all factors

It can be easy to get excited about your plans to buy a home, and any impediment to that can feel really frustrating. 

But the length of your mortgage, and whether this is going to encroach on your retirement plans is something to be mindful of, however far away they may feel.

Larger deposits can help reduce mortgage terms, while being willing to cover more of your mortgage each month can serve you better over time depending on your income.

However you choose to examine this in relation to your own mortgage application, be sure to put the time into protecting ‘future you’ from a headache down the line when it comes to repaying your mortgage.

A frustrated mortgage applicant

Refused a mortgage? Don’t give up!

Not getting something we want is never a nice feeling. This applies across our lives. Be it a table at a restaurant or a promotion at work, this kind of thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Anybody looking to secure a mortgage will obviously want to be accepted as soon as possible. But the reality is that this is often not the case. 

The truth is being accepted for a mortgage can be a challenge. This challenge can become even more difficult if you are self-employed as a contractor or freelancer, or if your credit score isn’t the best. 

This means that being refused a mortgage is something many people have to deal with. Some new data on just how many have faced refusals has come to light this week. But there is also a distinct cause for optimism in the latest findings.

Reasons for refusals

People may be refused a mortgage for a host of reasons. Poor credit scores are a common example, with this being a problem for many lenders when it comes to committing to lending to such an applicant.

Means of income is another area that some lenders struggle with. This is where self-employed workers often come a cropper.

Naturally, each mortgage application will have its unique elements. If a broker is not used, it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the lender is seeing everything they need to see in order to proceed.

High refusal rates

If you have been refused a mortgage by a lender, you are very much not alone.

Recent research from Bluestone Mortgages has found that 23% of those applicants typically underserved by high street lenders, including the self-employed, have been refused a mortgage at some point.

Additionally, younger applicants are more likely to have been turned away when applying for a mortgage compared to older applicants. 77% of applicants typically underserved by high street lenders and between the ages of 18 and 34 have been refused a mortgage. This is compared to 55% for people aged 35-44, and 13% for those over 55.

Is this cause for concern?

It’s not ideal for those who are being refused, but there are definite reasons to not be too concerned.

The first reason is that additional findings from Bluestone Mortgages indicate that 98% of this type of applicant who is refused at some stage does go on to secure a mortgage. This alone should spur on anybody who has not secured the mortgage they would like as of yet.

The second is that the lenders who are doing the refusing are stepping up and not leaving applicants in the lurch completely. They are instead providing advice and guidance that is helping applicants to get the mortgage deal they crave.

This is being done in two main ways. One way of advising is to point applicants in the direction of other lenders who may be in a better position to meet their requirements and offer a mortgage. 

The second is to recommend specialist mortgage brokers who can support and aid their attempts to secure a mortgage.

Getting on the right path

It can be demoralising to be refused a mortgage. But if this has happened to you, there is no reason to lose all hope of securing one down the line.

Often it is simply a case of not being a good fit for the lender you have spoken with. That doesn’t mean that your specific circumstances will rule you out of the running for all lenders however. 

Doing the legwork and finding lenders who are better placed is a great step to take. This can be difficult to do alone though, so having a mortgage broker in your corner is really advantageous.

Roots Mortgages knows the right lenders to approach and how to give yourself a better chance of success as a self-employed worker. Our position as a leading contractor mortgage broker and freelancer mortgage broker means we can offer the expert guidance you need to get your mortgage plans moving in the right direction.

A person using credit cards to buy

Credit score putting you off applying for a mortgage?

There are a few things that you ideally don’t want to be associated with in life. Financially speaking, one of the main ones to avoid is a poor credit score.

A credit score is an important figure that will be used by anybody who is in a position to lend you money. Be this a bank, a payday lender or a building society, a credit score is something that will be factored in.

New research has found that concerns around poor credit scores are putting a significant proportion of people off applying for a home. 

So in an attempt to offer advice to contractors and freelancers who may share these concerns, we have taken a look at what is afoot.

What exactly is a credit score?

In our experience, plenty of people know the term credit score, but many aren’t sure exactly what it means.

Put simply, a credit score is a number between X and Y. Differing providers of credit scores use slightly different scales, but lets say they use a scale of 300 to 850. Your score indicates how worthy of financial credit you are to a lender. The closer to 850 a person’s credit score is, the more likely the lender is to proceed with their application. 

Factors that influence a person’s credit score include their repayment history, the length of their credit history, the types of loans they have taken in the past or are currently repaying, and the total debt that a person has. 

Do I need to know my credit score?

If you have plans to apply for a home in the next year or so, then knowing your credit score is very useful.

Your credit score will be an important statistic throughout the application process, and will be factored in by brokers and lenders to help evaluate what kind of mortgage you might be able to get.

My credit score is not great – Is that a problem?

According to new research from The Mortgage Lender, one in every ten people in Britain has been put off applying for mortgages due to fears about low credit scores.

However, a low credit score is not the end of the world by any means. If you have plans to buy a home in the coming years, there are things you can do to improve your credit score.

Paying your bills on time is an important step to take for certain, while an obvious one is looking to pay off as much debt as you can. This can seem challenging when saving up for a deposit, but will be very beneficial if you are able to do so.

Also look to stay on top of your credit report, and see if there may be any errors contained within it. If something’s been miscalculated, then amending this could see your score move in the right direction quickly.

If you have unused credit card accounts, look to get rid of them as soon as possible. And also aim not to max out on available credit, as this will hamper your attempts to improve your credit score.

It’s all about being more savvy with your money and taking a stable and mature approach to your financial situation.

Is not knowing my credit score a bad thing?

It’s not ideal if you are looking to apply for a mortgage soon. But you certainly are not alone if you find yourself in this boat. 

The research from The Mortgage Lender has found that 62% of UK adults surveyed didn’t know their credit score. Interestingly, half of those surveyed who were looking to buy a house in the next year did not know their credit score.

Additionally, only 18% of those surveyed had taken steps to improve their credit score. 

So all in all, if this is you then you shouldn’t feel out of the loop. But if you have aspirations to get a property of your own in the near future, getting to grips with your credit score is a very good idea.

Getting on top of your credit score

If you are a contractor or freelancer with ambitions to get on the property ladder, your credit score might not be something you have overly thought about.

If you do not know it, then getting clarity on what it is at present is a great first step. Then following some of the suggestions outlined above to help enhance your credit score is certainly worthwhile.

By improving your credit score sooner rather than later, you give yourself a better chance of securing the home you want.

Another consideration is that there are plenty of products out there in the mortgage market which can meet the requirements of people with low credit scores, so don’t lose hope simply because your credit score is not perfect.

Trusting a contractor mortgage broker or freelance mortgage broker such as Roots Mortgages can be the first step towards finding your dream home with the perfect mortgage.

A man in a dark suit with his thumb up

Vida makes positive changes for contractors

We at Roots Mortgages specialise in working with contractors and freelancers to help them negotiate the mortgage market.

In case you are new to contracting or freelancing, or work in this way but have not previously thought about buying a home, then it’s important to know that it isn’t always a straightforward process.

In truth, buying a home is rarely a simple thing, regardless of your profession. But over the years, many contractors and freelancers have found it particularly problematic.

We are dead set on turning that tide however, and our goal is to help as many contractors and freelancers achieve their property dreams as we can. 

With this in mind, it is always satisfying to see others in the industry making it easier for contractors and freelancers too. This week, a specialist lender has made enhancements to their affordability criteria for contractors. So we wanted to take a look at what’s on offer.

Which lender is this?

The lender in question is Vida Homeloans. This is a relatively young company, only founded in 2016.

However, Vida has developed a reputation in that time thanks to its commitment to helping every person find a home ‘no matter their circumstances’.

What are the new lending criteria for contractors?

Vida has made a series of changes to its affordability criteria with the aim of making it easier for contractors to land a mortgage deal that works for them.

An important part of this is contractors being able to borrow up to 48 times their weekly rate. This provides greater clarity for contractors when it comes to understanding the kind of figures they can borrow to support their homebuying goals.

Contractors will be considered from the first day of their contract, provided they have at least one year of employment in a similar line of work.

Furthermore, contractors will still be able to apply for a mortgage even if they only have three months left on their current contract.

This is all to create a smoother and easier process for contractors seeking the support they need to get the home they want. 

According to Vida’s director of mortgage distribution, the changes are all part of an effort to make the plans of contractors easier to fulfill.

Richard Tugwell said: “We are determined to provide attractive, accessible products that support contractors and the wider self-employed market, who have been cut out of traditional high-street lending. We continue to see strong demand from our intermediary partners and want to continue growing our lending and offering a great service to brokers and customers.”

Greater awareness of contractor needs

These changes from Vida are a concerted effort to make life easier for contractors, in a space which has not always been friendly to them. 

Securing mortgages has proved challenging for many self-employed workers over the years, so seeing options such as the one Vida has available within the wider market should be something appreciated by contractors.

Having said this, Vida’s offering may not be the right option for you, and we as contractor mortgage brokers can help provide you with the guidance you need to find that perfect choice. 

But Vida should be congratulated for making positive changes within a market where ‘playing it safe’ can all too often be the name of the game for lenders.

A couple unpacking boxes

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A mortgage broker descending some stairs

Mortgage Brokers – A luxury or a necessity?

People buy properties for all kinds of reasons. For many people reading this blog, that reason will be to have a house that you can call your own. You take pride in owning your own home, especially if you have worked hard to earn the kind of money that is going to allow you to put down those roots.

As pleasing as it can be to secure a home of your own, there’s no denying that buying a house is an expensive business. That means that if you are planning on trying to buy a home soon, you will want to get an idea of what kind of financial clout you need to have behind you.

Within this estimation process, any expenditure you feel you can avoid is going to be something to consider. And there’s a temptation to add the use of a mortgage broker to that list. 

It is certainly possible to secure a mortgage without using a broker. But is it the best move for you, particularly if you are a contractor or freelancer? In the latest Roots Mortgages blog, we try to answer this question.

The role of a mortgage broker

The first thing to clarify is what a mortgage broker actually does.

Put simply, a mortgage broker acts as a go-between for the mortgage applicant and the mortgage lender. The broker can take on the mantle of finding you the best mortgage deal for your personal circumstances. They use insight, connections and knowledge built up from a number of years that you are very unlikely to have yourself. 

Brokers also typically have access to a variety of lenders, meaning they can often have access to better mortgage rates. This can help save you a significant amount of money over the course of time.

Most people have the first thought of going to their bank, but banks have a very small selection of mortgages. This means you will miss out on better deals that are out there. Roots has access to more than 12,000 mortgages from over 90 lenders – imagine speaking to each of those yourself!

Bringing expertise to the table

The world of mortgages can be somewhat tricky to negotiate. One of the key reasons people use brokers is to have an expert in place that can tackle any issues that come up, offer guidance and advice, and use their connections to get the best deal for the applicant.

This expertise becomes all the more valuable if you face a specific barrier to securing your own home. Take contractors and freelancers as an example. Demonstrating affordability can be a challenge here, with some lenders not always comfortable offering mortgage deals to this type of applicant.

What a contractor mortgage broker or freelancer mortgage broker can do in this instance is ensure that the application covers everything it needs to cover from the perspective of the lender. Affordability can be made crystal clear in a way that lenders will be able to understand and act upon. And any additional pain points will have been faced 100 times over by brokers before, so they will understand the situation at hand and advise the applicant as to the best next steps. This in turn will increase the chances of a smooth application process and ultimately, successfully securing a mortgage deal.

If you were to face these challenges as an applicant directly, you may not have the experience or ability to navigate the various problems at hand. This can take up a lot of your time trying to sort, and still leave you in a position whereby you are not able to secure the mortgage deal you want.

Making life easier for lenders

One key benefit of using a broker is that it tends to speed up the ability for lenders to carry out their work around mortgage applications. 

A recent survey from IMLA found that around half of lenders felt that unnecessary delays were more easily avoided when brokers were used by applicants. 58% of the lenders surveyed believed applications submitted by brokers had a better chance of being successful. 

There has also been an increasing trend of lenders looking to strengthen their ties and relationships with brokers. This has come in the form of broker training, as well as growing investment in technology to support brokers and mortgage advisors.

The choice is yours

When applying to a lender for a mortgage, simplicity is something to keep front of mind. Lenders want to have information that is easy to understand, and can then be used to make an accurate decision on whether to proceed with or decline a mortgage application.

This means that if your personal circumstances are somewhat complex, such as being employed as a contractor or freelancer, then using a contractor mortgage broker or freelancer mortgage broker can help to simplify your application. 

The broker’s ability to access the best deals for you is also something to factor in. While you may feel confident in your ability to do your research and find deals you think are good for you, a broker will live and breathe this kind of thing. That experience and expertise on the broker’s part could be crucial to getting the deal you want.

Using a mortgage broker is an investment in itself. But it could be an investment that helps you not only get a mortgage deal, but get a mortgage deal that is better than you would be able to find off your own back.

A sold sign on a house

Looking to sell? March might serve you well

In a week that starts off with Valentine’s Day, it felt right to put a little rhyme in our blog title. Poetry and mortgages don’t tend to cross paths too often, so if you want to call us visionaries, we will allow it.

Layered within that beautiful rhyme is an important point for anybody looking to sell their home. This is that the most opportune month of the year to do so is on the horizon.

According to research from RightMove, March is the best month to sell your home judging by market statistics. 

Our latest blog takes a look into why this might be, and what this could mean for you.

Why is March the best time to sell a home?

RightMove has found a fairly consistent trend within the mortgage market for the month of March.

In the past five years, excluding 2020 when COVID-19 hit the UK in earnest, March has been the month in which the highest number of enquiries for property on sale have been recorded.

According to RightMove, March has also seen a consistent pattern of more new listings, increased buyer demand, and more home valuation requests in recent years.

Add to this the fact that the second-strongest month is April and third-strongest is May, and now is really the time to start looking to get your property onto the market if selling is what you wish to do.

Building on a strong start to 2022

As well as the consistently strong time of year being on the horizon, recent months have included many trends which are favourable to people who may be looking to sell a property.

There has already been a huge demand for mortgages in the early part of the year, while the possibility of home movers making a healthy profit in 2022 is something we have recently touched upon here at Roots Mortgages.

2021 also saw a significant uplift in the number of first time buyers, meaning demand for property from this type of buyer in 2022 could well be strong.

And there is also the recent mortgage rates rise to throw into the equation. Now, no home owner will be delighted about this trend, but the chances are that another rise will be in the offing in the near future. Getting a fixed mortgage rate deal on a new property and selling your old property sooner rather than later could prove advantageous in the long run.

Strike while the iron’s hot?

There is always plenty to consider when selling your home. But there are certainly a few interesting elements at play at the moment that make the upcoming couple of months an opportune period to get moving with any plans you may have.

Of course, having a place you wish to move to lined up is central to any home move. But if you have seen plenty of feasible options on the market, then selling up during the year’s mortgage purple patch could be a useful endeavour.

As always, we encourage you to seek the right support if you are looking to sell or buy a home, particularly if you are seeking a mortgage as a contractor or as a freelancer

But with the right approach and things falling your way, selling your home in the near future could be a smooth and rewarding process.

Bank Tube Station entrance portal

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If you are somebody who is pretty diligent and on-the-ball when it comes to their finances, you won’t have overlooked some of the additional expenditure that will have come your way in recent months.

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