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Precise Mortgages appoints a new BDM for London South West

08 May 2019

Precise Mortgages, the UK’s leading specialist lender*, has appointed a new Business Development Manager to further strengthen its support for brokers in the London South West region.

The lender has appointed Charlotte Parker to support brokers in the Guildford, Kingston upon Thames, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, South West London, Sutton and Twickenham postcodes.

Charlotte has 18 years of experience working as a mortgage advisor for Nationwide and, most recently, as a mortgage broker for Embrace Financial Services.

Her arrival is part of a reshuffle of Precise Mortgages’ Sales Team which will see her predecessor, Dan Watson, move into a new Bridging Specialist Distribution Manager role, enabling the lender to provide nationwide support for its Bridging proposition.

Jamie Pritchard, Head of Sales for Precise Mortgages, said: “I am delighted that Charlotte has chosen to join our Sales Team. I believe her vast experience will stand her in good stead for understanding the needs of her broker relationships, as well as educating them about the solutions that a specialist lender like Precise Mortgages can provide.”

Source: * BVA BDRC Project Mercury Report Q4 2018

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Precise Mortgages extends top slicing across entire buy to let mortgage range

03 May 2019

Precise Mortgages, the UK’s leading specialist lender*, has made its top slicing feature available across its entire buy to let range to help more customers achieve greater flexibility around product choice and loan size.

The lender is now accepting top slicing on all eligible personal ownership, limited company, portfolio, HMO, and holiday and student let applications. First time buyers are excluded.

Customers will be able to use surplus portfolio or earned income to demonstrate that they could meet any financial stresses on their new property application, rather than through the rental income of that property alone.

This can help to unlock its range of 2 year Fixed rate buy to let mortgages, in addition to its 5 year Fixed rate products, to give customers access to a wider range of products which may previously not have been achievable.

Precise Mortgages has also streamlined the application process by reducing the number of questions brokers have to provide answers for and enhanced its online buy to let calculator.

Alan Cleary, Managing Director of Precise Mortgages, said: “In a challenging market, we’re always thinking of new ways to help more customers get the buy to let mortgage they want and optimise their investment opportunity.

“By making our top slicing feature available across our entire buy to let range it creates greater access to our 2 year Fixed rate products, therefore opening up options to more customers, particularly those who might have been restricted by ICR requirements in the past.”

*Source: BVA BDRC Project Mercury Report Q4 2018

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Catering for a new demographic of workers

02 May 2019

Alan Cleary - Managing Director of Precise Mortgages

It seems like there’s hardly a month that goes by now when we’re not told about a fancy new term to describe a certain demographic of people. In recent times, we’ve been introduced to the ‘squeezed middle’, the ‘millennials’, the ‘JAMS’ (Just About Managing) and ‘Generation Z’.

The latest group I’ve read about are the ‘slashies’ – self-employed people who are working two or more jobs, for example as a web designer/taxi driver, to make their living. According to a study by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, there are now more than 320,000 ‘slashies’ (I’ve also seen them described as having ‘portfolio careers’ or ‘multi-hyphenate careers’) in the UK.

Although it’s easy to be dismissive when you read about these new terms, I think this new emerging demographic of workers highlights a really important point – the make-up of the UK’s workforce is changing and the way they’re working is changing.

The latest government figures show there are now 4.83 million self-employed people in the UK, working in a huge variety of different fields – from professional landlords to tradespeople, taxi drivers to freelancers.

Technological advances have encouraged many people to take the plunge – all you need is a smartphone or laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection and you can work from almost anywhere. People now have access to all sorts of new opportunities that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, giving them the freedom and flexibility to be their own boss and make a decent living.

But while the UK’s self-employed sector continues to go from strength to strength, many lenders still seem to be lagging behind when it comes to approving new applications, meaning these workers can still struggle to secure the mortgage they need.

The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) in 2014 saw the introduction of new rules to ensure borrowers are only accepted for mortgages they can afford. All prospective borrowers must now prove their income, so the difficulty people who work for themselves have is providing that evidence as their income can fluctuate from month to month.

Many lenders require more proof of employment from self-employed people than they do from employees, the most common difference being a two- to three-year history compared to just 12 months for salaried employees. As many lenders perceive their financial situation as being too complex or their income as too irregular, it means there are a growing number of potential borrowers unable to access the mortgage they need, as well as an increase in brokers struggling to place their customers’ cases.

Fortunately, specialist lenders, such as Precise Mortgages, understand the challenges and complexities of these cases and can provide solutions to customers who fall outside of mainstream lenders’ criteria. Since MMR came into force, specialist lenders have been in the vanguard of ensuring self-employed workers can still access mortgages. Specialist lenders have experience of reading financial accounts and SA302 statements, and have the risk management processes and skilled underwriters in place to ensure a good outcome for the borrower, broker and lender.

So if you’re approached by one of the UK’s 4.83 million self-employed customers and they’re struggling to get the mortgage or loan they want with a mainstream lender, it’s worth knowing that there are other lenders out there who can help. With the self-employed market worth an estimated £275 billion to the UK economy each year, it’s vital that their growing numbers are catered for, both now and in the future.

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How to bridge those house buying bumps

01 May 2019

Alan Cleary - Managing Director of Precise Mortgages

I was struck by a statistic I read in the January snapshot from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which said that it now takes 19.4 weeks, on average, to sell a property in the UK — the longest length of time since RICS started recording such information.

The report goes on to say that the UK housing market faces a challenging 2019 and is unlikely to see much change in the coming year, with a continuation of weakening sales activity. RICS predicts that as sales activity continues to flatline, house price growth will, in turn, falter. There are a number of reasons for this declining sales activity. For example, average housing stock levels are low, the ongoing Brexit shenanigans and concerns about prospective interest rate rises.

With all of this uncertainty, imagine if your customer has seen the perfect property, but it is stuck in the middle of a long and slow-moving chain. Buying and selling a property is stressful at the best of times, but that four-and-a-half month wait is going to feel even more tortuous while they’re desperately waiting for some movement in this sluggish market.

So what can you do for them? Tell them to cross their fingers, play the long game and hope that the property they’ve had their eye on is still available when there’s finally some movement in the chain? Or do you help them to take things into their own hands and get things moving?

It’s why I’m not surprised when I read that the bridging market grew by nearly 15% in 2018 compared with 2017, with members of the Association of Short Term Lenders writing more than £4bn of loans. There was a similar increase in the value of applications (nearly £21.5bn, up by 13.4% on 2017). Here at Precise Mortgages, we’ve also seen growth in our bridging business and this is where I think that reports of a slower residential market are right: stalled purchases and sales have created a bounce in the number of borrowers who need to access bridging finance to complete their move.

In this uncertain economic environment, a bridging loan could provide useful, flexible finance for a whole range of purposes, including breaking a property chain. They’re not the solution for everyone, and borrowers should always seek independent advice before taking one out, but if your customer is in danger of a sale falling through because of a chain break, or if they want to buy a new home while waiting for their current one to sell, they could provide a viable alternative.

By taking out a bridging loan, a customer can proceed with the purchase of their new home, even if a potential buyer of their current property has withdrawn.

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Myth busting on buy to let

23 April 2019

Alan Cleary - Managing Director of Precise Mortgages

There’s been a lot of negativity flying around about buy to let, with commentators reeling off lists of woes facing landlords in today’s market. But I’m not sure that’s fair. From where I am sitting the buy to let market is going great guns, with volumes growing steadily and appetite from landlords for both purchase and remortgage holding strong.

So I thought I’d take this chance to bust some of the myths that seem to have grown around the market in recent years.

Myth #1: Landlords can’t remain profitable

This is utter fantasy. Some landlords won’t remain profitable as they feel the impact of losing tax relief on their mortgage interest. But to be honest, the number of landlords for whom this is true is low and getting lower.

The vast majority of landlords knew where their weak properties were and have already made adjustments to their portfolios to protect their profitability. We’ve seen a range of approaches to improving yields where the tax changes have bitten, including selling up one or two properties from a portfolio to pay more equity into their remaining properties, thus bringing down LTV and mortgage costs.

We’ve also seen portfolios rebalanced to include more properties in areas of the country where prices are lower and rental incomes proportionately larger. Popular property types have also shifted away from single units to multi lets and HMOs.

Myth #2: There aren’t opportunities for landlords anymore

House price inflation may be subdued at the moment, but landlords invest for both capital and income purposes and there are still plenty of opportunities for growth and profit.

Lower capital outlays are a good thing for landlords. In fact, we are seeing strong appetite on the purchase side of our business for exactly this reason. Rents are also traditionally resilient in the event of a property market downturn, so income is insulated.

The removal of tax relief has had an impact on how much income landlords can retain but as already mentioned, we’ve seen a shift away from individual buy to let towards the use of limited company buy to let on purchase lending. Recent research we conducted with BDRC1 and found that almost two in three (64%) landlords with more than four properties plan to buy using a limited company structure this year.

Myth #3: Limited company buy to let is the only way to buy

Our research found that only 17% of landlords with one to three properties plan to use limited company status. This makes perfect sense to us. Landlords with one or two properties can still be professional but their financial situation is likely to be very different from portfolio landlords with 100 properties.

It’s possible that these landlords are those who’ve opted to use buy to let as part of their pension planning; setting up and running a company for this type of landlord is almost certainly not going to be the right approach.

Tax advisers will consider their income position all around, as well as the income position of their partner and it’s likely they’d find that if overall income is less than £100,000 between partners, a limited company isn’t going to offer any financial benefit. This is because from 6 April 2019, basic rate tax is payable up to £50,000. A couple’s combined allowance is therefore £100,000.

That means, the ‘loss’ of tax relief doesn’t hit them – as even when the full changes come in, they will still be able to claim a tax credit of 20 per cent. The change in regime does mean this is applied to revenue not profit as tax relief has been, but nevertheless, that’s a sizeable level of income annually to earn. If a couple’s income is below that level, limited company buy to let is probably not going to make sense.

While this is oversimplifying the scenario considerably, what this highlights is just how important it is for landlords of all shapes and sizes to take professional tax advice from a specialist as well as taking mortgage advice from their broker.

Source: 1 BVA BDRC Landlords Panel Q4 2018

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