Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pensions advisers & advice...Swindon & beyond

In the old days when you wanted advice on your company pension, there was somebody you could call up or even meet to discuss contributions, investment choice & other matters.

However with cost cutting many firms outsource their pension services & employees do not have anybody to talk to.

Where can you get pensions advice?

You an contact an Independent Financial Adviser. We deal with pension everyday especially for self-employed people or those who had company pensions transferred into Personal Pensions.

The same principles apply whether you have a company, stakeholder, personal or self invested Personal Pension (SIPP).

You are looking to minimize charges and choose the right investments suited to your age and attitude to risk.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

4.99% Mortgage Yorkshire Building Society...beware!

Mortgage providers are well versed in the art of getting their products to the top of best buy tables.

There is a horrific example currently from Yorkshire Building Society. It has a fixed rate of 4.99% for 2 years.

Sounds good? The reality is somewhat different

It has an arrangement fee of 3%, on a remortgage of £200 000, this is £6000!. You can also add this fee to the mortgage & pay interest on it.

You also pay a non refundable fee of 0.25% on application, £500 on the £200 000 remortgage example.


Avoid, truly shocking & rather misleading product.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stamp Duty

This week the Chancellor announced some plans to possibly defer Stamp Duty to restart the housing market.

What is Stamp Duty?

It covers the registration of many types of official financial & legal transactions. The enforcement of it in the UK's American colonies was one of the triggers towards independence.

However the one you will be familiar with is when buying a house.

The rates are

over £125,000 to £250,000: 1%
over £250,000 to £500,000: 3%
over £500,000: 4%

Monday, August 04, 2008

Credit Crunch: 1 year old

It’s now 1 year since the term “the credit crunch” entered public circulation. The first signs can be dated back to February 2007 when HSBC issued a profits warning.

UK Banks made some pretty horrendous decisions taking on bad debt from the US. Unfortunately these mistakes have been passed onto customers higher mortgage & loan interest rates.

This week banking heavy weights HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland & Barclays issue trading updates this week. The results will be interesting. As mentioned last week the only people to lose their jobs are some Directors at Northern Rock.

What will happen next?

The Mortgage market will continue to be complicated, so it is worth getting proper independent advice before making a decision.
Banks will probably merge, we have already seen Santander (Abbey) swallow up Alliance & Leicester. Some smaller banks such as Bradford & Bingley and even some building societies could follow suite.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Negative Equity: BBC Radio Swindon

Below is a transcript of my feature with Claire Bailey on the BBC Radio Swindon Breakfast Show 1 August.

What is negative equity?

Your house is worth less than the mortgage you got to buy it.

When does it occur?

When house prices fall. The Telegraph said yesterday 1.7m home owners or 1/7 of the total were already affected ! There has been a 9% fall from last year’s peak (Halifax house price figures). A Standard & Poor’s survey predicts the market could fall by up to 26.8%.

Who is the worst hit by negative equity?

1 People who bought houses at the peak of the market last year and especially those who took out 100+% mortgages such as the infamous Northern Rock Together product. It allowed people to get houses when they didn’t earn enough.

2 Those in averagely priced homes…the top & cheap ends of the market haven’t been affected.

3 People who dabbled in Buy to let property..again bought at the top of the market

Does it happen often?

The last time was in the early 1990s.

Why have house prices fallen?

House price inflation was around 10% for most of the last decade. This is ultimately unsustainable. The people who drive the market..first time buyers can’t afford to buy.

Plus the impact of the most used financial term of the last year…the credit crunch.

First time buyers can’t get mortgages because banks aren’t lending money….certainly not 100+% mortgages.

What should you do?

Wait, sit tight. House prices will fall until the bottom is reached. At that point first time buyers will be able to afford properties.

The mortgage market will recover too…