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Helping to have certainty in uncertain times

Helping to have certainty in uncertain times

We wanted to ensure that our clients and others that may have concerns right now have information that they need, so we’re sharing some ways in which we can help.

The Bank of England has slashed interest rates to combat coronavirus ‘shock’ – what it means for you.

The Bank of England has cut the base rate to 0.1% in an emergency response to the “economic shock” of the coronavirus outbreak. This makes the interest rate the lowest ever in the Banks 325-year history. In a dramatic move by the new governor, Andrew Bailey, the surprise cut was a response to the “economic shock” of coronavirus and would “help to support business and consumer confidence at a difficult time, to bolster the cash flows of businesses and households, and to reduce the cost, and to improve the availability, of finance”. In response, many lenders have reduced their rates, and we are seeing incredible low fixed and discounted rate products. Now is a great opportunity to look at taking advantage of the rate cut and potential to re-mortgage to a lower rate, to provide a saving on your monthly payments and some certainty for your payment amounts in the challenging weeks and months ahead.

Protecting your health and income

Having a mortgage that is covered and will be paid in the event of you not being able to work or if you have a critical illness or worse is so very important. I am / we are very happy to discuss your needs over the phone so there is no need to travel to come in to see me/us and if there are plans we can help to arrange for you we can manage everything for you from here.

As the situation develops, understandably, we have received many questions in relation to protection policies and customer queries. We have tried to generally summarise some of them below, in a format you can share with customers:

If I am diagnosed with Covid 19 – Do I have to tell my existing Insurers?

Life Insurance Policy owners 

No – you advised Insurers at the time of your application about your health situation. As long it was accurate, then no further action is needed.

Reports currently show that the vast majority of fit and healthy people recover. If sadly you passed away from Covid 19 – the Insurers will payout as per any other valid claim.

Check if your plan was written into trust. If so, your trustees need to be notified. Also, please check any wills made are up to date.

Critical Illness Policy owners 

No – you advised Insurers at the time of your application about your health situation. As long it was accurate, then no further action is needed

Covid 19, specifically, is not classed currently as a critical illness, so you cannot claim. Reports currently show that the vast majority of fit and healthy people recover.

However, if for whatever reason associated health issues occur that your Critical Illness policy could then cover, then you could make a potential claim.

If sadly you passed away from Covid 19, the Insurers will payout as per any other valid claim if your plan is also combined with life insurance.

Income Protection & Accident Sickness Policy owners 

Covid 19 is classed currently as a valid income sickness claim.

Check if your policy offered cover starting at Day 1 or after 1 week waiting claim period ( often the most expensive option )

Alternatively, if it was after 4 or 8  or 13 weeks etc; you may still be able to claim if your health situation is ongoing.

Sadly if you then pass away from Covid 19, some Insurers will payout as per any other valid claim if your plan also included any life insurance element.

If I have to self isolate – Do I have to tell my existing Insurers?

Income Protection & Accident Sickness Policy owners 

Yes – Coronavirus self-isolation is classed currently as a valid income sickness claim for some Insurers.

If your policy offered cover starting at Day 1 or after 1 week waiting claim period, you may be able to make a valid claim.

Alternatively, if it was after 4 or 8  or 13 weeks etc; you may still be able to claim only if your situation is ongoing.

Note: many Insurers are now excluding self-isolation on their new plans

Negative Mental Health impact of Covid 19 – Stress & Anxiety

Psychotherapists and charities such as Mind have said that the coronavirus outbreak may be having a negative impact on

our everyday mental health and wellbeing ( especially for those who have currently or previously mental health conditions ).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also acknowledged that this Pandemic is causing stress. They advise people to avoid news that causes feelings of stress and anxiety.

Many protection policies may offer mental health helplines or provide health information services as part of the premium.

What if I temporarily lose my income & livelihood – I may not be able to pay for my Protection Policy & have to cancel it?

Millions of people across the world it seems are going to be in the same situation, as this is unprecedented for most in our lifetime.

Contact your Bank, Mortgage Lender, Loan Company, Credit card etc; immediately – about how Coronavirus is impacting your family finances

All lenders currently have already implemented some backup support systems to help ordinary people out financially in the short term

https://www.lloydsbank.com/help-guidance/coronavirus.html#manage

https://home.barclays/news/2020/03/supporting-customers-affected-by-coronavirus/

https://www.halifax.co.uk/helpcentre/coronavirus/Default.asp

https://supportcentre.natwest.com/Searchable/1459340472/I-m-worried-about-Coronavirus.htm

https://www.tsb.co.uk/coronavirus/

https://www.business.rbs.co.uk/business/support-centre/service-status/coronavirus.html

https://www.santander.co.uk/about-santander/media-centre/press-releases/santander-uk-outlines-support-for-customers-during-coronavirus-outbreak

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51817947

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/

https://protectionguru.co.uk/coronavirus-updates/

What if I cancel my Insurance Protection policy temporarily… and then intend to take it out again when things improve financially?

If you sadly become ill or pass away from Covid 19, your protection insurance policy would not payout, as you have no cover at the time of claim (i.e; Catch 22 as you have cancelled it).

Should you then be diagnosed with Covid 19 or in ‘self-isolation’, your Insurers may postpone allowing you to buy any new insurance policy until you fully recover.

Any associated symptoms resulting from Covid 19 could mean any new protection policy is more expensive, or in the worst case, insurers decline to offer another protection policy.

Unrelated to Covid 19, if your health, lifestyle or age changes between taking out the previous policy and any new one, then this will affect the cost of taking out another policy.

Some Insurers may decline to offer another protection policy based on this information or on any market conditions at that time.

Please note: Your current policy may have no surrender cash-in value. Check the small print T&C’s of your policy.

We hope that this answers some of the questions you have. For policy guidance on specific situations, you should contact your provider’s helpline.

So please don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can help you generate some real certainty in these unprecedented times. We are available by many non-face to face means to talk, as many of us work from home and have some additional time to plan for the future, contact us today to see how we can help.

Additionally, as the impact of the outbreak affects those around us in our extended families, companies and communities, please share this message through conversation and social media we are here to help, support and offer guidance.

 

UK property market expected to grow over the next five years

UK property market expected to grow over the next five years

A stable government for the next five years and clarity on Brexit are both good news for the housing market.  As a result, average prices are predicted to rise by up to 15% over the next five years.  Here are some of the key factors which could influence that growth.

The “Brexit bounce”.

Houses are long-term purchases.  There are lots of reasons for this, but most of them revolve around the fact that buying one usually involves a number of up-front costs (e.g. surveys, conveyancing and Stamp Duty) and, it has to be said, corresponding administrative work.

This means that you generally want to be sure that you can stay in one for at least five years before you even contemplate a purchase.  First-time buyers have extra reason to be cautious before they buy because they have the potential to qualify for a Stamp Duty discount, but this only applies to their very first purchase.

Additionally, the fact that most buyers need mortgages means that they have to think carefully about their ability to service a mortgage over at least five years (which will be checked by a lender in any case).

For all of these reasons (and more), the extended delay over implementing the result of the Brexit referendum has really acted as a strong brake on the housing market.  Hopefully, the fact that Brexit is now finally happening (regardless of your views on it), will allow both potential buyers and potential sellers to make plans in which they can have some degree of confidence.

Given that peak home-sales, periods are spring and autumn and that it can take some time for sales to move to completion (especially when chains are involved), it is likely to be 2021 before any “Brexit bounce” feeds through into actual sales figures.  It will, however, be interesting to hear feedback from property professionals over the course of 2020 as this could be a good indicator of what is happening “on the ground”.

Significant investment in transport infrastructure

HS2 looks set to go ahead.  If HS2 is cancelled then it’s probably reasonable to assume that there will be alternative investments in transport infrastructure.  There is very likely to be a focus on continuing to develop the infrastructure in the north of England.  This will be partly for economic reasons (to encourage growth in the area) and partly for political ones (to hold on to electoral gains).

On a similar note, the expansion of Manchester Airport is already going ahead.  In principle, the third runway at Heathrow should also go ahead, but there is always the possibility that this will be cancelled, possibly to placate those who are opposed to HS2 on cost and/or environmental grounds.  Crossrail, however, is already underway.

Since none of these developments is complete (in fact neither HS2 or the third runway at Heathrow are actually under construction yet), it’s impossible to say what specific benefits they will bring.  It is, however, fair to say that improvements to infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure often lead to increased house prices along the route, particularly near to stops.

Economic stability (possibly growth)

The fact that the “Northern Irish issue” appears to have been resolved (or, at the very least, that there is a path to resolution), should hopefully make it much easier for there to be a smooth transition out of the EU.

It is probably fair to say that the EU’s desire to encourage members to remain in the block rather than going it alone will have to be balanced with a pragmatic approach to keeping trade flowing between the UK and the single market.  It’s definitely fair to say that the UK has long traded on a global basis and hence should be able to continue to do so successfully.  If this is the case and there is, at least, economic stability, then this is likely to have a positive impact on the housing market.

Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

 

Tips for home sellers in 2020

Tips for home sellers in 2020

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2020, you’ll presumably be hoping for the best price in the shortest time.  Here are some tips on how to make this happen.

Start by pulling your paperwork together

This may seem like a dull tip, but it really does matter, so it’s as well to get it over and done with before you go into full “house-selling mode”.  Basically, gather together any and all paperwork which could be relevant to the sale of your home.

First of all, you will need to pull together any legal paperwork, which may have been mothballed since you moved in (especially if you have lived in a property a long time).  You might want to have a lawyer double-check it to see if there are any issues which could be red-flagged by the current generation of buyers and see if there are any steps you can take to remedy them before you put the property on the market.

After this, you will need to compile any administrative documents regarding your home and its contents.  This could include your EPC, warranties for any building work you had done, receipts and warranty information for any white goods you are selling with the house and so on.

For bonus points, you could take this a step further and create a folder containing all the factual information a buyer could reasonably be expected to want to know about your home and the local area.

Focus on presenting what you have rather than upgrading your home

Unless you are selling a property as in need of refurbishment, you will want your property to be in its best “move-in” condition.  What that means in practice is that you want to take care of any maintenance issues (if they’re not spotted on the viewing they may well be picked up later and delay the sale) and you want to take all reasonable steps to keep your home clean, tidy and odour-free during the sales period.

It is unlikely to be in your best interests to do any major home improvements.  First of all, they may not increase the value of your home by as much as the vendor might have suggested.  Secondly, if they do, they could end up putting your home out of the budget of some potential buyers and/or increasing the Stamp Duty payable on it.  Thirdly, if they go wrong, they could be a serious hindrance to the sales process.

What you could do is look at potential improvements a buyer might want to make to your home, see if they would need planning permission and if so see if you can either obtain permission for the change or give a compelling reason why permission would be likely to be granted.

Let the estate agent do the selling

There are two good reasons for having your estate agent take charge of the actual sales process.  The first is that it is literally how they earn their living, so they will get a lot of practice at it and will probably do a far better job than the average homeowner.  Even if you work in sales, home sales is a specialist niche and benefits from specialist knowledge

Secondly, potential buyers may be more inclined to talk freely in front of an estate agent, who will not have an emotional connection to a property, than to a homeowner, who probably will.  If buyers have concerns about a property you want them to feel able to voice them so that they can be addressed, rather than have them walk away and look at another property instead.

Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

For estate agents we act as introducer only

The FCA does not regulate estate agents

 

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