Owning your own home is a desirable goal for many people. However, over the last few years, property prices have kept on rising most of the time, putting the home-owning dream beyond the reach of many.

Home ownership has fallen in percentage terms and a higher proportion of home owners than ever before are aged over 65. First-time buyers are getting older and some despair of ever being able to buy a property.

Meanwhile, the rental sector has grown rapidly, fuelled in part by the rise of the buy-to-let landlord. In many ways, we’ve become more like our counterparts in other European countries who have traditionally rented, as do the citizens of other major cities like New York.

The housing white paper issued by the government in February, was entitled “Fixing our broken housing market” with good reason. To broaden UK housing options, the white paper proposes a shift away from the historic focus on home ownership, emphasising instead the alternatives such as the construction of more rental property, multi-tenure house building and family-friendly tenancies which are two to three years long.

Although the proposals have been well received, they are unlikely to come to fruition for a few years, so if you’re considering your property options, how do you decide whether to rent or to buy?

Renting gives you flexibility, as you can move to another location and rent a different type  of property pretty much to suit yourself. But it does mean that you aren’t building up valuable equity in your own property as you would if you had bought it. Owning means that you have the satisfaction of knowing that at some point, if you keep making the repayments, you’ll own your home outright.


There’s lots to think about if you want to buy. Saving the deposit is really only the first step. You’ll need to be able to show a potential mortgage lender that you can manage your money competently and that you can comfortably afford the monthly repayments now, and in the future.

You’ll need to think about the costs of buying including legal fees, any stamp duty you’re liable for, property surveys and costs associated with moving. When you own a home, you’ll need to find money for council tax, utilities, maintenance, furniture and home improvement costs too.

Whilst buying a home may be a major goal for many, the chances are you’ll have other ones too. You should also think about contributing to a pension plan, saving for major financial outlays like having a family or starting your own business.

If you’d like some help about establishing your financial goals and planning how to achieve them, then get in touch.

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home or property. Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

With interest rates remaining low, and many lenders offering competitive deals, this could be a good time to review your existing mortgage arrangements. The monthly mortgage repayment is often a family’s major outgoing, so it’s a good idea to review your mortgage from time to time to see if there’s a better deal currently available in the marketplace that could save you money.

If your existing mortgage deal is coming to an end, or if you’ve been with your lender for a while, this could be a very good time to think about switching to get a more cost-effective mortgage deal, either with your existing lender or by switching to another one.

This could be particularly beneficial to the estimated three million mortgage borrowers in the UK who are currently paying interest at their lender’s standard variable rate.

If you’d like to review your current mortgage deal, then please do get in touch. We will be able to assess your circumstances and recommend the most appropriate mortgage based on your circumstances.

As a mortgage is secured against your home, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up the mortgage repayments.

With the monthly mortgage payment representing a major chunk of the average family budget, it can make sense to shop around from time to time to see if there’s a better, more cost-efficient mortgage deal available to you. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders1 , around 36,000 people remortgaged in November alone, up 13% on the year before.

In some cases, homeowners can save hundreds of pounds a year by moving to a more attractive rate with a different lender. Remortgaging can work if your property has increased in value and you want to free up some cash from the equity tied up in your home, or if you want to make higher repayments to shorten your mortgage term. Remortgaging can also be arranged to finance home improvements, to fund the purchase of an investment property or to buy out a joint owners’ share of a property.

If you’re currently nearing the end of your existing deal, then this could be a good time to remortgage. Interest rates are currently at an all-time low, and lenders are continuing to offer competitive deals.

Why remortgaging can make sense

When your fixed-rate deal ends, your lender will automatically move your mortgage on to their Standard Variable Rate (SVR), which as the name suggests can rise and fall. This SVR rate is likely to be less attractive than the rate you were previously on, and can be increased at any time, irrespective of what happens to the Bank of England’s base rate, which is currently 0.25%. So, shopping around before your deal ends could save you money.

Putting the cash to good use

Research from TSB2 shows that by remortgaging to a lower fixed rate, homeowners can free up cash for a variety of other uses. Over a third (37%) planned to use the extra money to overpay their mortgage, helping them to become mortgage-free faster, while 30% intended to use the cash to carry out major renovation projects like a loft conversion or an extension.

1 Council of Mortgage Lenders, Jan 2017
2 TSB, Jan 2017

Whilst remortgaging might not be right for everyone, it’s well worth investigating what alternative deals might be available to you, especially if you made saving money one of your new year resolutions. As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

The Financial Conduct Authority has flagged up 2017-2018 as a period in which a wave of interest-only mortgages sold in the 1990s and early 2000s will reach maturity.

It estimates that almost half of these homeowners will not have the funds available to pay off their loan and that many will explore equity release as a way of finding the cash.

Whilst some may decide to downsize, others will be keen to remain living in familiar surroundings. For those aged over 55, equity release can be a good choice as it enables them to stay in their home for as long as they want to, with the outstanding mortgage loan being repaid from the cash unlocked from their property.

The most common equity release schemes are mortgage-based schemes secured against your home and repaid from the sale of your property, when you die or move into long-term care. These are known as ‘lifetime mortgages’ and allow you to take out a loan on your property in return for a lump sum. Last year, the average equity release customer accessed nearly £78,0001 from their property, with more than one in five using the funds to clear an outstanding mortgage.

Choosing the right plan

Equity release plans were in the past considered a controversial choice. However, new products that are underpinned by stricter industry standards and provide protection against negative equity now offer a better deal to many homeowners. Many people choosing equity release are opting for the drawdown type of lifetime mortgage which gives them the freedom to dip in and out of their housing wealth, and means that they can leave more of their equity intact to pass on as an inheritance to their families.

Independent professional advice is essential; equity release isn’t the right solution for everyone. Releasing cash from your home reduces the value of your estate and the amount of inheritance you leave, so you should consider involving your children and dependants from the outset.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Equity released from your home will be secured against it.

1 Key Retirement, 2017

The National Landlords Association has calculated that the buy-to-let tax changes that will come into operation in April will affect one in five landlords, meaning that around 440,000 could, depending on their personal financial circumstances, find themselves paying tax at a higher rate as a result of the profits they make from their rental properties.


Currently, those with buy-to-let mortgages can deduct all finance costs (such as mortgage interest, interest on loans taken out to furnish the property, and fees) in arriving at their rental income. From April this will no longer apply. Instead, they will receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.
However, the new rules won’t be fully implemented until 2020 as the relief will be gradually tapered down. For example,
in tax year 2017-18, the deduction from property income will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remainder being available as a basic-rate reduction. In addition, the 10% wear-and-tear allowance will go from April, and landlords will only be able to deduct costs they have actually incurred.


According to the UK-wide Buy-to-Let Market Index2 produced by the Bank of Ireland, some landlords remain undeterred by the impending changes, with 46% of current landlords, with two or more properties reported as thinking of buying more over the next few years.

Over half of respondents (55%) admitted that they will consider raising rents, and more than a third (38%) are likely to switch mortgages in order to reduce the impact of the reduction in tax relief on their mortgage interest payments.

Many landlords will no doubt find themselves with a dilemma. Some will think
about putting their rent up at the earliest opportunity, while others may consider whether they want to remain landlords and could leave the market altogether.

In another hit on landlords, in the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced a ban on letting agent fees charged to tenants, passing the entire fee burden on to landlords of the property being let. The ban will be introduced “as soon as possible” following consultation.

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up the mortgage repayments.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Commercial Buy to Lets. The information contained within the article is based is based on our current understanding of taxation and can be subject to change in future. Taxation depends on individual circumstances as well as tax law and HMRC practice which can change. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK. We cannot assume any liability for any errors or omissions it may contain

With the average property in the UK now costing over £200,000, saving a big enough deposit to get a good mortgage deal for your first home can seem like an impossible dream. Here are some tips that can help boost your savings.


In order to get a mortgage, you will need to show that your finances are in good order and that you can comfortably afford the repayments. Good budgeting skills are essential. Serious savers will tell you that cutting down on trips to the coffee shop and making yourself a packed lunch are all good ways of cutting your living expenses.


Make sure you don’t miss payments and don’t become over-reliant on your card for day-to-day living expenses. Check out the various balance transfer deals available and where appropriate move your card balance to one with a lower interest charge. With interest rates low, you might be able to get a better rate on any loans you have. Consider switching your bank account too, as many banks offer valuable cash incentives to new customers.


From April 2017 savers can take advantage of the government’s latest addition to the Individual Savings Account range, the Lifetime ISA (LISA), designed to permit individuals under the age of 40 to save for a first home or for their retirement. The main attraction of a LISA is the generous bonus of 25% on offer for savers, meaning that for every £4 they save, the government will add £1.

To qualify to open a LISA, you will need to be aged between 18 and 40 in April 2017, and any savings you put in before your 50th birthday will receive the 25% bonus from the government at the end of the tax year. There is no maximum monthly contribution; savings can be as little or as much as you like up to the annual limit of £4,000. Savers need to be aware of the risks associated with a LISA, early withdrawal charges, restrictions and accessibility.


More and more first-time buyers are borrowing or receiving gifts of cash from their parents or grandparents. In many cases, the older generation are happy to pass on cash during their lifetime, so share your plans with them as early as possible.


Lots of young people move back in with their parents to save on rent and help their savings grow faster.


Sell stuff you don’t need. Be on the lookout for evening or weekend jobs that could boost your savings; from bar work to dog walking – every little helps.


Talking to your mortgage adviser can help you get the right savings plan in place, and when the time comes, get the mortgage deal that’s right for you.

As a mortgage is secured against your home, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up the mortgage repayment.

The information within the article is for information purposes only and does not constitute individual advice. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future.