Tips for making the most of your pension


No matter how old you are, you should be thinking about how you are going to cope financially in the future, and how you are going to make sure that you have enough money for your needs. With this in mind, thinking carefully about your pension is key, IBC pension advisors Glasgow have put together a list of tips that will help you.

Start as soon as possible

When you retire, you will need a certain amount of money to live on. The younger you are when you start saving for this, the less you will need to take out of your pay packet each month to put to one side. Or, if you want to invest the same amount as you would have done if you were older, you have a better chance of saving more, therefore making your retirement more comfortable.

Set up automatic payments for your savings

Depending on the type of pension that you have chosen, you may find that you need to make manual payments rather than having a direct debit. If you can, try setting up a standing order to pay in a certain amount to your pension account each month. This means that you will always make the payment, rather than missing it sometimes if there is something else that you feel you need to spend money on.

Cut back on spending where you can

Although you need to enjoy your life, there will be lots of things that you waste money on that you don’t really need. There are lots of people who feel that they can’t afford to contribute to a pension because they don’t have enough money to spare, but more often than not this isn’t the case at all. By thinking carefully about spending, and trying to cut back, you will find that you have more to put to one side.

Set yourself a goal

If you don’t know what you’re aiming to be able to save, there is little motivation when it comes to making or increasing your payments. Therefore, you should always set a monthly goal that you would like to meet when it comes to saving money for your pension, and this should motivate you in the best possible way to improve your payments.

Feel free to make more payments

If you find that you have some spare money each month, it can be a good idea to put at least part of that into your pension pot. When most of us have money to spare, we waste it on things that we don’t really need, but changing your attitude to this is likely to make your pension pot a lot healthier in the long term.

Generally, nothing is more important than looking after yourself when you enter old age. It can be frustrating to get to retirement age only to find that you need to continue working, so if you make sure that you make plans well in advance, you can avoid this from being the case at all.


Mortgage lending rockets to new highs


The number of mortgage approvals in the UK has rocketed by 33% in January this year from the same month a year ago, according to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA).

Most of the new mortgages have been approved for people wanting to purchase second homes and buy to let properties in a bid to beat new taxes which begin in April.

This has also led to the highest gross mortgage amount loaned since the financial crisis began in 2008.

When the figures are broken down, remortgaging has increased by 42% with homeowners taking advantage of rising house prices while those wanting to buy property saw mortgages rise by 27%.

Figures show that £13.6 billion was loaned last month which is 38% higher than January 2015 – and the highest biggest monthly gross lending recorded since 2008.

Rapid growth in mortgage approvals

The BBA says that one reason for the rapid growth in mortgage approvals and lending is that lending dropped significantly in the months before last year’s general election.

Now buyers are wanting to beat a 3% stamp duty hike on buy to let and second homes which comes in for property purchases in England and Wales from April. The government says the new tax levy will raise an extra £1 billion by 2021.

The BBA’s chief economist, Richard Woolhouse, said: “There’s been a significant rise in mortgage borrowing which has been driven, in part, by borrowers wanting to get ahead of stamp duty increases for second home and buy to let buyers.”

The figures from the BBA come hot on the heels from statistics published by the Council for Mortgage Lenders which also revealed that January’s lending was an eight-year high for mortgage borrowing.

Bridging finance boom sparked by tougher mortgage criteria

Meanwhile, mortgage brokers in the UK are increasingly looking to offering clients bridging loans after they have failed to land a mortgage, according to MTF.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, 86% of brokers who were asked said they had seen a rise in bridging loan volume. That’s up from 76% for the previous quarter.

Nearly all mortgage brokers questioned said they had been unable to find a mortgage for a client in the last quarter of 2015 with affordability being the main barrier.

Now, 61% of brokers say that bridging finance is an alternative source for funding to fill a liquidity shortfall.

In addition to affordability, 27% of brokers said poor credit history was an issue and for 18%, property being down valued was also an issue.


Buy to let mortgages outnumbered by first-time buyers


The latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that spite a boom in buy to let lending in 2015, the number of first-time buyer mortgage approvals outnumber them.

Indeed, loans being made to landlords were outnumbered by three to one with 311,700 mortgages being approved last year for first-time buyers.

This is a similar number to the approvals seen in 2014 but the amount being loaned set a new post financial crash record of £46.7 billion.

There was a slight downturn in the number of home movers taking out mortgages – they fell by 0.2% to 365,800 approvals with another post-2007 record being set at £72.1 billion.

However, by to let mortgages have grown by value, up by 39%, as well as by volume, up by 28%, to also achieve a new record figure.

Buy to let landlords have an unfair advantage over homebuyers

John Heron is the managing director of Paragon Mortgages and he said: “There’s a common accusation that buy to let landlords have an unfair advantage over homebuyers but the data suggests this is not so with buy to let only making up 11.6% of purchases.”

However, landlords have been rushing to buy rental properties in a bid to beat the 1st April deadline which sees a stamp duty hike.

House prices are also rising, according to the Office for National Statistics with the average UK house price in 2015 being £301,000 for homes in England, in Wales the figure is £175,000 and in Scotland it is £193,000. The average price for property in Northern Ireland is £148,000.

Not surprisingly Londoners have the highest average property price of £536,000 while the lowest at £155,000 is found in the north-east.

In other good news from the CML is that mortgage arrears are now at their lowest for 10 years.

The latest data reveals that less than one in 1,000 mortgages ended with a repossession. Currently, 1.03% of all loans are in home owner mortgage arrears.

Bridging finance takes 2% share of mortgage market

Meanwhile, the bridging finance sector in the UK continues to grow from strength-to-strength and now accounts for 2% of the mainstream mortgage market.

The Association of Short Term Lenders says that bridging loans worth £2.59 billion were made in 2015.

Now some of the leaders in the bridging loan field say that the industry will continue growing as more mortgage brokers and potential borrowers appreciate the potential of bridging finance.

The rising popularity of bridging finance

West One Loans’ director, Duncan Kreeger, said there could be no end to the rising popularity of bridging finance.

He explained: “Houses are becoming more expensive with people looking to buy a property in need of renovation so bridging loans help buy properties that a High Street bank will not lend on.”


Mr Kreeger added that the growing popularity of buy to let was also helping entrepreneurs access the market with bridging loans.


Beware of loan scammers (IMPORTANT)


It has been brought to our attention that an online scam took place last week targeting several people in which the scammers cold called people using our company name as
well as other company names to scam people out of money. We are not sure how these scams actually work but here is some information taken from the action fraud site about how these scams work:

“Loan scams happen when a victim is asked to pay an upfront fee for a loan.

A person will typically reply to an advert for a fast loan and will have their application approved regardless of their credit history. Before they receive the loan, they are told them must pay an upfront fee to cover insurance for the loan.

Once this fee is paid, the victim does not hear from the company again and the loan is never received.

Loan scams are a type of advance fee fraud.

Fraud has been committed when money has been lost.”

For more information visit the action fraud police department here:


Borrowers enjoy big savings with fixed-rate mortgages


The amount being saved every month by borrowers because fixed rate mortgages have fallen to their lowest level is growing, according to research.

However, borrowers with a standard variable rate mortgage have seen their rates remain static.

The figures come from the Halifax who say that the average interest rate for new fixed-rate mortgages has fallen by 0.59% over the past year while standard variable rate mortgages remained the same.

For those looking for a mortgage, the average fixed rate is now standing at 2.66% while the average standard variable rate is currently at 4.49%.

This is now the largest gap between the two rates since August 2012 and means that homeowners who switch to fixed-rate deals have seen their savings grow by 50% over the past two years.

Homeowners who took out a two-year £100,000 fixed-rate mortgage

The Halifax says that homeowners who took out a two-year £100,000 fixed-rate mortgage in November 2013 would have been paying £485 a month.

Those who took out a standard variable rate for the same amount would have seen their repayments being £551 – which is £66 a month dearer.

Now research reveals that borrowers who signed up for a fixed rate deal in November 2015 would be paying a mortgage of £457 a month for a £100,000 loan.

Those on a standard variable rate mortgage would be paying £555 which is £99 a month more and 50% higher than the difference being saved two years ago.

Halifax’s mortgage director, Craig MacKinlay, said: “With base rates remaining at record low levels, fixed-rate mortgages have fallen further in 2015.

“In the last three years, average rates fell sharply which significantly widens the gap between them and standard variable rates giving borrowers considerable savings.”

Remortgaging activity has picked up

He added that remortgaging activity has picked up over the past 12 months – though it still below the peak registered in 2008 – and this has declined recently as borrowers have been lulled into believing that interest rates will not rise.

He said: “Some borrowers could be missing out on making significant savings.”

Bridging finance loans rocket by 14%

Meanwhile, the value of bridging loans being made in the UK rocketed by 40% last year, according to the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL).

Bridging loans amounted to £2.59 billion in 2015.

In addition, ASTL says that completions are growing at twice the speed of mainstream mortgages though the pace of growth is now slowing.

Bridging finance continues to outstrip the mortgage market

Benson Hersch, the chief executive of ASTL, said: “Bridging finance is outstripping the mortgage market as borrowers and brokers turned to bridging loans.”

He added that the association’s members are enjoying growing business volumes and the bridging finance industry is becoming a crucial part of the UK’s mortgage lending market.

He added: “Sentiment remains positive and the final figures for last year will show a strong demand for bridging loans.”


Article contribution by John at Mortgage Broker Aberdeen



Record low rates for fixed mortgages


Borrowers could save money in the long-term by locking into the growing number of fixed mortgages with low rates – which are still falling as lenders seek new business.

The average two-year fixed-rate for anyone with a 10% deposit is now 3.06%; a year ago it was 3.84%.

The rates being charged by lenders have dramatically fallen in the last four years – a borrower with 40% equity in 2012 would have got a two-year fixed deal at 4.05%.

The same deal is available today for just 1.99%.

Low interest rates available for mortgages

Borrowers are being advised to lock into the low interest rates available for mortgages because they will disappear when the Bank of England raises interest rates.

Charlotte Nelson of Money Facts said: “It’s a question of when rather than if the Bank of England raises interest rates so borrowers should take advantage of the current low mortgage rates.”

She highlighted too that the figures published are averages and if borrowers shop around they would find better deals.

Ms Nelson is also advising borrowers to use the money they save to overpay their mortgage in a bid to decrease the loan’s term.

She explained: “By taking advantage of cheap rates, borrowers should consider using the cash saved for making mortgage overpayments. Most current deals offer this option and for someone paying £100 a month extra on top of their normal repayments, a borrower could shave three years from their mortgage term.”

The reappearance of self-certification mortgages

Also, the reappearance of self-certification mortgages has led to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to issue a warning.

The regulator has stepped in after the launch in the Czech Republic of to advise potential borrowers that if things go wrong they will have no UK protection.

That’s because the company is based outside the UK and is therefore beyond the jurisdiction of the FCA.

In the days after the company began touting for interest, they were deluged from thousands of borrowers who are self-employed wanting a mortgage.

The firm has now stopped taking applications as they deal with a backlog of those who have registered.

Self-certification mortgages were hugely popular before they were banned in 2014 by the FCA.

Bridging loan sector will see new entrants

Meanwhile, the UK’s booming bridging loan sector will see new entrants coming to the market to help meet demand which will be good news for specialist finance brokers, according to one industry expert.

The managing director of Alternative Bridging Corporation, Brian Rubins, told a national newspaper that new bridging loan lenders will emerge in 2016.

In addition, he explained that experienced bridging finance brokers are an asset to lenders as they know how to propose a loan and assist in closing a deal.

Alongside this will, the industry will see a growth in the number of bridging loan finance products from lenders becoming available and the amount being loaned growing ever larger, he said.


90% LTV mortgage costs plummet


Most of the 90% loan to value mortgages currently available have seen their costs plummet over the last three months, according to one analysis.

The research from Mortgage Brain reveals that the cost of 90% LTV two-year tracker mortgage is now 4% less than it was in October 2015.

A two-year fixed 90% LTV mortgage has also fallen by the same amount and is 11% cheaper than a year ago.

A 4% drop in costs for a two year fixed mortgage means borrowers potentially save £324 on a £150,000 mortgage every three months – or £990 per year.

However, the firm also reveals that bigger savings are to be had with those who take out a 60% LTV mortgage which is now costing 7% less than it did in October 2015.

Mortgage Brain’s chief executive, Mark Lofthouse, said: “The reduction in cost will be welcome news for those with small deposits and it’s going to be interesting to see how the market plays out over the coming months.”

New self-cert mortgage lender

Another development in the mortgage lending market is the reappearance of a new self-cert mortgage lender who says it cannot meet demand. says that when it launched it had more than 4,000 potential borrowers register their interest within two days.

Self-cert mortgages have been banned by the city regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, and they were aimed at self-employed workers who could not prove their income to potential lenders.

There are also controversial since many borrowers inflated their incomes to obtain bigger mortgages but were caught out when the financial crash began in 2008.

Bridging loans in 2015 hit the £432 million target

Meanwhile, data reveals that bridging loans in the UK worth £432million were forwarded to clients in 2015.

The figure has been revealed by MTF who say that the total value of bridging loans made in 2016 will probably surpass that figure.

The popularity of bridging loans is growing as clients turn to the alternative form of funding to fill liquidity shortfalls.

Most of the loans, 80% of them, were first charge loans and most of the bridging finance completed last year was unregulated.

Popular reason for taking out a bridging loan

The most popular reason for taking out a bridging loan was to cover a mortgage delay with refurbishment being the next most popular reason for a bridging loan.

MTF director Joshua Elash said: “The figures show strong demand for bridging loans and interest rates were under downward pressure as the bridging sector is highly competitive.

“The bridging loans average term suggest that financing is more affordable and financially viable over a longer period of time.”


Mortgage lending in the UK will rise in 2016


Despite a dip in mortgage lending at the end of 2015, the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) says lending will grow this year.

The CML says that the dip was a seasonal norm as lending fell by 9% in November – though it was 17.6% higher than it was the year previously.

The rise over the year was, in part, down to rising house prices.

The director-general of the CML. Paul Smee, said: “November saw lending growth across all types and suggests continued improvement.

“We anticipate gross lending continuing a slow but upward trajectory over the next two years.”

First-time buyers getting mortgages

However, the number of first-time buyers getting mortgages fell nearly 8% in November to 27,900. Again, this was still 10.3% higher than the year previously.

The current low interest rate environment is also boosting affordability for first-time buyers, says the CML, with competitive rates meaning that these house buyers only spend on average 18.3% of their income on their mortgage. This is the lowest tracked measure ever recorded.

While things are looking good for first-time buyers, this is not the case for older people who have interest only mortgages.

According to research from Key Retirement thousands of people will see their interest only mortgage mature this year and they will be forced to sell-up since their property will not have enough equity to release.

Around 40,000 people may be affected with around half of these having no plan in place to repay the mortgage when it falls due.

Equity release lending is growing in popularity

This is one reason why equity release lending is growing in popularity with the average borrowing amounting to £72,000.

The firm’s Dean Mirfin said: “There are 60% of interest only mortgage holders who cannot be helped since their loan to value ratio is too high.”

Investors achieve higher profits with bridging loans

Meanwhile, research has revealed that investing in bridging loans delivers better profits than investments in fine wine or art.

The figures come from West One Loans who say private investors saw annual returns of 10.6% in the year to September 2015 for short-term loans.

In comparison, spending a similar amount on fine art would have seen a return of 3%.

Bridging loans offer investors stability

The firm’s director Duncan Kreeger said: “Bridging loans offer investors stability and greater returns than art, wine and gold.

“We expect this trend to continue and we work closely with intermediaries to ensure they are aware of the bridging market potential.”


Mortgage brokers set record lending figure


The UK’s mortgage brokers look to have set a new record for their share of new mortgages approved in 2015, according to a report.

The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association (IMLA) says that the industry’s share of new mortgage approvals has broken through the 70% mark for the first time.

Mortgage brokers saw their share of mortgages reach 71% in the second quarter of last year.

In the third quarter, the value of loans reached £33.3bn – the highest it’s been since the start of 2008.

IMLA’s report also highlights that the world of mortgage lending is changing and there’s now a wider range of lenders with the emergence of mortgage lenders who use brokers exclusively beginning to break-through.

Mortgage features are becoming more complex

In addition, borrowers are seeing that mortgage features are becoming more complex as are the pricing structures.

The report also points to the effects of the far-reaching Mortgage Market Review (MMR) which saw some lenders end direct mortgage distribution and stop offering mortgages through their network’s sales staff.

One reason for the offloading of staff was that the MMR required that anyone giving advice had to have additional qualifications to do so.

Another aspect to mortgages in the UK has emerged and that’s the growing number of borrowers who fall into ‘non-standard’ categories – a market for which many mortgage brokers are well-positioned to exploit.

The executive director of IMLA, Peter Williams, said that the market for mortgage brokers has been revitalised and the 2015 figure looks like setting a new record for the share of mortgages approved.

He added: “The market is more regulated competitive since the recession and the broker’s impartiality and expertise means they are suited to navigate on behalf of borrowers the mortgage maze.”

Bridging loan lender racks up £400 million of business

Meanwhile, leading bridging loan lender West One Loans has announced that it racked up nearly £400 million of business in 2015.

For a growing number of bridging loan borrowers, West One is now one of the leading short-term finance providers in the UK.

The bridging loan market is growing quickly and the firm’s Bridging Index reveals that the UK’s market in the year to October 2015 was worth £3.2 billion.

The bridging market continues to grow

West One’s managing director, Stephen Wasserman, said: “The bridging market is growing as borrowers recognise that short-term finance can be useful.

“Bridging finance is set to enjoy 2016 and there’s no reason we cannot better our figures. Developers and businesses appreciate that short-term finance can be speedy and secure and be the difference between failure or success for projects.”


First time buyers still locked out of UK mortgage market


First-time buyers wanting a mortgage in the UK with small deposits are being left out in the cold, according to a new report.

In the survey by e.surv, a firm of chartered surveyors, who compile the Mortgage Monitor, they say first-time buyers are getting very little help from the government.

That’s in spite of a rise in lending in the mortgage market but this does not extend to those with small deposits – which are considered to be borrowers with 15% or less of the total value of the property.

The survey reveals that the proportion of small deposit borrowers are dropping in number when compared to the market of house buyers overall.

The number of approvals granted in November for those with small deposits was 16.3%, that’s down from October’s figure of 16.5%.

First-time buyers are struggling

A director of the firm, Richard Sexton, said: “First-time buyers are struggling to get loans and there’s little consolation with promises of starter homes.

“In theory, first time buyers should benefit from measures including the extended Help to Buy Scheme as well as the Help to Buy ISA.”

He also pointed out that there are not enough homes available and it’s the supply that needs to be addressed before first-time buyers see real benefits.

In addition, estate agencies Reeds Rains and Your Move also produces a first-time buyer tracker report which also paints a similar picture.

In their report, it has been revealed that sales to first-time buyers have dropped to 28,100 in October, down from September’s figure of 28,600.

UK’s annual bridging loan finance soars in value

Meanwhile, a bridging financing index has revealed that the amount of bridging lending granted in 2015 is now larger than the government’s housing budget.

The news comes from the West One Bridging Index which says that the annual gross lending total for bridging loans has reached £3.2 billion which is, they point out, 60% larger than the housing budget announced in the government’s Autumn Statement.

A director of West One Loans, Duncan Kreeger, said: “Loan sizes over the past few years have grown as short-term finance involves from a tool for individuals to a source of finance for businesses and developers.”

UK’s bridging loan providers

He added that the UK’s bridging loan providers prides themselves on the convenience and speed they offer customers.

The index also reveals that competition between bridging loan lenders is now more intense though interest rates have, on average, been steady through the year to end October on 1.14%.

The size of a typical bridging loan has also grown, it’s now an average £700,000 between September and October, compared to £630,700 for the previous 12 months.