Turning the Ordinary into Outstanding

It doesn’t matter whether you are renovating with the aim of selling your home or just want to do some work on your forever property, there are some features in the house that can easily be turned from the ordinary to the outstanding. It is easy to look at a home and think that there is nothing truly outstanding about it, even if you love the property – but you may be surprised at the ways you can change those ordinary features into something amazing.

Staircases as features

Open plan staircases were once seen as something of a pain, taking up space in the living room and dominating things. But with the development of a variety of staircases such as ultra-modern stainless steel staircase designs, it is possible to make the staircase an outstanding feature in the room. There are plenty of specialists around the country, like Elite Metalcraft in London, who create customised staircases for any room. Their stunning helical and spiral staircases, for example, can work in a variety of rooms, with the helical shape offering something slightly different to the more usual spiral staircase – both of which can be created in a range of materials, including wood, steel, glass or stone.

Glass in new ways

For a very modern look in a room, there are some novel ways to use glass as opposed to the traditional window or door systems. One example are glass floors – not for anyone who has a fear of heights, these floors allow you to see down into the house and are fantastic for balconies or terraces too. Another novel use for glass is in a glass bath – this creates the illusion that the water is magically held in place and will be a complete hit with the kids. The glass is also more than tough enough to withstand daily, practical use. Even glass walls offer a sense of space to a room, while being easily covered up to section the area if required.

Traditional fireplace features

Many homes still have a fireplace, whether functional or not, and using this to create a traditional feature in the space is an ideal way to make the room a little more unusual. Antique marble fireplaces have a quality to them that lasts the ages and looks the part in many period homes. You can obtain the best quality fireplaces from specialists like Westland Architectural Antiques to help you transform your space.

Beach fire pit garden

Fire pits are popular in gardens as they look great and bring practical heating benefits to the space. One way to take the fire pit idea a step further is to create a beach area with the fire pit as a focal point, making your back garden seem like a tiny slice of a Caribbean island. The area can be made using tiling to ensure the sand stays in place and seats formed as part of the construction to allow everyone to sit around the fire pit and enjoy the heat and flames. And the kids will love being able to build little sandcastles in their own garden!

Which? Help First Time Buyers Sort the Fact from The Fiction

As a first time buyer, it’s likely that you will need a mortgage, see Applying for your First Mortgage for more details on this, but there are also a number of other financial considerations to take into account. Which? have provided a handy little clip to get you started and give you a rough idea of the kind of costs as well as how much they might mount up to…

Understanding the Interest on Your Bridging Loan

Unlike mortgages, Bridging Loans are expected to be used as a short-term funding source, usually under 12 months. This is, in part, the reason why bridging loans can be a much more expensive lending source, the rates for this kind of loan range from 8 to 15% whereas as current mortgage rates currently sit at under 4% on average. Interest will be paid in installments throughout the length or your bridging loan arrangement. The rest of the loan amount will then be paid once the loan term is up, usually upon the sale of the property or once a mortgage has been secured for the property.

Loan to Value (LTV) will of course have an impact on the interest you pay on your loan. When taking out a mortgage, the LTV will be based on the value that you purchase the property at rather than the market value. So, if you manage to bag a really good deal on a property, say the property is worth 100k and you manage to get hold of it for 70k, the mortgage lender will take the value at 70k. A 70% LTV on 70k would mean you could borrow 49k minus fees and therefore you would pay interest on the 49k. However, with a bridging loan lender, there may be other options that leave you with more cash but, as a result, slightly more interest to pay. Some UK Bank Bridging Loans work exactly as a mortgage would (outlined above), others, may accept the market worth of the property as the Loan to Value worth, therefore if the property you have just nabbed for 70k instead of 100k has this agreement arranged for it, you would get a loan for 70% of 100k rather than the 49k minus fees which could leave you with quite a lot extra in your pocket (21k in this example!) for project development or emergencies.  It does of course, mean that you will need to be careful when considering your interest payments as this would mean paying you 8-15% on an extra 21k every month so weighing up the benefits and the correct arrangement for your project is extremely important.

In addition, some bridging loan lenders will even provide the loan based on the value that the property will be worth one your project is completed. The risk here for lenders is higher and therefore you can expect that the interest rates will probably be higher also. This kind of loan takes the Gross Development Value or GDV into account, so you’ve just bought the property for 70k, it is currently worth 100k on the market value and once you have completed the project the value should reach 125k. Sticking with the 70% as an example, this kind of financing arrangement would hand over 87.5k minus fees, this is 38 thousand 500 pounds more than a normal mortgage on the same property! The interest in this example, working on an average 12% interest rate would leave you paying around 1% each month, 875 x 12 = 10,500 pounds over 12 months and then the 87.5k once the property is completed, so in this example that is 98k plus fees overall. Please note these are very rough figures for example purposes only and you should always seek advice from a broker or financial advisor before considering a bridging loan.

The above examples are based on you arranging to ‘service’ the interest, which is basically paying as you go. You may also be given the option to ‘Roll Up’ the interest which will allow you to pay off the interest at the end of the project along with the final payments of the loan. Alternatively, the interest can be ‘Withheld’ by the lender so that this is taken from the loan amount at the beginning of the process, so you receive your loan amount minus the fees. Each scenario may have their benefits for different situations but it’s important to bear them in mind when comparing providers.

If you decide to look further into bridging finance as an option for your development project, then it would be worth comparing a number of loan providers as you may get slightly different options from each of them. It is worth comparing NatWest Bridging Loans against other providers as they tend to have a competitive rate, are a well-known financial organisation and can quite often have the funds to you before the week is out. This kind of turn around time can be very attractive if the reason for the loan is to be able to act fast on an auction property where you have to have the funds available and be in a position to act as a cash buyer.  It is worth noting that bridging loans are not always taken out just for the purpose of property development and that they are a reasonable funding option for home improvements, and other unexpected costs so long as the interest charges have been taken into account there is evidence of how the funds are to be returned and the loan is a short-term solution.

As you start comparing bridging finance options do not forget to take into account other fees that you may incur on top of the interest rates. Many providers can also charge; legal fees, exit fees, arrangement fees, broker fees and or a fee for the initial valuation so be sure to add these to your calculations before settling on a provider.

Applying for Your First Mortgage

Applying for your first mortgage is a big step and can be crushing if you don’t get accepted.  There’s no way to completely guarantee that you will get through those checks and get your foot on the property ladder but there are ways to prepare to help.  There are also some things to understand about the world of mortgages that might make the whole process seem less stressful.

Preparation

Before you even think about approaching a mortgage company to go through the application process, you need to check your finances and take a look at your current financial position.  There are plenty of free credit check services to help you get an idea of your credit score and also lots of resources to help you understand what this means – you could start with this useful credit score information from MyCreditMonitor.  While credit scores aren’t the only factor in getting a mortgage, if you have a bad one this is liable to stop the process regardless of other issues.

Most mortgage companies now look at what you can afford to pay and still live and pay other essential bills rather than any outdated system of ‘x times one wage and x times another’.  This means you need to prepare information such as incomings, outgoings, what you spend on food, other financial commitments and even ideas about what you spend on non-essentials such as gym memberships or eating out.  That way you have any information they could ask for.

Stamp duty

Everyone knows that you need a deposit to get a mortgage and the more the better, but often people don’t realise about another cost of buying a house – stamp duty.  Stamp duty is paid depending on the purchase price of the property, ranging from 0% for properties up to £125,000 to as much as 12% on properties over £1.5 million.

Getting the right deal

When applying for a mortgage, you should always look at the full package and the deal on offer.  There are hundreds of mortgage companies, all offering different APRs, payments and even extra benefits so you want to get the one that will suit you best.  There’s no obligation to take a mortgage once you are given a quote so don’t be afraid to shop around.  The most common types of mortgages include:

  • Tracker – where the movement of the base rate effect how much you pay on your monthly payment
  • Standard variable – these follow the base rate but also can change if the lender decides to change the rate
  • Fixed – this is where you pay a fixed rate for a set period of time and the changes in the base rate don’t affect your repayment. Typically, after the set period you go onto one of the other types of mortgage

How long does it take?

The application process can take two or three hours now depending on the lender due to the amount of information they now collect before making a decision.  Once you have provided this information, it can take around two to four weeks to receive an offer.  Once you have an offer, you can then set about the process of purchasing your first home.

Why It Could Pay to Let Strangers into Your Home

We are often a bit possessive of our homes – they are our safe place, our sanctuary and we don’t want strangers just wandering around. And while there’s nothing wrong with this idea, it could mean you are missing out on new ways to let your home make you some extra money. So can letting strangers into your home actually make you a profit?

Become a hotel

If you have a spare bedroom, then there is no reason you can’t transform this into a tiny hotel through companies such as Airbnb. The idea is simple – the website matches up people wanting to stay in a place with people who have space for them to stay. It has grown massively in the last couple of years and is now used by everyone from students on a gap-year to business people who don’t want to stay in a hotel. It is also a fun way to make some extra money and meet different people from around the world as well as giving them your special knowledge of your local area to make the most of their stay.

Become a film set

An increasing number of film and TV studios are turning to real homes to use as set rather than constructing them from scratch. This means you have the chance to make your home into a film set and even (in the tiniest number of cases) have a big film star in your home. There are plenty of companies that work to pair up homeowners with studios, like 1st Option – London Location Agency. Their job is to find homes for studios and if you approach them, they can look at your property and perhaps add you to their database for consideration. It does involve you moving out during the filming but think of the bragging rights – and the extra cash!

Take in a lodger

For something a little more settled and long term, you could look to use that spare bedroom to house a lodger and receive rent that way. Students are a popular option for this kind of idea, looking for a home away from home rather than staying in dormitories or sharing with other students. Also, business people working away from home for a long time might seek somewhere a little more homely than a hotel.

Rent out your drive

Should having strangers in your house not sit well with you, what about using your driveway? If you have a drive and either don’t use it or don’t use all of it, there might be someone willing to rent that space from you. Local businesses whose staff need car parking space are one group to consider along with neighbours who have more cars than driveway space.

Conclusion

Whatever you do to make some extra money from your home, always remember to declare it to HMRC to avoid another, far less pleasant stranger visiting your door. And always remember the repercussions for your home life to these changes to be sure they are right for you and your family.

Top Mortgage Tips Everyone Should Know About

Looking for the best mortgage deal is not as easy as you thought. It can be quite challenging, actually. But don’t worry because there are several tips that you should always keep in mind in order to get the best possible mortgage that you want, and you deserve. Try to be as patient as you can because you’ll go through different processes before you can close a good mortgage deal.

Consider the lender’s criteria

First things first, you need to understand that not all lenders are all the same. Different lenders execute different styles and techniques when it comes to evaluating if they wanted to lend to you or not. You know too well that you will berate and evaluated. Therefore you should meet all of their criteria if you are applying and if you want to be accepted. Most of the lenders are rating you by the following criterion:

  • The amount that you wanted to take
  • The amount of money that you’ve saved
  • Your monthly salary and your status as an employee or employer
  • The ratings of your credit
  • All of your outgoing
  • All of your unpaid debt.

Make sure that you consider the aforementioned factors above in order to make a good impression to the lender and make them accept you. If you think that you have passed the criteria, then you will most likely be accepted.

Make sure that you have financial discipline

Before anything else, make sure that you have a good credit score. Lenders will always want someone who’s disciplined enough in paying back their mortgage. Therefore, a good credit score can help you convince your lender that all throughout your repayment history, you have paid well in all of your loans.

Create a file that consists all you’re your credit cards, debts, mortgages, bills, and payments in all of your account that had been transacted for the last 5 years.

There are some agencies that check out your credit score for free. You can ask for a report from them so that you can show it to your lender later on.

Make sure that you are registered to vote

Lenders will always want to verify your personality, or at least make sure that what you are saying is true. They tend to utilize the electoral roll, therefore, it is very important that you are registered to vote so that they will be able to access general information about you for their confirmation.

Check your local council to see if you are listed on the electoral roll already. Make sure that you do this ahead of time because it can consume quite some time and you don’t want to keep them waiting just because you didn’t check it out earlier.

However, if you have found out that you are still not registered, then you should make sure that you register already to increase your chance. Do not worry because you will not spend a single penny in doing it.

Check out your partner’s credit score

If you have been linked to someone else financially, then before you apply for mortgage make sure that you cut off all links first. For instance, you have a joint credit before, and your partner isn’t as disciplined as you when it comes to payment. All of their bad records will directly reflect on you, and it can lower the chance of you getting accepted for the mortgage that you are applying to. Make sure that their credit history will not affect your good record, but if so, it’s always the best move to delink yourself before you can discourage your lender.

Interior Design Inspiration

Interior design is a key player in all aspects of property. If you are buying or renting a home then obviously Interior design plays a massive part in making sure your property feels likes your own and provides a loving, happy and relaxed environment for your everyday life. As a property developer for the lettings or sales market it can play a key part in getting quick sales if your interiors are designed in a way that allows buyers/tenants to really see themselves in the property, thus potentially saving you time and money. Even if you are dealing with commercial spaces, good interior design will help with sales/lettings if companies can see how their team can work together and be productive. There is so much more to it than this, but for some initial interior design inspiration, take a look at some interior design websites, social media sites such as Pinterest can be extremely useful and take a peek at other similar properties available in the same areas.