Newsletter April 2015

New LBTT Rates Replace Stamp Duty

Changes to the rate of property tax payable in Scotland came into effect from 1 April. With the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), anyone purchasing a property costing less than £145,000 will not be paying any tax, an increase of £20,000 on the previous threshold.This is certainly good news for first time buyers and home movers alike, where more than 50% of all household transactions will pay no tax and over 40,000 buyers per year will pay less when purchasing a new property.

95% Lending on the Up

The number of mortgage products requiring a deposit of only 5% is at a seven year high. This is exciting news for prospective homebuyers who can only muster enough money for a modest deposit.Recent figures show there are now 195 mortgage products now available at 95% loan to value, the highest figure since 2008. The rise in number of 95% LTV products can be attributed to the strong levels of confidence being felt by providers who are now more willing to lend at higher risk levels.

Help to Buy Update

More than 80,000 consumers have used Help to Buy mortgage guarantee and equity loan schemes to purchase their first home since the Government launched the first phase of the scheme nearly two years ago. It has been viewed as a catalyst in the acceleration of high loan to value (LTV) lending, which was very much the norm before the financial crisis took hold.Recent Government figures (up to 31 January) show some 42,753 buyers have used the equity loan version of the scheme since it launched in April 2013, with 83% (35,364), being first-time buyers. The mean purchase price through the equity loan scheme is £212,354.

Such figures are encouraging for the housing market and first time buyers alike and, coupled with introduction of new initiatives such as the Help to Buy (HTB) ISA, it reinforces the Government’s commitment to helping struggling individuals make that first step onto the property ladder.

Company News

First mortgage are delighted to announce the opening of our 10th branch in Scotland and our first in Fife. We are based on Hunter Street in Kirkcaldy, open six days a week and expertly manned by our advisors Douglas Grant and Kevin Hamill.
In the run up to Easter First Mortgage were delighted to support the Easter egg hunt at Corstorphine Primary School as part of Project Play, which has seen the school take part in several fund raising activities towards creating a brand new playground for the children.The money will go directly to Project Play, taking them one step closer to completing the new playground. We are delighted to have played our part in making a worthy contribution to such a good cause, as well demonstrating our support to the local community.

Meet the Advisor

This month we meet James Hutchinson, a mortgage and property consultant based in our Glasgow branch.
Tell us about your job and what’s involved on a typical day?I’m an early riser – get up at 5:45am and generally in the office for 7am. I like this quiet time to catch up on the previous days’ work and get any admin done that I didn’t do on the day. Then I arrange my day, look to see who is coming in, and text / email confirmation of the appointment.  Then it’s onto the day ahead….. First thing I do is prep all of my sign ups before anything else, then it’s really just a matter of dealing with new clients, negotiating on house purchases for existing clients, and dealing with new enquiries that come into the office. At the moment it’s extremely  busy in the Glasgow office, so my day generally doesn’t finish until around 7pm, then it’s home, catch up with my wife and wee boy have a bite to eat and watch some trash TV to relax. Usually get to bed around 11:30pm, ready to start all over again!

What previous roles and experiences led you to your present position?

For many years I worked in Call Centres, predominantly insurance (team manager / floor manager) and then decided one day I’d had enough. Estate agency sounded fun, so I wrote on a whim to a few estate agents and was offered the job as a property valuer with Countrywide. I did that for a few years and then the financial service side of Countrywide approached me and asked if I was interested in training as a mortgage advisor – No! was the answer, but I was then persuaded to consider and see if I enjoyed it, and honestly haven’t looked back. I wish I had done it years earlier. My estate agency experience has been invaluable in this role as I know a large number of the estates agents in the area my clients are buying and will use those connections to help secure properties for them.

What do you like most about this company?

The fact that if you are doing well you are left to get on with it, but you have the safety net of a large management support network around you who will do whatever they can to help should you need it, and that I work alongside probably the best advisors in the country, and if I don’t know something, somebody will.

What do you consider the key challenges for the mortgage industry this year?                            

I think the biggest challenge at the moment faces buyers, first time or home movers, in securing their property. Very rapidly house prices are increasing and there is real confidence in the market again. This is leading to more and more closing dates, meaning that buyers require not only a deposit of 5% or 10% minimum but the additional funds needed to cover any offer they make in excess of the Home Report valuation. Deposits are difficult enough to save without needing thousands of pounds on top of that!

What are the most important personal satisfactions and dissatisfactions connected with your job?                                                

Satisfactions – helping first time buyers secure their home (and saving them money on the purchase) and hearing the delight in their voice when you call them to advise their mortgage has offered, and their dream of being a home owner becomes a reality.

Dissatisfactions – lenders inability to look at cases on an individual basis, and not take a common sense approach.

Who is your role model and why?

I know it’s pretty corny, but probably my Dad. He’s worked hard just about every day of his life, and always did everything he could to provide the best he could for us. If I can emulate even just that aspect of his life, I’ll have done okay.

If you could take back one career decision, what would it be?

Working as the complaints manager for a major holiday company – that aged me ten years in a one year!

If we were to ask your work colleagues about you, what would they say and why?

Hard working, conscientious, because I always go that extra mile for my clients but can’t handle his red wine, because they’ve seen me on the company annual booze cruise!

If you could take three other people to dinner with you, who would it be and why?

JFK – I’d tell him to watch out for the bullet.  I’d be interested to see how the world would have turned out had he not died.

Hugh Hefner – can you imagine the stories he’d have to tell?

Jennifer Aniston – just because she is stunning, and of course an extremely talented and funny actress.

Salad or chips?

Chips every time.

What are your hobbies?

Skiing (badly), movies and reading.

What is your favourite film?

It’s A Wonderful Life (but only at Christmas time), when it’s not Christmas it would be The Breakfast Club.

What is your favourite book?

A novella by Stephen King called ‘The Body’ which went on to become the movie Stand By Me….. A great coming of age book.  Also love ‘Man & Boy’ by Tony Parsons.

Who is your current mortgage with?




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