Why choose Shared Ownership?

The home ownership dream can seem more out of reach than ever, with mortgage affordability rules making the home-buying process more complicated. And ever-increasing house prices mean that many hopeful homeowners usually have to find larger deposits than before.

According to the Nationwide House Price Index, the average UK property price in October 2015 was £196,807 – up from £173,678 in October 2013 (a rise of 13.3 per cent). On a mortgage that offers 90 per cent loan-to-value (LTV), this means finding a deposit of nearly £20,000, with estate agent and legal fees on top of that too.

More information: What type of mortgages should I get?

So what for the hopeful at the foot of the property ladder? One potential solution is part-own, part-buy – Shared Ownership. A step that yours truly took a few years back and have never regretted.

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Experian Credit Score is now FREE. FOREVER.

The cat’s out of the bag – for the first time, the UK’s most trusted credit score* is now free, for everyone**, forever.

That’s right – the Experian Credit Score, which shows you how lenders may view you, and can be a useful thing to know when you are thinking of applying for credit.

To get your Experian Credit Score FREE forever, sign up to our new CreditMatchera free independent service that helps you compare credit deals you’re more likely to get, based on your credit information.

We are a credit broker not a lender, working with selected lenders.

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Car finance: how to get the deals you want

Buying a car - car finance dealsFrom 1 September, all new cars for the next six months now have the new 66 number plate.

Britons bought more new cars than ever before in 2015 – over 2.5 million, and many predict that 2016 could end up seeing an even higher total as motorists try to avoid car tax reforms set for next April.

Car finance is one of the most common examples of how we pay for ‘large ticket’ items, and a good credit rating can be the difference between getting a good interest rate or not, or sometimes getting any deal at all.

Applying for a loan
If you’re planning on a car finance loan, it’s a good idea to check your Experian Credit Report before you make the application. This allows you to see what the lender would use about you, and gives you the chance to correct any inaccuracies and update any out-of date information. The credit score the lender gives you helps them decide whether to accept you as a customer or not – usually, the higher your credit score, the better your chance of getting your loan.

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Planning a wedding for 2017

Couple Walking While Guests Throwing Confetti On ThemPlanning to get married in 2017? Now is as good a time as any to start saving, as the costs can creep up on you without you realising.

Estimates vary as to the average cost of a wedding in the UK.  Some experts say £17,000, some say £20,500, some, after itemising various parts, say as much as £30,111.

Experian research* in 2014, of people recently or soon to be married, found that almost seven in ten (69%) pay for their wedding from savings, while around one in five are using some form of credit, whether that be a card, a loan, or paying in instalments.

In fact, 43% of cohabiting couples had postponed their wedding by an average of a year and two months – due to running into difficulties with their pre-wedding financial planning.

8 quick tips for budgeting for a 2017 wedding

  1. One year to go is a great time to set achievable targets with clear landmarks ahead – and there’s no better target than the big day itself. Continue reading

Peer pressure: the £6bn hidden cost of raising children?

Girls textingAs the school holidays come to a close, parents up and down the country are making sure they’ve bought enough stationery, school uniforms and so on ahead of another year of education for their children. 

But as well as the essentials, there’s often a hidden cost. New research* (from Sainsbury’s Bank) has found that almost half (48%) of parents feel they need to spend money on items for their children based on peer pressure, such as the latest smartphones, the trendiest clothes or the biggest parties.

This can add £865 to the average annual family household outgoings – making nearly £6 billion in total across the UK.

What are the main ‘peer pressure’ costs?
Not surprisingly, the desire to have the latest technology like phones or tablets tops the list (44%), with fashionable clothing (43%) and school trips/excursions (42%) next up.

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Graduate debt on the rise: 5 tips for new students

A new world of university life is shortly set to open up for thousands of teenagers.

Most new students realise they’ll leave university with a loan they’ll spend years having to pay back once they’ve made it into the world of work.

But new research shows that new graduates will face average debt levels over a third of the average outstanding mortgage.

By the time they start paying back their loans – maintenance and tuition fees – their debts will be well in excess of £41,000, according to The Money Charity,  which is 35% of the average outstanding mortgage (£117,162).

And how you manage any credit you have now can affect your chance of getting credit in the future.

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I keep getting mail for someone who doesn’t live at my address

By Neil Stone, Social Media Executive

man receives bad news in the post.Post in other people’s names
It’s great to come home and find letters waiting for you on your doorstep but when the letters turn out to be for a previous resident or even someone that has never lived at your address it can be frustrating. If it’s a demand for payment it can also be understandably worrying.

The good news is that as long as you have no financial connection to the individual (such as joint account) then their information will not affect your credit report in anyway.

This is because all credit checks are done by name, and not address, so lenders won’t see or use information relating to the other person when checking your report.

The best thing to do is to return the letter unopened to the sender clearly marked as “not at this address”. The lender should then look for their customer elsewhere.

Sadly we can’t prevent a person from using an address to apply for credit, or stop lenders from contacting their customers at an address, but by regularly returning the post the lender will stop trying to contact them. Continue reading

How does the drop in interest rates affect you?

Yesterday, one month later than most experts had predicted, the Bank of England announced a historic change in interest rates, the first change since 2009 – and rather than the upward rise that had been widely predicted for the past few years, it fell from 0.5% to 0.25%.

 So what does this mean in practical terms?

Mortgages – For those on a tracker mortgage, as long as your lender passes on the cut to its own base mortgage rate (or if it is linked directly to the BoE base rate), your rate (and monthly payment) should go down.  In all, there are about 1.5 million trackers in the UK.

However, some banks and building societies have a ‘tracker floor’, which means there is a limit to how low the percentage can go above the Bank of England base rate. In this case, your rate (and mortgage payment) would be unlikely to change.

If you have a fixed rate mortgage, you wouldn’t be affected if the rates went down during your fixed period, but when the time comes to re-mortgage – or if you’re a new homebuyer – , the options open to you could potentially be more favourable, with some experts suggesting long-term fixes even going below 2%.

Savers – In the event of an interest rates cut, it may depend if banks chose to pass on the cut to savings accounts. Some savers may decide to switch to bonds or shares, which could have the effect of driving those prices higher.

For pension savers who are using an annuity, a rate cut could make annuity rates fall by putting pressure on the long-term. This could have a potential negative effect on employee pension schemes too.

Needing currency for holidays – While interest rate cuts can often mean a weakening of the pound, it may well be the case that the currency markets will have been factoring in a cut for some time already – hence there may be little change if it does eventually happen.  Interest rate cuts can be done sometimes to provide an economic stimulus – to encourage people to spend rather than to save – so perhaps this could help improve consumer confidence and boost the pound.

But what about when it does rise? - Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has warned against expecting interest rates to stay low forever in these uncertain times, and suggested that homeowners would do well to prepare their finances to be ready for a potential rise of up to 3% in the coming years.

Many homeowners, particularly those who’ve joined the market in the past seven years, will have never been faced with an interest rate rise, and tighter borrowing conditions in the future could make it harder to cope with a rise.

How your credit score could help –  Having a higher credit score could mean you get better deals or lower interest rates on credit, loans and mortgages. The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your Experian Credit Report, and how the way you’ve managed the credit you’ve had in the past might affect applications you’re making now.

It can also help you to monitor your progress as you get your finances in order before you apply. Getting your credit score up could open up the potential chance to get better rates.

(original post 14 July 2016, updated 5 August 2016)

Experian’s wedding costs guide

The day you get married is as special a day as they come, but wedding costs can often be higher than you think.

Here we take a look at how much weddings can cost, from dating and engagement all the way through to the big day itself – for the bride, the groom, the family, and even the guests,

Love and marriage

Estimates vary as to the average cost of a wedding in the UK.  Some experts say £17,000, some say £20,500, some, after itemising various parts, say as much as £30,111.

What we found
Experian research in 2014* found that the average couple (meaning those either planning to get married, are married or that have been married) say the budget came in at just under £4,000 (£3,998).

However, once they were asked to itemise separate costs, such as the dress, the venue, the rings and the honeymoon, the total average cost leapt up to £6,627 – suggesting that perhaps many of us underestimate how much a wedding will cost. Continue reading