Tuesday, 20 December 2016

How to improve your credit score

As part of our How to Buy series, this blog from the Mortgage Bureau looks at your credit score and what you can do to improve it when buying a new home.

When applying for a mortgage, lenders use your credit score to analyse the risk and determine how likely you are to repay the amount you borrow, including interest.

It is calculated using answers from your mortgage application (points are allocated to certain questions throughout) and your payment history for existing loans, credit cards or hire purchases. If you pay off any other financial commitments in full and on time you’re more likely to have a higher credit score, than if you miss or are late with your payments as you are demonstrating a responsible attitude towards debt to a lender.

You can check your credit score for free with Experian. Just remember, all lenders have different criteria and set their credit score pass rate accordingly, so a high credit score from Experian does not automatically mean a high score with a lender. Particularly given your deposit will also affect your credit score with a lender, as generally the greater the deposit the lower the score you need to pass.

Here’s five top tips to improve your credit score and help get the most suitable mortgage for you:

1.    Make sure all your credit information is correct, as a wrong address can change the way your payment history is reflected to a lender.

2.    If there is anything that is incorrect, you can request a Notice of Correction as long as you can provide the necessary evidence.

3.    Look at the credit score of anyone you share a linked account with and make sure you aren’t financially associated to anyone with poor credit.

4.    Make sure you’re registered on the electoral roll at your current address, you can register to vote online here.

5.    Avoid too many searches on your credit file, especially with comparison websites as they search individually with service providers which can lead to multiple ‘footprints’ and impact your score for up to three months. Instead, let your Financial Adviser do the searching for you!

If you want to know more, speak to a member of our Sales Team in the Sales and Marketing Suite at your local development and they’ll be happy to help by putting you in touch with one of our Independent Financial Advisors. 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

10 reasons to buy new

Compared to an older, second-hand home, buying new can offer a number of advantages that you might not have thought about before…

1.    It’s brand new! So you’ll be the first person to call it home.

2.    A new build is essentially a blank canvas, ready for you to make it your own.

3.    Everything is new, from the kitchen to the bathroom, so you won’t have the added cost of renovating when you move in.

4.    Depending on when you buy, you may be able to select some of the fixtures and fittings, and start to put your personal stamp on the place before you move in.

5.    New homes are built to the latest environmental standards, making them more energy efficient and ultimately cheaper to run; saving you money in the long run.

6.    They’re also safer and more secure, with smoke detectors and burglar alarms generally fitted as standard.

7.    Using Help to Buy, you can secure a new home with a deposit of just 5% and a 75% mortgage, the government will provide an equity loan of up to 20% to cover the remaining cost (which is then interest free for the first five years).

8.    If you have a property to sell, you may be able to use Part Exchange or Assisted Move to make the sales process easier (and less stressful).

9.    Second hand homes can often come with costly repairs, but with a new home there won’t be any surprises when you move in.

10.  Your new-build home will typically be covered by the NHBC Buildmark warranty which covers any major defects to the structure of your home for up to ten years after completion. 

If you buy with St. Modwen Homes you’ll also benefit from a two year guarantee which goes above and beyond Buildmark, guaranteeing items supplied as part of your new home, including your guttering and alarm system for the first year. The heating, plumbing and electrical systems in your new home are also covered for up to two years after completion by the St. Modwen Homes' warranty.

When it comes to design, St. Modwen Homes’ award-winning philosophy of ‘light and height’ means each property is built with higher than average ceilings and large windows throughout, to create bright, open spaces, offering both style and practicality.

If you want to know more, visit www.stmodwenhomes.co.uk or follow the housebuilder on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Top tips for being mortgage ready

As part of our How to Buy series, this blog looks at how to prepare yourself (and your finances) for buying a new home. Whilst nothing is guaranteed, here’s a few tips from the Mortgage Bureau to being mortgage ready…

1.    Sit down and look at your finances. What’s a necessity and what’s a luxury? Work out your budget based on your savings and how much you can afford to spend on a mortgage each month. Use the Mortgage Bureau calculator as a guide on how much you can borrow and what your monthly payments might be. 

2.    Check your credit score with Experian. A good credit score will increase your chance of getting a mortgage, and at a better rate, so it’s worth checking before you start the process of applying for a mortgage. Although checking it too much can also have an impact.

3.    Don’t apply for new credit, or use Pay Day loans or withdraw cash on your credit card if you’re preparing to buy a new home, these will all affect your credit score and could limit the amount you can borrow.

4.    Other financial commitments, such as existing loans and credit cards, can affect the amount you can borrow and the interest rates you’ll pay, so where possible pay off any debts in full and for those remaining remember to make your monthly repayments on time.

5.    Simple things, like making sure you’re registered on the electoral roll and updating your address can improve your credit score with minimum effort required. Register to vote online here.

6.    Make the most of government schemes and boost your savings by 25% with a Help to Buy ISA, and for every £200 you save, you can receive a government bonus of £50, up to a maximum of £3,000 (find out more about the Help to Buy ISA here).

7.    Do your homework and decide which kind of mortgage you want. To help you decide, Mortgage Bureau will waive their fee when you buy with St. Modwen Homes so you can use our expertise to find the best deal. They will even submit your mortgage application, liaise with your lender and conveyancer and be able to reassure you throughout the process, right up to completion.

8.    Get your paperwork in order and make sure all of your addresses match the proof of address given. You’ll also need your last P60 as well as up to a years’ worth of pay slips and bank statements to verify your income and expenditure.

9.    Talk to a Mortgage Broker that specialises in new build homes as well as your bank. The organisation you do your day-to-day banking with will only be able to provide information on their mortgages and whilst they may have a better overview of your spending habits, you might not fit their criteria and you could be missing out on getting a better deal elsewhere.

10.  Find the right home for you and arrange a mortgage in principle. Lenders won’t formally offer you a mortgage without a property in place, but if you’re still looking for the perfect home this will give you an idea of how much you can borrow. Proof of your deposit and a mortgage in principle can also be an advantage when you find the perfect home and want to reserve. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Add a touch of magic to your carpet

Feature walls, statement light fittings and bold prints have all become pretty commonplace when decorating your new home but are you brave enough to make the carpet the real showpiece in your room? We caught up with Sam Simmonds at Killer 5 Interiors to discuss this emerging trend…

“For nearly two decades, a beige or oatmeal carpet has very much been the norm. You might have deviated to grey or even dark blue but I’m sure very few people have actually gone bold with their carpet choice. This could however, be set to change in 2017.

“Carpets offer new homeowners the chance to make a real statement in a room and with more and more options coming into the shops, it’s certainly a trend to be aware of.

“For the truly bold out there, opt for colourful prints that work brilliantly against more muted walls. I love this peacock design from Matthew Williamson, whilst this burgundy tartan pattern from Hugh Mackay Carpets would add warmth to any room. I also love this unusual butterfly design that is a result of Brinton’s teaming up with Timorous Beasties. Alternatively, make a statement without the colour with a regency pattern such as this black and silver Richmond carpet from SCS.

“Already visible in some of our Showhomes, stripes represent an easy way to get feature carpets into your new home and are proving particularly popular on stairs and hallways. Try the bright Audrey option from Barker and Stonehouse or the more subdued blue and gold option from John Lewis.

“Fans of grey will approve of this Capello Shell carpet which is part of the Alternative Flooring collaboration with Liberty Fabrics; representing the first time their iconic prints have been used in carpet. Or, if you want something a little (ok, maybe a lot) brighter, try the Summer Garden pattern; the bold floral print will certainly get people talking.

“A geometric style offers a modern approach to a patterned carpet; here’s a bold option in grey and white which has apparently been inspired by ice skating, or you could take a more conservative approach  with this Labyrinth design which would look fantastic teamed with a bright sofa. Personally, I love the geometric pattern in monochrome, just like this one from Alternative Flooring which is perfectly on trend.

 “For those of you that aren’t quite convinced, there’s a huge range of subtle patterns that might help change your mind. My advice would be to look at the Brinton’s Laura Ashley collection, in particular the Colloway pattern that would help bring luxury to a living room or the Ryedale design which looks beautifully feminine and soft in the duck egg colour; perfect for a relaxing bedroom.

“Making a statement with your carpet may seem like a bold move but it certainly offers homeowners another way to add colour, depth and personality to a room. If you’re considering it for your new home, start with a mood board and work from the floor upwards – it’s much easier to start with a bold carpet and then choose complementing wall colours and furnishings than it is to find a patterned carpet that suits an existing room. Good luck!”

Share photos of your favourite carpets with St. Modwen Homes on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and on each of the development’s Facebook pages. To find out more about St. Modwen Homes visit www.stmodwenhomes.co.uk

Monday, 31 October 2016

Trick or Treat?

Whether you are holding your first party in your new home or having a spooky family get together, Halloween is the perfect time of year to whip up a few treats in your kitchen.

Believed to have originated from Celtic harvest festivals and on the eve of All Hallows Day, Halloween has become ever more popular over recent years. To help you pull off a frighteningly good night, we’ve found some ghoulish recipes that will have everyone howling with delight…

Little ones will love these Frankenstein cupcakes or, if you’re looking for something a little less time consuming, try these giant black widow spiders. Alternatively, keep things healthy and make fruit more exciting with this monster fruit bowl.

Savoury treats can also get the Halloween treatment, with these delicious Sausage mummy dippers or Monster bites that will ensure your visitors don’t go hungry.

Don’t forget to give drinks a scary edge and try this Halloween witches brew complete with severed hand or, if you’re looking for something to keep the adults entertained try these Vampire cocktails, after all who says you can’t have a grown up dinner party up with a scary twist? Team your cocktails with Halloween-themed stuffed peppers, spooky spaghetti and even baked camembert.

If you don’t feel like making the food yourself head to Tesco or M&S and order pre-prepared party food, leaving you plenty of time to sort out the decorations and the spooky atmosphere!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Help to Buy - What you need to know

You might have seen the recent news that the government will not be extending the Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee Scheme from December this year, but what does that actually mean and more importantly what does it mean for you?

Firstly, don’t panic. While the Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee Scheme will no longer be available, you will still be able to use the Help to Buy: Equity Loan to purchase a new St. Modwen Homes’ property with a deposit of just 5%.

Available on new-build homes up to the value of £600,000, using the Help to Buy: Equity Loan you pay just 80% of the listed property price, which is made up of a 5% deposit and a 75% mortgage, with the remaining 20% covered by a government loan. For example, if you bought a new home priced at £200,000, you would need a deposit of £10,000, a £150,000 mortgage and a £40,000 loan from the government.

50% of our purchasers use this scheme, and it’s not just for first time buyers, those moving up the property ladder also qualify. You just won’t be able to rent out your new home or use Part Exchange to sell your old home and you must not own any property when you use Help to Buy: Equity Loan to buy your new home. 

So what is the Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee Scheme and why is it not being continued? Unlike the Help to Buy: Equity Loan, the Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee Scheme applies to both new-build and existing homes, with the government providing a guarantee to the lender to offer higher value mortgages of up to 95%. Since Help to Buy was introduced in January 2014, the housing market has become less reliant on the government guarantee and over 30 lenders now offer 90 to 95% mortgages outside of the scheme.

If you want to know more about Help to Buy: Equity Loan and see if you qualify, speak to a member of our Sales Team in the Sales and Marketing Suite at your local development and they’ll be happy to help by putting you in touch with one of our Independent Financial Advisors who will talk you through the process, help you find the right mortgage for you and even complete all the paperwork. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Cofton Grange – inside the Hexham Showhome

As we get ready to open the doors at Cofton Grange later this month, Samantha Simmonds, Creative Director at Killer5, gives us a sneak peek inside our brand new Hexham Showhome.

“Opening a new Showhome is always an exciting time, especially for us as interior designers, as we get to experiment with the latest styles and trends. At Cofton Grange, we’ve really embraced the industrial look, using reclaimed wood and rough metallic tones throughout. As a trend, industrial chic is here to stay and, thanks to the stripped-back and humble materials, it can give your new home a sophisticated edge without blowing the budget.

“In the Hexham, we’ve gone for functional style with a luxe edge, combining copper lighting and accessories with neutral and navy shades in the living room, charcoal grey and reclaimed wood in the kitchen and dining room, and silver and bronze upstairs in the second bedroom. Don’t be afraid to mix rich colours and plush furnishings with raw materials to make a statement.  

“Another popular trend this year, we’ve introduced typographical and geometric prints and wall art to bring the Showhome to life – including a striking feature wall in the kitchen and dining room. If you want to re-create the look, it’s a great way to showcase your personality, break up a blank wall and bring the theme of a room together.

“As it’s set across three floors, St. Modwen Homes’ Hexham design offers a flexible space for modern living so we used the bedroom on the ground floor as a study to demonstrate this. For those who work from home, having a separate study can be essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In the Showhome we’ve used caged copper lighting, exposed wired shelves and up-cycled parquet wooden furniture to continue the industrial theme and provide practical office storage solutions.

“In the bathrooms, we’ve gone for a fresh contemporary feel, using white marble and copper accessories that sit perfectly alongside the luxury fixtures and fittings St. Modwen Homes includes as standard.”

Take a look at our Pinterest, to see the Killer5 mood boards and, from Saturday 22nd October, you can see inside the Hexham Showhome for yourself – and don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

The Marketing Suite at Cofton Grange is open Thursday to Monday from 10am to 5.30pm inclusive of the weekends. For more information or to book an appointment, call 0844 243 4507 or email CoftonGrange@stmodwenhomes.co.uk.