Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions answered.

What exactly is the role of a Mortgage Broker?

A lot of people think that to get a mortgage, you need to go to your high street bank – but a mortgage broker is here to give you more options and make the whole process a lot easier.

When you go to a bank or building society, a lot of the time it’s a yes/no situation – if you don’t fit that lender’s criteria, you can’t get a mortgage. Meanwhile brokers can access multiple lenders, with panels of up to 70 mortgage companies to choose from. That gives you more options, so instead of being in a yes/no situation, it’s a question of which lender can give you the most appropriate and competitive deal for your situation.

We’re also here to make the process a lot easier when you’re buying a house or looking to refinance it. A lot of people are surprised about what solutions we can come up with. We’re all about saving you money as well. If you just go to one bank then you can only get the products they offer. By looking across a wide range of lenders we can get you a better value deal.

Can you support me through the whole mortgage process?

Yes – and more! We start by looking at how much you could borrow and working with you to decide which kind of product would work best. Once you have found a property to buy, we can help you with the whole process.

For example, estate agents might put you under a lot of pressure. They are working for the person selling the home, not yourself. But we are 100% on your side and have no allegiance with the estate agent. So if something comes up during a purchase we can give you clear and honest advice on the purchase side as well as the mortgage – we’ve got so much experience in supporting clients throughout the purchase journey.

What services does a mortgage broker offer?

We’re here to help you get a mortgage as a First Time Buyer or if you’re moving home. But we can also help with looking at remortgages – and a lot of people at the moment are looking to raise capital to do home improvements or consolidate debts.

The other big one at the moment is to purchase Buy to Let properties. We’ve got a lot of professional landlords who are looking to invest in the property market, so we’ve got some brokers on the team that specialise in that area to help you find the best products we can.

A really important part of our job is also to make sure that once people take on the debt of a mortgage, that they are well protected. That means looking at life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection – all different types of protection to ensure that once you buy your dream house your family is protected in any scenario. It’s important that people get the right advice.

When should I see a Mortgage Broker – at what stage in the process?

As early as possible – and certainly before you start viewing houses. Until you know what your budget is, you don’t actually know whether you can afford what you’re viewing. On the other hand, you might think you can only afford up to a certain amount but a Mortgage Broker might find you can actually buy a property at a higher price.

If you do the mortgage finance at the earliest point it makes the whole process a lot easier and smoother – it’s already done. Then it’s just a case of finding a property, making an offer and then you can send your Agreement in Principle over straight away to confirm your situation.

It’s very common for someone to see a house, decide to make an offer for it and then get in a panic because they haven’t already got a mortgage provider lined up – you want to get that house off the market. So the earlier you can sort out the mortgage, the smoother the process will be for you.

We meet a lot of people who have been told by their bank that they can’t get a mortgage – but very often our experience and our range of lenders will mean that we can find you a deal. We just need to go to a different lender. So don’t give up if your bank has given you bad news.

You’re based in Worcester – can you help somebody based anywhere else in the country?

Yes, we cover the whole country. We have local advisors who are based in Worcester, Malvern, Droitwich, Redditch and Kidderminster. So if you would prefer a face-to-face experience we do have advisors in those areas. But we also offer mortgage advice anywhere in the UK – from London to Bristol and right up to Scotland.

Technology these days makes it so easy to do things over the phone or video calls. It means we can still give that face-to-face experience wherever you live.

Tell us more about Mortgages Plain and Simple?

We started up in 2016 and originally it was just the two of us, who both worked as advisors in an estate agent. We met about nine years ago as mortgage brokers and came up with the idea of setting up a business to help people find a mortgage adviser in Worcester.

We came up with the name Mortgages Plain and Simple and it grew from there. It was tough to start with but we started getting more and more recommendations and referrals from our existing clients.

We’ve now got three partners within the business and we’ve worked together for a long time. We’ve got many other advisors who’ve joined us over the years and most of our business has been built on recommendations and referrals.

What does it cost for an initial consultation with you?

Initial consultations are all at our own expense – we don’t charge any fees for meetings or Agreements in Principle, or even when we get to recommending a product. A fee will apply once you decide to apply for a mortgage, and we will be totally clear from the start about how much this is and when you will need to pay it.

When you are looking at mortgages and anything to do with finance, it’s a really good idea to look at all the options. In this day and age there are three types of mortgage advisor. You’ve got the high street banks which is that yes/no process, then there are estate agency brokers that you are introduced to when you’re interested in buying a certain house. Some agents will even say that you have to use their broker – but that’s not true. You’re completely free to use whoever you want. The third type is an independent Mortgage Broker like us here at Mortgages Plain and Simple.

I’d usually suggest speaking to friends and family about who they’ve used – if they’ve had a good experience then what they recommend is going to be a good solution for you.

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What is equity release and how does it work?

There are two different types, Lifetime Mortgages, which are a secure charge over your house, and interest is payable but it’s typically rolled up onto the balance, meaning you don’t make any payments.

Whereas the other option is Home Reversion Plans, which aren’t really a great deal anymore, but are where you transfer some or all of the ownership of the property to the plan provider to release a lump sum, which is likely to be a quite considerable discount on the property value. In most instances when we talk about equity release it’s referring to Lifetime Mortgages.

How do I know if releasing equity is the right option for me?

Everybody looks at this option for different reasons, but in all instances we recommend you speak with an adviser to help you understand if what you’re looking to do is the right thing for you.

When can I use equity release?

People use equity release for all sorts of different reasons, but some of the most popular ones are repaying a mortgage. Quite a lot of people have equity in their property but not a lot of disposable Income, so they look to release equity to enjoy their retirement. Some people like to release equity for home improvements, buying a new car or helping a relative out with a deposit for their property.

How do I set up equity release, what are the costs involved and how much interest do you pay?

An adviser will set it up for you. There’s a valuation like any mortgage and what it costs will vary per client and provider. Some of the fees you can add to the loan and all the fees are explained clearly before we take out any type of plan.

Interest rates will vary but at the moment you’re looking at rates around 4% upwards. A lot depends on the Loan to Value, how much you’re looking to borrow versus how much your property is worth, the age of the client and so on. The important thing to remember with the interest on these is that you don’t have to make any payments if you don’t want to.

What is the best age to take equity release?

The average age is about seventy-one and the interesting thing is that there is no minimum age requirement, however, it is dictated by lenders and for most lenders set the minimum age at about fifty-five.

The important thing to remember though, is that the younger you are, the less you’re going to be able to borrow and the older you are, the more you can borrow.

What are the pros and cons of equity release?

The pros vary per client, but there are no monthly payments required, no affordability check or credit checks and the money can be used for pretty much anything you like. The cons are,  if the interest is rolled up it can have a compound effect each year, as you pay interest on top of your interest, which can lead to the erosion of your equity in the property, which ultimately reduces the inheritance that your loved ones would receive.

Am I protected when using equity release?

Most providers are part of the Equity Release Council and adhere to their standards. These standards dictate that the client will have the right to remain in the property for life or until they go into care, and the right to move to another suitable property subject to checks being carried out.

Most providers now offer a no negative equity guarantee, which means you can’t owe more than the property is worth and the interest rate is fixed for the lifetime of the mortgage. If you want to, most give you the option to make overpayments of a certain amount before you incur any fees.

Can I sell my house if I have equity release?

Yes, you can potentially take it to another property, and if you don’t take it with you the loan will need to be repaid from the proceeds, meaning that whatever you sell the property for minus the mortgage amount is what you’ll get on completion.

Is there a better alternative to equity release?

It depends on everyone’s circumstances, but from an interest rate and fees perspective, these tend to be higher than normal mortgages or retirement interest-only mortgages.

Do banks release equity?

It’s typically more of a specialist lender that offers equity release. You won’t typically find that your high street lenders are offering it.

How can a mortgage broker like Mortgages Plain and Simple help with equity release?

We’re really just here to make sure you understand if it’s the right thing for you or not and if there are any alternatives available.

A lifetime mortgage is not suitable for everyone and may affect your entitlement to means tested benefits, so it is important to seek financial advice before taking any action.  If you are considering releasing equity from your home, you should consider all options available before equity release.  

The interest that may be accrued over the long term with a Lifetime Mortgage, may mean it is not the cheapest solution.  As interest is charged on both the original loan and the interest that has been added, the amount you owe will increase over time, reducing the equity left in your home and the value of any inheritance, potentially to nothing.

Although the final decision is yours, you are encouraged to discuss your plans with your family and beneficiaries, as a Lifetime Mortgage could have an impact on any potential inheritance. We would also encourage you to invite them to join any meetings with your Financial Adviser so they can ask questions and join in the decision, as we believe it is better to discuss your decision with them before you go ahead.  This is a referral service.

What is the current retirement age and at what age can you take your pension?

You can actually retire whenever you want, if you have enough money to last you for the rest of your life. You can actually retire today. However, there are rules when it comes to pensions and when you can actually access them.

You can currently take the State Pension at age 66, but that age limit is gradually increasing. From 2026 the state pension age for many people will be 67 or 68, depending on how old you are. This depends on future governments as well and if any amendments are made to the rules.

So it’s not a dead cert at the moment. If you do want to know what your current state pension age is, look at the government website which will give you a forecast.

With a defined benefit pension you can usually take benefits from age 60 or 65 depending on the scheme you have. It will state on your pension summary when the normal retirement date is. You can sometimes take income earlier at age 55, but you need to be careful because this may result in reduced income.

The other main pension type is the defined contribution pension. With these you can usually take benefits at age 55, but again rules are always changing. This is planned to increase to age 57 from 2028.

Why do I need to plan for retirement?

There are multiple factors that you need to take into account. The way I look at it is quite simple. If you plan for your retirement, you’re more likely to retire earlier. You’re more likely to be financially secure, and more likely to enjoy your retirement.

If you don’t plan for your retirement you are more likely to work for longer, more likely to struggle financially and less likely to enjoy your retirement. Research shows that a comfortable retirement requires an income for a single person of over £30,000 a year. So when you take that into account, some people will get a state pension that only covers a third of this.

So the only way to ensure that you have a comfortable retirement is to plan for it and to put provisions in for it now.

How do I plan for retirement?

The first step is to look at what you currently have. That’s not just pensions: it includes property assets, general investments and any alternative investments you have. Many of these are actually quite easy to get hold of.

Also, if you think you have some old pensions with previous employers but you’re not sure, there’s a useful tool on the government website which allows you to trace old pension providers.

Once you’ve located all your assets, it’s a case of working out what your needs and objectives are in retirement. That is, when do you want to retire, how much income will you actually need and will you need any lump sums along the way for a holiday, a car or anything else.

It’s about looking at your current assets and working out if you’re currently on track to meet that retirement goal. If you’re not on track, you need to amend your plans. One of the easiest ways to do this is to increase your contributions towards your retirement objective.

That’s really the core of planning for your retirement, but there are many other factors to take into account. It’s also really important to continually review this plan. You can’t just make a plan now for 30 years’ time and hope that it’s going to work. You need to adjust it over the years. There are market changes, government changes to watch out for along the way.

How can I boost my pension pot?

The best thing to do is start early. If someone planned for their retirement at age 25 and put £100 a month away until they reached the age of 60, they’re likely to have double or even triple the amount of retirement funds of someone who starts at age 40.

There’s a big difference in starting early that really boosts your pension pot. Many of the investment options for retirement work off the principle of compound interest – and to me this is the eighth wonder of the world.

That compounding effect really benefits people over a long time, especially in the later years where it can really boost your income.

What else do we need to know on retirement planning?

The key thing is to use a financial adviser to help you with this. We’re here to help you establish your retirement goals or investment goals, and put a plan together. We’ll help you understand all the rules and how market changes affect your retirement. Many people think of retirement as being just pensions. But that’s not the only tool we use.

We look at gathering all the assets that someone has – property, ISAs and any other assets and put it all together in one financial plan. Each of these investment types come with their own advantages and disadvantages. There’s no set rule of what’s better for each person.

If someone has an ISA and when they retire there’s £500,000 in it, that’s all tax-free income. But you can only contribute up to £20,000 a year into a stocks and shares ISA. So there are limitations there. You can contribute more into a pension a year and also get some really good tax benefits of 20% or even 40% on your contributions.

When you do get to retirement there are some restrictions on that tax free income versus an ISA, so it’s important that we take into account all the options available. We guide clients based on their individual status and needs because not every solution fits everyone.

We can formulate a plan so that you can have that comfortable retirement that you’re looking for.

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Advice Plain and Simple is a trading name of William Chalice Limited which is an appointed representative of The Openwork Partnership, a trading style of Openwork Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. William Chalice registered Office: Unit 1, Hawford Business Centre, Lionel Way, Worcester, WR3 7SG. The information on this website is subject to the regulatory regime and is therefore targeted at consumers in the UK. No representations are made as to whether the information is applicable or available in any other country which may have access to it.

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