Category Archives: Useful Information

Faced With Repossession?

Repossession of a family’s home should be the last resort in a long line of action and negotiation. But in reality, it rarely is.

Two legal frameworks dictate how a lender should proceed when their borrower is in arrears: the mortgage conduct of business rules and the mortgage pre-action protocol. Both clearly state that repossession should only be pursued after all other alternatives have been explored.

There are 11 different things that a lender can in theory do for a borrower in difficulty. The problem in practice is that borrowers don’t know what thes things are and lenders won’t tell them unless asked. Even when they are asked, a refusal is often the standard response and borrowers don’t know what to do next.

For the ordinary mortgage holder, receiving legal letters from respected high street banks and their high-powered solicitors is intimidating at best, utterly demoralising at worst. Persistent phone calls wear people down.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) repeatedly says there has been a shakeup in the industry and lenders are more sympathetic to borrowers in difficulty. I would challenge anyone who defends people in mortgage arrears to find evidence of this.

After over 25 years in the property industry, I only very recently came across ‘The Norgan Figure‘.

When trying to negotiate away from repossession, the lender is looking for a monthly figure to be paid from the arrears. People often make an offer of £100 a month, only to have this rejected as unreasonable by the lender. But there is a formula to calculate a “reasonable” figure.

The 1996 case Cheltenham & Gloucester building society v Norgan established that, as long as the amount being offered will clear the arrears within the remaining life of the mortgage, it is a reasonable offer. If you have £10,000 in arrears and 10 years left on the mortgage that gives you a Norgan figure of £83.33 a month. Good enough to force a lender to accept it, and good enough to cause a judge to adjourn or suspend proceedings in court.

People under pressure and in a panic regularly offer an unsustainable £250-a-month off of the arrears. When you go on to work out the Norgan figure it can be as low as £10. Lenders will happily accept a higher figure because if the borrower can’t stick to the agreement they can still go to court for repossession, making the borrower look like they can’t cope.

Both the lenders and their solicitors know exactly what the Norgan figure is for each account. When the solicitors come to court, you can ask them what their Norgan figure is. Yet they don’t tell the borrower and the borrower doesn’t know to ask.

In their defence, some lenders can be very helpful, yet still far too many of them pressurise their customers, using smokescreens to coerce borrowers into throwing in the towel far too soon.

Borrowers need the confidence and the support to take on their lenders but the tactics employed against them is aimed at undermining such resolve.

SECURE by Burnsey Safe Or Sorry?

So, you have now  moved to your fabulous new home…

You’ve remembered to do the meter readings, ask for the local window cleaner and nodded to your new neighbour. But how many of us realise that the various keys to your new home are in the hands of previous vendors, agents, tradesmen, even left under the coconut matting!

Not very SECURE is it?

Well, we at Burnsey take your security and privacy very seriously. This is why we offer a security makeover.

We survey the property, change locks as required, supply adequate sets of keys for all family members and also check windows and outbuildings to ensure all meet current insurance requirements. We can also provide alarm code re-programming and servicing to maintain a truly safe and sound home.

So, whether you’ve just moved or simply looking to enhance your home security, give us a call.

Oh and it’ll cost peanuts by the way…

SECURE by Burnsey 0845 475 0745

 

1 In 4 Energy Bills Found To Be Wrong

One in four energy bills contains a nasty shock for gas and electricity customers – because they turn out to be incorrect.

Perhaps that’s no surprise when there are over 120 energy tariffs on offer– and much of the utilities’ work in assessing bills or dealing with customer queries is done by computer or call centres in countries where English may not be the first language.

What is surprising, though, is that the energy companies’ mistakes are not always made in their favour. According to research by the comparison website uSwitch.com more than one in three households have unexpectedly owed money to their energy supplier, following a discrepancy between an estimated bill and ‘real’ bill.

And the average amount owed following a billing discrepancy is £152 – a nasty shock for householders on a tight budget. Even those for whom such a sum might be small change may be irritated by the hassle of putting energy company mistakes right; this process usually takes just under two months.

No wonder there is widespread cynicism about energy companies and two in three customers cannot be bothered to switch, despite big differences between the cheapest and most expensive providers of gas and electricity.

For example, Moneysupermarket calculates that for a typical household, the cheapest online tariff is fromFirst Utility (iSave v10) at £1,027 a year. The most expensive standard tariff is from Scottish Power at £1,349.

So, switching from the most expensive standard deal to the cheapest online deal would save £322. People who believe that rising global demand for gas and electricity mean costs must rise in future may prefer a fixed rate deal, where the initial saving is slightly lower, the cheapest among these is from npower (Go Fix 11) at £1,033.

Ann Robinson, a director at uSwitch.com, said: “Consumers are paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year on household bills – the least they should expect is for these bills to be accurate.

“Billing blunders can cause consumers to end up out of pocket, as well as wasting time and effort trying to get the issue resolved. The fact is that households have to deal with wildly varying standards when it comes to accurate bills, with some industries performing noticeably better than others and some consistently bumping along at the bottom of the class.

“The energy industry is worst for inaccuracy, ahead of banks, council departments, credit card companies and other utility companies – only the Inland Revenue trumps it for getting bills wrong.”

 

Estate Agents Found To Hide Fees

Estate agents are often secretive about what they charge sellers, it has been alleged, whilst there is great variation in the levels of fees that they charge.

A new survey found that only one agent in London disclosed its fees on its website. About 20% of London agents refused to disclose their fees over the phone or via email.

 

The survey, by a new estate agent comparison website, looked at 250 agents’ fees across London and found that it is not necessarily in the most expensive postcodes where agents charge the highest fees.

Some of the highest average commissions are charged in the SE1 (Bermondsey), NW11 (Golders Green) and W6 (Hammersmith) post codes, although agents in some lower priced areas –  E8 (Dalston), N8 (Crouch End) and SE28 (Thamesmead) – offer some of the lowest commission rates.

The majority of the London estate agencies surveyed quoted 1.5% commission, but 15% of agents quoted 1%. The highest commission level quoted was 2.5%.

There were several postcode areas including Islington (N1) and Clerkenwell (EC1) where commission levels spanned the range from 1%-2.5%, which means that on a property priced at the London average of £342,749 (according to latest Land Registry figures), the seller could be paying anything from £4,113 to £10,282 including VAT to sell the same home.

Estate agents’ reputation for being guarded about their fees was borne out by the survey, with one in five of agents refusing to say what their fees were, either on the phone or via email. Only one agency, which has 43 London offices, displayed fees online.

One in four agents said that their fees are negotiable based on either a realistic valuation of the property or depending on the price range of the property. Many agents in the survey stressed that an agency should not be chosen simply on their commission rates but on service, track record and marketing.

The survey also found that estate agent fees in London at an average of 1.7% are more or less in line with the national average of 1.8% – contrary to the perception that London estate agent fees are the highest in the country.

At burnsey.com we charge everyone the same affordable fee, so pop in and talk to us – Nothing to hide here folks!