purchasing a house through co-ownership conveyancing law

How to get a deposit for a first home

Some hints and tips to inspire first time buyers

Ask any aspiring first time buyer what the biggest hurdle to buying their starter home is and they will tell you it is saving up for the deposit. The average deposit need for a first-time buyer house in Northern Ireland is an eye-watering £30,435. With property prices on the increase it may seem like the dream of owning your first home is moving ever increasingly out of reach. Helpfully we have decided to provide you with some tips that may help make that dream a reality.

Move back in with the parents

Housing rents are far in excess of monthly mortgage repayments right now. Every pound you give to your landlord is a pound less saved towards your deposit. It makes perfect sense then to move back home and put what you would have spent on rent into the bank at the end of each month. The average rent here is £629 per month. Over the course of a year that is a not inconsiderable sum of £7,548. In addition you may be able to save on food, utilities, etc.

The Bank of Mum and Dad

Yes this is only available to the privileged and is unfair on those more disadvantaged but the majority of first time buyers are getting gifts to help with the deposit. Your lender will require your parents to sign a gift waiver, often with independent legal advice. One thing to be wary about, if your parents die within seven years of making the gift to you its value may still be counted towards the inheritance tax liability.

Move somewhere else

If you don’t mind a bit of a commute to work you will find that the property values vary wildly in Northern Ireland, as they say, “location, location, location”. Moving from Belfast into the commuter belt or from one county to another can get you similar properties at a fraction of the cost. This will help knock a big chunk off of your deposit.

Get a Help to Buy ISA

Don’t just save, get the government’s help. If you open up one of these ISAs (available at almost all of the high street banks) the government will boost your savings by 25%. The maximum bonus you can get is £3,000 per saver. So if you and your partner are purchasing together you could conceivable get a bonus of £6,000 between you. There is a lot of small print so make sure you take time to apprise yourself of the terms before getting involved.

Buy with Northern Ireland Co-Ownership Housing

This is a not for profit organisation with the sole purpose of making housing more affordable. In very broad terms you buy between 50% and 90% of the home you want and they buy the remaining share. You pay rent on the share that you do not own. You can then buy more shares in your property as the years go by. What this does is vastly decrease the size of the deposit you need (by up to 50%) so it is not to be sniffed at.

If you would like advice in relation to any issue regarding the purchase of a first home please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

Personal Injury Specialist Solicitors

Office closed 11th to 13th July inclusive

Our offices will be closed between 11th and 13th July inclusive but you can still reach us if required! If you have been in an accident and require immediate advice please email urgent@boydricesolicitors.com and we will come back to you within one hour.

Free Wills Month

Call us during the month of June to avail of a free Will

Drafting up a will is something most of us know we should do but something we usually put off for another day. Now is the perfect time however to finally get round to it as Boyd Rice Solicitors are offering free Will writing services throughout the month of June.

You neither have to be an existing client of ours nor do you have to use any of our other services to take up this offer. All that we ask is that you make a small donation to our Charity of the Year, Cancer Focus NI.

If you want us to help you draft a will please give us a call on 02891 817715, or contact our estates team by email at estates@boydricesolicitors.com.

New Privacy Policy

Boyd Rice Solicitors are entrusted by you, our clients, to hold sensitive information on your behalf. We use this information, at your instruction, in order to obtain the best possible results for you.

This bestows upon us a great responsibility as custodians of this information. We, in conjunction, with our partners have processes and systems in place to keep this information secure.

As a result of the incoming General Date Protection Regulation we have updated our privacy policy. Please take time to read through it. If you have any queries do not hesitate to call us on 02891 817715.

Re-mortgage your house

Is Equity Release Right for You?

A guide to the increasingly popular equity release mortgages and their pros and cons

Equity release allows you to borrow against you the value in your home whilst you continue to live in it. This is aimed at those aged 55+. Equity release has been soaring in popularity recently. Figures for the first three months of 2018 show that equity release lending has more than doubled over the past two years, from £394 million in the first quarter of 2016 to £870 million this quarter. There are a number of reasons for this; the aging population, shortfalls in private pension plans, retirees still facing indebtedness, the increasing cost of care and so on.

What plans are there?

There are really two main categories of equity release plans. The first are lifetime mortgages. Here you take a loan out against the property whilst you retain ownership of the property. You can take the loan out in a lump sum, or in staged payments. You can borrow up to 60% of the value of your property.

You don’t have to make any repayments whilst you are alive although some plans give you this option. The interest rolls up and is paid off on the sale of the property. If the property increases in value you will benefit from the increase in value. However the interest can build up surprisingly quickly. Try and draw down the loan in stages to minimise the interest that will accrue.

Most plans will have a no negative equity guarantee. This means that when your property is inevitably sold, and the associated costs to lawyers and agents paid, if there is not enough money left to repay the outstanding balance of the loan then your estate will not be liable to pay any more.

A home reversion plan works a little differently. This allows you to sell all or some of your home. In return you get a lump sum or regular payments. You can get up to 60% of the market value of your property. The size of the percentage you can take will depend on your age. The older you are the greater share you can sell.

Like the lifetime mortgage plan you have the right to remain in the property for the rest of your life. It will also have a no negative equity guarantee.

What are the downsides?

A key aspect to remember is that any form of equity release will reduce the size of your estate. This means you will be leaving less behind for your friends and family. Equity Release is something that you should discuss together.

If you opt for a home reversion plan it will not realise anything close to what you would get for your property on the open market.

It can also affect your entitlement to means tested benefits such as pension credit.

The arrangement fees can be expensive (£1,500 to £3,000) and so can the repayment charges.

You need to speak to an independent financial adviser, that you trust, if you are considering equity release. Then your next port of call should be us. Phone 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

neurology review

Neurology Patient Review

Disturbing information has recently come to light regarding the treatment and care of a significant number of neurology patients here in Northern Ireland.

Approximately 2,500 patients have received letters from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust notifying them that their cases are subject to an urgent review.

There is no doubt that this will be very distressing for those involved and many heart-breaking stories have been reported in the media.

If you are one of the people affected by this review and you have suffered as a result of the misdiagnosis or mistreatment of your condition then you may be entitled to seek compensation.

For over 30 years Boyd Rice Solicitors have been representing people who suffered injuries resulting from medical negligence. We will ensure your circumstances are thoroughly investigated and will strive to get you the compensation that you deserve.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice please contact one of the injury claims team on 02891 817715, by email claims@boydricesolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry and let us explain how we can help you.

Re-mortgage your house

Reap the Rewards by Overpaying on your Mortgage

Here’s how to save ten of thousands on your home loan and become mortgage-free years early

Have you ever considered overpaying on your mortgage? If not, there’s two major reasons why you should start giving it serious thought right now. The first is that savings rates are still extremely poor. You’ll be hard pressed to find a safe investment where you can get a decent return. Overpaying on your mortgage will save you tens of thousands, guaranteed. The second is that interest rates are expected to continue to increase over the coming years – increasing repayments. Overpaying will reduce the total you begrudgingly give over to the bank and end your indebtedness years in advance.

Monthly Overpayments or Lump Sum Overpayments?

You can make a lump sum overpayment which will have an immediate effect on the remaining length of your mortgage. For obvious reasons this option is not available to most but those who have come into an inheritance or sold an asset can save enormous amounts of money.

An alternative option is to repay slightly more than required each month on your mortgage. Money Saving Expert have a useful calculator to help you determine how much you can save by regularly overpaying each month. Say, for instance, you have £150,000 left on your mortgage, 25 years to go and an interest rate currently at 4.5%. By paying just £100 per month extra you would save £20,010 in interest repayments and pay off the mortgage nearly four and a half years earlier.

Check the fine print

In you are in a fixed rate period, or an introductory offer then a lot of lenders may only allow you to pay up to 10% of your mortgage balance as an overpayment each year. You really need to check the fine print on your terms and conditions as you don’t want to be liable for penalty fees. These can typically be between 1% and 5% of the overpayment made. Again, you’ll need to check the fine print to check what the exact penalties are.

If you are on a standard variable rate then the vast majority of lenders won’t have any restrictions on the level of overpayments you make. Keep in mind standard variable rates are more expensive so you might be better off getting a re-mortgage and fixing your rate.

Overpayments and Re-mortgages

If you have been overpaying your mortgage consistently and then you go to re-mortgage you may find you get a far better deal than you expected. The reason for this is the deal your lender will give you will depend on your loan-to-value ratio (LTV). This measures the size of the outstanding mortgage compared with the market value of your property. If you purchase a property with a 10% deposit then your LTV is 90%. As you pay off your mortgage your LTV will drop. If you’re overpaying on your mortgage it will drop at an increased rate. Then you can get an even better deal on your re-mortgage.

Make sure you have a contingency fund

It is all well and good making overpayments on your mortgage but what if you were unexpectedly made redundant or you needed to spend significant money on something that you did not anticipate. You would still be obligated to make your mortgage repayments in full each month (although some mortgages allow you to underpay if you have built up some credit). Therefore you should really have some funds saved for emergencies before you start overpaying your mortgage.

If you would like advice in relation to any issues regarding remortgaging your property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

enduring power of attorney wills solicitors

How to look after your relative’s affairs if they develop dementia

Ards and North Down “tops dementia table”.

This week it was reported in The Newtownards Chronicle (Thursday 5th April) that, “More people are affected by dementia in Ards and North Down than in any other Northern Ireland council area.” The Chronicle referred to figures produced for 2017 by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency which showed that ten in every 1,000 people here in the borough are suffering from dementia related conditions. This, then, is a condition which impacts upon a great many of the community here; husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren.

The emotional distress of coping with a relative suffering from dementia, or a related condition, is difficult enough to bear on its own. What compounds the problem are the associated financial issues, e.g. paying for their care or attempting to sell property on their behalf. This is where we can help. We can advise you on the correct processes to follow so that you can obtain power of attorney in relation to your relative or you can be made controller of their affairs by court order.

Enduring Powers of Attorney and Controllership Orders

Both of these allow you to manage their financial affairs whenever they no longer have the mental capacity to do so.

Your relative can protect themselves in advance of declining mental acuity by signing an Enduring Power of Attorney in your favour. This will give you (as ‘attorney’) certain powers, which can be as wide or as limited as the ‘donor’ wishes. In the future then when it appears that the donor may be losing their mental capacity the Enduring Power of Attorney can be registered with the Court.

This allows the powers granted pursuant to the Power of Attorney to endure beyond the time when the ‘donor’ loses capacity. You can then act on your relative’s behalf. In theory they you do anything from operate bank accounts on their behalf, sell property to raise finances, redeem mortgages, etc. However limitations may be applied at the time of the creation of the document. It is important your ‘donor’ decides how far ranging he or she wishes the powers to be before the document is signed.

What if your parent or relative never signed a power of attorney and they have already lost their mental capacity? In this case we can help you make an application to the court to have a Controllership Order made in your favour. We will have to seek expert medical evidence from an appropriate doctor to confirm that they have lost their mental capacity. There can be objections from rival family members to your application but we can provide expert guidance and help you every step of the way.

Get in touch

We appreciate the issues relating to dementia are not easy for everyone to discuss, we offer an initial free, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss the issues you and your family are facing. Then we can plan the path forward.

If you or your family are concerned about any of the issues discussed please give us a call on 02891 817715, or contact our estates team by email at estates@boydricesolicitors.com.

What to Look out For When Purchasing a New Home

5 Top Tips when Viewing a Potential New Home

How to make sure you don’t buy a new property that will leave you pulling your hair out

With it now coming into the Spring this is the prime time of the year for people seeking to move house. With that in mind we thought we would offer some helpful tips and advice for things to look out for whenever you are viewing a potential new home.

1. Damp

This is a common one. Sometimes the presence of damp will be obvious; watermarked walls; a mouldy smell; plaster flaking off. Other times it may not, or the vendor may have covered it up. If you have any doubt employ a surveyor to inspect and report back. This could help you knock a few pounds off the asking price.

2. Check the Windows

If there is double-glazing then look closely to see if there is any condensation between the panes. If there is then this means the double-glazing is faulty. Try pressing your finger into wooden window frames, if this is easily done then they are rotten. This should set off the alarm bells and make you pay close attention to the rest of the property.

3. Structurally Sound

First of all, check to see if there are any cracks in the walls or ceilings. Check where the walls meet the ceilings, the areas around bay windows and where walls meet. If you spot cracks then you will need to investigate further. Even if the property appears to be solid and sound you may wish to instruct a surveyor for your own peace of mind.

4. The Plumbing

Do the radiators work? How long has the gas boiler been installed? They should be replaced every ten to fifteen years so consider the costs of a replacement if it is coming to the end of its life cycle. Run the taps, does the water gush or tickle out? Check to see if the hot water comes on.

5. The Roof

A roof will need changed every 15 to 20 years so make sure you ask when it was installed. It will cost you thousands to replace. Check for any missing or broken tiles which are a dead giveaway for a roof in poor condition.

If you are purchasing a new home and would like advice in relation to any issues regarding the condition of the new property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email property@boydricesolicitors.com.

Re-mortgage your house

A ticking time bomb for interest only borrowers

If you are on an interest only mortgage do not delay making plans to eventually clear your debt

On an interest only plan you will pay less to your lender each month. This sounds great in theory, however in practice it means that you are not paying off any of the capital sum of your loan. Once you come to the end of your mortgage, the initial borrowing will still need to be paid off in a lump sum. If you haven’t planned in advance then you will likely lose your home, either through being forced to sell or the bank will repossess it.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that around a fifth of mortgage holders in the UK are on interest only plans, some 1.9 million borrowers. Financial regulators have clamped down on who has access to these types of mortgages, but this does nothing to help those who have already entered into these deals.

If you are currently on an interest only plan you need to act now while there may still be time. It is your responsibility to pay off the loan so the earlier you speak to your lender or mortgage adviser the more time you will have to make a difference. You need to assess how much you owe and when it is due to be repaid. Once you have clarity on this issue then you can work out whether you are likely to be able to repay it in full. You may be planning on downsizing at the end of the term, but check to make sure you will have enough money to do so. You may be able to switch your mortgage to a capital and interest repayment plan or even change the length of the term. It’s crucial to speak to your lender or mortgage adviser to see if this is an option.

Once you have discussed with your lender or mortgage adviser and you have come up with a plan, it may involve a remortgage. If so you will require our expert guidance in relation to dealing with the legal formalities.

If you are on an interest only mortgage and would like advice in relation to any issues regarding remortgaging your property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.