Purchasing a home is undoubtedly one of the most important decisions most individuals will make. Assessing whether to approach a lender directly or employ a mortgage broker is the first choice for many in the route to home ownership.
Advantages of employing a broker
According to the Mortgage Advice Bureau, the number of products in the UK mortgages market reached record levels in August 2014, with over 12,000 different options available. While this is good news for home-buyers, offering a better range of products to suit their needs, it also makes finding the right mortgage a much more complex process.
In addition, legislation introduced by the Mortgage Market Review in April means lenders are required to perform a more extensive range of affordability checks before approving a mortgage.
Again, though this move protects borrowers from inadvisable financial decisions, and many lenders already practised rigorous checks before its introduction, this however could be viewed as an extra level of complexity to the application process for those inexperienced in this procedure The length of time it may take for an initial interview can be upto four weeks with a lender where as with me its days.
Approaching a mortgage broker like myself would be a prudent decision for many homebuyers. As an independent advisor I have an expert knowledge of the market and I’m required to give an unbiased opinion on the best deal for each buyer’s unique circumstances. This can be particularly useful for non-traditional cases, including self-employed or older buyers, who some lenders may automatically discount on inflexible criteria, without reviewing their financial profile as a whole. I will also have a better understanding of why cases might not be accepted and what can be done to overcome these objections, which could save buyers from letting their dream property slip away due to delayed or rejected applications. I will also be able to recommend related insurance products to ensure buyers are still able to meet their mortgage repayments in the case of adverse circumstances, including redundancy or illness.
Despite these numerous benefits of using a Broker, there are several things to consider before approaching any mortgage broker, beginning with the costs involved. Charges can vary for intermediaries, who are likely to either take a fixed fee from the buyer, commission from the lender, a percentage of the secured mortgage or a combination of the above. More information on this topic can be found through the Money Advice Service.
Opting for professional advice could cost buyers hundreds of pounds in the short-term, but over the lifetime of a mortgage, securing even a fractionally better interest rate could lead to significant savings. Using a broker also means homeowners may be able to claim compensation in certain cases if they feel misleading advice drove them to choose an inappropriate mortgage, though buyers are under no obligation to follow recommendations.
Aside from costs, it is also worth bearing in mind that employing a broker does not guarantee the best deal on the market, and buyers should take the time to compare brokers in order to find the right service, at the right price.
Under Financial Conduct Authority guidelines, there are three distinct classes of broker, depending on the number of lenders’ products that will be considered, from tied mortgage brokers who work with a single lender, to whole of market brokers who consider the full market. Even this last category may not have access to every product though, since some mortgage lenders deal only with direct customers.
Savaged At Birth!
Some of you may know about my passion for Classic Cars - particularly the MK 2 Cortina. Or to be more precise, the incredibly rare Savage V6 3 litre (of which I’m a proud owner). CAN 187H is my pride and joy, a car that has been part of my life for the last 24 years. It’s given me an immense amount of pleasure during this time. We’ve had great fun and visited some fabulous places in Europe (not to mention all over the UK).
Owning a classic car: not as expensive as you’d think
Owning a classic car doesn't have to be an expensive experience. You can use one as a daily driver, or for weekend transport. Just choose a car that suites your budget, requirements and desires! These are the most important factors, along with keeping it good running order. With some time, dedication and TLC, you can have a car that will give you an infinite of fun (whilst drawing admiring glances from the public).
You can see and learn more about my Savage V6 Cortina MK2 atwww.urensavagev6cortinamk2.co.uk
In December 2008, I had the misfortune to fall from the roof-level of my mum’s house on to a small flight of steps, resulting in me breaking my back. To say that I was lucky is an understatement! In retrospect, I was close to being paralysed, or worse.
Thankfully, the Midlands Air Ambulance lifted me from Drybrook to Frenchey Hospital, This valuable service got me there in around 20 minutes. X Rays, MRI and CTC scans showed I hadn't broken anything else, I guess a broken back was enough! The doctors ordered over 7 months off work. However, I also had to wear a special back brace for 3 months, which prevented me from bending and doing all the usual things… as well as driving.
Naturally, I’m extremely grateful to all the nursing staff for looking after me. The Midlands Air Ambulance service literally saved my life!
Rally Nite: A celebration of rally escorts & more…
So, bearing all of the above in mind, allow me introduce you to Rally Nite - a celebration of rally escorts and lots more besides. This is a show for the petrol heads amongst you, but if even if you're not; it's still well worth the trip. This event will be taking place at the Brewery, Cheltenham.
See top classic rally and classic cars all in one place
You can look forward to more cars in the Après bar. Here, you will be able to see a film show, auction and tributes by Tony Mason, Ex Top Gear presenter, and co-driver to the late Roger Clarke (who he navigated to victory in the RAC rally of 1970).
Rally winners & other treasures
Hannu Mikkala's London to Mexico World Cup Rally winning MK1 Escort (replica) will also be attending the event. There are even rumours that the 3 Minis from “The Italian Job” may make an appearance (to be confirmed). However, I can say that you’ll be able to see an RS200 rally car and many more gems.
Bristol Street Motors (Main Sponsors) and the Ford Motor Co. road show will be covering Rally Nite. It’s going to be a very special occasion, because they’ll be unveiling their brand new 500 bhp fastback Mustang (a UK first). Yes, this will be the very first sighting of their new model, and I'm very proud to say that Ford andBristol Street Cheltenham have invited me to display my Savage to the show! This will be a special evening for me, as this show will be raising funds for the Midlands Air Ambulance
So, this is very fitting considering the fact that needed their help back in 2008.
The Air Ambulance road show will be in attendance, holding a raffle during the evening.
Local singer Jo Silver will be singing, and a world famous magician will be working his magic and trickery around the bars and restaurants.
To top it all off, Richard Hammond, Stevie Windwood and Sir Jeff Hurst have been invited and, it's hoped that they will attend.
So please do come along say hello, and enjoy an evening of motoring nostalgia!
The Brewery Cheltenham
Monday 1st December
Open time 6.00pm
How Duplicate Content Can Harm Your Website
Google hates duplicate content, so much so it has a Panda that chases it down and then hits the websites that dare to partake in such practices. Although Panda is the algorithm that looks for this type of “bad SEO”, the emphasis is still true that the search engines, especially Big G, really do hate this type of content on your site, which is why over the past few updates, more and more sites that have published their content on other sites as well have been hit with both algorithmic and manual penalties.
It is important to say that they only punish this type of content because they consider it to be a lazy effort on the part of the site owner, because in their eyes, every piece of content that you publish in your site should be:
If you manage to tick all of these boxes then your page (and website) has a really sound chance of ranking well, but if you decide to take the quick route and publish other writers work or just repeat and repeat rubbish, then look out, the Panda is coming to get you, if it hasn’t already.
There are two main types of duplicate content that you should be thinking about:
Onsite Duplicate Content
Google rewards effort and therefore loves every page on your site to be unique and not use the same copy over and over again on many of your site pages. Common causes are location pages where you just change the names of the places but keep the same text surrounding them, blogs that you take large snippets off and put on other pages on your site and content that you have used on one page and replicate in certain other areas throughout your website. Generally, you can get away with 30% duplicate content throughout the site, but it is really important that you try to make sure that every page is as close to being unique as possible.
If you feel that you are repeating the same old stuff throughout your website then you need to either re-write it or get it re-written by a professional, as the Panda update really does look at every page and looks at the quality to work out where it should be ranking. Unique content is half way to having good content, and as long as it is well written, informative and engaging, you should be getting the correct rewards for the effort that you have put in, but if it is just repeated rubbish, expect a rankings dip soon enough.
Offsite Duplicate Content
Every piece of content you write for your site has to unique, as if you decide to post a blog on your own website and then use it on others, including article directories, press release sites, Wordpress (offsite) blogs and many other examples, you are asking for trouble. It was once thought that Google would be able to credit the original poster of the content, which would of meant that this would not be an issue, but over the past couple of years it has become evident that sadly, this is just not the case, so you can be in danger of getting your own website penalised by allowing your content to be used elsewhere.
Prime examples are press releases that you then send out to other websites and resources, blogs that you post in more than one place and in-depth articles that you republish around the World Wide Web. Although there are many other examples of duplicate content, these three are the main ones that have stung the online world, with more and more sites getting hit for having their content on other sites as well. The general rule is to write unique content for your own site, and if you are going to write for other blogs (like this), make sure that you do not have the same content on your own domain.
From an inspirational idea to reality
Just over 12 months ago when I was researching other jewellers websites I came across a page which really caught my eye. A jeweller in Herefordshire was offering workshops for couples, to make their wedding rings. Wouldn't that be a brilliant thing to do, I thought. At the time I had just started to run silver smithing classes at my own workshop, the Rocks Jewellery Workshops. I was nowhere near ready to offer such "fancy" courses like I was reading about.
The basic silver smithing workshops have taken off now and the local public are getting to know about it. As I was increasing my confidence in leading workshops, my thoughts turned again to the wedding rings idea. This year in spring a friend of mine got married, she asked me to make their rings. I used this as a starting block to create wedding rings, and I have made one more pair since, and a replacement ring. In September I took part in a brainstorming workshop, and used the time to discuss my wedding ring course idea. The other participants were all very enthusiastic, and helped me with great ideas and suggestions. One particular point was to make the day a real 'unique experience' with a luxury feel, and a very personal, romantic approach.
I also arranged for a couple of meetings, one with a wedding supplier and someone who could make a video with me. These meeting were really encouraging, and I soon had the plans written up and a video shoot done. At the same time, a new website meant I could have completely new pages on my workshops and particularly the wedding ring course. With a special collaboration with a local hotel, I was able to include lunches and afternoons teas (including champagne) in a variety of packages.
One wedding show later, I've had plenty of interest, and I am positive that some bookings will come out of this. However, the very first wedding ring course has been booked up, and it is to take place in Germany next spring.
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