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      28.07.2012 16:47
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      the real meaning of comments

      I am surprised that someone thought it necessary to ask for this category, don't we all know the truth already? The simple, naked truth? Tit for tat is the name of the game, I scratch your back and you'll scratch mine. Stop pretending and 'fess up, when you leave a comment resembling the ten examples I've given here, you have only one thing in mind! People write for different reasons, some want to earn money, others fame and glory in the community, some want to inform, teach, enlighten, others see themselves as court jesters and want to entertain, but whatever the reasons why people write online - they want to be read. If that weren't the case, they could write their texts on paper and then throw them into the bin. How do the respective writers attract the other members' attention? By writing comments, of course. Read my bonedry, glassclear, knifesharp (this is how German words are made), no frills analysis of the different kinds of comments and what they really mean: ----- 1)COMMENT: :-) MEANING: I'm a friendly soul and as we all know the community can only thrive if we're all friendly to each other. Why not come to my site and show me that you've understood that and leave me a friendly salute as well? Once you're there you can also read my last review or at least rate it, I'd appreciate that, especially as it's in a paying category. ----- 2) COMMENT: Good review / Best wishes / Take care / Hugs, hun / xxx MEANING: I don't have the time to read your review properly / am not interested the least bit in what you've ranted on, but have rated your review (high) nevertheless. I hope you appreciate this gesture and come to my site to read my last review or at least rate it. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 3) COMMENT: Hi and welcome to dooyoo! Nice debut review. Read around a bit so that you get the hang of the site. MEANING: I'm an old hand and know my way around dooyoo, you can learn a lot from me, why not start with my site? It would do you good if you read all my 257 reviews, of course, but for the beginning I'd be content if you read my last review or at least rated it. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 4) COMMENT: You can make your review much more readable if you divide the text into paragraphs and use a spell check. Btw, it's 'defin i tely', not 'defin a tely'. MEANING: If you want to learn what a VU review should look like, come to my site, read my last review or at least rate it. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 5) COMMENT: Welcome back, I'm so glad to see that you've recovered from your illness / are back from your hols / have finished your time off dooyoo. MEANING: During your absence I was quite busy and have written several outstanding reviews, don't you think you should hop over to my site and have a look? I can understand that you can't read all of them, but read my last op or at least rate it. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 6) COMMENT: Sorry, but Café XYZ is not in street So-and-so and the owner is not So-and-so any more, I know because I lived in the town for some years / am a citizen of the country in question. // Variation: the gadget you've described here doesn't work like this, I know because I've got one myself / have invented it . . . MEANING: Obviously you're interested in the town/country // the gadget, why not get into contact with someone who knows all about it and could teach you a thing or two? Have a look at what I've written on the subject and after doing so why not read my last op as well or at least rate it. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 7) COMMENT: I have added you to my CoF / Put you on alert. MEANING: I want to share a secret with you / I've made you my buddy, I don't do this with everyone, I consider you someone special. I think it's not too much to expect a sign of gratitude from you, the reading and rating of my last review would be such a one. It's in a paying category btw. ----- 8) COMMENT: Your review is dead brill / top notch / Nominated! / I consider you the best writer on the site / Why don't you get your reviews published? MEANING: As a flatterer I know how flattery works. It's not necessary to come to my site and tell me that you think the same of me and my reviews (I know all this already anyway), it's enough if you read my last op or at least rate it: It's in a paying category btw. ----- 9) COMMENT: None, just the rating. MEANING: You know my user name, you know who I am and that it's always worth while checking my site, I'm waiting for you to come and read my last review or at least rate it. It's in a paying category btw. If you don't know me, do something about it, the site wouldn't work if we all remained inactive waiting for others to discover us. ----- 10) COMMENT: Put in your own favourite one. MEANING: Maybe you want to keep it to yourself?! ----- Well? Gotcha?

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        20.09.2010 18:47
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        Wise words expressing 'fashionable' traits

        WHAT DO YOUR CLOTHES SAY ABOUT YOU? Short Answer: Yes, fashionable clothes are a big rip-off - but just like 'recycling;' fashions always do a twenty year circuit. So I'm due to being lapped pretty soon. Nevertheless, I'm going to poke my head out of the trench of mediocrity and announce I'm currently ahead of fashion via misadventure - The 1.99 GBP bicycle shades make me resemble a cheeky Bono excluding trouser clips. Halley's Comet passes by every 80 years or so - My Ma's news printed blouse will take infinitely longer in the fashion stakes From an early age my fascination with news-print started when my Mother wore a skimpy blouse with news-print styled headlines written all over it, it had tassels at the bottom and a huge wing mirror as a collar. I would spend hours perusing at her attire trying to make sense of the head-line news-printed words; I caught on quite quickly that making sense of the random text could only be managed whenever my Mother wore the attire, so staring at her mid-riff and curves trying to make sense of it all was a summer conundrum. Mother's friends exclaimed with hysteria bursts that I had a boob fetish even at a tender age. 'Strange lad; he's more keen observing boobs than playing 'Meccano,' apparently.' - I can recall one headline read: 'Tiger Feet Roars to Number One.' In black faded ink, all in different fonts. This was the time when 'paisley and gaudy colours,' which should've been a crime to cajole together, actually complimented the era - purple flared trousers were a common norm for wiping the dance-floor, neck scarves hid love bites and chunky sheep-wool roll-necks itched like mad and left you looking as if you've got scabies. 'Y' fronts were allegedly fashionable, I assume for easy access. What took the biscuit for me was the 'bold white seam' highlighting where the entrance resided for a quick short-cut. Heaven forbid, I wasn't influenced in these early days of fashionable discoveries I was too young for the trends to scar me indefinitely; having said that, a close call in mental scarring was viewing Jimmy Savile parading about in over elaborate beads rattling around his throat and a silver TV shirt on 'Top of the Pops,' two sizes too small; nevertheless it did not tempt me out of my 'baby grower' identity. Although I was mesmerised by the attractive charm of wearing shiny attires, I was purely a 'push-chair' observer of this ridiculous fashion statement. Dave Lee Travis glittery beard was more my 'cup of tea,' due to his legendary immense chin growth. This odd-ball, engaged in pulling facial hair; yet another fashion accessory that was deemed as acceptable on mainstream television, though hardly hygienic. 'Teen cool' and the roller-coaster marketing machine Extensive research in the early 2000's prompted fashion connoisseurs to evaluate at what age does fashion make an impact on a youngster? The evidence showed that it was three years earlier than originally imagined. And the term 'tweenagers' was invented; helped on by 'Alissa Quart' (fashion journal Guru) - this term categories the age gap of 10 - 13 years of age. By which individual styles are already formed well into their adult life. This period also determines whether style is going to play a big part in everyday life. In my case it did not. Fashion did not bite my derriere until my clan of female peers re-groomed me during my introductory week while enrolled doing a degree; whereby I've stayed in the realms of the 'ordinary classic style' ever since. My, they did a grandeur job. This is not a normal practice, I know, most individuals today have gone via the route of what Alissa Quart has claimed; embarking on a fashion journey as early as eight years of age and have matured into fashion savvy individuals, we often see mincing down walk-ways and promenades. Fashion statements are filter through where you're early age social group lies, or who your earliest role model may have been. Tweenagers deciphered also on what television advert hit the spot at a certain time. For the last three years Marks and Spencer (M&S) have bank-rolled into the teenager market by introducing high end quality 'sophistication', enveloping youthful designs. They're a completely different brand now than twenty years ago. Stuart Rose the MD now approaching his retirement, has thrown caution to the wind and it proves to have paid off. They once invested a huge amount of product percentage relating to 'wool' in my youth and in turn, it certainly had made a chasm of scepticism in buying from there again, for me. I probably will never intentionally make that conscious decision; even though I know the product outlet has changed to friendlier materials. So comfort is psychological. And comfort is vital to me. Fathoming out your personal image is like jumping on a moving merry-go-round. Tricky but worth the gamble Clark shoes or the must have DM's (Doc Martins) is probably written down in the 'Doomsday Book,' yet there are people of similar age to me - sipping coffee wearing grey ankle socks, creased suited, two sizes too small for them and smelling of lavender soap; with a fuzzy beard. I smile discreetly to myself knowing where these traits have come from; that being, 1970's 'Top of the Pops' and I too was there. Difference is I knew this fashion wouldn't last for nearly forty years, perhaps I should leave a note on their napkin: Like me, I expect the observation will not bare any fruit nor open their eyes to more fashionable statements of today. Not that I pay any attention. Thankfully the open-necked shirt and extra long slacks is not a dying breed. Then again, I wouldn't know if it was. I expect there are many people who would like to leave a note on my napkin and claim that: 'Morrissey is close to pension years, and so are his clothes.' Not that I look nothing like the side-burned legend - Though comparing me to the youth of today, I could be Morrissey's Dad. I can hear the 'kidults' gasp - "Get a grip Pa!" - this is where actual first-hand experiences of past fashions decipher what you would choose to wear. The older you get the more engrained a past trend will have influence on your wardrobe attire. Without consciously knowing it, my collection of knitted wear regardless of style or comfort will out-number the average twenty something year old; due to the fact I had to endure wearing hot knitted pullovers made for me by my Aunt in the Summer whenever, she would pay a visit. Knitted items seem to play at my heart-strings - My scarfs are often styled in a knitted fashion. It's close to my skin so I embrace the softness and it is endearing to me. Comfort again. Now we are on a fringe of yet another 'Capitalistic hungry' decade; I fear for the 'tweenagers;' not due to their quest of high-end fashion labels at a cost, but because great pressures from marketing companies have endorsed a huge pressure impetus on the last decade of 'tweenagers.' They've been forced to 'think like a grown-up' at such a pace. It doesn't help to hear blue-chip companies in the States, have in-place this social group on the pay-roll as 'consultants,' major decision makers when it comes to creating new fashion cultures. At present many of 'tweenagers' know more about the cosmetic products available for whatever function, than their own parents. It is part of the mal-functional culture we've all witnessed. 'Information Technology' should share the blame. To help resolve this concern; I feel that *all* fashionable items should be of the same cost, to counteract social divisions. I do see signs siding to this concept, although much has to be done, via the 'tweenager' market. Be at ease in your 'Birthday Suits,' thats far more important Brand awareness is stifling education. Most 'kidults' know what social networking facilities are available on Bebo, or Facebook, yet don't know who Florence Nightingale was? More regulation is required to protect 'tweenagers' education so they can then make those self-talk individual choices of whom they actually are, in a less pressured environment; similar too what I had - Hence, why fashion is not such an important matter for me and too my peers. Who like me kid themselves in thinking they're really 'cool,' pop-off into the coffee culture; sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the freshly duped fashion victims. Extremely relieved that much of the expense and 'must have' fashion accessories don't apply to me and my 'aging peers.' It is more important to feel comfortable in the skin you are in than what a marketing fashion label insists you wear. For once, it is wonderful to be seen as passed it and not focussed on for monetary gain. If I am, I'm blissfully unaware and will remain so, till my beige period descends in about thirty six years time, and then I'll be so passed it - I'll be thankful that I'll possess attire without any undesirable stains. At present I'm overjoyed to announce my attire appears to be a classic model. Just like the Rolls Royce, I purr like a Cheshire cat. Cough! Thank you for reading. ©1st2thebar-09-2010

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          06.10.2004 15:31
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          While I agree with consumer groups and government lobby groups that the financial services industry needs to learn a few lessons about responsible lending, I would suggest that, ultimately, it is still the consumer who has to sign on the dotted line whenever he( not being sexist!!) wants to borrow money. In essence, let us think about not onlyu the short term situation but the whole picture. Of late, we have been reading in the papers of how people commited suicide due to excessive borrowing, this is saddening but where are we going wrong as a nation? Not only do people need to think carefully before borrowing or buying on credit, they also need to seek good, impartial advice when they are struggling with debt. I have tried to summarise what I think is a "checklist" of deciding how much to borrow and if followed it should minimise the above situations or perhaps even avoidt hem? 1. Can you really afford it? It's a sensible question, of course, and one that people should consider more seriously. Often, we only think about short-term affordability. We may feel that that we can make repayments this month and next month and the month after, but how sure are we that we'll still be in a position to do so this time next year? We assume we're not going to lose our jobs, fall ill, or get divorced, and that nothing will stop us from being able to repay what we've borrowed. Besides, we obviously want that new kitchen or holiday or car now, so we go for it anyway. Is it the right decision, though? 2.Read the small print before signing Aaaargh! We can't think of anything more tedious than trying to decipher the small print, but it has to be done. If something's not clear, ask! How many people do you know who see the error of their ways, try to switch to better deals, only to discover that they've got to stump up a hefty redemption penalty? Don't be one of them - read the details before you sign in the first place. 3.Check how much you'll pay back over the length of the loan This is another thing people often ignore. If you borrow £1,000 on instant credit at an APR of 25% over five years, you'll pay £675 in interest for the privilege. How much do you really want that widescreen TV? Do you really need it right now, or could you save up for it? What's so wrong with your current television set, anyway? 4.Watch out for optional extras, especially payment protection insurance (PPI) This is a particular favourite with lenders. Often, their application forms require us to tick a box if we don't want payment protection insurance. Since many of us don't bother to read the small print, it's possible to get lumbered with paying extra for something that we probably don't even need. You don't need PPI or won't be covered fully if you're: self-employed, on a short-term contract, have savings that could cover the monthly repayments temporarily, or have any other income protection policy. 6.Beware of loans secured on your home – you could lose it! Sometimes, there are good reasons for releasing some of the equity in your home, but you need to think long and hard about borrowing money against the roof over your head. If it's for something that will add value, such as a new kitchen or a loft conversion, then a secured loan or bigger mortgage may be worth considering. But are you sure that you want to risk your home, just so you can enjoy a luxury holiday that you'll barely remember by the time you've paid off the loan at the end of the mortgage term? And finally... If you're intending to borrow money, make sure you do it for the right reasons - and think about the tips above. Don't overextend yourself and, if you think you may already have, contact the Consumer Credit Counselling Service which will help you to sort out your finances for free. (Avoid debt-management companies that charge fees- you're wasting your money , or contact me!!).

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            19.10.2002 00:36
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            Currently, eight million homeowners have mortgages that depend on an Endowment Policy to pay off their loan. But Insurance Companies now reckon that up to five million of these policies might not grow enough to clear the mortgage after 25 years. In my opinion, if that is what the Insurance Companies reckon, then I conclude that the true figure will be much higher. Even where the policies may pay off the debt, then I guess this will be for those policies taken out, say over 20 years? ago and where the home-owner had been anticipating a large surplus from the policy in addition to the receipt of sufficient capital to pay off their debt. It is of course the massive decline in the stock market over the past two years, and the consequent decline in the annual and terminal bonuses for Endowment Insurance Policies which has caused this crisis. This means that those who took out policies to pay off their mortgages are generally now extremely worried, as they receive notices from their Insurance Companies or Mortgagers. The Consumers Association (from Stage Left) are now murmuring that many will have claims for being ?miss-sold? such policies. In reality, I have little sympathy for those who receive these notices from their insurers/mortgagers warning them that the investment plans that they were sold now appear to be failing to match their predicted performance criteria. These criteria were always, in my opinion, challengeable, and the companies are generally protected by the small print warnings that ?Past Performance cannot be guaranteed for future performance?, or summit similar. Those with memories of the stock market slumps in 1974 and in 1987 could easily predict that another was always ?just around the corner?, and that growth predictions from any investment term are always time-sensitive. FACTFILE OK, for those who don?t know the facts, here goes. With an Endowment Mortgage, you do not repay any of the capital you borrow during the term of the loan. Instead, the endowment policy is supposed to grow to produce the lump sum you need to repay the loan in full at the end of the pre-agreed period, normally 25 years. Your monthly payments are made up of interest on your mortgage loan and the premium for the endowment. Within the package you also pay for life insurance which will repay the loan if you die. ~What is the big drawback? ~ That there is no guarantee that your endowment will pay off your mortgage. This is not the case with the traditional repayment method. ~What is the point of an endowment then? ~ An endowment MIGHT grow to more than you need to repay your loan, so giving you an extra bonus to spend on anything you like. But the world has changed dramatically against endowments so this is far less likely to happen nowadays. When they first became popular, in the early 1980s, inflation was roaring ahead, interest rates were high and you got tax relief on premiums paid to an endowment. So the sums worked in favour of endowment mortgages - they looked like great ways to repay home loans. ~What has changed? ~ Tax relief on endowment premiums vanished years ago and inflation and interest rates have fallen hitting investment growth. Many people are finding that their endowments won't produce enough to repay their loans after 25 years, let alone produce any hoped-for surplus. ~So why did people buy them?~ Because home loan firms, Building Societies and middlemen such as estate agents got large commissions for selling them. The charges are always 'front-loaded', so that most of the commission is paid up front and so for several years you will get little if anything back if you do have to stop paying the premiums. ~But how likely is this? ~ Statistically very likely. Only one in three endowments reaches their maturity date. The rest, for whatever reason are cashed in early - with the customers mostly getting back less than they have paid in. ~So I need to keep paying the premiums? ~ The general recommendation is that you should. On average around half of the total payout on an endowment comes on the last day. This is the so-called terminal bonus*, which is not guaranteed, but makes up a large amount of the total payout. Stop paying in before then and you are likely to lose this. Instead, you will only get the benefit of the annual - or reversionary - bonuses which are added to your policy. However, many Insurers have now stopped selling endowment policies, and ?closed their books? on them. The likely implication for this is that, with no new policies being sold, future growth will be stifled, and you may be best just getting out ?either cashing in the policy, or making it into a ?paid-up policy?, so that you will collect a greater sum when the policy matures, whilst at the same time stopping any more premiums being paid. ~What if my endowment firm tells me the policy is not growing fast enough to repay my loan as planned? ~ Millions of people have been told this recently. Often people are advised to make extra monthly contributions to the endowment, though this can feel like throwing good money after bad. If your lender says you need to pay an extra £50 a month, for example, you could pay it into an ISA instead and use the money you make there to top up any shortfall produced by your endowment when your mortgage matures. The Gee Family Experience From our experience with the Nationwide Building Society in 1996, I would, however reckon that ALL Endowment Mortgages were being blatantly miss-sold then. It was back in 1996 when we bought a flat for our elder daughter to use whilst at Edinburgh University for her 4 year course. This was bought in her name and we had decided to put down a deposit of up to £40,000. Thus, getting a mortgage in her name for up to £40,000 was never going to be a problem and there was no way that w e were going to pay any finders? fee or commission to a broker to produce a good mortgage option. We examined the various options that were available, and decided that the Nationwide Building Society was worth a look. Our daughter had held an Investment Account at the local branch for at least 4 years, and there was (and still is) the potential for this Mutual to become ?de-mutualised?. If this does happen, then that will be giving her a second tranche of shares. So when we had decided which property we were buying (purchase price £74,000) we toddled down to our local branch. With such a large deposit (£34,000), we were received with ?open arms?, a mortgage offered immediately and we were told of all the benefits that we were ?entitled? to. I had already decided that we would use a Building Society Repayment Mortgage (tax relief was then still available) with the mortgage in our daughter's name. The Manager confirmed that there was no objection to rooms being let out in the flat, but insisted that Heather & I would have to act as ?guarantors? in view of our daughter?s lack of regular income. That was not a problem, but there was a little legal expense in drawing up a document agreeing to this. An interest rate of 1.25% was charged for the first year, the valuation fee that we had already paid was refunded and a cheque for £350 was also given to our daughter to help with the legal fees at the conclusion of the business. Oh happy days!!! My only criticism of the Nationwide was the vehemence with which they pursued us to try and get the mortgage agreed as an Endowment Mortgage. After the Manager had agreed the mortgage of £40,000, in principle, he insisted that we must see the Branch?s ?Financial Adviser? (?Jill?) and an appointment was made for the next afternoon. Here we anticipated a hard-sell on the Society?s insurance policies. We had already decided to use the Nationwide Buildings Insurance (because with room s let out to other students, which the Manager had agreed to, this would eliminate any problems with claims should the really unfortunate happen). We had also decided to go for a ?critical illness? insurance policy for the debt (for which we would ?shop around?). Under NO circumstances would an Endowment Mortgage have suited. There was no intention of allowing the mortgage to go for the full 25 years term - the time could have been as short as 4 years. and unlikely to be more than 8 years (this allowing for our son to attend the same University of Edinburgh for a 5 year course). Our daughter then had plans of working abroad when she graduated (and still has for when she qualifies as an Accountant), so she would want complete financial flexibility. We explained all this, but did this discourage this ?Jill?? Not in the least!! She continued to ?recommend? the Nationwide Unit Trust based Endowment plan as our ?best option?, claiming a ? conservative 6%? annual appreciation for the units, and producing figures which would show a marginally cheaper monthly payment over the repayment mortgage. She used the (middling-but-still-good) performance of this plan over the previous 12 months to demonstrate its ?effectiveness?. When we politely refused to be drawn to this particular ?plan of action?, she asked ?Why not?? ? In other words demanding us to justify our decision. Our daughter is quite adamant that if I had not been ?pulling the strings?, then she would have accepted the sales-pitch and signed up to an Endowment-linked plan. We were left with the distinct impression that this "Financial Adviser" was suggesting that we were some kind of idiots for rejecting this option. With the commission on the policy being ?retained? by the Nationwide, PLUS the regular payment of interest on the FULL AMOUNT of the loan, it was no wonder the Building Society was ?pushing? this option I went to the extent of complaining a bout her behaviour to the Nationwide Head Office after the mortgage was in force, pointing out that we had already explained the circumstances under which we were taking out the loan, and that there was no way that an endowment mortgage would have suited our daughter?s personal circumstances. All only got denials from the Nationwide, saying that their Financial Advisers were only ?presenting the options?. ~ISA Mortgage Anyone?~ Now the ploy is for an ISA mortgage, and I reckon that this could be the next miss-selling disaster. Indeed, our younger daughter has a mortgage agreed, in principle with the same branch of the Nationwide Building Society. It is interesting to report that since she has had an account with them since before the bar was introduced on a new member of the society getting shares in the event of a de-mutualisation, then if this does happen, then (to her delight) she will get shares as both an investor and as a borrower. Good News that! Anyway, when she received her ?personal quotation?, there were two sets of figures given. One for a Repayment Mortgage, and the other for ?interest only? payments. When I queried this with the Manager, he confirmed that our daughter would be obliged to have a meeting with the Branch Financial Advisor (the same ?Jill? again!!!) to discuss ?payment options?. ? Not an Endowment Mortgage surely?, I said. ?No, not Endowments ? have you heard of ISA mortgages?? I played along, and he produced figures based on a 6% annual return, to show how much more effective an ISA Mortgage would be. Now, if he could tell me that the performance of that fund had shown such appreciation over the past 6 years? I await, with baited breath (and a hidden tape recorder), the meeting with Jill again. As it is, when our elder daughter sells the flat next year, a total of over £7,000 of the mortgage will have been paid off. There is no way that the Endowment policy that the Nati onwide was wanting to sell us would have had a surrender value remotely approaching that figure. Some might call it ?Good Luck?. We know that it was ?Sound Judgement?. We hope that you can learn from this lesson when you take out your next home loan. ~~This opinion was donated to the FORCHARITY account by Sidneygee. To read more about this initiative, go to the FORCHARITY profile page and all will be explained!~~

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              07.09.2002 14:41
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              Remortgages Remortgaging is the concept of moving your mortgage from one lender to another, without moving house. There can be a range of reasons for remortgaging. The most common reason is simply to switch to a more competitive rate. The majority of lenders will offer incentives and discounts to tempt you to switch over to them. Another reason is to raise capital for home improvements, debt consolidation, or any other reason you care to mention. It is possible to combine lower rates with additional borrowing and keep your monthly payments the same. Other growing causes of remortgage are marital / relationship breakdown or the desire to ditch an under performing endowment plan. Paying for private or university education is another common need for remortgage. All these are good reasons. And, in most cases, remortgaging is a cheap and effective way of going about things. So, what should we look out for? The best place to start is with you existing lender. You need to ask them can they switch you over to a better deal and are there any charges to do so? Armed with this information, you can then compare your current deal with those of other providers. Another question to ask is what rate would they offer to a new customer remortgaging to them. While this probably will not be available to you (and, being fair, you probably got a discount of some sort at the start of your mortgage) it does give you a feel for what you should expect elsewhere. Finally, ask what fees and penalties there will be for moving your mortgage away from your existing lender. This will put them on their best behaviour and if there are any under the counter deals open to you, they should now appear. If you were planning to amend your mortgage in some other way (eg additional borrowing, change of name, abandoning an endowment policy etc) you also want to know what fees they may charge too. Mortgage lenders are pac ked with fees for any administration beyond collecting the direct debit each month, many of which can be avoided simply be switching to a different lender! You now have to hand the pros and cons of staying put with your existing lender. But now is the time to shop round and find out what else is available in the market place. An Internet search engine, the financial pages of the quality press, teletext, or simply a trek down the high street will help you find the best deals. Given that the remortgage market is a rapidly changing place, I will not try to recommend one lender over another, as this week?s advice could well be out of date before your next bank statement! What I will do, however, is try to guide you on the pitfalls to look out for. Firstly, all lenders are in it for profit. Whether they are a mutual, a plc, or a foreign lender new to Britain, they all have to operate on a business basis. In other words, they will price things to make money out of you ? but hopefully you can find a deal that makes less money out of you! First, you need to decide which type of mortgage you want. A traditional mortgage sat by itself, an offset mortgage, which sits alongside your savings, bank account and credit card, or a current account mortgage. All have their own advantages and disadvantages. My advice is to consider all the following points equally for any of the above options. Very often (but not always) the fancier the mortgage, the less competitive the rate! 1. What is the headline rate and how does it compare? Is it fixed or capped or can it go up? 2. Is there an arrangement fee? 3. What are the redemption penalties if and when you pay the mortgage off (usually this happens when you move house or remortgage again)? 4. Are you able to overpay or make part repayments without penalty? 5. Do you have to pay any legal fees or valuation fees, or will the lender pay these for you? 6. Is the re a Mortgage Indemnity fee (often charged if you?re borrowing over 75% of the value of your house)? 7. Beyond any initial interest rate, what is the lender?s standard mortgage rate? 8. Does the redemption penalty clause run beyond any discount period? As a rule, I would avoid such a deal, as you are completely at the mercy of the lender rather than a competitive market place. This may sound like a lot to look in to. 5 minutes of discussion should, however, clear these issues up for you. A lender charging 4% with no legal, valuation or indemnity fees may well be better value than one charging 3.5% plus £750 in various fees! A lender charging 4.5% with no redemption penalties will be better value for you than one charging 4% with redemption penalties if you plan to emigrate to Australia in the not too distant future! It is an interesting conundrum that will be different for every individual. For this reason, you want to ensure that any potential lender subscribes to the Mortgage Code Of Practice and any mortgage adviser you deal with is fully (not partially) CeMAP qualified. While these are not a guarantee of competence, they are as good a guide as you're going to get! The matter is not yet closed. There are many other things to consider within the remortgage transaction. If you are borrowing extra money for anything, ensure you can afford it first. If you are on a fixed income, or one that will only receive modest increases, or you fear an interest rate leap, it is wise to consider a fixed rate. Remember, disocunt deal are certain to go up in price at the end of the discount! You will also need to consider how you will protect your repayments against the unknown. Death, severe illness and redundancy do occur and none of us is immune from anything! If you are offered these by a lender, make sure that you (a) need them (you may already have adequate existing coer) and (b) are paying a fair and competitive price for them. Any illness or redundancy cover will have exclusion clauses in them that you should ask about before buying. Independent providers such as Marks & Spencer or Tesco are often (but not always) cheaper than the mortgage lenders! You can buy all of these things privately. If you are offered buildings or contents insurance by a lender, make sure you base any decision to buy on the competitive price and cover, not because the salesman says you should. As a rule, any mortgage deal that forces you to insure with a lender should be avoided. If you are borrowing money for educational fees, ask about draw down. This means that you do not have to take all the money in one go. If you are borrowing £15,000 to pay for 3 years of fees and living expenses, you may prefer to draw £5,000 a year for 3 years to avoid paying interest on the whole amount straight away. Some lenders will charge a fee for this facility. Remortgaging to consolidate debts is a popular and growing option being taken by today?s Britain. While in principle it is a good idea, consider what redemption penalties you have to pay on your existing loans. Also, do you really want to repay your car loan that only has 2 years to run over 20 years? You will pay several thousand pounds more in interest by extending the term, so while it is sometimes an excellent proposition on paper, make sure you consider all the implications. Long term liability versus short term savings. Your existing endowment policy may not be the most exciting thing in the world. If you have had a letter telling you it is struggling to reach it?s target, switching from and endowment to a repayment mortgage at the same time as remortgaging can be a good idea. But you do want to consider what to do with the policy itself. In a perfect world, you should keep it going to maturity. This ensures you retain the value that has already built up in the policy and all the maturity p roceeds will then go to you instead of your mortgage lender! It also means you do not have to fork out for replacement life cover that will be more expensive as you are a bit older now! This will cost you more each month than the options below, but is widely considered to be the most financially astute option that should be profitable in the long term. If you do not live in a perfect world, there are other options. You could surrender your policy and take a cash value from it now. While this is nice, it is likely to be less than you have paid in to it. You could sell a with-profits policy for what is usually 25% more than the surrender value. Or you could make a policy paid-up. This means that you pay no more premiums for it, accept a lower level of life cover from it and a lower lump sum at the contracted maturity date. With all these options, you should consider taking out replacement life assurance. 100% of all known humans die!! There is a halfway house. If you feel that the increase in cost of switching from an endowment to a repayment mortgage is too high, but still feel uncomfortable with the lack of security provided by the policy, you could have a part endowment / part repayment mortgage. Good quality advice will give you a full understanding of this option. So, should you remortgage? Only if it is financially sound to do so! As a rule, if you have redemption penalties on your existing loan, it probably is not. For the rest of us paying a typical rate of 5.95% on a £50,000 mortgage, savings of £1,000 a year are available. The trick is to review you mortgage and your mortgage lender regularly! And consider using that £1,000 a year to reduce debt rather than frittering it away on booze and fags! Extending the term when remortgaging is a common mistake too. Try to avoid this unless it is a financial necessity. Also try to avoid stretching your mortgage term close to, or beyond, your planned retirement age. If you intend to retire at 60, try to ensure your mortgage finishes before you are 55. This means if you need to retire early due to ill health, you can do so without the worry of a mortgage! Finally, if you have a 25-year repayment mortgage, doubling the payments will reduce the term to just 8 years! Easy to say ? do it before you have kids! Look into it. It could save you a small fotune. But keep your eyes open!

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                19.07.2001 06:34
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                • "The down side is not used as a selling point."

                After the recent publicity there has been regarding Endowment Policies linked to Mortgages, I decided to look further into the matter, although us holders of this type of policy were told not to panic. I kept thinking that I did not want to still have a mortgage during my retirement years and the information I had been fed was not conclusive. I know we can not forsee the future, but the majority of people with an Endowement Policy expected to have their Mortgage cleared at the end of the term. I had received a couple of letters from my Insurance company which is Legal and General Assurance, informing me there may be a shortfall at the end of the policy term. It gave you average growth rates of 4, 6 and 8%. On their figures, the worst scenario I could expect would be an £18,600 shortfall at a 4% growth rate,(not pennies you must admit). Having researched the matter further, I found that Endowements were growing at a lower rate that 4% thus meaning the figure could be much higher. I contacted Legal and General and asked for a personal forecast at the "true" current growth rate. What I recieved was just a copy of the rates I already had, plus the surrender value of my policy. It did not enlighten me to the final projected shortfall figure. Of course I complained, but was told that they only had to give figures in line with ligislation from the F.S.A. The final correspondence I received, for the first time, said that it was advisable to take measures to counteract any shortfall there might be, (of course, one of their savings plans). I decided it was now time to change my Endowement Morgage to a Repayment, after all, was it worth throwing any more money away in interest only. I contacted my Mortgage lender, (Nat West Home Loans). They were very helpful and advised me my Mortgage can be changed to Repayment without cost to me. Of course the monthly payments went up. It wor ked out to approximately a 37% rise, but the mortgage term was only 17 years instead of 25 years. This meant that our mortgage would still be paid off on schedule. We were also able to keep our fixed rate which is lower than the current variable rate. At least we would have peace of mind. I considered cashing in my Endowement and offsetting the surrender value against my Mortgage to reduce the payments. After phoning round for Life Insurance to cover the Mortgage value, I found that the premiums would be almost as much as the Endowement Premiums with no remuneration at completion. The best option was to continue with the Endowement as a means of Life Cover and savings. At least this way I would get the termination value of the Policy and instead of paying it towards the mortgage it would be mine. Of course, finding the extra money is a pain, but at least I will not have a morgage when I'm 70, (if I make it). I do think, that instead of these Insurance Companies telling folk, "not to worry", they should be more straightforward and honest as to what people can expect at the end of their mortgage term. Without the correct information how can people be expected to consider their options. Remember "Mis-sold a Pension"!!

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