The UK has to chart a path out of lockdown. It also has to chart a path into Brexit (and beyond). While it would be nice to think that this will all be plain sailing, it’s safer to assume that challenges will lie ahead and think about what steps you will need to deal with them. In particular, mortgage holders will need to think about what options are open to them if they find themselves struggling to pay their mortgage. Here are some ideas.
Take a realistic decision on whether or not you can still afford to own your home
This may sound like a very harsh comment but the hard fact is that there is a difference between temporarily struggling to make mortgage payments due to circumstances you can address and having no real hope of being able to manage your mortgage for the immediate future.
If you’re in the latter situation then you basically have to choose between selling your home on your own terms and just hoping that somehow things improve and you avoid your lender foreclosing on you.
Check that you’re getting the best overall deal on your mortgage
If you think you can make it through, possibly with a little help from your lender, then it makes sense to check that you’re getting the best overall deal on your mortgage. Price is one issue and it may be a very important one, especially when money is tight. Suitability for a person’s lifestyle is, however, another, and it can also be very important.
For example, if a person is in a secure job and feels confident that they can hold their own in the job market over the foreseeable future, then they might prefer to go for a fixed-rate mortgage. Alternatively, people in less secure jobs might prefer a mortgage which has some in-built flexibility such as the ability to switch to interest-only from time to time and/or to take mortgage holidays.
Even if you can’t find a suitable product, you can still do your research on potential lenders. Although all lenders have to follow regulations, it’s up to them if they want to go over and above these to provide a higher standard of customer service to struggling customers. If you’re happy with your current lender, then try asking them if they could offer you a better deal before you decide whether or not you’re ready to go through the process of remortgaging.
Look at your overall insurance coverage
Regardless of whether or not you have a mortgage, if you’re on (or likely to be on) a tight budget, then you really want to avoid unexpected bills. This means you need to think carefully about everything you own and make a judgement call on how much it matters to you. In other words, how easily could you live without it? The more important it is to your life, the more you should think about insuring it (or double-checking that you have sufficient insurance cover).
This comment applies to more than just tangible assets, for example, you might also want to protect your pets, your life and your income. Depending on your employment status, you could look at payment protection insurance and/or income protection cover.
Review your household finances in general
You may think you’ve pared your expenses to the bone, but you’ll only know for sure if you check thoroughly. Similarly, don’t overlook the possibility of increasing your income, even in a challenging environment. You might not be able to get extra income from your employment but you could try taking on a side-hustle to bring in some extra cash. Just remember that HMRC will generally want to know about any income you have so make sure to register with them if you take up a side job.