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SEPT 2021







Breathe clean air How to use houseplants to keep your air inside fresh


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Heating at home Ways to keep your home warm coming into the autumn months News Our latest mortgage news. Plus meet the team!

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About us Get to know the Xact mortgages team!

Your home move Your guide to help you every step of the way on your home move



Weekends away Thinking about a weekend away? We have the perfect list


Autumn wardrobe Effortlessly transition from your Summer to your Autumn wardrobe

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September gardening guide Helping you harvest your haul of homegrown veg and fruit Jams and Chutneys Prep the veg and fruit from your garden into these condiments

Ryder Cup Golf Our complete guide to this year’s Ryder Cup

WELCOME TO THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE! Autumn officially begins this month, however that doesn’t mean the weather isn’t still nice. In fact, in recent years, September has been one of the nicer months with more settled weather. It is also a month of change. So, on pages 8&9 you will find our guide on transitioning your wardrobe from Summer to Autumn. On pages 4&5 we look at different ways to heat your home as the weather changes, and on page 7 we will show you how to bring plants indoors to keep your air clean. Change doesn’t just have to happen in your home though, on paged 2&3 we look at adult classes both in your local area and through distance learning that can help you move closer towards your dream career.




t’s that time of the year again, when we prepare our children for the bustle of another school year. But just because the little ones are learning, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for you to expand your mind. So, take a look at some of the learning options available to you.

FANCY A NEW CHALLENGE? Fall TV Guide A fun filled guide of shows to watch this Autumn




Outside, September is a huge month for harvesting your homegrown fruit and veg, on pages 10&11 we have our monthly gardening guide helping you know what to harvest and when and following on from that, this month’s recipe feature will give you plenty of ideas of what to do with your harvest. Completing September’s magazine, on page 6 you will find a range of weekends away including spa days and afternoon teas, while we also have a guide to the Ryder Cup and a selection of the hottest new TV coming to your screens this Autumn. So pour yourself a cuppa, get comfy and enjoy… Jonathan Wheatley Editor

Wanting a change of career shouldn’t be a frightening prospect. It should be exciting! And it’s never been easier to find ways to add some skills that can enhance your life. Whether you’re looking to gain a new degree which will allow a shift in employment prospects, or you simply want the feeling of being back in education, there are a plethora of options to choose from. The Open University is one such institution which provides a wide selection of courses, and most importantly, permits you to choose your own educational timeline, based on how many hours you wish to study each week. But as well as flexible learning options, The Open University is also a highly-reputable institution with more than 80% of FTSE 100 companies having employed staff who have been trained by The Open University. So, you can be sure that your qualification will hold importance when it comes to gaining a new job.

And if you’re concerned about committing to a three-year course, then think again, because as well as Masters’ programmes, The Open University also offers Postgraduate Diplomas, which typically require two years of learning, as well as Postgraduate Certificates, and even Single Modules, which can be completed in a matter of months. Therefore, you can be comforted in the knowledge that gaining qualifications does not mean that your life must be put on hold!

ADD SOME EXPERIENCE But going back into education isn’t just about a career shift. Perhaps you’re content in your industry, and simply want to gain some qualifications in order to progress. Or you require some extra education related to your current responsibilities. Well, if that’s you, then consider an online course. For example, a visit to will show a variety of courses you can take in order to get a helping hand. From sectors varying from teacher training, to engineering and accountancy, you will find something that suits and will wow any employer.

But going back into education isn’t just about a career shift. Perhaps you’re content in your industry, and simply want to gain some qualifications in order to progress. DO YOUR HOMEWORK


So, if this has convinced you to get back into education, then the last thing you need to do is make sure that you’re picking the right course for you. First, be confident in the course you’re selecting. Whether it’s a six-month set of evening classes, or a three-year Masters degree, ,do your research and carefully pick the qualification that you’re looking to gain. It’s not only important with relation to time-management, but also, making sure your finances remain in order.

Many people may be put off with the idea of getting back into education because of the time commitment. But this need not be an issue, because you can take control of your own education.

And secondly, research the quality of your chosen institution, and find out which type of learning you will experience, and what format your assessments will take. If you are looking for face-to-face contact with tutors, then don’t get tricked into learning from behind your laptop screen.

As mentioned earlier, remote universities such as The Open University allow you to choose your learning hours each week. But did you know that your learning doesn’t have to be remote? If you prefer face-to-face learning, then take a look at where you can find evening classes, catering to all activities and subjects. You can also filter the classes available, so that you can visit a location near you and make the learning experience even more convenient.

PASSION PROJECT? Furthering your education doesn’t have to be career based though. If you’re merely interested in a particular subject or have always wished to study something that was not available to you during your schooldays, then take this opportunity to enroll in a course of your choosing now! For instance, advertises a range of creative options such as art lessons, creative writing clubs, and language classes. And if you’re just wanting a refresher in basic skills, the National Careers Service also provides links to plenty of free learning options, ranging from English, Maths, and IT programmes.




IS ON There are alternatives to standard gas and electric f ires…


ow would be a great time to at least start thinking about preparing for the colder months ahead, and there are many ways to heat your home away from the standard radiator option.

WOOD BURNERS Wood burning stoves are heating appliances capable of burning dried wood and wood-derived biomass fuel, and generally consist of a metal closed firebox, often lined by fire brick and one or more air controls. They are one of the most stylish and elegant features to warm not just living spaces but dining rooms, family rooms and bedrooms, too. They evoke charm and can radiate a beautiful period touch to your home, and are not only safer than open fires but sometimes more attractive.



A single panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, ultimately generating a flow of electricity.

Log burners and open fires are not going to be outright banned, but the Government says people will have to buy dry wood or manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke

OPEN FIRES Wood burning stoves are fine, but legal limitations will soon be introduced on certain stoves in England to help clean up the air. Log burners and open fires are not going to be outright banned, but the Government says people will have to buy dried wood or manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke. Burning dry wood produces more heat and less soot than wet wood, helping to reduce emissions by up to 50%. Open fires have their charm, especially in the winter, as reading by a naked flame on a fluffy rug with a mug of cocoa can’t be beaten. But it’s time to be wiser with what we choose to burn in our flames. As long as that happens, open fires can still be a breathtaking focal point of any home.

SOLAR PANELS How do solar panels work? Basically, a single panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, ultimately generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels therefore have zero emissions and are considered extremely environmentally friendly.

Furthermore, solar energy is a form of renewable energy, comprising many smaller units called photovoltaic cells. Investing in a solar power system makes you less reliant on the National Grid for your electricity, and, as an independent energy generator, you can enjoy cheaper electricity throughout the day. If you invest in battery storage you could carry on using solar energy after the sun goes down.

UNDERFLOOR HEATING The particularly attractive thing about underfloor heating is that everywhere you walk you’re going to directly feel the heat. Covering more ground than fireplaces, underfloor heating won’t discriminate against any areas of the living space – everywhere will be heated, from the ground up. Water-based underfloor heating generally requires more space for the pipes, and is more complex and costly to install, whereas electric underfloor heating systems tend to be easier and cheaper to fit, but are more expensive to run. There are several other pros and cons for both options, so it’s really all about finding out which is the best for you.

ALTERNATIVELY… Invest in warmer clothes: It might sound like a simple one, but it can be more effective than you think. For example, when you come home from work the home will have been empty, but in the coming hours, with more people inside emitting body heat this will heat the home gradually, and then by the end of the evening will be significantly warmer. Block up the chimney: Fireplaces, lovely though they are, used to be much more popular than today. If you fall into this category, you may be losing a lot of warm air through your chimney but could retain a lot of that warmth by fitting a chimney balloon or insulator. These are very cheap ways to heat a house without using central heating. Cover the floorboards: Floorboards are not only poor conductors of heat, but there are usually gaps too, providing a perfect opportunity for heat to escape your living space. Rugs are a fantastic way of preventing against this problem, and can add real charm to your home at the same time.




It must be time for a kids-free weekend away


ost of us relish a good weekend away, especially away from the kids as much as we adore them, as the commodity of recharging is much sought-after these days. So, here are our ideas for some intimate and adults only weekends away, for small groups and couples.


A spa break or day is perfect for couples, or even for an individual. If you’re parents, for example, it can be a fantastic way of releasing stress and tension, and allow for that all-important opportunity to recharge. It can also simply be a really effective way for couples to spend some quality time together. Time stands still, and nothing exists but each other. With many spa venues featuring some fine restaurants, there’s usually also the opportunity to enjoy a candle-lit dinner, as well the possibility of tackling gyms, pools and even golf courses.


Afternoon teas are always a winner, especially if you have a sweet tooth. They are fantastic for a small group, but particularly ideal for a couple. If you’re celebrating a special



occasion, why not throw in some champagne or prosecco, too? Following up an afternoon tea with a wine tour or tasting session would make the occasion even more special, and will forge memories which could last a lifetime.


Largely famous for its lakes, forests and mountains, the Lake District is by far the most popular mountainous region in England and possibly even the UK, boasting some truly incredible views and scenery. One of its most endearing quaities, however, is its versatility. It’s great for couples looking for a peaceful, or romantic, getaway, but equally terrific for the lone traveller looking to perhaps enjoy the numerous hiking trails in the area.


If it’s a proper, full-on break you’re looking for, a one or two-night stay in London would be great particularly if you like the theatre scene. The bright lights and fanciful optimism of the West End district will surely make your soul dance and sing, and seeing some shows, either as a small group (friends, or a double date?) or as a couple would make the stay worthwhile.

If you’re celebrating a special occasion, why not throw in some champagne or prosecco, too

KEEPING IT FRESH How do we breathe easily now the windows are closed?


s we head into autumn, we will soon be spending more and more time indoors. And in this way, it is important that the air we breathe is unpolluted. So, without having to invest in the latest high-tech air filtration methods, here are our tips on how to clean up the environment in your household.


Many studies have shown that indoor houseplants soak up pollutants. And the wonderful thing is that most do not require much maintenance. For example, peace lilies are the most effective plants at removing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),

whereas spider plants are great at getting rid of dust. Both require only moderate amounts of sunlight, so are ideal to be placed in any room. As well as performing a vital function, these plants are also visually attractive, no matter where they’re on display.


Candles are often fixtures in any home. They are both soothing and give off a warm light during darker nights. But this autumn, be sure to select candles which are beneficial, instead of harmful. Paraffin candles are the ones to avoid if you want to increase the quality of air. Instead, choose beeswax, or even soy candles which help to ionise the air and neutralise VOCs. Their burn time is slow, so you are sure to get value for money.


Surprisingly, salt lamps, which are usually bought for their visual effectiveness, are also equally as beneficial when it comes to health. The salt crystals remove water vapour from the air, which dust mites, mould, and viruses thrive on. So, as well as continuing to ventilate rooms by keeping windows open, salt lamps work to keep the air clean. And what’s more, they also work when not turned on, so even keep the air fresh when you’re in the land of nod.


Activated charcoal is a technique which is used for alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. It helps to bind toxins and thus remove them from the body. Well, the same works for air in houses. Just grab yourself a bag of activated charcoal, leave it out in a tray, and let it get to work, resulting in the harmful properties from the air being absorbed. It’s also odourless, so will not become an unwanted distraction as you spend more time indoors.



The summer to autumn wardrobe transition begins



s the heat dies down and the lush, green leaves start to morph into shades of umber, russet and gold so too does your wardrobe need to transition to adapt to the changing climate. The summer to autumn wardrobe transition can be a tricky one to negotiate. Don’t fear, read on to discover some simple wardrobe tricks to ensure you’re ready for autumn weather as well as some statement pieces worth investing in. Capsule wardrobes are here to stay and we’re all for them, more sustainable, easier on our wallets and removing the ‘I have nothing to wear’ tragedy- a capsule wardrobe is your best friend when transitioning between seasons. Gone are the days of piling away your summer clothes into suitcases or the loft when the weather turns and hauling out the thick jumpers. These days clothes have become far more versatile. It’s more about how your wear something than what you’re wearing. So rather than getting rid or putting away your summer clothes, it’s time to get a little more inventive about how you wear them.




Layers are your best friend as the weather gets slightly cooler and are ideal if the sun does make a welcome appearance as they can be quickly removed or added. The only potential pitfall with layers is they can look bulky without careful thought. Follow the rule: layer long over lean to avoid this fashion faux pas. This simply means layer longer items, such as tunics or boyfriend cardigans over leaner items such as skinny jeans or a body-con T-shirt dress. To complete the look, add chunky boots and a cosy jumper.


The easiest way to extend the life of your floaty summer dress. Play with different colours and patterns and see which work best with your current dresses. Knee length or ankle boots will look fab when paired with cable knit tights and a dress. The perfect pair of tights can feel like that ‘unicorn’ item in your wardrobe, so once you find a brand you like invest in a few pairs and throw out the tangle that you avoid every time you get dressed. ‘Snag’ tights have received rave reviews and offer styles from petite to plus size. Up the dernier to stay warm and prevent accidental snagging.


Make the statement jacket your autumn fashion splurge. If you’re careful in your choice, this one item can allow you to carry many of your ‘summer’ clothes through to the next season and beyond. Some options to consider are: The classic trench- never out of style, every wardrobe needs a trench coat. Branch away from the classic pale neutral and opt for a darker shade of grey or khaki to maintain versatility whilst also being easier to care for (pale coats seem to attract stains!). The tailored blazer- thrown on over jeans and a nice top, the tailored blazer instantly makes you feel ‘put-together’. The leather jacket- Dare to move away from the classic black and adopt a subtler grey, navy or brown to blend seamlessly into your wardrobe.


When looking at colour palettes for your wardrobe, your best influence is the world around you. Summer was all about bright floral prints and pops of neon to match the gorgeous blooms that were about. Autumn will bring stormier weather and turning trees so embrace shades of aubergine, mustard and even teal. Autumn is synonymous with a jewel-tone palette so deeper, richer tones will work wonders.


Hard and fast fashion rules really are a thing of the past. The best dressed person in the room is usually someone who is confident enough to break the rules to find what suits them. If you want to pair a black dress with navy tights- go for it. Tights and open toed shoes- fine. Capes aren’t solely for superheroes. Fashion should be fun and part of that fun is experimenting and breaking the rules! Lastly, comfort is key, there’s no point looking fabulous if you’re secretly cursing those slightlytoo-small boots you’ve crammed your feet into! When dressing for any season or event, consider this: clothes have three purposes:  1) to keep you decent 2) to keep your warm (or cool) 3) to make you feel fabulous If your outfits ticks all three of these purposes, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? You do you.




THE CROPS It’s time to reap what you’ve grown So, this is it. This is the month you’ve been working towards; this is what the hard work’s been all about. You’ve fed, watered, pruned and protected… now it’s time for Mother Nature to make good your commitment with a bumper harvest. September is the key month for those who have lavished time and patience on their vegetable and fruit gardens. An indifferent growing season, starting with a hint of drought followed by grey, wet days and lowerthan-expected temperatures, hasn’t made life easy, but those who have open, south-facing gardens should really be looking forward to well-stocked larders this autumn. Let’s start with tomatoes. You may be waiting for them to turn that wonderful vibrant red on the vine before picking, but by then it might be too late and they are past their best. They are one of the few fruits which can be picked before they are ready, but as a guide, once you detect the first blush of colour get them off the vine and allow the ethylene gas within them to continue the ripening process. Once picked, store them indoors wrapped in newsprint to help retain the gas and hasten their development. In terms of temperature, stick to a range of 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit – a cooler environment will slow the ripening and vice versa. Remember to keep feeding the plants until all the fruits have been picked. Elsewhere, keep feeding and watering French and runner beans to make the most of them, continuing to harvest little and often to



prevent them going to seed. Once they have completed their crop, cut the plants away at ground level but leave the roots as they will release nitrogen into the soils as they break down. Sweetcorn has enjoyed a resurgence but needs a little test to see if it is ripe: pinch a kernel and if it releases a milky sap, it is ready. If watery, it needs a little longer but if it is starchy, then it’s too late. As for your maincrop potatoes, pull or cut off the foliage at ground level around three weeks before harvesting. This will prevent blight spores infecting the tubers as you lift them, and helps to firm the skins. After they have been dug up, let them dry for a few hours before storing in a cool, dark place. Storing them in paper or the more traditional hessian sacks will allow them to breathe, but only keep the undamaged, disease-free tubers – one rotten spud can spoil the crop.

When you think your harvest is complete, dig over your vegetable bed and plant some green manures, crops grown specifically for building and maintaining soil fertility and structure. Not only do they prevent erosion over the winter, they also provide shelter for beneficial insects through the cold months and will boost nutrients when dug in. Looking forward slightly, it’s time to check on your pumpkins and squashes. To get them ready in time for Halloween, remove any leaves that may be casting a shadow on the fruit, allowing them to catch the warm sun. It may also be best to lift them off the ground with timber or bricks – autumnal rains and heavy dews could start them rotting. Also keep an eye on your apples. The early varieties should have ripened nicely last month but the main varieties will not be ready for another couple of weeks or so

and might be getting some unwanted attention from insects and wildlife. September is also a big month in the flower garden. If you keep dead-heading your annuals and perennials you can extend their performance – and that goes for hanging baskets and containers too – while roses can be pruned, unless they are repeat flowering varieties which can be left until later in the year. Otherwise, start to divide any herbaceous perennials as the weather cools and water them in well, likewise camelias and rhododendrons to give next year’s buds a good start while spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths can also be planted. And if your lawn has had a bit of a tough time, now’s the time to clear and re-seed, or lay new turf.



FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Ryder Cup is one of the great team events


he American writer and humourist Mark Twain is widely credited with saying: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Now generally regarded as a myth, whoever did come out with it clearly hadn’t reckoned with the Ryder Cup. Held every two years at alternate venues on either side of the Atlantic, the showdown between Europe and the United States is a no-holdsbarred face-off, played to fiercely partisan and volatile galleries which make a mockery of golf being described as a genteel pastime. Under normal circumstances, maybe it is. But the Ryder Cup isn’t normal – not for nothing did former Europe skipper Mark James title his revealing behind-the-scenes book about the explosive 33rd encounter at Brookline “Into The Bear Pit”. Its format is unique. The teams are 12-a-side and based on a combination of leading points scorers and wildcard selections, nominated by the captains. The points are based on the prize money earned over a 12-month period, but because this year’s competition was shifted back a year, US captain Stricker has decided only six of his team would qualify via the points system, with the remainder being captain’s picks. Padraig Harrington, however, will stick with tradition and take four players from the European tour, five from the world list and three wildcards. As for the event itself, while playing pairs within a team set-up is not uncommon, the three-day



competition embraces all the main facets – foursomes (two players on each side, taking alternate shots) and four balls (pairs again playing their own ball, with matchplay rules) over the first two days, then 12 matchplay singles on the Sunday. There are 28 matches with as many points at stake.

1979 when GB were allowed to call on the European professionals.

While it may all seem a bit confusing, it is those complications and permutations which make the Ryder Cup unparalleled for pure adrenalinfuelled theatre.

Some have been crushing, such as Europe’s record nine-point winning margins in Michigan (2004) and Co Kildare (2006). Others have been nerve-shredding, skin-of-the-teeth triumphs such as the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ in 2012 when the visitors clawed their way to the second successive one-point win.

The event’s history partially stokes the fire. It started in 1927 as a challenge between the US and Great Britain and, pausing only for the war years, it gradually became a onesided romp for the Americans until

And so, the touchpaper was lit. Although it took until 1985 for Europe to finally break the stranglehold ending a run of 13 straight US successes - they have since won 11 of the 20 renewals with one tied.

Yet none were more bitter than the ‘Battle of Brookline’ in 1999 when a one-point win for the US was marred by raucous celebrations from both team and supporters as Justin Leonard holed the matchwinning putt before JoseMaria Olazabal had a chance to hole his shot. This year we are back in the US, with Whistling Straits in Wisconsin playing host from September 24th to the 26th. What drama awaits?


Make the most of the fruit from you garden with these tasty jam and chutney recipes

BLACKBERRY & APPLE JAM 1.5kg blackberries 1.5kg cooking apples 3kg white granulated sugar Juice of 2 lemons Makes about 10lb

Method Wash the blackberries with a little vinegar in the water to remove insects. Remove stalks and leaves, and tip into a large preserving pan. Peel and chop the apples, add to the pan with the lemon juice. Place over a very low heat so the juices begin to run and the fruit softens. After about 30mins, remove from the heat and gently stir in the sugar until it disolves and the mixture doesn’t feel gritty. Return to the heat, which needs to be turned up quite high, and bring the pan of fruit to the boil, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let it boil over – if it looks likely, turn off the heat and carefully lift pan away. After about 15-20mins the jam will have darkened and thickened. Test for a set. Pour into warm, sterilised jars and leave until cold.

WINTER WARM PLUM CHUTNEY 2tsp black mustard seed 1 small piece fresh root ginger 450g cooking apples 675g onions 225g sultanas 450g Muscavado sugar 600ml red wine vinegar 1tbsp sea salt 1 cinnamon stick 2tsp allspice berries, whole 1tsp cloves, whole Glass jars

Method Make up the spice bag in a muslin square, slightly bruising spices to release flavours. Place all ingredients into a large pan and add spice bag. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer until chutney is soft and thick. Pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal. Mature for six weeks before using.

GREEN TOMATO CHUTNEY 175g light brown sugar 150ml white wine vinegar 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped 1 garlic clove, peeled finely chopped 2cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled, finely grated 1 red chilli, finely chopped 125g sultanas 600g green tomatoes, quartered

Method Heat the sugar in a frying pan until it melts and caramelises. Add the white wine vinegar, shallot, garlic, ginger, chilli, sultanas and green tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1hr or until the chutney has thickened and you can draw a wooden spoon along the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel that does not immediately fill with liquid. Spoon the chutney into sterilised jars.




Prepare for cosy nights in glued to the box - with TV this good, you’ll struggle to leave the sofa!



inally, a positive to come out of the pandemic. Due to social restrictions, many TV shows were pushed back in production earlier this year meaning that our viewing options have been a little thin on the ground as of late. The good news, however, is that production has resumed, and you are in for a treat this Autumn/September with a plethora of fantastic shows and series about to hit you screens. Read on to see what you fancy adding to your queue.




Release date for this is TBC but it is rumoured to be late autumn so keep your eyes peeled. Prime Video have secured exclusive rights to Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Nine Perfect Strangers - haven’t heard of it? She’s the author behind Big Little Lies and this one is definitely worth checking out. Moriarty’s novel has been transformed into an 8-part series which details the story of a wellness retreat who welcome 9 guests through their doors. What follows is captivating, creepy and will draw you in from the first episode. Amazon have secured big names for this series including Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Luke Evans – don’t let this one pass you by.


Coming to Netflix on September 2nd, Q-Force is an animated series created by Michael Schur and Sean Hayes. Voices will feature David Harbour, Gary Cole, Patti Harrison, Sean Hayes and Wanda Sykes. A handsome secret agent, Agent Mary, and his team of LGBTQ superspies embark on extraordinary adventures. Mary decides he needs to prove his worth to the AIA, American Intelligence Agency. He knows to gain their approval he must solve a case. A new member is added to his team, and he’s straight. Sure to be an action-packed, hilarious watch!


Apple TV+ is going to treat us to Season 2 of The Morning Show from September 17th. This second season will feature 10 episodes with one released each Friday. The official trailer doesn’t reveal too much about season 2, but it’s quite evident that Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and

Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) are no longer working together harmoniously to create television’s dream team.


has been announced and features Jemima Kirke (Jessa from Girls), who will take the role of Melissa in the adaption, while Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) will play Nick, following up with newcomer Alison Oliver as Frances and American Honey star Sasha Lane as Bobbi. Set in Dublin, Conversations with Friends explores the hilarious and complicated relationship between friends.

Apple TV have also officially announced when the much-anticipated Foundation will be released. The premiere date for Apple TV+’s long-awaited adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s novel series will be September 24th. The first season is expected to be STEPHEN 10 episodes and An exact release date for You are in for a treat this focuses on a ITV’s Stephen is yet to be Autumn/September with doctor and his announced, but it has been a plethora of fantastic loyal followers confirmed to be late 2021 so shows and series about who attempt to we can start hoping in to hit you screens. rebuild and autumn! This true-life drama is preserve set to be intense and stars civilization in the Sharlene Whyte, Steve Coogan far reaches of the galaxy — much to the and Hugh Quarshie. Described as a chagrin of the emperor clones known as sequel to ITV’s 1999 drama The Murder of the Cleons. Sci-fi fans, this is one for you. Stephen Lawrence, Stephen continues to depict the Lawrence family’s struggle to CINDERELLA achieve justice and closure following the September 3rd brings about the search racially motivated, unjust killing of their for a foot which will fit the infamous son in 1993. The official synopsis reads: glass slipper in the movie Cinderella. ‘The drama tells the story of the ongoing Starting singer Camila Cabello, this struggle by Doreen and Neville Lawrence updated version is jam packed full of pop to achieve justice and how a detective, songs you’ll be singing for days. This is a DCI Clive Driscoll – working closely with girly, feel-good choice that is guaranteed the Lawrences – puts together an to bring a smile to your face and a investigation that finally secures the twinkle to your step! Find this release convictions of two of the gang who on Prime TV. committed the murder of Stephen.’ If you are keenly awaiting this release, why not CONVERSATIONS get up to speed and watch The Murder of WITH FRIENDS Stephen Lawrence on catch-up in prep. BBC 3 has confirmed it has begun filming another masterpiece based on one of Sally Rooney’s novels (author of Normal People): Conversations with Finally a positive to come Friends. The exact release date is tbc, but out of the pandemic. rumours are saying late autumn. The cast







The newsletter from Xact Mortgages Limited

Summer 2021

Ways to protect you, your income, and family This is about things that you may prefer not to pay for, but you (or your family) would be mightily relieved should there need to be a claim down the line

Life Cover

Lump sum payout on the death of the insured

Critical Illness Lump sum payout if you suffer an illness such as heart attack, cancer or stroke (if specified in the policy) ll 98% of a n o Protecti re e w Claims 2020 in paid out ion of British Associat lease) (Source: ay 2021 re Insurers, M

Income Protection

Pays out a monthly income if you’re unable to work through illness or injury

Xact Mortgages Limited 6 The Square, First Floor, Solihull B91 3RB Tel: 0800 014 9962 Email:


■ Xact Mortgages Limited is an appointed representative of PRIMIS Mortgage Network (PRIMIS), a trading name of First Complete Limited which

is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. PRIMIS is only responsible for the service and quality of advice provided to you in relation to mortgages, protection insurance and general insurance products. Any other product or service offered by Xact Mortgages Limited may not be the responsibility of PRIMIS and may also not be subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

PROTECTING YOU COVID-19 has had a massive impact on all of us and highlighted, for many, the importance having, taking up, or just simply reviewing the types of Protection Insurance we have in place.


There are various types of protection cover on offer, meeting differing needs such as paying out on loss of life, or loss of income due to a serious illness or injury. Going back to pre-pandemic times, many people would have entered 2020 in robust physical, mental and financial health, but could now find themselves in a totally different place. Mental and physical health concerns are very much front of mind. And with the recession, furlough, and the impact on entire market sectors, people’s financial resilience may have taken a battering too. In fact, recent research shows that around one in four are now deemed to be financially vulnerable. (Source: Financial Conduct Authority, Financial Lives 2020 survey, February 2021)

What can be done...




chance of dying in their working life


13% 11% male


chance of a critical illness in their working life

26% 37% male


chance of being off work for two months or more

Risks faced by both male and female In this issue we look at of working age Both aged 30, non-smokers and plan to retire at 65 some of the key areas where (Source: Royal London, State of the Protection Nation, different types of insurance June 2019, referencing Pacific Life Re research) may deliver the protection you consider taking up a protection product. need. Of course, we understand that some will (Source: Drewberry, Q1 2021 survey) still view protection insurance as something As for it’s ‘not for them’, surely it’s better that is simply ‘not for them’, or it is ‘too to have something in place (and possibly expensive’, or they ‘don’t believe the insurer would never need it), than suddenly need somepay out in the event of a claim.’ thing (and not have it)? Life Cover is a key piece of insurance to To counter this, we show that the overall have in place, but as the chart above shows, payout of claims is actually 98%. As far as the cost of it goes, you may be you’re possibly at greater risk of being pleasantly surprised once we look at what’s off work for two months or more, or on offer for you. And the pandemic has suffering a critical illness across your generated more interest, with around 1 in 6 working life. And can you be sure your people now saying they’re more likely to income stream won’t be affected?

Are YOU the major financial asset? People may think that their home is their biggest financial asset. Yet, in most cases, it’s actually the wage earner(s) in the household. This is where an INCOME PROTECTION policy could deliver some peace of mind.


The average annual income is

people cope when, on average, they are

about £30,000. Across a working

just 24 days from the breadline if their

period, then you could defer payouts

income stream is diminished.**

from the Income Protection policy for

equate to about £1.4m, which is almost

(Sources: *Office for National Statistics, Labour market over-

that timeframe, and see lower premiums

six times the current average value of

view, May 2021;**L&G, Deadline to Breadline, Nov. 2020)

as a result.

Support that may be on offer

up to around 60-65% of your gross

stream (and perhaps the same also for

The upside (unless you’re a contractor or

income, and dependent on the type of

your partner, if relevant).

self-employed) is that you may, initially,

product you opt for, it could be a tax-free

lifetime (discounting inflation), this could

a UK home - circa £243,000. So, surely it makes sense to protect this income

from employer support for a limited

Income Protection will generally cover

(Sources: Office for National Statistics, Weekly Earnings,

benefit from ongoing financial support

monthly payout until you’re well enough

April 2021; Nationwide, House Prices, May 2021)

from your employer. This is if you were

to return to work, retired or died,

off work due to an illness, or injury -

whichever occurs first.

Could it happen to me?

although it’s likely to be there for just a

Alternatively, if a lower monthly

Many of us will feel that we’ll never be off

defined period. Plus there’s limited state

premium is better for your pocket, then

work for a long period due to a ill health,

support to try to access too.

you could opt for a scheme that only

or injury. But it does happen; and to many.

In which case you need to look at how

For example, around 2m people in the

you might cover any income shortfall,

UK are off work at any one time due to

and this is where you could take out an

long-term sickness.* How would these

Income Protection policy. If you benefit

pays out for a specific period of time.

As with all insurance policies, terms, conditions and exclusions will apply.

0m Over £20paid n e e b s ha urers out by inasths e d for le attributab-19 to COVID itish

of Br sociation (Source: As release) arch 2021 Insurers, M

In 2019, in pre-COVID times, as many as 604,707 people died in the UK (that’s more than 1 a minute). If this is not bad enough, in 2020 (as we encountered the pandemic) 690,439 died - an 85,732 increase! (Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records Scotland, and Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency, actual 2019 figures & provisional 2020 data)

Looking after others »

Hopefully, most of us will live a long life, but COVID has sadly shown that many families have experienced unexpected personal loss, or know of people who have died. Plus, it’s not just the pandemic that you need to consider. In a normal year, such as 2019, 605,000 people still died from a multitude of ailments, such as cancer, heart diseases and dementia & Alzheimer’s. That’s more than one person a minute. If you have people who are financially dependent on you, then you really should consider having an element of life insurance in place. This is often set up to ensure that the mortgage can be paid off. Ideally, you may want to exceed that amount to provide additional funds for those left behind, enabling them to get through a difficult emotional and financial period, as painlessly as possible. Also, it’s not just homeowners that should consider taking out a life plan, the benefits would be equally applicable to those renting. Of course, you will need to balance any ‘personal’ life cover with any ‘death in service’ benefit that may be in place through your employer.

Different types of cover There are different options, such as: Level term - you choose the tax-free amount you want to be insured for, and the period for which you require cover. If you die within

the term, the policy pays out. Decreasing term - the actual amount paid out on a successful claim reduces over time. This may be relevant if you have a repayment mortgage, where it could reflect the reducing loan amount owed. For all term assurance plans, should you not die within the policy period, then it doesn’t pay out, and the premiums you’ve paid are not returned to you.

Add Critical Illness Cover Whilst you may feel death is a long way off, suffering a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer, might be a greater cause for concern. Once we’ve gone through your needs and budget, then it may make sense to add this element to your life cover. In the event of a successful critical illness claim, your life cover element should still continue to insure you.

Consider setting up a Trust Writing life insurance in trust is one of the best ways to protect your family’s future in the event of your death. n Trusts are a straightforward legal arrangement that’s a sensible option in most cases. n You decide on who benefits – this is important if you’re not married or in a civil partnership, as the life cover payout may not transfer to the intended recipient. n Faster access to the tax-free payout. If a trust is not in place when you die, your

beneficiaries would need to obtain probate, which can cause delays. With a trust arrangement, your beneficiaries could receive their inheritance shortly after the death certificate was issued, with possible tax benefits too. We can assess your particular needs and identify a suitable route forward. As with all insurance policies, terms, conditions and exclusions will apply. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate trust advice.

2020 CLAIMS PAYOUTS 98% of all claims were paid out in 2020, equating to £17m a day!

Life Cover

n 99.5% of all claims were paid out. n Average payout of £79,304 (term),

£4,026 (whole of life).

Critical Illness

n 91.3% of all claims were paid out. n Average payout of £67,011.

Income Protection

n 86.5% of all claims were paid out. n Average payout of £22,170. n Average length of claim could be

around 6 years.* (Sources: Association of British Insurers, 2020 data, May 2021 release; *2020 claims data from LV and Aviva)

Critical Illness Cover

A F I NA N CI A L C O M F O RT B L A N K E T Did you know that the current survival rate in the UK for a Heart Attack is 7 out of 10. (Source: British Heart Foundation Factsheet, March 2021)


Similar improvements have also occurred with cancer treatment. Forty years ago just 1 in 4 people survived their cancer disease for 10 years or more, today it’s 2 in 4. (Source: Cancer Research UK website, May 2021)

This means that these days, it’s more likely that you could survive a serious illness, such as heart attack, cancer or stroke. Although, whilst you may survive, it’s highly unlikely that you’d make a swift

Added value across Protection products n The insurance industry recognised over recent

years that there’s a real benefit - for both the insured and insurer - if a relationship is maintained

return to work, which could create concerns regarding your finances. Particularly if you have additional healthcare costs, or home renovation needs to reflect your changing circumstances. Fortunately, there is a specific product - Critical Illness Cover - that could pay out a tax-free lump sum if your serious illness was specified in the policy and you survive (generally for around 14-28 days from the date of diagnosis). This payout would hopefully enable you to focus all your energies on recovery by easing a lot of the immediate (plus ongoing) financial worries. Additionally, if you’re employed, you may also have the buffer of a period of disability cover as an employee benefit. After that, you may then have to fall back on state benefits of limited value. Also, don’t just think that this should only be a concern if you are much older, as the average age of critical illness claimants across many insurers is around 40s to early 50s!

throughout the term of the policy by providing

What do you need?

value-added products and support.

You can decide the level of cover you require at the outset, should you need to claim. Perhaps you may want to have enough to pay off the mortgage, or alternatively you may opt for less cover (meaning a lower premium too), but still have enough to see you through the initial couple of years as you recover. Critical illness cover can be taken as a stand-alone policy, or as a bolt-on to a life insurance plan. The policies will vary with regard to the illnesses covered, and in some cases it could also include cover for your children up to age 18 (if applicable), within a specified payout limit.

n The pandemic has merely reinforced the

importance of this offering. Specialist support such as GP/nurse helplines, and virtual screenings, online mental health, and physiotherapy support have all come to the fore at a time when it’s been difficult to secure assistance through your normal channels, such as your local doctor’s surgery. n Additionally, the pandemic has delivered an

increase in the adoption of electronic GP reports (to help speed up the underwriting process for protection

Please get in touch to hear more...

products), a positive innovation that will continue to develop, and is likely to stay with us.

As with all insurance policies, terms, conditions and exclusions will apply.

Managing your Costs Whilst you may recognise the benefits that Protection insurance cover could deliver for you and your family, there are likely to be many demands on your income stream. If cost is an issue, then do consider these two products that may better suit your pocket. FAMILY INCOME BENEFIT General life cover that pays out a lump sum (if a valid claim is made) is often in place to help settle the outstanding mortgage. That’s a great help, but for the partner left behind and their children, what about ongoing everyday items such as food, clothes, utility bills, childcare, or other expenses like holidays and university costs? This is where a Family Income Benefit plan could deliver much-needed support. In the event of death, it would provide a

How to find those extra £s (if lockdowns haven’t already made those savings for you!) Putting aside the money to fund a Protection plan may be easier than you think when you consider all those little items we may take for granted, like the odd drink or a magazine. We don’t expect you to give up all of life’s little luxuries, but if you cut out just one unit each week of the items below, then you could save around £150 across a month. In many cases, that’ll be more than you need to cover the cost of a protection policy.

Treats £ Cost/unit Soft drink 1.00 Snack 1.00 Magazine 1.50 Coffee (takeaway) 2.50 Pint of beer or lager 3.50 Glass of wine (175ml) 3.50 Taxi 5.00 Cigarettes (pack of 20) 10.00 Takeaway meal 7.00 Total = £35.00


regular tax-free income for your loved ones from the time of the claim to the end of the plan term. It’s often taken out over a 10 to 20-year term, or whatever may be appropriate in your circumstances. The idea is that should you have a valid claim, then it’s in place to pay out until the children have grown up.

It’s generally viewed as a good value plan, because the potential ‘total’ payout over time decreases the further through the policy you get, which is reflected in a lower premium cost.

How it works If you took out a 20-year term, which was set up to pay out £20,000/year and it was claimed against after one year, then the family would receive £20,000/year for the next 19 years, equating to a total payout of £380,000 (if there was no index-linking). However, if for the same plan, there wasn’t a claim until 18 years into the policy term, the total payout would be just £40,000. If, fortunately, there was no claim at all within the 20-year period, then the policy simply runs the whole term without any payout.

SHORT-TERM INCOME PROTECTION Income Protection is designed to pay out a tax-free monthly sum in the event that you can’t work due to illness or injury. If you like the idea of having this type of cover, but want to minimise your outlay, a short-term version is also available. This could still deliver important financial support (if still off work) for generally one to two years - and even up to five, in some instances. You may think you can’t afford protection cover at the moment, but can you afford not to have any at all? As with all insurance policies, terms, conditions and exclusions will apply.


Workplace Life Cover

A Relevant Life Plan enables businesses to offer Life Cover to its employees (including salaried directors), and may bring with it a number of advantages...


Relevant Life Plans are life cover plans set up by employers for employees. They are designed to pay out a lump sum to the family of the person covered, should they die (or possibly be diagnosed with a terminal illness) across the period of the cover. The plan could be in addition to any other ‘personally funded’ life cover that might be in place. It’s largely designed for small and medium-sized businesses, although it’s not generally available to sole traders, equity partners of a partnership, or members of an LLP set-up.

Tax-efficiency A Relevant Life Plan can be a tax-efficient way to secure some all-important life cover. In this respect, do take advice from an accountant if you want further clarification. Even though the company makes the payments (a saving for the employee on premiums against paying personally for life cover), it’s not typically treated as a ‘benefit in kind’, and would therefore not be included in the employee’s income tax assessments. Also, those with a substantial pension pot may benefit, as the plan will not form part of the lifetime pension allowance. And, as the plans are generally written into trust, any payout should not form part of the deceased’s estate, with possible Inheritance Tax benefits, plus it could be paid out quite swiftly. Additionally, the payments may also be an allowable expense for the company when calculating its own tax liability.

It’s transportable Writing the plan under trust, also provides flexibility when it comes

IT’S MOST SUITABLE FOR: n High-earning directors and employees who don’t

want their death-in-service benefits to count towards their lifetime pension allowance. n Small companies, with too few members for a group

life scheme, that want to provide employees and directors with tax-efficient death-in-service benefits.

n Please

to stopping or changing employment, as the plan can be converted into a ‘personal policy’ should the person leave employment. Although if the ‘life covered’ starts to pay the premiums, then some tax advantages may no longer apply. Alternatively, if there’s a move to a new employer, and that employer is willing to take on the Relevant Life Plan, and any required change to the trustees, then it can simply move across.

To Re-cap n The Company takes out a Relevant Life Plan. n The Employee’s life is insured at the agreed multiple level.

The Relevant Life Plan is put in Trust with the Beneficiary(ies) chosen by the Employee. n If the Employee dies during the term period of the plan, a claim is made by the Trustee(s). n The plan pays out to the Trustee(s), who would then make arrangements to pass on this payment to the Beneficiary(ies). n

Whatever your status, do talk to us to find out if a Relevant Life Plan could be a suitable option for you. As with all insurance policies, terms, conditions and exclusions will apply. HM Revenue & Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate trust and taxation advice. n The contents of this newsletter are believed to be correct at the date of publication (June 2021). n Every care is taken that the information in the Protection Bulletin is accurate at the time of going to press. However, all information and figures are subject to change and you should always make enquiries and check details and, where necessary, seek legal advice before entering into any transaction. n HM Revenue & Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen. n The information in this newsletter is of a general nature. You should seek professional advice tailored to your needs and circumstances before making any decisions.

contact us if you’d like to discuss your protection needs: Tel: 0800 014 9962 Email: Web:

mortgages Tel: 0800 014 9962 Email:

Steve Froggatt HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? Been with Xact for 5 years WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Helping people find the best deal in as simple a way as possible SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I met Nelson Mandela on an Aston Villa club tour in 1994 FAVOURITE FOOD? Italian FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Whale watching and shark cage diving in South Africa

Conor Brown HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 18 Months WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Helping people get the best deal for their mortgage but also love making sure that everyone is fully protected SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I lived in America for 18 months FAVOURITE FOOD? Sunday Roast – so many flavours on one plate FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Disney Land as it is a real family holiday. I can’t wait to take my family there. However, I have always dreamt of going to Bora Bora

Colin Jones HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 5 years WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Speaking to clients on a daily basis and giving them the peace of mind that should the worst happen they will be financially secure. SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I am a qualified Golf Instructor FAVOURITE FOOD? Italian FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Hawaii

Meet our Advisors Lee Heycock HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? Since December 2017 WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Solving problems for people who are looking to move but don’t think its achievable SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? Prior to Xact I served in the Infantry as a LCpl in the Royal Anglian Regiment where we toured Afghanistan, Nigeria and Kenya FAVOURITE FOOD? Sushi, looking forward to the new Japanese restaurant opening in Solihull! FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? A cruise around Italy and the Greek Islands

Mike Hodgkinson HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? 19 September 2001…Day one WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love putting smiles on our customers faces SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I have a gold medal for ballroom dancing watch out strictly here I come FAVOURITE FOOD? Sunday Roast FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Cornwall, have been lucky enough to travel most of the world, Cornwall is still the best

Alan Dalby HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH XACT? I have been back since August 2020, having worked for the firm for 5 years previously WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Love helping our clients achieve their goals and ambitions of home ownership and constantly offering the best customer experience possible SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW? I’m scared of heights, yet have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower FAVOURITE FOOD? Can’t beat my Nan & Grandad’s Sunday Lunches FAVOURTIE TYPE OF HOLIDAY? Give me a nice Pool in a hot country and I’m happy

The information contained herein is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal or financial advice and is not intended as a substitute for the same. You should seek professional advice tailored to your needs and circumstances before making any decisions. The contents of this newsletter are believed to be correct at the date of publication (April 2021).

Present your house for sale by de-cluttering... Maximise your home’s potential and create spacious rooms enticing potential buyers – simply by de-cluttering!

De-cluttering allows you to… maximise your space, emotionally prepare you to move, and will allow you to focus your buyers on what is important


f you are looking to sell your house, or have had your home on the market for a while now, then you probably want to get the maximum sale price in the quickest time. There are a few things you can’t control – but the one thing that is in your control, is the look and feel of the interior and exterior. While it’s worth spending time fixing and cleaning your house before potential buyers come and view, it’s also important to de-clutter. This creates spacious rooms and also allows you to decrease and organise your personal items before you move yourself. Of course it’s understandable that you don’t to want spend money, time and energy on a home you are about to leave, however, a lot of people are looking for a house in which they can move straight into. Maintaining your

property might even save you thousands of pounds; it could even reduce added expenses of living in your home whilst waiting for a sale. And it might even help avoid possible reductions in the asking price. The main reason in which people move house tends to be because they lack space in their current home. They want a home that is spacious and in which they can grow into. If a potential viewer comes to your home and sees that there is lack of space, then this will turn them away. De-cluttering allows you to remove any unnecessary items in an untidy or overcrowded place. It will help maximise your space, emotionally prepare you to move, and will allow you to focus your buyers on what is important.

So where should you start? You need to create a great first impression and focus on the rooms themselves. You will notice that the first things you see in each room are personal items. Where possible you want to create the look of a

them into things you want to keep and things you want to get rid of. You may even find that you have collected a cupboard full of paper work. Get yourself organised! Don’t just throw it all away, but file it and go through it thoroughly. This will also make it easier when you move.

De-personalising can also be a great way to declutter. Too many personal effects can be distracting to buyers. They want to see a house in which they can make their own memories rather than seeing yours. Again, personal items can be stored away. Remember

Where possible you want to create the look of a lifestyle that the potential buyers want lifestyle that the potential buyer want. This usually has a ‘show home’ feel, rather than a ‘lived in’ feel. Minimising your things is the quickest way to do this: you want to ensure that potential buyers can do simple things, like, open any doors easily, ensuring that there are no obstacles. So, what do we mean by clutter? There are two types: genuine clutter, and items that you want to keep but don’t work for the sale of your property. Genuine Clutter: You need to go through the space and sort out each item, categorising

You also want to focus on little things like DVDs, books and trinkets. These items may have some small value so sell them or donate them to charity. Get rid of any old shoes and coats that are lying about in your porch or hallway. You might want to hide away the coats and shoes you do currently wear. Store them in your wardrobe, while you have viewings. Items that you want to keep but don’t work for the sale of your property: You may want to consider putting some items in storage while you sell your home. Sometimes items are too large or even too small for some spaces and can make the room look odd. If you want to keep these particular items, then store them until you move into your new home.

that this is only a temporary way of living and hopefully it won’t be for long! If you find you are keeping more things than you are throwing out, then think about whether or not it’s in the right room or do you even need it now? As previously mentioned, you can attempt to sell some of the things you have acquired over the years. Use sites like eBay, Gumtree and social networking sites to try and sell items. You may want to even hold a house sale for the remaining items that you can’t sell. Failing that, why not donate to charity. The end goal is still the same and it’s important to help potential buyers envision your house as theirs. So remember, decluttering will make your home more spacious and entice potential buyers!

Top Tips! If you are throwing away paperwork, shred anything that is confidential

De-clutter before agents come and take photos of your property. This will help attract more potential viewers online and get that first good impression

Don’t spend too long on certain items and don’t get distracted. Keep yourself motivated and race against the clock!

Make it fun! Play some music or watch TV while you de-clutter

Your step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process


nce a sale has been agreed and is in the hands of your solicitor, it will go through the following stages. Sometimes additional work will be needed – for example, if the property is leasehold or is yet to be registered with the Land Registry. It is also important for buyers to discuss the availability of their deposit with their solicitor early in the transaction, and we strongly recommend that you contact your solicitor regularly so that they can keep you fully up-to-date with the progress and the latest timescales.

Seller’s solicitor’s steps • Obtain a copy of the Title Deeds (or office copies if the title is registered) • Obtain a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (if applicable) • The seller(s) will return a completed Property Information Form and a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form to the solicitors • Copies of the above documents, plus a draft contract – this is known as an ‘Information Pack’ – will be sent to the buyer’s solicitor • Answer the buyer’s solicitor’s additional enquiries (for example, specific questions about fixtures and fittings) and obtain copies of any planning consent documents • Agree the contract and arrange for the sellers to sign it in readiness of the exchange (below) • All parties agree completion dates and the contracts are exchanged

Between exchange and completion • Obtain redemption figures from the mortgage lender and reply to requisitions on title • Approve the transfer and arrange for the seller(s) and buyer(s) to sign • Receive the agent’s fee account and seek the seller’s consent to settle this out of completion funds

Completion date This is the date the ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer, and it follows the successful transfer of funds. It’s the date that the whole process works towards.

Upon completion • Receive completion funds and (only when this has been completed) instruct your estate agent to release the keys to buyers. Redeem mortgage and forward the financial statement. Forward any surplus funds (unless these are being used to fund an onward purchase). Ensure all outstanding bills are paid • Forward transfer documents and deeds to the buyer’s solicitors • Forward evidence of ‘discharge of mortgage’ to the buyer’s solicitors

Buyer’s solicitor’s steps • Obtain the Information Pack, including a copy of the EPC (if applicable) from the sellers’ solicitor and raise any additional queries • Initiate any specialist searches (for example: a coal search). Submit local, environmental and water searches and a chancel check. This takes about 10 working days in total, and enquiries are then usually raised from the results • Approve the contract when all enquiries are satisfactory and complete. (At this stage, a mortgage transfer deed will need to be signed and witnessed) • Receive a mortgage offer and instructions from the lender and deal with any conditions set out by them. Make sure that life cover and buildings insurance is being arranged • Request the deposit, report back to the buyer, and arrange for the contract to be signed. Place buildings insurance and life cover in force • All parties agree completion dates and the contracts are exchanged

Between exchange and completion • Raise ‘requisitions on title’ and prepare the draft transfer deed • Report on title to mortgage lender and obtain funds for completion, including Stamp Duty (if appropriate) • Prepare accounts, obtain signature to mortgage deed and undertake final Land Registry and Land Charges searches

Completion date This is the date the ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer, and it follows the successful transfer of funds. It’s the date that the whole process works towards.

Upon Completion • Forward to the seller’s solicitors the balance of funds − it is only then that they can authorise the release of the keys. Receive from the seller’s solicitors, the transfer document deeds • Stamp the Transfer Deed, register the buyer’s ownership with the Land Registry and forward the deeds to the lender or client (where appropriate)

Contract - The agreement that sets out the main terms that have been agreed − for example: price, address, names, etc. Two copies are drawn up, and each party signs one in readiness for the exchange of contracts. Deposit - The part of the purchase price (usually 10%) which the buyer pays on exchange of contracts. Exchange of contracts - The swapping of signed contracts by the solicitors (together with the buyer’s deposit). After this, the contract is binding. Energy Performance Certificate - This contains information on energy use, energy performance, carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel bills. Land Registry - The Government department that records who owns what land, and under what conditions. Local Authority Search - A list of questions that are specific to the property and intended, for example, to discover if there have been any planning applications on the property, if the road to the house is maintained by the council, etc. Mortgage Redemption Figure - The amount required to repay the outstanding capital/ interest of a mortgage. Property information form/fixtures, fittings and contents form - Standard forms about the property that the seller answers for their solicitor (for example: what will be left behind, details of guarantees, etc.) Title Deeds - Legal documents that prove ownership of land/buildings, and the terms on which they are owned. Transfer of Title - The document that passes the ownership from the seller to the buyer. Stamp Duty for buy to let investors and second home owners - An additional tax, paid by the buyer purchasing an additional property that is not their main residence. It includes buy to let landlords and those buying second homes and holiday homes. The higher rates will be 3 percentage points above the current rates of duty shown below. Requisition on title - An enquiry relating to the completion arrangements. Seller’s Pack - This comprises a Property Information Form, a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form, a copy of the title deeds and the draft contract. Stamp Duty - A tax paid by the buyer purchasing their main residence. The current Stamp Duty Holiday runs until the 30th June and as such you won’t pay stamp duty on purchases up to £500,000. After this date the nil-rate band will be set at £250k until the end of September.

Moving house? From meter readings to removal companies, there’s so much to remember when moving house. Here’s our checklist of what to do and when


irst of all, congratulations on your new home! The excitement has probably now kicked in but moving home can also be one of the most stressful and emotionally draining things you can do. However, careful organisation and planning can help decrease the stress and anxiety of moving. This comprehensive and essential checklist will help you do just that.

Eight weeks – Research Ideally, you want to start packing away any non-essential items as early as possible. This includes any items stored away in the loft, garage and shed. If you are not using it, pack it. Looking into your new area is also important, try to do this around eight weeks before you move. You might need to think about transferring your children to different schools and ordering new uniforms too. At this point, ensure you are also documenting all your important information away: that includes contact details, dates, contracts and information regarding your solicitor.

Six weeks – Removal companies or do it yourself? Now would be the perfect time to decide on a local removal company. Or if you don’t have too much to move, you may want to do it yourself. You could even look into different van hire companies. At this point you’ve probably started packing away some bits, but if there is anything you decide not to take, then look into selling these items or donating them to charity. This will also give you an idea on the volume of items you have to move.

Four weeks – Notify utility companies This would be a good time for you to notify utility companies and inform them about your move to switch over. This includes gas and electricity, council tax, internet, phone rental and TV. You should also consider changing any car insurance, tax, memberships, phone contracts and inform your bank about the move. Now’s the time to also arrange a date to have your new house cleaned before you move

The buyers of our homes receive their very own property website to share via

Checklist Eight weeks Pack non-essential items Research your new area (transfer schools and order new uniform) Keep all important documents

Six weeks Decide on a local removal company Clear out any unwanted items Keep packing

Four weeks

It will be worth packing a night bag each to help everyone settle in, which means you won’t have to rummage through everything to find your toothbrush! in, and start ordering any new furnishings for your new property. Start packing away more items, that being, out of season clothes, books, dvd’s and even bulky items, like TV’s that aren’t used often.

Two weeks – Confirm all details Confirm your move with your removal company or van hire, estate agents and schools. If possible, try to organise someone to look after your pets and children for the day of your move, as this can also be a stressful time for them too. If your removal company doesn’t disassemble any furniture or sort out the un-plumbing for the washing machine, then now would be the ideal time to organise these. Remember to also cancel any local services you receive: this could be window cleaners, gardeners and newspaper deliveries. You should now also think about re-registering to vote and getting your post re-directed after your moving date. Continue packing away more furnishings, kitchen appliances and crockery that you won’t be using for the next couple of weeks.

24 hours – Final check and walk round You now have only 24 hours before you move, so double check that everything is packed away and ready for transit. It will be worth packing a night bag each to help everyone settle in, which means you won’t have to rummage through everything to find your toothbrush! You may want to create an inventory of your boxes and

furniture to help you keep track of what you have and to help you ensure it doesn’t go missing.

Moving day Today is the day! You need to be ready for when your removal company comes. Ensure that you let them know if there are any fragile boxes that need extra care when handling. If you’re moving yourself, then pack up your car or van and work out how many trips it may take. Before you leave, also take note of your final meter readings and send these off to your provider. Don’t forget to leave your keys for the new owners!

You have arrived at your new home! Give your removal company instructions of which boxes go in which rooms and make sure you are happy with everything that has arrived. Ensure you check for any damage before the movers leave. Read your new utility meters and send your readings of to your supplier. Taking photos of them will also ensure you have the correct reading if you need them again in the future. Unpack your essentials such as bed linen and clean towels. Don’t worry about the rest, it isn’t going anywhere! Order a takeaway, have a cup of tea and enjoy your first night with your family. Right, so now you’re all moved in, it’s time to settle down, unpack and enjoy your new place. Remember, planning is essential to ensure your move runs stress free.

social media with its address and personal message!

Notify utility companies Start preparation for your new house Keep packing

Two weeks Finalise all details Organise pet and child care Cancel local services Keep packing

24 hours Check every room and ensure everything is packed Pack a night bag so everything is to hand Collect your new keys Make sure your phone is fully charged so you can get in touch with the estate agents or removal company

Moving in Prepare for the arrival of the removal company and give them directions/ your contact details Ensure everything is ready to move Record meter readings

On arrival Give removal company instructions of what goes where Check for any damage before they leave Read your new utility meters and send them off to your supplier Check if the previous owners have left anything behind Unpack essentials Order a takeaway and sit back and relax!

Want to treat yourself to a proper removal company for your next move or are you prepared to do it yourself

Removal company or brave it yourself? Y

ou’re excited about your new home and location but the process of packing, organising and actually moving all of your items is something no-one really ever looks forward to. Not only that but you also have to contact utility companies, maintain a job, keep your children happy and clean your entire house. You do have super powers, right?

Removal companies You also won’t have to worry about the exhausting physical side of things, that being carrying boxes back and forth

Unless you live in a small property or flat, it could be worth hiring a professional removal company to help relieve some of the stress on the day. They have many skills and experience and some of the services they can provide include packing and

unpacking, dismantling and assembling furniture, loading your belongings quickly and securely, including those fragile and specialist items. They can even supply you with packing materials. Hiring a removal company will also allow you the time to collect the keys to your new home. You also won’t have to worry about the exhausting physical side of things, that being carrying boxes back and forth. Some services are great if you don’t have much time to plan and get these done yourself; however these do often come at a premium and may not be suitable for those on a budget. When choosing a removal company

Top tips for packing When packing, ensure you don’t overload your boxes with heavy items, as these will be difficult to lift and could cause a back injury. Fill any empty gaps using old newspaper, clothing, socks or even tea towels. This will help secure any items when they are being moved. its key to look at those which have good recommendations and reviews, as you need a company you can rely on. You can use comparison sites, such as and, to help find you the best deals.

items you have. You should also ask for the price to be broken down so you can see just how much you are paying for when it comes to certain aspects like insurance, packing, an hourly rate, mileage and any storage costs.

Getting quotes

Once you have found a removal company, it can be useful to send them a briefing sheet that includes information about any items which need to be specially packed, any difficult or large items, plus any carpets and curtains which need moving. Finally, it can also be helpful to send them a floor plan of the new property so they can unload efficiently.

You should aim to get at least three quotes from removal companies, preferably from firms which will come out to your property rather than those who just estimate the cost over the phone, as you don’t want any nasty charges later on. Plus it will give the company an accurate idea of any restricted areas in your home, if they can park a van or lorry, and how many

Create an inventory and label all your boxes and write the contents on each box with a marker. That way you will know which room each box is to go in. And if you are super organised, you could even colour code each room! Pack heavier boxes on the bottom. This might seem like common sense but it will ensure that any of your fragile items won’t break. Pack a survival box. These are the things that you will need first and should include paper towels, bin bags, cutlery, the kettle, some mugs, tea, coffee, milk, sugar and finally, some toilet paper!

Time to


We’re here to help you find the property that’s the right fit for you! Start your journey this summer with Xact Homes, your local, independent, estate agent.




T: 01564 777284 E:

T: 0121 712 6222 E:



T: 0121 712 6222 E:

T: 01676 534411 E:

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Xact Mortgages Magazine September 2021  

Xact Mortgages Magazine September 2021  

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