Secured consolidation loans are still a viable debt solution

In the midst of the credit crunch, thinkmoney.com reminds existing and potential customers that secured consolidation loans are still a viable debt solution for many homeowners – and that a range of alternative debt solutions are available to borrowers who either can’t secure a loan against their property or prefer not to.

“There’s no question that obtaining secured credit has become harder and, in many cases, more expensive,” a spokesperson for the financial solutions company commented. “As a second charge on a home, a secured loan involves a certain risk from a lender’s perspective, so secured lenders are keeping a very close eye on issues in the housing market. A recent Bank of England survey revealed that default rates on secured lending rose by more than expected in Q2, and lenders expect these rates to rise further in the months ahead.

From the individual borrower’s perspective, equity withdrawal of any kind is clearly a more attractive option when house prices are rising: “Today’s falling prices are reducing the number of homeowners with enough equity to make a secured loan a viable solution – and deterring many who are keen to retain their ‘safety margin’ against negative equity.

“Having said that, it’s important to see recent falls in house prices in their correct context: as relatively small drops following a decade of rapid growth. According to Nationwide’s House Price Index, for example, the ‘average house’ in Q2 2008 was still worth almost £10,000 more than it was in Q2 2006. In just ten years, Nationwide reports, the average house price rose from £60,754 to £184,131 – homeowners may be worried about falling prices, but many are still likely to own significant levels of equity. For them, a secured loan can be an excellent debt solution: a realistic way to consolidate their unsecured debts into one manageable, lower-interest debt which they can arrange to repay at an affordable rate.

“Nonetheless, when major secured loans providers like Firstplus announce they’re ceasing to make new loans, it’s clear that the secured loans market as a whole is suffering under today’s adverse conditions. With lenders tightening their criteria or even turning down new business, it’s more important than ever that borrowers choose a company that works with a wide range of lenders and specialises in finding secured loans for people from all kinds of financial backgrounds. Talking to the right company can make all the difference between being offered credit at a competitive rate and being unable to avail a secured loan at all.”

Concluding, the thinkmoney.com spokesperson stressed that secured consolidation loans are by no mean the only way out of debt. “Depending on the individual’s circumstances, a number of other debt solutions may be more appropriate than a secured loan, such as a debt management plan, an unsecured debt consolidation loan, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) or, for residents of Scotland, a Trust Deed. For anyone in debt, the important thing is to seek impartial debt advice from a company that offers a wide range of debt solutions – a company that has an in-depth understanding of each solution’s benefits and drawbacks and can recommend the one that constitutes their optimal route out of debt.”

Via EPR Network
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Prepaid Debit Cards for everyone by Sterling Card

Sterling Card have been officially accredited by MasterCard as issuers of their prepaid credit cards and are definitely a brand within the personal finance industry to keep an eye out for and their new website illustrates just this with its stunning graphics and flash animation along with simple interfaces making signing up for prepaid credit cards easier than ever.

Prepaid cards (other known as pay as you go debit cards) are a relatively new product to the UK market and are the perfect solution to the mounting debt crisis that the country faces as unlike traditional credit cards they do not carry hefty interest charges or the risk of getting into debt.

A prepaid MasterCard means that like a pay as you go mobile phone, holders need to put money on their account before they can use it. It is not a debit card that is linked to a bank account or credit card where holders pay for their transactions at a later date allowing its users to easily control their spending. Similarly to pre pay mobile phones, Sterling pay as you go debit cards can easily be “topped up” for free in UK Post Office branches or alternatively can be recharged online, via standing order, or direct by paying in wages onto the card. Alternatively, top-ups can be loaded onto the card in one of 500 retailers nationwide.

Michael Valentine, operations director of Sterling Card comments: “Getting a Sterling Prepaid Debit Card is the best way to enjoy the freedom and security of a MasterCard credit card without the risk of running up debts as there are NO interest fees. Also no bank account is required to get a Sterling Card and customers still get the same fraud protection as a conventional credit card. It is also ideal for travelling abroad because regular banks may charge exorbitant cash withdrawal, exchange rate and transaction charges.”

The Sterling Prepaid MasterCard is accepted globally in stores and online in approximately 25 million locations and 1 million ATMs wherever the MasterCard acceptance mark is displayed. Also the chip and pin facility means that having a Sterling Card is far safer and more secure than carrying cash around with the same protections against fraud that a normal credit card offers.

This makes owning such a card not only ideal for everyday use, but also a particularly useful tool for travelling and shopping online. Another increasingly popular use for pre pay debit cards is for parents to have added peace of mind by giving an additional card to their children whilst at University. This is because they can feel safe in the knowledge that their children are not creating more debts for themselves while at University than necessary with a secure MasterCard that encourages them to manage their finances sensibly.

Unlike many other Prepaid Credit Card providers, Sterling Card’s new website is uncomplicated with everything explained in plain English. The new website lists the core benefits of applying for prepaid debit cards as follows:

• Top-up at a Post Office(R) branch or online for free
• 100% acceptance guaranteed*
• No credit history required
• No bank account required
• No hidden charges
• Stylish MasterCard design
• Accepted wherever the MasterCard acceptance mark is displayed (internationally)
• Great security for all Internet usage
• Easy online application
• Same protection against fraud that card holders would expect from a normal credit card

For more information or to apply online for a sterling card please go to www.sterlingcard.co.uk

Via EPR Network
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Sixty per cent of homeowners not interested in environmental issues

Only one in six home movers believe that the introduction of HIPs (Home Information Packs) will speed up the buying process and just one third believe they are a good idea, according to a new survey by thinkproperty.com, a major new, independent consumer property portal which offers estate agents an online sales and marketing channel to deliver better value, improved lead generation and excellence in customer service.

The survey, which had over 3,100 respondents, revealed that more than one third of home movers are confused about Home Information Packs and one third of home owners were not aware of their introduction in June. A third of respondents believe HIPs will slow down the property market, twenty per cent commented that HIPs will increase property prices (http://www.thinkproperty.com/soldhouseprices.htm), seventeen per cent believe HIPs will lower property prices and thirty per cent believe that the introduction of HIPs will not change how they buy property (http://www.thinkproperty.com/findanagent.htm).

In spite of home movers’ lack of support for HIPs, the vast majority would modify their property to make it ‘green’ if the Government incentivised this with offers of green mortgages and lower council tax. Over two thirds of home movers do not believe the Government is doing enough to build greener homes, and sixty per cent say the same of new home developers.

One hundred per cent of respondents agreed that the Government should help home owners to fund fuel efficient boilers to improve energy efficiency, followed by roof insulation (eighty per cent), double glazing (seventy per cent), solar panels (sixty one per cent) and wall insulation (forty seven per cent). Just seventeen per cent felt that the Government should financially help home owners with energy improving devices.

However, the results highlighted a general lack of interest in green properties, with sixty per cent claiming that they didn’t want more information on green property issues. In fact, less than two thirds of home movers claimed to be interested in the environment, with nearly sixty per cent commenting that ‘there are more important things to be worrying about’. The view from one in five respondents was that it is too expensive to switch to environmentally friendly products, with over one quarter of home movers commenting that ‘the only people that are interested in the environment are sandal-wearing hippies’.

Already, seventy per cent of home movers claim to have double glazing, sixty per cent have roof insulation, fifty seven per cent use low energy light bulbs and forty per cent run a fuel efficient boiler. Over two thirds of home movers claim to recycle and three quarters say they switch off all unused lights.

Low energy lighting should be compulsory for all new home builds according to over seventy per cent of respondents, followed by solar panels (fifty five per cent) and grey water systems (forty two per cent).

Mark Goddard, Managing Director of the property portal (http://www.thinkproperty.com/) comments: “Clearly the introduction of HIPs is not popular with home movers and many think that the Government should be doing more to help home owners improve the energy efficiency of their homes.”

About ThinkProperty
ThinkProperty.com (http://www.thinkproperty.com/) provides an accountable marketing channel to today’s modern property professional and already averages 400,000 property details available from around the UK every day.

ThinkProperty.com is owned by Trader Media Group which has an unrivalled reputation for bringing buyers and sellers together in huge numbers through its dealer software products and market leading consumer websites and magazines.

Via EPR Network
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Barclays Local Business reveals small business owners are in it for the long haul and plan to stay in business longer

It may not always be a match made in heaven, but UK bosses are in it for the long haul when it comes to running their own company, according to a survey of small business owners conducted by Barclays Local Business* research reveals that over a quarter (28%) expect to run their business for more than 25 years (longer than the average marriage in the UK at 24 years, or 11.6 years if it ends in divorce**) and one in five said they plan to keep working well into their seventies.

As well as being wedded to the job, UK small business bosses are forming long-term and loyal relationships with their staff. Despite the popular belief that a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past, nearly a third (29%) of those questioned have an employee on the books who has worked for them for at least ten years and two thirds of respondents still employ their first ever recruit.

John Davis, marketing director for Barclays Local Business said: Starting your own business is a serious commitment and for most people it really is about a life long relationship that needs constant nurturing and attention. For every over night success there are thousands of business people who have spent years developing a successful business – but there are few things as satisfying as making it a success after all that effort.”

Given this propensity for long term commitment, it is no surprise that bosses are quite literally ‘married to the job’. Two fifths admit feeling personally connected to their business, and said its failure would cause emotions akin to a relationship ending.

Although women were more likely to be affected by ‘business bereavement’ when a company fails, the survey showed that when it comes to their staff, male entrepreneurs are more sentimental than their female counterparts. On average, male bosses employed their first recruit for approximately a year longer than female bosses, while their longest serving employees typically clocked up a year longer on the payroll.

The survey also revealed that entrepreneurs who value stability in their personal life are more likely to replicate it in the workplace. Respondents who had been in relationships for more than twenty years tended to employ their first recruits for nearly eight years – two and a half years longer than the national average. Their longest standing employees also remained employed for more than nine years – 50% longer that the national average of six and a half years.

Despite growing concern about an economic downturn, confidence among the small business community remains strong, as three quarters (74%) say they are keen to grow their business this year. Of those that felt growth was not an option, a quarter cited the risks currently posed by the economic climate while nearly one in five (19%) said they simply had no interest in making more money.

* Taken from online research carried out between 1 and 16 June 2008 by Ciao Surveys on behalf of Barclays Local Business Banking. Total sample size was 503 Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) owner-managers from across the UK, where an SME is defined as having up to 250 employees.
** National Statistics and the National Family and Parenting Institute.

About Barclays Local Business
Barclays supports businesses with:

1600 local business managers in 600 locations.
Start-ups get standard banking transactions free for up to 12 months.
Flexibility to bank when and how they want – online and telephone banking and a full counter service at 1600 branches nationwide.
In the longer term businesses can choose various banking packages which give a choice of free automated payments or in credit interest. These packages also include different levels of further support from online training to credit management facilities.

Via EPR Network
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Mortgage Application Xpress by Woolwich

Woolwich has announced the launch of a new mortgage sales tool ‘Mortgage Application Xpress’ (MAX) which gives a faster, simpler and more efficient way to do business online. The new tool allows brokers to be able to confirm mortgage decisions at point of sale, certify ID and proof of address online, leading to speedier mortgage offers.

The new MAX tool from Woolwich will save mortgage brokers time as it’s a one stop mortgage application process, it is also intuitive so helps removes duplication and the potential for errors as well as telling the broker exactly which documents are needed to submitted with the application.

David Finlay, Woolwich intermediary business director said: “This strengthens our promise to the intermediary market to build on our service. The latest online sales tool is a result of feedback from intermediaries to provide them with a single platform for all mortgage sales related activities.”

Key features of MAX:

  • Mortgage decision at point of sale – an instant decision to give brokers confidence we can meet their clients mortgage requirements
  • ID and proof of address can be certified online
  • Application Credit Check (ACC)
  • Intelligent fields (so you can look up things like post and sort codes)
  • Notification of all documentation requirements at ACC stage meaning you save time
  • Intelligent, pre-population of data across multiple forms such as declarations, direct debits, cover sheet etc.
  • Intuitive, simple to use application forms
  • Slicker documentation and tools for example documentation that can be e-mailed to the customer, ability to save and file online, new quick calculations
  • Quick quote, Offset Calculator, BTL Illustrator

MAX is available on woolwichintermediaries.co.uk, brokers can find out more by contacting their IBM, calling 0845 070 1567 or visiting the Woolwich website to try the online demo. Brokers who are already registered for Woolwich’s online application systems will automatically have access to MAX.

The new site has recently been piloted by Contractor Financials, Mortgage Find and Concordia.

Via EPR Network

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Welcome to EPR Financial News

Welcome to EPR Financial News.

EPR Financial News is a new blog, part of EPR Network, that is going to be focused on and will be covering the financial news and stories from press releases published on EPR Network.

EPR Network (EPR stands for express press release) is one of the nation’s largest press release distribution networks on Web. The EPR’s nationwide network includes 12 State based PR sites, one major PR forum and a number of industry specific PR blogs and what started as a hobby on Internet years ago turned out to be a rapidly growing business today. EPR Network is also known as one of the most trusted (human optimized, published, edited and monitored, spam/scam/low quality PR content free) PR sites on the web with more than 10,000 company and individual press releases distributed per month. EPR Network is putting your press releases on top of all major search engines’ results and is reaching thousands of individuals, companies, PR specialists, media professionals, bloggers and journalists every day.

EPR Network has thousands of clients around the world including global 500 corporations like Hilton Hotels, Barclays Bank, AXA Insurance, Tesco UK, eBay/Skype, Emirates, just to name a few. The network’s PR web sites are currently reaching from 150,000 to sometimes 500,000 unique visitors per month while our viral reach could possibly go to as much as 1M people per month through our presence across various social media sites. EPR Network was established in 2004 and as of May 2008 it had more than 800,000 press releases (pages) published on its network.

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