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Mortage Lenders

Mortgage Lenders Take Tentative Steps Towards a New Normal

Since lockdown began in the UK, mortgage lenders have all but stopped trading. Now, a glimmer of optimism is returning to the market.

After what seems like a very long time indeed, some of the major banks and building societies in the UK have made tentative steps towards a semblance of normal.

Among the early optimists are Santander, Halifax, and Nationwide. All of which have introduced new measures to ease the financial markets back into trading.

At the start of lock down, all these organisations reduced the largest size of loan they offer. Now Nationwide, the country’s largest building society, has gone from 75% to 85% loan-to-value mortgages, and Santander has increased its maximum loan size up to £500,000.

Industry experts see this as the first steps in the right direction.

Kimberly Holgate, a property law specialist and director of Real Legal, commented:

“This is great news for everyone. The demand is there, that situation hasn’t changed, but the lockdown restrictions have slammed the brakes on the property market.”

“What we are seeing here is not quite a return to normal, but a new normal that is likely to be with us for many months to come. It’s encouraging, and it shows that people find a way. Businesses solve problems, that’s why they exist.”

One of the biggest problems facing mortgage lenders is how to do a proper valuation of a property while social distancing. That’s why we’ve seen more 60 or 70% mortgages being offered, and only to those able to pay large deposits. But now businesses are trying to find ways around that problem too. There are organisations offering indicative online or remote valuations with the proviso that they will be able to come and do a more thorough valuation in person once the lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

Lenders are still being cautious, but many have promised to take the borrowers full income into account, even if they are currently on furlough leave and receiving the 80% salary guaranteed by the government.

The friendly team at Real Legal are experts in this field and they are more than willing to discuss your options with you. They know all about property law and they can help you remotely.

Visit the website reallegal.co.uk or call 0345 646 0501 for a conversation with a solicitor.

Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Birthday: This Week is the 456th Anniversary of the Bard

In celebration of this day, we look at the links between the Bard, the legal sector and Burnley law firm Real Legal.

William Shakespeare, the national poet of England, and perhaps the greatest Englishman ever to have lived, was born 1564, and died 52 years later on the same day: April 23rd – St. George’s day.

Much of Shakespeare’s work is concerned with justice, authority and the rule of law and one of his original performance spaces was at the Inns of Court in London which, to this day is the professional association of barristers. Real Legal’s Claire Stewart may have walked in the steps of Shakespeare himself, having studied law at the associated Inns of Court Law School.

What was Shakespeare’s greatest achievement? The psychological complexities of Hamlet? The dark madness of King Lear? The musical beauty of Twelfth Night?

At least one scholar has suggested that Shakespeare’s greatest achievement might have been that he survived childhood. He was born during a particularly nasty resurgence of the Bubonic Plague.

The parish records for Stratford-upon-Avon at the time show that infant mortality rate was extremely high. We know that he lost three sisters before they reached adulthood. But against all odds, Shakespeare survived.

Shakespeares House
Shakespeare’s house, Stratford-upon-Avon

As a young adult, he went to London in search of his fortune, and he found it. Within 10 years he’d gone from being a jobbing actor, struggling to make ends meet, to a successful businessman and dramatist with a royal charter. Love him or hate him, Shakespeare is the envy of the world and his legacy is incomparable.

Coming back to the modern day, with lockdown extended for another 3 weeks, St. George’s day and Shakespeare’s birthday will now have to be celebrated at home.

While we’re trying to get through our own global health crisis, we can draw comparisons between Shakespeare’s time and our own, and in some ways not much has changed.

Measure for Measure is one of Shakespeare’s later plays. It’s a play that was due to be performed at the Blackpool Grand last month by the Royal Shakespeare Company, but was sadly cancelled as all the theatres have now been closed (an event that also occurred several times in Shakespeare’s own lifetime).

Measure for Measure is a play concerned with the idea of Justice, and authority. Shakespeare was well aware that some members of his society did not have easy access to justice.

This is still a problem in today’s world. Just think about the recent high-profile law cases of wealthy businessmen, or public figures who might have once considered themselves above the law.

Measure for Measure tells the story of young lady faced with deep injustice at the hands of a ruling duke. At one point she exclaims “To whom should I complain? Who would believe me?”

Those words have as much power today as they did 400 years ago. There are still many people in the world who struggle for access to the justice they deserve.

If you’re one of them, why not contact Real Legal? They are a friendly, local law firm, with reasonable prices and expert staff.

Claire Stewart

An Interview with Claire Stewart: Solicitor and MD of Real Legal

Claire Stewart is a solicitor and company director of Real Legal. She studied in top Manchester and London law schools, now she’s set up in Burnley with a mission to provide a quality legal service at an affordable price.

The demographics of Burnley tell two quite different stories. The first is of a town on the up, with advanced manufacturing, aerospace, and a premier league football team. The other, is one of growing income disparity and a section of the community that might struggle to afford the services of a qualified solicitor.

“Access to justice is quite an issue” explains Claire, “legal aid cuts have led to an increase in litigants in person” When you consider that 24% of retired people in Burnley are living below the poverty line, you begin to realise the scale of the problem this organisation is hoping to address.

Real Legal is for real people, real life, not just the privileged few

They’re not just providing legal services for those with large pay cheques coming in, for the privileged few. Real Legal is all for real people living real lives, dealing with real issues.

“We’re aiming to provide an affordable service that actually works for the local community” says Claire. The evidence of that statement is in their price list. With Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney, they’re cheaper than the price of other law firms.

With small claims they’re also offering a special service, where most law firms wouldn’t even consider taking up the case:

“Even though they’re called small claims, it’s not small to the individuals involved. People have sleepless nights over small claims. Most law firms won’t even touch them, so ordinary people have to represent themselves and that’s not easy, especially for foreign nationals or people who speak English as a second language. There’s an accessibility issue here, that we are seeking address.”

For a fixed cost we’ll do everything, all the documents, even represent you in court. You’ll get a lawyer with you the whole time, and more importantly, you’ll get access to justice.”

Breaking the Mould

Real Legal is determined to shake up what is a very traditional market. Some of the things they’re doing might well ruffle feathers in the legal world.

When you imagine a typical law firm you might think of wood panelled offices with gentlemen in pinstripe suits. Law firms are very traditional organisations with an air of exclusivity about them – the very thing Real Legal is fighting against. One of the ways they’re doing that is through transparency and clarity.

The first in the country…

For example, Real Legal is one of the first law firms in the country to use Shield Pay, a third-party managed account for conveyancing clients’ money. That means that clients can be sure where their money is, all the time. If you’re selling a house, you can see the funds coming in, and it gives a guarantee that your money won’t be borrowed to pay the bills.

“In ten years’ time every company is likely to be using a third party managed account, but at the moment we’re leading the way for solicitors conveyancing firms in the UK” says Claire.

Real Legal is all about breaking the mould, using new technology to do business on the customer’s terms. They can work remotely, communicating via internet channels, and they’re flexible enough to make appointments out of hours, or in locations away from the office like home visits.

Having a town centre office, where people can drop in anytime, is a symbol of the openness and approachability that are central values to Real Legal.

Real Legal offer a professional service, at a price that’s designed to be affordable for everyone. They can offer many services remotely, and with Will writing, they can draft the document remotely and the only meeting with clients for witnessing and signing the document.

They’re offering a service tailored to the needs of the local community, there’s no excessive formality, no ego, just knowledgeable, friendly people ready to help everyone.

For more information call 0345 646 0501

Working From Home

Working from Home Puts Strain on Relationships

Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around, so the saying goes. Behavioural Psychologists suggest the truth behind this old adage might be behind a predicted increase in divorce enquiries in the UK brought on by lockdown.

Working from home and self-isolation are causing stress and putting pressure on relationships. Some divorce lawyers are suggesting that there might be an increase in the level of enquiries about divorce proceedings because of lockdown.

For many couples, working from home means spending a lot more time together than normal. Those living with children or in smaller houses might find it difficult to get a moment to themselves. If one partner is having a particularly stressful day, tempers can fray, and arguments ensue.

Relationships are built on empathy. The moment that breaks down couples need to take a step back, cool off, and see the bigger picture, advise relationship counsellors. During lockdown that’s more difficult than usual, add in any financial difficulties that may also be a result of the reduced working hours, and we have a perfect storm for marital disharmony.

Speaking to Psychology Today (see here for the original article), The University of Manchester’s Dr. Nathan Smith, who is researching the psychology of astronauts working at the international space station says, “Self-isolation has thrown many couples into a completely new way of living, one that is comparable to astronauts on a space station, or submariners on a tour of duty. Although the situation is different physically, the monotony, repetition, boredom and social proximity mean that psychologically and emotionally there are many similarities.”

Divorce should always be a last resort, and experts say that couples should work to maintain their relationships. People should be aware of the things they do and say, think before speaking and try to pre-empt any arguments. Having an independent third party can help couples discuss their relationship difficulties, and there are many such organisations offering professional, trained counsellors specifically for that purpose. Relate, for example, offer counselling services and they can help remotely (www.relate.org.uk).

However, if the relationship has broken down beyond repair the worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. If that’s where you find yourself, or just need some advice to see what help and options are available to you, Burnley based Real Legal are on hand to help. You’ll be able to get expert legal advice from your friendly local solicitors.

Find out what your options are by calling Real Legal on 0345 646 0501, or visit the website reallegal.co.uk

Will Writing and Children

Real Legal: “If You’ve Got Children, you may wish to make a Will”

A will is more than just about who gets your possessions when you’re gone. It can also indicate how you would like your children to be looked after.

Nearly half the UK population doesn’t have a will. If you’re one of them, and you thought you didn’t need one because the value of your possessions is not high enough to warrant it, think again.

The main reason to have a will written is so that you can be sure how your property and possessions will be distributed, but many people don’t realise that a will can also be used to indicate how you wish your children to be cared for after you have gone. So, if you’ve got kids and you haven’t already done so, the advice from the experts at Real Legal is to make sure your wishes are clear.

Claire Stewart, solicitor and director of Burnley’s Real Legal, said:

“A will is something that people put off doing, and all too often they’re written in haste or not done at all. This may cause stress and problems further down the line.”

“Even if you don’t have your own house or a huge amount of savings, if you’ve got children you may wish to make a will and think about testamentary guardians. This will also enable you to choose someone to deal with your affairs after you have gone.”

“People don’t like to think about these things but making a will can greatly benefit the people you care about.”

Real Legal are offering a professional will writing service at a very low price of £165 plus VAT. That’s much more economical than most competitor offerings and there is a further discount for essential workers.

Also, Real Legal is offering the chance to get your will written for free. All you have to do is visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/reallegal) and follow the instructions. The closing date for the competition is April 29.

For more information about Real Legal call 0345 646 0501 or visit the website reallegal.co.uk

Are You Struggling with Child Arrangements Because of Lockdown

Are You Struggling with Child Arrangements Because of Lockdown? Real Legal Might Be Able to Help

Times of crisis often brings out the best of human nature, but the added complications of coronavirus can cause disputes.

Arguments about the care of children are all too common and with the added complication of the coronavirus lockdown, separated parents may be struggling to keep the peace.

The precise nature of the restrictions put in place by the government has left many with questions yet to be answered. One such question relates to the responsibilities of parents for their children when the mother and father have separated and are living apart.

As it stands, the government has placed the country in a state of enforced social distancing, but that does not mean you can’t transfer your children from one parent to another. A healthy upbringing for a child requires continuity. If you are struggling to reach an agreement about child arrangements then you’re not alone, and there may be legal recourse available to help you.

Resolving disputes is about communication, it’s about compromise, and people should work together with a spirit of understanding and mutual respect. Sometimes it takes a third party to get involved because they can see things dispassionately. The coronavirus has already caused significant disruption to the children of this country, let’s try not to make the situation any worse.

Remember, although we’re in lockdown:

  • Separated parents can still work together to find solutions that work for all parties
  • Communication channels are open despite social distancing
  • You can still get advice remotely from the experts at Real Legal

If you’ve exhausted all other options, if communications have broken down and you don’t know where to turn, perhaps Real Legal can help.

Real Legal is still open for business and are prepared to advise you on the issues at hand, working remotely using telephone and video calls. Dial 0345 646 0501 for a confidential discussion of go online to reallegal.co.uk

landlords

Landlords: Revise your contractual agreements to avoid bad debt.

The government has announced significant changes to the law affecting the property rental market. Landlords are advised to create new contracts for both the domestic and the commercial sectors which will provide further security for their tenants and themselves.

With the government enforcing social distancing and self-isolation, the population of the UK finds itself in uncharted territories. The coronavirus epidemic is hitting every part of the economy and the property sector is no exception.

The Coronavirus Bill is a piece of emergency legislation affecting the property rental sector for both domestic and commercial properties. It has three main implications for the sector:

  • Offering a much longer notice period for the duration of the crisis
  • Landlords are to make greater efforts to avoid formal action against tenants who can’t pay their rent
  • Banks and other lenders will offer mortgage repayment holidays of up to three months for private landlords, this is on the understanding that landlords will pass on a similar rent holiday to their tenants

This emergency legislation must come as a relief to tenants. However, it is only a short-term fix and after the current emergency is over it could leave many with large debts in the form of rent arrears.

What can landlords do to protect themselves and their tenants?

The advice from the experts at Real Legal is that landlords should revise their contractual agreements with tenants to reflect these extraordinary times.

By drafting a new contract, landlords and tenants can find an agreement which suits both parties. Tenants will be protected from negative consequences in accordance with the government’s latest advice, and landlords will have the certainty that their arrears will not go unpaid. A new contract can set out an agreed way forward which gives tenants an affordable way to catch up on arrears.

From just £99 Real Legal offer a contract writing service which will create a legally binding document that works for all parties and the beauty of it is that they can do it remotely. If you’re self-isolating, or social distancing, you can communicate with Real Legal via video call, or telephone, or whichever method suits you the most.

For more information about Real Legal including how to get in touch for an initial conversation you can find all the contact details on the Real Legal website reallegal.co.uk

hand signing a document

Over 50% of Britons Haven’t Prepared a Will

The coronavirus is the latest public health scare to hit the UK and the Chief Medical Officer has warned that the country is heading “full tilt” towards an epidemic. But astonishingly very few people in the UK are fully prepared.

If you’re one of them why not contact Real Legal? To find out how we can help call 0345 646 0501, visit our website reallegal.co.uk, or come in to our office on Grimshaw Street, Burnley.

The total number of cases of the coronavirus in the UK has today risen to a total of 203 with 3 recorded fatalities on UK shores, and these figures are expected to double within 7 days. According to current thinking from the NHS and the WHO, 80% of people can expect only mild symptoms and just 5% are likely to become critically ill. But worryingly those most likely to be affected are the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

But these figures are unreliable because thousands of people are still being treated who may go on to experience more serious symptoms and Public Health England has warned it will stop testing patients if the number of cases continues to increase at the same rate.

The lack of concrete facts is perhaps the most worrying thing. One way that people can counter the uncertainty is by being prepared for every eventuality. You can get stocked up in case you have to self-isolate, and you can get your affairs in order and make a will.

No one knows what the future will hold. Perhaps the coronavirus will pass over and very few people will be affected. Buy why take a chance? Real Legal can help you tie up all the loose ends in case the worst happens by helping to ensure you are covered with a will. We can help you plan for the future, making sure your loved ones are looked after and prevent any stress further down the line.

Those who die without making a will are called “Intestate” and then a series of complicated rules come into effect in order decide who will inherit your estate. If you are unmarried then your estate will be divided among your surviving relatives, and they can’t be found any funds will be transferred to the state.

In the meantime, you can protect yourself and those around you by washing your hands frequently, especially with hand sanitiser; avoiding unnecessary contact with others by keeping at least a metre of personal space around you; avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes; and covering your face if you need to cough or sneeze.

For more information about preparing a will please call Real Legal on 0345 646 0501, or visit the website reallegal.co.uk

Real Legal

Office 5
Empire Business Centre
2 Empire Way
Burnley
BB12 6HH

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Real Legal Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales with number 12061875 and SRA number 663663.

Registered office: Suite 5 Empire Business Centre, 2 Empire Way, Burnley, BB12 6HH

Trading office: Suite 5 Empire Business Centre, 2 Empire Way, Burnley, BB12 6HH

Directors: Claire Stewart, Catherine Gavin and Kimberly Holgate.

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