John and Sue Chambers have been with the same bank for over 55 years but, when it came to continuing their mortgage arrangements as they got older, that loyalty counted for nothing because the bank had a strict policy of not lending to those over 70. Using the equity tied up in their home of 33 years has always been part of John and Sue’s overall financial and investment strategy, and therefore finding that their mortgage arrangement was about to come to an end meant shopping around for a remortgage. And that’s when they found that turning 70 meant this was not a straightforward exercise.
An internet search for ‘later life’ mortgages seemed to offer many solutions but the reality was somewhat different, as John explained: “I treat our mortgage as part of our overall financial planning and therefore remortgaging rather than paying off our home was key to our wider plans. I started to shop around and had a very frustrating time with lenders who claim to help older borrowers in retirement, but actually don’t make it easy at all.”
The retired engineer and businessman found himself having to complete reams of application forms in various stages even though he and his wife, a retired teacher, were well within the loan-to-value and ‘affordability’ criteria required.
“I don’t have a problem with providing detailed financial information online, but I imagine dealing with faceless organisations in this way could deter many.
“At one point I thought the next request would be for our blood groups and eye colour! The whole exercise was becoming so long-winded that I started looking at Equity Release schemes even though their ‘whole of life’ nature didn’t suit our requirements.”
However, one day John and Sue were taking one of their regular walks through Beverley and noticed our window displays.
He added: “As soon as we got home I visited the Beverley’s website, made an appointment and, within a week, had a remortgage offer in place. It was such a relief to be dealing face-to-face with Head of Lending Graham, who completed all the paperwork there and then, leaving just a few formal documents to provide, which we dropped off the following day.
“He also arranged all the conveyancing and valuation requirements. I just wished I’d thought about the Society before, as their local area knowledge and in-house decision-making would have avoided weeks of frustration.”
A busy retirement
With a career in senior engineering and general management across many industries in the UK and abroad, John took early retirement at the age of 50 but quickly became bored so, with others, started setting up various business ventures. Inevitably, he was soon back on 12-hour days and eventually retired permanently 10 years ago. Meanwhile, teacher Sue continued as Head of Sixth Form at a local school for a few more years.
Now fully retired, the couple are actively involved in the local community and sports clubs, holidaying regularly in Madeira and tending their large gardens.
“Sue’s the designer and weeder and I’m the builder and labourer,” said John, who has always enjoyed converting their houses and building new structures for the gardens (he’s almost doubled the living space in their current house).
“One of the most satisfying projects was converting our eldest daughter’s flat into a two-storey apartment. That was six months of pure DIY and project management indulgence!
She and her husband are now looking for something bigger and already talking to the Society about new mortgage arrangements,” John added.
“I’d recommend them to anyone, of any age. They make everything so quick, simple and relaxing.”
Providing the personal touch
It’s no secret that our people go out of their way to provide a truly personal service and build a relationship with our customers.
Head of Lending, Graham, said: “It was a real pleasure to support John and Sue with their remortgage and it’s amazing to hear such wonderful feedback. We would never turn anyone down purely because of their age, and my advice to anyone looking for a ‘later life’ mortgage – or indeed any type of arrangement that requires a little more time and effort – is to give us a call or pop in to see us and we’ll do our best to help.”