While many people don’t necessarily think of their mortgage as a business contract, in the case of raising a rent-to-buy mortgage, the main motivation is usually primarily based on receiving a greater return from an investment than the banks may be able to currently offer.
With interest rates remaining low, a rental income from a property bought with a buy-to-let mortgage can give a healthy monthly supplemental return.

Also an increasing number of people these days feel that they do not have enough potential pension investment to cover the years when they won’t be able to work anymore, so owning rental property can be seen as a pension pot for continuing income in those years, or an asset that will rise in value so that it can hopefully be sold off at a massive profit.

Finance Through Your Home

While getting a buy-to-let mortgage sounds like a great idea in theory but may not be that straightforward in reality when you apply for the loan.

Successfully applying for a mortgage is much more difficult now than it used to be, and a mortgage applicant who, for example, owns their own property outright mortgage-free may find that it’s harder than they first thought to get finance based on their existing home.

Mortgage providers may also want proof of a regular income, and may discriminate against self-employed people or those who own their own business. Even with a steady permanent job, if you’re an older applicant then mortgage providers may only offer a restricted repayment period, of say 5 or 10 years, leading to higher more punishing monthly repayments.

Avoid Wasting Time

Finding a provider that is sympathetic with your current situation can lead to several of your applications being refused, or mortgage offers that are undesirable because they give you less than you need, with more expensive repayments. And if you need to move quickly to secure that perfect rental property, problems with your mortgage application could cause you to lose that perfect nest-egg pension pot. And if you lose out repeatedly, you will be wasting precious money, energy and time.

An independent mortgage broker or adviser can assess your situation quickly and easily and approach only those banks or building societies that have a proven track record in giving loans to applicants such as yourself.

Learn more about the role of a mortgage adviser in the above video

Get That Loan

Russell Saunders, a mortgage adviser working in Hertfordshire and London for Fresh Mortgages, is an expert in helping people from all walks of life and all ages to secure a loan against their existing property so that they can invest in another property, whether for rental income or as a holiday home. Even if you still have a mortgage to repay on your home, Fresh Mortgages can find providers who will help you re-mortgage your property and raise a lump sum using your property as equity.


Hertfordshire-based Mortgage Adviser Fresh Mortgages






“I’ve received a lot of requests in recent years from people who want to raise some extra cash from the value in their home,” says Russell. “It’s a very popular way to afford that place in the sun, which can generate rental income, or to buy a property solely to rent out, giving them enough income to cover the resulting mortgage repayments.”

Mortgage Eligibility

So how can Russell help someone to get a buy-to-let mortgage? “If you haven’t applied for a mortgage in years, or are self-employed, and unsure of your current eligibility,” he replies, “I’d recommend that to save time and effort, go to a mortgage broker for advice first.”

So Russell, is it all about who you, as a mortgage adviser, know?

“I have many years’ experience in working with mortgage providers and matching the right one with the right applicant,” he replies. “For example, if a couple, an individual or a family have been repeatedly turned down for any mortgage in the past, I know of mortgage providers that may not be well-known or on the high street but that will be open to assessing the applicant’s situation, and who are likely to come up with an offer where others have said no.”

So his message is clear. Buy-to-let mortgages can be a great way to raise an income and to strengthen your financial future, and to find the best deals for your unique situation, go to a mortgage broker or adviser first.

Sometimes it takes just one small change to transform a room, office or car and professional window tinting company Tintmaster can transform the colour, durability and solar UV-light protection quality of glass in a window, door or roof just by applying a film.

The simplest ideas can often be the most powerful, and what better way to enhance the glass in your vehicle, home or commercial premises to improve its ability to withstand shattering, increase the privacy aspect of the glass around you, and help shield the sun’s glare.


Tintmaster: Example Window Tinting in a Commercial Building


Transparent Changes

That’s exactly what St Albans-based Tintmaster do, with the application of a range of different coloured or opaque films to a window, they can give the glass a see-through coloured tint or change its normal transparent appearance to a more smoky or misty appearance that lets light through, but prevents those on the outside being able to see clearly what’s inside.

Applying this effect to car windows is a very popular choice for Tintmaster customers. “Even if your car doesn’t come with snazzy tinted windows when you buy it,” explains Tintmaster founder Martin Schlatter, “we can easily apply a film to the windows in a range of shades from a very slight grey, which gives the glass a light colour while remaining mostly see-through, to a dark black that more or less obscures sight of the car interior to anyone outside.”

As I talk to Martin, Tintmaster’s warehouse is buzzing with activity as film is cut to size and pressed on car windows, then smoothed and dried. The whole process is a quick and easy way to give you and your family privacy in your car on and off the road, without spending unnecessary time and money on replacing the windows. And apart from a slight tint, visibility is not affected from the inside of the car looking out, so you can still drive safely and see everything.

Adding Privacy

There’s also a lot of demand for shading and screening glass treatments in commercial buildings to provide, for example, meeting room or office privacy while still allowing the light through, or tinting windows in corporate colours, or cutting down on a low sun shining directly into workers’ eyes in an office with glass windows.

“I’ve been told that coloured glass might help cheer up office workers too!’ says Martin with a smile, “though mostly we apply coloured tints to conform with a company’s logo colours and shade, or to brighten up the look and feel of an otherwise slightly drab room or office space, which could look onto something undesirable, like a brick wall.”

Tintmaster can also help you with protecting a room’s contents from the fading effects of sunlight on furniture, carpets or curtains, by using a solar reflective film that can keep out up to 99% of transmitted UV light.

Mirroring Effect

“Solar film tends to be chosen for conservatory roofs or windows, or any south-facing residential room that catches the sun and deteriorates the colour and quality of the room’s contents,” says Martin. “It can also give one-way vision, by giving a mirror-like effect on the outside, and normal transparent vision on the other – like you see in the police interrogation rooms on TV!”

“Then there’s the safety film that adds an extra layer to strengthen glass, so that if the glass breaks, the film stops the pieces from shattering,” continues Martin. “That’s often used in schools to reduce the risk of injury if a window breaks, or in other public buildings to cut down the damage caused by accidents or vandalism.”

And so I wrap up the interview with Tintmaster, another lively, energetic and thriving small independent business, who’ve taken a simple idea and done great things with it.

Hello Again,

Gemma-PhotographyLast month I talked about my own wedding and how I watched the photographer in action. It was an interesting thing to do asyou can read here. But this month, I talk to another photoghrapher, Gemma Lovett-Hume of Gemma Lovett-Hume Potography in Oxford, who also positions herself at “the top end”. So, I talked to Alex about exactly how she does differentiate her service in a crowded market. This is a very interesting interview, read on…

I did a little bit of research first up, and found out that the difference in price for hiring a wedding photographer in Oxford (U.K.) is huge. Gemma’s prices (for her basic package) start at £1,695. Some of her competition are as low as £395.

How Do You Differentiate?

So, how to you differentiate?

“Firstly,” she smiles, “If someone is only prepared to pay £395 for a wedding photographer I am not interested in their business!”

Fair enough I guess.

“Seriously though,” she continues, “I offer a very high quality product and it is the discerning clientelle that I am targeting.”

“I am quite open about my pricing on my website and people can see that the locations I do wedding shoots at are the top end. The Caswell Houses and Blenheim Palaces of this world. If someone is having a reception at the local hall, they are clearly on a budget and my services are not for them. However, if they are hiring one of the banqueting rooms at Blenheim, or having a “destination” wedding then they can afford to hire a top quality photographer as well.”


I understand, but isn’t that somewhat discriminatory?

“Not at all,” she retorts, “I use the most advanced cameras and techniques, these cameras cost thousands of pounds. I produce the highest quality pictures on the best materials. The frames are high quality and the albums come all the way from New Zealand and are simply beautiful. That level of quality costs. I am paying £500 for an album so someone who has a wedding photography busget of £400 is not going to buy one. However, if someone has a £5,000 photography budget, then I fall within their range.”

O.K, that’s fine and I accept that distinction, but how else are you able to justify your prices?

Lost Wedding Pictures

“I’ll give you an example,” she says. “I had a client who wanted to book me but wanted me to cut prices to match with another local photographer, I refused. So, they booked the competition. They had another couple who booked the same photographer and come the big day, he turned up in jeans and on his own. He didn’t know the guests who should and shouldn’t be in the pictures and brought a faulty camera with him. Now this is an extreme example, but he missed or lost a lot of important pictures.”


“So, the couple came back to me, fortunately, I’d had a cancellation on their date so I could fit them in, they were lucky. But having seen what happened to their, by now very unhappy friends, they decided the price v quality equation had changed somewhat!”

Fair enough!

Preparation is the Key

“We agreed a budget and had an initial meeting. The other photographer had done NO prep at all with their friends. We agree styles they liked from my extensive portfolio. We looked at presentations in terms of frames and albums and agreed what they wanted. We then talked about the day, how it would all work and what I would do on the day so they were prepared. Then we discussed what shots they wanted for example which relatives / friends should be in pictures together and what styles and lighting they wanted.”

“Once everything was agreed, I documented it all and sent them contracts. So, from their perspective they were totally happy and comfortable with what was going to happen on the day regards their wedding photography.”

The Big Day

Alex_montage-photography“On the day itself, I take three cameras and all the necessary equipment. My assistant takes pictures from different angles with her two cameras. You’d be surprised how couples love seeing the same picture from two different angles, it makes an amazing contrast in their albums or on their presentation sticks! All the time we are saving the images to disc, on the camera and into the cloud. Three copies ensure we are NEVER tripped up by a lost image.”

I am beginning to “get the picture” – sorry pun totally intended!

“Then when the wedding breakfast and the first dance are done, we take all the images back to the studio, back them up (once more) to hard drive and then, and only then do we realx. Phew”, she puffs

“By this time we have been on the go for at least twelve hours. Bear in mind I have been with the bride since early morning and my assistant with the groom. Two highly skilled people for twelve hours each – £395?? I don’t think so.” she smiles as if she feels better at having got that all “off of her chest”.

But, Gemma is now in full flow…

The Acid Test

“Do you know what?” she says earnestly.

“No.” I retort.

“The acid test is seeing the bride and groom’s faces when they first see their pictures presneted in their album or frames or whatever. I just love it and in that instant I can see that they are relived and delighted to have hired the best. It is a wonderful thing to be able to give people memories like this. Would I ever compromise? Never!”

You can find Gemma’s wedding photography page here:-

Wedding Photographer Oxford

You can also find Gemma on Facebook here

Here’s an example of some of Gemma’s work. This is not wedding pictures, but just some great shots that show off her incredible talent! Enjoy.


A different kind of business model.

With almost every person now using the internet to get information and connect with other people, building a good reputation for a business in the online world is now becoming an essential element in a business’ success. One way to build your business reputation is by gaining positive business reviews online. Through online reviews, businesses can now control and establish its online reputation.

The emergence of online business reviewing sites has greatly affected how online businesses do their online marketing strategies today. Through online business reviews of consumers, businesses can now get insights from their existing customers on how to improve business and attract more potential customers for the business without spending a dime on marketing. This is why keeping control of online reviews for a business is now vital.

Because of online reviews, new forms of online marketing strategies have been formulated to help businesses keep control of their online reputations. So why are online business reviews very important for businesses?

To Understand Your Customers Better

Through the reviews of your customers, you can now identify if the products and services you offer are really good or if there is something wrong you are doing. If you understand what your customers like and don’t like in your business, you can now continue the good work and change the bad aspects therefore improving customer service. If there are negative comments, you can now immediately take actions to resolve the problem.

It Can Improve Search Engine Rankings

Because business reviews talk about your business, it can also help in improving your rankings in search engine result pages. The more reviews are given to your site, the more relevance the search engines will give to your business.

Provides Free Marketing for Your Business

Many positive reviews for your business posted online can provide amazing results to your business that a simple, conventional marketing campaign cannot achieve. Positive online reviews help build positive image for your business so more potential consumers will be interested and will be willing to do business with you.

Helps Establish Consumer Loyalty

When a consumer takes time to leave a review for a business, he or she actually creates a chance to build relationship with the business. Providing feedback and giving response to the feedback of the customers will make customers feel that you really value their voice which in return might lead to earning their loyalty. Interaction with your customers and letting them know that you listen to them helps build good relationship with customers and can really help the business gain more loyal customers.

Encourage More Reviews

Reviews can lead to more reviews. Once a review is given to your website, there is a great possibility that more consumers will now be interested in sharing their experiences with your business as well. They may give reply to one customer’s feedback or they may create their own reviews about your business. According to psychologists, this is now become a common behaviour among online users and they are still working on figuring this kind of behaviour.

Increase Sales

Of course, the ultimate reason why business reviews online are very essential for businesses nowadays is the higher chances of increasing sales through positive reviews. Reviews do not simply increase your site’s visibility in search engines but with a simple good review, it can give information to other potential consumers that your business is good and reliable therefore helping them make the decision to trust your business and make the purchase.

People are more likely to trust a business and make a purchase if other customers already purchased the product and recommend it to others. First-hand reviews and consumer recommendations are always the strongest form of marketing campaign so if you want to stay on top of the game and make your business a success, make sure that you have a business marketing plan focusing on controlling and managing your online reputation through online business reviews.