Monday, February 9, 2009

Are Secured Loans the Answer?

Homeowners needing some spare cash are being attracted to secured loans as interest rates fall, despite the risks.

As personal loans and credit cards become harder to find with lenders being more selective, consumers are putting their properties up as security.

“There is no doubt that unsecured loan companies are tightening up their lending criteria, secured loans are becoming a very viable option as a result” says Tim Moss, head of loans and debt at comparison website

As with mortgages, failing to keep up with payments puts your property at risk of repossession.

Historically, secured loans were only available through brokers and were less popular as they were seen as a last resort for people with poor credit ratings. They also had higher rates.

However, secured loans with rates as low as 6.9 percent are now being offered direct to consumers by some companies.

“Loan brokers generally receive commission of between 2,500 pounds and 3,000 pounds per loan sold, so marketing secured loans directly to customers has allowed companies such as Fair & Square and Picture Loans to offer lower rates,” Moss says.

The terms have become easier to understand too. Neil Radley of secured loan provider Fair & Square says: “We recognise that people are often wary of secured lending, which is why we have been careful to make our loans as simple and ¬transparent as possible and to keep penalties to a minimum.”

Homeowners who face severe penalties to leave their low rate deals to remortgage are opting for secured loans, Moss says: “Home improvements are one of the most common reasons for people to take out a loan.

Radley says “Secured loans offer a means of getting some of the money out of your property without incurring penalty charges,”

If people also want to consolidate unsecured debts, a secured loan would be a good option, he claims.

“Our research shows a lot of people have unsecured loans and credit card debts they would like to consolidate at a lower rate to give them greater control,” he says. “Why pay 18 per cent or 20 per cent on a credit card when you could be paying just 6.9 per cent on a secured loan?”

Also saying “I believe secured loans will become more and more popular during the next year or so, that said, you must remember that loans of this kind
are secured against your home, so it is very important not to miss the repayments.”

Planning on taking out a secured loan for home improvements is Andy Symons, 33.

“We are having lots of work done and, as usual, the cost has spiralled above the initial quote,” says Symons.

“I also have some credit card debts I would like to consolidate at a lower rate, so I plan to take out a secured loan of about 30,000 pounds from Fair & Square to cover both.

“I am waiting to hear exactly how much more the work is going to cost before applying.”

This will be the first time Symons opted for a secured loan although he has had student loans and an overdraft in the past.

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