Posts Tagged ‘property’

The Positives of Bankruptcy

The Positives of Bankruptcy

The word bankruptcy tends to fill most people with feelings of dread. It’s hard to deny the fact that the word has typically negative connotations, It is usually associated with financial chaos and the diminishing reputations of those associated with it.

While people tend to only focus on the negative aspects of bankruptcy, there are a number of positives that can come as a result of considering it as an option.

There has been a steady rise in personal insolvency rates over the last couple of years, indicating that more people are considering this as an option.

If you are wondering whether bankruptcy is a viable option for you, read on to find out about some of the positives associated with it.

Bankruptcy triggers automatic stay

An automatic stay is an injunction that is issued as soon as you file for bankruptcy. Once this is issued, it stops all lawsuit and collections against the debtor. Therefore, when you file for bankruptcy, you will no longer be at risk of having property and other possessions repossessed. You will also stop receiving calls and letters that threaten to sue you.

It gives you a chance for a fresh start sooner

As soon as you file for bankruptcy you can start taking steps to getting your finances back under control and improving your credit score. Without the ability to put a stop to the chaos that is credit gone awry.  Some people would never get their finances under control again, but bankruptcy can enable that to happen.

You’ll start to improve your rating

Although, a bankruptcy filing can remain on your record for up to 10 years, it will eliminate many debts. Individuals will begin improving their credit rating after filing for bankruptcy.

It gives you a chance to reflect

While it doesn’t sound like the most glamorous situation to be in. Filing for bankruptcy is a good opportunity assess and review your financial history. Law that stipulates that anyone who files for bankruptcy is required to receive some form of credit education. Therefore, you’ll have to chance to find out how you can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

To understand how bankruptcy can be a positive way out, and help you get back on your feet, contact our team today on 0330 159 5820.

What’s the best course of action when you are facing negative equity?

If you are dealing with negative equity, it’s likely that you are worried about what the future will hold for you in terms of finance.

Negative equity is when a property is worth less than the mortgage secured on it, and it’s normally caused by falling property prices. If you are currently faced with negative equity and are wondering what the best course of action to take is, read on for our advice.

How to find out whether you are in negative equity

You might not immediately know you are in negative equity, so the best way to find other whether you are is to ring your lender to find out how much money you still owe on your property. If the value of the property is below what you owe, then you are in negative equity.

Problems attached to negative equity

Unfortunately, being in negative equity can cause several different problems for yourself and your family. Firstly, negative equity is an immediate problem if you want to sell your home. Without savings to fall back on you won’t be able to pay the difference between the value of your home and the mortgage, which is going to make it very difficult for you to move.

Re-mortgaging may also be a problem. If you are hoping to achieve a fixed rate or a cheaper deal, it’s likely that most lenders will be wary of you and your finances and will not let you switch to a new mortgage deal as a result of this.

If you are unable to make the payments, you are also at risk of having your home repossessed.

How to manage negative equity

There are several steps that you can take to manage your negative equity. Firstly, you could consider overpaying your mortgage. Check whether your existing mortgage will let you make overpayments and, if so, how much you can overpay without incurring an early repayment charge.

Another option is to rent out a home that is in negative equity. In doing so you would keep the existing mortgage, but it’s likely that you would pay a higher interest rate.

Talk to us

If you are facing negative equity, there’s no need to feel as though you are going it alone. 

Call 0330 159 5820

Will property costs in the UK continue to rise?

Property costs in the UK

For many of us, property prices are simply too high. A sizeable majority of us are priced out of living in our capital where, along with higher living costs, you’ll find the average house price to be a whopping £481,556. Perhaps soaring prices are to be expected in Britain’s capital, but even outside of London you’re likely to encounter high prices; the average cost of a house in Britain is an eye-watering £211,000. This represents a massive increase in average costs at the beginning of the new millennium, with the average spend on a UK home being less than half of the current amount at only £75,000 in 2000.

The problem for many prospective first-time-buyers is not only that house prices are too high as they are either; it’s the fact that they’re going to continue rising for the foreseeable future. Property costs in the UK are set to soar by 30% over the course of the next five years, pricing out millions more buyers in the process. The reasons for this are varied. Many argue that a lack of houses being built are to blame for the subsequent rise in prices across the UK, whilst others contest that stagnating wages haven’t kept up with the rising cost of living in Britain, making it impossible for homeowners to save enough.

Having said all of this, however, it is still possible for you to finance your property. Even in face of the fact that house prices may continue to rise for the next 50 years, obtaining the right financial package with sensible repayment options means that you’ll still be able to afford the house of your dreams.

Packages such as Help To Buy ISAs are a fantastic option for first-time buyers.

These work by having the Government top-up everything you save by 25%, so if you save £200 the Government will give you an additional £50. You can receive a total of £3000 from a Help To Buy ISA, which will give you a deposit total of £15,000 towards your first property.

Many young first-time buyers have used this scheme in order to pay for their first home and it’s a great choice if you’re looking to do the same. Even if you don’t choose this option, a critical rule to bear in mind is to be shrewd and shop around when choosing your mortgage. Always add together the final repayments you’ll be paying before entering agreements with banks, and don’t be enticed by initially attractive options such as interest-only loans which may not require paying back immediately. These can work out more expensive in the long run and will have to be paid back eventually.

However, if you have already found yourself in difficult circumstances due to issues such as property debt, or owe a large amount which is putting your assets at risk, it is worth taking a no obligation, impartial, free consultation here at Bell & Company. Call us today – 02895217373

Despite difficult lender, a 10% settlement can be achieved

A settlement of 10% can still be achieved, even when faced with a difficult lender

A couple with a large shortfall of over £120,000 with a notoriously difficult lender approached us for help. While we had overseen the sale of the property and had been attempting to negotiate with the lender for quite some time, the couple began to consider the option of personal insolvency. Personal Bankruptcy has so many negative connotations associated with it. Bell & Company feel, however, since 2008 the stigma associated with the process has gradually lessened.

Bankruptcy can have benefits and it is an excellent tool when armed with the best advice. Sometimes, if a person is saddled with excessive, unaffordable unsecured debt then Personal Bankruptcy can be the best route forward. Our team was able to utilize innovative new strategies and within a few months, the lender settled at 10%. A massive achievement, as this lender, in particular, is not usually open to negotiations!

If you find yourself facing issues such as insolvency, contact the team here or call 02895 217 373 to discuss your circumstances and take the first steps towards your fresh start in life.

Brexit to potentially delay Bank Loan Sales

In recent times, we have been approached by various individuals, businesses and professionals, all of whom have received letters from their primary lender essentially providing them with them with three options as follows:

(a) Pay now in full

(b) Re-finance and pay in full

(c) Failing the above, we will sell to a third party fund

Needless to say, this has caused grave concern for many, particularly as the time frames implemented, along with the options provided, are neither reasonable nor feasible. Recent discussions that we have been party to however have revealed that, as a direct result of Brexit and, indeed, the lingering sense of unknown and uncertainty as to how things will look/operate going forward, there has been complete failure in terms of attracting third party interest for loan purchase.

Previous loan sales have attracted the attention of monumental vulture funds such as Cerberus, Cabot, Loan Star etc. however it would appear that the appetite is non-existent this time round…for now anyway. This means that certain loan sales have been delayed for now which is neither what the Banks wanted, nor what they had planned for. Further communications with the relevant Bank’s have further demonstrated that the Banks are, once again, open to proposals of settlement where addressed forthwith. This welcomes a final opportunity and shot for those, previously threatened with loans sales, to engage with their subject Bank forthwith and to look to put matters to bed once and for all, seeking final settlement and resolution and thus avoiding further delay.


The experience to date with certain loan sales for many Borrowers has been a heightened sense of delay and thus frustration in dealing with matters. We would strongly encourage and, indeed, emphasis to anyone in this position, importance of seeking to deal with matters now rather than putting them on the long finger in which event, the same issues/debts could continue to surround and pressurise months, years even, down the line yet with continued, accruing interest and charges. Why wait – Engage now with a view to finding peace, freedom from the burden of pressuring debt and, indeed, a new beginning!


Call us now in order to discuss your options going forward and to start on the path to resolution

Bankruptcy- What can happen?

Bankruptcy, the “B” word, is feared by many and has negative connotations associated with it. Sadly, we see many Creditors petitions in Court for borrowers being made Bankrupt by their Lender. Perhaps the stigma surrounding Bankruptcy has been reduced since 2008 due to the increase in numbers filing for Bankruptcy but it is still something that many fear and want to avoid at all costs however It can prove to be a useful tool for borrowers whose debts are so significant that there is no route to negotiate with lenders.

Aggressive Creditor’s Petition? What’s the worst that can happen?

You can be made Bankrupt by your lender. It is a lengthy process for the Creditor and does involve cost but nonetheless many will pursue this route to non- responsive debtors. Throughout the process a Creditor must take action to declare the debtor Bankrupt, the debtor will be given every chance to respond. Amicably liaising with a lender can vastly reduce the chance of you being made Bankrupt and also bring about a positive outcome for all parties involved should this be the best option for you.

Should a Creditors Petition be followed through you could find yourself in increased financial difficulty. You may be called for a meeting in the Official Receivers to discuss your finances and they may decide to implement an Attachment of Earnings Order. If this is put in place funds could be taken directly from your monthly salary and distributed to the relevant Creditors. Furthermore, if made Bankrupt your assets could be in significant danger for example, if you have equity in home this asset is in severe risk. Other matters to consider include vehicles, pensions, life insurance policies etc.

Is there such thing as a ‘best case scenario’ in Bankruptcy?

Providing the Client’s circumstances align, Personal Bankruptcy can “clear the decks” allowing the individual the opportunity to start again. We regularly assist individuals going through Personal Bankruptcy and help to alleviate the pressures involved.

Dependant on your personal situation Bankruptcy may not have a serious effect on your day to day life for example, if your home is in negative equity there may be a a high possibility that you can retain this in Bankruptcy once mortgage payments are maintained. Furthermore, an income payment order may not be applicable if there is an undisputed deficit each month. There is also a possibility that you will retain your vehicle, life insurance and pension.

Regardless of best or worst case scenario, Bell & Company can assist in providing the appropriate advice tailored to the debtor’s personal circumstances with a view to establishing your best case scenario.

Contact the team here or call 02895 217 373 to discuss your circumstances and take the first steps towards your fresh start in life.


Will seeking to reach a settlement with my lender impact on my credit rating?

Far too many people underestimate the importance of their Credit Rating. It is a key tool in life and maintaining your credit score can bring about significant benefits to you in sourcing any form of credit from an Energy Account, Mobile Phone, Credit Card and all the way to Mortgages. A strong credit score will allow you to access higher levels of credit at much better rates.

Bell & Company will advise of the full ramifications of the process you take will have on your credit file. That is why our advisors typically ask for your credit file when we meet for our free initial consultation, it is key we hav all of the information so the team can paint the full picture for you.

Some advice we hear clients given regarding their credit rating is appalling. Many advise to simply stop payments – this can damage your credit rating massively and should you default will cause you 5-6 years of difficulty. Make sure you get the correct advice by calling Bell & company and attending a free initial consultation.

In answering the title, it depends! Through the negative equity resolution process your credit score can be maintained depending on your circumstances and the lender processes involved. Some lenders however will require missed payments and this can cause damage to your credit file. Once again, if you provide us with the full information from the outsets we can offer advices as to the impact on your credit score.

To discuss your case with us please call 02895 217373 to arrange your free initial consultation at a time and place to suit you. We look forward to assisting you.

Could I lose my home?

Could I lose my home?

One thing we understand entirely is that home is sacrosanct to most people thus it is imperative that the situation at home is investigated first and foremost. In many instances, a Borrower/Guarantor’s home will be mortgaged with another lending institution and, as a result of the property crash, there will very rarely be equity in the home thus there is nothing there for lending institutions to pursue/Official Receiver to vest an interest in.

However, each case is different. A lot centers around mortgage balance, current market value and whether there is any equity within the property. A lending institution only can initiate repossession proceedings. if your home has been directly offered as security.

Personal Guarantee

If you have signed a Personal Guarantee, your personal assets are exposed. Any Creditor can seek to realise the equity in any assets relating to you by seeking Judgment and enforcing same thereafter or, alternatively, petitioning for Bankruptcy, even if they have no security.

If there is equity in your home, this will have to be considered in any settlement proposal to ensure that the same is protected. This will often avoid aggressive action than by a Creditor. However, rights are always reserved.

If you or anyone you know could benefit from our services, please call us today on 0330 159 5820.

 We look forward to working with you.


Bell & Company have previously written posts on the potential property bubble developing in London and the South East of England. In the last week there have been murmurs in the financial press that the bubble could indeed be bursting. London, once deemed one of the most secure property investments, is now looking shaky.

A combination of ultra-low interest rates, investors taking advantage of tax breaks to purchase Buy to Lets and foreign investors encouraged by the stable political environment saw prices reach dizzying heights in the Capital.

Just this week however Halifax revealed prices in London fell by 0.8% which is incredibly unusual, nonetheless this fall links with the additional tax on second homes adding 3% on the purchase price.

Nonetheless other signs (across the entire UK) show signs the market has peaked and may decline. Notable sellers are accepting offers on properties 10% below the asking price with the average UK discount in April being c£25,000 up from £21,560 in January this year.

Henry Pryor, a leading housing analyst, has worked through three property recessions  and sights that the current market conditions has a frighteningly familiar feel to it. Mr Pryror adds the following:

With some indicators sighting a fall could occur see the potential example below.

As mentioned above house prices in London and the South East have been continually rising due to constant demand in the area. With this demand starting to wane we could being to see property prices fall and the start of prevalent negative equity for the younger generation of homeowners.

Should you or anyone you know be effected by Negative Equity please contact Bell & Company today on 02895 217373 to arrange your free initial consultation. Our team achieve regular settlements with a variety of lenders and understand how your lender operates. We look forward to meeting you.


Personal Guarantees

During the boom Personal Guarantees were given by numerous individuals to facilitate borrowing by corporate entities and dependent relatives. Now many of those guarantors are in difficulty and their Personal Guarantees are outstanding and have been called on.

Do you have clients facing exposure by way of any Personal Guarantee?

There are always options available to the individual and the key is in obtaining professional advice that is tailored to the specific needs of each and every client. Strategy is one element but implementation is another vital component and Bell and Company have the team and resources to make both happen.

The distinction between a pre-insolvency consultant such as ourselves, and an Insolvency Practitioner, is that an Insolvency Practitioner has a legal obligation to work to obtain the best outcome for creditors.  Our obligation as pre-insolvency consultant’s is to the director or individual. Therefore, the objectives are distinctly different and this is where the value of pre- insolvency becomes clear.

Bell & Company are based in Belfast with offices in London and Spain. Should any of your clients wish to avail of a FREE initial consultation at this challenging time, please contact Karen immediately on +44 (0)2895 27 373 or visit our website

Settlement examples

A client approached us with issues in respect of a Personal Guarantee of £500,000 on his ex-wives’ borrowings. After a Fixed Charge Receiver was appointed a deficit of £528,000 accrued, thus triggering a call on the Personal Guarantee for our client. Through thorough representation and presentation to the Bank, a settlement of the £500,000 guarantee was made for £35,000 in Full and Final settlement.  *

Our client owed in total €2,350 with security value of €1,000,000. A personal Guarantee of €1,500,000 was called for the impending shortfall of €1,350,000. We assisted the client with a buy-back of some of the security and settled with the Bank on the Personal Guarantee at €80,000 over time. *

A personal Guarantee was quickly settled as our client wanted to move to Australia. An £85,000 Personal Guarantee was settled for £5,500.  Speed was of the essence here and an excellent settlement for our clients was reached. *

*  Documentary evidence available at meetings.


Currently Bell & Company assist borrowers across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland with Negative Equity issues. But we like to keep our ear to the ground with movements worldwide and you may have recently read our blog post highlighting the London Property Market and concerns over a bubble developing.

Recently, we have been researching the United States of America and the property market, in certain areas, appears to be in a dire state. RealtyTrac’s end of year Property report for 2015 identified that 6.4 million are “underwater” the term used to represent Negative Equity.

Darren Blomquist, Vice President at RealtyTrac, states “we continue to deal with a long tail of seriously underwater properties – it will be a long time before they return to positive equity.”

As with the property decline in Northern Ireland certain areas in the US have seen more decline than others. The figures below show the percentage of properties underwater in the respective areas:

RealtyTrac also identify further interesting statistics:

With the US Federal Reserve recently taking the plunge and increasing interest rates many borrowers in Negative Equity will feel the pinch even more. With this in mind we’d expect mortgage arrears to rise and home repossessions too. It will be interesting to see how US lenders react to mortgage shortfall debt.

As always if you or anyone you know is suffering from a debt burden which is becoming unbearable please contact Bell & Company today on +44 (0) 2895 217 373 to arrange a free initial consultation. We are achieving excellent settlements in both Northern Ireland and Republic Of Ireland in both our Corporate and Resolution Departments. Our Insolvency department continues to deliver the best independent Bankruptcy Advice also and thus we are proud to assist a variety of clients. We look forward to hearing from you.


We have all seen the headlines in the past summarising Ireland’s economic demise, headlines read “Fall of the Celtic Tiger” and “Europe’s Austerity Experiment”. However, despite times of hardship Ireland’s economy is turning a corner and over 2014 and 2015 we saw positive economic growth and also the return of increasing house prices.

In 2014 we saw double digit property price increases but in 2015 this reduced to 6.54% and in Dublin price rises slowed significantly to 3.35%.  This slowdown is likely to have been caused by changes made by the Central Bank in controlling lending. Their efforts are attempting to minimise the reckless lending practices seen pre-crisis. Changes include:

Some experts have expressed concerns of another property bubble in Dublin. There is a significant shortage of properties in the capital. This is likely due to higher VAT on new properties and the simple fact that building properties is more expensive than the sales price a developer would receive. It will be worth keeping an eye on developments in Dublin but cooling prices will ease concerns slightly.

Ireland’s housing boom. Source: OECD

The outlook for Irish property prices is positive we will continue to see small increases over the next year. However, given the magnitude of decline previous many home owners will still be blighted by Negative Equity.

With the impending changes to the Irish Bankruptcy bill we expect the see many borrowers in arrears with unsustainable mortgage products and suffering negative equity utilise the new Bankruptcy protocol. It is a less harsh system and is a realistic option and will allow Banks defaulted loan books to move forward.

Finally, we are happy to report that Bell & Company’s Resolution team achieved a fantastic result with a core Irish lender last week. A couple had a significant shortfall of over c€100,000 on a buy-to-let property in Co. Cavan and this was settled on a Full & Final basis for €8,500.

If you have a property in Negative Equity in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or mainland UK then please call us today on +44 (0)2895 217373 to arrange your free initial consultation. Our advisers are happy to host you here at Rosemary Street in Belfast City Centre or can travel given suitable notice. We look forward to hearing from you.

Terry Bell

TEAM BLOG – Introducing Claire McCarragher

Name:  Claire McCarragher

Position: Corporate Accounts Manager

Time with Bell & Company: 2 Years & 11 months (3 years in January)

What does your day to day role entail? 

Once an individual has become a Client of Bell & Company I take carriage of their case and become the first point of contact.

I liaise with Creditors, Solicitors, Accountants etc. on behalf of the Client.

We assist and guide our Clients in the following fields:

  1. Corporate Debt: Company and other Business Debts
  2. Property related Debt
  3. Personal Guarantees
  4. Personal Insolvency

I work extensively on cases across the insolvency range with particular reference to complex financial issues including personal credit matters.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy developing working relationships with my Clients.

I like the fact that you are continuously learning and broadening your knowledge in this position.

I also like the fact that every case is different, there is never two cases that are the same.

I also love the fact that we are helping people have a fresh start in life.

People who are in financial difficulty are not just affected by how much they owe  – this can consume their entire life and we help them realise that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that there is nearly always an option.

Some of our clients don’t realise that this is not just a job for us – we live this experience with them, through the ups and downs in the process and we have the same end goal – to get them out the other side and let them and their family move on with their lives.

I have never dreaded coming in to work – I love what I do and will continue assisting clients who are in financial difficulty as long as my services are required.

What are main issues you are seeing for clients in your position?

We have a significant number of Clients associated with Cerberus/Capita further to the loan sales, in both the North & South, and are actively and aggressively engaging on their behalf with the appropriate parties.

The main issue that we are experiencing is that there appears to be a significant misconception of true current market value of properties held by Cerberus/Capita by way of security.

There have been many instances in which our Clients have actively worked to successfully attract the interest of ready, willing & able third party purchasers with a view maximising the yield to Cerberus with regards sales of security.

Very often, the offers are in fact above and beyond the value assigned to the assets by professional and reputable Chartered Surveyors & Agents with a profound knowledge of properties in the subject areas.

This is undoubtedly because of our Clients’ determination to drive sales & minimise their exposure.

The reality is that portfolio sales here will not allow for full debt repayment due to the fact that, as a direct result of the economic crash, properties are very obviously worth only a fraction of what they were.

The stubborn approach adopted by Cerberus in terms of accepting nothing other than full re-payment is entirely unrealistic and will not be achieved.

If Cerberus want to achieve any sense of progress and resolution here, they are going to have to take a more pragmatic and commercial view.

Spare time activities?

I enjoy drama and was appointed as Chairperson of our drama school for 2 years running.

I also enjoy music and have played guitar for 5 years and the drums for 12 years (a great way to release).

I also have two young nephews who I adore and love spending time with.

Contact Details:

[email protected]




Should you or anyone you know be under stress caused by property repossession or any debt scenario then please contact us today on 02890 517047 and we can arrange a free initial consultation


Check out our ‘Real Issues in today’s Financial World Seminar’ review published in this months  Tatler July where Bell & Company representatives spoke on their successes in obtaining Commercial Finance. If you have any queries in relation to commercial finance contact us today!  Make sure to keep an eye out for details on our next seminar which will be available soon!!