Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Cambridgeshire

Mystery Shopper: Cambridgeshire

The shopper has inherited the family home from his deceased father and needs to know his options

The shopper is in Cambridgeshire, calling about a family home left to him in a will. Ownership of the home is split 50/50 with his brother, who wants the shopper to buy him out. The self-employed shopper is considering whether to keep the property as a buy-to-let (BTL). The shopper is also considering buying a property in Kent.

Adviser: Cambridge Independent Financial Planning (independent)

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Address: Jaden House, Babingley Place, West Winch, PE33 0TH

Speed of response (time of call): 11.05am. Two rings and adviser picked up. 5/5

Telephone manner: Very friendly and professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: CeMap/MAQ. 5/5

Payment method: To cover costs as well as any fee from lender, mortgage fees are charged in bands (ie up to £50,000, £750). Another fee-only option is 1 per cent of loan amount, subject to a minimum fee of £750. 4/5

Guidance given: The adviser provided comprehensive information on inheritance tax. He outlined how buying the Kent property, before having the inherited home transferred to his name, would be beneficial in terms of stamp duty liabilities. He explained clearly the barriers to obtaining a buy-to-let mortgage, and how to overcome them. 5/5

Knowledge: The adviser was extremely knowledgeable on different strands of taxation, along with mortgages for self-employed first-time buyers. 5/5

Email/web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Shopper’s choice. The adviser gave comprehensive guidance to help make a highly informed decision. Full information on the various pros and cons was provided.    

Total score: 34/35


Adviser: Matrix Financial (independent)

Address: Tofino House, 32 Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8DT

Speed of response (time of call): 12.07pm. Transferred to an adviser after two rings. 5/5

Telephone manner: Professional. 4/5

Relevant qualifications: CeMap/DipFA 5/5

Payment method: A £450 fee for mortgage advice. 5/5

Guidance given: The adviser warned it may be difficult to get a BTL mortgage without owning another property. Because the shopper was self-employed, the adviser highlighted the need to ensure his accounts showing earnings are up-to-date, and asked about the shopper’s credit score. 3/5

Knowledge: The adviser was knowledgeable on helping a self-employed person obtain a mortgage, but offered less information in terms of the various tax options or benefits. 3/5

Email/web presence: 5/5 

Verdict: The adviser gave helpful tips, but the shopper would have liked more comprehensive information on tax implications to weigh up his options.

Total score: 30/35   


Adviser: Absolute Sense Independent Financial Advisers (independent)

Address: Woolsack Barn Financial Planning Centre, Market Street, Ely, CB7 4LS

Speed of response (time of call): Two rings, receptionist answered, adviser unavailable, but called back at exact time requested. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly and professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: CeMap, chartered financial planner. 5/5.

Payment method: For mortgage advice, £495 fee. 5/5.

Guidance given: Shopper was told he would need to weigh up paying tax on income from regular rent on a BTL, with tax on irregular income from a holiday let. The shopper was also told he’d need to be aware of a restricted pool of lenders willing to lend to a first-time BTL landlord, more so if it was a holiday let. 4/5.