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Property market: reasons to be cautiously optimsitc

A Shropshire solicitor and property expert said that reports of a rise in house prices in January provided optimistic signs that 2013 could see an improvement in the housing market.

Chris Mills, of Mortimers solicitors, said that national figures showing a 0.5% hike heralded a confident start to the year with developments in Shropshire backing up the statistics on a more local level.

“Nationwide Building Society reported a house price rise by 0.5% in January, which came off the back of 2012 where some regions saw a fall in house prices and the average house price was around £162,000,” said Mr Mills.

“But I have certainly been aware of a gentle boost in the fortunes of the Shropshire property market.

“In particular, rural properties in the mid range bracket – those with price tags of between £250,000 and £500,000 – seem to be going well at the moment.

“Interestingly, I have noticed there has been quite a bit of activity in rural areas on the western fringes of the county.”

Mr Mills, who operates from the Shrewsbury office of Mortimers, said he thought that first-time buyers should find the start of their journey on the property ladder a little easier this year.

“I believe there are grounds for cautious optimism for first-time buyers,” he said.

“The mortgage lenders are showing signs of becoming a little more flexible but there is still perhaps a long way to go.

“Cash purchases – in other words those without a mortgage requirement – are remaining steady and with signs of grass roots recovery in the economy, I would like to think that in 2013 we can look to see some positive signs of growth in the housing market.”


Change in Legal Aid system for Family Law

About six weeks to go before the country’s Family Law landscape undergoes a sea change.

For those not aware, as of April 1st there will be an almost total withdrawal of publically funded money – or Legal Aid – for family-related cases, although exceptions might made with issues such as domestic violence.

Many in the legal profession have become increasingly anxious over what they see as a retrograde step which will deprive them of a traditional income stream.

We take a rather different view. We see it as a blessing in disguise, a step forward which is compelling Family Law practices to take a good look at themselves and the services they provide.

That’s what we’ve done at Mortimers and we’re satisfied we’ve come up with appropriate solutions . . . we like to think we’ve risen to the challenge!

Simply put, we are offering an initial fixed-fee consultation and advice session, followed by support packages which are tailored to parties’ individual needs, whether that is full representation or advice behind the scenes.

It’s fair to say that under the present system an enormous amount of time and money has been wasted on unnecessary procrastination. This should change and that’s a positive and clearly sensible step.

We will of course keep you posted on developments and give you more detailed information on what we’ll be offering come April 1st.

In the meantime it’s business as usual.


Free Family Law advice clinic on February 23rd

A Shropshire family law expert is extending a series of free advice clinics after a huge response from people seeking help with matrimonial and care issues.

Jackie Meredith, who is based at the Shrewsbury branch of Mortimers Solicitors, said she had been amazed by the response to the free sessions which are held on Saturday mornings.

“Sadly, the first couple of months after Christmas are usually a busier time for divorce lawyers because of the pressure the festive period can put on some families,” said Mrs Meredith.

“Sometimes people do not know where to turn and are often worried about the financial implications of a marriage break-up

“The free clinics can at least provide advice and give them an idea of what their next steps should be along the legal route.”

Mrs Meredith will be staging the next clinic on Saturday, February 23 when she is able to provide a 20-minute advice session to give people an opportunity to raise issues and concerns, and find out about costs and procedures.

“I will be able to advise them on any problems they might be facing with matrimonial issues, children, care proceedings, financial matters and domestic violence,” she said.

“These are often sensitive and upsetting areas for people to talk about so I am hoping to give some reassurance and sound advice.

“I have been surprised by the success of the clinics and delighted that they are of benefit to those who do not know how to proceed if they have problems.”

Mrs Meredith specialises in all aspects of family-related issues and is a member of several accredited panels across the family law spectrum.

Anyone interested in visiting the next advice clinic on February 23, which will operate between 9.30am and 12.30am, is asked to make an appointment and can contact Mrs Meredith on 01743 298629.


Professional advice can save marriages

As you were driving past the houses lining our streets and roads during the festive season, the twinkling lights and colourful decorations tend to paint a picture of all-round festive bonhomie.

Unfortunately, statistics reveal that what we see from the outside is often literally a façade and that life behind many of the closed doors is considerably less rosy than the lights in the garden or the cards on the window sill suggest.

If there is one time of the year when domestic or marital harmony is at its most vulnerable, it is the Christmas/New Year holiday.

Marriage break-ups and divorces are rife. This is usually due to the increased financial strain and general stress that Christmas brings.

What also doesn’t help is that people tend to bottle up their problems, usually for the benefit of others and not cast a negative light on matters at what is meant to be a time of fun and cheer. This, as we all know, can be extremely unhealthy and actually make matters worse.

Talk to people. Talk to friends and family.

And we have a further novel suggestion. You can do a lot worse than having a chat to a sympathetic solicitor in a bid to preserve a marriage.

Assuming the lawyer is experienced, sensitive and sensible they can often offer ideal advice because they see things impartially and objectively. Sometimes, situations at home aren’t nearly as bad as they seem.

Everyone sees Family Lawyers as the people to end a marriage. Really, their advice should be sought a lot more to mend a marriage.


Have a good Christmas - but remember the children!

Christmas. The time of giving and sharing and thinking of others.

While parents are indisputably at their most generous at Christmas - this is backed up by astonishing statistics which reveal how much is spent, even when the economy is in a dreadful state - an argument can be made that they are taking their eye off an incredibly important issue.

That is, how to really make sure that their children are having the best Christmas possible.

When parents have split up and live apart, far too often a strange tug-of-war with the children takes place. The morning of Christmas Day and lunch might be spent with one parent, before an afternoon journey to spend the evening with the other. The parents might think they are doing the right thing, but further thought is needed.

It is often far more sensible to have an arrangement whereby children alternate Christmas and Boxing Day with each parent. It is a fair way for children to spend time with both parents, and a relaxing Christmas is had by all.

Not only does this avoid pulling the children from pillar to post on what is meant to be a happy and relaxing day, but it also means that parents can allow themselves a festive drink or two when they would otherwise be holding back for fear of being over the alcohol limit.

This really is an important issue. The irony of Christmas is that it is a notoriously divisive time of year and it simply isn’t fair that the child suffers.

The Family Law team at Mortimers has come across too many sad episodes whereby children end up having an unnecessarily grim and unsettled Christmas.