Happy Friday everyone… and it does feel like the one way ticket to ending lockdown is really on its way. It’s been a long time coming but finally there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

As we are now starting to get our vaccines and life is about to get back to normal, I though I would reflect on how the business has been for the last year.

Lockdown started on 23rd March and investors were super busy trying to get properties through and start buying new ones, we had a lot more at auction than usual too.  Perhaps having had Brexit for 3 years, followed by the election; COVID wasn’t going to stop you any longer. Usually, during a downturn, property and finance are hit hard; this hasn’t happened during COVID at all.

Apart from the initial valuation issues and lenders pausing lending for a short period, it bounced back very quickly. For those of us who remember previous economic problems, it has taken a lot longer for normality to resume historically so I think this took us a bit by surprise. The days of the last lockdown full of confusion of what we can do seem like a distant memory thank goodness.

What has inspired me through this is just how inspiring our clients are. It’s very easy to batten down the hatches when things get tough, but the courage and energy of our clients really has blown me away.

We have funded everything from the vanilla refinance, through small refurbishments and all the way to full on development – and everything in between. There were challenges with each deal, and it’s been our solid relationships with lenders which has enabled us to deliver on what our clients have needed. Each day brought new lender decisions and criteria so it really was a tricky time!

With all the issues from furloughed staff, lack of seeing and speaking to people, then coping with part time staff around home schooling (of which I helped with), it’s certainly been one of my most challenging years. There have been so many positives though, for example I have never had so many conversations with underwriters and lenders. Perhaps we all needed more than a quick chase up conversation.

As you will know from my previous blog, it has also given me the push I needed to start my own development. As busy as the year has been, I have spent more time listening to people and being mindful of just what we can still learn. Having something else to focus my time in has been really important, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it so far – although I’m sure the hard work is to come we haven’t started the development yet!

The lenders have also become so competitive. After the initial drop out of some, so together with the bullish attitude of others, we are able to now offer better deals than ever.  Also, by spending the time in lockdown conversations, we have really benefitted by having sensible discussions that can help with getting a deal across the line or working through getting a better LTV.

Overall, this year has really shown us just how amazing our industry is at bouncing back – both from a lending point of view and investors. We feel so privileged to be part of the industry who have been able to take advantage of this situation which has caused so many problems for so many. I really hope that this year will change the way we view situations too; we are all becoming more understanding of each other’s difficulties and challenges and I hope that we will continue.

There are always winners and losers in tough times.  I really believe that the tenacity of the investor community has shown just how resilient we are.  Onwards and upwards to June 21st and stay safe.

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