Funding your projects when your usual lenders can’t help

I think we’ve all now recovered from the excitement of the Euros and now summer has arrived!  I hope you’ve all had a good week.  This week I am talking about funding that’s a bit more outside the box.  As you know, we can look at all sorts of scenarios, and one of our lender’s has really upped their game recently so I wanted to run through what they can help with.

Buy to lets when you don’t have enough experience for standard lenders

We often see clients come to us with a great project, and external experiences which means we are confident it will work – this is usually where they have carried out works in their day job, so not for themselves.  This doesn’t count as experience for most lenders though.  This can cover HMOs (of any size), multi-unit blocks of flats or semi commercial buildings as well as single lets.

We can now help with mortgages up to 75% LTV for these scenarios, at a really reasonable interest rate.  The products are fixed for 2, 3 or 5 years, allowing you to gain the experience you need to move on to a lower interest rate and longer term product.  Its important to balance the lender’s risk and your experience with the rate – and also remember that you aren’t spending time or capital on projects you don’t really want to do before jumping into bigger ones!

Foreign Nationals and Ex-Pats

This is another area which is tricky to fund at the moment, so this lender allows you an easy way in to the UK market.  We can raise up to 65% LTV and the minimum loan size is £50,000 so it is available for smaller properties.  Again, the loans are for 2, 3 or 5 years and the rates are reasonable so with a good yield it is an accessible way in.  you don’t need any experience, or property in the UK at all, which is often a sticking point.  Most counties are covered under this product, and it can be in a personal name as well as limited company.

Slight credit issues

This is another potential barrier to lending at the moment.  Many lenders have become more stringent with their credit rules, meaning that even a slight blip can prevent loan approval.  Having a short term solution for first time buyers and investors is lacking in the market

This lender will allow a small amount of adverse credit, which means that a past issue which has now been resolved will be disregarded.  Some examples could be a satisfied CCJ under £5000 in the last 2 years, or one missed mortgage payment in the last 3 years.

This would cover all scenarios, so buy to lets, HMOs, multi-unit blocks and semi commercial up to 75% loan to value at the same 2, 3 or 5 year terms.  This allows you to build your experience while time is passing on your credit file to allow you to move to a more mainstream lender afterwards for a slightly lower rate and longer term.

As always, give us a call if you want to run through a particular scenario then give us a call.

Who’s afraid of a vacant commercial property…?

Hi everyone. And it’s Friday again and so close to lock down ending (fingers crossed).

If you’ve been reading our blogs over the past few months, you will know that I have got involved in a couple of properties for development.  I’d like to talk about the commercial one for this blog.

I’d known about this property for a while, as the buyers are clients of mine.  The property is a D2 usage large building in Salford.  D2 is leisure, as it was a crown bowling social club.  It was also run down and vacant.  As you can imagine this can cause challenges in getting funding.

The property had a 15 month option from February 2020 in order to get planning for residential.  You’d think that 15 months is enough time to get things sorted, which in normal times it would be.  The property stands on an acre of land, the building itself has a footprint of around 320 sq/m – so there are many options for an exit, it was the purchase that was proving challenging!

I got involved end of last year, just to find funding.  This proved rather difficult.  The commercial market has really taken a hit with lenders during COVID.  For a while it simply wasn’t available, then when it did return it was specific to certain professions and whether they had been trading during lockdown.  This fell into neither camp.

The week before exchange I put my hat in the ring to be a part of this.  Thankfully the investors were happy to do that; it spread their cashflow, which is important at the moment.  If you know and trust the investors you get in bed with, then it’s better to share a number of projects than be responsible for it all.

When a property has a lot of options, although it should be a positive it can prove a negative with lenders as it causes uncertainty.  We could go full on development of 36 or so apartments; a mixture of houses and apartments; renovate the house and split off the land; keep the property commercial and split off the land… and the list goes on.

We now had a deadline to exchange by May 10th, but due to planning having been changed (a housing association wanted to buy it with planning) so we still have no planning.  As most of you will have experienced, COVID has caused such bottle necks in so many areas and this is clearly one of those areas! The application went in for an AIP on 7th May and I looked at it as an auction buy.

I approached Shawbrook to see if they would consider it – at the time we wanted to convert the house into 7 flats under permitted development, but could not get it on PD due to D2 usage not allowing it.  We could also not apply to change the commercial usage as planning was already in.  It was all really frustrating.  We decided just to buy as is and landbank it until planning was through.  I can’t praise Shawbrook, particularly Mark Whitburn and Kieran Route enough, for really getting on with this knowing the completion date of 18th June.  They have agreed 60% ltv on Vacant Market Value, which was the purchase price (£500,000) – very reasonable indeed.

The property is a good buy. There is no way that a piece of land of this size in Salford can lose you money, but having to react quickly at the moment can be a challenge.  Sometimes you really need to go with your gut, as properties are in low supply and you can lose out.  Of course there are risks here, but aren’t there in all walks of life? You could argue that doing nothing is the biggest risk of all.

All is set for completion on 18th.  I know I bleat on about the power team – IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING – we couldn’t achieve this without our amazing solicitor (Phillip Adam) and the safe hands of Shawbrook and Laura Nicholl at Pure Law.  They are worth their weight in gold for the stress they alleviate.  Particularly when the completions side of things is really boiling over at the moment.

What have I learnt from this? 

The educational part of this is the change in lender appetite towards properties like this as we have progressed with it.  There has been a realisation from lenders that there are some properties that are worth funding; there is a still a massive shortage of residential properties and the Government is pushing for smaller builders to step up.  I would ask you to consider these when you are looking at your next investment.  If you don’t have enough experience, then bolt onto someone who does; spreading the risk/cash and progressing up the development ladder as well.

As always, we are happy to run through the figures and see what options are available to you.

What can you do if you don’t have planning?

I hope you’ve all had a lovely week enjoying our new freedoms, I know I have! It is tiring though!

This week I want to talk about what to do when a property doesn’t have the right planning for your plans. This covers a number of areas, and some are easier to overcome than others. There are a few solutions though.

Create a back up option 

This is probably the easiest solution to the issue. It works particularly well with conversions to large HMOs (when you’re not in an Article 4 area).  Large is classed as everything 7 bedrooms or more and requires a separate planning class.  Also semi commercial property that you want to convert to residential and can’t under permitted development. What it means is that you have an ideal scenario (if planning is approved), but also an alternative that could work without any change of planning class.

With the example of an HMO it could work as either a large HMO but also as a 6 bedroom. You will need to asses the refurbishment costs and the rental for both options and ensure that it works either way.  Some clients will do the works assuming they will get planning, and then use the extra space for a study or additional communal space if they don’t. Others convert it to a 6 bedroom and then wait for planning to be approved to do an additional extension or garage conversion for example. What you do will very much depend on the layout of the property and the timescales needed for either option.

With commercial property, this can mean keeping the existing commercial if you don’t get planning to convert it to residential. The rental again would need to work either way and you need to be comfortable with either option. Vacant commercial buildings can be difficult, so there needs to be a good demand for the commercial unit for the bridging to work, and then let out before we move it to a term mortgage.  We have had other examples of when this scenario works; converting semi detached properties back to a single dwelling, houses to flats and licensed HMOs in Article 4 areas looking to extend to larger properties.

A favourable pre-planning application 

There are instances where a back up option just doesn’t work. This could be where the costs or rental potential just don’t work financially for the back up option, or when there isn’t a back up option! This is usually for vacant commercial buildings but there are some other examples too.

In this instance, buying yourself some time to get planning is the ideal solution. This can be done through a conditional exchange or an agreement with the vendor. Where this isn’t possible, achieving a favourable pre application can really help. It really does depend on the overall case and it’s not necessarily a guarantee but it can be enough to complete on your bridging loan. Where a precedent has been set, or there’s been a previous application that has expired then it really does help.

Take advantage of  permitted development rights

There are plenty of areas where permitted development rights exist, and the rules have relaxed considerably recently.  Knowing what you can and can’t do is so important and can give you an edge over other investors.  We can complete without the full approval, as long as we know that is falls under PD rights.

Use alternative funds

The final option is to avoid mortgage finance entirely. This is not something that will work for everyone, but when you have the cash to purchase the property and are willing to take the risk, then this can help. Once planning is granted then we can look at refurbishment finance and can take advantage of the uplift in value that planning has created. There are clearly risks involved with this, so ensure that you have carried out your due diligence, and we are happy to talk about the potential exit routes before you purchase the property.

It’s really important not to get emotionally involved… you are in for a return in investment, keeping your eye on the prize can mean saying No!!

As always, we are happy to chat through any specific deals that you have and talk about your options.