Focus on HMOs: Do you need a hybrid valuation and why you want a specialist lender

So here we are at Friday again – for many of us the Friday we have been waiting for! We’ve also had a solid budget this week, with an extension to the stamp duty relief which is great news.  With all this, as well as a clear roadmap out of lockdown, it does seem like there is some vibrancy to the market this week.

I’d like to talk about HMOs this week.  It’s a hot topic at the moment and we have had many enquiries asking about how to value properties and what rates we can do.  These conversations don’t always go the way clients expect though, so I thought I’d explain it in a bit more detail.  As you know we are big believers in looking at the bigger picture and not chasing low rates so this should help explain why.

Do you need a Hybrid valuation or will a bricks and mortar work?

Before we go on to hybrid and bricks and mortar methods, I just want to mention commercial valuations.  The words ‘commercial valuation’ are used a lot in the property world, and not always correctly.  The lender decides on the type of valuation we use, so we can’t request what to have; and no, it doesn’t always mean a yield based valuation!  We would only be able to use a commercial valuation for HMOs where it is 7 bedrooms or more.  There will always be a ceiling price for a property in an area based on the location, size, condition and demand and that needs to be taken into account when looking at the yield calculation.  It’s really important that as investors you do the same to be as accurate as you can.

Hybrid valuations are also something which I don’t believe are explained very well a lot of the time!  It is something that some lenders allow, but it is up to the valuer to decide what that means and what the figure would be.  I have written a blog on it here, but what I wanted to talk about today is whether it is important to you and your property.

I am a big advocate of using a hybrid valuation, but there are only a few lenders who truly use it, and it is more expensive.  So do you need it? 

If you have spent a significant amount on your refurbishment, and the total cost (refurbishment and purchase price) is significantly higher than the bricks and mortar comparables then it is worth exploring, but if not then it may not be.  I have had examples recently in Suffolk and Kent where the bricks and mortar value is significantly higher than the hybrid calculation, but areas in and around Manchester, for example, have lent themselves to a hybrid model.  It allows you to pull out what you have spent on the property when that figure is more than the bricks an mortar.  We do sometimes see the elusive ‘no money left’ situation sometimes, but that is rare, especially at the moment.  When we have seen it is where the client has done really well negotiating on the purchase price and they have made the extra money before they have even started works – you can only get this back out on a refinance through.

So why would you want to use a specialist lender?

There are so many benefits to using a true specialist lender.  Their rates will be higher than the ‘specialist side of vanilla’ lenders, but as you know we are big believers of looking at the bigger picture:

  • They work with property investors regularly, so they understand that your income may be low due to carrying forward losses.  There is generally no minimum income requirements as long as the situation makes sense
  • The required documents that you need to provide are simple and straightforward.  There is no new list once the initial requirements have been satisfied!
  • We are able to speak to the underwriter directly, so if there are any issues then they are usually quickly resolved with a phone call.  We have a good relationship with our lenders so are able to pre-empt any potential issues a lot of the time and have a good idea of what will work and what won’t.
  • They are far more open to investor funds, which is a big deal at the moment.  I have mentioned previously that there is plenty of money within the property world, with private investors looking for better returns than they can in bank savings.  There are also plenty of bounce back loans within the property investor community, and both of these options aren’t acceptable to many less specialist lenders.  Even having a BBL in your account could present a problem, so if you want to take advantage of these funds then you need to know where to go.
  • You have far more choice of how to structure your limited company in terms of SIC codes, number of directors/shareholders and group structures.  Often less specialist lenders have restrictions around this that can cause issues with the way your company is set up.

As always, if there is anything you want to chat through then give us a call.  Enjoy your weekend – the evenings are lighter and things are definitely on the up!