BTL first or straight in to HMOs?

This week we are looking at the pros and cons of both strategies; single let’s first or HMOs? It’s a question that comes up lots so here’s what I think!

 

Single let’s first 

 

The big advantage of this method is experience. Most lenders require you to have some rental experience before you go into HMOs or other more complicated properties such as commercial and blocks of flats. It also allows you to gain some rental experience and possibly some refurbishment experience too. You may want to do this first to feel more comfortable moving to bigger projects; to test the water and see if it’s something you enjoy doing. 

 

The main disadvantage is the money that you will end up leaving in the project in order to gain the experience. I have completed projects with clients that have enabled them to pull all their money out, but this is usually where they’ve added bedrooms within the existing floor plan or clever extensions. Usually you will end up leaving some money in, and that can then restrict how quickly you can move on to your next project. The other issue can be that you end up with a property that isn’t yielding as much as you would like and you didn’t really want a single let anyway! 

 

What about going straight to HMOs? 

 

The big pull towards HMOs are the rental yields. Of course this can apply to blocks of flats or serviced accommodation as well. This dilemma will apply to all of these properties to an extent as you need some experience for all of them.

 

What you need to decide is whether you want to pay an increase in the interest rate, to compensate for your lack of experience versus putting cash and cost into an asset which isn’t part of your long term plan.

 

In terms of interest rate for for HMOs, up to 5 bedrooms will be a slightly lesser rate than over 5 bedrooms. Both options will be higher than if you have some experience. In both instances the valuation will be a bricks and mortar figure and you will need to own your residential property. We can look at 2 year products to allow you to refinance to a more competitive product and hybrid valuation if that’s something that can be achieved. 

 

You will need to be looking for a property which doesn’t need extensive works (planning or building regulations) unless you have done something similar previously. You will require a management agent in place to look after the tenants. When you’re looking at refurbishment experience, you need to have done something similar previously, but this can include projects on your own home. 

What if you don’t have a residential mortgage? 

 

This is more tricky at the moment but there are still options. Single let’s are easier to place but there are more restrictions on affordability. For HMOs we need to think outside the box to find a solution, but it can be done! Some  clients choose to buy something cash and then refinance after they have owned it for a period of time and others use bridging to get around the experience. Looking at occupied properties can be an option too. 

 

When you don’t have the experience required, we need to balance this with something and this is usually a higher cost – whether that is using bridging or an increased interest rate on your mortgage.  This is a short term issue though, and once you have one property under your belt you have far more options.

 

We can usually find a solution somewhere though, so call with your enquiries and we can chat through the options.

 

Cash Vs. investor or bridging borrowing  – which is king..??

Happy Friday everyone.   I hope you are all digging deep, it seems a lot tougher nearing the end.

As we work with so many property investors, the question of whether they should use cash or bridging to fund a project often comes up… so I thought this week’s blog would give both sides of the coin.

Your Own Cash

It’s easy to say it’s cheaper as you aren’t charged interest or fees – and at the moment when bank interest rates are so low it is tempting, but tying up cash stops it being used for something else, which will give a return. You could use your cash to fund two or three rather than just one project if you used bridging finance too.  It’s really important to always look at all options and what the net cost actually is. It all depends on how many projects you are planning on completing at once, and whether you have contingency funds if your project runs over time or cost. If you want to grow quickly then having cash available for the right project is important.

If you are buying solely with cash then another consideration should also be to use a solicitor that is used to working with lenders solicitors. If the legal work has only been looked at as a cash purchase then it can make it difficult when refinancing.  There is more work involved when someone is placing a charge on the property, and this can then cause delays at the refinance stage of its not been dealt with initially.

Using Other People’s funds

This really does keep your cash available for a profitable opportunity, and is the lowest cost borrowing option if you can access it at a reasonable rate given that there are no arrangement fees, exit fees and lender solicitor fees. Considerations would be:

  • Is there enough profit in the deal to ensure that your investors are repaid within the timescales you have agreed, and what’s your back up option?
  • You will usually need to borrow the full amount for the full time period, so your interest payment needs to be calculated ok this basis.
  • If you are using it with bridging, Lenders need to ensure the right people are on the application, so you need to have some experience to bring to the project before the lender will be happy for you to use investor funds.

Bridging Finance 

So after all that, why would you use bridging finance? The biggest advantage is the security; of having a mortgageable property that a bank will lend on, and a lender’s solicitor having seen the legals and being happy with the property. There is never a guaranteed exit to a term mortgage but it does help.

As we touched on before, it frees up your capital to look at multiple properties, or it can allow you to look at bigger projects with bigger profits. If your total spend becomes a 25% deposit (and maybe refurbishment costs) suddenly your budget is much bigger.

There are ways to mitigate costs too, especially when you’re looking at keeping the property:

  • If you are borrowing the refurb costs as well as the acquisition, then you will obtain the refurb costs in arrears as you spend them. This reduces the interest payable by about 40% and therefore can balance out the arrangement fees, exit fees and legal costs.
  • There are some bridge to term mortgage options, where there is a reduction in arrangement fees, valuation costs and/or legals when you use both products with the same lender. This can mean that you’re not paying out as much, and may therefore mean it’s a lower cost option to private investor funds for example.

As always, it does depend on your circumstances and the project you are looking at so please feel free to give us a call and chat it through.

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!