All you need to know about mortgages on blocks of flats – and a good example!

I’ve had quite a few enquiries about flats recently, and we’ve just had an offer through for a great example of how to structure your mortgage so I thought this week I would run through all you need to know!

Firstly, what’s a multi unit freehold block (MUFB)

It’s a block of flats where it is all on one freehold, so it is kept all together as one with no flats on their own leasehold titles. We sometimes see blocks that have been broken up, so some flats have been sold off within the block and that can cause issues with your mortgage so it’s worth checking the Office Copies at Land Registry to see what the situation is before you proceed. Some lenders do not like split freeholds – ie. where some flats are on their own leasehold – whether you own them or not.

What do you need to think about before you put an offer in? 

  • As I’ve mentioned, the Office Copies are really important so always check this before you do anything else – it’s a quick and cheap starting point!
  • What planning is in place if the property has been converted? There are so many historical conversions that don’t have the correct planning so this is something to check. You can look at the planning portal, or check with the planning department. Don’t assume that just because the council tax is separate that it’s been granted!
  • Could the properties be split off and sold separately? Utilities need to be split, check the water tank and boiler too.
  • Are each flat over 30m2 and do they have independent access?

What mortgages are available and what should you think about? 

As always, there are a couple of considerations as well as the interest rate! There are some lenders who will offer a competitive rate for blocks of up to 12 flats and for purchases this may work well. We can look at it on a 2 or a 5 year fixed, so if you are looking to refinance at some point there there are shorter options.

These lower rate lenders will value the property at what’s called a block value though, and that may or may not work for you. What this means is that they valuer will look at the individual values of the flats, and then deduct about 10-15% depending on the demand for the sale of the full block. Recently we have seen a fairly consistent 10% being deducted from the value.

If you want the opportunity for an aggregate value, then we do have other options. This could be for your own development or a refinance of a property you already own. Rates will be higher, but as always it is about the bigger picture! For blocks of up to 10 flats, where the valuer confirms that the flats can be sold within a 12 month period, then we can use the aggregate value; this means the total value of the individual units. In real terms this usually means an minimum of 10% on top of the block value, so that’s the consideration on absorbing the rate difference.

There are other reasons that you would use a more specialist lender, so don’t get put off when things look a bit more complicated:

  • Some flats are under 30m2
  • Where some flats are on a leasehold title so it’s not a freehold block
  • Where some flats have been sold off so you don’t own the whole block
  • If it’s a block of more than 12 flats

As always, consider your yield when looking at these properties, the rate is only a deciding factor if the yield isn’t enough! 

A recent example…

A client has built a block of 6 flats and is putting them on long leasehold titles. We have had a valuation carried out and are able to use the market value as the flats could be sold within 12 months. This is giving the client an additional 10% on top of the block value – in this instance it was increased the loan size by £123,000 so can make a big difference to the viability of the project. We were able to fund 75% LTV of the aggregate value.

Give us a call if you want to run through any examples.

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.

Case study: Don’t be afraid of an ugly property if the yield is good

We’re here at Friday again, nearly 3 weeks through however long this lockdown is going to last! I hope you’ve had a good week, we’ve been trying to find some happiness and laughter in each day to keep us going. We’ve also got a new American president this week, which has got to be a sign of a brighter future ahead.

This week I want to talk about ugly properties… in particular ugly blocks of flats.

I was approached by a client of ours late last year with a collection of four blocks of flats (32 units in total). The unit value is low (approximately £20,000), condition of the flats weren’t great, it had outside staircases (not balcony) and was let to tenants on housing benefit. Sounds like a great buy I hear you say!! Our client was drawn to the amazing 21% gross yield and gave us the task of finding a solution.

There were a few complications:

  • Various levels of experience and income from the 4 directors
  • A shareholder who would normally be expected to be a director and couldn’t be due to other work commitments
  • A complicated lease structure in place for the blocks of flats
  • The flats are in a variety of conditions, some have recently been renovated but some do need updating throughout
  • The majority were tenanted, but not all
  • Client wanted to avoid the bridging route

We researched the area; the client was able to provide plenty of reasons why this area was a good investment in terms of future regeneration. On cases like these, it really is important to be transparent with your broker.  To get a good outcome we really need to know the case and the applicants – warts and all… as we are the ones that need to sell it to the lender.

It is really important to know your lender’s appetite; we do work hard at our lender relationships, as that allows us direct access to the people we need, rather than putting into the system and hoping for the best.

We engaged a lender who we know are ok with low value properties and whom we trust to do what they say. They were able to look at the appearance and give us a good steer that they would be able to lend (subject to valuers comments). What we weren’t sure about was what the valuation would be and what loan to value we could get to.  Our client really wanted 75%.

The clients were happy to proceed so we instructed the valuation.  Although a purchase, we emphasised the importance of the clients meeting the surveyor on site which I think is really worth it if you can. It gives them confidence in you as an investor and you can talk them through your valuation methodology.

The valuation came back with the market value as the purchase price. The vacant possession and 180 day value were much lower though. The valuation read well and agreed with the client that it was a good investment with a good yield. We then had to wait for the lender to let us know what they could do, and they came back with an offer at 75% of the market value and on a term product. Best case scenario! The clients were very pleased.

Legals are going through now and we are hoping to complete within the next month.

So, the moral of the story… let your brain make the decision and not your heart.  An investment property is not your family home and it’s all about the numbers, so you must take the emotion out of it.

I hope this inspires you to look at some properties that perhaps are outside of your comfort zone to see what yield you could achieve.