Hear from Joseph Aston, National Sales Manager at Vantage Private Finance as he talks about property financing trends and where the opportunity is in the current market.
Tell us a little about Vantage Private Finance?
We’ve been around for over 14 years, we’re directly authorised with the FCA – have been for 12 years. We’re a master broker, so actually a lot of our business comes from other brokers that aren’t able to place business. So, we deal with really specialist cases. Commercial finance, development finance, bridging finance. Complex Buy-to-Let, which is a huge market at the moment – whether that’s HMO, limited company, expats or foreign nationals, adverse credit even. And then we do residential First and Second Charge mortgages as well.
The thing I always like to say, is actually – we’re not unique. The broker model is fairly set, and I think anybody that is claiming to reinvent the wheel is probably telling porkies. The only thing you can focus on, is the rigour in which you deliver that service – and I’m lucky enough to represent a team in the back office who are doing this day in, day out. They deliver a superb service based on strong communication and expertise that’s been built up over the last 14 years.
We’re really passionate in coming back to people quickly and fundamentally we’re a little different in that we don’t charge any fees up front. So, we won’t take a penny from the client until the loan is released, until completion. Yes – we attract a lot of tat for that reason but actually we’re happy to have a speculative conversation with somebody about their financing needs or sort of their investment plans, with the hope that building a long-term partnership will help everybody to thrive. We only succeed when the market succeeds and whatever we can do to help that then obviously we want to.
Projects are so unique in their own right, and the borrower themselves. There’s a lot more specialist underwriting happening now. People can go and present a business plan, they can show their track record and the lenders are open to looking at individual projects, aren’t they?
Yes, very much so. When people bring a case to us we always say how it’s really important to bring your ‘CV’ – we don’t care where you’ve worked, it’s about your experience in property. The more experience you’ve got, even the little things – refurbishing your own home, redecorating, moving a kitchen around, it all starts to give a lender confidence that you might know what you’re doing. Fundamentally all lenders, all property products, all they ever care about is risk. To advert the risk, or suddenly lower the risk seemingly to a lender will give you a far wider range of options.
There’s a huge interest in build-to-rent, in other words to buy, build out, but then hold for the long-term. Is that a trend that you’re seeing?
Yes, very much so. What we’re seeing really is that people who were originally what I would call a ‘standard landlord’, I mean that in a nice way – ‘I own two or three properties, and I’ve got a passive income’. With tax regulation changes, with other sort of barriers put in place, they want to know ‘how do we get more money from our investment?’. And actually, what they’re starting to do is consider the light refurb – buying distress properties, properties under market value, do some work, get it to a habitable space – and remortgage for the long term.
The people who have already been doing that, are now looking at heavier refurbishments; office blocks to residential, a change in use from a single dwelling to an HMO – and it’s the people who have then been doing these heavier projects, heavier refurbishments are now considering a ground-up build and moving into the development market. So, everybody seems to be sort of trying to elevate themselves what I would say one step – and that’s great, that’s fantastic because it means the space is becoming more professional. I think we’re seeing less accidental landlords at the moment, and long-term it is leading to more people ambitiously developing and building, and wherever we can support that, we’re really enjoying getting stuck into it.
It pushes innovation as well, doesn’t it?
Absolutely, people are coming up with all sorts of different ideas. A lot of people are talking about show homes, and actually how can they take on a number of show homes, at least as short-term. Holiday lets are coming up, the Airbnb revolutionised holiday letting and actually how do lenders finance people who want to let them out on that basis? Serviced, apartments, all of this sort of need, investment from abroad has also changed how landlords are looking at the UK – and lenders have to respond.
Lenders have to have a product that matches the needs of the people, and we’re lucky to have those relationships. I would recommend to anybody in this field to speak to a broker, a specialised broker, whether it’s us or not – I hope so. Somebody who can pick up the phone above that first level of underwriting and say there’s common sense behind this deal, and what can we do? What can we do together to get this across the line because lending needs to be happening if the market wants to thrive, and the lenders want to – you just need to know where to go to.
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