By Martin Kemp:


2020 promised so much, a new decade, a new government, optimism. I personally don’t think that we had had it so good for a long time! More lenders were entering the market with innovative products, lenders were continuously looking at ways to win business from clients and their brokers - everything was great.

We then started to hear reports about a virus somewhere in China that was ‘very bad’ and that people were dying but were told if you washed your hands and kept away from anyone who had a cough everything would be fine. Nick in our office was a little more pessimistic about the whole thing and we all secretly had a laugh at his cautiousness along with the perceived irrational purchase of hand gel and face coverings. Before we knew it, Tesco’s had sold out of loo roll and pasta! Then we all had to work from home, isolating for 2 weeks. My brother works for the Ambulance service and had told me that the original plan was for the country to in Lockdown until mid-July earliest. Suddenly the somewhat bizarre virus from China was a real threat to our country in terms of health and economically, and I along found the prospect scary!

But us typical Brits, with our bulldog spirit, decided to continue as normal (as far as was possible), we continued to work from home and for us at FinanceWell it was business as usual. Clients were still looking for finance, lenders whilst restricting LTV’s were still lending and the finance world adapted. If you had asked me in 2019 what Zoom and Teams were, I would not have had an idea, now I am a dab hand! Lenders moved staff to work remotely, AVM’s were now being more widely used and despite a few technical issues business did well on delivering the new normal.

That is not to say there were no hitches, and unfortunately some of these are still not resolved. Trying to speak to someone at a lender or one of the key professionals can now be an impossible task, I think it quickly became obvious that either of one of a number events had occurred:

  1. The technology was not up to it

  2. Juggling home schooling alongside working in some households just was not feasible

  3. Staff working from home realised their performance was not being watched as closely as before and started treating this more like an extended holiday and enjoying a little too much the glorious weather

  4. The doom mongers amongst us were a little too quick to lose and Furlough Staff

Everything just started taking that little bit longer. I talk regularly with other brokers and the consensus out there now is that cases are now taking no end of time. Solicitors are slow to react, Lenders are now often the slowest to react – As an example, I have over 3 days left both Voice Mails and Emails to lender for an urgent case and I have still not had a response. I am sick of making excuses to my clients - I know and appreciate that companies are busy and there are only so many hours in the day, but there simply is no excuse for poor communication - leaving clients hanging for days on end. Treating customers fairly seems no longer the priority.

COVID-19 showed us that we ARE an adaptable industry and business will always continue. However, changes are needed and all firms in the industry need to accept and adapt to this. We are now, in reality, a 24-hour, 7 day a week society and it’s not uncommon for me as a broker, to take calls and be emailing in the evenings and weekends. We must, have the technology to support the change in pace, and to make everyone’s lives easier. Don’t get me wrong some organisations have coped incredibly well but others must take a hard look at their business and their business continuity plans.

Personally, I will look back on 2020 with mixed feelings. I like the autonomy of working from home, yet I miss the banter in the office. I love not travelling and therefore spending more time with my family but when the kids are arguing outside my office and expecting me to referee, I do wish I was anywhere else but home!

Here’s to looking forward and not back

Have a very Merry Christmas and wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2021


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By Andy Thurston


The UK government announced in March 2020 that anyone affected by the impact of Covid-19 and the various lockdown measures and travel restrictions that are in place, or expects to be adversely affected will have the option of taking a mortgage payment holiday for a period of 3 months. Initially this was targeted at homeowners with residential mortgages however it was expanded the following day to include landlords with BTL mortgages.

Borrowers can apply for the payment holiday by contacting their lender and self-certifying that their income will be directly or indirectly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. As this is a self-certification process the lender does not need to review or approve the application, so a mortgage payment holiday is essentially an option that is available.

Whilst it is perhaps an easy option to apply for a payment holiday regardless of your personal situation, there are several factors that should be considered.

  • Do you really need to take a payment holiday? There is no application required so if applied for, a payment holiday should be granted, however if you are a landlord and your tenants are currently paying rent then there should be no reason to request a mortgage payment holiday at this stage.

  • A prudent landlord should have sufficient cash reserves to cover void periods for at least a couple of months so should not require a payment holiday unless all tenants stop paying rent immediately which in turn would cause significant financial pressure. The tenant profile of a portfolio is likely to influence the level of cashflow impact i.e. a portfolio consisting of primarily ‘gig worker’ tenants would be harder hit than a portfolio of tenants from the emergency services. If there are cash reserves in place, then a landlord should consider deploying these funds to make the mortgage payments before approaching the lender for a payment holiday.

  • A mortgage payment holiday does not mean that the payments for the 3 months are written off, most lenders will simply add the payments that were due to the mortgage balance therefore increasing future monthly payments as interest will have accrued during the holiday period. The FCA have confirmed that interest on mortgage balances will still be charged unless a lender has stated otherwise. The increase in the mortgage payment will be relatively minimal compared to the previous amount due however this should still be considered. Some lenders may require the payments to be made up in a shorter time period so our advice would be to speak with the lender in question and find out how they will look to implement this.

If the landlord makes the decision to take a mortgage payment holiday, then this should not impact on the individual’s credit history. The FCA have issued guidance which makes it clear to lenders that a borrower taking a payment holiday will not have a negative impact on their credit payment history.

Whilst taking a payment holiday should not adversely impact the payment history on the credit file some thought should be taken as to how the current lender, or indeed lenders in the future may view the action taken by a borrower to apply for a mortgage payment holiday, particularly those that apply as soon as the scheme has been made available.

A lender is unlikely to publicly announce that taking a payment holiday will have a negative impact on the borrower in the future however some lenders’ risk teams may consider this when underwriting new applications in the future.

  • A borrower requesting a payment holiday immediately, perhaps even before a tenant was due to make a payment. The lender may take the view that the borrower is abusing the system in order to retain cash or has poor financial management.

  • If the borrower has pipeline applications in with a lender to refinance an existing property or to purchase a new property (for example) but requests a payment holiday on an existing mortgage with that lender it is likely the lender will pause new applications. The lender will want to investigate the borrower’s cashflow position in more detail and may ask for a detailed explanation/business plan. Alternatively, the lender may choose to reduce LTV’s on new applications or may decline considering any new business for the borrower on the basis of their wider affordibility.

  • A borrower applying to a lender for a BTL mortgage but has existing BTL mortgages with other lenders – the new lender may request information regarding the performance of the existing portfolio and if any payment holidays are currently in place. The new lender may be reluctant to support new borrowing if the applicant is already receiving assistance with cashflow from other lenders – responsible lending being one of the main considerations.

These are clearly challenging times for everyone, and some landlords may be experiencing more problems than others - everyone’s individual circumstances are likely to be different. The above points are just some things to consider prior to opting for a payment holiday however if you have any mortgage concerns then you should look to speak with your lender to discuss in the first instance.


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  • Andy Thurston

The challenges in the property market are continuing according to the latest data from HMRC, with May 2019 delivering the lowest number of sales for the month since 2012.

Property transaction figures from the taxman show there were 89,830 sales on a non-seasonally adjusted basis last month. This is the lowest figure for May since 75,350 transactions were recorded in 2012.

Regionally as usual there were big variations.

  • The biggest drop was in Wales, where sales fell 24.5% over the month to 3,040 and 30% down compared with 12 months ago.

  • Transactions in England rose 2.3% on a monthly basis to 75,640, but were down 4.7% annually.

  • In Scotland, sales fell 0.7% over the month to 7,920 and were down 4.5% annually, while volumes rose 9.4% in Northern Ireland on a monthly basis to 2,230 but fell 0.8% annually.

This data supports the anecdotal evidence we are seeing daily with our clients, who are increasingly seeing their capital tied up in finished stock awaiting sale, and development finance lenders applying some pressure on repayment. Whilst the market remains subdued for sales, and the continuing political crisis appears not to offer any immediate respite, there are other financing options that clients can consider.

Capital tied up in finished stock awaiting sale

Subject to the rental income and yield profile of any finished schemes, there are a lot of options for raising a BTL or portfolio mortgage to repay the development finance and potentially release some of your capital. This also means the interest will be meet from the rental income rather than continue to roll up into the facility on a development loan. equity as well as replacing the debt on more favourable terms.

Alternatively, for those committed to selling the stock and not converting to short/medium term rentals, there are several short-term loans on the market that are designed to provide “Sales Period” funding. These products are sometimes referred to as “Developer Exits” as it replaces the development finance loan with a new facility, can free up locked in capital and provide the time you need to sell into this market. Typically, the lender will take 100% of the sales proceeds every time you sell a unit, but in cases where the overall loan is low relative to the value of the property you may be able to receive a percentage of the proceeds as well.

There are a range of potential tax and VAT implications that need to be considered in conjunction with your professional accountancy advisor, and you will clearly lose any new build premium. However, it is an alternative to waiting for existing stock to sell, considering deep discounts or missing out on new opportunities where you might be able to buy into new projects at attractive prices given market sentiment.


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