I was just undertaking a review of the buy-to-let sector over the past six to eight weeks and, especially when combined with the amount of business we have written over this period, I was hugely encouraged by what I saw.

There has been sustained, and diverse, amounts of activity emerging from mainstream lenders, specialist lenders and building societies. We saw many rates fall, and to a much lesser degree a few rise. There were new entrants at the 85% LTV mark and extensions for houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and multi-unit freehold blocks (MUFB) to include more bedrooms and units. We have seen the reintroduction of free valuations for intermediary purchase products, reduced interest coverage ratios (ICR) and maximum ages at the end of terms being increased. In addition, there have been launches of large loan BTL offerings, re-entrants into the ex-pat BTL sector and we even saw some policy changes allowing homeowners to let their property on a short-term basis. You could say that it has been a busy old time.

This raft of activity can make it even trickier for those intermediaries who are not BTL specialists and it also underlines the importance attached to the advice process for landlords, investors and developers. A huge number of changes have taken place over the past few months and when working with such a broad range of lenders it’s vital that we, as a national brokerage and club, manage to keep track of all product, criteria and policy shifts. In order to do so, we are working closer than ever with lenders to ensure that we are fully aware of changes as they happen and these are relationships which are constantly being monitored.

Our lending panel sits at the heart of our proposition and – as outlined by recent additions such as Roma Finance, Greenfield Mortgages and Buckinghamshire Building Society – we are always looking to add to this in the right way with the right types of lending partners. By this I mean working with a variety of innovative and flexible lenders who can offer our members a competitive product range backed by high quality levels of service. And any new addition has to tick all these boxes along with many others.

We have all had to adapt the way we do business over these challenging times and this applies to landlords as well as lenders, distributors and intermediaries. One thing that has remained clear throughout this period is how vital a diverse and robust private rented sector is to the housing and mortgage markets, not to mention the economy as a whole. Tenants are also looking for more support from their landlords and demanding more from their homes. In addition, landlords need to seek greater clarity and advice from intermediaries and lenders when it comes to maximising yields, minimising costs, how to finance any investment opportunity or refinance to meet existing portfolio demands.

These are demanding times but, as I suggested earlier, I continue to be encouraged by how all links in the housing and property markets are reacting, and this certainly bodes well for 2021.

Ying Tan - 07.12.2020 | Posted in