The ongoing Brexit negotiations have left the UK property market in a state of insecurity. This is reflected in the results from our latest Property Investor Survey, where almost half (43%) of respondents stated that the biggest challenge they currently face is the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit. This is currently seen as a bigger challenge than lending restrictions at 28% and the recent changes to buy-to-let (BTL) legislation at 16%.
The standoff in the Brexit negotiations alongside the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s warning that property prices might drop by up to a third after a ‘no deal’ Brexit, has meant that property investors are being faced with the question of how Brexit might affect them.
With a reduction of tax relief shrinking buy-to-let profits, coupled with the introduction of a 3% stamp duty on second homes, property investors are now faced with higher costs which in effect has prompted the need to generate more income. However, due to the Brexit uncertainty many property investors and landlords are unsure if property prices will plateau or plummet and are therefore seeking alternative methods to maximise profits- by adding value to their properties through refurbishments, rather than purchase property as a straightforward portfolio investment. At mtf, we have certainly seen an increase in demand for funds to conduct bathroom and kitchen conversions, loft conversions and to convert properties into an HMO.
Gareth Lewis, mtf’s commercial director echoes the need for property investors to add value to their portfolios. ‘The uncertainty with Brexit means that property investors are not waiting for the government before they seek other options for their portfolios’ he said.
‘They are resilient and savvy, so they will be watching the negotiations closely whilst bolstering their investments and taking opportunities, to allow them to withstand such an economic change’ he adds.
Gareth remains optimistic about the market and believes it is still liquid despite the Brexit uncertainty. ‘There are still lots of opportunities for property investors such as the demand for HMOs due to the rising population in the UK. Investors have therefore changed tact and rather than buying lots of properties that are ready to be let, are doing heavy refurbishments to attract renters or add values to their portfolios’ he said. ‘As we all know, there is still demand houses so as long as that demand remains, property investors will be willing to service the market’ he added.
‘The results from the survey shows that 80% of those affected by the new HMO rules are not willing to sell their portfolio. This reinforces my point that these landlords are looking to hold onto their portfolios and the property market is not experiencing a mass exodus despite regulatory changes or Brexit’ Lewis said.
According to Gareth, the uses of bridging finance has also changed to go with the trend. ‘A lot of the new cases that have come through to us recently are mainly for either refurbishment or using bridging to inject cash to the investor’s businesses. This shows the flexibility of bridging finance as a tool for property investors to service their needs whilst offering competitive rates and access to funds quickly’’ he said.
Bridging finance remains a good source of funding for investors with interest rates starting from 0.75%. ‘At mtf especially, our loans are flexible, offering the landlords peace of mind. We also do not have any early exit fees, so they are free to repay the loan whenever they want’ he added.
Gareth has also seen investors choosing to get funds released in stages to first bolster their property’s value through the refurbishment phase, and later withdraw further funds for further property transactions whilst they wait for the sale of the existing project.
‘The Brexit negotiation process will remain in the thoughts of investors and businesses alike. However, bridging finance enables landlords and investors alike to have access to funding in times such as these, allowing them to continue to thrive and take opportunities as they arise’ he added.
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