Demand will be strong for short-term property finance in 2023, says Scott Marshall, founder of Roma Finance
If the last 10 years have taught me anything, it’s that economic turbulence always gives rise to opportunity.
It’s clear that the UK economy faces huge challenges, particularly around inflation and public sector pay. It’s polarising and our society is becoming more unequal every year.
Those that have money are still spending it – booking holidays, eating out and investing in property.
But sadly, people with less are now struggling to survive. They need help now and that requires a policy response from the government.
Things have changed rapidly in the last 12 months and could change just as quickly again, as economic cycles are speeding up and shortening. I expect inflation to ease in quarter two and to have fallen significantly by the end of the year.
Commodity prices have already come down, the pound has strengthened against the dollar and we’ve seen a massive drop in fuel prices in the UK, plus mortgage rates have already started to reduce.
So what does this mean for the property market?
Property finance opportunities
The wider economy will always have an impact on the property market, and many economists predict falling residential house prices and reduced house purchase volumes in 2023.
But I’m not worried.
The property finance sector doesn’t always move in sync with the residential property market.
In fact, the current economic backdrop can be beneficial for those who want to create wealth from property.
Where times are challenging, professional property investors can buy better, because volatility always creates opportunities.
For example, we had a customer previously buying a property to develop for £600,000. He was putting down a £200,000 deposit and we were planning to fund the rest. Following the mini-Budget, he managed to quickly negotiate the purchase price down to £450,000. He still put down £200,000 and subsequently borrowed much less, de-risking the deal from his and Roma’s point of view. He did the planned work and has just sold the property for £1.2m.
We expect rising volumes this year because a lot of our borrowers are professional property investors looking for, and currently finding, good buying opportunities.
Our business has grown faster after each recent Black Swan event – Brexit, Covid and the mini-Budget.
When times are tougher, we do better. That’s because we spend a lot of time underwriting the borrower and their ability to exit our loan, but not all bridging lenders do that. Some lend solely on a property’s value without underwriting the applicant or assessing their plans and exit strategy.
When prices are rising that strategy normally works fine, but when property prices are declining, it’s a strategy that can come unstuck pretty quickly.
Many of our borrowers are already property tradespeople so they have the skills to do a lot of refurbishment work themselves. They’re technically competent, know how to source materials and have good contacts with other tradespeople to subcontract other aspects of the work to.
These people are really well positioned to get a good deal on a property in the current market and then add value. It could be a residential property in need of refurbishment, but we are also seeing demand for commercial properties with the potential for conversion.
At Roma, we also work with people who are successful in other fields and have now decided they want to make money from property. They include accountants, lawyers, doctors, dentists, pilots, and project managers, but they all have transferable skills that gives them the ability to make the project work.
Some have found that other lenders won’t back them because they don’t have a track record, but from our point of view if they have relevant skills, know how to put good teams around them and have a clear plan, we’ll consider lending.
Investment in productivity
Roma had its best-ever year in 2022 and we’ve started this year with a bang.
2023 is a year of opportunity for property investors, because market volatility means you can buy better and lower your risk.
That means you are better placed to create wealth from your property project by increasing its value – and Roma is there to back you all the way.
Here to help
Visit our website at https://romafinance.co.uk/ to find out how we can support your next property project