Roma Finance is a specialist bridging and development lender based in Manchester with an individual approach to providing borrowers with the finance they need for property projects.
We speak to Scott Marshall, Lending Director.
- Question: You have just joined the ASTL, which reported a 62.5% increase in lending amongst its members in 2014. Can such high growth levels be maintained in 2015 or is the market heading for a ’stabilisation period’?
Answer: As we have already had a few months of 2015, our lending book is continuing to grow at a healthy pace. In fact, perhaps surprisingly for this time of year, the last 6 weeks have seen record levels of funding and enquiries for us. Property is still a valuable commodity for investors and developers and they are looking for more ways to renovate or convert property for residential or commercial rental use. The economy is still strong and this will help fuel demand for more sales and rentals. As well as this we have the new pension legislation coming in to force in April and this could further fuel the buy to let market. However, we also have a general election due in May. Property people will be watching closely the impact of taxation and planning decisions after the election before they decide on their acquisition, trading and disposal strategy and it could prove to be a decision maker as to which way some people will vote. But overall at least, I expect the market to continue to grow.
- Question: Latest available data shows a fall in average monthly interest rates for bridging loans falling from 1.22 per cent in November 2013 to 1.16 per cent a year later. Do you expect to see rates fall further in 2015 and if so, by how much?
Answer: Rates have fallen due to a healthier economy and greater liquidity in the market, which have reduced the risk as credit profiles of customers and companies have improved in the last 18 months. If taxation and planning regulations are favourable after the election there may be some more downward movement of rates, but I wouldn’t have thought lender margins can be reduced much further. At the end of the day, it’s not all about rate, other factors such as a lender’s service, security for the loan, the exit route and borrower profile come in to play, so it’s down to underwriting each case individually to assess the viability of every project.
- Question: Do you think we will see more lenders enter the bridging sector this year?
Answer: As with any growing market new players will be attracted to it. However, to be successful they need experienced staff who understand bridging finance. The industry will need to be able to train up new staff to understand the sector and build knowledge for the future. Certainly I think the uses of bridging will continue to grow as property investors continue to look for development opportunities and SMEs look to use it for business expansion, growth and cashflow.
- Question: What is your favourite pastime?
Answer: I enjoy racket sports but my passion has always been table tennis. I played at a fairly competitive level as a junior and over the past few years have got back into it.
- Question: Do you have any hidden talents?
Answer: ooh that’s a good question. I can flare out my nostrils and I can make one eyebrow go up while the other goes down.
- Question: What is your favourite dish?
Answer: Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Truly British.
- Question: If you could invite three famous figures to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Answer: Gerald Ronson CBE– for his property acumen and philanthropy – I’ve read his autobiography and heard him speak a few times. He could bring some great anecdotes from his career. Peter Kay for the entertainment and Raymond Blanc for the food. Surely, you wouldn’t expect me to cook…
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