BuildStore 2011: the outlook for development finance

BuildStore 2011: the outlook for development finance


One of the leading UK providers of self-build and renovation, BuildStore Financial Services, last week hosted a national exhibition for lenders and small developers, exploring the development finance market for housing.

It was held at the National Self Build and Renovation centre in Swindon. The venue is the UK’s only permanent centre for self-builders and renovators.

The conference, for lenders and small property developers, explored the development finance market for housing. It helped to bring together developers, lenders and construction industry suppliers at a crucial time for housing supply.

The volume house builders are still struggling to recover from the credit crunch and recession, and with powers for housing now transferred to Councils, housing supply is a local issue.

This conference presented a unique opportunity for local developers to take advantage of the release of public sector land and other assets, and the Council's New Homes Bonus Scheme.

The Government is keen to see small, regional developers play a bigger role in providing new homes, and with commercial lending making a strong comeback, there are real opportunities for developers to build for profit in the current market.

The day started with a quick welcome and a summary from Michael Cartwright, Property Development Advisor at Buildstore, describing how the development finance market is recovering from the recession as he looked ahead to 2012. He also considered the ways projects will be assessed and funded and what is expected of developers. He warned that the industry is not going to get better and that the ‘boom’ times will not return - offering the realisation that the current market is the new ‘norm’.

There were also a number of other presentations talking about sustainable building and greener homes, products and services for development projects, construction methods, project management advice, and also a tour around the National Self Build and Renovation Centre.

One of the presentations which was quite informative was one which saw representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government speaking about the removal of housing targets and the Localism agenda and how it shows that the Government is supporting local decisions about housing procurement, favouring small developers in this new housing landscape.

National planning policy framework has been revamped and with the new legislation and policies it now presents new opportunities. For example, the government has distilled thousands of pages of planning regulations and guidelines into 52-pages. There is a New Homes Bonus now, the Department for Communities and Local Government has set aside almost £1 billion over the comprehensive Spending Review period for the scheme, including nearly £200 million in 2011-12 and £250 million for each of the following years.

The view from Affirmative Finance, a lender, was intriguing as they hit on regulation, indicating that it is an ever-changing landscape, which is continuously updating processes and procedures. These processes are a large part of a lender’s business, especially with the need to determine what category of loan a case is at the start. Each category has different documentation and it is paramount that it is assessed correctly on inception.

The conference, essentially on how to borrow and build for profit, was a success, with insightful presentations. Lenders were on hand during the day to answer any funding related queries.

To sum up, what is needed in order to gain lender funding is experience, location, being a landowner and having a strong marketing plan and clear exit strategy. Developers need to take not of the latest changes in policy in order to take advantage of new funding and opportunities.

By Jason McGee-Abe

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