My Contribution: James Bloom of Regentsmead Limited

My Contribution: James Bloom of Regentsmead Limited




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I joined Regentsmead 25 years ago on the 13th July 1987. My original intention was to get into the world of property and finance and Regentsmead seemed like a good option at the time being a very long established and solid organisation.


What I didn’t realise at the time was that I would spend the next 25 years (and more) at Regentsmead and that I would be involved in so many different businesses.


Before embarking on a short term lending career I was involved with commercial and residential property management, an equity traded options business, an equity release business and many other aspects of property.


Regentsmead has always been involved in finance and many years ago granted mortgages using our company Directloans Limited. Around 20 years ago we decided we wanted to re-enter the finance arena and we were approached by an existing short term lender who was in need of funds. Because of their relationship with one or two developers we quickly established a niche in development lending and the business has grown steadily since then.


When we first started lending to the development market the finance provided was mainly done by high street institutions; there were very few specialist lenders and even fewer bridging lenders as we see today.


Our first forays into the market were to established builders/developers building small schemes in areas they knew well. Once the business grew we got involved in much larger schemes culminating in a 60 flat scheme in Lincolnshire. When the market turned post Lehmans we were left, like many lenders, with some headaches and difficult schemes to work out.


Whilst this was a difficult time because we lend only our own funds we were not at the mercy of a bank or other backer demanding repayment of their funds. As a result, we were able to work out the difficult schemes and with time on our side we were able to work them all out. Not panicking and planning a sensible approach to sorting out problems is an absolute must if losses are not going to be made and because of our ability to ride out this difficult period without external pressures it was possible.


By lending our own funds we have continued to lend all the way through the last few years and this support has been vital for our borrowers and introducers, especially as our sector has seen so many lenders withdraw.


Particularly in the last year we have seen so many cases which have been put to the clearing banks and either turned down or terms issued which are completely unworkable. We get enquiries in every day which would in any normal market be funded by a clearing bank, but not today. 


For example, we have recently had a case in Shropshire where twelve houses are being built. The borrower has invested over £1m of their own funds into the project and only wanted to borrow around £700,000 on a GDV (gross development value) of over £4m which is a LTV (loan to value) of less than 20 per cent - and they still got turned down! 


This is an indication of the liquidity crisis we are in at present where good projects being taken on by small/medium size developers cannot get mainstream funding. Thankfully for them there are some specialist lenders and they have really stepped into the void left by mainstream banks.


We now receive over 80 per cent of our business through introducers and the introducer market has exploded in recent years as borrowers once frustrated by their normal lending sources are turning to their advisers for help. The role of the introducer is now absolutely key to the development market and it is important that we continue to assist and educate the introducers as to the availability of development finance in this difficult market.


The amount of times we hear from a new client “I did not realise there was funding available” never ceases to amaze us. Many people still think of their high street as the last bastion of the lending world but this clearly is not the case.


We are very bullish about the future of our sector, not nearly enough houses are being built and as we have just seen from the recent census figures released, our population is expanding at the quickest rate since records began. We have substantial funds to lend and we are also seeing a record rate of growth in our loan book which we are hoping to nearly double this year.


There is finance available, people just need to know where to look. We feel that www.regentsmead.com is as good a place to start as anywhere!

1 Comments

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    Jason Rich

    Congratulations on your 25th anniversary! It's so vital for the industry that lenders like Regentsmead have their own funds to lend and able to lend in as little as 48 hours in some cases. Mr Bloom and his team must be doing a lot right to have withstood the test of so much time. Well done 'bridging and commercial' for giving their story space.

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