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Are you thinking of buying, renovating or converting (or do you already own) an unusual property? Did you know that you are more likely to be approved for a mortgage in today’s market than at any time since the credit crisis of 2008? It pays to take independent specialist advice, however, as not all lenders are willing to lend on what they term ‘non-standard’ properties, including listed buildings or converted barns, windmills, lighthouses, chapels, schools, warehouses or houseboats. It is also difficult to find finance on the High Street for a property that combines a residential and retail/commercial use (flats over shops, for example) or has been a house in multiple occupation (HMO) and is being converted back into a single dwelling. There is also lack of readily available information in this area. Most banks and building societies do not publicise their detailed lending criteria, so it is difficult to know which are worth approaching.
Approximately 8 out of 10 of our recent applicants for a mortgage on an unusual property have been previously rejected for such a loan by their high street lender. However, we have been increasingly able to arrange specialist facilities to support their purchase or remortgage of unusual properties, with funding coming from a wide range of regional building societies with whom we have close working relationships.
For example, we recently arranged the mortgage to help purchase a residential property that had been used previously for student accommodation (i.e. HMO). Our client had been rejected by a high street lender on the grounds that all the rooms in the property had locks on the doors and there was a self-contained element with separate access as well as a separate kitchenette which made it possible to re-let to students or private tenants. However, through our discussions with the lender’s senior underwriters we were also able to provide evidence that the client was genuine by supplying supporting information on their motives for the move as well as a formal letter of intent to satisfy the lender’s criteria. Thus we were able to get mortgage finance agreed on a prime residential basis.
Tom Goodley, Associate Partner at Strutt & Parker, one of the largest and most successful independent property partnerships in the UK, provides his insight on the subject:
“We have no shortage of enquiries from clients looking to purchase unusual properties. These properties include old school houses, churches, properties in multiple occupation being converted to single dwellings and an increasing number of barn conversions. We’ve sold a number of barn conversions recently and whilst lenders are happy to supply finance for the finished article, for barns which are yet to be converted, the use of a specialist broker, such as Private Finance, is invaluable for buyers in order to obtain the right finance package for them.”
This raises the further issue of self-build mortgages, where the money is released in stages as the conversion project progresses. There are many different types of self-build mortgage from a number of different specialist lenders. The right one for you will depend on your own particular circumstances and it pays to take specialist advice.
If you are looking for a mortgage for an unusual property or a self-build mortgages, we recommend you take independent specialist advice from a broker who is used to regularly arranging such mortgages with specialist lenders, many of whom you will not find on the High Street or outside their regional base. It is likely to save you time and money and mean that you can afford to buy and convert an unusual and distinctive property.
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