"Even though the regulatory and underwriting changes have had a huge impact on the buy-to-let market, Brightstar have seen an uplift in the number of transactions for the sector."
The past year has seen huge change within the buy-to-let sector and the overhaul has presented challenges for all concerned including lenders, brokers, clients and not forgetting tenants, since many have seen an increase in their monthly rent.
In January the buy-to-let lenders that are regulated by the PRA had to apply restrictions on lending criteria; this translated to stricter affordability testing on the rental. These tests were designed to include the effect of the tax changes which began implementation from April and a stress test on future interest rate rises. These changes have of course had an impact on the maximum amount a client can borrow and has seen clients using limited company structures and longer term fixed rates to achieve required borrowing levels.
The next major change came about in September; this second phase of regulation was the introduction of new underwriting standards. In line with guidance set out by the PRA, landlords with 4 or more mortgaged buy-to-let properties, or those purchasing a fourth would be considered as a portfolio landlord. Where the lender is underwriting an application for a portfolio landlord, the entire portfolio must be underwritten with additional affordability tests being applied. There is also a requirement for additional documentation such as business plans, portfolio and cash flow statements. The level of documentation required does of course differ across lenders.
As a result of the PRA changes in 2017 a number of lenders have changed their buy-to-let offering, with many not currently assisting portfolio landlords or lending to limited company structures.
Even though the regulatory and underwriting changes have had a huge impact on the buy-to-let market, Brightstar have seen an uplift in the number of transactions for the sector. I believe this is a direct result of splitting our residential and buy-to-let mortgage division into two separate teams; it has allowed us to provide an expert approach to support our brokers through the complexities of buy-to-let mortgages.
Buy-to-let product of the year
During 2017 Brightstar launched an innovative suite of exclusive products via its Private Label brand.
My product of the year has to be ‘The Bridging Buster’ by Private Label because it allows clients to remortgage a property within the first 6 months on the post works uplifted value; as long as works have been completed and evidence can be provided. This product has allowed clients on expensive bridging finance deals to exit at the earliest opportunity whilst raising additional funds to repay debts that have been incurred from works and for potential portfolio expansion.
The product allows the client to re-mortgage with or without capital raising to 75% LTV and rates start at 3.34%.