In the Spotlight with Anna Lewis, Castle Trust Bank

We spoke with Anna Lewis, who has recently joined Castle Trust Bank as director of proposition and strategy, about her new role, opportunities in buy-to-let, challenges in development finance and tips for brokers when working with property investors.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight,  Specialist Lending
Rozi Jones
18th March 2022
Anna Lewis
"I think we will see some nervousness amongst landlords about interest rate rises and this presents an opportunity for brokers to become trusted advisers."

FR: You recently joined Castle Trust Bank as director of proposition and strategy. Tell us a bit about that role and why it’s important for brokers and their clients?

My role at Castle Trust Bank is to help develop and define the proposition to provide brokers with a clear reason to choose to work with us on lending solutions for their property investor clients. Part of my role will be to provide brokers with expertise about the specialist lending market and, at the same time, I will actively provide a voice for intermediaries within our business. I’ll also be keeping track of the market to ensure we remain competitive and investigating new product ideas and process improvements.

FR: What type of innovations can we expect to see in the specialist buy-to-let market this year?

First and foremost, tenant demand for property has never been higher and continues to grow. In addition, we are seeing the rise of short-term holiday lets and continued expansion in the use of HMOs. The buy-to-let mortgage sector has continued to expand to meet this demand and it is a very vibrant market.

In the next 12 months, despite tenant demand, I think we will see some nervousness amongst landlords about interest rate rises and this presents an opportunity for brokers to become trusted advisers. There is also going to be a large wave of remortgage business due to the number of five-year fixed rates that are maturing in the coming months.

So, expect lenders to deliver propositions that address these dynamics as well as delivering new ways to help investors benefit from the opportunity in HMOs, holiday lets and multi-unit blocks.

FR: Do you anticipate much change in development finance over the next 12 months?

I think it will be interesting to see how specialist lenders respond to the government’s environmental goals by supporting construction methods and materials that work to achieve the targets. And, of course, the rising cost of materials and continued supply chain issues will continue to pose a problem for developers. The market will have to identify ways to help developers, either through development finance or development exit products. At Castle Trust Bank, we’re continuing to see huge demand for our bridge-to-let product, which can be used as a development exit loan.

FR: What tips do you have for brokers who regularly work with property investor clients?

Work as closely as you can with the lender. Submit fully packaged cases rather than providing information piecemeal. This speeds up the process and allows the underwriter to understand the case fully, making a decision based on all the facts of the case.

FR: If you could see one headline in 2022, what would it be?

Nothing too exciting – “City centre developments still going strong” or even “house prices steady all through the year”, would both be positive headlines. A spell of stability would be a good thing.

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