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Tax changes forcing landlords into more efficient structures for their business

The increase in portfolio and complex buy-to-let business seen over the past two years is set to continue in 2020, according to Paragon’s Director of Sales, Moray Hulme.

Recent tax changes have forced landlords to look for more efficient ways to structure their business, driving an increase in demand for mortgage products for incorporated and limited liability partnerships.

Research from BVA BDRC for Q3 2019 reveals landlords expecting to purchase property in a limited company structure has almost doubled in under two years. This, alongside the Prudential Regulation Authority’s (PRA) more detailed underwriting approach for portfolio landlords, has resulted in specialist lenders like Paragon tailoring products to match more complex requirements.

Paragon also predicts intermediaries will refocus on purchase business in the buy-to-let market, following a significant increase in the popularity of longer-term fixes since 2015 reducing remortgage opportunities.

It’s forecast those who do purchase are more likely to be larger-scale portfolio landlords, with non-portfolio landlords owning fewer than four properties far less likely to expand since the introduction of the Stamp Duty surcharge in April 2016 and subsequent tax changes. Recent research by Paragon found larger scale landlords are three times (11%) more likely to consider buying than smaller scale landlords (4%), within an overall much smaller buy-to-let market.

Despite this constrained buy-to-let market, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) continues to provide a home for one in five households, according to the 2017/18 English Housing Survey, and the demand for PRS property will continue to grow.

Following the ban on letting fees to the proposed abolition of ‘no-fault’ eviction, Paragon believes 2020 will see the introduction of more tenant-friendly regulation, as PRS landlords play an increasingly vital role in meeting the UK’s housing need.

Moray Hulme, Director of Mortgage Sales at Paragon, said:

“In recent years, landlords have had to be more strategic in their approach than ever before and the buy-to-let market has seen a significant increase in portfolio and complex business. Whilst mainstream lenders have limited their involvement to smaller-scale landlords, Paragon and other specialist lenders have been able to adapt and offer the right products to enable landlords to remain efficient – and this is a trend that we expect to continue in the long-term.”

“We also expect to see more tenant-friendly regulation in 2020, as the PRS continues to support a housing crisis caused by multiple factors, including population growth, limited investment in social housing, and tighter mortgage affordability. All of this increased complexity and growing professionalism is good news for Paragon, as we head into the new year as one of the few specialist lenders with the capability to support complex buy-to-let mortgage requirements.”

Source: Property118

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Buy-to-let margins to improve

Buy-to-let pricing has become too cheap but rates are likely to rise in the next year and a half, a panel of experts at FSE London indicated. Rob Jupp, chief executive of Brightstar, said buy-to-let is an area he is cautious about because the margins are getting too thin.

He said: “Some lenders price buy-to-let similarly to resi. I’ve spent 15 years doing buy-to-lets where there was a 150, 200 basis points difference between resi and buy-to-let and that seems to be evaporated.

“It could be more about the quality of the asset and the fact buy-to-let is now with professional landlords.

“That’s the only thing I’m slightly nervous about and I think the margin in buy-to-let has got slightly too cheap and that has been one of the major factors for the dysfunctional housing market where there’s huge oversupplied buy-to-let mortgages at cheap margins.”

David Whittaker, chief executive of Keystone Property Finance, said margin will start to come back in, indicating that buy-to-let rates could rise.

He said: “I think borrowers have had this fantastic 12 months because there’s been this fantastic margin of compression.

“As rates go up generally over the next year and a half, some of that margin will start to come back in so I think generally pricing as a true margin, whether interest margin and proc fees, I think margins will start to harden up.”

Alan Cleary, managing director at Precise, said that it’s similar to the specialist marketswhere he’s seen 100 basis points disappear out of margin.

He said: “At the start of the cycle margins were good. As competition came about, margins got squeezed and that’s often good for the consumer.

“I don’t think we’ve got to a point where it’s a problem. We’ve got 300 basis points margin across what we do so I think the specialist market has got nowhere near [the stage of] not pricing for risk appropriately.”

Cleary added that amateur landlords aren’t aware of the impact of the buy-to-let tax changes, but professionals are.

Louisa Sedgwick, director of sales, mortgages, Vida Homeloans, reassured that the industry is heavily regulated so everything will likely be fine.

She added: “You’ll start to see some other lenders go up the risk curve doing some things a little different than mainstream lenders but at the end of the day they’re all regulated so if they’re working in a residential regulated environment, they can’t go too far up the risk curve without the regulator starting to ask some questions.

“Maybe this is less so in the buy-to-let market which is why you’re probably seeing some differences in some of the regulated and non-regulated lenders and the way they look at rental calculations as an example.

“You might see some lenders going up the risk curve but the bottom line is they’re still heavily regulated.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer