Using Property Refurbishment Finance to Increase Your Property Investment Returns

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Home » Bridging Loans » Using Property Refurbishment Finance to Increase Your Property Investment Returns


The ‘war on landlords’ is not just a catchy headline, it is a fact. The number of buy to lets purchased is reducing at an alarming rate and is predicted to reduce further.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of articles online about ‘the death of buy to let’, but we prefer to focus on the positives. In this article, we’ll run through exactly how you can claw back those returns by adding value to your properties.

Read on below to find out more.

Buy to Let Rule Changes Are Killing Returns

This reduction can be put down to a number of factors, the main ones being:

  • Stamp duty changes
  • Prudential measures
  • Tax changes

The changes are well publicised and would need an article of their own to explain them, but the net effect is that real returns for investors are dropping. The reduction in yield and increased cost of purchasing new property is making further investment less attractive, and therefore demand has dropped.

Although this is considered a sign of poor health in the sector, it also means there is less competition when looking to buy houses.

Property Refurbishment in Practice

The below is real example of a property refurbishment that we have recently funded

  • Purchase Price: £78,000
  • Cost Of Work: £20,000
  • Value When Complete: £140,000
  • Total Cost: £98,000
  • Total Profit: £42,000

The client is rewiring the property, replastering, renovating the kitchen & bathroom, redecorating, fitting a new boiler and remedying a minor drainage issue. For the level of work involved, the client is seeing a significant uplift in value and will achieve a premium on their rent as the finish will be very tidy.

The result will be a £42,000 profit (minus finance costs), an increase in rent and a saving on stamp duty compared to buying a property for £140,000.

How to Fund Property Refurbishment

Property refurbishment is usually funded by taking out a bridging loan, completing the work and then refinancing onto a buy to let mortgage. Although the cost of doing this has previously been so high that it takes out a large portion of the return, times are changing.

There is a pricing war in the bridging loan market, fuelled by numerous new lenders entering the market who are keen to lend. Bridging loan rates currently start at 0.44% per month, the equivalent of 5.28% per year.

Even when borrowing at 75% loan to value on a residential buy to let property, funding is available for light or medium refurbishment from 0.64% per month (7.68% per annum). With a similar reduction in fees and charges, the costs are down significantly, making refurb-to-let more viable than ever.

Calculating Your Maximum Loan

Each lender has their own criteria and will lend different amounts. Generally speaking, when calculating your maximum loan, there are two ways that a lender will look at it, they are:

  • Day 1 Loan to Value Only: Lenders that fall in to this camp tend to be cheaper but will lend slightly less. They assess their maximum loan based on the loan to value (the amount lent in relation to the value of the property, as a percentage). Many lenders will allow you to borrow up to 75% of the property value, leaving you to fund the cost of works.
  • Day 1 Loan to Value Plus the Cost of Works: The lenders who fall into the second camp allow you to borrow as above, but will also fund some, or all of the costs of the work. These lenders tend to charge a slightly higher rate but can help where you could not otherwise pay for the work. Where a lender is going over their maximum loan to value to fund the cost of works, they will be keen to understand how much the property will be worth when complete.

Faster Completions

By taking one of the above routes, you are going to be able to agree to a much faster completion time, as bridging loans generally take around 2 weeks to complete.

When committing to a 21, or 28-day completion on properties in need of refurbishment, there is often movement on the price. In addition, if completing in this sort of timescale, auction purchases are open to you as you can comfortably hit the deadline.

By taking this approach and being smart with the offer you make, the cost of taking out the additional finance can be saved before you even start.

When Does Refurbishment Become Development?

Property refurbishment finance can be used for a wide spectrum of requirements, from light internal redecoration, right through to large extensions. This allows you to perform significant works on a property and therefore add value. Common works include:

  • Full redecoration
  • Changing the internal layout of a poorly designed property
  • Replacement of kitchen & bathroom
  • New boilers and installation of central heating
  • Rewiring the property
  • Conversions to HMO
  • Change of use
  • Extensions
  • Loft conversions
  • Removal of internal walls

As you can imagine, for the right property, the value added by taking these actions can far outweigh the cost of the work to do it.

The Final Word

There is a real opportunity to add value to your property investment available at the moment. With demand for buy to let plummeting, the chances of picking up a bargain and far greater than they were previously.

Purchasing at the right price for a property in need of refurbishment, combined with cheap borrowing and lower prices for quick completions can make you real money.

You will see both an increase in value, and higher rents. The returns are out there. As a matter of fact, higher returns than those accepted by buy to let investors over the last few years are out there, it’s just a case of going the extra mile to find them.


About The Author

This content was produced by our Commercial Lending Director, Gary Hemming. Gary has over 15 years’ experience in financial services and specialises in bridging loans, commercial mortgages, development finance and business loans. He is widely respected in his field and regularly provides expert commentary for specialist trade publications, specialist business press as well as local and national press.

Gary Hemming CeMAP CeFA CeRGI CSP  -  
Commercial Lending Director

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