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Crystal Specialist Finance names Commercial Finance Specialist Distributor of the Year at BMF Awards 2018

Wednesday 04 Apr 2018

Crystal Specialist Finance (CSF) has won one of the most prestigious categories at the professional finance industry’s leading annual awards, collecting Business Moneyfacts’ Commercial Finance Specialist Distributor of the Year 2018.

Hosted by TV presenter Claudia Winkleman at the prestigious Lancaster London Hotel, over 700 industry professionals from leading financial institutions and trade bodies attended the event.

Each eligible organisation was scrutinised so that only those who throughout the last 12 months have consistently offered the most competitive products, the highest service levels and shown the greatest innovation in the business and commercial finance world were deemed worthy of a winner’s plaque.

Jo Breeden, CSF Managing Director, said: “We highlighted this Award three years ago as a key target, and knew the customer-service advancements and financial growth we needed to realise to be successful.

“This firmly establishes us as one of the leading specialist distributors in the UK, and it is a further endorsement for brokers, many of whom already know that we deliver a truly first-class service. Now we must keep striding forwards apace as we aim for a repeat win in 2019.”

The next challenge - buy-to-let in the spotlight

Tuesday 03 Apr 2018

It is estimated that around £13 billion of existing buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages are set to finish their tie-in periods in the first half of 2018, and that means landlords need to move quickly before mooted interest rate rises are announced.

At the start of 2016, the BTL market witnessed an almost unprecedented volume of completions as landlords sought to bolster their portfolios ahead of new stamp duty rules.

Add into the mix low fixed interest rates and straightforward lending criteria, and it really was a golden period.

But that was then, this is now.

Following the two major changes by the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority) in 2017, many landlords may be unable to meet tougher stress test rules when refinancing, especially as lenders now look at the whole portfolio when considering applications, rather than just the subject property.

Compounding matters further still is the closure of the Funding for Lending Scheme, which will put upward pressure on interest rates.

But that doesn’t mean landlords should drift onto higher standard variable rates or ignore the problem and hope it will go away, because the industry has adapted too.

Many lenders have had time to understand and implement the changes, improving their workflow processes in accordance, but still the entire process from application to completion will take longer than it used to.

In addition, there are still excellent rates to be found, but here is a word of caution: murmurings from the Bank of England indicate that interest rates may rise again soon, and naturally this will be reflected in the products available to landlords. Given both of these particulars, time is definitely of the essence.

The simple advice is to act now and begin assessing your current BTL mortgage needs.

Once current requirements have been considered and a plan of action formulated, brokers and specialist finance companies will be able to point you in the right direction to make the process as seamless and short as possible.

This very much represents the next big buy-to-let challenge for landlords, but with the right advice and planning it should be seen as an opportunity and not a further hindrance.

Trio of firms deliver £1M solution to threatened development project

Friday 16 Mar 2018

Crystal Specialist Finance (CSF), VAS Panel and Priority Law have come together to save a £1m development finance project after the original lender withdrew their offer days before completion.

With planning permission for seven houses and one apartment and construction already underway on the South Birmingham site, it came to light that two areas of unregistered land fell on the plot. Despite relevant indemnities to cover the issue, the lender refused to progress the case which put the project at risk.

The broker contacted CSF whose Development Finance team arranged for the new potential lender’s solicitor to review the land titles prior to the new valuation at no cost to the client. The solicitor advised CSF to obtain a valuation report without the two unregistered plots which enabled the lender to take a commercial view with the support of appropriate indemnities.

Once considered the lender was satisfied that there was enough equity in the site to provide the client with 100% of the build cost on a 12-month term with a refinance exit route.

Jo Breeden, Managing Director of CSF said: “This is a case of leading industry experts coming together to truly understand a deal and work in close cooperation to ensure the correct outcome for the client, no matter what the issues.

“Gina May at VAS Panel and Rob MacNaughton at Priority Law worked seamlessly with our own Development Finance Director, Michael Fisher. After sourcing a lender, the extra due diligence undertaken at the start allowed us to find a solution for the client which did not accrue any additional fees.”

Crystal Specialist Finance and Together helps property development firm bridge funding gap in 48 hours

Monday 26 Feb 2018

Together and Crystal Specialist Finance have provided a short-term loan of £102,600 when the borrower, a property development company, was let down at the last minute by another bridging finance provider.

The company needed the funds for a development of seven flats and a two-bed townhouse which were close to completion, but required additional finance quickly so that the project was not delayed.

The developers intend to refinance in six months when they let the eight rental properties, and thanks to the fast funding from Together, they are back on track to finish the project as planned.

Jo Breeden, managing director of Crystal Specialist Finance said: “This case was quite straightforward, but the initial lender simply couldn’t deliver in the timescales. Thankfully, Together stepped in and delivered the loan within just 48 hours – a huge relief for the customer and a great outcome.”

Together’s commercial CEO Marc Goldberg said: “We pride ourselves on our speed of service when it comes to bridging. We see so many scenarios like this where other lenders make promises and then don’t deliver, but when we’ve committed to lend to a customer, we will do all we can to provide the funds as quickly as possible, even when the deadlines are extremely tight.

“Our broker partners like Crystal Specialist Finance know they can rely on us when it comes to unusual or complex cases, and when we saw this development, which is of a really high standard and was very close to completion, we agreed to provide the funds within the timeframe. Our underwriting team and solicitors worked closely with the client’s solicitors to make it happen and we’re delighted that the development will now be completed as planned.”

Come one, come all to the Crystal Ball

Thursday 01 Feb 2018

Crystal Specialist Finance (CSF) celebrated their record 2017 financial performance at the Crystal Ball, the business’s first awards event created to recognise both industry peers and top employees.

The entertaining evening, which took place at the luxurious Belfry Hotel and Resort on January 25th, was attended by over 100 industry professionals, all keen to see who’ll lift an award while raising money for charity.

Cick here to view the evening's highlights in pictures!

Lender award winners in categories including Bridging, Buy-to-Let, Residential and Secured Loan Lenders of the Year included Foundation Home Loans, Masthaven Bank, Shawbrook Bank and Together. In addition, Jack Coombs of Aspen Bridging took Underwriter of the Year while Gavin Seaholme of Shawbrook Bank was selected as BDM of the Year.

Competition was also tough for the internal awards where Emma Burleigh received New Business Employee of the Year, Gavin Holmes won Support Staff Employee of the Year and Kamila Cholewicka secured Loan Manager of the Year. The big winner was David Parkes, who took the coveted Employee of the Year.

Main sponsors included Foundation Home Loans, Masthaven Bank and Together, award sponsors were Aspen Bridging, Landbay, MTF and Together with Amicus, Atom Bank and LendInvest also taking key roles.

Jo Breeden, managing director of CSF, said: “At the outset a big thank you to everyone involved, from our sponsors to the attendees to the staff at Crystal who pulled the night together. The main aim of the event was to celebrate with all of our close friends within the financial industry and beyond, and to create anticipation and excitement with a selection of awards that highlighted our gratitude to everyone who’s helped make us the successful business we are today.

“The fact remains that everyone is a winner in our eyes, especially local charity Simon’s Heroes for whom we raised a wonderful £700. Now onto 2018 and another fantastic year, where we will continue to work in close partnership with all people and businesses to ensure a great 12-months all round.”

Crystal Specialist Finance Reports Record Breaking 2017

Tuesday 16 Jan 2018

Company issues terms of almost £2.5bn with all key performance indicators showing huge rises

Crystal Specialist Finance (CSF) has reported a record breaking 2017 as the company continues its sharp upward growth trajectory with huge increases in key business performance indicators.

Acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading specialist finance distributors, the multi award winning company issued terms of £2.45bn, a rise of 26% on the previous year.

In addition the value of completions was up 54.9%, completion numbers up 44.8% and applications up by 23.9% compared to 2016.

CSF issued terms with 59 lenders and completed deals with 46, including both high street and challenger banks.

Deal highlights included a two-day bridging loan completion just before Christmas, a £2.2m bridging loan on a property in Ireland and a £430k completion on a case declined by several other lenders but ultimately placed with a mainstream bank.

Jo Breeden, Managing Director of CSF said: “The finance industry has had a challenging 12 months, with stamp duty changes and new PRA guidance changing the regulatory landscape. Above this there has been the well documented uncertainty in the economy post-Brexit, so we knew we needed to adapt to grow.

“Through a process of comprehensive education, both with staff internally and with brokers through our roadshows and marketing, we have been able to address these changes and position ourselves as true experts in our field and a go-to resource for brokers for their specialist finance cases.

“This hard work has been mirrored in our 2017 results, which are truly exceptional. We can categorically state that we are now one of the biggest specialist distributors in the UK, and we will continue to develop and expand our business so we continue to achieve year-on-year growth regardless of market conditions.”

CSF operates across five specialist divisions: Bridging, Commercial, Development Finance, Second Charge Loans and Specialist Mortgages. The business is open to applications on all types of properties in England, Scotland and Wales, with the company having access to over 70 lenders, including exclusive product lines.