BestAdvice fires the questions at Andy Valvona, national accounts manager at CHL Mortgages.
BestAdvice (BA): You’ve specialised in running Key Accounts for lenders for many years, what does the role involve and how has it developed since you first started?
Andy Valvona (AV): My primary role is managing CHL Mortgage’s relationships with the major networks and clubs, together with larger Intermediary firms. Part of the role is all about identifying those advisers who might benefit from hearing more about our products, the specialist buy-to-let market in general and introducing our local BDM to them. Another is attending events, often being able to present on specific elements of our proposition or more generic content. For example, running limited company focused BTL workshops.
My role has not changed massively over the years but I am certainly seeing more advisers interested in the specialist end of the market than there used to be. This is due to the fact that more consumers are now happy to arrange their own residential mortgages if it is a straightforward purchase or remortgage. Many advisers have adapted accordingly and realise that there is more profitable business to be had from portfolio landlords who are purchasing or refinancing properties on a regular basis.
BA: CHL Mortgages has recently launched a large HMO/MUFB product, what opportunities do you see for brokers and landlords in this part of the market?
AV: The buy-to-let market continues to evolve, and changes in tax legislation has meant that many landlords are looking for higher yielding properties. At the same time, there are more younger people looking for somewhere to rent who may not be able to afford a property on their own. This means that HMOs have become more popular with renters, and larger HMOs have become more attractive to Landlords.
However, there is a caveat to that. Many local councils are ramping up their licencing requirements, which is resulting in some landlords looking to diversify their portfolios. And this is one reason why holiday lets and short-term lets have become such a popular and a viable alternative.
BA: What effect do you think the EPC regulations will have on landlords and the BTL market in general?
AV: There is no doubt that some landlords may decide to offload some of their lower rated properties. Those that need to enhance the EPC rating may also need to wait for a window in which to conduct the required work. A landlord friend of mine told me that finding tradespeople and materials is not as easy as it once was, so if landlords leave it till the last minute, they may have a longer rental void than they first envisaged (if the property needs to be empty in order to carry out the work). The good news is that a higher EPC rated property is, generally speaking, far more attractive to tenants and may attract a higher rental figure compared to a property with a significantly lower EPC rating.
BA: What is the opportunity you see in the short-term lets sector following your recent launch?
AV: There is no question that a greater number of people are embarking up staycations in the UK and the recent pictures and stories around the long airport queues may only serve to accentuate that. Having said that, it is prudent to point out that landlords need to be realistic about the rents they can expect, as the highs of the past two years will not necessarily be sustainable over the longer term, as the demand for international travel inevitably grows.
BA: What makes CHL Mortgages stand out from the competition?
AV: Whilst CHL Mortgages is a relatively newly launched lender, we have a rich heritage in the buy-to-let sector, and many intermediaries remember us from our earlier lending days as Capital Home Loans. Our proposition is all about competitive pricing and broad criteria aligned with a modern digital infrastructure to create a positive experience and deliver tangible benefits for our intermediary partners with no unnecessary obstacles.