Following one of the guiding principles of our business, ‘boots on the ground’, we decided to launch the Signature Property Finance brand in Scotland, taking advantage of local knowledge of local markets.
We are a growing business and despite the current need for social distancing, we believe in meeting developers to understand their vision for the properties we are asked to provide funding for. This national service delivered locally is key to our continued success.
I was brought in to manage the office in Edinburgh and leverage my local market knowledge banking sector expertise and extensive contact list, shaped by more than 20 years’ experience, to help further the firm’s growth strategy across Scotland.
The year has been a good one generally, although as you might expect for a new entrant into a market, it took a little time for us to gain traction with the developers across the north.
Momentum clearly slowed owing to the current lockdown, but we have received and are progressing a number of enquiries, for everything from bridging and refurbishment loans to auction and development finance.
We needed to implement new criteria during the pandemic, partly caused by our inability to visit sites and not being able to get valuations done, but we have seen an increase in enquiries as other lenders have closed their doors to new business.
But the number of deals we have had to turn away, I believe says more about the lenders currently absent from the market and what level of risk they would accept, than it does about Signature.
Scotland buoyant with numerous hotspots
The latter stages of 2019, delivered a boost to the tourism trade in Scotland, with very strong Edinburgh fringe numbers, which is perhaps one driver for the increasing number of developers looking to refurbish properties with a view to listing on Air B&B.
The state of the high street is not really any different in Scotland to anywhere else in the UK, but the demand for affordable housing has ensured we’ve seen an increasing number of projects to convert retail property to flats, which is turning the tide of boarded-up shops at least.
Scotland has also provided a number of property hotspots in the 12 months since we opened our office here, including Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, to say nothing of Edinburgh itself – all locations in which we have funded redevelopment projects.
Just prior to our move into Scotland, Edinburgh and Falkirk were reported to have the fastest-moving housing markets in the UK, where properties were snapped up in just 27 days – around half the average according to Zoopla.
We have already built strong relationships with quality brokers and direct clients, who understand we do what we say we will do and that ability to instil confidence, counts for a lot when conditions are tough.
I look forward to the next year in Edinburgh with optimism, but who knows what to expect given the pandemic was a nasty shock, just after we thought we’d finally emerged from the uncertainty surrounding Brexit – a story I almost miss now.
On a personal note, I’d like to those clients and brokers who have supported us in year one and continue to do so. Also, If you have a funding requirement for property in Scotland, hotspot or not, please call me on 07704 004314 or email firstname.lastname@example.org