#WorkshopTour takes off in Tamworth!

Event: Specialist Lending Market Overview WorkshopLocation: Crystal Specialist Finance Head Office,

Event: Specialist Lending Market Overview Workshop
Location: Crystal Specialist Finance Head Office, Tamworth
Date: Thursday 19th May 2016 

Our 2016 Workshop Tour kicked off at Crystal Specialist Finance's Head Office in Tamworth.

We value the opportunity to meet the brokers that we work so closely with every day. Inviting those local to us to our offices made this event twice as special.

Spread across two time slots, the specialist lending workshops included presentations from our close friend Roger Morris, Director of Sales for Precise Mortgages, plus our very own Managing Director, Jo Breeden and Operations Manager, Kris Corns.


The workshop provided an overview of the specialist lending market, with a large focus on buy-to-let and the implications of April's property tax changes, as well as the options for Limited Company ownership. As well as explaining the changes using real-world examples, brokers had the opportunity to discuss cases that they have come across and, with the guidance of our experts, found the best solutions.


If you'd like to learn more on the recent UK tax changes and how they will affect property professionals, then download our useful eGuide here.

After the presentations, there was ample time for cases, questions, and of course, tea and biscuits! The prize draw was equally as well received.



Jo Breeden looks at bridging in 2017

Our very own Jo Breeden has been interviewed by mortgage and finance experts online mortgage ad

Our very own Jo Breeden has been interviewed by mortgage and finance experts online mortgage advisor in their analysis of the year ahead, quoted as the specialist finance expert for all things bridging and commercial.

Online Mortgage Advisor have pulled together peers, experts, and market leaders from a wide range of industries to discuss and comment on how the future lies for the housing and finance market, covering hot topics such as Brexit, the Buy-To-Let tax and regulatory reforms, house prices, lending policy, and even the future role of Robo-Advice.

Click here to view the article What does 2017 look like in full, and read Jo's comments!

Are HMOs the new buy-to-let?

It is a well-known fact that as a country, we are still struggling with a lack of affordable housing

It is a well-known fact that as a country, we are still struggling with a lack of affordable housing for its residents. High house prices, changing work structures and differing lifestyles have lead people away from being home owners and peaked interests in renting property.

This change in demand has impacted on the rental market, with provider of multi-let services, Multi-Let UK, seeing a 150% year on year rise in investors purchasing multi-lets and HMOs. 

Until April of this year, buy-to-let landlords were capitalising on the flexibility of the mortgages available to them and the lack of additional charges that came with expanding their portfolios. The increased Stamp Duty and Income Tax that comes with owning a second properties has shaved profits on these kinds of properties, and landlords are looking for ways to fill the yield deficit.

What was once deemed a traditional family property is now being converted into separate living quarters for multiple households, generating more income. Traditionally, these type of properties would be used as student lets in cities where the rent of a single occupant dwelling is high.

However, the impact of this change in the landlord landscape is spreading outside of the traditional low income/university areas and becoming a more cosmopolitan setting for young, working people to reside. Councils like Bexley and Crewe have seen a huge rise in their HMO landscape, particularly in smaller properties.

Whilst landlords find the healthier yields increasingly attractive, they do have their down sides. Managing an HMO can be very demanding. It requires far more from the landlord in terms of time management, commitment, initial investment and running costs. 

If you or your client is interested in learning more about the ins and outs of HMOs, we’ve compiled a free, comprehensive guide! From the technical definition of an HMO to securing a license and, of course, funding your clients' investment, this guide covers everything you need to understand this alternative type of property investment. There’s even a top 10 things to consider before purchasing an HMO.

To download your free HMO eGuide, click below: 

Download your free HMO eGuide here


When can a broker rest assured a lender is managing fraud responsibly?

During the first six months of 2016 a financial scam was committed, on average, every 15 seconds, ac

During the first six months of 2016 a financial scam was committed, on average, every 15 seconds, according to recent figures from Financial Fraud Action UK.

That represents a 53% rise year-on-year, with these scams coming in all shapes and sizes. Furthermore, a staggering 56% of UK organisations have been affected by fraud in some way, and it is one of the biggest risk concerns facing board members.

The mortgage market is no stranger to financial frauds. Recent years have seen fraudsters raise their game in identifying weak spots within the transaction chain, so lenders are duty bound to do more in order to keep them at bay.

Best practice

Lenders face a tricky balancing act between implementing effective anti-fraud measures, which address concerns about the risk of identity theft and online fraud, while still offering a frictionless customer experience.

Awareness, data and having the right systems in place is a crucial tool in the fight against financial services fraud. Fraud savvy lenders will be members of CIFAS, which is the UK’s leading fraud prevention system. It gives firms access to the fraud data collected by government agencies, the police and other industry firms. Ideally that membership will be a supplement to the use of SIRA (Synetics) and other data providers which give enhanced insight to ID verification, including Sanctions, PEP (politically exposed persons) and Adverse Media. And crucially lenders need to provide quality training to underwriters on the risks faced by fraud.

These data feeds, along with Equifax Insight credit data, are a very powerful resource, supplying a range of data on mortgage applicants and how accurate the information they have supplied truly is. It’s crucial that lenders engage with these data feeds, and add in their own information in a structured way. The richer those structured data feeds become, the more they benefit everyone across the industry.

Where tech can’t replace human diligence

However, the data can only do so much. There is no single algorithm that can look over that data and then decide if the application is credible and transparent. It’s also vital therefore to employ quality and experienced underwriters who know how to cast a truly critical eye over all application data.

There is great potential for technology to bring improvements to the mortgage market, but that technology must be there to support manual decision-making, rather than replace it. Technology for technology’s sake must be avoided. Instead a risk-based approach should be adopted.

No shortcuts

In the short-term finance world, some of the attempted fraud focuses around buying the property under value for reasons which aren’t transparent. There can be good reasons for securing a property for less than it is worth of course, but there are also cases where borrowers attempt to keep lenders in the dark about the true nature of the transaction.

Ultimately fraud management comes down to each individual lender, and the checks they carry out. Any lender looking to build a sustainable and scalable business, will need to demonstrate in word and deed that they are lending responsibly, for the benefit of brokers and the mortgage market as a whole.


This article was originally published on the LendInvest Intermediary Blog.  

An award-winning lender (NACFB Short-Term Lender of the Year 2016), LendInvest’s focus is on outstanding service: they're committed to straight answers and minded to go above and beyond what's expected. Their expertise is in short-term finance and small-scale property development. Their clients enjoy a highly-specialised service, supported by a team of over 100 dedicated staff and the most diverse capital base of any mortgage lender in the market.

Making things Crystal clear...

INTRODUCTION: An image post uses a visual element as the centerpiece of your post, such as a SlideSh


An image post uses a visual element as the centerpiece of your post, such as a SlideShare presentation, infographic, comic, or high-resolution images.

Use your introduction to provide a caption for your image(s). Why is it valuable? What’s the point? Image posts don’t require a lot of text, so choose your words wisely.

Here are some examples of how we use Visual blog posts here at HubSpot:


After just a few lines of introductory text, insert the visual.



Call out the most important elements of the visual. Include “Tweet this!” links that mention key points and vital takeaways from your visual.


Now it’s time to say goodbye and wrap up your post. Remind your readers of your key takeaway, reiterate what your readers need to do to get the desired result, and ask a question about how they see the topic to encourage comments and conversation. Don't forget to add a Call-to-Action!

Congratulations! What a lovely image post you've created.



Specialist Lending Workshop Tour visits Manchester!

Event: Specialist Lending Market Overview WorkshopLocation:Together Money Offices, Lake View, Lakesi

Event: Specialist Lending Market Overview Workshop
Together Money Offices, Lake View, Lakeside, Cheadle, SK8 3GW
Thursday 6th October 2016 


Our first joint specialist lending workshop with Together kicked off on October 6th with resounding success.

The first of our Autumn workshops was held at the Together Head Offices in Cheadle, providing our brokers with the opportunity of visiting the lender’s hub and making the event that little bit more special.

Crystal Specialist Finances’ very own Managing Director, Jo Breeden joined Together’s Key Account Manager, Laleta Buctkuar to bring our brokers a morning filled with all things Specialist Finance, with a large focus on buy-to-let and the implications of the recent property tax changes.

Laleta Buctkuar (Together Money) and Jo Breeden (Crystal Specialist Finance) at our Manchester workshop.
The workshop provided an overview of the specialist lending market, including the options for Limited Company ownership - all bought to life with real-world examples. In addition, brokers had the opportunity to discuss cases that they have come across and, with the guidance of our experts, found the best solutions.

Jo Breeden presenting at the Crystal Specialist Finance workshop in Manchester with Together Money.
If you'd like to learn more on the recent UK tax changes and how they will affect property professionals, then download our useful eGuide belowDownload your free UK Tax Changes eGuide here

Finally, we’d like to say a huge congratulations to Emmanuel Frimpong from ACI Money for winning the prize draw on the day. we hope you enjoyed your nice bottle of champagne!

Emmanuel Frimpong (ACI Money) and Jo Breeden (Crystal Specialist Finance)


Bridge your clients' buy-to-let purchase

The Buy-to-Let (BTL) market has come back swinging after a heavy hit from Aprils tax changes. Proper

The Buy-to-Let (BTL) market has come back swinging after a heavy hit from Aprils tax changes. Property listing site Rightmove has reported that the quarter following the increase in tax paid by landlords has seen a 30% increase in demand from BTL investors

While some may contribute this spike to overseas buyers taking advantage of the lull in the value of Sterling, others put this markets resilience down to how open it has become over the past few years.


An ever-increasing number of lenders are offering products perfect for the needs of every aspiring landlord.

Products have never been more diverse, and this volume is making it a great income generator for UK brokers. But what if it’s not the landlord standing in the way of a BTL deal; it’s the property? Well, a Bridge-to-Let could be the answer.

Unmortgagable Properties

There are a whole host of reasons why a property could be classed as unmortgageable. From kooky constructions to selective lease holding, these “problem properties” can be troublesome. For a property to be classed as “unmortgageable” it could fall into any of the following categories:

Without a bathroom and kitchen
Low value (most lenders consider this less than £50k)
On a short lease (for leasehold properties)
Structurally unsound (Built near mineworks or flood planes)
Non-standard constructions (concrete, steel framed)

That’s not to say that they’re without merits. Although in their current state they’re unmortgagable, they also usually have a low price tag – making them a great acquisition for landlords. Restrictions on mortgaging (particularly with buy-to-lets) could stop a property with money-making power from reaching it’s potential, and that is where a bridge comes in.

The quick release of funds can be put towards renovations on the property to make it habitable, before securing a mortgage against it at its new value.

Sub-par property interiors and beyond

A bridge can be used to increase yield in properties with interiors that have seen better days. Sprucing up the interior of the property could increase its market value which would allow your client to borrow more against the house in terms of a mortgage.

It’s also a relatively simple way to make a property more desirable, more readily lettable and possibly even increase the rent which could be attained.

Bridge-to-let products can also be used to quickly secure properties at auction. 

The Perfect Product(s)

When considering financing a bridge-to-let, there are a couple of ways to do it.

The bridging loan and buy-to-let mortgage could be secured at separate times, allowing the client to thoroughly explore their options and weigh up their present circumstances.

The main draw of this method of finance is the flexibility and control that is placed in the hands of the client. With your help, they can source and apply for each product when they’re ready – shopping around for the best deal possible. Particularly in the property market, situations can change at the drop of a hat and being able to choose products when needed may make some clients more comfortable.

Lenders have started to take notice the popularity of the bridge-to-let financing a transaction in this way. Some have combined both the bridge and the BTL funding into one transaction. As the two products are combined, the BTL mortgage is pre-approved (subject to agreed works being completed).

All in all, this method of funding provides a smoother transition from a short-term product to a long-term product. While your client may not be able to look around for the best rate at the time, they have the security of having the next step already lined up.

Speaking to an expert at Crystal Specialist Finance could help you and your client work out a bridge-to-let strategy that suits their needs. From sourcing individual products for the best rates to taking advantage of the smooth transition of a bridge-to-let product, we have lenders on our panel that could help you.

Contact your BDM today to see what we can do for you and your client:

Contact a BDM


Make the most of your secret sales force

There are many ways to increase your sales and profits. And you can do this without having to spend

There are many ways to increase your sales and profits. And you can do this without having to spend a fortune.


One example is to unleash your secret sales team. In fact it is so secret, you may not know it exists. This team is your clients.

In a world of lead generation, social media and online marketing in general, it is often easy to overlook that the most effective form of promotion remains the same as it has ever been – word-of-mouth. Your clients can act as your secret sales force.

It’s an old saying that a happy client tells about three people, whilst a dissatisfied one could tell up to a dozen.  Actually, today a happy client may not tell anyone, because companies have to work much harder to get word of mouth promotion. To do this, you need to delight your clients; satisfying their needs is no longer enough. You need to exceed their expectations, meaning that you must continually find ways to add value. If you delight and exceed expectations, then you’ll have an advocate who will tell others about you. If you meet expectations, or simply satisfy, then your client may be loyal, but won’t necessarily tell others.

Warning: If a client becomes dissatisfied, they could be telling hundreds of their friends about this on online forums, blogs and the likes of Twitter. So you need to keep on top of this and quite often you can turn dissatisfaction into delight.

To delight your clients, your employees are a vital ingredient.

When thinking about client loyalty, start with your employees. It has been shown that the more motivated the employees, the more likely it is that your profits will rise. A motivated workforce means lower staff turnover, which reduces cost and ensures your service levels remain high; a new team member could take up to six months to get into the flow, understand your culture and client needs. In fact, the key rule of client loyalty is, serve your employees first so they, in turn, can serve your customer – who then can bring more customers to your door.

So to recap…

Your clients are your secret sales force. To make the most out of this, you must delight them and exceed their expectations. To do this, your employees are vital and the more engaged your workforce, the more likely it is that your clients will become advocates, a great way of generating incremental business.

Jeff Knight is Head of Marketing for Pepper Homeloans.
Pepper Homeloans prides itself on a more common-sense approach to mortgage lending. By not using Credit Scoring, they can provide a sensible solution for your tricky residential and buy-to-let cases. This includes clients with a blip on their credit rating or those that are self-employed.


Get it right with Right to Buy!

The prospect of finding a Right to Buy (RTB) product can seem daunting for even the most experienced

The prospect of finding a Right to Buy (RTB) product can seem daunting for even the most experienced broker.

But an increasing number of tenants are utilising the scheme to turn their long term council properties into their homes. While the scheme has been seen as controversial in certain circles, it’s enabled clients on a lower income to access property and created a lot more opportunities for business.

Compared to the same quarter of last year, RTB purchases have increased by 21% in April to June.  Figures like this are a clear indicator of interest in the sector; but what is the RTB Scheme, how do clients qualify and how does specialist lending come into the picture? You have the Right to know…

What is the RTB scheme?

The RTB scheme is a government mortgage scheme that allows long term tenants of council properties to purchase them from the Local Authority /Housing Association at a discounted rate. Simply put, the council discounts a sum of money from the market value of the house, therefore reducing the deposit needed. In some cases a discount can mean that no deposit is needed at all.

The discount applied to the property depends on the amount of time that the client has been living at the property. The chart below highlights how the property type and time spent residing at that property can affect the discount available.

Years of residence Discount (House) Discount (Flat)
3 35% or up to £42,000 50% or up to £60,000
10 40% or up to  £48,000 60% or up to £72,000
20 50% or up to £60,000 70% or up to £84,000
30 60% or up to £72,000 70% or up to £84,000
40 + 70% or up to £84,000 70% or up to £84,000


How do I know if my client qualifies?

2015 saw a change to the eligibility criteria on RTB applications. Clients only have to be living as a public sector tenant in the council property for three years (instead of the original five). Bear in mind that this time period doesn’t have to be in the same property, but has to be continuous.

The Process

There are really only three stages to securing a RTB property.


Once you have the Section 125, you can apply for a mortgage or loan to cover the purchase.

RTB’s are similar to vanilla residentials

When boiled down to the bare bones of the transaction, a RTB mortgage is no different to a residential mortgage – in fact, a residential mortgage could be used to fund the purchase if the clients can provide a cash deposit.

Simple to do and incredibly lucrative, any savvy mortgage broker should be making an effort to break into this expanding market.

But specialist enough that you may need a hand

Until recently, only prime lenders entertained the thought of RTB, thus clients with adverse were rarely accepted on a RTB mortgage. As the appetite for these kind of deals has increased, more lenders are willing to offer products that cater for wider circumstances. Within the specialist lending market, products will cater to those looking to borrow the entire of the discounted purchase price (up to the maximum LTV) and will consider clients with a less than perfect credit score.

Being able to complete business for your buy to let clients requires knowledge, experience and access to products. This is where the team at Crystal really adds value, by working with you to complete more business for your clients.

If you have a RTB case that you’d like to discus, contact your local BDM and we’ll be happy to help!


Broker Basics: Financing a chain break

While it’s great to have a foot on the property ladder, how do you take the next step? If your

While it’s great to have a foot on the property ladder, how do you take the next step? If your client decides that they’d like to move and they have to work quickly, having to hold onto their current property could tie up equity that would be pivotal for their new purchase.

Without other finance options your client has two choices: Lose their new dream-home or break the property chain.


Loosely put, the property chain is when purchasing a new home depends on the success/completion of other transactions. This situation is pretty common for anyone looking to move home, whether it’s a young family needing to expand or elderly clients hoping to downsize and free up the property’s equity.  There could be many links in the chain, all of which need to align.

With even more mortgages being declined on the high street, it’s becoming harder to sell your property than ever before. Stricter criteria and increasing prices could leave your clients home on the market for a lot longer than they’d like. When these funds are the driving force behind getting your clients new property they may have to consider breaking the chain and temporarily financing the property with an alternative product.

Bridging finance in an ideal option for those looking to finance their dream home while trying to sell their original property. These multi-use products usually span 3 to 12 months.  Securing this kind of finance provides a breathing space that allows your client to secure their next property while giving them adequate time to find a buyer for their current one – without having to accept a lower price. The loan can be secured against the current property, intended property or a combination of both to achieve the required figure.


As with all bridging products, an exit route is needed. The balance of the bridging loan, rolled up interest, legals and any ERCs are paid off once the original property has been sold. From there, a mortgage can be taken out on the new residence if needed.


If your client is looking to break their property chain, then we could find a bridging loan to suit their circumstances. Get in touch with a BDM for your area below for more information:

Contact a BDM


About Us

Crystal Specialist Finance is one of the most well respected and fastest growing finance distributors in the UK.

We offer specific expert advice, products, and award-winning service to brokers and networks across five core markets: Commercial Finance, Bridging Loans, Development Funding, Second Charge Loans and Specialist Mortgages.

Operating across England, Scotland and Wales, we have access to over 70 lenders, including exclusive lines.

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