Every Penny Counts…

From April 1st, all rented properties in the UK require a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rat

From April 1st, all rented properties in the UK require a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘E’, otherwise landlords could face a fine of up to £4,000.

In October 2017 the Government published the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for private landlords. In short, it detailed how from April 1st, all landlords will be prohibited from granting new tenancies for properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below ‘E’. This includes extensions and renewals of existing tenancies and even a tenant holding over at the end of a let period, as well as new let properties.

 Failing to meet the new standard could result in a fine of £4,000, however landlords are savvy investors and operate an alternative version of EPC - Every Penny Counts – so will look for ways of making this cost effective for them. But this is yet another obstacle for them to contend with.

 The recent PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority) changes, made it even more difficult for landlords fully service their loans using income generated by their investment due to tougher background portfolio stress tests and new tax implications.

 In addition, it would appear mortgage lenders may not provide finance for buy-to-let properties without the required EPC rating. Overall this could potentially leave landlords struggling to remortgage existing properties while they invest in energy efficiency measures on older properties falling in the ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating brackets.

 At Crystal Specialist Finance we’ve teamed up with Robin Thom from Green Heath Ltd to give you a few clever ideas on how to improve the energy performance of a property. The good news is that there are some simple, low-cost changes that can have a big impact.

 For instance, replacing old light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, such as LEDs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) will have a positive effect, as will insulating any suitable cavity walls and topping up loft insulation. These measures alone can take properties up a grade or two. We also have access to lenders that can provide loans on properties in various states of repair that would allow more substantial works to take place.

Property Valuation Top Tips

Your property valuation will depend on a number of factors, from the local housing market to the age

Your property valuation will depend on a number of factors, from the local housing market to the age and construction of your property. Each property requires its own assessment to accurately measure the unique characteristics that make up its value. Follow our tips below to give you the best chance to get the top valuations every time.


  1. Be there – Make sure you are at the property to meet the surveyor in person. No one understands your intentions better than you.
  2. Works schedule – If you have carried any improvements since you purchased the property, you should provide a list of all work done and make it as detailed as possible. If possible, provide “before and after photos” for any works done, taken from the same angles so the surveyor understands the scale of work.
  3. Sold pricesResearch and provide examples of similar properties nearby, sold within the last 6 months.
  4. Presentation – Clean, tidy and dress the property inside as well as any external areas. If it’s tenanted already then make sure it looks clean as a minimum.  If it’s empty, you can ensure any rubbish is tidied and the property looks its best.
  5. Realistic – Most of all, be realistic. Valuers work on facts, so the more realistic you can be with your estimations and intentions, the better the chances of the valuer agreeing and providing the required figures on the report.

If you would like more information or need any help, please contact one of our Lending Managers on 01827 301 073.


The effects of the Autumn budget on the property market

As the industry expected, the Chancellor revealed his plans to help the housing market and first-tim

As the industry expected, the Chancellor revealed his plans to help the housing market and first-time buyers in this week’s budget. What were these policies, and how could they affect the property market? We discuss the effects of the autumn budget in this blog.

There were two main property announcements in this week’s budget that impact on our industry. Firstly, the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) changes for first-time buyers and secondly the pledge of funding for the building of new homes.

 First-time buyers SDTL

 Stamp duty has now been scrapped for first-time buyers on all property purchases up to £300,000. There is then a reduction in the rate of stamp duty for prices between £300,000 and £500,000. This move has been designed to stimulate property purchases, and indeed estate agents have already been reporting an increase in enquiries, even though it has only been a few days since the announcement. According to the Halifax house-buying report, this will save first-time buyers £1,653 on an “average” purchase.

There are mixed views as to what impact this will have on house prices, and indeed on property demand overall, however brokers should see an increase in business, at least in the short term.

 Here at Crystal Specialist Finance, we specialise in the more unusual residential enquiries – self-employed, unusual properties, contract workers etc. Speak to our team today to see how we can help

 Funding for new-build homes

 The government has pledged to increase the number of new homes built to 300,000 per year by 2020. This means an increase in funding for infrastructure, and land to be built, but also planning reforms to ensure more land is available for housing while protecting the green belt. The PDR changes saw an increase in development finance, meaning more opportunities are available to developers, and any move to encourage housebuilding should be welcomed as a boost to the beleaguered building industry.

 We work tirelessly with our brokers to ensure they secure the best development funding for their clients. Some of our more successful brokers are working with developers on both the development finance and then the mortgages on the sales on exit too.

 We support brokers to make the most of opportunities that may otherwise be missed – such as commercial, bridging, development, specialist mortgages, buy-to-lets and secured loans. This includes adverse credit, start-up businesses, specialist property types etc. Our team are always on hand to discuss your cases, and keep an eye out for our update emails with new products, terms and offers!


#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


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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