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Refurbishment Finance – How to Add Value to Your Buy to Let and Commercial Properties

Following the tax relief restrictions, more and more landlords are looking for ways to increase the value of their rental properties. Refurbishing an out-dated or rundown property is a popular way of injecting value into a property quickly, but what's involved and how can you refurbish if you haven't got a huge amount of capital to invest? Development expert, Paul Keddy, explains...

What’s meant by “refurbishment”?

Refurbishment refers to any works needed to update a property, from decorating to minor structural changes. They are much smaller projects than property developments.

Why do people refurbish?

Generally, refurbishing is used to modernise a property in order to increase monthly rental yield or resale value. This can range from giving everything a fresh coat of paint and fixing minor snags, fitting a new kitchen or bathroom to adding an extension. Sometimes, lenders will insist refurbishment is done to bring a property up to rentable standards, usually to raise an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. Ultimately, you want the return (through rent or sale) to cover the works done, plus profit.

Light vs. Heavy Refurbishment

There are two types of refurbishment, light and heavy. The level of work required and projected time it will take to complete will affect the type of loan your broker will source for you (more on that later).

This generally refers to decorating, for example, fitting a new kitchen/bathroom. These are aesthetic rather than structural changes to a property. The refurbishment work should typically be completed within 6 months.

Heavy: Structural changes which may require planning permission or building regulations. This type of refurbishment is likely to take longer than 6 months to complete.

What are your plans for the property?

As mentioned, there are usually two reasons why landlords take out a refurbishment loan. Either, they are looking to add value to a long term investment (i.e. they are going to rent the property out) or they are looking to add immediate value and then resell the property.

Lenders need to know what your plans are for the property - are you going to rent it out or sell it after you have completed the refurbishment? Your broker will want to know this at the beginning of the process to find you the correct lender and rates for the subsequent mortgage (if required).

How does financing work on refurbishment projects?

Traditionally, refurbishment loans are a type of bridging finance; money is released to you to fund the refurbishment work, based on the purchase price and projected value of the property post-refurbishment, and is repaid once works are completed within a short term, pre-agreed time period. Once both the work and the reinspection are complete, either a conventional buy to let mortgage term can begin or the property can be resold. This type of finance is available for both residential buy to let and commercial properties.

With the increased popularity in residential buy to lets, some lenders are now packaging together refurbishment loans and buy to let mortgages as a pre-agreed product. Terms for the short-term loan and long-term mortgage are agreed, and once both the works and the second valuation are complete, you can move smoothly to the BTL mortgage. Because the lender packages the two products together, they only require one application and one conveyancer, saving you money on the fees! To find out more about these packages, please contact me at

What do I need to get a refurbishment loan?

Unlike most mortgages, which purely look at your financial ability to make the mortgage repayments, refurbishment lenders will often look for experience in the process. If this is your first time refurbishing a property with the intention of either renting or selling it after, they will look at your “CV” of experience in the decorating or building trade – do you know what’s involved and therefore have accurate expectations of the cost and time it takes to do the works required. Their confidence in your ability will affect what is available to you, so this is an important thing to consider if you’re thinking of starting out.

Refurbishment for Residential Buy to Let

The Process

In addition to your refurbishment experience, Buy to Let lenders are primarily interested in the rental return per calendar month and whether it’ll be enough to cover mortgage repayments. They will do their risk assessments based on your financial credentials and not your proposed tenants. In this regard it is usually a fairly straight forward process, depending on your credit history etc.

How much can I borrow?

This will vary depending on your circumstances and the proposal for the property, however, for light refurbishment Residential BTL loans, you can expect rates from 0.49% per month for the bridging section of the finance, followed by rates from 2.99% per month for the buy to let section of the mortgage.

Refurbishment for Commercial Buy to Let

The Process

Commercial Buy to Let lenders will tend to do more thorough due diligence than with residential BTL applications. While your financial behaviours will be looked at, they will also require accounts for the business planning to take tenancy in the property. They will likely be looking for an established and stable business and will want to know the length of lease offered to the tenant, as these factors will affect the lender's perceived risk.

How much can I borrow?

It is worth bearing in mind that commercial rates are generally higher than residential BTL, and as with all loans, it will vary according to your financial circumstances and credit history.

With Commercial refurbishment, you’re likely to see rates from 0.83% per month for a short term, light refurbishment loan. Due to the complex nature of commercial investments, subsequent mortgages will likely be arranged on a more individual basis.

There are currently no refurbish to let style products for commercial properties, so once the refurbishment is complete you will need to take out a standard commercial mortgage. An experienced mortgage broker is best placed to help you find the right deal.

What fees should I be aware of?

Arrangement fees

Lenders typically charge a fee for arranging the loan. Expect to pay around 1.5% to 2% of the loan amount.

Exit fees

Some, but not all lenders charge an exit fee from bridging loans - which is why using an experienced mortgage broker who understands all the different lender charges can help to find you the best deal. Exit fees are applied at the end of the loan, either as a percentage of the loan value or sometimes the gross development value, which can significantly push up the project costs.

Valuation fees

During the application process, lenders will instruct a surveyor to value the property both before and post refurbishment works. The valuation fee will depend on the size of the project.

Broker fee

This is the fee that brokers charge for finding a suitable lender, negotiating a price and getting a suitable, formal loan offer. All brokers charge differently but at Mortgages for Business, we typically charge between 0.5-1% of the loan amount depending upon the complexity of the case. Normally, we only charge a fee if we are successful in getting the client a formal loan offer. We may also charge an administration fee, but we will always tell you exactly what you can expect to pay up-front.

Next Steps

If you’re considering investing in a property which needs refurbishment, whether residential or commercial and would like more advice about the processes involved and what might be best for your situation, do not hesitate to contact me, Paul Keddy. With over 35 years’ experience in the financial services industry, I specialise in Property Development Finance, Commercial Mortgages and complex Buy to Let finance, so will be happy to help with any queries.

Call me direct on 01732 471 655 or email me at




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