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Net-Zero Building Standards Don’t Have to Be Costly – Study Reveals

By Blog, Development Finance

A new report published by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) reveals that building to net-zero targets doesn’t have to be costly, and could likely enhance a project’s value.

 

The report by the UK Green Building Council, titled “Building the case for net-zero: A feasibility study into the design, delivery and cost of new net-zero carbon buildings”, explores implications of following net-zero standards throughout building development projects.

 

To help with this exploration, the report enlisted the help of designers, cost consultants and engineers, whose expert inputs have helped to create a clear look into applying net-zero targets to building projects.

 

The UKGBC Study

Throughout the study, two real-life building projects were examined, both at the design stages of their development, with one being a residential block, and the other being an office building.

 

Taking these two projects, the team then created two additional iterations to each of their designs, one aiming to meet the net-zero targets for 2025, and the other shaped by the targets for 2030. These two iterations were labelled the “intermediate” and “stretch” scenario respectively.

 

For the “intermediate” scenario of the residential block’s design, traditional gas boilers were replaced with air source heat pumps, in addition to other tactics to improve insulation and minimise heat loss.

 

In the same scenario, the office building design was altered by trading in the conventional structure of steel and concrete for a hybrid of steel and cross-laminated timber, as well as introducing active chilled beams and removing certain fitout finishes.

 

The Findings

 

For the “intermediate” scenario, aiming to meet the net-zero 2025 targets, analysis found that the cost only went up by 3.5% for the residential design, and 6.2% for the office building. It was also suggested that these costs were likely to be offset by the increased value and reduced costs for operating.

 

For the “stretch” scenario, analysis found that the cost for the residential building would be up by 5.3%, whilst the office building could range from between 8% and 17%.

 

Chief executive of the UKGBC Julie Hirigoyen commented: “We’ve known for some time that taking action to make buildings greener today will add value and save costs in the longer term. But the precise cost benefit analysis of achieving net-zero carbon standards on new buildings today has remained elusive.”

 

“This study provides long-awaited evidence that building today to the standards of energy and carbon efficiency required by 2025 doesn’t have to cost a fortune and is likely to be offset by enhanced value (e.g. higher rents, reduced running costs, higher sale price, reduced offsetting costs etc) in due course.”

construction-worker-with-plans

CHAS and NFB Help to Raise UK Construction Standards With Renewed Partnership

By Blog, Development Finance

The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS) and the National Federation of Builders (NFB) have recently renewed their partnership, committing to the promotion of high operating standards throughout the industry.

 

The NFB represents builders and regional contractors throughout both England and Wales. It is one of the country’s longest standing trade bodies, created to not only represent professions in building, but furthermore to improve the conditions NFB members need to contribute to a successful UK economy.

 

CHAS managing director Ian McKinnon has made the following comments on the partnership:

 

“We are delighted to be renewing this important partnership which will help construction firms of all sizes demonstrate compliance and build their businesses.”

 

“Both CHAS and the NFB have gone from strength to strength since we first joined forces in 2018 so it is exciting to be able to bring an even greater range of benefits to our respective memberships.”

 

What Does the Renewed Partnership Include?

 

Through the NFB’s membership with CHAS, they will be eligible for assessment to the new Common Assessment Standard.

 

The Common Assessment Standard has been built with the aim of standardising the prequalification process, enabling both contractors and their clients to improve the efficiency of supply chains and find business opportunities that are reliable.

 

This standard helps companies to attain compliance and accreditation easier than before. These standards streamline the supply chain of construction, and is known as the “gold standard” throughout the industry.

 

CHAS will also enable NFB members to demonstrate their commitment of operating with high ethical, safe and sustainable standards. This opportunity will be provided to the NFB by CHAS through third party accreditation packages.

 

As part of the partnership agreement, CHAS will also offer all valid members of the NFB a discount of 20%. Contractors part of the NFB will be visible to CHAS’s 1,500+ clients via their client portal upon order purchase/accreditation.

 

In return for this, the NFB will offer CHAS contractors a discount of up to 10% when joining. This discount will also be offered for renewals following their joining, providing contractors with a range of benefits such as business services and training support.

 

The NFB’s chief executive Richard Beresford has been reported to comment: “We are very happy to be renewing this agreement with CHAS which will help our members’ businesses prosper while opening up a range of benefits to CHAS members.”

ashley-ilsen

2020 So far…. The development finance market

By Blog, Development Finance, Opinion

I think it’s fair to say at the turn of the year no one expected that we’d be stuck in our homes for several months and the immediate future of our economy would be looking far from rosy. In fact, going into January and early February, Brexit was still the buzz word on everyone’s lips in the industry. I think the way we responded as an industry was admirable. Had something of this nature happened say seven or eight years ago I don’t think we would have been as well placed to take it on the chin. I believe we’ve matured as an industry in recent years and as a result we are more robust in our lending practices and our ways doing things.

 

As I’ve often complained about before, for me one of the key things the development finance sector needs to deliver is constancy. Without consistency we don’t have housebuilding and new homes being created. Initially it was disappointing to see that some self-styled development finance lenders were unable to decide whether they’re in or out. This is not bridging and the risks are much higher. I strongly believe that if you can’t be in the market offering development finance during the bad times then don’t operate in the market when it’s performing well.

 

The biggest losers from this level of unpredictability is the consumer and, after all, the main goal of the development finance sector is to assist SME builders and developers create new homes. Similarly, I found there to be a high level of frustration amongst brokers unable to place deals with lenders who had suddenly dropped out the market. The deal flow was still there, but some of the lenders were not. However, the majority of us stood firm, with tweaks made to LTVs and some lending criteria understandably tightened. It was great to be able to report that Magnet Capital had one of our strongest months for new business in May, and we weren’t the only ones setting PBs during the lockdown period.

 

One of the criticisms I’ve had of the development finance space over recent years is that we’ve lacked innovation. The most successful lenders over the coming years will be the ones that can innovate and provide new and exciting ways of doing things. Development finance lenders have been on a slow curve to absorb and start using new technologies, so it was interesting to watch the Covid-19 crisis accelerate this movement. Lenders suddenly had to be equipped to have their whole force work from home.

 

At Magnet Capital it was no different for us. We make a strong point of meeting every single person we lend to face to face and for the first time in my career this was no longer possible to do with every borrower. Whilst Zoom was an excellent tool for staying in touch with each other, I don’t believe that there is a replacement for face to face meetings and contact. I’m delighted to report that our site visits and face to face meetings have started again where appropriate.

 

Looking forward I think development finance lenders need to avoid the mistakes of the past. There is no point of coming to market at LTVs you can’t sustain. We are almost undoubtedly staring down the barrel of an unprecedented drop in property prices. Development finance lenders with genuine expertise would have already factored this into their offering long before we reached this crisis. However, I will add that it’s not LTVs that cause the biggest threat to development finance lenders, but internal practices and attitudes to lending. I have seen via some of our introducer partners examples of the corner cutting that still exists in the development finance industry. These are the lenders that are going to be tested the most.

 

Brexit is also still a looming cause of uncertainty in the medium-term outlook. I’ve already seen many cases of building suppliers from the continent looking to raise prices for our builders over the coming year and this could seriously hamper many new build and heavy construction projects. Again, a development finance lender that understands the market will have already factored this into their offering.

 

Unfortunately I don’t have all the answer, but going forward we need to continue sensible lending practices at sustainable LTVS. We will need to continue to adapt. This is how we’re going to provide consistency to our brokers and consumers, and this is how we’re going to continue to thrive as an industry.

 

Development finance grade 7/10

London-city

The UK’s Second Most Expensive Home Now Up for Sale in London

By Blog, Development Finance

Headlines exclaim “Billionaire Wanted” as the second most expensive property in the UK hits the market. Priced at £185 million, this mansion sits on 1-18 York Terrace East, London, and was designed by the famous Buckingham Palace architect John Nash. Nash is renowned for his design of the capital’s royal palace as well as Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and Regent Street.

 

The firm currently pushing to sell the huge property have claimed that someone with “billions” who currently wants to find a property in the UK should inquire.

 

The mansion was built between the period of 1821 to 1826, its current owner Zenprop UK, a property investment firm, speculated to have originally purchased the property four years ago for £200 million. However, despite these claims, the chief executive of the firm has commented that the property was purchased for below the price it is currently listed at.

 

The Daily Mail reported comments made by Zenprop UK’s Derrick Beare claiming that the sale “is not for me to make a return, it’s pretty much to get my money back and move on.”

 

“The current price is a result of Brexit and the pandemic. It should be more, but I don’t think I can get more in this market. It won’t appeal to many people but we only need one person. The kind of person with billions, who wants a place in London.”

 

About The Property on 1-18 York Terrace East, London

 

This newly updated property was originally intended as 18 separate homes, however, after WWII was converted into government offices. During the war, the building was almost demolished after suffering bomb damage, however after public outcry was saved, and most of it afterwards used by the Ministry of Works.

 

In 1967, the terrace was when transformed by the International Students Trust into luxury student accommodation. The property was then used as a home for students studying around the area until it was sold in 2016 to Zenpop UK.

 

Zenprop UK are associated with the South African premier property development and investment company Zenprop Property Holdings. The firm agreed to a long leasehold extension, and have been restoring the building to residential use for over three years.

 

Beare is reported to have insisted there is interest for the property – of course, from incredibly wealthy prospective buyers – one even considering placing a bid of over £200 million. However, due to Brexit this buyer had pulled out.

 

The mansion now stands complete, Grade 1 Listed and 117,000sq ft, thought to be the first time in history that an entire Nash terrace has entered the open market.

man-signing-mortgage-application

Mortgage Application Fraud Rises in the UK

By Blog, Development Finance

Whilst mortgage application approvals have recently increased, benefiting both customers and the economy more widely, unfortunately, alongside this has been a rise in mortgage application fraud.

 

The Bank of England reports that both mortgage approvals as well as lending figures overall rose during the month of June – approvals relating to house purchases in particular rising from the record-low figure in May of 9,300 to 40,000.

 

The central bank stated throughout their Money and Credit report that “The mortgage market showed some signs of recovery in June, but remained relatively weak in comparison to pre-Covid. On net, households borrowed an additional £1.9 billion secured on their homes.”

 

Post-covid, the UK government has offered two rounds of mortgage holidays, both three-months, to offer help to homeowners. This scheme was reportedly taken up by 1.9 million households in the UK.

 

The report further claimed that whilst this was indeed higher than May’s £1.3 billion, it was still “weak compared to an average of £4.1 billion in the six months to February 2020.”

 

Furthermore, the Money and Credit report explained that “The number of mortgages approved also increased in June. The number of mortgage approvals for house purchase increased strongly, to 40,000 up from 9,300 in May” however, “approvals were 46 percent below the February level of 73,700.”

 

Whilst reports of this rise, albeit comparatively low to pre-COVID months, is welcome news to the sector during this turbulent period, SmartSearch, an anti-money laundering service, has revealed that the UK is also experiencing a rise in mortgage application fraud – up 5% during last year with a concerning 13% of adult Brits thinking exaggerating their income on an application was “reasonable”

 

SmartSearch CEO John Dobson, reported by the Express, claimed that “Applying for a mortgage can be an exciting and also daunting task, with many first-time buyers unsure of what to expect during the rigorous application process.”

 

“It is important to remember that a mortgage is a significant financial commitment, and making exaggerations or withholding any changes in circumstances may result in you being investigated for money laundering and fraud, making it more difficult to secure a mortgage or other financial products in the future.”

 

What Is Mortgage Application Fraud and How Do I Avoid It?

 

With mortgage application fraud, individuals will provide false evidence to support their application for a mortgage. SmartSearch have suggested some of the following considerations to take into account during the mortgage application process, all of which should be handled with care to prevent red, money-laundering-related flags:

 

  • Register on the electoral roll so that you can prove your identity to lenders – “If you’re not registered on the electoral roll it is just about impossible to secure a mortgage” SmartSearch claims.

 

  • Disassociate from ex-partners you could still be financially linked to via the credit reference agencies.

 

  • Explain and provide evidence of where the source of your deposit has come from (particularly important when the deposit has been gifted to you, or is from inheritance).
building-construction-site

UK Construction Sees Sharpest Rise in Nearly 5 Years

By Blog, Development Finance

The building industry shows promising signs of a strong recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, as UK builders report to have experienced the sharpest rise in monthly activity in nearly five years. This rise came during July this year, residential building reported to be the main driver for this significant boost in activity.

 

The rise comes as excellent news for the UK government, who are reported to be relying on this particular sector to help be a driving force in the country’s economic recovery – PM Johnson himself using the slogan “build, build, build” whilst describing the intentions for the post-lockdown economy’s revival.  New and upcoming “once in a generation” reforms have recently been announced to the country that will help to ease certain building restrictions.

 

However, even with these promising results, as concerns surrounding the economy still remain significantly high, the sector has experienced a decline in workers. IHS Markit’s economics director Tim Moore told the Financial Times:

 

“Concerns about the pipeline of new work across the construction sector and intense pressure on margins go a long way to explain the sharp and accelerated fall in employment numbers reported during July”

 

The Government’s Plans for Construction Post-Lockdown

 

Despite this reported decline raising concerns, the UK government has predicted that this drive in construction will create many more jobs throughout the sector, further helping to push for economic recovery following the COVID-related lockdown measures.

 

On the 21st July 2020, Parliament laid out new laws that will enable homes to be built where unused buildings currently stand, without the need for full planning applications. Alongside this, retail and commercial properties will be able to be repurposed quickly in a bid to revive town centres and high streets.

 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has commented the following on the matter, stating that:

 

“We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.”

 

“These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities. It will mean that families can add up to 2 storeys to their home, providing much needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows.”

 

These new rules, set to apply from September, follow on from other measures recently announced to help support home building throughout the country, of which include the addition of £450 million to the Home Building Fund, whilst a new £12 billion programme for affordable homes will help to provide up to 180,000 brand new properties.

ashley-ilsen

Opinion: Why lenders need to look to the past to successfully traverse the future

By Blog, Development Finance, Opinion

One thing I often discuss with colleagues is the use of the term ‘old school’. I like it. I take it as a compliment. I see it as a nod to having learnt and taken heed from past experiences. Most of my colleagues at Magnet Capital, like me, were trained at a previous lender that had been successfully lending money for several decades. Our schooling was in the fundamentals of lending; being measured, being considered and being the tortoise and not the hare. If you can balance this with an unparalleled service and a commitment to lend whether the sun is shining or not, then you have the makings of a very successful lending business.

 

However, over the last decade I’ve closely admired the transition of the specialist finance industry from ‘old school’ to ‘new school’. There have been many changes in how things are done and don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of innovation and finding new ways of doing things. Innovation is one of the key areas that will determine which business will be successful in the coming years, but perhaps as we move into testing times, with undoubtedly choppy waters ahead, we can navigate our way through as an industry by looking to the past.

 

Lending fundamentals are now going to be more important than ever. Cutting corners and taking unwarranted punts on the asset in question is probably the most common fools’ folly I’ve seen in recent years. As lenders we are all keen to grow our loan books and beat the competition. However, I’ve seen many recent cases where we’ve been asked to push our normal lending parameters to win a deal. Whilst we’re undoubtedly committed to servicing our broker partners, it’s this sense of needing to ‘chase the market’ that can really hurt lenders. Looking back at the 2008 financial crisis, the worst hit finance businesses were the ones that were happy to take on too much risk and cut too many corners when the sun was shining. This is even more true in the development finance sector which is inherently a higher risk style of loan.

 

There’s also the factor of top down pressure which can lead to lending errors. Some lenders have large instances of non-utilisation fees. This coupled with high business overheads can put the lender under pressure to make risk-based decisions that they wouldn’t normally do. Turning down business because it’s perceived as too high risk, or an unflattering return for the business is always a hard decision to make. My fear at the moment is there are still lenders lending money on behalf of private investors or institutions making decisions that aren’t feasible in the current economic climate.

 

One of the only ways to judge the future is by looking to the past. Property markets are intrinsically linked to the economy. The economy as we know moves in cycles, and we’re undoubtedly entering a period of great uncertainty and potentially huge economic difficulty. Unfortunately, even the so-called experts are unable to make accurate predictions. So, as lenders, we need to continue to back our brokers and the consumer. If this means giving up business and taking less risk, then so be it, but as I’ve said before now more than ever is it important to be consistent. There’s a great saying that I learnt during my time living in China and that’s ‘crossing the river by feeling the stones’. This idiom about moving forward whilst being cautious couldn’t be more pertinent to the specialist finance industry today.

ground-rent

FCA Confirms Second Round of Mortgage Payment Holidays During Covid

By Blog, Development Finance

The FCA has confirmed that they will offer a second round of mortgage payment holidays, continuing to help those homeowners who may have been financially implicated during covid-19.

 

Around 1.8 million households used a mortgage payment holiday for three months from the start of thelockdown period, as a way of offsetting any financial uncertainty or loss of income due to unemployment.

 

In total, around 20% of the UK’s population benefitted from the mortgage holiday scheme, giving the average household a saving of £755. The FCA also introduced a similar scheme for other kinds of credit and financial products including personal loans, credit cards, car loans and an interest-free overdraft facility.

 

Residential homeowners and those who offer buy-to-let have until 31st October 2020 to apply through their bank or mortgage provider. The process is usually completely online, streamlined and fast-tracked, offering almost instant approval, with no evidence of financial hardship needed or affordability checks.The Financial Conduct Authority’s interim chief executive, Christopher Woolard said upon issuing a further three-month scheme:

 

christoper-woolard

Christopher Woolard explains that the three-month mortgage holiday is necessary to address the ongoing situation surrounding covid

 

“Clearly, if there are further restrictions that need to be placed for health reasons; if the situation becomes
more complicated in some way, then we’ll have to think about how we adjust to those circumstances.”

 

However, Woolard expressed his belief that half of the people who used the initial mortgage payment
holiday from March to May were now able to pay.

 

“About half of that group are people who perhaps thought they were going to lose a job or have some other kind of impact, and in fact they’re in a position where they could still afford to pay now that that ninety-day period is coming to an end.”

 

Woolard emphasised that while lenders suffered the burden in the short-term, borrowers will feel the effects when it catches up in the longer term through extended mortgages and rolled-up interest.

 

“It’s everyone’s best interest to actually get back towards payment wherever that is possible or even partial payment, but we have to recognise that there’s an ongoing situation here,” he said.

 

Homeowners get access to a three-month mortgage holiday, whereby payments are deferred until a later today or carried onto the end of the mortgage term. Applying or using a mortgage holiday through the Government’s scheme will not impact your credit score or ability to access finance from elsewhere.

 

During the coronavirus period, the Government and FCA have also confirmed that no repossessions by mortgage lenders or banks will take place, giving property owners breathing space if they need it.

 

sam-howard-magnet-capital

Opinion: The New Normal in the Development Finance World

By Blog, Development Finance, Opinion

It felt like the chains had been unshackled, as I stepped out of my car, in bright sunshine, at one of Magnet Capital’s development sites last Monday morning. For the first time in over eleven weeks, I was able to do what I enjoy most; visit our projects, see how they have progressed and chat with our developers and their team.

 

Except it wasn’t normal, I was sweltering in a mask and gloves, despite being on an open-air site, with the two bungalows at wall plate stage. I took my position a good two metres away from the developer, whilst the rest of his team were mostly at home, except for two labourers distancing in a corner of the site. Despite all this, the client was delighted to be back on site having lost a good six weeks due to lockdown, closed suppliers and scarcity of labourers. Thankfully roof trusses and windows were soon to be delivered, so that the site could continue with no delays. Roof tiles from Spain were causing an issue but he had a work around and frankly he is one of the lucky ones.

 

Across our extensive range of development sites at Magnet Capital, we have heard of difficulties for developers in getting bricks, block and beams and specifically those building materials, which require bespoke factory settings, such as windows and roof trusses. Factories are starting to open up but there is a backlog of orders. To comply with social distancing developers are faced with having only a skeleton crew on sites, which will be magnified when the properties are watertight and are working on internals. Hand sanitiser, cleaning of surfaces, face masks will all be necessary. Delays and rising costs are a reality for all our developers. As a development finance lender we have to be realistic that our clients projects will overrun their loan period and we need to help them either to extend their loans or source developer exit products.

 

The new normal is also opaque as to what will happen to the property market in terms of house prices and the mechanics of selling new build properties. There will undoubtedly be far-reaching economic ramifications but at the moment there is plenty of pent up demand. The Government’s lockdown measures resulted in an estimated £82 billion of house purchases placed on hold. Some early indications suggest that the market is springing back into life, with Rightmove stating 40,000 new sales having been agreed since 13 May and it saw its ten busiest days ever in May and June.

 

We are all going to be spending more time in our homes and spacious properties with gardens and nice views should be in demand, whereas flats in high rise blocks, requiring lifts and in urban areas with little outdoor space, might struggle. This could be accentuated by people increasingly working from home, with less need to be in urban areas, close to their place of work. The commute will become less of a burden on the psyche and the pocket, if people are working from home a couple of days a week, meaning that more living space, further out of the city centre, becomes much more desirable.

 

Agents will need to find ways to cleverly market their properties, offering virtual imaging cameras to create accurate floor plans and 3D simulations of properties, or filming short video tours inside. Potentially the new build market will outperform the second hand market, as the risks are lower visiting a vacant rather than occupied dwelling. The mechanics of buying and selling is further complicated by the difficulty in the current climate of getting valuations, surveys, searches, and dealing with the Land Registry. Sellers need to get all their paperwork ready and buyers need to ensure that they have a decent solicitor that is not stymied by working from home and surveyors that are willing and able to attend the property.

 

Last week felt like the mist was lifting and a sense of normality is returning, However, all we can do is take each day as it comes, as looking too far into the future of the property market is unwise in the best of times and especially in current times.

sam-howard-magnet-capital

Opinion: Stargazing in the development finance market

By Blog, Development Finance, Opinion

As I sit working from home with the news on a constant loop, the picture is forming of a dystopian world where  from a corporate perspective there will be few thrivers, aside for big tech, and the rest will be competing to be survivors.

Undoubtedly, the world is facing a crisis like we have not seen for probably a 100 years, and the impact on people’s lives has and will continue to be unprecedented in the short term. Reports are suggesting there will be a wave of soured UK commercial property loans, owing to the slump in retail property. Indeed, from the development finance perspective, restrictions on movement, the closing of building suppliers, the effective shut down of the residential property market for sales and rental has and will lead to serious delays. With regards to residential property, I believe this is overly bleak and once a vaccine and suitable drugs have been discovered, the UK’s passion for property will return.

However, whilst running a development business from my home office, in between Zoom calls, reviewing drone footage and photos of our sites, I wanted to do a bit of stargazing to see what changes for the better or worse might affect our industry. Clearly, I have no crystal ball but just a deep interest in the development finance industry.

An argument that is raging at the moment is whether Covid-19 will lead to a rise of nationalism over globalism. Given that the UK imports significant amounts of building materials, with one fifth coming from China, should the UK be focusing on ramping up domestic production? Whether it is electrical wiring, softwood timber, clay tiles, there is an argument that the UK should be fully self-sufficient. My guess is that there will be a significant move to on-shoring capabilities where possible, although of course some countries are better endowed with natural resources than others and we will still import where there is little alternative.

We are all starting to use technology more in our day to day roles, whether that is utilising: valuation software, drones for building inspections, or zoom sign up meetings. Therefore, shifting the belief that development finance underwriting can’t be automated and that the borrowers need to be met in person and the sites visited. With regards to the surveying profession, whilst physical valuations will still be necessary for the majority of development schemes,  we will see a degree of change , with more virtual monitoring inspections. However, this is likely owing to the rise of modular housing that will reduce the need for so many physical monitoring inspections, rather than Covid 19.

From a lender’s perspective no matter how much a system can be automated, you still need a human to make decisions and review the due diligence that the computer programmes produce. Face to face sign up meetings with the borrowers are crucial to assessing the risk of a development project. Yes ,you are also looking at the valuation information, the site details, cashflow, business plans etc but ultimately you are backing the individual/individuals. At Magnet Capital, we will be reinstating this, of course adhering to social distancing rules, as soon we can. So, don’t get rid of those meeting rooms just yet.

Which leads me on to the question of working from home. It is one that the industry has struggled with for many years. The mantra of management has always been, that you need to have your employees in the same physical space, to create the optimal working environment. The reality is that with modern technology it is possible to work efficiently and productively, without being in physical proximity.

Whether using slack, zoom, dropbox, xero, alongside a business’s existing databases, the ability to work remotely is, if not seamless then close to it. Avoiding the daily commute, not being crammed into a hot desk environment with little natural light, and having the ability to work flexibly is attractive. Now, I am not suggesting that office space is no longer needed but I think there will be a realisation that big expensive offices might need another look. It is of course about having the right systems in place and yes it is easier with a small team such as Magnet Capital’s who have all worked together for many years rather than a giant multinational.

The modern office will be reshaped, with perhaps meeting rooms and desks for those who need to be in rather than paying for a space for hundreds of people. And just a thought – perhaps from a residential development finance perspective, there might be opportunity for developers to turn the unused office space into flats.

To borrow a well worn but largely derided phrase in the financial markets that “this time is different” but I think in some ways it possibly could be.