In the spotlight with Sonny Gosai, Norton Broker Services
“The bridge market hasn’t slowed down like many people expected and I can only see that trend continuing as we head into 2022.”
EN: You joined Norton Broker Services (NBS) at the end of 2019 and have since been appointed to lead its transition and development team. Tell us about your background and what your role entails.
I have over 20 years of experience in the world of specialist finance, first as an underwriter in the loan origination service, second in charge, Loan Processing Centre. It was here that I gained valuable knowledge of the specialist market, which laid the foundation for a long career in the sector. Over time, I rose through the ranks to more senior roles, including leading and growing specialist distribution companies, such as Clever Lending, where I spent six years.
My current role at Norton Broker Services offers a wide variety, which is very important to me in terms of job satisfaction. I am responsible for nurturing lender relationships, keeping abreast of industry changes, dealing with brokers and clients, and developing Norton Broker Services’ bridging and business service, while ensuring that we provide exceptional service. I also maintain a keen interest in Norton’s lending arm – Norton Home Loans.
FR: 2021 seems to have been a revolutionary year for bridge financing due to the suspension of stamp duties. How do you see 2022 shaping up for the sector?
Last year was an amazing year for bridging finance and even after the stamp duty holiday ended the bridging market hasn’t slowed down like many people expected and I can only see that trend continue as we head into 2022. The stamp duty holiday highlighted the speed and flexibility of the bridge loan industry during a very volatile time for the mortgage market, and I believe the speed and flexibility will continue to prove essential for those looking to compete quickly with a real estate transaction in the future.
As a business, Norton saw its strongest growth ever in the regulated bridge industry last year and we now have a dedicated team focused on providing advice to brokers as inquiries are more higher than they have ever been. The LTV ratios offered by some lenders have also increased as they seek to take on more risk, and rates have been on a continued downward run, showing that the market is competing for business that is clearly in demand. I don’t know how sustainable that is, but it’s good for the consumer and good for the industry.
FR: Do you think that the new EPC rules for owners will encourage more owners to seek bridge financing as an option to finance renovations?
Almost certainly, because bridging loans are an ideal way for landlords to finance the work needed to renovate their properties so that they can improve their EPC ratings and bring them up to the standards required for rental. Buy-to-let already accounts for the vast majority of bridge loan activity, and with a high number of properties not meeting the required EPC standards, I expect demand for bridge loans to increase further to meet the requirements.
Research from Shawbrook Bank has also shown that more portfolio owners are likely to buy D-rated and below properties to refurbish before the EPC deadline than non-portfolio owners. This opens up more opportunities to use a bridging loan to quickly access funds to renovate and increase the value of their properties before selling for a profit, while those left behind could benefit from the preferential interest rates of a mortgage. green once the property’s EPC rating has been improved.
FR: Development finance can sometimes seem very complicated and specialized. How do you think more brokers can write this type of business and how does NBS support brokers, especially if it’s their first time?
Development finance can be a very complex area for brokers who are unfamiliar with how construction, conversion or major building renovations are financed, so speaking to a specialist like NBS is the best course of action, especially if it’s their first time. This will help them better understand what development finance is and how it works.
At Norton Broker Services, we talk to them about the information required from lenders before approaching them for difficult terms; we also explain the process in simple terms to the client and the broker, which helps to clarify and understand the offer. At NBS we advise, educate and support the broker through the process and the more they use Norton the more they will understand the market. Norton prides itself on its specialist knowledge and we want to pass this knowledge on to brokers to enable them to identify these types of specialist cases in their day-to-day work.
FR: What is your wish for the gateway and development market in 2022?
There should definitely be more education on the benefits of bridge financing and development for brokers. At NBS, we aim to do this on a daily basis, but I believe the industry as a whole needs to work harder to continuously provide information to brokers so they can more easily identify transition and development opportunities.
The industry is growing and there is a large and ever-increasing demand for knowledge from mortgage brokers. It is our job to ensure they get the information they need so they and the industry can continue to thrive.