A Banking perspective for commercial property in 2013

The Corporate Banking Manager for Handelsbanken’s Birmingham office has met with fee earners at Midlands-based property consultancy Harris Lamb to discuss its lending power and criteria with a view to supporting its client portfolio.

Associate Director Fiona Mellor, one of the principal senior valuers at Harris Lamb, carries out valuation and consultancy work on a wide range of commercial property, and invited Ian to meet colleagues and offer his perspective on lending in the sector.

Fiona said: “The past four years have been very hard for all businesses, both established and flourishing, and opportunities to obtain mortgages and investment to expand have been few and far between as many previously active lenders retreated from the market.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in giving realistic, responsible advice, and now that the country has eased itself out of recession, once again opportunities are there for the taking – but to really boost the economy and get the property sector back on track, responsible, pro-active lending is required to bring those opportunities to fruition,” she said.

“Ian, who is based at Handelsbanken’s Temple Row branch in Birmingham, met with us to highlight the Sweden-based bank’s massive growth – much of which has occurred during the global recession – and to underline its commitment to backing such ventures,” she added.

Ian said: “Since being founded in 1871, Handelsbanken has grown to become one of the world’s strongest banks and now has more than 750 branches in 24 countries. Five years ago, as the economy slumped, we had 50 UK branches, but we now operate 135, with a rapid growth schedule – we’re aiming to open a new branch every two weeks across the UK.

“Handelsbanken wasn’t affected by the credit crunch, which is why we’ve been able to grow while other institutions were under the spotlight. Our whole model is built around customer relationships, and our lending is based on discussions with the applicants to understand their goals, collateral, business model and merits.

“Relationships with property consultants such as Harris Lamb are important when it comes to new business, and as such we think it is responsible to enhance that relationship by keeping professionals within the commercial market updated and informed on the industry.

Ian presented to the Harris Lamb team and entered into a robust and transparent discussion with them to discuss both the Bank’s perspective on lending in the commercial property market at the current time, with confirmation of their active role in lending on mixed investment and development funding, and its position on lending to existing and new clients and the lending criteria.

Fiona said: “It is an issue, especially for my agency colleagues, that we need to understand not only which Banks are lending at the current time but also the terms they can offer and the timescales involved in turning round applications for funding agreements.”

Charles D’auncey, Head of Agency at Harris Lamb, added: “The useful thing for the agency team is to hear the message of positive outlook from one of Europe’s major Banks and its ability to provide mortgage finance. This insight into a Bank’s lending criteria is an invaluable piece of property knowledge when it comes to putting transactional deals together.”