Speaking on Specialist Lending Solutions Television in association with Roma Finance, a panel of industry experts explained there was an increasing trend over the last year for conversions and refurbishments of high street properties.
They believe this trend is likely to continue accelerating as shopping habits and lifestyles change.
Roma Finance commercial director Nick Jones said permitted development rights (PDRs) had given greater opportunity and easier access for more conversions of commercial properties to residential use.
“It’s becoming more and more lucrative for developers to widen their portfolios into commercial and semi-commercial type property,” said Jones.
He noted that by removing some stigmas around conversion work and comparing running costs with those for residential premises, people were embracing that more because of the return on investment.
“We’re seeing a lot more applications for ground up development and heavy refurbishment of commercial into residential, there is still that opportunity,” he added.
Vantage Finance national sales manager Joe Aston said investment into commercial properties needed to be very carefully done, but conversions were increasingly common.
“Conversion of commercial to residential is something we’ve seen as a growing trend for probably the last 18 months, certainly last 12 months – and despite the pandemic that hasn’t slowed down,” he said.
“There are willing developers out there and professional landlords looking to step into the development space.”
Enterprise Finance managing director Harry Landy echoed those sentiments on commercial investment, noting brokers could help clients “by ensuring the properties people are looking at buying are going to be suitable from a lender perspective”.
“They’ve got to have a real viable business case for them.”
But he continued: “There really is a great opportunity there for developers and buy-to-let landlords to broaden their portfolio.
“Where we can help in particular is helping customers navigate their way through that.”