Construction Finance and the Problem With Banks

High street banks are often the benchmark for clients looking to borrow money. This is true of personal mortgages, loans and no less so for funding building projects. Most would agree that they provide the cheapest rates and all builders and developers are looking for the cheapest construction finance.

The problem is that for most clients the high street are simply not an option at the moment, and from news I have had, nor will they be for the foreseeable future. I have dealt with clients who should be able to obtain bank funding, having clean credit, a good track record and years of experience in the sector. They are still being declined for various reasons, such as the loan amount is too low, the type of build is not what the bank wants, they have other loans that would need to be repaid first – the list goes on.

However, just because your current bank will not give you construction finance does not mean that there are no options available to you. It does mean though that you should not judge quotes we, or others give you, on the basis that the rate of interest or fees might be more than you are used to or were expecting.

Off high street lenders are NEVER going to offer building finance as cheap as the big banks. They are specialists filling a gap in the market, and to be frank, they know that your options are limited. Lenders such as this are mostly funded by investors who want to see a return on their money and the lender themselves need to charge a margin to stay in business. The market has set the rates that others are prepared to pay and so you have a stark choice – pay the higher rates or do not borrow the money. For those that are cash rich there is no issue but for the majority that want to leverage their capital it is the difference between building or not building.

Of course, paying more for the construction finance means less profit for you, the developer, but it does mean you are making more profit than not doing any work at all. If you cannot get a project funded at a high street rate then the rates you have in mind or might want to pay are not applicable for comparison. A bank may have given you funds at 1.5% above base in the past but that is irrelevant now. The past is not today.

The fact that building finance is available is good news but now is as crucial a time as ever to use a broker with experience and knowledge of the market. Making the wrong choice could cost you thousands in unnecessary fees and interest.

Going through the internet looking for lenders directly is possible, of course. But how long will that take you? Hours or days? How do you know they will be the best fit for your project? Will they give you all the information you need day 1?

Working with an experienced broker can make the process much easier as they will have a real understanding of how each lender works, the process they go through and what costs you can expect, before you get too far into an application.

So, construction finance is out there but for your own sanity don’t automatically compare it to what you are used to and what you think should be available.

I have been in the finance industry for over 10 years and can help you find the right finance package for your project. We have links with the lenders that are active in the market and can assess your project very quickly, often within a single phone call.

Finance Series – Exploring Investor Rationality

The Efficient Market Hypothesis has been under fire since Eugene Fame of the University Of Chicago Graduate School Of Business first suggested it back in the early 1960s. The central idea behind the Efficient Market Hypothesis is the theory that investors are completely rational in interpreting and acting on market news and information (which, ostensibly, is fully revealed public knowledge).

It has since come to be known as the Theory of Rational Expectations. This rational investor behavior is factored into the value of all news and information the moment it becomes available. And it happens to the extent that “beating the market” becomes an impossible task.

The idea of investor rationality has been under fire by the few “gurus” who have consistently beaten the market since its inception. Nobel Laureate and father of Behavioral Finance, Daniel Kahneman, pointed out that the failure of the rational model is not inherent in the logic of the theory, but rather in the human psyche. He posited that nobody has the ability to simultaneously process all incoming stimuli and attain a complete understanding and mastery of that stimuli.

From the many arguments for and against the theory of rational expectations, I observed that many of the arguments stemmed from a difference in the understanding of what rationality means in the first place (indeed, that is further proof that “rational” people can look at ideas and apply their own bias and still be regarded as “rational”). If the world is made up of blistering imbeciles making irrational decisions, like those who argued against the theory suggest, wouldn’t the world more closely resemble an assembly of monkeys? Yet, if the world is made up of rational humans the way the theory postulates, wouldn’t the world be more robotic than human?

For too long, academia has debated the theory by taking sides with either the monkeys or the robots without a clear understanding of what constitutes rationality in the first place. Is the investor who rushes blindly into the stock market during market bubbles irrational? Are investors rational beings if they buy undervalued and sell overvalued stocks? Essentially, all reasonable human beings are rational! Rationality is the consistency of action based upon a set of logical variables. The issue here is that the difference in one’s level of knowledge and life experiences is the determining factor that allows for the installation of a distinct set of logical parameters and values in every human being!

This means that two human beings looking at and interpreting the same information can come to two separate conclusions and resulting actions! The result of which is a two-sided market. An investor who has lost a significant amount of money in the stock market may prefer to stay out of an overextended stock regardless of how fantastic the news. On the other hand, investors who have never been through that same life experience would simply continue to buy on the news. Both investors, in this case, are rational in regard to their own level of knowledge and experience. This explanation of rationality effectively consolidates all the differing views on the Theory of Rational Expectation. Because investors are rational, two-sided markets are created, making the overall market more and more efficient. Because investors are rational, they rush after price bubbles on the expectation of profits only to be defeated by the Law of Regression to the Mean.

Being greedy is a rational response to one’s needs and wants and being fearful is a rational response to one’s past sufferings. The driving factors of Greed and Fear are also rational expressions! Contrarians who take positions against the market are rationally expressing their expectations that markets eventually turn against the prevailing trend. Trend followers who take positions along with market trends are rationally expressing their belief in that trend continuing into the foreseeable future. Both create a two-sided market for each other, driving the overall market towards more and more efficiency.

However, this explanation of rationality completely nullifies the part in the theory that states that “rational investors should act in a similar fashion in response to the same news”. Because there is no way of measuring or predicting whether or not there will be more decisions of rational buying or rational selling in response to new information, nobody can predict market movement with any moral certainty. Although not attributed to random behavior, the unpredictable nature of the market has more cause and effects than the theory itself can explain.

In summation, any argument to explain market behavior through the notion of rationality has limited application in reality. As investors in the stock markets, our understanding that the markets cannot be predicted and the set-up of realistic stop loss points in preparation for worst-case outcomes and hedging portfolios using stock options, are the most rational actions that can be taken. As behavioral finance suggests, everyone makes the best of a bad situation and the situation in the stock market has never been ideal for anyone.

Finance Measures and the Economic Crisis

Various finance measures have been implemented since the beginning of the worldwide economic crisis – most aimed largely at revitalizing dying businesses and corporations hit hardest by the repercussions. Many people have just a fuzzy idea of what the whole fuss is all about, but most of us would agree that the crisis that has exploded has had tremendous influence and effects at almost every level. Listening to the news during the height of the initial stages probably felt a little unreal, as the big, famous corporations once thought to be invincible were all suddenly declaring bankruptcy and loss.

These reports usually involve numbers and sums of money so large as to defy imagination: millions, billions, and even trillions of dollars seemed to be getting thrown around willy-nilly. The truth is, although over the course of a normal day we might not realize it, the functioning of economies and financial systems involve the trading of large and even larger amounts of currency. They only attracted the spotlight and public attention (and perhaps caused confusion) once critical levels were reached, enough for the normally distant economic sphere to intersect with that of daily life. But the first thing to realize is that the movement of such seemingly unreal amounts is, in fact, well within the normal working conditions of the market.

Now, with that out of the way, the next question would probably be what was the cause of the entire crisis anyway? What was that initial mistake or flaw or fall or “first domino” that triggered the whole tragic landslide? This is a difficult question with no simple answer. If you have been somewhat keeping up with the news, terms such as subprime mortgages and collateralized debt obligations might sound familiar. Explaining in detail the various financial constructs and processes that are involved would be a little too much, but essentially, it all boiled down to good old-fashioned greed.

The financial market revolves around the use and investment of so-called capital or money. Investors and the brokers that represent them always aim to maximize their profits while minimizing losses, all the while tolerating some moderate value of risk, depending on the parties involved. As it happened, the economy grew, and investors came to have large amounts of capital. Hence, the demand for investments also grew, especially those with high rates of return. Bankers and other financial institutions gladly created just such investments by transferring the risk on mortgages. Long story short, when the mortgages were not paid off, as they were bound to be, the whole house of cards collapsed, and many firms found themselves grinding to a halt.

The massive injections of capital therefore aim to increase liquidity, or to stimulate once again the movement of money that constitutes a properly functioning economy. These and other such finance measures are unfortunately not surefire ways to deal with the system wide crash. Still, they represent the best efforts of some of our most esteemed economic minds and powerful figures, and we can only wait and hope for the best.