We chat to Mark Stephen, property expert, Director and founder of specialist property lender Reditum Capital.
Mark began his career by working for a large property investment company in Australia, focusing on the use of real estate to build passive income for high net worth individuals. Following a diverse career in real estate spanning over fifteen years, and the successful launch of his own specialist property investment company, Stark Enterprise, Reditum Capital was launched in 2013 in response to growing demand for specialist finance solutions.
- Can you tell us about your career so far?
I’ve worked in the property and investment marketplace for over 15 years, starting out in Australia where I gained my degree in Commerce and worked for a large property investment company in Melbourne. Then, I launched specialist property investment company Stark Enterprise, before going on to establish Reditum Capital in 2013 here in London. At Reditum, my team and I work to create tailor-made finance solutions to make international commercial and residential property developments a reality.
- What did you set out to achieve when starting Reditum Capital?
From my previous experience with lenders, I knew how frustrating it can be as a borrower, struggling to meet all sorts of criteria which are immaterial to the outcome of a project. With Reditum Capital, I wanted to specialise in building specific financial solutions for all projects, rather than just adopting a one-size-fits-all approach which stifles innovation and is invariably less effective.
I wanted Reditum to become a financing house that wouldn’t shy away from complex projects and that’s exactly what we’ve become. Whether it be a developer coming to us with a site that they need more money than anticipated for, or even an investor that has a yacht they’d like to put forward as collateral for a commercial investment, we have the skill to make it happen. Other financiers avoid these types of deals.
- Who would you say is your target audience?
We have two main demographics: developers and investors.
The developers we tend to work with are the true creatives on the ground looking to deliver projects and build high-quality properties. To do this, they need to source secure and reliable financing – that’s where we come in.
Our investors are High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals with readily available funds which they are looking to invest. We are an active partner rather than a passive owner and we typically invest alongside our investors, with our capital sitting behind that of our investors. This not only provides comfort to our investors but allows us to add value and to yield better results.
We bring these two groups together in a mutually beneficial partnership and help them to make deals happen.
- For your HNW and UHNW investors, what are the best ways for them to get into the property game?
Given the current stage of the property cycle and the ongoing market uncertainty, my recommendation would be for people to gain exposure to the asset class through debt rather than equity. This provides a more certain return profile and cushioning provided by an equity buffer that allows for market movement without capital erosion. If you are looking at secured debt, we always recommend that individuals to seek out reliable partners who they can trust, not just investment providers. It is vital to have a partner with experience on the ground and expertise in creating debt structures for property developers. What is even more important is knowing that your partner is a co-funder and therefore their interest is aligned with yours. We go as far as subordinating our capital to our co-funders as a testament to our level of underwriting in every transaction.
- And for your developers?
I would advise developers to think outside the box when looking for their next project. There are various competing factors in the UK which are pulling the property market in different directions and placing arduous demands on those in the industry. These range from the ongoing housing crisis to the pressures on retail and commercial property.
For these reasons, alternative types of development, such as Permitted Development Rights (PDRs), have become increasingly popular and successful in recent years. Schemes such as this give developers the chance to take on a project without having to endure a lengthy planning process.
Keep eyes peeled for trends in the public sector to see if there are any gaps that can be filled with private sector innovation. For example, there are a higher number of university students than ever before in the UK and this opens doors to new student accommodation all over the country.
Developers should therefore find the right financial partner with the best expertise to help them identify these latest trends and look to spot any gaps in the market.
- In a saturated market, what’s different about Reditum Capital?
Every one of our financiers has previously worked on the ground – either as a hands-on developer or an investor. This means that we’re the one financing house that has the knowledge – and the guts – to take on incredibly complex deals. We’re not afraid of intricacy.
In practice, this means we get potential investors coming to us with assets they want to use as collateral but don’t know how, or developers with a property they’ve spotted that they want to transform but unsure of how to do so. We turn these ideas into viable and deliverable opportunities.
- Any predictions for the property market for the next year? Is there anything you’d like to see?
Although there are always fluctuations and uncertainties in the property market, equally there are some strong prospects for growth. We have seen an upsurge in the construction of non-standard forms of accommodation like private student housing or older persons residences which have seen reliable returns for investors.
I expect these will be sectors that continue to grow as the demand is largely insulated from economic conditions. Student housing remains a consistent sector with the seasonal and unchanged nature of higher education demand.
Housing shortage and therefore large demand for low-cost entry-level housing,
In terms of what I would like to see generally, some loosening on planning restrictions – or even just consistency across local authorities – would be a welcome break for developers and will give a much-needed boost for the residential sector to fuel the creation of more units.
Mark Stephen is Founder of Reditum Capital, a leading exponent of asset-backed joint venture financing, The financier has deployed over £430m of facilities since its inception in 2013, both in the UK and overseas, and across a diverse range of asset types.