HomeCommercial FinanceDevelopment finance explained

Development finance explained

0800 195 0490

HomeCommercial FinanceDevelopment finance explained

Development finance explained

Get Your Free Quote.

It takes 60 seconds and has no effect on your credit score. We'll then match you with an expert who will search over 100 lenders to help find you a mortgage.

Last reviewed on 12th September 2023 by Martin Alexander (Mortgage Advisor)

If you’re involved in large developments or renovation projects, development finance can be an option to consider.

Key features of the development finance products on offer are:

  • Finance to develop new builds and conversions
  • Single units and multi-unit projects
  • Semi-commercial buildings
  • Residential property
  • Joint venture projects
  • Land purchases included
  • Finance for any level of experience

Key financial figures include:

  • 85% loan to cost
  • 65% loan to GDV
  • Development loans from £25,000 to £100,000,000

What is development finance?

Development finance is a short-term finance option typically for residential and commercial property development, but can also be used for:

  • Property conversions
  • Renovations
  • Regeneration projects

Development finance can’t be used for smaller property projects such as single home refurbishments.

How does development finance work?

As an example, imagine you’ve agreed to buy a plot of land on which you aim to build multiple properties. The land costs £150,000 and the projected build cost is £600,000. Your lender allows you to use development finance to fund 60% of the plot of land and 60% of the build.

  • Land purchase price = £150,000
  • Projected build cost = £600,000
  • Development finance = £90,000 for land and £360,000 for the build
  • Funds needed from the developer = £300,000

Using this example, the development loan of £450,000 can allow you the freedom to use your own funds for other projects or as a safety net for your existing project.

Can development finance be used for smaller projects?

For smaller projects, there are other options that may be more suitable. A bridging loan can provide a quick burst of capital which is usually repaid just as fast. This is useful for situations where you need a short-term loan. Many investors use bridging for auction purchases. Homeowners can also use bridging finance if they’re in a chain and need to move out before selling their own property.

Refurbishment finance is another option for smaller-scale property projects, such as refurbishing a property with the aim of reselling it for a profit. The funds are largely used to spend on the refurbishment of a property.

If you wish to develop your own home, you could apply for a self-build mortgage. Self-build mortgages are for personal projects, such as building your own home and not necessarily for investment. That being said, lenders will need to be sure your project is viable.

How long will I have to repay the development loan?

Development loans usually need to be repaid between six months to two years. The duration of the loan is based on the scale and nature of the development. The longer it takes to repay the loan, the more interest is charged. This is because the interest is typically charged on a monthly basis.

Interest is often rolled up and repaid at the end of the term. It’s common to repay the loan in full, either by selling the development or by taking out a mortgage.

ask a mortgage broker

What interest rates can I expect?

Interest rates are typically 5-7% per annum. For smaller projects, you may be charged monthly at rates between 1-1.5%. Although a number of lenders advertise rates online, they’re generally estimates. Rates are assessed on a case-by-case basis as each development is unique and needs to be assessed accordingly.

Commercial lenders also base their loan rates on the proposition and the credibility of the borrower. That’s why an experienced broker can be crucial in ensuring you get the best deal offered. Brokers do this by making sure your proposition is structured properly and the deal is negotiated down to the lowest possible rate.

How much can I borrow?

The amount you can borrow is based on the gross development value (GDV) of the finalised project. The GDV is the value of what your development will be worth once it’s been built. Lenders typically offer up to 60-70% of the GDV and up to 75-80% of the total cost involved.

On occasion, lenders will lend up to 100% of the total build cost if the total loan is lower than 60% of the GDV. Development finance typically starts from £250,000 with no maximum.

How is affordability calculated?

As an example, imagine you’ve secured planning permission on a plot of land to build ten properties. The GDV is estimated at £5 million. The land costs £1 million and the build costs are estimated at £2.5 million, resulting in a total cost of £3.5 million.

A lender may approve a loan of up to £2.6 million (75% of the total costs). Finance is then released at intervals throughout the development.

Is 100% development finance possible?

100% development finance is possible if you already own some land outright. Lenders will assess the value of your land and proposed build before a loan is agreed upon. Finance can then be secured against your assets or on the land itself.

Not every lender will consider a 100% development loan, but they are possible.

How to apply for a development loan

Lenders want to see a secure and solid proposal. It’s important to have plans and financial forecasts for your proposal ready. This is so you’re able to present lenders with a viable proposition.

Lenders are experienced in the developments they’ll lend on and will base their decisions on the risk they’d be taking by approving the loan. As a result, you’ll need to demonstrate that your proposal has a strong basis to generate your forecasted profit.

Experienced developers may find it easier to secure finance, simply because they have a history of previous projects that can be presented to potential lenders. Nonetheless, if you’re new to property development, it doesn’t mean to say you won’t get finance. Lenders may simply probe further into your proposal and financial status during your assessment.

What should your proposal contain?

An advisor can help you with your application and we’ve listed the key areas you’ll need to consider before applying. Remember, plan well to minimise your own financial risk, not just the lenders.

Your development finance proposal should contain the following:

  • Purchase price of the property and land
  • Planning permission
  • Building regulations
  • Any previous experience (documented)
  • Information on contractors (builders, architects, contractors)
  • Exit strategy (remortgage, sell, rent)
  • Total build cost (detailed breakdown including materials and labour)
  • Gross development value (GDV)
  • Contingency plan
  • Single, joint or group venture?
  • Potential yield of the project
  • Duration of the project (including stages of development)

Specialist brokers for property development

Having an advisor can ensure your proposal meets the requirements of lenders. You can also be sure you’re getting the best deal that you’re eligible for.

With such a large amount of finance involved, utilising the experience of an advisor is highly advised. Some lenders are only available through brokers, so you can be sure you’re not limiting yourself. Furthermore, you’ll have access to every lender available. Brokers can add to your proposal as they know exactly what a lender will look for when assessing your application.

Development finance FAQ


Get Your Free Mortgage Quote.

(No impact to your credit score)


About the author

Martin Alexander
Senior Mortgage Advisor | More Articles

Martin is a senior mortgage advisor and has held a CeMAP qualification for over 15 years while also completing an MBA in Global Banking & Finance.