Trusting the Business Rates Adviser you appoint

Keith Watkeys9th January, 2013.

 

Trusting the Business Rates Adviser you appoint

 

By Keith Watkeys, Director


 
 

 

From a commercial property viewpoint an easing of credit and availability of finance for property lending will provide some real impetus to growth.  My colleague Neil Slade talked about a shortage of new development where demand exists but credit is difficult and I thought it was worth supporting Neil’s piece with a little more detail.
Well the headline from the latest Ernst & Young Item Club that “The crippling credit crunch is loosening” certainly seems to be a pointer that the availability of credit may be getting a little easier.
There is little doubt that the ongoing credit crunch and crisis in the Banks continues to affect business thinking nearly 5 years on from the start of the world’s economic woes.  The effects on property both commercial and residential are well catalogued and there for all to see – not least the retreat of values!
It is not an argument for inflating property values – what we need is more financial liquidity in the market to ‘make things happen’.
The Item Club lays bare some of the statistics around the credit crunch.  Part of their commentary was how UK Banks borrowed “£900 billion” that was borrowed from overseas up to 2008 and how we’ve been paying the price ever since as the UK reigns back from the £100 billion a year that Banks were using to fund domestic lending.
The Item Club explain that once it happened, the breakdown in the funding markets triggered several other crucial factors.  Secondary banking subsidiaries had to be supported, straining capital adequacy ratios.  Loan losses had the same effect.  Bank boards, as well as their shareholders and regulators, became very risk-averse as the losses mounted.  Tougher capital and liquidity requirements exacerbated the lending squeeze.  The ensuing recession made Banks even more worried and of specific concern for those earning their money in the property market, about the solvency of mortgage borrowers and small businesses.  Lending was depressed because the economy was depressed and vice versa, a classic vicious circle.
The Item Club thinks the background of tight credit and the Banks’ liquidity issues may be coming to an end with credit and liquidity requirements having been relaxed.  The Bank of England’s new Funding for Lending Scheme is designed to increase the flow of credit and reduce its cost, increasing the funding gap, or at least slowing the speed at which it is paid down.  It will reinforce the effect of the revival of the UK mortgage-backed securities market seen in recent weeks.
Ernst & Young say that ‘Although banks remain very risk-averse, they are effectively shifting the risk lending to affluent home buyers who have equity to invest.  In the case of first-time buyers, the builders and the government are shouldering the risk through new-buy schemes.  The banks’ capital base is also recovering’ they say.  Furthermore they comment that ‘These developments help to explain the marked improvement in the mortgage market suddenly being signalled by the Bank of England’s Credit Conditions survey, the sharpest since this survey began in 2007.  In the third quarter of this year, a significant proportion of mortgage lenders said they had loosened their lending criteria or were planning to do so, while 22% were planning to reduce the mark-up on mortgage rates.  The survey suggested that little movement in unsecured lending and forecast a continued deterioration in the outlook for lending to small companies, which it seems, are still regarded as too risky.  Nevertheless, these developments are encouraging.’
A lot of economic detail but for ‘property watchers’ and for those like us working in the property industry these are important pointers for how the market may perform over the next 12 to 24 months.
Not sure we can say this is the end of the credit crunch although we’d all hope that, it may just be the ‘end of the beginning’ though

I would stop short of saying I still hear “horror stories” from companies who have had a bad experience with those they have appointed in the past to handle their business rates but we do still hear of companies “having a bad experience” with their rating advisers.

Finding people you can trust to advise on how to reduce your business rates liability is not easy.  You have to negotiate a great deal of technical terminology which is almost impossible if you are not versed in rates appeals.

There are two important issues you need to consider when deciding to appoint a firm of Chartered Surveyors to review your rates:

1. Are my rates too high?

2. How do I know I am appointing someone who knows what they are doing?

Whilst companies can be contacted by a variety of firms and organisations advising that your rateable value is too high and stating they can achieve reductions in rateable values and rates payable on behalf of companies, the fact is that generally no one can be certain that any rateable value is too high – sometimes it can be too low!

At Harris Lamb our rating team will always give a free personal initial prior to submitting any appeal.

Our rating team can ensure achieving the best results on any rating appeal and specialise in business rates and on the basis of acting for some of the UK’s largest corporate occupiers we have the track record to show for saving clients money on their rates and giving trusted advice.

 


For help with your rates call one of the rating team at Harris Lamb on 0121 455 9455 or email andrew.hulbert@harrislamb.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article or weblog (‘blog’) are the personal views of the contributors and authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of any named companies or their employees.