Bluestone Homes Loans has further expanded its offer to brokers with a new policy designed to help clients into homes in multi-storey apartments.
The non-bank lender has removed the 10-story limit on apartment buildings eligible for its loans, providing brokers with greater access to the upsizing and downsizing markets and expanding opportunities for self-employed borrowers.
Bluestone chief sales officer Tony MacRae (pictured above) said the move came after talking to brokers and understanding their pain points from a policy perspective.
“They were finding it increasingly difficult to get deals across the line, so we went back and assessed where we could further improve our policies,” MacRae said.
“Listening to brokers and acting upon that feedback was the key catalyst to a whole bunch of the policy changes we’ve implemented over the past month, and we will continue this approach going forward.”
Bluestone has also eliminated the high-density classification, allowing customers to purchase up to four units in a single building, provided each unit has a minimum floor area of 50 square meters and the building is not a new development.
For prime and near prime loans, both owner-occupied and investor borrowers can qualify for up to 90% LVR (loan-to-value ratio).
Bluestone policies cater for self-employed and downsizers
The policy change is another step towards making Bluestone the home for non-standard loans, with the lender making a clear play for one of the most challenging client groups for the channel.
Self-employed, retired, semi-retired and young clients can often have the most complex financial situations and create challenges for brokers that traditional lenders’ policies are too rigid to solve.
“Self-employed customers are key for us as we can facilitate a broad range of situations and scenarios,” MacRae said. “We understand that some people have hiccups and cashflows can fluctuate.”
This new move advances Bluestone’s claim in this space, which is fast growing to be one of the most important for brokers in 2023.
High-density buildings are now outstripping detached houses in the new build market, with a recent study suggesting that 56% of dwellings under construction are apartments.
Furthermore, the ‘downsizing’ trend, where detached homes are sold to create capital, has seen increased numbers of older borrowers opt for apartments over detached houses.
Bluestone contributes to easing housing affordability
The political winds, too, are moving towards further high-density, high-rise apartment complexes as state governments seek to alleviate rental price crunches.
The national residential property rental vacancy rate has plunged to a mere 1% in October, SQM Research has reported, as the rental crisis deepens across the country.
The government has committed to building 1.2 million homes over five years to supply the demand.
However, the plan has already faced some hurdles, with building industry experts urging the government to cut red tape and support private industry as it prepares to address Australia’s growing housing crisis.
For lenders like Bluestone, broadening policies that encourage high density housing can be one way to help facilitate the building of new homes.
“I think that’s an important ingredient in being able to fulfill the government’s mission to solve the housing affordability issues we are seeing – particularly in the capital cities,” said MacRae.
“The more we can provide credit for higher density living, that little easier it becomes to fund and facilitate these projects.”
Bluestone helps brokers provide value
While the latest policy change is good news for brokers, it is only one of a suite of amendments Bluestone has made over recent months.
In September, Bluestone Home Loans has enhanced its lending serviceability and flexibility with more than 20 policy changes, including reducing its serviceability buffer.
A month later, Bluestone bolstered its SMSF offerings and boosted its BDM stocks.
“Some of the changes we’ve done recently ranged from maximum loan size and maximum exposures through to post codes and lending in certain areas at higher LVR,” MacRae said. “We also dropped some liquidity requirements for our SMSF products as well.”
“All of this was done so we can help brokers provide value to a broader range of borrowers.”
What do you think of Bluestone’s new policy changes? Comment below.