In these unprecedented times, Axiom Stone Solicitors will, in common with other businesses, be following the Government's official advice on social distancing and social isolating.

Public health measures must have the highest priority and, as a result, some staff will be working from home. Also, our offices will be closed to visitors.

However, we wish to reassure existing and potential clients that we will continue to provide the highest levels of service.

Please be assured we have a robust business continuity plan in place that is designed to minimise the impact on our service to you.

In addition, please continue to contact us electronically or by phone in relation to the progress of your matters or on any issues of concern to you.

Until further notice, service of claim forms, application notices and all other court documents and contractual notices must be made to our head office only (we shall not accept service through any other means). Our head office address is at Axiom Stone Solicitors, Axiom House, 1 Spring Villa Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EB. We ask that all other correspondence be sent by email to the relevant member of Axiom Stone Solicitors. In the event that service of court documents or contractual notices is attempted by post, courier, DX, or fax to any address other than that of our Head Office, we cannot provide any assurance that they will be received or processed. We are grateful for your understanding at this time.

We will update this information regularly on our website (Please see COVID-19 Updates Here) and via social media.

Finally, we urge everybody to follow the official advice on fighting the virus outbreak so enabling you to stay safe and well.

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Effects of COVID-19 on bridging and commercial lending

Summiey Khan, part of the real estate team at Axiom Stone Solicitors, discusses some of the effects of the pandemic on borrowing in the property market.

The UK has seen the biggest quarterly economic contraction since the financial crisis in 2008 – affecting almost every sector, especially the property market and it is anticipated that the GDP will fall much further in the third quarter of 2020.

Just as we have seen in the stock market, many new, inexperienced ”low-information” investors are entering the market to take advantage of the potential opportunities in the continuing crisis. As a result, the trend is that their loan book consists of very-high-risk loans with an increasing inability of their borrowers to pay the interest or redeem their borrowings.

The property market has adapted somewhat effectively in light of the Government’s guidelines. Some lenders are happy to undertake more automated and desktop valuations with solicitors able to advise via video calls and existing loans are being extended.

To cope with the current climate, lenders have reduced the loan-to-value ratio and are implementing stringent and stricter due diligence on borrowers, as well as assets. We will, inevitably, see a shift in negotiating power from borrowers to lenders as many “newbie” lenders will be withdrawing from the market. This will result in fewer available products.

Most lenders will have experienced falls in revenue and many will continue to face real cashflow problems. This will then have a domino effect on landlords and developers. What we have seen with our developer clients is that they are required to inject more equity into each project and provide further security, such as an increased amount for personal guarantees. This impacts heavily on their expected profits and ability to secure further development projects.

Analysts are hopeful that the market will bounce back and there will be a spike in activity for first-time buyers, developers, business owners and portfolio landlords. We can hope for the best.