Newlands Development is a bespoke real estate development firm. We secure difficult town centre sites for development and build stunning, high-spec, eco-friendly homes where people want to live.
Securing the right funding is half the battle for these complicated projects and it is essential to find a funder who understands what we are trying to achieve and sees themselves as part of our team. This is what we have found in Clearwell Capital.
Having had a very positive experience of working with them previously, we are currently partnering with Clearwell to develop 28 high-quality flats in the centre of Kettering. City centre builds are particularly difficult as there are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration; planning permission, multiple - sometimes conflicting - interests and the work needs to be done quickly to minimise disruption.
Clearwell Capital was happy to take on the challenge. They have a very positive can-do attitude, understand the complexities of real estate development and work alongside you to overcome any bumps in the road. Unlike other lenders, who can seem entirely focused on risk, Clearwell’s overarching priority is ensuring your project gets over the line and they work with you to achieve your goals.
Critically, Clearwell is fast and efficient with drawdown payments. Once our monthly milestones have been achieved and certified by an independent QS, Clearwell moves immediately to release funds. This allows us to allocate capital as required to subcontractors who know that they will be paid on-time, every time. Efficient, reliable payment means subcontractors are motivated and productive and we can have the confidence to project manage at a granular level. This fast approach to drawdowns has been instrumental in ensuring the smooth progress of the project.
Without a doubt Clearwell Capital is one of the most developer-focussed funding houses in the marketplace. They are very knowledgeable, a pleasure to work with and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them.
Walton Gateway Limited
I didn’t know Clearwell Capital before I took a mezzanine loan with the company and I actually looked at several mezzanine lenders before approaching them. Clearwell Capital was the only organisation that offered the flexibility to meet my requirements, the risk-appetite to manage a deal halfway through construction, and the ambition to liaise with stakeholders in a complex negotiation.
I required a £300,000 mezzanine loan in 2019 to complete a high-end, residential development in Bristol with a GDV of £2.5m. I had a primary lender, Aldermore, who had a £1.25m loan facility but time and cost overruns meant that halfway through, I needed another £300,000 to complete. The additional complexity was the negotiation with the landowner. When I purchased the site with Aldermore, we deferred £195,000, so the landowner made a second charge. The third charge was also with the landowner.
I needed a mezzanine lender that would not only lend halfway through the project but negotiate between Aldermore and the landowner. Many lenders are not happy with the role of having to navigate between parties. Clearwell wasn’t the cheapest but their ability to do the due diligence and find a flexible solution is why I chose them to take on the project. Their professionalism of looking at every deal uniquely and individually was key to the whole process, as was their ability to negotiate well.
In my experience, many lenders want standard projects in standard boxes and will provide a list of items they will and will not be involved in. Not everything is that straightforward in the world of real estate. Clearwell Capital understands this and their approach is to remain flexible and look at each project on its individual risk basis.
I felt more than comfortable talking to them about time and cost overruns and the challenges facing the project as they were clearly keen to work through a solution. Many lenders are ‘financially focused’ and don’t truly understand the sector they profess to specialise in. Clearwell Capital has a real understanding of property development and approach challenges from a real estate rather than a finance perspective. We are real estate people, so to talk that language is far more helpful. I have since approached Ed and the team on several other deals, their professionalism and flexibility make them stand out from the other mezzanine lenders.
Clearwell Capital and I have delivered six successful residential development loans for SME housebuilders over many years. Through this longevity, we have acquired an understanding of each other’s commercial objectives and how we both want to deliver for our mutual client. We have created a real synergy and this directly benefits our clients through the delivery of a consistent message, trust throughout the life of the loan, and the confidence it gives to all project stakeholders.
Helping people buy their own homes in their local areas is a shared ambition between myself and Clearwell; working together, our loan strategies make good profits but if we can support local people and businesses, then even better. For as long as I have known Clearwell, the team has maintained its goal of using its expertise to help alleviate the housing shortage.
Our biggest project was a scheme for 48 flats in Essex and the third project we worked on for a repeat client. The scheme was aimed at first time buyers within Help to Buy parameters, so it was to help local people to buy their own homes including police, teachers, and ambulance service. We loaned 75% of the cost (LtC) and Clearwell topped this up with a mezzanine loan of 15%. From a commercial point of view, it was extremely straightforward. The client trusted our approach and Clearwell and I knew what our limitations would be on leverage appetite and commercial points. This understanding creates a transparent, efficient and high-quality process, and this has a profound impact on getting the loan and the project over the line.
The result is that we helped a small, family housebuilder to deliver relatively affordable units for the area and make a significant, seven-figure profit. The repeat nature of work from this client is a testament to the work we do for them.
I think Clearwell Capital should win Mezzanine Lender of the Year. The company has a transparent, high-quality offering; their long-standing members of the team work closely together to enable deals to happen, rather than put barriers in the way; and they have remained consistent in the market despite difficult conditions over the 10 years. For a senior lender, Clearwell’s partnership approach enables all parties to achieve their commercial, as well as social, ambitions and this is what is most important to us.