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Insights

Five minutes with Sarah Dix, Development Finance Relationship Director

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We caught up with Sarah Dix, Relationship Director in our Development Finance team, for a chat about her background prior to joining the team and what her role at Paragon entails. Find out as Sarah reveals the challenges of the current market and the key things that might be in store for the housing sector as we gradually return to a new normal.

What was your background prior to joining Paragon?

I have more than 20 years working in the banking and finance industry. I spent over ten years originating and structuring UK Real Estate investment and development finance transactions for Barclays Bank and Metro Bank and I then spent my last two years within leadership roles at Metro Bank, latterly managing the Real Estate Finance (REF) Team.

What does your role at Paragon entail?

My role as a Relationship Director in Paragon’s Development Finance team is to structure development finance transactions, which supports developers in delivering sites to market across the UK.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

I enjoy structuring transactions for clients to best support them with bringing schemes to market and helping them to deliver quality housing to the UK market. This week I had a virtual meet with a potential new client, discussing his ambitions and plans for delivering quality housing in great locations in East Anglia. It is really exciting to have the opportunity to be part of making that plan come to fruition.

What are the challenges?

The uncertainty in the market is certainly a challenge - locking in costs, availability of labour and of course predicting house prices and time to market/sell stock when schemes achieve practical completion are all considerations right now when providing facilities.

There is still strong demand for housing but with Government stimulus by way of stamp duty breaks and the job retention schemes coming to an end, pressure on sales may be seen. Unlike the financial crisis there is liquidity in the market, however, mortgage availability for those furloughed is limited and this accounts for ten million people in the UK today.

What do you hope to achieve in your role at Paragon?

I hope to support developers by providing swift responses and structuring straightforward facilities that are easy to transact, allowing them to go about their day-to-day business of delivering quality housing, with the confidence that we are looking after their funding requirements.

I believe the vast experience and entrepreneurial approach at Paragon, combined with our financial strength and desire to support experienced residential developers, holds us in good stead and sets us apart.

What are some of the key things you expect to see for the housing sector during 2021?

In this pandemic it is very difficult to know what the new normal will look like but for now, I think we will continue to see demand in the regions and more rural locations, with buyers valuing amenities and open space more than ever before. I think the move-out will result in uplift in local amenities and perhaps local communities being regenerated in the longer term.

As we slowly return to normality after the pandemic, it will be interesting to see what the return to the office looks like in the long term. Will we see a more balanced office and home working environment and what effect will this have on residential within the cities? Millennials perhaps are not as focused on London flats but are moving more towards houses with gardens to enjoy agile working and are happier for a longer commute due to less frequent time spent in the office. It will be a very interesting year!