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Five minutes with Toby Burgess

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Relationship Director Toby Burgess recently joined Paragon’s Development Finance team and has hit the ground running with his first deal in Birmingham. In the latest of our ‘Five minutes with…’ series, we catch up with Toby to discuss his background and how he sees the market in 2021.

Can you tell us briefly about your background and why you joined Paragon?

graduated from Edinburgh University with a maths degree and initially started out my career as a teacher. However, I quickly left teaching and moved into the financial world and now have 10 years’ finance experience, of which seven have been in residential development.  

My last role was with Wellesley Finance PLC in their lending team, which was fantastic experience both in financing some hugely successful developments for great clients, but also in managing some legacy loans where developments had not gone to plan. Towards the end of last year, the chance arose to join the growing Paragon Development Finance team. The team are incredibly experienced and the bank has shown great confidence in the sector by backing the team’s rapid expansion over the past 12 months.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

I love the mix of the theoretical and the practical. I enjoy getting my head into a spreadsheet and structuring a complex loan. However, it is that mixed with the ability to put boots on and head out to site and meet with a client and see a development coming out of the ground which makes development finance such a great job.

Do you focus on a specific type of development?

While I look at lots of different types of development, recently I have found myself working on more flatted developments and also office to residential conversions. I see the latter as something that we may see more of as older offices are repurposed, giving people the opportunity to live closer to town centres.

You recently completed your first Paragon deal with the Elevate Property Group in Birmingham. Can you tell us about that deal and any challenges you overcame?

Elevate is a fantastic developer which has built up a great brand, initially in Birmingham and now further afield. The deal was to finance their acquisition and conversion of Priory House, which had previously been a forensics laboratory, to create 79 apartments in Birmingham’s southside. There were a couple of legal nuances in the deal which required us to structure the loan slightly differently and it is testament to our lawyers, Hill Dickinson, and our credit team at Paragon that we were able to negotiate all the issues to a successful conclusion, enabling Elevate to meet their contract completion date.

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

I suspect we will see continuing price rises in suburban locations as families move further afield, seeking more space and greenery. Most employers have now adjusted, where they can, to more flexible working which makes longer commutes more acceptable. Despite the upheaval of the past 12 months, I still think town and city centre accommodation will continue to find a market for those that want city living, there may just be a flight to quality and better-located developments.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love sports and used to play a fair amount of tennis and rugby, plus I’m am a keen skier (when allowed to do such things). Since the arrival of my daughter 15 months ago (and due to the restrictions), I have not played sport for some time and think I may use it as an excuse to hang up my rugby boots at least. I purchased a set of golf clubs a couple of years ago and so might try and actually learn to use them now.

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