According to figures published by parent company Enra Specialist Finance, completions at West One reached £309m in the first three months of 2021, up 37 per cent on the same period last year.
The growth was also reflected at Enra’s two broking firms – Enterprise Finance and Vantage Finance – with completions and new enquiries received setting records.
It noted the increasing numbers of more complex transactions in the market meant a growing demand for specialist advice.
Enra CEO Danny Waters (pictured) told Specialist Lending Solutions that bridging finance was the main reason for the leap at West One, but perhaps surprisingly this was not down to the stamp duty holiday deadline.
“Very few people used bridging finance to save stamp duty as the cost of it offsets some of the savings,” he said.
“There’s a variety of reasons why we did well – we’ve got a newer offering within the bridging finance market and we were well organised and capitalised to enter into the year.
“We’ve seen lots of development exit bridging, with developments delayed due to Covid and so developers needed further time to sell their units and there was also some restructuring going on. “High street and private banks were also taking longer to make decisions so for many borrowers the quickest and most certain path of finance was specialist lenders,” he added.
BTL and seconds in Q2
Enra said business took time to pick up with January being slower but that this quickly picked up and pipeline applications were looking strong.
Waters said this would be reflected in other product areas in the next three months.
“I’m almost certain we will see stronger completions in Q2 for buy to let and second charge,” he continued.
“We’ve got cases in the pipeline but these products have slightly longer completion times, but buy to let will be stronger in Q2 than Q1.”
Rather than any particular market trends, Waters believes in this case the growing business is down to West One improving its proposition, citing more competitive pricing and its credit risk approach.
Focus on current areas
West One has begun rolling out distribution to mortgage clubs with its first such arrangement with Dynamo in December and a second with TMA in March.
For the rest of the year Waters suggested West One is likely to further concentrate on its existing markets rather than expand into new ones.
“The business has always been ambitious and we’ve looked to grow year-on-year since we formed in 2002 and have largely maintained that,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ll be launching any new product areas soon, but I think it will be a more deep and meaningful play in recent additions.”