Why we champion Northern Ireland – Central Trust

by: Maeve Ward, director of commercial operations at Central Trust and Mercantile Trust
  • 21/09/2023
  • 0
Why we champion Northern Ireland – Central Trust
Specialist lenders have played a very important role since the 1990s and thankfully that’s still true today. Most mainstream lenders employ automated decision-making technologies to provide swift decisions and that’s fine if you fit into their one-size-fits-all systems; however, many are left sidelined by high street lenders, not due to genuine credit unworthiness but because they don't align with the mainstream's stringent criteria.

That’s why today’s specialist lenders fill the gaps left by these mainstream institutions. Those with complex financial situations are listened to by specialist underwriters, and more often than not, specialist lenders will provide solutions for them.

However, many specialist lenders, while addressing the unique needs of individuals, often overlook geographical considerations. Northern Ireland stands as a prime example. Though an integral part of the United Kingdom, it is often bypassed by both mainstream and specialist lenders. Furthermore, many lenders who do operate in Northern Ireland offer only limited versions of their products available to residents of England, Scotland, and Wales.

There’s scant evidence to suggest that borrowers in Northern Ireland are less interested in property finance products than those in Great Britain. However, many lenders are reluctant to cater to them, seemingly dissuaded by the perceived legal complexities associated with Northern Ireland.

As the director of commercial operations for Central Trust and Mercantile Trust, I ensure that our ethos is clear: serve the underserved. As a consequence, we proudly approach Northern Ireland differently to other lenders, ensuring all our products available in England, Scotland, and Wales are equally accessible there.


Serving NI homeowners

Central Trust specialises in offering regulated lending products. Northern Ireland residents can access our first and second charge residential mortgages just as those in mainland Britain can – and at identical rates.

Similarly, our first and second charge consumer-buy-to-let (CBTL) products are also available.

Furthermore, amidst uncertainty surrounding future interest rates, in the Spring we introduced a one-year residential fixed rate option, available UK-wide. This covers first charge mortgages (for unencumbered properties only) and second charges.


Supporting property investors

Meanwhile, Mercantile Trust is ensuring that landlords, property investors and business owners in Northern Ireland are not being overlooked. It provides first and second charge buy-to-let mortgages, bridging loans (both firsts and seconds) as well as second charge homeowner business loans.

Our homeowner business loans (HOBLs) are perfect for property professionals in Northern Ireland who are looking to expand their portfolio but prohibited by the level of equity in the portfolio, or that the existing mortgage lender will not grant consent to a second charge.

Their aspirations can be realised by utilising the available equity in the borrower’s main residence providing there is a mortgage in place. HOBLs are equally perfect for first-time landlords looking to purchase their first investment where speed is of the essence or where the property is in need of some significant improvement, and so would not be mortgageable through a regular buy-to-let mortgage.

Given that Mercantile caters to smaller advances on more modest property values, from £75,000 up to 75% LTV, we appeal especially to investors outside London and the South East. This is pertinent in Northern Ireland, where property values are generally lower than the rest of the UK.


Overcoming challenges

It’s true that lending in Northern Ireland is not the same as operating in Great Britain, but that difference merely requires a different legal approach – something that can be overcome if a lender is truly serious about meeting the needs of borrowers across the United Kingdom.

At Central and Mercantile Trust, our mission is unambiguous: offering choice and opportunities to Northern Ireland-based brokers, empowering them to better address their clients’ immediate requirements.


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