Bridging rates fall to historic lows as lending rises in Q1
According to MT Finance’s bridging trends report, loans completed during the first quarter were 8.5 per cent up on the same period in 2021 and 7.8 per cent higher than Q4 last year.
Simultaneously, the average monthly interest rate for a bridging loan fell to 0.71 per cent, a historic low, and was down on 0.77 per cent in Q4.
MT Finance said this was primarily due to the boost in regulated lending over the past three months, which resulted in a demand for regulated bridging loans for the first time since Q1 last year.
The number of loans conducted by the report’s contributors rose to 43.9 per cent during the period, compared with 36 per cent in Q4 2021.
The average loan to value (LTV) of a loan was 54.5 per cent compared to 57.3 per cent in the previous quarter. MT Finance suggested the lower LTVs could be due to slower-rising property asking prices.
Bridging use in Q1
The most popular use for a bridging loan in Q1 was to purchase a property, making it the fourth month in a row that most people used bridging loans for this purpose. Some 26 per cent of loans were used to buy an investment property, down on Q4 2021’s 29 per cent.
The second most popular reason was to fund a chain break, accounting for 23 per cent of completions, up from 18 per cent in the previous quarter.
Bridging loans for business purposes saw the sharpest drop in demand with total transactions falling from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
The volume of second charge bridging transactions also fell to 11.9 per cent of all loans from 17 per cent in the previous quarter and 22.2 per cent in the same period the year before.
The average term remained at 12 months and completion time decreased to 53 days in Q1, from an average of 56 days in Q4 2021.
The report combines loan completions from specialist finance packagers in the UK including LDNfinance, Brightstar Financial and Impact Specialist Finance.
Kimberley Gates, head of corporate partnerships at Sirius Property Finance, said: “It comes as no surprise that bridging loan transactions have increased again from the previous quarter – the property market continues to be turbulent for a variety of well-publicised reasons, so borrowers are looking for increasingly innovative ways to structure their debt.
“The stigma surrounding bridging also continues to subside as more investors, developers and homeowners are starting to see it as a useful tool for realising their real estate goals and no longer as a last resort.”
Sam O’Neill, head of bridging at Clifton Private Finance, added: “The increase in chain break transactions and regulated bridging is another positive sign. An increasing number of homeowners are seeing bridging finance as something they can confidently rely on and trust as a viable financial product.
“When looking for reassurance that the industry is going in the right direction, we can’t ask for more positive feedback than that.”
Together hits £103m bridging lending high in April
This comprised more than 260 bridging loans over the month. The value was a 17 per cent increase on its previous record of £88m in July last year.
The company said the record lending was in part due to larger loan sizes upwards of £5m, as well as the use of technology which sped up transactions.
Sundeep Patel (pictured), director of sales at Together, said the demand for short-term finance was “continuing to soar across the industry” despite global and financial uncertainties.
He said because traditional lenders were tightening criteria and “scaling back,” the demand from potential clients such as SMEs and developers was growing.
The lender currently has a loan book of £4.4bn, which Patel said was its “largest ever”. He also said Together was seeing a rise in application numbers and had a strong pipeline for unregulated bridging products.
Additionally, advances made to its technology now allow the lender to use automated valuation models on the majority of its loans, meaning the process is quicker and cheaper.
He added: “It’s clear that bridging finance has taken up an invaluable role in the commercial finance brokers’ toolkit, allowing them to support clients achieve their property ambitions.”
Alternative Bridging Corporation adds to case management team
She joins from mortgage lender and advice group TORC24 where she worked for over a year, firstly as a mortgage assistant, then as a mortgage helpline specialist.
Patel has worked in the financial services sector for 18 months and the skills gained in her roles at TORC24 are expected to be key at Alternative Bridging, having acted as a point of contact for clients throughout the mortgage journey.
Patel will report to the lender’s director, James Bloom.
Her appointment also follows the recruitment of Divya Patel, also to the case management team, in February.
Patel (pictured) said: “I am delighted to join Alternative Bridging; the fact that it has been in the market for 30 years is testament to its successful way of doing things and I can’t wait to support brokers with their cases.”
Bloom added: “We’re really pleased that Radhika has joined our service function. In her previous role she proved she could deal with managing multiple cases at once which will be vital at Alternative Bridging where we have a constant stream of bridging and commercial finance cases in progress.”
Market Harborough Building Society appoints bridging underwriter
Vaughan (pictured) was previously at Bridging Finance Solutions, where she worked as a bridging and development underwriter for nearly three years.
Overall, she has more than 10 years’ of underwriting experience, including a one-year stint at Bridge Bank Capital and two years at loan provider Capify.
The mutual’s bridging team is led by Stephen Barringer, head of specialist lending, and includes Will Edwards, senior lending specialist.
Barringer said: “We pride ourselves on offering a first-class service to all our intermediary partners and are delighted to welcome Nicky to the bridging team. Our partners will be able to contact her directly as their cases progress and will benefit from her wealth of knowledge and experience.”
Vaughan said “MHBS has a comprehensive range of products for both simple and more complex cases and I’m excited to be joining their dedicated bridging team. I’m looking forward to working closely with their intermediaries and helping them secure the right bridging solution for their clients.”
Aspen completes a record £40m in loan advances in Q1
This covered 59 advances with the largest average loan size at £3m and the smallest at £200,000. The average facility size was just over £800,000.
The deals originated from 28 introducers, and 13 per cent were written at 80 per cent loan to value on the lender’s recently launched development exit refurbishment product. A further 38 per cent opted for either its new bridge to let deal, which includes refurbishment or light development.
Aspen’s development exit and refurbishment product is available up to 80 per cent LTV for experienced developers with clean credit. Across its range, flat rate products start from 0.64 per cent per month and stepped rates from 0.39 per cent per month.
The lender also entered the bridge-to-let market with a product designed to offer more flexibility and lower early repayment charges than its existing bridge-to-let or hybrid offerings. It is available up to 80 per cent LTV with bridge rates starting at 0.64 per cent per month and buy-to-let rates of 4.49 per cent per annum.
Jack Coombs, director at Aspen Bridging, (pictured) said: “So far 2022 has been excellent and has resulted in our best first calendar quarter performance since the company was incepted in 2017.
“These numbers have been realised thanks to our hard-working team operating hand-in-hand with our great introducers and partners at Fieldfisher LLP, VAS Group and CVS.
“It all points to our strong appetite to lend, and we intend to continue the rest of the year exactly as we have begun.”
Specialist lender Inksmoor Capital relaunches as Acuity Finance
The lender offers bridging, development finance and consolidation loans.
It is headed up by managing director Sarah Radley (pictured) who has 20 years’ experience in the unsecured and secured lending sectors.
Acuity Finance offers loans across the UK and is based in Worcester and East Yorkshire.
Radley said the bridging market had remained “buoyant” during the pandemic and continued to gather pace, with the developer profile becoming more diverse.
She added: “There is an influx of people who have exited businesses during the pandemic and have some investment funds, and also those using pension pots to explore development potential for a better return on their money.
“However, these groups are sometimes overlooked and not adequately catered for in the finance space, with the onus being on the bigger players. At the same time, there are many businesses that have survived pandemic-induced challenges and now may need funding to either help with cash flow, or to capitalise on opportunities.”
Gareth Fawke, director of Acuity, said: “Our services are perfect for brokers working with small developers and property portfolio owners, who want to leverage equity from their existing portfolio, and may need some fast additional funds.
“Similarly, we can help businesses with owned premises who want to leverage this to access cash for their business. Many lenders in this market work with those looking for a minimum of £500,000 loan, whereas we can help those looking for in the region of £100-500,000. This means we can be an excellent partner for brokers, enabling them to widen their client pool.”
Bloom behind Spring Finance bridging pilot scheme launch
This follows the appointments of Jim Baker as its sales director of bridging, Ginny Warby as bridging business development manager for London and the South East, and Louise Young as senior underwriter of bridging. All hires were made earlier this month.
Spring Finance currently offers regulated, non-regulated, first charge, second charge and refurbishment products.
Baker said: “The pilot is a key phase in helping us build a proposition that provides an exceptional broker experience.
“With an underwriting team led by the experienced and highly regarded Claire Newman, this is an exciting and valuable period for us to work and listen closely to our broker partners to help us fine tune ahead of a full market launch.”
Andrew Bloom, owner of Spring Finance, added: “This is a significant day for Spring Finance as we begin the next phase of our planned growth.
“We are building an exceptional team at Spring Finance and I am delighted with the progress made in such a short space of time.”
Aspen promotes Harry Baker to head of credit
Baker was promoted from the role of credit manager and has worked at the lender for nearly five years.
In his new position, he will be responsible for the loan to value (LTV) approach for different cases, support underwriting criteria and organise staff training.
He will also continue to oversee the underwriting team’s caseloads and help with larger applications.
He joined the lender through its graduate recruitment scheme as an underwriter in 2017 before moving up to the role of senior underwriter the following year, then credit manager in 2019.
Baker (pictured) said: “At a lender that embraces complex and time pressured bridging, light development and bridge-to-let cases, as well more standard applications, you find that every day is a learning experience.
“The knowledge and experience I have built up over my time at Aspen will not only help shape our day-to-day workload and product offering going forwards, but I also am excited to be helping educate our newer members of staff so they too can fulfil their professional ambitions with this great company.”
Sancus reports £10.3m loss in trading update for 2021
This will be an improvement on the £14.5m loss it recorded in 2020 and follows newly appointed CEO Rory Mepham’s goal to make the lender profitable again.
Sancus is an alternative finance provider that offers bespoke bridging and development finance.
It generated a £9m revenue for the year to 31 December 2021, down on the previous year’s £10.9m, which was below its expectations.
Sancus attributed the revenue reduction to a decrease in the loan book and the impact of Covid on new loans written, which delayed loan closures and therefore caused a reduction in transaction fees.
Its loan book value dropped 17 per cent to £141m annually. This primarily occurred in its offshore bases of Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar where the management teams underwent restructuring.
An evaluation of the group’s loan book was completed when Mepham was appointed in January 2021. Particular focus was placed on reviewing historic loans which were either delinquent or had defaulted.
As a result, the group expects to report an increase in its credit loss provisions of £6.5m for 2021, up from £4.7m the previous year.
Almost all of these provisions have been made in relation to legacy loans written in or prior to 2018. The new senior management team have established deliverable strategies for these loan positions, which are now in progress, the group said.
Part of Mepham’s plans to make the lender profitable is to rely on the growth in loans under management. To achieve this, it will expand its presence in the UK and Ireland as well as rebuild its loans under management in its offshore markets.
Sancus made a number of appointments last year, increasing its headcount to 35 at the end of 2021, compared to 25 at the end of 2020.
This has resulted in an increased operating expenditure to £6.2m, up from £5.6m the year before. This investment is expected to support its growth over the coming years.
SoMo offers free legals during March
The lender has offered to pay up to £2,000 legal fees per borrower where brokers are able to ‘lock-in’ a deal by midnight on Monday 4 April.
SoMo said the deal had been designed to enable brokers to provide borrowers with an incentive, which would be a welcome saving at a time when they were experiencing huge price rises across fuel, food, energy and the general cost of living.
In addition to the deal, SoMo’s 51 broker members have the added bonus of being entered into a prize draw to win, for themselves, the cost of the legal fees being paid to their client.
Jamie Jolly (pictured), managing director at SoMo, said: “As SoMo doesn’t ask for legal fees upfront, it’s a win-win situation. If borrowers don’t complete, they’ll never have to put their hands in their pockets for legals and if they do, they’ll get up to £2,000 back – what’s not to love?”
Jolly added: “We work closely with our brokers and fully understand the broker-borrower relationship, which is why we’ll continue to provide incentives that get deals over the line. Borrowers won’t only benefit from a brilliant deal but also our range of innovative products and first-class customer service.”