Bridging lending lifts as exit strategies shift – West One

Bridging lending lifts as exit strategies shift – West One


The data from the West One Loans Bridging Index showed that these top three peaks in annual lending all occurred in the last four quarters. 

It added that the sector had benefited from “increasing professionalism” from both lenders and borrowers in recent years, helping the market to perform “strongly”. 

It suggested this was due to property market volatility, seeing bridging as “opportunity” finance and lenders meeting the demands of professional borrowers.

In Q2, the provisional seasonally adjusted UK property transaction count for June 2019 was 84,490, the lowest number in the last 12 months. This equates to a decrease of 9.6 per cent between May 2019 and June 2019 and is 16.5 per cent lower than June 2018. 

Stephen Wasserman, managing director of West One Loans said the lender enjoyed a strong first half of the year, as it completed some of its largest loans.  

“Q2 started incredibly well for us as we were able to deliver two record months EBITDA for the lending business in April and May. This has been backed up by strong enquiry levels throughout the quarter, which were higher than we anticipated at the beginning of the year. 

“I’m also glad to see it’s not been a ‘race to the bottom’ with rates, seeing a slight increase to 0.95 per cent against the average rate of 0.94 per cent in Q2.” 


Refinancing shift 

The data showed that when it came to exit strategies, clients were increasingly shifting from property sales to refinancing. 

For the first half of 2018, 51.7 per cent of loan exits were the transfer of debt into a different form of finance. Over the same period in 2019, this rose to 59.1 per cent, while property sale dropped from 28.5 per cent to 26.2 per cent. 

West One Loans said it had seen an increasing number of borrowers hold on to property and add it to their portfolio, possibly due to the difficulty of making a sale or doing so at their desired price. The company also said the number of landlords with between six and 20 properties “was rising while those with between three and five are falling”. 

According to the lender, this was fueling an increase in bridge-to-let mortgages onto a buy-to-let mortgage. 

Francesca Carlesi, founder and CEO of Molo Finance, added: “There is clear evidence from this and other recent reports that the buy-to-let market and other lending remains resilient, despite predictions and market headwinds.”


West One Loans launches into first charge BTL with aim to be ‘meaningful player’

West One Loans launches into first charge BTL with aim to be ‘meaningful player’


The standard and specialist ranges are available through selected intermediaries Enterprise Finance and Vantage Finance, which are both owned by Enra Group, as well as Brightstar, Dynamo and Connect for Intermediaries.

The standard range is available to individuals and limited companies. The specialist products cater for houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs), multi-unit freehold blocks (MUFBs), ex-pats, holiday lets and AirBnB properties.

The range offers two- and five-year fixed terms with rates from 3.39 per cent. The maximum loan-to-value is 80 per cent and loan size £2m. There is a fast-track remortgage option for individuals up to £750,000.

“Our loans will be available in England and Wales. We have ambitious plans for our BTL business, which includes a phased rollout through a wide distribution of key broker partners,” said Marie Grundy, West One Loans sales director (pictured). 

“We’ve become a significant lender in the second charge mortgages market, completing 2,000 loans, since we launched those products in 2017. Our development finance offer has helped developers from Farnham to Norfolk to Liverpool. We’re an ambitious company and we’ll take the same approach to become a meaningful player in BTL too,” she added.

“We are seeing an increase in applications from professional landlords with larger portfolios of properties, while there are fewer landlords with one or two properties. Holiday lets are currently exempt from the changes in tax relief, therefore we could see more demand in this area.

“These factors can make it harder for landlords to borrow on the high street and we believe that our specialist, case-by-case approach can help,” Grundy said.

A broker portal designed specifically for BTL intermediaries has been launched to support the range. This will be followed by a case hub to support communication with West One’s underwriting team.


Ferguson joins

Ferguson has a wealth of experience in BTL lending. He was previously commercial director at Foundation Home Loans, established the BTL service at Axis Bank and held a senior role at Kent Reliance.

“This is the next step in Enra Group’s growth following the launch of development finance last year and second charge mortgages in 2017. We’re committed to providing a wider reach of specialist lending products.

“Andrew has a track record of building BTl business and a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Enra Group chief executive Danny Waters.


West One Loans and Together announce senior appointments

West One Loans and Together announce senior appointments


Phill Tyson joins West One Loans from Shawbrook to take up the post of underwriting risk manager, while Michael Grant has been promoted to the role of head of sales – bridging and development finance and Chris Harrison has been promoted to underwriting team manager.

Both Grant and Harrison have been with the firm since 2014.

In addition, the lender’s parent company Enra Group has recruited Stephen Hogg to the role of chief operating officer.

He had previously spent six years at Metro Bank, holding a host of roles including operations director, where he was responsible for building Metro’s mortgage lending platform.

Before this Hogg spent seven years at Oakwood Global Finance, which funded the creation of Edeus and Pepper Homeloans.

Danny Waters, chief executive officer at Enra, noted that Hogg’s experience in building “profitable, scalable, technology-driven lending businesses is an ideal fit for us at Enra, as we continue our rapid growth”

He added: “[Tyson] has an impressive background and will be able to support the growth of our lending business. We pride ourselves on a having a common-sense approach to underwriting and he will help us continue in that vein.”


Together expands corporate team

Meanwhile Together has more than doubled the size of its corporate lending team, appointing two corporate relationship directors and two corporate relationship support managers.

Sonia Mann and Andrew Fouli join as relationship directors for the Midlands and London respectively.

Mann boasts more than two decades of experience in business development, having worked for Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays in the past.

Fouli joins from Cynergy Bank, where he held the post of banking support manager, and has worked in banking for more than thirty years.

Geoff Walton and Kathy Murphy Hunter have taken the roles of support managers, both joining from Lloyds Banking Group.

The hires come six months after Andrew Charnley (pictured) was recruited to the newly created role of head of corporate relationships, joining from Lloyds Banking Group.

Charnley said the appointments were a demonstration of the lender’s desire to be the number one choice for corporate finance.

He added: “Their appointments clearly signal our intentions to grow the business even more in the near future and to support businesses and their advisers with lending solutions tailored to their needs and delivered in an efficient and timely manner.”


West One completes £80m lending in record April

West One completes £80m lending in record April


It included new highs in second charge and bridging completions.

Second charge mortgage lending hit a company monthly high of more than £11m, with April representing the fourth consecutive month of record lending levels in the business.

This matches figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) which show that second charge lending grew strongly throughout the first three months of the year.

Bridging finance also saw record lending at West One, with almost £70m lent across its regulated and unregulated residential, commercial and bridge-to-let product range.

West One Loans managing director Stephen Wasserman (pictured) said: “This is a great achievement for the business and I’m delighted that we have been going from strength to strength since the turn of the year.”

He noted that the lender had recently hit its 1,000 second charge loan, adding that “to keep growing in the safe, responsible way that we are is a testament to the whole team.”


West One finalises £20m loan and Bridge Invest completes trio of deals

West One finalises £20m loan and Bridge Invest completes trio of deals


The injection of money from West One meant the client could develop their business by acquiring another company and expanding into the unencumbered property, it said.

West One got involved after the original lender pulled out late on. It took 18 days to make sure the proposals met the lender’s commercial and risk appetite and to complete the deal.

West One Loans, which is currently lending at a rate of £600m per annum in bridging loans, said it had “developed a working relationship with the client over many years, which helped the process of underwriting and securing the funding.”

The lender’s managing director Stephen Wasserman (pictured) said: “The challenges of completing a complex deal like this are huge, but through our premier loan team and investor services team, we have the ability to complete deals like this quickly and efficiently by funding through our bank of professional clients.”


Bridge Invest trio

Bridge Invest completed three deals in as many days last week, with the loans were sourced from three brokers, two of whom the firm had not previously worked with.

On Wednesday, a first charge loan of £188,000, at 40 per cent loan-to-value (LTV), was secured against an unencumbered investment property for business purposes in Birmingham.

The following day the lender provided a £127,000 second charge bridge at 64 per cent LTV for business purposes. It was secured against a principal residence in Crouch End, north London.

It completed the week lending £286,000 first charge at 70 per cent LTV to a property developer undertaking heavy refurbishment in West Kensington. The loan will be repaid once the property has been made habitable and sold.

Chief investment officer Vivek Jeswani said: “This was a good end to the last three days of our financial year. We would like to thank Brightstone Law who acted for us on all of these transactions.”

West One Loans partners with ME Developments for £5.5m facility

West One Loans partners with ME Developments for £5.5m facility


The facility is funding the construction of five – high specification, five bedroom homes, each home will cover 3,600 square feet in Hampshire.

The specialist lender said that the construction is expected to take approximately nine months, with sales to follow shortly afterwards.

Simon Marshall, CEO of ME Developments, said that its team is delighted to team up with West One Loans.

He added: “We have worked closely with in the past and have proven to be a responsive and flexible finance partner. Like all ME projects, this will deliver high quality property in a beautiful location”

Stephen Wasserman, managing director of West One Loans (pictured), said that this is a great opportunity to support an experienced developer in funding an impressive scheme which is sympathetic to its semi-rural surroundings.

Glenhawk and West One Loans grow broker support teams – roundup

Glenhawk and West One Loans grow broker support teams – roundup


Wareham (pictured) will be based in London, reporting to Glenhawk director of lending Nick Hilton.

The lender said it has already agreed a number of multi-million pound loans including a residential acquisition in Central London and a refinancing in the West Midlands to start 2019.

Last year it completed more than £35m of loans and secured a £75m funding line from Shawbrook Bank and Insight Investment in 2018.

Wareham will be responsible for supporting the underwriting team and expediting the enquiry to completion process.

In the past, she worked as client relationship manager at SPF Private Clients and as sales support at Coreco Group.

She has extensive experience dealing with a range of stakeholders as well as structuring and packaging complex development and refurbishment deals.

Guy Harrington, CEO of Glenhawk, said: “Amy is another strong addition to the team and will be integral in assisting in the delivery of our customer-centric strategy.”


West One Loans boosts its sales team

West One Loans has made a series of strategic appointments to its sales team from three major financial institutions.

Kevin Glover joined from NatWest where he worked as a relationship manager within real estate finance.

He will be responsible for extending West One’s presence in the North of England, providing support to brokers and property finance professionals specialising in bridging and development finance.

West One has also strengthened its second charge mortgage sales team with the appointment of Sharon Clarke and Pauline Rylands as relationship managers.

Sharon Clarke joined West One from the Family Building Society where she worked as a roving underwriter.

Clarke will work with specialist second charge mortgage advice firms based in the South and South West of England alongside – and will provide underwriting and training support to key partners.

Pauline Rylands will be managing key second charge mortgage broker relationships across the North of England and Scotland.

She joined West One following a career spanning over 30 years, including with Yorkshire Building Society where she worked as an area manager within the branch network.

Furthermore, Danny Scoltock has moved from the broker support team to become a field-based business development manager, supporting brokers and intermediaries in the East of England.

Sales director Marie Grundy said: “With the continuing growth of the bridging, second charge mortgage and development finance markets – it’s important that we have the right team in place to be able to support our broker partners.

“In Kevin, Sharon, Pauline and Danny, I know we’re bringing in relationship managers that have the experience and in-depth knowledge of the market that will add value to the team and the wider business.”

West One updates second charge product and cuts rates

West One updates second charge product and cuts rates


These changes include the launch of its lowest ever variable and fixed rate products and an expanded range of early repayment charge (ERC) free products.

Rate cuts have been applied across its prime, near prime and buy-to-let product ranges and now start from 3.79%.

Loan sizes have also been increased to £750,000 as standard on Apex Prime and Apex 1 products, for loans up to 65% loan to value (LTV).

West One Loans has also made process improvements to the application process, making it easier for brokers to support clients in securing second charge mortgage finance.

Marie Grundy, sales director of West One Loans (pictured), said the latest data from the Finance and Leasing Association revealed second charge mortgage completions exceeded £100m in October for the first time since 2008.

She added: “The launch of our lowest ever pricing for two- and five-year fixed rate products reflects the changing trends in product preferences, with more borrowers opting for payment stability as the UK determines its exit from Europe.”

Darren Perry, head of second charge mortgages at Brightstar Financial, said: “This is a fantastic amendment to West One’s range and will make second charge mortgages even more accessible to our brokers and their clients.

“We have already seen demand for the product and have been able to provide an option for one client who previously had no suitable products available to them, as well as improving the rate we were able to recommend to another client.”

West One creates team for large, complex bridging cases

West One creates team for large, complex bridging cases


Its Premier Loan Team is made-up of the lender’s most experienced underwriters and will offer a bespoke, dedicated service for larger loans of £750,000 or more.

The lender said this would lead to a smooth, fast and easy application process.

The team will work across the whole product range, including commercial, regulated residential, unregulated residential and prime unregulated residential bridging loans.

West One Loans managing director Stephen Wasserman (pictured) said the move reflected the lender’s commitment to support these types of cases.

“We’ve supported many borrowers with loans up to £10m and understand the intricacies of getting large loans over the line,” he said.

“While there is lots of talk about the housing market slowing and fears over Brexit, we have seen demand soar through 2018.”

He added that West One’s average turnaround time from enquiry to completion was two weeks.


Complete FS adds West One Loans to its second charge lender panel

Complete FS adds West One Loans to its second charge lender panel


The rise in business is due to increased interest in remortgaging alternatives, Complete FS said.

And pricing structures, where the lender offers brokers the option of ‘fees paid’ or ‘fees added’, have also proved popular in the secured loan market.

The packager has nine lenders on its secured loan panel.

West One Loans has a product range which complements the packager’s other providers, director at Complete FS Damian Cain (pictured) said.

He added: “We are delighted to welcome West One Loans to our panel. They have a great range of products with flexible criteria and competitive rates.

“Marie Grundy and her team have impressed us with their attitude, service and willingness to work with us. They will be a great addition to our panel.”

Marie Grundy from West One Loans said: “I have known Complete’s directors, Damian, Tony and Phil, for a long time and their business model is impressive and has been hugely popular with introducers.

“Complete FS has been on the list of potential partners we wanted to cultivate, and I am particularly happy that we are now working together.”