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Bridging loans provide cost-effective solutions

As indicated by falling transaction volumes over the past 12 months, selling a built asset is never easy in today’s market, whether it’s a residential or commercial property. Offers that realise the full value of an asset have, in my experience as a specialist finance loan provider, taken longer than normal to materialise over the past year, especially when a developer is selling multiple units at a time.

Some developers will opt to reduce their prices for a quicker sale – and we understand that, especially when they’re waiting for multiple sales rather than one.

But others, equally understandably, are wary of dropping their prices and want to realise what they believe to be the full value, even if that means waiting longer to find the right buyer. For those developers, companies such as ours can offer development exit bridging loans to give them some breathing space, and we’re seeing more and more developers seeking that kind of facility.

There are a number of reasons a developer might want such a loan. Development finance for the project at hand might have tight terms that require payment within a few months of completion. Active developers might also want to free up equity to fund other schemes while they wait for a sale at the right price. These developments are completed, often to time, and are effectively de-risked – so why shouldn’t developers be able to pull some money out of them?

Whether or not a developer is looking for this type of loan is naturally very dependent on the term they have on their development finance, how complicated the build was, any time or cost overruns, and how much time they have to sell, but nonetheless it is a trend we are seeing across both residential and commercial markets. It is not just our existing clients that are seeking development exit loans; we are seeing a mixture of smaller, new developers alongside larger, more established players looking for this type of flexible finance.

Bridging loans

For the most part, developers simply want more time to find the right buyer, and in most cases they’re seeking a like-for-like refinance of existing loans. They might have a development loan reaching term end, for example, and a bridging loan from a company like ours can give them piece of mind by effectively increasing the term on their finance.

These bridging loans are not necessarily more expensive either: at the lower end of the loan-to-value spectrum we offer rates starting at 0.55% a month, and we do not charge any exit fees. That means that, as well as providing developers with more time, these loans can also sometimes be more cost-effective.

It is something we have been doing for years, but now that more companies are looking for this type of solution in today’s market, we hope to be more flexible than ever. We understand that circumstances change quickly on development projects. That’s why, in some cases, we can offer loans with an 18-month term, which is longer than for a normal bridging loan.

Buy-to-let

We’ve also had cases where investors looking to sell a number of residential properties have moved into one of the units, and the loan then becomes a regulated bridging loan. Essentially, if there are variations along the way or bumps in the road, we’ll be able to accommodate it – and we have a large, dedicated loan team on hand to see to our clients’ needs.

Unlike some other bridging lenders, we also provide a full spectrum of finance products, including development finance, which means we understand developers more than most. Last year, we also launched longer-term second charge mortgages on both residential and buy-to-let securities and we have exciting plans to launch into other areas of lending next year in the hope that it gives our clients surety of not having to jump between different lenders, offering them a one-stop shop for their financing needs.

Development exit bridging loans are a product that we are very much used to offering, and the main variable on our part is the length of the loan term. When a developer is selling multiple units, such as a residential apartment block, then we are very used to working with them to come up with the best strategy.

Development finance

We believe the increased flexibility of companies such as ours is part of the trend that is seeing smaller, specialist lenders stepping in and providing ever-more cost-effective solutions for developers, which helps get more homes and offices built. Even with Brexit and all the concerns people have about the housing market, there is still a shortage of property and there are pretty big targets to hit to meet housing needs, which makes specialists like us more important than ever.

Our development finance starts at 7% a year, and that is getting close to the high street and other established lenders. Specialist lenders like us can also give developers more leverage – and clearly, cash is very important when it comes to development. Having the liquidity to make sure the project gets finished correctly, and on time, is vital. The ability to push the loan-to-value to a higher level than the high street or more traditional development lenders is therefore an increasingly attractive option.

By offering the full spectrum of financing options, we hope we can build long-term relationships with our clients, and give them the confidence that we will be with them no matter the situation. In that way, development exit bridging loans, as well as our upcoming buy-to-let product, feel like a natural extension of what we have always done and will continue to do.

Predicting what will happen to the residential and commercial markets over the next year is difficult, but as long as transactions are taking longer than usual, bridging loans can offer developers the time and support they need to sell their high-quality completed assets at the right price.

Source: Property Week

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Industry calls for dedicated bridging qualification

Bridging experts have called for the introduction of a bridging qualification to improve reputation, education and self-regulation across the industry.

Brian West, director of Central Bridging, who sits on the board of the ASTL (Association of Short Term Lenders), namedropped the old FISA (Finance Industry Standards Association) qualification for secured loans, which he said drove up standards and confidence.

He said: “I regularly push for examinations and training. Pretty much everybody, every underwriter within the main brokerages took the old FISA qualification and got their certificate.

“The bridging industry should be more aspirational. Why don’t we have a bridging foundation course?

“Let’s pull together the ASTL, NACFB and FIBA and some of the bigger lenders. If Brightstar put all its staff through it then Positive would follow suit as would every brokerage out there.

“With regulators you have to be seen to be doing the best you can to self-regulate, so it’s better if the FCA looks at an industry where the main trade federations and bodies are pulling together to produce a bridging foundation examination, even if it’s only a one or two day course to get a basic foundation in bridging rather than seeing an industry doing nothing.

“There are plenty of lenders and organisations that would get actively involved and would be prepared to pay and help.”

Rob Jupp, chief executive of Brightstar, has called for a bridging qualification before and is surprised one hasn’t yet been introduced.

He said: “The short-term lending market has grown significantly in recent years and lenders, distributors and brokers have all worked hard to raise standards and make bridging finance a more accessible solution for thousands of customers.

“But short-term mortgages are a distinct product that come with their own considerations and I am staggered we have still not introduced a qualification that can help brokers to demonstrate their understanding of the sector.

“We worked hard to get this across the line when I was chairman of the AOBP and we need to continue to continue that work to help continue to raise standards in our industry.”

Damien Druce, director at Assetz Capital, agreed, emphasising it should be driven by the industry, not regulators.

He said: “There’s definitely room for this but it should be driven by the industry rather than the Institute for Financial Services or the FCA.

“If you can get all the trade bodies in a forum with some key players, brokers and lenders, you can probably come up with some kind of qualification that’s probably not as formal as a CeMAP but has that practical side to it.

“The biggest benefit to this is the reputational enhancements to the bridging market because there’s still probably a little stigma attached to it, although it’s nowhere near as it was a long time ago. It’s improved massively.”

However Mathew Tooth, chief commercial officer at LendInvest, was against the idea of an industry wide qualification, favouring an on-board course at individual organisations instead.

He said: “It’s up to each to decide how they work and what they invest in. I think it should be an on-board course.

“The notion of a full qualification with an exam at the end where bridging and development is so interlinked and the syllabus would expand, wouldn’t serve a great purpose but some kind of on-board course lasting a couple of days for different types of stakeholder, for someone starting at a brokerage, someone starting at a lender, would be really good.

“So I’m for on-board training but not an industry wide qualification at this stage.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Brexit may be to blame for fall in regulated bridging loans

Potential buyers taking stock of an impending Brexit may be behind regulated bridging loans falling in the third quarter to the lowest level since Q1 2015.

That’s according to Gareth Lewis, commercial director at MT Finance (mtf), as it was revealed the number of regulated loans conducted by Bridging Trends contributors fell for the second consecutive quarter. They dropped to 31.6 per cent of all lending in Q3 2018, compared to 36.8 per cent during Q2 2018. This is the lowest level since Q1 2015, when the number of regulated bridging loans transacted was at 31.5 per cent of all lending.

Lewis said: “The data continues to show that property investors are seeking attractive opportunities to acquire properties where they can add value, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Conversely the transaction flow in the regulated space has continued to show signs of slowing down. Is this a direct response to the everyday purchaser taking stock of Brexit and holding fire before looking to commit to the purchase of a new residence?”

Bridging loan volume transacted by contributors hit £213.35 million in Q3 2018, an increase of £15.4 million on the previous quarter. This is the highest figure to date and comes as another new contributor joins Bridging Trends — specialist finance packager, Clever Lending.

First legal charge lending increased to 84.4 per cent of all loans during Q3 2018, up from 80.9 per cent in the second quarter. Meanwhile, second charge loans decreased to 15.6 per cent compared to 19.1 per cent during Q2 2018.

For the second consecutive quarter, refurbishment purposes were the most popular reason for obtaining a bridging loan, as borrowers continued to add value to existing and newly purchased properties.

Mortgage delays were the second most popular reason for obtaining a bridging loan, accounting for 19 per cent of all lending, down from 20 per cent in the previous quarter.  Whilst loans for auction purchases and business purposes increased in the third quarter by 3 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

The average monthly interest rate dropped to 0.78 per cent in Q3, from 0.83 per cent in Q2 2018 — the lowest rate recorded since Q4 2016. This activity translated into lower LTVs, with average LTV levels in Q3 decreasing by 1.5 per cent to 55.4 per cent.

The average completion time on a bridging loan application jumped to 46 days during the third quarter from 43 during the second quarter, as service and resource levels were impacted by annual leave. The average term of a bridging loan in the second quarter remained at 11 months.

Sonny Gosai, head of specialist lending at Clever Lending, says the business is privileged to be on board with Bridging Trends, which “provides much needed analysis of the market”. He added: “The bridging industry is booming at present and forms a large part of our key distribution and remains one of our main focuses.

“Whilst the data suggests that there has been a drop in regulated bridging activity, we have recently set up a team solely to provide regulated bridging advice as we have seen a growth in this area particularly for enquiries. It will be interesting to see the next quarter’s Bridging Trends results.”

Meanwhile, Luke Egan, head of specialist property finance at Pure Commercial Finance, says the market is becoming more competitive. He said: “Regarding the drop in regulated bridging transactions, we operate slightly different to a lot of specialist brokers as we take a large amount of direct business, so we have more regulated bridge enquiries as a lot of clients are home movers.

“However, the market is becoming more competitive which would explain the decline to an extent as there is a finite amount of business being passed around a larger number of people.

“Interest rates seem to be only going one way. I believe one of the main regulated bridging lenders will drop their rates again soon in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Completion times increasing again is a worry, speed seems to a forgotten pre-requisite of bridging and more of a USP these days.”

Source: Bridging Directory