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Last week West One Loans predicted that the bridging market is set to outperform its £2bn 2013 lending forecast.

This is brilliant news for the sector and really demonstrates that bridging has formed a strong place in the market not set to disappear anytime soon. In fact quite the opposite.

West One director Duncan Kreeger sums up the bridging industry perfectly, in my opinion, when he says that it is “not afraid of the projects that deserve real investment”.

This is why I believe we have seen this significant quarter on quarter growth in the market – because lenders and brokers alike are dedicated to completing bridging deals for credit-worthy clients.

We see an assortment of bridging loan applications each week, from the typical to the slightly unusual – and with the rise in applications and activity from lenders, this variety is sure to increase.

The bridging and short term loan markets are a vital ingredient to the industry as a whole, so to see the lending figures rise from £1.5bn in 2012 to over £2bn in 2013 is fantastic. Lenders are revamping and introducing new products to the market which is fuelling further growth through innovation. The diversity of products is providing further opportunities for brokers and clients.

At the very least, the latest figures promise to give lenders reason to consider further investment in bridging. The popularity of the loans and the rising average value – currently £405,000 – must serve to highlight the opportunities for them in this market.

Brokers that we speak to are seeing consistent demand from clients for bridging loans and some lenders are reacting to this by expanding their offering in the bridging market.

Masthaven, for example, has expanded its bridging proposition in Scotland to include commercial bridging, second charge bridging and renovation and refurbishment products.

Another example is the launch of Precise Mortgages’ Bridge to Let product in July this year. This offers clients the opportunity to transfer to a term buy-to-let loan after the bridging period is complete.

The introduction of the Bridge to Let product is one demonstration of how we have seen the use of bridging loans vary in the past year. Whereas bridging has traditionally been viewed as a risky, less regulated form of lending, today it is no longer viewed in a negative light. Now it is seen as a simple and effective option in the short term loan market.

Property investors can unlock opportunities which are more unusual and would be unattainable with mainstream products, but therefore come with the possibility of better margins.

Lenders are altering their offering where they see appropriate opportunities and brokers have a great chance to capitalise on repeat business in this area, specifically with property investors.

West One’s findings are not isolated, as Capital Bridging also shared strong half year results with a completions rate up 81 per cent.

Earlier this month the Association of Short Term Lenders shared its insight into the bridging market as approvals rose 5 per cent in quarter two. All of these factors are encouraging for the market and make us look to what is next.

As brokers know all too well, bridging finance has its challenges to tackle – exit routes, unusual hurdles faced at legals and a multitude of issues which can come part and parcel of property lending. That said, it is an area where we are seeing development and the more competition in the market the better.

I’m confident that we have a lot to look forward to in the bridging market in 2013 and beyond.



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