Aspen Bridging

Bridging delays: why with the right lender it does not have to be so slow



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The recent article by Jonathan Newman, senior partner at Brightstone Law, highlighted the leading causes of delays in bridging.

At Aspen – where we pride ourselves on being fast – this question of speed and how it can be achieved is a topic close to our hearts and a major point of focus for us.

Of the commonly cited factors, there are many that we lenders can take steps to free ourselves (and, more importantly, our customers) from.

The second-most common problem listed – lender red tape and lack of underwriter empowerment –is truly something that can be avoidable.

At Aspen, we have found that employing only decision makers with full power of determination – who are both client- and broker-facing – is both a huge plus to our credibility and the surest way to remove layers of bureaucracy as a cause of delay.

Furthermore, by having one pair of hands take a case from conception to completion and meeting the borrower on site to understand the case thoroughly, offers a personal touch that helps to give customers the confidence to commit their own time and money to speeding up the process. Delays in fees being paid was ranked fourth in the causes of delays.

Being hands-on also helps to remove the third-biggest problem: borrower inexperience with regards to what is required of them. It is simply a matter of tackling the issues upfront and maintaining communication.

Visiting the borrower also gives the underwriter the chance to explain forms when on site, agree upfront with the borrower and broker any searches and be pragmatic about what is a ‘must-have’ and what is a ‘nice-to-have’.

It also helps significantly to reduce risk and time spent around borrower identification and helps overcome miscommunication around the nature of the deal, which were respectively the 10th and fifth most common delays.

Furthermore, by producing updated lists of the items required and sharing these regularly, at Aspen, we find that even first-time bridging customers can achieve rapid completions.

Sometimes, however, lender, broker and borrower’s best efforts can, of course, be confounded by other factors, such as seller deadlines and property chains, which no one can control.

There is, however, one further cause of delay, which – although pegged at number seven – in our experience most frequently leads to a hold-up. This is inexperienced client solicitors who have only done traditional conveyancing before and are either overwhelmed or unconvinced by the urgency of bridging.

We often find they have a tendency to prefer compiling every requisition into a bundle to be sent in one go. This prevents the steady whittling of the requisitions list in advance of some third-party item needed.

When the third party finally comes through, the solicitors rush to put it together and then send it at the 11th hour before completion, often by post instead of courier.

Invariably there are items missed and further questions that arise from the responses.

Lenders cannot easily remedy this because the independence of a client’s advisers are paramount.

Lenders may, however, put together a list of solicitors who are recommended by their broker partners and with whom they have no relationship or contact, but are simply known to be competent.

At Aspen, we share this list readily with our brokers to enable them to guide customers – particularly those under time pressure – to a solicitor with the skills needed to give them an excellent service.

The message here is that with the right lender, the most common causes of delay can generally be overcome.

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