James Bloom

Getting your loan over the line: What makes for a good bridging underwriter?




The UK bridging market has grown substantially in recent years as a larger proportion of British borrowers seek a timely, but efficient solution to their specific financial needs.

Whether this be a buy-to-let investment, property development or a new business venture, the demand for bridging loans by those from all walks of life is evident. We have moved away from the old perception that bridging loans only help homeowners buy properties, and it is now seen as a versatile, modern financing option for a whole range of borrowing needs. 

Nevertheless, bridging finance is still in a league of its own, with an underwriting process that is entirely unlike traditional mortgage lending. Many of the cases we see are complex, which can, at times, make navigating the underwriting process a daunting prospect.

In order to empower underwriters, we have complied a list of the most important factors which enable a swift and effective application journey.

The devil’s always in the detail

Attention to detail is one of the most crucial aspects of short-term underwriting across the board. Paying attention to the specifics of each case will save you a lot of time later down the line. At Masthaven, we like to really get under the skin of all cases to ensure that every detail and intricacy is accounted for before progressing an application to the next stage. 

A closer look

As with every bridging case, underwriters will need to understand all the customer’s needs and individual situation so the product fits. Ultimately, it’s about making a critical assessment of an application so that we can consider whether something else is going on and whether the case needs some ‘outside-of-the-box’ thinking. Equally, it’s about providing clear and concise information from the get-go: submitting all relevant documentation where required and making the completion deadline known to all stakeholders. 

Proactivity 

For a bank such as Masthaven, relationships with our brokers are crucial. Proactivity is an important part of what we do — we encourage our team to take the initiative and get on the phone when we need more information, and we like to keep our brokers informed. Likewise, it is important that there is a mutual understanding and a level of respect and trust between broker and underwriter when passing over information for assessment. Having a willingness to engage with our broker partners to work through any issues that may arise and trying to overcome problems to get a case to completion, is of paramount importance. 

Timeliness

While all cases are treated equally, with bridging, we’re acutely aware that time is of the essence. Therefore, part of the underwriter’s job is to roll their sleeves up and do what’s necessary to ensure cases that are close to completion get over the line. The ability to prioritise cases that are closer to completion is key. Only last year, we helped complete a large-scale bridging loan, with an impressive turnaround time of just four days.

Gut instinct 

While bridging is gaining momentum, the wider industry still needs some education on the benefits bridging could provide for customers and the best way to deal with these cases. As an industry, it is our responsibility to ensure that brokers, underwriters and lenders are fully aware of the benefits that bridging can provide. Underwriters must remember that — provided that they are equipped with the confidence and necessary knowledge — they do have the power to accelerate the progression of a loan application by making instinctive, but effective decisions. This will ensure that loans are completed quickly and capably.

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