Clarity of instructions from bridging lenders is 'key' to streamline legal process

In an exclusive interview with Bridging & Commercial, Jodi Lund, partner and head of the real estate finance department at JMW Solicitors, commented that clear instructions and requirements from lenders are integral to help speed up the legal process.

When asked what trends JMW is currently seeing in the bridging market from a legal perspective, Jodi said that its lender clients had shown “huge flexibility” with borrowers on cases, and product offerings have developed and expanded across the market, such as finance providers moving into the regulated space.

However, she warned that this has meant a learning curve for some, as borrowers of regulated products are often very different to commercial customers and may therefore require more support.

“That’s where brokers can come in, as well as solicitors, to try and smooth that process.”

She also highlighted that the changing flow of instructions during the pandemic has been difficult to deal with, especially at the onset of the first lockdown, but that levels have now largely increased from where they were before Covid-19.

“At the beginning, it was a little bit of a cliff edge in terms of everybody working remotely [and so] the work levels dropped and there was a dip. When it started to come back, it was nice and steady for a while . . . and now there’s loads of activity in the market, which is great. So, it’s just managing that fluctuation of instructions.” 

B&C asked if the legal process was taking longer for bridging finance at the moment.

“I think it was initially,” she responded, stating that 12 months ago there was a bit of a slowdown when businesses had to put new processes in place.

Now, conversely, she explains that everyone is extremely busy, influenced by the SDLT holiday. 

“I wouldn’t say the legal process is necessarily slower; we just need to try and make sure that we keep up with demand.” 

In terms of what finance providers and brokers can do to help speed things up, Jodi asserted that clear instructions and requirements are key.

“We have some lenders that know exactly what they want to lend on [and] they only lend on that type of security . . . it speeds up the process immeasurably when you’re acting for the same provider on a repeat basis, and they know their market and borrowers.”

For brokers, “as much support as possible” and plenty of communication with borrowers is vital.

Jodi reiterated that valuers and lenders have adopted AVMs which makes the process more efficient and, as a solicitor firm, JMW utilises biometric ID and other technology to makes things quicker.

“The pandemic catalysed a lot of what we were doing already and brought it forward,” she noted.

In the near future, JMW plans to implement a hybrid system for ID to give borrowers more choice and is considering electronic signatures to align itself with Land Registry.

“You wouldn’t want to go backwards,” she said, “we just need to make sure that what we bring in is within the risk arena of what we’re doing.” 

The full interview can be watched below.

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