Editor's Letter: Could inexperienced brokers in bridging steer us off track?

What I’ve learnt of late is that nothing can get in your way if you are determined and committed.

I saw this during May’s four-week washout when coronavirus rules dictated that people could only drink at pubs if they were seated outside. I felt a sense of pride seeing clusters of punters at their local beer gardens drinking and eating amid 65mph winds and torrential rain, completely unbothered. You can’t stop a Brit from enjoying a pint. Caron and I had a similar experience during a lunch meeting when the sodden outdoor canopy started leaking right onto our plates. It had been months since I had eaten anything other than my own cooking, and a wet alfresco lunch did nothing to dampen the mood.

Now that we are edging closer to the roadmap’s finish line (expected to be on 19th July), there is an even stronger sense of optimism and positivity across the country and, in particular, the property sector. According to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, annual growth hit double digits in May—the highest level in almost seven years. This illuminates just how far the market has come in terms of adapting to its circumstances, considering that a year ago, activity had all but collapsed in the wake of the first lockdown. While the stamp duty holiday is clearly accelerating the spike of transactions, 68% of homeowners surveyed at the end of April confirmed they would have moved regardless of the initiative being extended, highlighting the colossal shift in attitudes towards living standards and the persistent ‘race for space’.

While the future is far from certain, I expect the specialist finance industry will continue to keenly cater to surging demands, making up for lost business during 2020. “Whatever comes at us, as businesses and as an industry, I feel we’re in a different headspace now,” comments one broker in our cover story for the May/June issue of the Bridging & Commercial Magazine. We dissect how loan performance has fared over the past 12 months; how better quality borrowers are contributing to this; and whether the emergence of new, inexperienced brokers in bridging could steer us off track. One thing that was agreed by the majority was that lenders are applying more due diligence than they were pre-Covid — deals are being entered with the entire process, strategy and exit as clear as the skies (were) of June.

An area of the market which has been getting a lot of airtime of late is holiday lets. With the recent reopening of hotels and B&Bs, along with the rising temperatures, the demand for UK staycations is expected to soar. We set out what you need to advise your clients when investing in the coast and country.

As always, we have a plethora of interviews to ensure you are ahead of the curve. Hampshire Trust Bank talks about lending on breweries, barbers and ‘hipster’ shops, Octopus Real Estate hits the £5bn lending milestone, and Jackson Cohen and Ashurst make some interesting observations about regulation and M&A.

We also get an exclusive first glimpse at new bridging lender Tenn Capital’s offering — and yes, it is actually bringing something new to the space.

While finance providers are lending with their eyes wide open, my ear will be firmly to the ground while I start to see more of you in the following months for what will be the great British catch-up — I just need to find some outfits first.   

The latest Bridging & Commercial Magazine can be found online.

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