The challenge of turning enquiries into completion

The challenge of turning enquiries into completion


Even in today’s vibrant bridging market, with a host of new lenders and product options, intermediaries and lenders still face the challenge of taking an enquiry all the way through to completion.

Alan Margolis, Head of Bridging at United Trust Bank, offers us a realistic and down to earth assessment of the reality facing brokers and lenders in actually getting loans completed.


Let us forget for a moment the somewhat fanciful headlines of multi-million pound loans and an annually market of over a billion pounds. Scratch beneath the surface and you will find that most bridging loans are likely to be nearer to £100,000 than £1 million, the average time from enquiry to draw down is nearer six weeks than six days, and that it can take an awful lot of work to get loans done, with many if not most having some sort of ‘complication’ that needs to be worked through.

I think many people who do not have experience of the sector would be astonished at the amount of work that many of the bridging lenders – especially those with significant experience of the sector – go to in getting their loans on the book, and the often relatively short timescales involved. Properly underwriting bridging loans can be a very intense business for lender and broker!

Our customers and their circumstances vary enormously. We have become aware of situations, often concerning family and relationships, which would be beyond the imagination of even soap opera writers. As a bespoke lender we assess each and every case on its merits, asking searching questions in an effort to fully understand our borrowers, their situation and their ability to repay their bridging loan.

However, an ongoing issue for lenders is where some material fact either about the story i.e. reason for the bridging loan, the borrower’s credit history or take out comes out during the processing of the loan. If there is some hidden material fact, it usually appears when the underwriting process is quite advanced which is frustrating for all involved.


The reason why lenders are quite verbose on the importance of material non-disclosure is, sadly, because it happens so often. It is not necessarily that borrowers are being untruthful on a form, but more likely they have not disclosed something that helps give the lender a fuller picture of their situation which enables a more complete assessment of the case and therefore the risk.

Recently, we had a loan close to drawing down when searches revealed that the borrower had been disqualified as a director, not just once but twice. Some lenders might chose to investigate and if satisfied take a view, but for others, this will be a reason to decline a loan.

Bridging lending is not a factory, conveyor-belt process but one that assesses the case and the borrower in equal measure. Our case managers may be highly skilled in getting loans competed even when unexpected spanners are thrown into the works, but the underlying message should certainly be that full disclosure is the surest way to help turn a case from enquiry to completion. 


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