November 2023


The bridging market has grown substantially over the last 20 years with many specialist lenders springing up to give mainstream banks some serious competition. The bespoke nature of bridging makes it very well suited to smaller, nimbler lenders with dedicated and experienced teams and more flexible underwriting criteria, or in some cases, no fixed criteria at all.

Today, Bridging is a thriving, professional industry serving homeowners, investors and property developers with brokers providing a valuable service in helping borrowers identify the right lender, agree the best terms and then acting as a skilled liaison between lender and borrower until the loan completes.

Lender selection is one of a broker’s most valuable skills and the best ones will have a deep understanding of each lender’s appetite and requirements and also their ability to transact certain types of proposals quickly, or indeed, at all.

Over the years, UTB has established a reputation as one of the best regulated bridging lenders in the industry and have won several awards to support that claim. Understanding that speed is still a very important factor for many bridging borrowers, we recently restructured our underwriting function into separate, dedicated Regulated and Unregulated underwriting teams enabling us to deal with each type of proposal appropriately. Unregulated cases now bypass some of the processes designed for regulated applications giving property development, refurbishment and investment borrowers a faster turnaround.

Talking of fast turnarounds, UTB was one of the first lenders to use Nivo’s excellent mobile app to make ID verification quick and easy, and to introduce a Fast Track service for straightforward, some might say ‘vanilla’ deals which require a light underwriting touch. Fast Track deals can also benefit from an instant, automated valuation and can often allow a broker to produce their own Decision in Principle (DiP) online in minutes 24/7. In UTB’s case these are typically loans up to £1M and up to 65% loan to value (LTV). Brokers tell us they love Fast Track and combined with the online instant DiPs it can often save them vital hours when trying to look after customers who need a really quick and reliable decision.

So, what makes some bridging loans more suited to some lenders than others? There can be several property and borrower factors, which add to the complexity of the deal, and it’s these that can knock a proposal out of other lenders’ comfort zones.

There isn’t much we’ve not come across between us, so we’re generally not fazed by anything, and we complete quite a few deals some other lenders wouldn’t touch, often for reasons which might surprise you. For example, over the last few years we’ve helped several people who are retired, or getting close to retirement, buy homes abroad either for holidays or to move to and then live as an ex-pat. Some bridging lenders have an upper age limit for borrowers; others don’t like the money going abroad. We are happy to lend for this purpose, but some lenders will rule themselves out straight away.

Here are some more examples of how accommodating we can be; we complete many cases with Power of Attorney, we provide competitive 70% LTV standalone 2nd charges, we’ll accept below market value purchases at 90% LTV and we’ll look at borrowers with adverse credit based on the explanation and exit strategy. Not all lenders are as flexible.

Also, we’re happy to lend on non-traditional property construction types which some of our competitors won’t touch. Timber framed, steel framed, cob (which is basically mud, water and straw!) and Wimpey no-fines to name but a handful. We’ll also consider Grade I and Grade II listed properties. On lease extensions, we provide our initial net loan using the full value with the lease extended.

At UTB we will take a view on most proposals, and we will do all we can to make it work. We have great technology, slick processing and the right people and structures in place to ensure that regulated and unregulated bridging proposals can be considered, decisioned, processed and paid out to meet the customer’s timescales.  We’re approachable, reliable, competitively priced and are about as far away from a tick box lender as you can get.

Bridging started out as a niche product with a limited application, but it has become one of the most versatile forms of property finance you can get and widely used by homeowners, property developers and investors. If you need to move quickly to seize an opportunity or solve a property problem, a UTB bridging loan could be the answer.

Bradley Illman – Senior Internal Sales Manager – Bridging, United Trust Bank