It proved quite a year for the specialist lending sector in 2017, despite the seemingly endless debate on Brexit and numerous other political upheavals.
The continued resilience of the buy-to-let market and major growth in the use of short-term finance have proved just some of the highlights of a year in which experts from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association (IMLA) hailed the “rebirth” of specialist lending.
Even the buy-to-let market, which was hit by various tax and regulatory changes, saw sales in November increased by 10.8% or £334.1 million, as the trend continues for landlords and investors to adjust their portfolios to take the new rules into account.
We fully expect this situation to continue throughout 2018, as high street finance providers continue to tighten their criteria, meaning an even greater number of borrowers will be unable to access the funding they need.
This growing demand will provide greater opportunities for specialist lenders like Together to provide a more tailored service - relying on the personal touch, rather than computers - to make common sense lending decisions, and provide the best outcome for our customers.
From our experience, a larger number of investors are already sitting up and recognising that there are alternative funding options for situations that may not fit the mainstream mould. These could include, for example, people who are self-employed or who have multiple income streams, which may limit their access to mainstream loans or mortgages. They will be subject to the same stringent affordability checks as any other borrowers but manual underwriting allows specialist lenders to take personal circumstances into account.
In 2018, we are expecting rates starting to move and, as customers’ deals come to an end, we will be able to help even more of those who may not fit mainstream criteria.
By talking to brokers and lenders like ourselves, property investors can get to know, in detail, the range of alternative products which are coming onto the market, and receive guidance from guidance from experts in the specialist lending sector about which route is best for them.
These are exciting times at Together, and we are also very much looking forward to opening up our offering to even more customers across mainland UK who have not previously been able to access finance via more traditional channels.