Paragon Bank has released figures showing that specialist buy-to-let lending accounted for 93% of its total buy-to-let activity during its last financial year, compared to 89% in 2019.
The lender's figures revealed that buy-to-let lending totalled £1.205bn during the year to 30 September 2020, £1.119bn of which was classed as specialist buy-to-let.
Overall buy-to-let lending reduced by 18.6% during the year compared to 2019 as a result of the restricted market in the summer months, although the new business pipeline has increased to pre-Covid19 levels.
Specialist buy-to-let lending activity fell 14.9% when compared to 2019, whereas non-specialist lending fell by 47.8%.
The new business pipeline showed business returning to more normal levels heading into the new financial year, standing at £868.1 million at the year-end (2019: £911.7 million). This pipeline has continued to grow during the new financial year on the back of landlords reacting to strong levels of tenant demand.
Richard Rowntree, Paragon Bank Managing Director of Mortgages, said: “2020 has been the most extraordinary year, but it’s one which has demonstrated Paragon’s resilience, our commitment to the market and the strength of our people and processes. Within four days of lockdown, over 90% of our workforce was working from home and we remained open and lending throughout the pandemic.
“Overall lending reduced naturally as a consequence of the lockdown and the restrictions imposed on the housing market, but demand bounced back strongly post May and our pipeline at the end of October was nearly 15% ahead of March 2020.”
Despite the disruption to lending activity caused by coronavirus, Paragon’s net mortgage loan bookended the year 4.6% higher than the previous year due to lower redemptions rates. The total mortgage book, which includes second charge and owner-occupied loans, stood at £10.8 billion.
Arrears on the buy-to-let book decreased in the year to 0.15% (2019: 0.18%), although some arrears will inevitably have been suppressed by payment holidays. While just over 20% of the Group’s buy-to-let customers took payment holidays when offered, less than 5% remained on payment holiday at the year-end, and with further reductions being seen in October and November it’s now less than 1%.
Elsewhere, within Paragon’s Commercial Lending division, development finance loans to SME housebuilders grew during the period to £385 million, up from £363 million last year.