Bridging sourcing system eyed with caution
Bridging experts have welcomed the launch of bridginglenders.com which markets itself as a sourcing system for short-term loans, but say it must be treated with caution.
The system offers brokers the ability to search bridging deals offered by 25 lenders by loan to value and other criteria.
However it does not rank deals by total to pay based on rate, interest charges and fees but lists starting rates and refers brokers to lenders directly to arrange final details.
And bridging experts are wary about the system's ability to help brokers find the best deal for their clients.
Shoaib Bux, director at lender Mayfair Bridging, said: "It is very difficult to filter based on loan to value and pricing as bridging is involved with underwriting deals based on their individual merits. This does oversimplify things."
Mel Fordham, chief executive of short-term specialist distributor Centrado, said: "Obviously, bridging is rarely straight forward, without complications or free from pressing time constraints.
"Accordingly, most applications require an understanding on the part of the broker and lender alike; it is this uniqueness of application which I feel a sourcing system may have difficulty to deliver.
"I hope I can be convinced this issue can be resolved."
And Steve McColl, investment partner at Soho Corporate, said: "Whilst it is an interesting development, bridging is not really a tick-box industry.
"Most cases have kinks and quirks that need to be talked through with the funder to ascertain as to whether the case can be made to fit.
"In my mind, the broker-packagers relationship with the lending partners is key, and whilst a deal matrix can assist the process, it is the packagers' specialist knowledge of the lenders' methodology that really makes the deal happen."
McColl added that he thought a deal matrix would not assist in weeding out which lenders will actually complete on a transaction.
"This is where the packagers' knowledge comes to the fore," he argued.
Meanwhile short-term lenders welcomed the new sourcing system.
Laurence Goodman, chief executive of Bridgebank Capital, said: "For the majority of brokers who come across two or three bridging enquiries per year a portal can be valuable in identifying lenders.
"Obviously introducers have the choice of how they operate and experienced brokers are unlikely to use a portal as they will already have a preferred panel of lenders."
Goodman added that a portal of this nature may take market share from the more established packagers as brokers wouldn't need to place deals through another intermediary.
"Our experience in the bridging sector proves that broker to broker introduced business or lending proposals that do get placed via master brokers or packagers are more likely not to proceed because bridging finance is not a straightforward tick box credit score lending proposition," he said.
"Whilst a portal of this nature will not be a panacea to identifying what may be the best deal for a client, it will be a good starting point for a broker."
Mark Posniak, head of marketing and operations at Dragonfly Property Finance, said he welcomed anything that brings intermediaries together with the right specialist lenders.
And he added: "Where we will perhaps differ from other lenders listed on the bridginglenders site is that we will be passing all leads generated onto our key partners who can then preside over the applications.
"These key partners are loyal to us and we will naturally remain loyal to them.
"For us, the involvement of packagers and master brokers makes for a far more streamlined application process."
The bridginglenders.com portal is free for brokers to register with and is the brainchild of managing director Ed Payne, former head of sales at SPPL and former Moneyfacts commercial manager.
It has been developed by former IFA Roly Birkwood who is now the company's technical director.
Payne said: "The reaction from both intermediaries and bridging lenders has been phenomenal.
"The bridging market has grown so quickly over the last two years as borrowers have sought flexible alternative sources of funding.
"This system removes the mystery from bridging and allows ordinary intermediaries to find the right lenders that meet their clients' needs."
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