Mainstream bridging lenders are missing a trick



Martyn Smith Director Bath & WestMainstream bridging lenders are so heavily focused on deals in London they’re missing out on opportunities to lend in other areas of the country with strong property prospects.

Martyn Smith, founder and managing director of bridging lender Bath & West, says short-term lenders have become over reliant on London’s “red hot” property market to do easy deals and have neglected areas of the country that show serious potential.

Smith, a bridging veteran with 35 years of experience in short-term lending, claims Bristol, Bath and the south west offer sound fundamentals to property developers, investors and intermediaries looking for an opportunity to expand.

Smith says: “The recovery in the property market hasn’t been evenly spread across the UK since the market collapsed in 2008. London has always been a market disconnected from the rest of the UK with strong demand from both domestic and foreign buyers.

“That’s why the mainstream bridging lenders have focused their attention on the capital over the past few years. But there are other areas of the UK that offer lots of untapped opportunity, Bristol and the West Country being a prime example.”

According to property comparison website Zoopla’s latest data the average house price in Bristol is now £243,376, up 19.39% on five years ago compared to a 31.76% rise in London.

Average Bristol house prices are also up a healthy 6.06% since this time last year while Zoopla’s data also suggests the average asking rent is now at £924 per month in the city.

Meanwhile Moneysupermarket’s latest quality of living index, which considers factors like rents, salaries, disposable income growth, cost of living, unemployment rates and overall life satisfaction, ranked Bristol as the top city in the UK.

The personal finance site’s research suggests the average employee salary in Bristol is £22,293 – above the UK average of £21,473, and the third highest out of the 12 largest UK cities.

It has the highest disposable income growth and one of the lowest UK unemployment rates. And the city boasts two universities with a steady influx of students needing a place to live.

Smith says: “There’s more to the UK than just London but despite the clear advantages of cities such as Bristol, property developers are still finding it very difficult to get finance outside the capital.