Updated: April 05, 2022

Getting a Bridging Loan

Looking for a home bridging loan? They're easier to get than you might think! Find out the rates, lenders and exactly how to get one in our expert guide.

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Expert

Updated: April 05, 2022

If you’re looking for a short-term finance arrangement to help purchase or refinance a home, then a bridging loan could be what you’re after. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about applying for a bridging loan, which lenders offer them, and how to actually secure a bridge loan.

Keep reading for all the essential information or click on a link below to jump straight to the section you want…

What is a bridging loan?

This is a short-term, interest-only way of borrowing funds. Bridging loans can have a variety of uses, but one of the most popular ways is using one in conjunction with a mortgage. It’s also common for this type of loan to be used when refinancing an existing property you own.

Interest rates can be high but these loans are much quicker to arrange when compared to a mortgage. They can also be much more flexible to account for various types of financial circumstances. Bridging loan charges are also priced on a monthly rather than annual basis due to the shorter borrowing periods.

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How these loans work

Bridging loans are best used to plug a short-term gap. They can be quick to secure, but in order to be accepted for a loan, you’ll need access to a suitable ‘exit strategy’. This is your plan to pay off the remaining principal at the end of the agreed term.

The exit strategy is a similar concept to a repayment vehicle used for an interest-only mortgage. You will have to prove to lenders that your exit plans are realistic, often involving the sale of land, assets, or property. It’s also important that your evidence shows you’ll be able to execute your exit strategy within an agreed timeframe.

The benefit of a really strong exit strategy means that you could potentially secure a bridging loan within days. The prompt nature of these loans makes them ideal for use when transaction speed is important to you.

An example could be a property auction, or buying a plot of land where you need to move quickly. Bridging finance can also be useful in case of chain breaks, short-term cash flow problems, or purchasing an ‘unmortgageable’ property that you plan to renovate. The minimum size of a loan is usually £25,000, with upper lending limits of over £25 million, although higher amounts than this can theoretically be offered on a case-by-case basis.

How to get a bridging loan

Getting this type of finance set up can be a quick and painless process. By following these steps, you can ensure a much more efficient procedure:

Step One: prepare your documents and speak to an advisor

The biggest thing you’ll need to get ready is your exit strategy. It’s important that you have a plan in place but also the documents to prove it. During this first stage, you’ll want to speak with an experienced bridging finance broker to explain why you need a bridging loan and they’ll be able to help you prepare your application.

After reviewing your situation, they’ll be able to make initial enquiries with lenders based on your circumstances and exit strategy plans. It’s also worth downloading all your credit reports and getting your broker to help evaluate your scores. This way they can help iron out any potential issues before you proceed further.

Step Two: review your options and offers

Your broker may try and find you an agreement in principle before going ahead with a full application. Dealing with a skilled broker who has existing relationships with lenders means that this can sometimes be done in a matter of hours.

Once an underwriter has approved your plans, they’ll give you a conditional offer. The offer will depend on a full valuation taking place and everything being lined up properly by the bridging loan solicitors.

Step three: complete valuations and drawdown the funds

With your offers in place, your broker will assist with submitting all your identity and financial documents to the lender and solicitors. If you’re using a property as your exit strategy, your broker will help arrange all the necessary valuations and legal paperwork.

Once the valuation has taken place and everything is in order, your funds will be released. This can be arranged to go directly into your bank account or to the seller of the home you’re planning to buy.

To speak with a specialist broker who has plenty of experience with bridging loans, just make an enquiry. We’ll arrange a call for free and you can expect expert guidance to help you create the best financial arrangement for your situation.

Eligibility criteria for bridging finance

Qualifying for a bridging loan will depend on a host of different factors. But, because some lenders will charge high interest rates for this type of finance, it’s important you deal with the best lenders available for your circumstances.

The main criteria that will impact your eligibility and chance of getting a top deal includes

Solid exit strategy

The strength of your exit plan will be crucial for lenders. In most cases you’d use a property sale or remortgage for this. Ideally, it’s great to have either an existing offer for the property or an agreement in principle for a remortgage. However, different lenders will have varying views on what they perceive to be the best plan.

So, it’s vital that you deal with the lenders who are willing to create the most favourable arrangement based on your situation and finances.

Strong security

In order to make sure your exit strategy is rock solid, lenders will do plenty of research into whatever security you’re using. So, if it’s a property, they’ll want to look at the location, the type of construction, and whether there are any potential issues that could impact your ability to sell it.

Loan length

How long you need the bridging finance for can impact the rates. Different lenders can have opposing reactions to the length of the loan. Some will prefer to lend on a shorter time frame whereas others will want to be involved with longer deals. Typically, loan lengths can range anywhere from one month to twenty-four months.

Credit score

A solid credit score will definitely help when it comes to approaching lenders. But, if you have bad credit, the flexibility of bridging loans does mean that some lenders will still be willing to offer you finance. This is providing any credit issues will not impact your exit strategy.

Previous experience

If you’re using the bridging finance to buy a home at auction to refurbish, or plan to renovate a building, lenders will want to be confident you can do this.

So, if you’ve got past experience with similar projects, this can be a useful thing to bring up with lenders. If you’ve no past track record, don’t fret. There are some lenders out there willing to deal with you if this is your first time organising a project like this.

Healthy deposit

The majority of lenders offering bridging loans will want a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of around 70-75%. However, some lenders will have tighter restrictions. Others will be willing to offer you better rates if you can increase your deposit to more than 25-30% of the loan’s value.

Similar to a mortgage, the best deals will be available for those who can afford deposits of 40% or more.

Lenders offering this type of finance

Not every lender will deal in this type of financing, and your personal situation will impact what kind of finance you can access with what lenders. At the time of writing, based on a 30% LTV loan lasting 12 months, it’s possible to get rates as low as 0.4% per month.

Here are some examples of a few lenders on the market that can offer bridging loans for homes:

  • Mint Property Finance
  • Shawbrook Bank
  • West One

It’s important to remember that there can be lots of choice and flexibility built into this type of financing. So, your best way of discovering all the options available is by using a specialist bridging finance broker. They’ll be able to show you where to find the best arrangement for your specific circumstances.

The difference between regulated and unregulated loans

The two main forms of bridging finance you’ll be able to access are regulated and unregulated loans. Here’s the main points you need to understand about each of them:

Regulated bridging loans

These are the most suitable option if you’re looking to secure bridging finance for a home you already live in.

Regulated loans fall under the protection of the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), which helps prevent any mis-selling, along with stricter restrictions around the advice that can be given.

Unregulated bridging loans

This can be a more flexible option because they don’t have to meet such tightly regulated criteria. These are mostly used for commercial bridging finance where each type of loan must be bespoke.

The fact that lenders offering this type of finance are not regulated isn’t cause for alarm. Fewer restrictions can just give them the ability to be more adaptable. That being said, it’s always worth approaching reputable lenders through an experienced broker who has existing relationships and understands this market.

Additional things to be aware of

This helpful type of short-term financing does have some working aspects that you should bear in mind. Here are some additional points to consider and discuss with your broker:

  • Fixed or variable interest: whether you opt for a fixed or variable rate of interest can impact the overall cost of your loan. Fixed rates are normally higher, but they’ll allow you to better plan your finances in advance. A variable rate can be better up front, but then it could become affected by wider changes in the economy further down the road that are out of your control.
  • Risk of repossession: if your exit strategy doesn’t pay out on time or is delayed, there’s a possible risk of the property being repossessed.
  • Type of bridge loan: the two main types of bridging finance are open and closed loans. An open loan means no fixed repayment date (although this is usually a maximum of one year). With a closed bridging loan, you’ll have a fixed repayment date. If you have a set date for a property exchange then you might choose this as for your final repayment.
  • Product fees: most lenders will charge some kind of fee for setting up a bridging loan. The exact amount will vary but you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of 2% of the loan’s value.
  • First and second charge: when taking out a bridging loan, a ‘charge’ will be placed on your home. This legal requirement states the order in which you would pay back your debt. If you have an existing mortgage, the bridging finance would be a second charge loan. Whereas if you own a property outright, you would use a first charge bridging loan.

Alternatives to bridging loans

Depending on your personal circumstances, it may be worth exploring some alternative options that could still help get your desired result. Here are some different routes that could be worth bringing up with your broker before pressing ahead:

  • Buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage: if the purpose of your bridging finance is to quickly secure an investment property, it’s worth keeping in mind that some lenders can set up buy-to-let mortgages within a relatively fast time frame. Providing your application is in good shape, it can be possible to arrange this within a month, and the financing would work out much cheaper.
  • Unsecured loan: if the exit strategy is proving to be a difficult hurdle for you to overcome, then borrowing using an unsecured loan is worth investigating. It’s a more expensive option for a short-term loan and the amount you can borrow is likely to be strictly capped, but they can be set up quickly.
  • 0% money transfer cards: for relatively small loans, some lenders won’t be willing to offer bridging finance. In which case, a money transfer card might be suitable. Some cards have long interest-free periods (of over 2 years), so you can use these funds to plug your short-term gap. Keep in mind you will usually be charged a percentage fee by the card provider based on how much cash you need.

Speak with a bridging finance specialist

A bridging loan can be a useful tool when you’re looking to purchase or refinance a property. However, the exact process and rates you’re able to get can vary quite widely. Using expert advice from a skilled bridging finance broker is going to allow you to find the right solution.

We offer a free broker-matching service. This means that we’ll quickly assess your financial needs and then pair you up with a specialist broker who has lots of experience setting up bridge loans for mortgages.

Just call 0808 189 0463 or make an enquiry and we’ll arrange a chat between you and your ideal broker today. You don’t have to make any commitments and it won’t cost you a penny to use our service.

FAQs

What is a bridging mortgage?

This isn’t an official term, but it’s something you may come across quite frequently. It’s referring to the process of taking out a bridging loan with a lender who you’ll also be arranging your mortgage with. Typically these are two separate products, but some lenders (including the ones we work with) can combine the services to give you a complete solution for your borrowing.

What is a bridge-to-let mortgage?

It’s when you use a bridging loan for the purpose of purchasing a buy-to-let (BTL) property. There are some lenders out there who can assist with arranging both your bridging finance and the BTL mortgage. This keeps everything in one place and means that you only have to deal with one lender throughout the whole process.

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We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with mortgage brokers who are experts in all different mortgage subjects. Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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Pete Mugleston

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Expert

About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for OMA of course!

FCA Disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms that are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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