Matthew Dilks, bridging and commercial specialist at Clever Lending
Tell us about your background and your current role at Clever Lending?
I originally started my financial services career in investment banking but decided to retrain in mortgages when I moved to Lincolnshire as there were less investment-based job opportunities in the region. I have always loved finance and wanted to stay in the industry; mortgages and property really interested me, so I retrained as it seemed like a natural next step.
Over the years I have a variety of roles including some time as a stay-at-home Dad, as a valuer at an estate agent, as an insurance fraud investigator and in private banking. I am now a bridging and commercial specialist at Clever Lending where my primary role is to help clients and brokers source financing for bridging loans, commercial mortgages, development finance, buy-to-let (BTL) properties and BTL portfolios. I love the variety that comes with working in the mortgage industry.
What trends are you seeing in BTL and bridging and what types of deals have you seen so far in 2023?
There has definitely been an uptick in the use of regulated bridging products over the last 12 months, which has been driven primarily by the current market volatility and higher interest rate environment.
Affordability constraints are forcing people to look at alternatives to remortgaging and this is increasing awareness among residential clients and brokers about the different types of financing available in the marketplace. As a result, more people are starting to use this type of financing to save their property chains.
There are also a lot of property investors and landlords using bridging to purchase at auction and we are also seeing an increase in large scale heavy refurbishments as investors try to maximise margins in a tough market.
What advice would you give to brokers and their clients who are new to the bridging market? How can a business such as Clever Lending help?
Given the complexities around the specialist lending market, brokers unfamiliar with bridging should definitely call in the specialists and use a packager when sourcing a deal. Packagers such as Clever Lending can provide hands on support throughout the entire process and are well versed in all areas of the specialist lending market.
We have over 25 years’ worth of experience in all aspects of specialist finance, including bridging, commercial, development finance and BTL, so let us do the hard work while you take a back seat to focus on those aspects of your business where you feel more comfortable.
You recently published details of a bridging case where the finance was used for downsizing, is this common? What else are you seeing this type of finance being used for that maybe brokers do not realise could be viable?
We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of borrowers use bridging finance for downsizing purposes, mainly because they want to move on their own terms or have seen a property that they do not want to miss out on and need to move fast. Often, these clients are retired or are thinking about retiring and their current house is no longer manageable.
In some cases, they may be selling to move closer to their children and grandchildren and have built up a significant amount of equity in their current home, but don’t want the stress of moving to deadline. In which case, they use the bridging loan to buy a smaller property and pay it off with the sale of their existing home. It offers them greater convenience.
Bridging loans are also increasingly being used for chain breaks to prevent the loss of a purchase as well as to buy property at auction. I think the main issue for brokers to remember when it comes to this type of financing is that is important to think outside the box, especially in terms of regulated bridging.
Brokers can be reticent about referring clients and letting others provide the advice. How do you put their minds at ease with your referral service and how does it work in practice?
I think the main message we always try to convey is that we are here to help and guide brokers in an area of the market they may not be familiar with. We do this by providing advice and specialist finance solutions for any clients that fall outside the remit of mainstream lending.
We understand that brokers have worked hard over the years to build up their client base and want to protect their business, which is why we pay a commission once the case completes with funds released. We often find that once a solution is found for these customers, they have future plans and projects in mind. This can lead to further business and we’d pay a commission to the introducing broker, which can prove to be an excellent form of passive income.
It is not in our interests to take the client away from the broker. We want to work with brokers and help them provide solutions for their clients as well as build good solid relationships that last for years.