At a time of such political uncertainty, it can be easy to default to a position of pessimism, but the bridging market remains in confident mood, with good reason.

The Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL) recently published its regular sentiment survey amongst members, which showed that more than 57% of respondents said they were confident about the long-term future for the UK economy, compared to just 37% of those who were surveyed in March last year.

The research found that bridging lender confidence in their own business also remains strong, with three quarters of those surveyed say they expect their business volumes to grow in the next six months.

This is not just blind optimism by lenders and they are more cautious about the outlook for the overall bridging market, with nearly 29% of respondents expecting it to shrink, compared to just under 4% last March. There are also gloomy expectations for the property market, with more than 70% preparing for prices to decrease in the next six months.

Overall, however, positivity amongst members of the ASTL is up on this time last year and is higher than it has been since April 2016, which was before the EU referendum.

This might seem surprising, but it is supported by another piece of research published by the ASTL – the quarterly lending figures, which are compiled by the association’s auditors, using information from its lender members.

The results show that, during 2018, bridging lenders wrote more than £4bn of bridging loans, representing an increase of nearly 15% on 2017, the value of applications increased by more than 13% to nearly £21.5bn and total loan books increased by nearly 4%.

These are strong foundations of growth and they have been created during a tricky environment characterized by political uncertainty and weak property transactions. This bodes well for the sector as we look ahead to the prospect of continued uncertainty. If lenders are able to maintain a commitment to high standards of underwriting, robust processes and investment in people, there is no reason to believe that this confidence won’t lead to ongoing and sustainable growth in the future.

Benson Hersch, CEO of the ASTL

A version of this article appeared in the February edition of Specialist Lending Solutions (web)