There is an estimated 5.2 million commercial properties within the UK. The commercial property market expanded by over 32 per cent during 1990-2000 (according to the new products started) compared with the previous decade, in itself a decade of exceptional growth. Bank lending for commercial property deals rose by a record 7.7 billion in the first quarter of 2005, according to data provided by the Bank of England, and property experts believe the bulk of the new lending was for investment purchases.
There has also been a substantial rise in the number of investors looking to buy commercial properties to put into Self Invested Personal Pension Schemes. Property investment funds received a boost as of late last year after the Government announced plans to allow them to be included in an ISA (Individual Savings Account) wrapper.
Savers will now be able to add investments, such as property funds and funds of funds, that have previously been restricted from being included in ISA's because the asset class did not feature on a European standard of eligible investments and commercial property funds are seemingly the greatest beneficiary of the rule change.
With this diversified interest in commercial property by investor, speculator and businesses alike the role of the broker has become a more integral part of the process. Increasing numbers of mortgage brokers have branched out into non regulated markets such as the commercial loan sector since Mortgage Day in late 2004 and subsequent involvement by the Financial Services Authority, interestingly 58 per cent of mortgage brokers claim profits are down since Mortgage Day.
Commercial lending is now not the preserve of the high street banks who, in the past, have not only seemed to cherry pick but have also had a tendency to only lend to their existing business customers. The result was that there are now over 1,200 commercial lenders currently operating within the UK.
The competitive market for commercial lending has also been confirmed by the rates available. There are also many other flexible options such as rolled up interest (No interest payments) for the first year to help with cash flow, start up finance, business expansion finance or even for finance on low yield investment properties.
Lenders will typically lend up to 80 per cent loan to value but 100% is achievable with additional security. Three years audited accounts are also now not the normal requirement as self certification of income has also found its way into commercial lending. Adverse credit clients are now considered and in the majority of cases loans approved. However self certification and bad credit applicants can expect a loading on the rate of typically between 1 to 4 per cent.
A cross section of business funding is available to retail businesses such as convenience stores, fast food outlets, specialist shops and supermarkets. Investment properties, professional practices such as accountants, doctors, vets and solicitors. Property development including speculative or pre-let for both commercial and residential. Offices and factories along with the health care sector including nursing homes, residential care and special needs homes. The leisure market has also been seen as the main stay for commercial lending over many years embracing hotels, guest houses, cafes, restaurants, wine bars and pubs.
Although latterly pubs have often sought brewery loans as a traditional way of borrowing money in the trade often referred to as Advance of Discount (AOD) or "Write Off" loans, the interest rates seem favourable at significant discounts over the banks but barrelage discount is affected and the repayment terms are often shorter over 10 years.
Lending on leasehold is also available up to 65 per cent on the security property (often the applicants main residence). With many businesses failing in the first year and business failure rates up 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2006 applicants must carefully consider whether they should be securing their main residence against the lease.