Demand for bridging loans is soaring, according to the Association of Short Term Lenders (ASTL). The latest figures, compiled from its bridging lender members, showed that the value of applications for bridging loans increased by 13.9% in Q1 2017, compared to the previous quarter; up 123% on the same quarter in 2016.
Our figures here at Together would affirm this, with our annual bridging lending for 2016 at £626.4 million and a continued growing demand.
Historically, bridging loans have mostly been used for property; often to repair broken chains or to purchase property quickly. However, increasingly SMEs are turning to this flexible form of finance to raise capital for a much wider variety of purposes.
Here are a few of the most common uses of bridging finance for businesses:
To seize an investment opportunity
Time is of the essence when it comes to commercial deals, and often funding is needed fast; whether it’s to buy into a new venture, or acquire another business. Bridging loans can be arranged in extremely tight timescales, sometimes a matter of days, which is hard to beat with more traditional forms of funding.
To expand business operations
A business looking to expand may need to purchase more vehicles or specialised equipment, for example, in order to access new markets or regions. In such cases, bridging finance can often provide the funding needed much more quickly than other avenues, to help get growth plans off the ground.
To refurbish office or retail space
A bridging loan can be an ideal solution for refurbishing office or retail space owned by the company, as typically it will be repaid when the premises are remortgaged following the uplift in value. From light refurbishment which is mainly aesthetic, to major redevelopment, bridging finance can be arranged to suit projects of all sizes.
To facilitate a management buyout
When opportunities arise for a buyout, funds are often needed fast to close the deal and avoid negotiations being drawn out longer than necessary. The short-term finance can then be repaid and the business finance restructured once the new management team is in place.
To provide funds for relocation
A bridging loan can be ideal for businesses that are looking to relocate, securing the chosen property and also helping with the associated costs, such as removals, furniture and IT. A bridging loan may save company from dipping into their own cash reserves to fund the move, and they can pay back the money when the relocation is complete and the business starts to reap the benefits.
To acquire commercial premises
Often, bridging finance comes into play in situations where mainstream lenders are unable to meet the necessary timescales. When a property purchase requires a quick completion, for example, this kind of fast and flexible funding can secure the chosen premises, which can then be refinanced for the longer-term knowing the space has been secured.
To release cash-flow
Bridging finance can also be a great way of creating cash-flow by releasing equity; often against a residential property. This can be particularly popular with start-ups that may struggle to get long-term finance until their business is fully established.
To deliver stop-gap funding
Sometimes, even with plans for long-term funding underway, the need for temporary finance crops up in the interim. Bridging finance can be a quick solution that keeps other cash flow and overdraft facilities freed up for the day-to-day running costs.
To clear urgent bills
Although the business may have an intended outlook of how to structure its debt in the long-term, sometimes it can be difficult to forecast a shortfall. So when it comes to clearing a bill, such as tax or business rates, more often than not, finance is needed quickly and can be vital in maintaining operations.
To refinance existing debts
Refinancing can help small businesses by consolidating existing debts into one and making them easier to manage. Often, refinancing can help businesses to pay off creditors and maintain relationships with key suppliers, which can be crucial for the company’s reputation.
Find out more about our bridging finance here.