Challenger bank Paragon boosts mortgage lending despite crackdown on buy-to-let loans

Mortgage specialist Paragon has pulled a rabbit out of the hat once more, as it has boosted mortgage lending by 84 per cent year-on-year despite a gov

Mortgage specialist Paragon has pulled a rabbit out of the hat once more, as it has boosted mortgage lending by 84 per cent year-on-year despite a government crackdown in its core buy-to-let market.

The challenger bank increased its buy-to-let mortgage book by 85 per cent to £342.9m, battling through stricter underwriting rules introduced by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) last year which mean lenders must do more research into their clients.

Read more: Challenger bank Paragon sees slim profit as buy-to-let pipeline remains strong despite sector headwinds

Paragon noted that lending volumes in the overall buy-to-let market have been lower year on year, since the PRA’s changes “resulted in a realignment of competition”. But the bank asserted that its “experience and capability” had helped it to increase its share of more specialist portfolio landlord business.

“Paragon was the first lender to offer buy-to-let mortgages over 20 years ago and has developed its specialist capability around professional landlords over many years,” said the bank’s managing director of mortgages John Heron.

“We are continuing to focus on product and technology developments that will deliver improved products and services to our landlords and intermediaries, with the roll-out of new mobile applications and document upload over the second quarter.”

Read more: Buy-to-lose? With new restrictions on buy-to-let mortgages and the introduction of other punitive measures in 2017, is there any value left in letting for mortgaged landlords?

Paragon’s asset finance, development finance and motor finance product lines also saw strong volume growth in the first quarter of 2018, as the bank focused on diversification.

These commercial lending branches were boosted by the £5.2m acquisition of Iceberg, a specialist broker which sources loans for law firms and family law clients, in December. Paragon will pay another £13m over the next five years if certain performance conditions are met.

Analysts were positive about the company’s prospects, as the shares levelled off after early gains to rise 1.71 per cent at 506.5p. Peel Hunt maintained an “add” recommendation, saying that the shares were trading on a relatively low multiple of earnings, while Canaccord Genuity said Paragon “continues to benefit from professionalisation of the sector”.

Read more: Housing your money: Buy-to-let landlords should look beyond the obvious for opportunities

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