Uplift in SMEs seeking commercial mortgages

In a positive sign for the UK high street, there has been a surge in the number of business mortgage enquiries in the past month.

Business mortgage enquiries in October more than doubled (up 132%) on the same period last year, according to data from the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB). And the number of enquiries in October was also up 75% compared to the month before.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of all commercial mortgage enquiries in October - from high street retailers to cafes and pubs - have come from businesses based in London. The second biggest market for retail investment is the Midlands (9%).

According to the NACFB, the increase in applications for business mortgages is likely to be influenced by rising commercial rents and lower interest rates, especially in the capital. Applicants include restaurants, bars, hairdressers and shops; many of them are small businesses.

The NACFB's annual results from earlier this year revealed that £5.2 billion of commercial mortgage business was written in the year ending 30th June 2016, up by more than half (55%) on the previous year.

The appetite for commercial mortgage finance is a good indicator of small business confidence as it shows firms are prepared to make a long-term commitment, said Paul Goodman, NACFB chairman.

"Last month we saw a huge uplift in enquiries from a variety of businesses - ranging from publicans and smaller retailers to hairdressers and restaurants - so it's starting to feel like the SME community has got over any Brexit-related nerves," he said. "While some of those businesses will also be looking to avoid steep commercial rents, especially in the capital, the confidence to take out a commercial mortgage bodes well for the future."

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