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Paragon upbeat on buy-to-let market

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Buy-to-let mortgage firm Paragon has unveiled a 32 per cent rise in profits

Buy-to-let mortgage firm Paragon has unveiled a 32% rise in profits as it looks to re-establish itself as a major lender to professional landlords.

The group, which trades as Paragon Mortgages and Mortgage Trust, withdrew from the market in February 2008 but is back writing new loans after securing a £200 million funding facility in September.

Paragon said landlords were witnessing very high levels of rental demand as the current depressed state of the housing market results in would-be home buyers renting in larger numbers and for longer periods.

With new lending previously restricted to further advances to existing borrowers, the company’s buy-to-let portfolio stood at £8.3 billion at the end of September.

However, it said the credit performance of its mortgages over the year had been “exemplary”, with the rate of three-month plus arrears in buy-to-let standing at 0.83%, against the market average of 2.45%.

The resulting 40.5% fall in provisions for bad debt to £39.2 million contributed to a rise in pre-tax profits to £71.8 million from £54.3 million a year earlier.

The company added: “Low interest rates have increased affordability for customers, reducing the incidence of new arrears and assisting the correction of past arrears. The loan books continue to be carefully managed and credit performance remains in line with our expectations.”

In September, Paragon became the first independent, non-deposit taking lender to come back to the market since the credit crunch when it announced a £200 million debt facility from Macquarie Bank.

The so-called warehouse facility gives Paragon the money it needs to write new loans up-front, until it has a large “bundle” of mortgages, which it will then securitise, raising fresh funds to lend.

It hopes the new facility will help enable it to write around £1 billion of new mortgages a year in the future as it looks to re-establish its position as the leading mortgage lender to experienced professional landlords.

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