UK bank exposure to real estate debt as a proportion of total lending fell to 8.4% in the third quarter of 2012, the lowest level since 2002, according to the latest Bank of England quarterly lending figures.
While total lending has been relatively stable over the last year, down 1.6% over the period, lending to real estate was negative for a 10th consecutive quarter in Q3 2012, with an 8.1% decrease on levels seen a year ago.
Jeremy Handley, director of valuation advisory at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “The drivers behind a reduction in UK banks’ exposure to real estate have been limited loan origination on the one hand, and the continuing de-leveraging of real estate books on the other. Banks have been unwinding individual loans one by one, placing a particular emphasis on loan book sales.
“However, the rate at which de-leveraging is taking place is likely to slow as it becomes harder for banks to identify easy wins. On a more positive note, ‘slotting’ appears to have had less of an impact than originally feared.
“These factors, taken together with a possible boost from Funding for Lending, could help stem the rate of decline in banks’ exposure to real estate and may be reflected in the Q4 numbers.”
David Lebus, senior consultant, corporate finance at Jones Lang LaSalle, added: “In spite of the continuing limited availability of debt for real estate, demand for the debt that is available is also surprisingly limited. This is particularly noticeable in prime central London investment transactions, where the majority of lenders would be happy to lend.
“However, as vendors continue to favour all equity purchasers, the actual deployment of debt in these transactions is limited. In areas where there is significant demand for debt, such as secondary markets and development, banks continue to be reluctant to lend.
“It is hoped that the numerous debt funds being raised by private equity houses may provide funding for these markets currently starved of finance once they begin deploying capital next year.”