Paragon Bank has increased its focus towards specialist buy-to-let lending during its last financial year.

The bank revealed its fall-year results, which showed that specialist BTL lending accounted for 93% of total BTL activity, compared to 89% in 2019.

The results also detailed that BTL lending totalled £1.2bn during the year to 30 September 2020, £1.1bn of which was classed as specialist BTL.

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Overall BTL lending reduced by 18.6% during the year compared to 2019, as a result of the restricted market in the summer months, according to the lender.

However, it noted that its new business pipeline has increased to pre COVID-19 levels.

Furthermore, specialist BTL lending activity fell 14.9% when compared to 2019, whereas non-specialist lending fell by 47.8%.

The new business pipeline showed business returning to more normal levels heading into the new financial year, standing at £868m at the year-end.

The bank’s net mortgage loan book ended the year 4.6% higher than the previous year due to lower redemptions rates.

It outlined that its total mortgage book, which includes second charge and owner-occupied loans, stood at £10.8bn.

Looking to arrears on the BTL book, this area decreased annually by 0.15%.

Meanwhile, just over 20% of the group’s BTL customers took payment holidays when offered, less than 5% remained on payment holiday at the year end.

Elsewhere, within Paragon’s Commercial Lending division, development finance loans to SME housebuilders grew during the period to £385m, up from £363m last year.

Richard Rowntree, managing director of Mortgages at Paragon Bank, said: “2020 has been the most extraordinary year, but it’s one which has demonstrated Paragon’s resilience, our commitment to the market and the strength of our people and processes.

“Within four days of lockdown, over 90% of our workforce was working from home and we remained open and lending throughout the pandemic.

“Overall lending reduced naturally as a consequence of the lockdown and the restrictions imposed on the housing market, but demand bounced back strongly post May and our pipeline at the end of October was nearly 15% ahead of March 2020.”