November 21, 2018 / 7:53 AM / 22 days ago

UK lender Paragon looking hard at property prices ahead of Brexit

(Reuters) - Paragon Banking Group Plc (PARA.L) said on Wednesday it was assessing property values to lessen any blow the mortgage lending market might take as Britain moves out of the European Union.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since 2016, particularly in London where higher purchase taxes and lesser foreign investor interest since the Brexit vote have had the most impact.

“The impact of a potential economic downturn, whether as a result of the Brexit process or otherwise, remains an area of focus across all lending markets,” the company said.

Paragon, which was founded in 1985, said its in-house property team looks after about two-thirds of the valuations and also validates property values set by third-party surveyors.

“They (property team) advise us on our strategy in terms of the risks that we should be prepared to take,” Chief Executive Officer Nigel Terrington told Reuters.

Paragon said it had set up a series of contingency plans if Britain crashed out of the deal without a bloc, but did not specify what these were.

The company’s underlying pretax profit rose 7.8 percent to 156.5 million pounds for the year ended Sept. 30, boosted by lending growth.

Commercial lending profit rose 41.1 percent to 19.9 million pounds, while buy-to-let lending pipeline increased 28.9 percent to 778.9 million pounds.

Paragon's shares were up 3.6 percent at 426.2 pence at 1227 GMT, and were among the top gainers on London's Midcap index .FTMC.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Adil Bhat in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Shounak Dasgupta

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