In a sign that the commercial real estate market in the UK may be hitting bottom, Base Commercial Mortgages is planning to restart lending via a limited panel of commercial finance brokers. The firm, a specialist commercial mortgage lender, stop lending last year as a direct result of the credit crisis. This contributed to the resulting liquidity lock experienced across UK commercial markets, which distressed finances and lowered values despite properties maintaining relatively high occupancy rates. The decision follows the recent acquisition of Ruffler Bank by Base's backers, AnaCap Financial Partners. Ruffler gives Base access to retail funding, according to the lender's website. Base and Ruffler Bank are in the process of merging their operations to create a strongly capitalised business which is ideally positioned to provide a competitive range of property and asset finance facilities to small and medium sized businesses throughout the country, reads a release on the announcement. "We're delighted to be back in the commercial mortgage market once again, but are very mindful that we need to maintain a tight control over both business quality and volumes," says Base Chief Executive Mark Stephens. "We have therefore decided to control our distribution via a limited panel of professional commercial finance brokers located throughout the UK. We have notified these brokers and will be working very closely with them over the coming weeks to ensure they fully understand our underwriting and processing requirements." "I do appreciate this means that some brokers who have dealt with us in the past will not be able to submit business directly to us in the future. We are very grateful for their past support and our aim is to widen our panel once we have settled back into lending. I do hope those brokers understand the reason why we have decided to relaunch via a restricted panel. However, there is nothing stopping brokers contacting members on our panel if they have cases they would like to submit to Base." The news comes exactly a week after Great Portland Estates closed a major deal despite tight credit conditions in the UK commercial space. Write to Jacob Gaffney.