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Bridging lender Catalyst Property Finance opens up distribution

Bridging lender Catalyst Property Finance has opened up distribution to the intermediary market after launching a pilot last year.

The lender, led by chief executive Chris Fairfax, has so far taken business from a small number of brokerages as well as sister company and packager Positive Lending.

Before starting the new venture Fairfax was involved in running the specialist desk at Positive Lending, handling bridging, commercial and development finance.

Fairfax said: “It’s long been a strategy of ours to develop a bridging lender so we have complete control from origination to completion.

“Clearly the economics are better for us and it’s widely known that origination is one of the biggest challenges in running a bridging lender.”

He added: “I have seen a huge amount of bridging lenders come to market but what I always found frustrating was they’ll replicate what’s already in the market.

“So when we set up Catalyst we made sure we had the funding to accommodate all types of property – residential, semi commercial, land with or without funding.”

Catalyst is higher leverage than most, lending up to 80% LTV on first charge and 75% LTV on second charge, while pricing starts at 0.65% per month.

The lender has a funding line from a mainstream UK bank, a regulated asset manager and money from a handful of significant high net worth individuals.

Having a broker and lender under the same roof poses the question of whether Positive Lending could unfairly put business through to Catalyst.

But Fairfax said: “The way we control it is we have an internal compliance team. Every single new case is run via compliance to makes sure that product selected is the most appropriate in the market.

“We’ve been piloting this product with a handful of direct brokers we’ve known for a number of years.

“We’re finding that with the deals we get from Positive we’re under greater scrutiny to keep pricing competitive than with direct relationships because we are mindful that there’s going to be a microscope on the relationship between the two businesses.

“What we want to do is where we were doing deals with West One, Amicus, MFS and those bridging lenders that are pricing similar to what we provide; we want to do that business in house.”

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