We are witnessing the democratisation of property investing
Roxana Mohammadian-Molina is chief strategy officer at Blend Network, which provides development finance and bridging loans to experienced small and medium (SME) property developers across the UK regions.
Real estate and wealth management are not known as industries that readily embrace change.
The nature of the property asset class, which comprises heterogeneous assets traded in a largely private market, and the traditional profile of wealth management clients, often C-suite, high-net-worth and institutional customers, are perhaps good reasons for this.
It may also be the case that there is an agency problem: the professional advisers who dominate the transaction process clearly have an interest in protecting their income sources, so wealth managers, brokers and lawyers might all be expected to resist tech-driven innovations designed to ‘disrupt’ their work.
Yet we are witnessing the silent wave of technology innovation slowly but surely democratise the way we manage our investment portfolio and invest in property through fintech platforms.
Gone is the era when property investing was a long-distant goal for which one needed to save for years and eventually ask parents and grandparents to chip-in with some cash for deposits.
The new era is one of mass affluent property investors who are younger, tech savvy, increasingly female and highly sensitive to global issues such as sustainability, positive change and social justice.
These digitally savvy, time-poor investors are increasingly turning to peer-to-peer lending to get on the property ladder and access double-digit returns from a click on their phone or tablet.
They do so by leveraging the technological innovations that allow them to pick and choose property deals to invest in and invest from a fraction of what they would need as a deposit to buy a house or flat.
For example, peer-to-peer property lending platforms such as Blend Network allow investors to invest from as little as £1,000 on property-secured loans that aim to yield an 8% to 12% return per annum.
Peer-to-peer lending is more than just about great returns.
Many investors see it as a force for good in the face of a housing shortage that has been described by successive governments as the nation’s most urgent and complex challenge, and solving it as “the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation.”
As today’s generation of investors strive to put their cash where their beliefs are and practise conscious investing, peer-to-peer lending has gained an unprecedented appeal among investors who see it as a way to support small to medium enterprise (SME) housebuilders which are working to build the homes the country needs.
According to a report by the Home Builders Federation, availability and terms of financing for residential development has become extremely difficult for small housebuilding companies over the past decade or so as lenders have drastically changed their attitudes to the sector since the global financial crisis.
Instead, peer-to-peer lenders are providing liquidity to those small housebuilders which struggle to get access to traditional funding.
Disconnected from traditional channels
At Blend Network we work at the intersection of finance, technology and social responsibility, connecting experienced property developers that are building affordable homes with people who want to invest and do good while doing well.
At the heart of everything we do is supporting those who find themselves disconnected from traditional funding channels.
Our investors come from all walks of life, some are high net worth individuals who invest tens of thousands of pounds, some are private investors who invest only £1,000.
Yet, they all share a passion for making a difference by co-investing in projects that help developers to build more affordable homes.
We strongly believe that it’s all about doing well while doing good. So do our investors.
In scaling the fintech sector, investors face an unprecedented opportunity to access above-average returns, drive growth, enable innovation and champion disruption through investment in the fintech sector.