Saturday 23 March 2019

Property Bridges to lend over €150m for housing projects

Peer-to-peer lender has attracted more than 1,200 investors to platform

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Michael Cogley Business Correspondent

Irish online peer-to-peer lender Property Bridges plans to offer at least €150m in construction development loans over the next three years.

More than 1,200 lenders have signed up to the service since it launched in October.

So far, two projects have been fully funded for the development of seven new homes, equating to loans of €1m. However, at least 10 new projects have been scheduled for the next six months with a loan value of €15m.

Co-founder Marc Rafferty, who was also one of the founders of SME peer-to-peer lender Linked Finance, said that there was a "big gap" in the market for development loans of between €300,000 and €3m. The company is now part of Enterprise Ireland's high-potential startup unit.

"We're targeting around a quarter of the €5.6bn Irish construction market, which is in that bracket," he told the Sunday Independent.

"Our goals for the next three years are to have done €150m in lending, which is about 100 projects. They'll be coming in on average at around €1m to €1.5m, which will back the construction of 3,000 homes."

Investors can back construction projects which have been fully evaluated by Property Bridges. Various documents on the projects on the site are also published to give users "full transparency" about what they're investing in. Backers can invest as little as €500 in a project.

The platform promises a return of around 8.5pc for investors while Property Bridges takes around 4pc.

Rafferty said that there is more confidence than ever in the peer-to-peer lending sector and that an improving economy and a shortfall in the delivery of housing has boded well for the company's future. He believes it may lend well in excess of its €150m target.

"There's more than €100bn sitting in deposit and savings accounts earning little to no money in Ireland," he said.

"If you can give them a good moral reason, and a good interest rate, and make it easy for them, they'll flood in."

Rafferty, who also previously founded car-sharing service GoCar, said that Property Bridges will follow in the footsteps of Linked Finance, which has lent out €75m to SMEs.

Property Bridges is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland as no peer-to-peer licence exists here yet.

Rafferty said it would be "ideal" to be regulated, but that the Government is awaiting instructions on regulation for the sector from the European Central Bank.

Sunday Indo Business

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