Belfast Telegraph

Peer-to-peer lending on the rise in Northern Ireland, says London-based firm

By Ryan McAleer

A growing number of property developments in Northern Ireland are being funded by a new peer-to-peer based system, a London-based firm has claimed.

The emerging financing trend, which involves a varying number of investors pooling their cash for interest on their return, has becoming increasingly popular here during the post-recession recovery.

One London-based loan company has just announced its largest Northern Irish property loan to date, injecting £1.3m into a Limavady housing project.

Garvagh-based Efficiency Utility's development of eight homes at Drummond Manor received the investment from Blend Network Funds over a two-year period.

The English company said another loan to buy out the equity shares of two development sites in Holywood had attracted the largest number of lenders the platform has ever had on a single loan.

The loan for a Northern Ireland developer, was funded by a total of 50 lenders, made up of a mix of high net worth individuals, family offices and private lenders, who provided sums of between £1,000 and £75,000.

They're set to receive a fixed 12% return per annum.

A survey released yesterday by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said Northern Ireland is the UK's best performing housing market, after growth in prices in October defied a slump in the UK as a whole.

Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, Blend Network's chief strategy officer, said there has been significant interest from investors in Britain in the Northern Ireland housing market.

"There is a big housing shortage in Northern Ireland and that has kept the market very strong.

"Annual house price growth in the region was up by 4.3% in Q3 compared to an average UK growth of 2.4%. We have seen a big appetite from our investors to lend on property-secured loans in Northern Ireland.

"This just goes to show that investors are very keen to get exposure to the Northern Irish property market."

Blend Network's chief executive Yann Murciano said: "We see very strong housing demand, especially at the lower-end of the pricing bracket.

"Post-2008, funding has been a big issue for small and medium property developers because traditional lenders stopped lending overnight and are yet to return.

"Now, peer-to-peer lending offers a fresh new opportunity for experienced property developers to access funding and start building again."

Belfast Telegraph

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