My Top 10 platforms 2017 (as of 30.06.17)

At the end of last year I already published my top 10 platforms (in German only, sorry). After the first half of 2017 I draw up an interim balance. The listing reflects my personal opionion and can (and of course should) be seen different by any reader. I start with the Top 5 and give an explenation below the table for the placings.

rankplatformreturn (XIRR)link to reviews
1Robocash14.21%Robocash
2Grupeer13.87%Grupeer
3Lenndy13.69%Lenndy
4Mintos18.21%Mintos
5Viainvest12.88%Viainvest

Robocash

Maybe this choice seems rather surprising, as the platform only started in February, but I would like to share my thoughts which led mi to this decision. Firstly I see a will for improvement at Robocash. Seconly the interest rates are attractive at 14 percent. Last but not least a don’t have to be active. I check in every 2 weeks or so and then I do nothing 😉 The AI just works fine, this is passive investing. The only shortcoming is the self imposed limit of 10k per Investor. But at some point this will be lifted.

Grupeer

Again, this may come as a surprise, but I like the platform and see it as a sleeper (ok, not so secret anymore 😉 ). I guess the platform gets overlooked sometimes, which is actually a good thing for me, as I can profit from the cashback offers. The platform works fast and the interest of up to 14% is nice. Grupeer plays in the top division with those rates. Shortcomings are the missing AI and secondary market. But this will change this year.

Lenndy

Again a new platform in the top 3. Sadly there is no secondary market at Lenndy nor an AI available. Up to 15 percent interest rates covered with buyback is best. Many investors seem to have a problem with paysera handling the transfers. I can understand this to a certain degree, it is somewhat painstaking to open and get your account verified, which I experienced myself. After that everything is fine and fast. Transfers are faster then from my bank account. Although I will make no friends in saying that I like paysera, I still say it 😉 Paysera (for me) is much better then its reputation. Maybe this will cost me some readers, but hey, I rather write what I think then appeal to the masses.

Mintos

Last years top rank has lost some ranks. This due to inconsisentency in both the interest rates and loan supply.The first half of 2017 was minted by increases and decreases of interest rates and shortage and oversupply of loans. So my criticism is: What is an AI worth to me if the input parameters always vary? At the moment it seems like the situation is stable at Mintos, and they understood that investors money will be withdrawn if the interest rates fall permanently below 12 percent or the money is waiting for action on the account. I reall do hope that we see less volatily during the rest of the year. In my rating I excluded the fact that Eurocent, a loan originator, is in trouble with liquidity issues, but I want to comment on that situation. It was clear that at some point one of the many loan originators will get in trouble. What surprises me is the speed at which it happened. Eurocent was added just some months ago, and now they seem to have liquidity issues. I ask myself how good the due dilligence was in this case….

Viainvest

Actually Viainvest is a contennder for the top spot. But why did I place it on the 5th rank then? Firstly the platform is too bureaucratic for my taste. Investors need a proof of tax residency otherwise some none refundable withholding tax is applied. So far so good. Get the certificate and it is okay I thought. But then there came polish loans, on which in any case withholding tax is applied. Ok they seem to be offsettable with the tax return, but this takes time, and I did not see any proof so far that this actually works in reality. Further the loan supply was declining for a short period of time, but that improved really quickly. My funds always were invested and reinvested without delay. The AI works smoothly though I can close with a positive statement 😉

rankplatformreturn (XIRR)Link to reviews
6Estateguru10.25%Estateguru
7Lendix7.38%Lendix
8Collateral12.78%Collateral
9Lend5.67%Lend
10Linked Finance8.95%Linked Finance

Estateguru

Estateguru gained one position and is looking into the top 5. I really liked the platforms evolution which surprised me in many aspects. Firstly the loan volume has increased and a lot of loans matured and were paid back in full. There were some loans which were paid back after maturity, but that lies in the nature of bridging finance. Real Estate development cannot be considered an exact science. There can always unforeseeable circumstances occur. What makes me happy is the fact that Estateguru strides along and has introduced a recent updates tab for its loans. With this improvement we can see what is going on if a loan is late.There is still room for improvement, but it seems to be on track.

Lendix

Lendix loses some ground but is still ranked at the very good 7th seed. The loan quality is really strong (I only invest in French loans though). At the moment I hold 32 projects in my portfolio, and every project has paid its dues so far, no delay so far. The main reason for the seed in the lower band is, that there hardly were any new loans on the marketplace until March. Somewhere around March/April the supply increased. Surely the foreign expansion has helped to increase the loan supply. As per Lendix’ stats the picture looks bright in these regions as well, but for me, it is too early to make a conclusion on that.

Collateral

I really do like Collateral. The interest is always paid on the 1st day of the following month, the support is fantastic really quick and the interest rates of up to 14 percent are great. I can’t rank the platform higher at the moment as they went more and more into real estate financing and away from their roots. There are many other platforms that offer the same kind of loans. I really like their pawn like loans, so I hope this niche does not dry out completely. Some of their car loans defaulted, but they were handled really well and investors lost no money. This is a big plus, we see that , at least their pawn loans are valued correctly.

Lend

On the 9th a Swiss platform. LEND started in 2015 and has shown an impressive growth story. I personally have met the founders of LEND and am really positive towards them. My investments are continuing, and are remarkably good given the Swiss low interest environment. I guess we will see much more good news in the coming months. I am aware, that for most of my (English) readers this platform is not of interest, but I do like them so I place them in my top 10. Maybe still worth checking out for you, it may give you some insights, how the Swiss p2p market ist working and evolving.

Linked Finance

Linked Finance convinces with its loan quality. Until now, no late repayments nor defaults. What I don’t like so much is that the investors are charged a 1.2 percent annual fee. During the last few weeks there were fewer loans added to the market place. Reason for that? Increasing competition in Flender or others?

On the outside looking in….

Here you find some platforms which I like, but could not already put them into the top ten. Leading the way of the “outsiders” is Flender, which makes a great appearance, but it is to young and I have not made enough experience with it to allow them to the top 10.

This is it from my personal top ten after the first half of 2017. Different opinions are always welcome and I am ready to discuss them with you in here. Just post.

A follow up after 6 months in business from Landlordinvest CEO Filip

As a follow up of this early stage interview from January I present some new insights from Filip from Landlordinvest. Thank you Filip for taking the time to send me such detailled answers. Really appreciated.

How have the past 6months been?

The last six months have been exciting and interesting but also lots of work. We have closed more than £1 million in loans, built up an investors base of almost 700 users, were the first platform in the UK to launch our residential property-backed IFISA product and recently raised funding from a Director of a private property investment company with assets of around £1 billion.

Now that we have had time to test and prove our tech and infrastructure, we will be expanding our capabilities substantially in the next two quarters, with more loan opportunities avaliable along with further tech and platform improvements.

Can you give some stats? Defaults? Maybe to early to tell

None of our loans have reached maturity yet so we have not recorded any defaults so far. However, we do have well established contingency plans to deal with any potential defaults, including partnering with leading recovery specialist including solicitors, administrators and receivers.

What do you expect for the rest of the year?

A large focus is to increase avaliable loan opportunities as one of the most common criticism that we have faced from our investor base is the lack of loan opportunities. We fully understand and acknowledge this criticism as any investor must be able to diversify his/her portfolio across various loans.


From the investment to the release of the funds some weeks may pass. Anything coming to speed this up?

Given our business model with no pre-funding, we can only instruct legal completion once we are reasonably assured that a loan will be funded as it is a quite substantial cost for the borrowers (up to 1% of the loan amount). Additionally, it the speed of the legal completion process involves many parties (the lenders solicitor, the borrower solicitor, the borrower broker, insurance companies etc) therefore it is difficult to stream-line the process as we do not have much influence on everyone involved in a transaction. It only requires that there is a slight delay somewhere in the chain for the whole process to be significantly delayed.

At the moment you offer a project yielding 17.3% (sec charge, bridging loan). Will you in future aim for more risky loans or is this an exception?

One focus is to offer loans with an appropriate risk/reward ratio. Loans that are deemed high risk (due to high LTV and/or that the borrower(s) do not have a good credit history) will yield up to 20% per annum, whilst lower risk loans will yield less. Our loan pricing is in par with the wider lending market.

Filip, once again, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, always a pleasure talking to you.

Bulkestate – a young platform with nice returns (14% at the moment)

Ok, today I’m going to introduce a new platform to you. Some months ago I accidentally came in contact with Bulkestate and invested the minimal amount of 50 Euro in one of their projects. The loan will mature next year, so I cannot share any more then that on this loan. According to the platform already two of their projects repaid so far. This is great news considering their small number of issued projects so far. I would place this platform somewhere between Estateguru and Crowdestate as they do business in similar segments of Real Estate financing.

Who is allowed to invest at Bulkestate and how to register?

Investing is open to any person which is at least 18 years old. There is also the possibility to invest as a company. A constraint for certain sountries seems not to exist.There is no word that the bank account has to be in the EU, but I would like to see what happens if a payment would be made from outside of Europe 😉 .

Registering is quick and easy, if you know where to start. You have to click on the login button (top right corner), and a window is to appear where existing investers can log in. On the bottom of this window you will find this sentence “Or register if you are a new user”, click it and start the registration process.

How to invest

As already mentionned the minimal investment at Bulkestate ist set at 50 Euro. Investing is pretty easy, just check out the project and hit the “Invest now” button. Afterwards you type in your desired amount of investment and confrim it. Bank transfer is actually the only possible way to pay at the moment. You get the payment instructions by email automatically or can hit “download receipt” to get them immediately. You then have up to 72 hours to execute the payment, otherwise your bid will be cancelled. I guess in reality you would have more then these 72 hours as the projects funding period mostly are several weeks and they seem to fill up slowly. But hey, what’s the point to wait? When I decide to invest, I then quickly send my funds on the way 😉 To get a quicker confirmation of your investment you can send a transfer confirmation from your bank to the support. I don’t think this is necessary as bank transfers nowadays are pretty fast.

A current project

Momentarily 70k Euro are beng sought to refinance an existing mortgage from an appartement. The owner would like to sell and is looking for a bridging loan. The duration is set at 12 months combined with an interest rate of 14 percent. The loan-to-value ratio is 61%. This means that the appartment is burdened only to 61 percent relatively to the object’s estimated value. Is the estimated value set too high, the ltv will be too low, so there could be more risks involved then anticipated when looking at the ltv ratio. So the valuation is a quite sensitive matter. Just keep that in mind when dealing with ltv’s. I will be investing some funds in this project as well, as it looks quite reasonable. Nearly I forgot to tell that I firstly thought that the loan is for the whole complex with nine levels as I read the description. In fact the loan is for one appartement in the 9th floor. This makes sense, as the valuation seems to be fitting, according what I saw on other platforms.

Conclusion

I like the websites layout and of course the interest rates. There are few projects so far, but I hope the number increases and the quality remains. (Earlier I wrote at this place that all investors will be burdened by a 10 percent withholding tax on the interest received. According to the platform this is not true and only affects Estonian tax residents. All other receive the full 14 percent). Follow me to Bulkestate.

Landlordinvest – An interview with Filip Karadhagi (CEO) from January 2017

In January I already have conducted an interview with the Landlordinvest’s CEO Filip Karadhagi. Until now only the German version was plublished on this blog, as I only started some months later with publishing English posts as well. I have conducted a second interview some days ago, which I will be sharing in the coming days, but now here you find the interview from January.

1) You started in 2014 and aimed for full fca authorization. Why didn’t you start with a temporary autorization like other platforms?

When we founded the company the deadline to apply for an interim permission had unfortunately already passed so we could only submit an application for full authorisation, which we did 18 December 2014.

2) You have not earned a single penny during the last 2 to 3 years, how was that financed? Who stands behind landlordinvest?

It is correct that we have not earned a single penny since we were founded in October 2014. The funding initially came from the founders and we have also accepted funding from two business angels. Both serve as advisors to us.

3) As you state on your website, you focus on the east (newcastle area). It seems as property moose is financing in that area a lot of real estate, both btl and loaning. Where do you see your chance? why did you choose this are. Are you going to offer deals in the same segment or are you aiming more for the higher price segment?

I would not say that we focus on the Newcastle area, but generally on the North including Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool etc. The reasons for this, and why other platforms focus on the North, is due to higher yields than elsewhere in the country.

Housing prices in the North are still relatively low compared to London and the South East, and the rental yields are more attractive. Another reasons is the North has a good infrastructure, a young population as many cities have big universities, ensuring a high demand for private rented accommodation.

4) What is your ambition? Where do you see landlordinvest in 3 years, in terms of volumes etc? When do you think you will be break even for the first time?

We expect to become cash flow positive in the second year of operations. We’re extremely lean and efficient, much more so than other platforms, so don’t really require high volumes to become cash flow positive. In addition to growing our loan book, we have also plans to acquire a banking license in the future. Zopa became the first P2P platform in the UK to pursuit this route, and we hope that we will be one of the first property platforms that apply for a banking license.

5) You seem the be rather restrictive in terms of compliance. For example I never encountered a cooling off period as you have installed that. Why that?

We’re fully FCA authorised and have higher regulatory requirements than platforms operating under interim permissions.

As an interesting anecdote: few days ago I received a call from another P2P platform. They are quite similar to us and have a loan book of close to £500 million. They told me that they have been waiting to become FCA authorised for two years and don’t expect to become fully authorised before the next summer. They essentially had to change their entire operating model, including developing a new platform. The reasons for their call was to get my input on some technical questions that they had received from the FCA. It is quite astounding that a significant platform reaches out to a platform that has only been around for 3 weeks and has no loan book, seeking guidance on how to structure their operations in a FCA complaint way. This also shows the scale of what we at LandlordInvest have achieved, becoming the first fully FCA authorised P2P platform for real estate loans.

6) Will you offer BTL and loans, I guess btl through equity via spv? 

We only have loans on our platform: buy-to-let mortgages and bridging loans. We are not offering any equity products.

7) The segment of real estate loans has a lot of p2p/crowd platforms attached to it: saving stream, moneything etc. Why are you better or different?

We have a “pure” peer-to-peer model, whilst many others operate hybrids models. Given the FCA latest feedback on the industry, it is likely that many other operators will have to change their models, pursue other forms of permissions or close shop. Landbay drastic change to become authorised is an evidence of what we can expect from many other P2P platforms.

Those platforms that are unable to change their business model will simply have to close or sell to other operators.

Another USP is that we offer investors to diversify: they can chose between investing in relatively low risk mortgages or higher risk bridging loans. We believe that investors should have this choice and not only to be confined to one product.

And a last thing I would to include, although not necessarily directly picked up by investors, is our team. We have a strong team that has combined decades of experience from financial services and the real estate sector. This should ensure that the quality of loans on the platform will be high and that we will operate to high professional standards, including in our dealings with borrower and lenders.

8) When do you expect the first loans on your platform? Where you approached by possible borrowers or brokers? If yes, how many?

We expect to have the first loans available in January. We have extended several offers to borrowers and waiting for them to accept prior to putting the loans on to the platform. We had less than 10 borrowers registered on the platform and none of them have submitted a full loan application, all enquiries came from brokers.

We are in talks with around 50 brokers at the moment, with the list growing each day. Given our unique business model, and that we are new in the market, it takes some time for brokers to become comfortable with us before referring clients.

Filip, thank you very much for your time and effort.

Short updates and some cashback offers

Grupeer offers 1 percent cashback on certain loans

At the moment Grupeer is offering 1% cashback on Kurtour GmbH’s loans, which yield 13 percent already per annum. You can see whether a loan is cashback eligible or not when they have this blue sign (check out the sample picture below) left of the invest button. Further there are some Solut and SME Investment loans which yield 14 percent. There are some nice offers out there. By the way, you get the casback instantly credited to your account after you invested in an eligible loan.

Flender offers 10% cashback

The offer from Flender (click on the link and register to participate from the offer) was extended until end of July. You get 10% cashback, if you invest more then 1k Euro or GBP. The offer is not capped. The investments just have to be made within 30 days after registration. This means if you register until 31st of July you will have until 29th of August to invest at least 1k to get the cashback (and of course you need to register via abovementionned link). At the moment there are only few loans on the marketplace, but there are more in private mode. You can get an invite to them by contacting the support after registration. You can spread your investments through as many loans as you like, as long as your total volume is at least one thousand, you will get 10% cashback. Flender accepts now payments via SEPA, no need for payments by card anymore (credit and debit cards are accepted though).

Lenndy offers upt to 15% on car loans with buyback

Since the platform moved it’s domicile from Lithunia to Latvia I have not written about it. I just wanted to get a clearer picture how things play out. Now it seems all is back to normal and how it used to be. What is new is that there are some loans yielding 15 percent and are equipped with buyback. The duration is somewhat longer for that interest rate, but tolerable with up to 36 months.

Follow me to Lenndy.

Viainvest works smoothly and extends its loan portfolio to Poland

For a short period of time it looked like that demand was exceeding supply at viainvest. Now it seems the situation is resolved. One reason is that there are now polish loans on the platform. I dehort from investments in these loans, as viainvest will withhold 5 percent for taxes. You don’t get anything refunded, even if you have sent them your certification of tax residence. There are other loans to invest in. The withheld amount should in theory be offsettable within your tax return. But this could be a long road and I do not know if it really works in reality. Follow me to viainvest.

Loan originator in trouble at Mintos

Some months ago the polish loan originator Eurocent was added to the Mintos platform. End of June Mintos descided to ban new loans from them, as the company had some liquidity issues. Since then the loans were further paid back and the outstanding loan amount reduces daily. It looks like it might play out well. I will go into detail once we know facts, everything else would be premature and would not help. This is a nice example that a buyback guarantee is just as good as the guarantor (I don’t want to say I told you many times… but I did).

Omaraha – official stats and finnish loans to invest

Again more then one month has passed since my last post on Omaraha. The platform keeps me busy, as it seems always something new is happening. Before I forget, I did not receive SIA Best Lizings financials yet, so if I don’t get them during the next 2 weeks, I will buy them for 9 Euro online myself.

2 weeks without an Estonian loan

Maybe I popularised Omaraha too much through this blog and sent them many new investors, and as a result I don’t seem to get any Estonian loans 😉 Ok, maybe this is only half of the story behind this situation. The main reason is that seemingly that there are just not enough Estonian loans, there were fewer added to the platform as usual. Further they cut the long term loans at the moment. I now try to get some by setting my autoinvests interest rate a little lower, or give a little more bonus away.

Finnish loans to appear shortly

For some days now Finzo (operator of Omaraha) offers loans in Finnland. The first batch of finnish loans shall appear Monday, 3rd July on Omaraha. Setting an autoinvest profile is already possible. Let’s be curious to see how many loans, at which rates and quality there will be. Often I expressed my concerns with platform’s expansion into foreign territory. One can see what happened with the Slovakian loans, there were and still are problems. In my experience finnish borrowers are relatively good payers, but inferior to Estonians. I have to be carefull with such universal statements, as the borrowers payment morale largely depends on which clientel the platforms are focussing. I will test and start with a small amount with finnish loans.

A look at official stats

Here you can get an overview of the actual loanbook. If we take a general look at it, it seems, that 2017’s default rate is tiny. We will get a clear picture in the coming months on this:

You can play around with the settings of the stats page and can for example see that low rated Slovakian loans performed badly and resulted in a loss (pooled view). It seems as my assessment to exclude these loans in future was indeed correct. What surprises me the most is that overall Slovakian loans they seem to generate nice returns. I can add to this observations my own experience where scores from 900 to 1000 performed better, but I guess I will also have to deal with defaults there. To be fair, I have to mention that my loan universe is to small to gain stastitically relevant or significant results from it.

You see, you have to face the platform to being able to invest there. This is a welcomed variety to investing in platforms with autoinvest and buyback only. If there are questions, do not hesitate to post.