Pandemic Drives Appetite For Alternative Lending: Zagga

Zagga, a fully licensed mortgage-secured boutique lender and investment manager, has taken a deep dive into the rapid growth of the alternative lending market in Australia.

The white paper, ‘COVID, crisis and catalysts: the rise and rise of alternative lending’ outlines the key market drivers and trends in the Commercial Real Estate Debt (CRED) market and how the COVID pandemic amplified the appetite of borrowers and investors alike for alternative lending.

With private lenders predicted to provide more than $50 billion in commercial real estate lending by 2024, the white paper uncovers the two key factors driving growth:

  1. Reduced lending appetite from banks. Given their strict capital requirements, banks have narrower parameters for providing loans to commercial customers. For borrowers seeking flexibility and certainty of funding, private lenders offer a more tailored approach to assessing creditworthiness.
  2. Investors seeking income. With equity markets arguably overvalued, sophisticated investors are allocating their capital to investments that fall broadly in the ‘fixed income’ space, but provide more flexibility and higher returns than traditional bonds.

Alan Greenstein, CEO and Co-Founder of Zagga, said, “When we wrote our first loan in 2017, we knew opportunities existed to compete against traditional lending platforms with new technology, a focus on speed of service and a bespoke approach. What we didn’t foresee was a significant reduction in the cash rate, coupled with a global pandemic, which has ultimately turned what was alternative into something increasingly mainstream.

“As the pandemic hit Australia in 2020, we experienced a huge surge in investor demand on the Zagga platform. We saw investment opportunities filling within minutes of opening and investors referring friends and family, attracted by average returns well in excess of any bank deposit rate.”

This increased appetite for alternative lending is evident across a range of Zagga’s metrics, with the number of loans originated through the platform increasing by more than 35% during 2020 and the total value of loan originations surpassing $0.5 billion at 30 June 2021.

More recently, Zagga saw its total originations increase to over $1.3BN since inception. Zagga expects this growth to continue and indeed surpass the records set, and is targeting an active book in excess of $780 million by end of FY 2024.

Greenstein added, “Uncertainty has become our new normal, and this is reflected in investment markets.

“As both investors and borrowers have been prompted to seek out alternative opportunities, their eyes have been opened to an arguably better way to do business; a way that doesn’t force them to fit into a box.”

This article is for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Any opinion expressed in this article are of the author and is subject to change without notice. Readers are reminded to exercise caution and use their own judgment when interpreting and applying the information contained in this article.

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