Saving Stream – My Lender Experiences After 18 Months

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Saving Stream

Saving Stream Peer To Peer Lending Review

** Saving Stream review updated January 12th 2017**

After 18+ months of lending, I still recommend Saving Stream as they continue to revolutionise peer to peer property investing. Saving Stream allows you to invest in property loans without the need for millions of pounds in your bank account.

My January 2017 Allocation: Unchanged
My annual rate of return: 12% (Net return after bad debt and fees but before tax)
Annual Returns My Risk Rating * Early Exit Provision Fund Min Investment Deposit Bonus
12% C £10 Check latest

* This opinion risk grade factors in types of loans offered, interest rates, platform history, default numbers and my own investing experience.

The Saving Stream Review – What You Need To Know:

Major Pros
  • Up to 1% return paid to lenders monthly
  • All loans secured by property
  • Low default rates
  • Lender pre-funding available for all new loans
  • Provision fund
  • Secondary market for lenders to buy and sell loans
  • Easy to use
Major Cons
  • Property development loans at high interest rates can be risky
  • Increasing number of loans are past their end date
  • Lender demand is higher than borrower supply
  • All eggs in property basket
  • Website can become unresponsive when user traffic is heavy
  • High demand & Captcha makes secondary market difficult to use for buying

Saving Stream is one of the most popular peer to peer lending sites despite being in the higher risk category.

The Saving Stream website is easy to use and the competitive secondary market remains active, especially after new loan releases. The instant deposit feature means no wait investing and the pre-funding option saves you having to screen watch to catch new loans. Well done Saving Stream.

Saving Stream: My experiences so far….

I have been investing in Saving Stream since early 2015 and after 18 months of investing, my experiences continue to be positive. I’ve been able to invest in a variety of loans all paying 1% per month returns and interest payments have always been on time. I always use the pre-funding option and have some success buying on the secondary market although selling is far easier due to high demand. I always sell the oldest loans and reinvest in newer ones because selling older loans eliminates default risk. This selling strategy works when the secondary market is liquid.

Recently I’ve noticed quite a few loans are in the past due period. I reached out to a Saving Stream representative and here was his repsonse:

“Over recent weeks there has been a small increase in the loans that are overdue. This is however not unusual given the nature and complexity of the loan book. We are actively supporting each borrower, either to arrange a refinance, repayment or extension for these loans. In the event that we became concerned about any of these loans we would move to default the borrower. In most cases it is just that the borrower is experiencing delays in refinancing or the sale of the property.”

I agree with the response and while it’s better for all loans to be completed on the due date, sometimes this just isn’t realistic due to the nature of property development.

I will keep an eye on this situation and report back.

What Is A Saving Stream?

Saving Stream is a peer to peer lending company that offers secured property loans. Short term bridging and development loans are given to borrowers at up 1.5% per month. This type of loan is common in the real estate investment world. In the event of a loan default, Savings Stream attempts to sell the security in order to cover lenders capital and interest.

When Did Saving Stream Launch?

January 2013

How Do I Sign Up?

Easy! Click Here. (I receive 1% of your initial investment as a referral payment. This payment is made by Saving Stream and does not come from your investment.)

What’s The Signup Process Like?

Painless. They run the usual i.d. checks, no additional identification needed.

Are They Regulated? 

Yes, by the UK Government’s Financial Conduct Authority under Interim Permission.

What’s The Minimum Deposit / Investment?

Deposit: Minimum £100 via bank transfer for your first deposit

Loans: £100 minimum for pre-funding on new loans and £1 minimum on secondary market loans

How Much Interest Does Saving Stream Pay Lenders?

Up to 1% per month

Is Interest Paid Immediately or When the Loan Starts?

As soon as your investment goes live, interest starts to accrue.

When Is Interest Paid?

First of each month

What Are The Fees? 

None to the lenders

How Long Are The Loans?

3-12 months but loans are often extended or can be paid off early.

What Security Does Saving Stream Loan Against?

All loans are secured against property or land. Saving Stream used to loan against boats and other items but they veered away from these types of loans. The loan-to-value ratios of the securities range from 11-70%.

What Are The Main Risks?

Platform Failure: If Saving Stream fails, investors could see losses although there are many unknown variables so no one knows how lenders would fare on the outcome. The new structure should reduce lenders risk but platform failure is always a concern as it’s hard to predict.

High lender returns: With high returns comes higher risk. 12% annual returns to investors means the borrower is paying 1.5%+ monthly, however this is standard in the property bridging loan business. High borrowing rates mean the risk of default is always present. Saving Stream recently starting offering lower interest return paying loans but I’m not sure these loans are any less risky than the 12% paying loans.

Valuation Errors: If Saving Stream or it’s vendors over-value a piece of property and the borrower defaults, investors may lose money if the property sells for less than the loan balance.

Underwriting Standards: If Saving Stream loosens its credit standards, defaults could rise substantially. Lenders place great amounts of trust in Saving Stream’s ability to provide lenders with quality loans. No problems have surfaced so far but it is something I continually watch for.

Property Market Downturn: The recent Brexit triggered a secondary market loan glut as lenders became nervous about possible declines in property values. Saving Stream even suspended and cancelled upcoming loans. This event highlighted how a single economic event can affect peer to peer lending. If the market downturns, property values could decrease and a defaulted property sale could recoup less than the loan amount and expenses; resulting in lender losses.

Too Sector Specific: Being heavy in the real estate sector is risky should a downturn occur. Defaults could increase and values could fall.

Is There A Provision Fund?

Yes. 2% of the loan book total is in the fund and its balance is approximately £3 million (December 2016). You can see current fund stats here.

Am I Lending To Saving Stream Or To Borrowers?

In the olden days, ok 2015, lenders were lending to Saving Stream (or Lendy Ltd). In 2016 Saving Stream announced they were changing their legal structure to better protect lenders. All new loans are ring-fenced and some of the older loans are too (when Saving Stream deems it necessary). This means investors are lending directly to borrowers rather than to Saving Stream; good news for lenders.

What Happens If Saving Stream Goes Bust?

The consequences of a platform failure would likely be devastating because there is no way to know if investors would be able to recoup their money. Saving Stream released an announcement about structure changes which should protect lenders more effectively. Always remember that if the platform fails, your money is at risk so don’t invest more than you are comfortable losing.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT SAVING STREAM:

The High Paying Interest Rates

In the era of ultra low interest rates, 12% annual returns are very tempting. Interest payments are made on the first of the month and can usually can be reinvested in secondary market loans.

Instant One-Click Deposits

Saving Stream’s innovative method of handling lenders deposits is the first of its kind in the peer to peer lending space. Saving Stream gives you instant credit for the amount you wish to invest in its platform. For example, say you want to invest £100 into a new loan, you click the add funds button, input £100 and like magic, £100 appears in your account for you to invest immediately. It is then your responsibility transfer the money you owe within 48 hours.

This innovative thinking bypasses one of the biggest inconveniences lenders have to suffer on most peer to peer lending platforms: the dreaded bank to platform deposit wait.

One thing to note is if you use the platform credit to buy newly issued loan pieces, you cannot sell those loan pieces for seven days if you used the credit feature (see below). This is to prevent people from gaming the system and buying more than they need.

Secondary Market

Saving Stream’s secondary market is very easy to use and still relatively liquid for selling. Demand and supply has heavy impacts on the way the secondary market behaves. Post Brexit there was a glut of loans for sale but in December 2016, there was barely anything for sale.

You can sell any amounts of your loan pieces for free. I’ve found that if I put something up for sale, it usually sells in seconds. In the past, many lenders bought more loans than they intended to keep sold their unwanted parts on the secondary market when newer loans became available.

Saving Stream has addressed this problem with new rules preventing lenders from buying more of a loan than they intend to keep. If a lender uses account credit to obtain new loans and doesn’t have enough money in his account to pay for the new loan pieces, the lender cannot sell any of the new loan parts for seven days. If a lender has enough money in their account to buy the new loan allocations without using the credit system, this seven day limitation doesn’t apply.

This new rule prevents lenders from requesting larger pre-funding amounts of new loans with the intent on selling existing loans to pay for the new loan parts.

Back to the secondary market. You can sell all of your loan or just a portion. Once you place a loan for sale, it is immediately available to other other lenders:


Saving Stream peer 2 peer lending review

Saving Stream peer to peer saving review

The capital and interest in paid into your account as soon as your loan piece is sold. Simple.

This secondary market has been working well but beware, if a property downturn or recession occurred, a mass exodus of investors could make it hard to sell your loans.

One downside to the secondary market is when you place a loan part for sale, you immediately stop receiving interest. This isn’t usually a problem unless there is an over supply of that loan but even then, it might not take long to sell your loans as the current market is liquid.

An excellent feature Saving Stream recently added is when you click to sell a loan part, there is loan queue amount display:

Saving Stream

 

This feature allows you to decided whether to sell your loan pieces or wait until the queue has decreased.

For buying, high demand times can make the secondary market unforgiving. Loan pieces can sell within seconds plus there is a Captcha that sometimes appears preventing quick buying. Some people believe loan pieces are snapped up by automated purchasing bots. I’m not convinced.

Loan Security

All loans are secured by property at loan-to-values under 70%. In the event of a loan default, the security could be repossessed and sold to recover losses.

Entire Loan Term Interest Payments Are Collected Upfront

This is a major plus. For example if a loan is given for 12 months and the interest payments are £10,000 per month, £120,000 is collected in advance. This ensures lenders can be paid for the full 12 months. It’s an extra level of security that I really like.

The Provision Fund

Provision funds always offer an extra layer of protection against borrower defaults. In theory, this discretionary fund could be used to compensate lenders should a shortfall exist after a security sale. Currently the fund stands at just over £3 million (January 2017). That will buy a few packets of Monster Munch!

Payments & Withdrawals

Interest payments are paid on the first of each month and have always been on time. Withdrawals are timely, usually landing in my bank account within 12-24 hours during business days.

Pre-funding

As more lenders joined Saving Stream, demand outstripped supply and loans became harder to buy. This meant that not only did you need to be logged in at the exact time of a new loan being posted, but you needed some fast fingers. Some of the smaller loans would be sold in seconds with larger loans filling in just a few minutes.

To combat the endless lender grumbles, Saving Stream introduced a pre-funding option where upcoming loans can be previewed and maximum investments pre-set:

Saving Stream peer to peer lending review

Loan allocation always depends on demand and supply so you never quite know how much your assigned amount will be. Based on my own experiences, here’s what I’ve received:

Valuation Loan Value Allocation
£ 1,200,000 £ 700,000 31%
£ 600,000 £ 360,000 12.9%
£ 3,600,000 £ 2,520,00 100%
£ 1,850,000 £ 1,295,000 42%

 

You can see that for larger loans, you will generally be assigned your total pre-funding request but this could change as more investors come on board.

Savings Stream now uses a bottom up pre-fundng system for loans under £1m, where the smaller sum investors are allocated their pre-funding amounts before larger investors.

The Website

The old website was great but was updated in December 2015. The new website has been improved but has experienced slowdowns and timeouts during high traffic times when new loans are released.

Loan Flow

Saving Stream usually has a consistent flow of new loans but December 2016 has been slower. Some of the loans are for several million pounds. You can view the new loans using the pipeline tab.

WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT SAVING STREAM:

The Lower Paying Interest Rate Loans

Saving Stream has started offering lower paying loans in the 9 to 10% range. I don’t think these loans are much less risky than the loans that pay 12% so I tend not to invest in them. I think the lower paying loans are an attempt to access new borrowers since loan supply has been struggling to keep up with lender demand. It’s possible these lower paying loans could be the new norm.

Sector Specific

Saving Stream currently only offers real estate loans so if the property market goes down the spout, this could put a severe strain on its business model and lenders funds. It would have been interesting to see how Saving Stream would have fared during 2007-2010 property decline. It’s important to diversify across different lending sectors so a downturn doesn’t hurt your returns too badly.

High Interest Rates For Borrowers = Higher Risk?

Paying 12% to investors means Saving Stream charges its borrowers 1.5% per month. This increases the risk of default. This would be more of an issue if loans were for longer than 12 months but it’s still something to consider before investing.

Increasing Number Of Loans Are Past Terms

I’ve noticed an increasing number of loans are past their loan term date. I’m not overly concerned at the moment but it is something I’m keeping a watchful eye on. It’s not unusual for property refinancing to take longer than anticipated.

Some High Loan Amounts

Some of Saving Stream’s loans are in the millions meaning that two or three defaults could really sting lenders. Currently there is a £1.7m loan in default and it will interesting to see how this is recovered. It’s essential to diversify across many loans and not to be tempted to put too much money into any one loan.

The Website

During loan releases, the secondary market part of the website experiences severe slowdowns. Try to buy a loan part and the dreaded spinning ball can keep you guessing for minutes whether or not your purchase was successful. I’ve found that if my purchase was successful, my Available Funds amount will change instantly even though the page is still thinking. There is also a nasty Google Captcha verification that can rear its ugly head after two or three attempts at buying. This Captcha has made purchasing on the secondary market extremely difficult when demand is high.


My Strategy

When I first began investing in Saving Stream, the secondary market was a beautiful feature since you were able to move in and out of loans very easily. Nowadays, high demand has made the secondary market extremely competitive. Post Brexit loan supply has highlighted the reality of how lenders may not be able to sell loan pieces during economic changes. With this in mind, I invest in loans I’m prepared to hold long term. Since the loan supply has reduced, it’s important not be tempted to over invest in any single loan. The key to Saving Stream (and every peer to peer platform) is diversification.

When possible, I sell loans that are within 45 days of ending and reinvest the money into the newest loans. A fresh loan book means decreased default risk since loans term interest is collected in advance.

Conclusion

Saving Stream is highly recommended for anyone looking to lend within the property sector. 12% annual returns do mean a higher level of risk so prepare for some defaults in the event of economic changes in the UK. Saving Stream lessens risk by including a provision, securing loans with property and collecting loan repayments in advance.

The website is easy to use and the secondary market works well. The instant deposit feature means instant investing and the pre-funding option saves you from having to constantly monitor the website to get a piece of the action.


Sign up for Saving Stream peer to peer lending and start earning 12% annually. (Saving Stream pays me 1% of your initial investment as a thank you for referring you. This payment is made by Saving Stream and does not come from your investment.)

If you enjoyed my Saving Stream review and want to learn more about peer to peer lending, click here and receive my complimentary Top 5 Peer to Peer Lending Sites Report.

This unbiased Saving Stream review is for information purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed in this Saving Stream review are based upon my investing experiences. All information was deemed to be correct at the time of writing. Peer to peer lending contains risks so never invest more than you can afford to lose.

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Returns
90 %
Risk
66 %
Liquidity & Secondary Market
80 %
Speed of Putting Your Money To Work
50 %
Deposits, Payments & Withdrawals
95 %
Website Learning Curve & Functionality
92 %
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Laurence
I'm the author of Financial Thing and a regular peer to peer lender who was begrudgingly forced to figure out his financial life. Now I have a passion for helping others figure out what took me years to learn.