British Pearl – Get to Know Product Q&A Session

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British Pearl

British Pearl

I visited the offices in August 2018 and met with CEO and Founder Ali Celiker and his team. I haven’t invested through British Pearl, but I was curious to learn more about the inner workings of the business and what they offer, so I asked them to fill out a Q&A.

Click here to open a British Pearl account (Visit my current cashback page for current signup offers. When you open an account through my website, it helps me to continue to offer new reviews and update existing ones).

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Q: When was British Pearl launched?

We launched to customers in July 2018.

Q:  Is British Pearl FCA regulated?

Yes we are. We have permission to operate an electronic system in relation to lending, which is typical for P2P platforms, and also to operate as an Alternative Investment Fund Manager, which is typical for investment managers. (You can view British Pearl’s authorisation here).

Q: British Pearl offers investors the opportunity to buy shares in individual property investments and investing in property loans. Can you explain the difference between the two investment types?

Sure. We were the first property platform to offer investments in both loans (debt) and shares (equity). This gives people more choice when it comes to how to invest in our properties. The idea being that with both options we can help our customers build a more diversified property portfolio.

Loans

  • Fixed interest paid monthly
  • ISA-eligible
  • 3-5 year terms
  • Early access to funds available through the Resale Market (subject to demand, fees apply)
  • Secured with first charge
  • Lower return than share options

Shares

  • Monthly dividends (net rental income)
  • Receive share of net sale proceeds when sold – leveraged if prices rise
  • But take the first hit if property price falls
  • 3-5 year terms
  • Early access to funds available through the Resale Market (subject to demand, fees apply)

Q: How are the investments secured?

Properties are secured with a first charge, which provides security for Loan Investors. Further protection is provided thanks to our structure and investment practices. Each property British Pearl acquires for its platform is purchased using a “special purchase vehicle” (SPV). We have a very strict set of criteria when selecting properties, lead by our in-house property acquisitions team. This protects the performance of the SPV, benefiting Share Investors.

Further, our SPVs are  companies we manage, and we’ve chosen to do things this way as:

  1. If anything were to go wrong at British Pearl, the property is safely ring-fenced and cannot be used to pay creditors of any other company
  2. If one property was to “go bad”, it’s cordoned off from the others to prevent contagion

Q: How much approximate interest can investors expect to earn?

It will vary, based on a couple of factors. Firstly, each property has its own unique loan return and share return, based criteria such as loan-to-value and purchase price. Secondly, investors can have money in any combination of properties on the platform, so each portfolio is different. Our site has our latest returns per property.

Q: What are the minimum investment amounts for property shares and loans?

The minimum deposit to open an account is £100, though most customers invest more than that, with the average amount being around £5,000. It’s then up to investors how to split their funds between properties, shares, and loans.

Q: Who can invest through British Pearl? What are the requirements (UK residents only? Ltd. Companies etc.)

Individuals, corporations, trusts and overseas investors are welcome to invest with us, provided they pass our regulatory checks with our credit agency partners. During the sign up process, prospective investors are asked for consent for these checks, and to provide proof of ID. We’ve streamlined this and made it as simple as possible, so it doesn’t take too much time.

If someone wants to invest from overseas, it’s up to them to check if there are any restrictions in place in their country of residence.

US citizens, permanent legal residents / “green card” holders, persons born in the US and US dual nationals are not eligible to invest with us. We made this decision in light of the IRS’ comprehensive reporting requirements imposed by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Q: Do you offer an IFISA?

Yes, British Pearl’s loan investments are available within an IFISA wrapper.

Q: Can you explain how British Pearl sources its properties?

Our dedicated Property Team has more than 50 years of commercial and residential property experience between them, and an extensive network across UK property. This puts us in a great position, often giving us exclusive investment opportunities that most people don’t have access to.  Alongside this, we use all other sourcing options available to us, including estate agents, leaving no stone unturned in our search for the right property investments for our customers.

All potential purchases are reviewed against our extensive investment criteria which include income, capital growth, condition, location and curb appeal to name a few.

If the investment model indicates strong returns and the due diligence does not highlight any concerns, then the Property Team arrange a viewing. As cash buyers, we can offer speed and security to sellers and this, combined with often buying multiple units, often gets us a price discount that is passed on to our investors.

Once everyone is happy with the property and the estimated returns, we’ll put in an offer. After that the process is much the same as any other property purchase: we instruct solicitors and surveyors and combine their expertise with our own, and we all work towards completing as soon as possible.

Q: Does British Pearl offer a secondary market to exit investments?

Yes. The Resale Market allows investors to sell their shares or loans to other investors, or to buy shares in properties they may have missed out on. Availability is subject to demand from other investors, and there are fees involved.

Q: Is there a fee to exit? What other fees do investors pay?

Our fees are either upfront fees, payable by the investor, or are charged directly to the SPV and reflected in the advertised return.

Fees to investors

  • Participation fee for Share Investors: this is a one-off 2% fee paid by the investor at the start of each new investment. Loan Investors are not charged this fee.
  • Resale Market selling fee: Sellers are charged 1% for shares, plus any success fee that may be due (see below); and 0.5% for loans.
  • Resale market buying fee: Whether in the Resale Market or not, buyers of property shares are charged the 2% participation fee. Buyers of property loans are not charged a fee.
  • Success fee: 20% fee for share investors on any capital gains made when a property is sold at the end of the investment term, or equally if the investment is renewed. As Loan Investors don’t participate in capital gains, they are not charged this fee.

Fees to SPV

  • Loan arrangement fee: a one-off 1% fee on the amount of the loan. Reflected in advertised return.
  • Loan management fee: 1% of the total loan, charged to the SPV annually. Reflected in advertised return.
  • Property management fee: 12.5% + VAT on gross rental income. For longer term tenancies this fee may be lower, and vice versa for higher yield properties such as student accommodation. Reflected in advertised return.

Q: How are decisions made regarding each property? For example, property improvements or repairs? Is there a voting process when the property term comes to an end?

We manage the entire property investment process on behalf of our investors – from property sourcing and acquisition to management and through to exit.

We oversee any refurbishment or development that may be required and either manage the property using our in-house team or partners depending on the particular investment. The investment exit, either through an open market sale or refinancing, is also managed by us with the best interests of the investors in mind, as is the norm with an asset manager like us.

Q: How are the properties managed? Does British Pearl use third-party property management companies?

We have an in-house property management team who either manage properties directly or oversee our property management partners. As our properties are based around the country, we have engaged in close relationships with carefully selected companies who share our high standard of excellence and ethics.

Q: What procedures are in place to ensure property valuations are accurate?

Once any potential investment has been approved by the Property Team, a formal valuation will be undertaken by a chartered surveyor using their ‘Red Book’. The Red Book is issued by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (“RICS”) as part of their commitment to promote and support high standards in valuation delivery worldwide.

Then, on an ongoing basis we aim to:

  1. Have a third party RICS valuation once a year
  2. Regular update estimates using Land Registry HPI adjustments

Q: How are British Pearl investors protected against any legal action brought on by a tenant or loan borrower?

In the unlikely event that a tenant was to bring a claim against the SPV, that would not include the individual Share Investors. As mentioned earlier, each SPV is ring-fenced: so if a claim were to be made against one, the others are protected from it.

Also, each SPV has landlord’s public liability insurance which would cover possible personal injury claims and we take a professional, best practice, investment-minded approach to the management of the assets which mitigates the potential for any other claims. We also encourage our investors to diversify across multiple investments to avoid being over-exposed to any one in particular.

Q: Can you explain how investors records are kept and secured in the event British Pearl ceased to trade?

We have designed a system which ensures that our customers’ data and investments are protected and would continue to be administered in the event that our service ceases to operate.

Should anything happen to British Pearl as an organisation, the individual SPVs will not be impacted financially. An insolvency practitioner would oversee the winding down of the business and to ensure critical functions continue to operate. Customer data would be stored in an encrypted server until each investment has completed. [EB5]

Q: What are the advantages of investing through British Pearl as opposed to your competitors?

British Pearl was the first property platform to offer both debt and equity investing side by side, giving investors attractive options to build a diversified property portfolio within our platform. We have an excellent, in-house team of property and investment experts alongside fantastic tech talent building a future-proof investment platform. Additionally, the Resale Market feature has enabled us to make property investing liquid, which reflects the flexibility sought after by a lot of today’s investors.

 


Click here to open a British Pearl account (Visit my current cashback page for current signup offers. When you open an account through my website, it helps me to continue to offer new reviews and update existing ones).

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Disclaimers

I’m not employed by British Pearl. All information presented is intended for fact-finding so Financial Thing readers can learn about Blend Network’s business. I do not currently invest through them.

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** This page is for information purposes only. As with any financial investment, peer to peer lending involves risks and it’s possible to lose money. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. If you are unsure about investing, it is advisable to consult a financial professional **

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