Lendy Peer To Peer Lending Review
** Lendy review updated August 31st, 2018 **
After more than two years and a troubling amount of defaults and suspect valuations, I still maintain my investments through Lendy’s peer to peer property bridging and development loans. 40% of my loans are now either past due or in default. Lendy allows you to invest in property developments but be very aware that property bridging and development loans can be very high risk so while due diligence is recommended, even this cannot safeguard lenders’ from choosing loans that might default.
My July 2018 Investment: Unchanged
My annual rate of return: 8.9% (Net return after bad debt and fees but before tax)
|Est. Annual Returns:||9% - 12%
|Recent Rate Trend:||← →|
|My Risk Rating *:|
|Early Exit:||✓ (Slow due to high selling supply)|
|Loan Types:||Property development and bridging|
|Loan Security:||Property and land|
|Provision Fund:||Yes, balance targeting 2% of loan book|
|Time to Become Invested:||Usually fast but can depend on loan availability|
|Time Needed Managing:||Medium / High|
|Lending Agreements With:||Borrowers|
|Cashback:||New customers receive £50 cashback on the investment of £1000 when they lend for 3 mo.|
|Sign Up:||Sign Up For A Free Account|
* This opinion risk rating factors in types of loans offered, interest rates, platform history, default numbers and my own investing experience. My risk rating explained.
The Lendy Review – What You Need To Know:
- Up to 1% return paid to lenders monthly
- Interest bonuses on late loans
- All loans secured by property / land
- Loan repayment and default recovery history
- Lendy collects entire loan term interest from borrower
- Lender pre-funding available for all new loans / don’t need funds in your account
- Discrectionary provision fund covering 2% of loan book
- Secondary market for lenders to buy and sell loans
- High-interest rate property bridging and development loans are incredibly risky
- Large number of defaulted loans / past their end date
- Several borrower provided RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) valuations have been questionable
- Defaulted loans cannot be bought or sold on secondary market
- Due diligence and time is needed to identify quality loans
- Loans stop earning interest when you place for sale on secondary market
- All eggs in property basket
- Need funds in account to purchase secondary market loans
The Lendy website is easy to use and the secondary market remains active for buying while selling is a challenge due to an oversupply of loans for sale. The instant deposit feature means no wait investing and the pre-funding option saves you having to screen watch to catch new loans.
Lendy: My experiences so far….
I have been investing through Lendy since early 2015. 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 on the loans that aren’t in default. Due to the increase in defaults, my return rate has dropped significantly and I have refrained from buying any new loans as I want to see the outcomes on the default recoveries before committing further funds. The secondary market rules require lenders to have funds in their account to buy loans, so selling some loans can take some time. Due to an over-supply of secondary market loans, I’ve only purchased loans I’m comfortable holding to maturity.
Let’s Address The Defaults
If you are Lendy investor, you will know about the default increases. A news story printed in the Telegraph newspaper claimed 25% of Lendy’s loans were in default, a number which Lendy claimed was overstated. What the Telegraph article failed to address was how this default number compared to the property bridging loan industry overall and what the causes of the late loans were.
Property defaults are always concerning for peer to peer lenders as the recovery time can be complicated, expensive and lengthy and can sometimes result in a loss of capital and interest. Am I concerned about the defaults? Yes so I’m keeping a wary eye on this situation. I want to see how successful Lendy’s recovery efforts are before I invest further.
One of the largest loans on Lendy has run into some difficulties that have lenders’ grumbling. The recovery efforts on the £14m defaulted loan could result in lenders losing approximately 16-20% of their capital. This is not encouraging news.
I have read the negative online comments written by some of Lendy’s lenders. Some lenders are unhappy with certain loan offerings and the RICS valuations provided. My review isn’t to pass judgment because I simply don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and as a lender, I too await resolutions to the defaulted loans I am invested in. I do try to remember that as a peer to peer lender, I have a choice where to invest. 12% annual returns come with risk and while I expect Lendy to do its due diligence in order to protect my interests, I also know it’s ultimately my responsibility to trust but verify all information including RICS valuations.
Having said that, I wanted to learn more about Lendy’s position so on May 18th, 2018, I had a phone conversation with Paul Riddell, Lendy’s Head of Marketing and Communications. I wanted some clarification on Lendy’s default process and also on the RICS valuations and Paul was happy to accommodate my request.
Paul Riddell explained that Lendy…
- proactively contacts borrowers starting at six months prior to the loan term expiration. This contact continues to ensure the loan is paid on time.
- fronts all recovery legal costs using third-party law firms. These costs were stated as being in the hundreds of thousands of pounds
- is financially stable and was profitable in 2017
- understands the issues with the RICS valuations and has recently partnered with VAS Panel to ensure a satisfactory and consistent standard or valuation report is undertaken on each property security.
- ensures quality RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) are used independent so valuations are non-biased and accurate
- has been communicating with the RICS to address valuation concerns received from certified surveyors
- has tightened their credit assessment and valuation criteria looking closely at comparable values, future price trends and loan to values and days on market
- reduced borrower loan amounts to people with less than satisfactory credit histories, lack of development experience and non-UK nationals.
- has made over 6,000 phone calls to lenders to address concerns
Lendy has had some positive outcomes on their default recoveries. On May 24th, 2018, Lendy completed another full capital, interest and bonus owed recovery of a £650,000 defaulted commercial property loan. I still want Lendy to show me. Show me larger defaulted loans can be recovered. Show me borrowers and loan applications can be screened more effectively. Show me that valuations can be accurate. Until then I will watch, wait and see.
Lendy has also recently taken control of one of its larger loan projects (£10m loan) after it was deemed that the borrower couldn’t provide a viable solution to complete the project in the best interest of lenders. This is one of my biggest loan holdings through Lendy and whatever the outcome of this loan is, I do like the fact that Lendy is being proactive when it sees trouble brewing.
In case you missed it, I previously interviewed CEO Liam Brooke and Paul Riddell. You can watch the interview here.
What Is A Lendy?
Lendy is a peer to peer lending company that offers secured property bridging and development loans. A bridging loan is a short-term loan given to a property developer while they attempt to refinance while development loans are longer given to complete work whilst refinancing is sought. Lendy’s loans are given to the borrower at rates up to 1.5% per month. Bridging and development loans are common in the real estate investment world. All loans are secured by the property or land being loaned against, In the event of a loan default, Lendy attempts to sell the security in order to cover lenders capital and interest.
When Did Lendy Launch?
How Do I Sign Up?
Sign up for a Lendy account. (New customers receive £50 cashback on the investment of £1000 after three months of investing. This payment is made by Lendy and does not come from your investment. When you open an account through my website it helps me to continue to operate and offer reviews.)
Who Can Open An Account?
Any person 18 years or older who can pass the verification checks. Even U.S. citizens are welcome to apply!
What’s The Signup Process Like?
They run the usual i.d. checks with additional documental requirements if needed.
Are They Regulated?
Yes, by the Financial Conduct Authority #622666 under full permissions. Investments made through Lendy are not covered under the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). FCA regulation is nothing like the FSCS, which covers consumers when they deposit money in banks. The FCA reports to the UK government and has the ability to pursue criminal action against companies which violate its standards and codes of conduct.
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
What Investment Products Does Lendy Offer?
Lendy offers one lending product. Lending on bridging and development loans.
How Much Interest Does Lendy Pay Lenders?
Most loans pay 1% per month but return rates range from 9-12% per year. Lendy also pays bonuses on loans that are past their term date or in default.
Is Interest Paid Immediately Or When the Loan Starts?
On new loans as soon as the loan is drawn down, interest starts to accrue. On secondary market loans, interest begins from the moment you click the purchase button.
When Is Interest Paid?
First business day of each month
What Are The Fees?
No fees to lenders
How Much Time Is Needed Managing My Account and Investments?
Because bridging and development loans are higher risk and not all loans are of equal quality, I have to spend time performing due diligence. Some lenders spend very little time researching loans and prefer to diversify across as many loans as they can buy. This used to be my strategy when the secondary market was liquid but now, I buy loans planning on holding them until maturity. My new strategy is, unfortunately, more time-consuming.
I recommend the due diligence route on loans before investing because it only takes one mistake to learn a painful default lesson. Remeber however that all the research inthe world doesn’t guarantee a loan won’t run into trouble.
How Long Are The Loans?
3-12 months but loans are often extended or can be paid off early.
Why Are So Many Lendy Loans Past Due / Defaulted?
Loan defaults are the bad part of peer to peer lending. It’s normal to experience some defaults but Lendy has is dealing with a larger than normal amount. Currently, 40% of my loans are either past term or in default. While this situation is less than ideal, I’m interested to see how effective Lendy’s recovery process is.
Defaulted loans can happen for any number of reasons and even the best looking loans on paper can run into problems. Past due loans tend to be quite common in the property bridging lending world as developers often experience delays financing. If you’ve ever applied for a loan or for planning permission, you’ll know decision time frames can vary dramatically. Lendy often negotiates extended loan terms with borrowers and while this is occurring, some loans run past due.
Property developments often over-run projected time frames of development, refinancing and sale, hence the overdue loans. Other loans simply go bad and run into financial problems or management issues.
When considering peer to peer lending, remember that when a lender is being paid 12% interest, borrowers are paying much more than this because of the risk.
As of July 2018, approximately £44m of loans are in default. Several previous defaulted loans have been recovered which is encouraging. Also over £197m of loans have been repaid.
Ideally, Lendy wouldn’t have so many defaulted loans but this is the risky nature of high interest bridging loans. What will be important in the upcoming months is to see how efficiently the defaulted loans are handled. Customer confidence can quickly wane if defaulted loans aren’t handled appropriately.
What Security Does Lendy Loan Against?
All loans are secured against property or land. Lendy 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?
Company Failure: If Lendy 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 Borrower Rates / Lender Returns / Borrower Default: With high returns comes higher risk. Up to 12% annual returns to investors mean the borrower is paying 1.5%+ monthly. High borrowing rates mean the loans can be high risk and the risk of default is always present. Lendy 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 Lendy or its 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. Lendy has informed me that they carry valuation insurance which holds third parties liable if valuation mistakes are made. Valuations are often subjective, especially in regards to land, so I’m usually sceptical of the accuracy of valuations and look for loans with reasonable loan-to-values.
Underwriting Standards: If Lendy loosens its credit standards, defaults could rise substantially. Lenders place great amounts of trust in Lendy’s ability to provide lenders with quality loans. In the past, some lenders’ have expressed dissatisfaction because loans they perceived as unworthy were potentially offered on the platform and then withdrawn.
Property Market Downturn: The Brexit vote result triggered a secondary market loan glut as lenders became nervous about possible declines in property values. Lendy 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.
Sector Specific: Being heavy in the real estate sector is risky should a downturn occur. Defaults could increase and property values could fall.
Is There A Provision Fund?
Yes. The discretionary fund aims to hold a balance equal to 2% of the entire Lendy loan book total. The fund committee, made up of Lendy’s Directors, decide on when and if the fund is used to make up shortfalls on defaulted loans or late payments.
Am I Lending To Lendy Or To Borrowers?
All new loans are ring-fenced and some of the older loans are too (when Lendy deems it necessary). This means investors are lending directly to borrowers rather than to Lendy; good news for lenders.
What Happens If Lendy Goes Bust?
The consequences of a company failure would likely be devastating as there is no way to know if investors would be able to recoup their money. Lendy has provisions in place in case they ever ceased trading. Direct from Lendy’s website:
“If our platform were to fail or we and/or Lendy Security Holding become insolvent we would transfer our obligations under the Terms and the Loan Contract to a third party back up servicer, with whom we have entered into a back up servicing arrangement.”
Not much information on the website but the Lendy people have explained that third party companies are in place (as per FCA regulation) to wind down all loans if Lendy ceased trading. While a total loss is unlikely, don’t invest more than you are comfortable losing.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT LENDY:
High Paying Lender Returns
In the era of ultra low interest bank rates, 12% annual returns are attractive. Interest payments are made on the first business day of the month and can usually be reinvested in secondary market loans. Payments have been received on time.
On loans which go beyond the term and become designated as IA (Interest Accruing), lenders receive an interest rate bonus. This rewards lenders’ who are willing to take some extra risk on a loan that could be headed for default. Instead of being paid on the loan monthly, you will potentially receive the interest and bonuses after the loan is paid off or recovered. There is also a possibility you won’t receive the interest depending on the amount recovered. The secondary market shows the total monthly interest (including bonus) that a loan pays:
New Loan Prefunding
As more lenders joined Lendy, 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.
Lendy combatted the endless lender grumbles by introducing pre-funding on new loans. Pre-funding of new loans doesn’t require you to have the money in your account. After you receive your loan allocation, you must pay Lendy within 24 hours or they will release your allocation. This innovation 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. This is to prevent people from gaming the system and buying more than they need.
Here is how to set your pre-funding request from the Loans page:
Lendy now allows you to set your pre-funding separately for each interest rate they offer:
This pre-funding setting allows Lendy to gauge lender interest for the different loan types.
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:
|£ 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.
If lender demand is high, Lendy uses a bottom up pre-funding system for loans under £1m, where the smaller sum investors are allocated their pre-funding amounts before larger investors. Some readers have reported struggles trying to lend larger amounts of money due to the bottom up system, (see more in my dislike section).
Loan Repayment History
Lendy has a proven history of loan repayment. As of July 2018, £185m in loans have been repaid including a £7.92 million development loan that was repaid 21 days prior to maturation. While past results are no guarantee of the future, large loan repayments like this add to my investor confidence in Lendy’s operations.
Loan Status Clearly Displayed
On the available loans page, the status can be easily seen;
Here is what the abbreviations mean (You can also hover over the ? symbol for an explanation.):
IOA: Interest On Account
This is the interest paid upfront by the borrower to service the loans monthly interest payment. This means the loan is in good standing.
IA: Interest Accruing
Once a loan goes past its maturity date, it is designated as an IA loan. Interest accrues as a credit on lenders account but is not paid until it is recovered from the borrower through the disposal of the security. This means the loan is either in negotiation to be paid off or extended, or is on its way to defaulting. If you buy an IA loan on the secondary market, sometimes bonuses are offered which amount to a 50% extra interest. For example, if an IA designated loan pays 1% per month, an IA loan with a bonus would pay 1.5% per month.
Secondary Market For Buying
Lendy’s secondary market is very easy to use. Demand and supply heavily impact the way the secondary market behaves. For example, after the June 2016 Brexit vote, there was a glut of loans for sale but that phase quickly passed and by December 2016, there was barely any loans for sale.
The secondary market usually has loans for sale but has experienced a liquidity slow down since Lendy now requires lenders to have the funds in their accounts to buy secondary market loans. Since bank transfer deposits can take time, a loan piece may not be available by the time your money is credited to your account. Lendy has attempted to address the liquidity issue by offering bonuses interest rates on loans which are close to term or in default. I’m not sure this is having much of an impact on the liquidity of the secondary market so for now, I only buy loans I’m willing to hold it to the end. Previously, secondary market loans could be bought on good faith credit so the market was very liquid.
You can sell any amounts of your loan pieces for free. I’ve found that if I place a high demand loan piece for up sale, it usually sells quickly. Loans with high queue amounts (see below) can take weeks to sell.
In the past, many lenders bought more loans than they intended to keep and sold their unwanted parts on the secondary market when newer loans became available. Lendy has addressed this problem with 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 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 lenders:
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 for buying loans, but selling loans can be challenging if demand is low. If a property downturn or recession occurred, a mass exodus of investors could make loan exits impossible.
One downside to the secondary market is when you place a loan part for sale, you immediately stop receiving interest. If your loan part takes weeks or months to sell, you won’t receive any interest payments. I think this is a bit cheeky on Lendy’s part since they will still receive the interest payment. I think it’s better not to receive interest for a period of time than to be stuck with a bad loan.
An excellent feature is when you click to sell a loan part, there is loan queue amount displayed so you know how much is for sale before your parts will be sold:
This feature allows you to decided whether to sell your loan pieces or wait until the queue decreases.
All loans are secured by property at loan-to-values of less than 70%. Some loans are also secured by personal guarantees. In the event of a loan default, the security could be repossessed and hopefully sold to recover losses. While having security is good, it’s important to understand which security is good and which is questionable. For example, selling a farm or a piece of vacant land can be more difficult than selling a house. Also, the lower loan to value deals are only better if the valuations are accurate. There have been some RICS valuations that have been very optimistic however Lendy is addressing these issues.
Entire Loan Term Interest Payments Are Collected Upfront
For example, if a loan is given to a borrower for 12 months and the interest payments are £10,000 per month, £120,000 is collected from the borrower in advance. This ensures lenders can be paid for the full 12 months. It’s an extra level of security for lenders.
The Provision Fund
Love them or hate them, provision funds often 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. The fund aims to hold 2% of the Lendy total loan book. Lendy now publishes the fund amount but it’s not easy to find on their website. Thankfully I found it here.
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.
Lendy’s website is easy to navigate clearly displays all the information you need to manage and buy loans.
WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT LENDY:
Defaults are a natural part of peer to peer lending however, Lendy has more than most companies. While Lendy is attempting to address this issue, the high amounts of defaulted loans are concerning and don’t give me much confidence in investing my hard earned money through new loan offerings.
If you don’t have much time to do loan due diligence, it’s essential to diversify across many loans and not to be tempted to put too much money into any one loan.
Increasing Number Of Loans Are Past Term
An increasing number of loans are past their repayment due date but not in default. Again, not ideal situations but it’s not unusual for property refinancing to take longer than anticipated so extensions are provided as needed.
The Lower Paying Interest Rate Loans
Lendy has started offering lower return paying loans in the 7 to 10% range but these have proven to be less popular. I’m not sure these loans are less risky than the loans that pay 12% so I tend not to invest in them unless I’m sure the security is valued correctly. The lower paying loans are a direct result of increased lending competition between the different peer to peer lending companies.
Secondary Market For Selling
When you place a loan for sale on the secondary market, interest stops accruing immediately. This can be a drag on your returns if your loan takes weeks to sell, so keep this in mind if you are selling a loan which has a large queue.
Lendy 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 Lendy 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 high interest returns to investors means Lendy charges its borrowers up 1.5% per month. This increases the risk of default.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how risky peer to peer bridging lending really is but remember, 12% returns means higher risk.
Due Diligence And Research Time Is Needed To Identify The Good Loans
I highly recommend reading each loan valuation document and performing your own due diligence on loans. Researching the borrowers’ names and companies can uncover interesting information about past debt, bankruptcies and development experience. Unfortunately researching loans does take some time but it can help reduce your investment risk and is well worth the time.
When I first began investing in Lendy, the secondary market was a beautiful feature since you were able to buy and sell loans very easily. Now the need to have funds in your account and the high number of defaulted loans have dramatically slowed the secondary market for selling. Post Brexit loan supply has highlighted the reality of how lenders may not be able to sell loan pieces during economic changes. Lendy’s high levels of loan defaults remind me it’s essential not to be tempted to over-invest in any single loan. The key to Lendy (and every peer to peer platform) is due diligence and diversification.
I won’t be investing further funds into Lendy until I see the recovery results on my exisiting defaulted loans.
Lendy is a high-risk investment for anyone looking to lend money within the property bridging sector. 12% interest paying bridging and development loans are prone to defaults so don’t be surprised by this, especially during unstable economic times. Lendy lessens risk by including a discretionary provision fund, securing loans with property and collecting a full term of loan repayments in advance.
The website is easy to use and there is a secondary market to buy and sell loans although selling loans can take weeks depending on supply and demand. The loan pre-funding option saves you from having to constantly monitor the website to get a piece of the action.
I continue to remain invested through Lendy but the default situation is troubling but I’m still hopeful for recovery. I am exiting the loans I believe may be headed for future trouble.
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** This unbiased Lendy review is for information purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Opinions expressed in this Lendy 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. **