UK bank NatWest, which is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, is to launch an automated commercial real estate lending platform for small-scale loans, which it says will make credit-approved lending decisions within 45 minutes.
The new process covers all new applications for customers who want to borrow up to £2 million for commercial and residential investment and residential development. The platform is to be rolled out nationwide later this month following pilot schemes in Liverpool and London.
The bank said that subject to customers providing the necessary information on the asset or scheme in question, as well as the management team’s track record, they will receive a credit-approved decision at the end of a call that “should last no longer than 45 minutes”.
It added that approximately 1,500 to 2,000 transactions per year are expected across NatWest and RBS brands in line with previous years’ volumes. NatWest has appointed a panel of surveyors, including JLL and GVA, which have committed to a maximum 10-day turnaround for completing valuations. Customers will use their own solicitors in certain cases. The bank said that the process should allow borrowers to draw down funds in weeks rather than months.
“Historically, many of the processes involved in the property industry are the same for an SME or private investor looking to borrow against an uncomplicated, straightforward development or investment asset as they are for a corporate investor with far more bespoke and complex requirements,” explained Paul Coates, MD of real estate finance for NatWest.
“Throughout this process, our guiding principle was to take the pain out of property finance. We have spent the past six months stripping out anything in the process that is not vital to delivering an efficient service for customers while providing adequate protections for both parties. As we continue to streamline and simplify the process, we’ll be able to enhance its automated elements and eventually enable a fully digital-led process in the future,” Coates added.
The fast-track CRE lending platform forms part of a wider drive by NatWest to upgrade its digital offer. Earlier this year it launched a digital platform that allows SMEs to obtain unsecured loans of up to £150,000.