Interview: Fairfax on the catalyst for moving from specialist broker to lender

Fairfax-Chris-2017Head of new specialist lender Catalyst Property Finance Chris Fairfax has announced how his new venture will be different from others in the sector.

Fairfax, former head of the specialist desk at distribution and packing business Positive Lending, told Mortgage Strategy that Catalyst will consider higher levels of risk than most other bridging lenders, with bespoke pricing for every loan.

Fairfax (pictured) said: “During my time at Positive, I brokered about £1bn in bridging loans so I have plenty of broker experience. There are a few frustrations as a broker I thought we could fix in bridging lending.

“While most lenders will lend up to loan-to-values of 75 per cent, Catalyst will lend to 80 per cent LTV on a first charge basis on projects with a viable exit strategy. We’re very transaction driven and don’t have a pricing matrix like most other lenders. Instead we offer a bespoke pricing for every single loan underpinned by its risk. Our approach is not unique but it’s not the norm in the industry either.”

Catalyst recently expanded its distribution to all intermediaries across England and Wales following a pilot last year. The lender has a funding line from a mainstream UK bank, a regulated asset manager and from a handful of significant high net worth individuals.

The business is run completely separately to Positive Lending. Fairfax stepped down from running the day-to-day business of Positive Lending in March 2017 but remains a shareholder. His business partner Paul McGonigle runs Positive Lending, and is also a shareholder in Catalyst.

Fairfax said: “Most lenders are cautious about commercial lending but we will lend on higher levels of risk, all types of property and all levels of refurb. As well as the LTV, we base pricing on the work being done, the liquidity of the borrower, their credit profile, their income and what their options will be if they can’t sell the property. The risk isn’t just about the LTV – and I think its advantageous to look at it that way.”

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