PROPERTY DEBT

Risk Mitigation Strategies for Property-Backed Lending in the Australian Market

It's imperative for responsible lenders to implement robust risk-mitigation strategies to protect both their investment and the interests of borrowers. These strategies encompass a range of measures, but the following six are essential in the Australian market.

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In the current economic landscape, marked by rising interest rates, inflationary pressures, and fluctuations in the equities markets, savvy investors may seek to recalibrate their portfolios in favour of interest-bearing instruments. In this context, property-backed lending can offer investors a viable avenue for risk-adjusted returns, particularly when employing floating interest rates that aim to provide stable returns above the cash rate.

However, it's imperative for responsible lenders to implement robust risk-mitigation strategies to protect both their investment and the interests of borrowers. These strategies encompass a range of measures, but the following six are essential in the Australian market:

1. Security

Lenders can secure loans against 1st ranking registered mortgages over bricks and mortar property and set loan-to-value ratios (LVRs) with regard to the value estimated by a recognized valuer and liquidity of the property. By ensuring that the loan amount is a reasonable percentage of the property's value, lenders can mitigate the risk of default. Additionally, conducting thorough due diligence on the property's title, valuation, and market conditions can further enhance the security of the investment.

2. Deal Structure

Lenders can reduce vulnerability to dramatic shifts in interest rates and property values by offering short-term facilities. Moreover, loan servicing risks can be minimised by capitalising the interest payments for the entire credit term, withholding the corresponding amount at settlement, and allocating it to the interest reserve. This approach can provide a buffer against potential cash flow challenges for borrowers and enhance the overall stability of the lending arrangement.

3. Exit Strategy

An integral part of property-backed lending involves working with the borrower on a well devised exit strategy, which would typically include refinance of the loan or the sale of underlying property assets. Best practise for lenders is to navigate and manage risks associated with the source of repayment throughout the credit facility's life cycle.

4. Diversification

Diversifying the property-backed lending portfolio across different types of properties and geographic locations can help mitigate risk. By spreading the loan exposure across various property types such as residential, commercial, and industrial, as well as across different regions, lenders can reduce the impact of localized market downturns or specific property sector weaknesses. This diversification strategy can help safeguard the portfolio against the adverse effects of a downturn in any single market segment or region.

5. Risk Assessment and Underwriting Standards

Implementing rigorous risk assessment and underwriting standards is crucial for mitigating risk in property-backed lending. Lenders should conduct thorough credit assessments to evaluate the borrower's financial position, credit history, and ability to service the loan. Additionally, stress testing the loan under various scenarios, such as interest rate increases or property value declines, can provide valuable insights into the resilience of the loan portfolio. By adhering to strict underwriting standards, lenders can minimize the risk of default and ensure that loans are granted to creditworthy borrowers with the capacity to repay.

6. Transparency and Communication

Effective communication and transparency with borrowers are vital in mitigating risk. Clear and transparent communication regarding the terms of the loan, including interest rates, fees, and potential risks, helps manage borrowers' expectations and reduces the likelihood of disputes or misunderstandings. Moreover, providing regular updates on market conditions, property valuations, and the performance of the loan portfolio can help foster trust and confidence.

In conclusion, property-backed lending presents an attractive opportunity for investors seeking stable returns in the current economic environment. However, the implementation of robust risk-mitigation strategies is essential to safeguard investments and ensure the sustainability of the lending market. By prioritizing security, diversification, rigorous risk assessment and underwriting standards, and transparent communication, lenders can effectively mitigate the inherent risks associated with property-backed lending in the Australian market.

Elizabeth Dinh

Director of Property Debt


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Aura Group subsidiaries issuing this information include Aura Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd (Registration No. 201537140R) which is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a holder of a Capital Markets Services Licence, and Aura Capital Pty Ltd (ACN 143 700 887) Australian Financial Services Licence 366230 holder in Australia.

 

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