EstateGuru is normally associated with real estate development loans, but a new campaign launched by the company across the Baltics aims to raise awareness of its business loan product.
To find out about the campaign, how EstateGuru’s business loans work and what needs they serve in the market, we sat down with Pavel Artamonov who is a loan manager in Estonia and knows the market very well.
Q: Are EstateGuru business loans a new product?
Pavel Artamonov: Not at all. It is something we have been offering from almost day one, but we felt that not many people were aware of it. We are usually associated with real estate developers, and while that remains our core business, our investors are happy to back any quality loan with a good collateral property.
Q: Do you see a need in the market for these type of loans?
PA: Oh yes! In times of crisis, as we have just experienced, small and medium enterprises are the first to suffer and are also the types of business that have the most trouble securing credit from traditional financial institutions. Our loans start from €20 000 which is often below the amount a bank would be interested in, especially when the business is fairly new. In addition, banks generally don’t like lending money against real estate as collateral, and that is our core business.
Q: Can you explain how that works?
PA: It’s quite simple really. A loan can be taken against any real estate, whether it be business premises, a private home, an apartment used for rental income, office space or even warehousing and land plots. Our risk team will analyze the business and the proposed collateral and, based on their findings, we will offer the applicant a loan amount and an interest rate. We never lend more than 75% loan to value of the collateral, and interest rates start at 8%.
Q: Do you see yourselves as competing with the banks?
PA: No, we actually see our services as complementary to those offered by banks. In fact, a large percentage of our borrowers repay their loans precisely because they have secured a bank loan by improving the profitability of their business thanks to the original EstateGuru loan.
Q: So why do they not simply borrow from the banks at the start?
PA: EstateGuru offers several advantages over traditional financial solutions that make us attractive to borrowers. I think the most important of all is our speed. Securing a bank loan can take weeks, even months and requires a lot of admin. Our system is digitized and our application process allows borrowers to secure funds in as little as three days after their initial application. Imagine you’re a real estate developer and a property goes on auction that you know is the perfect opportunity for your business. You simply don’t have the wiggle room to wait weeks for your loan to be approved, as you’ll miss the opportunity. There are many businesses in many fields that are unable to take advantage of short-notice opportunities due to an inability to secure fast credit. We serve this need perfectly.
Secondly, we are extremely flexible when it comes to repayment terms. The borrower can choose to repay the loan in regular instalments over the loan term (annuity), by paying only the interest and then the principal in one chunk at the end of the loan period (bullet) or paying interest and principal in one go at the end of the term (full bullet). We also don’t apply any penalties for early repayment.
Thirdly, as real estate experts, we are uniquely positioned to loan against property as collateral. We understand the business completely and our aim is to be as supportive as possible to entrepreneurs and SMEs. Where many traditional financial institutions take an adversarial approach to loan applicants, our philosophy is that we are here to help and support. The success of this is borne out by the large number of repeat borrowers we see returning to EstateGuru.
Q: Thanks for your time.