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A Developer's Guide to Non-Bank Financing in Australia

Explore the evolving landscape of real estate development financing in Australia, as major banks pivot from land loans to focusing on pre-sale completed projects. Discover the rise of private lending, its benefits, and key considerations for developers.

A Developer's Guide to Non-Bank Financing in Australia

In recent years, the landscape of real estate development in Australia has undergone significant shifts. With major banks pulling back from financing land purchases since 2020, a new financing model has emerged to fill the void: private lending. This development has introduced both opportunities and challenges for developers, reshaping strategies for project financing and risk management.


Understanding Private Lending

Private lending, offered by a diverse array of institutions including funds, families, and private entities, is increasingly becoming a vital resource for developers. This type of lending primarily focuses on developers in need of capital to acquire land and commence their projects. Unlike traditional bank loans, private loans have distinct characteristics, including interest rates ranging from 9% to 13% and application fees between 2% to 3%, contingent on the leverage and risk associated with the loan.


The advantage of private lending lies in its ability to provide developers with the necessary liquidity for initial stages of development. This includes covering costs related to planning approvals and design fees, thereby accelerating the commencement and progression of projects. However, the stakes are high; should the loan term expire without repayment, interest rates can soar to between 20% and 28%, markedly increasing financial strain and the risk of foreclosure.


Key Considerations for Developers

When navigating the realm of private lending, developers must be diligent in their selection of loan products. Critical factors include:

  • Loan Fund Background: Opting for lending institutions known for their stability and reputable standing is crucial.
  • Default Measures: A clear understanding of the lender's actions in default scenarios is essential.
  • Project Progress Management: Ensuring the timely progression of projects to avoid default risks is fundamental.


Strategies to Mitigate Potential Risks

To navigate the potential pitfalls of non-bank loans, developers can employ several strategies:

  • Refinance with Major Banks: By preparing detailed project timelines and securing necessary approvals and pre-sales, developers can position themselves to refinance with major banks, taking advantage of lower interest rates and more stable funding.
  • Negotiate Extension Clauses: Incorporating extension clauses in initial loan negotiations can provide additional security and flexibility, particularly in scenarios where project timelines extend beyond the original loan term.
  • Act Proactively: Engaging in discussions with current and potential lenders well before the end of the loan term can prevent rushed decisions and mitigate larger losses.


By understanding the nuances of private lending and adopting strategic risk management practices, developers can navigate the complexities of non-bank financing effectively. This ensures the continuous flow and success of development projects, marking a new era in the Australian real estate landscape.


As we witness the transformation of project financing, it's crucial for developers to stay informed and adaptable. For those navigating this evolving terrain, Smart Mortgage stands ready to provide expert guidance and support. Our team of experienced brokers can help you explore your financing options, ensuring your projects not only commence but thrive. Contact us today to learn how we can assist in turning your development visions into reality.

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