PRS Invest is borne out of my own frustration with the unfairness that I see in the property market. For all the people who cannot afford to buy their own house, I want them to get a better deal. I want them to enjoy the same standard of living as those who are fortunate enough to be on the property ladder. I want them to live somewhere that genuinely feels like ‘home’.
This is only achievable by developing housing that truly meets the needs of the local community – housing that is of a high enough standard for people to be proud to live there, and affordable enough for them to stay long term. But this can only be done by providing a top-quality management service for people from the moment they move in.
PRS Invest is basically a 360° solution to the problem of a poor quality of life when people are forced into the rental sector because of unaffordable house prices. Our model is simple: we acquire developments with the specific purpose of operating them as rental properties. Once the developments are complete, we manage the day-to-day running of the building for every tenant through our property management arm, Gridizen.
This means that, from the very beginning of a development, there can be joined-up thinking to ensure all tenants have a good living experience, rather than the current status quo of tenants living in soulless new-build developments where there is no emphasis on community.
More often than not, the commercial focus of a development is simply on the housebuilders selling their units to whoever can afford them, and increasingly, the only people who can afford them are professional buy-to-let landlords. The haphazard nature of ownership means no one person or organisation is truly responsible for the needs of the community as a whole. PRS Invest and Gridizen intend to change this.
The Ethical Crowd is an alternative method of lending and borrowing that bypasses the conventional structure of banking. Through being connected directly, both parties have the opportunity to get a better deal, because they are not subject to banking fees and the constraints of the wider marketplace.
It is a shariya-compliant lending structure, based on the philosophy of crowdfunding, and is the only one of its kind in Europe. For both muslims and non-muslims it will provide a means of making a good return from their savings – significantly better than the rates on offer from banks. Borrowers will get a better deal too, because lenders will have to compete with each other in order to win business. But this is all done automatically – the system simply connects borrowers with the lender who has the most competitive rate.
The Ethical Crowd will also provide a means for lending to SMEs, similar to the Merchant Cash Advance model that is already very popular in the US. Quite simply, loan repayments are calculated as a percentage of each month’s credit/debit card revenue, so the business has the peace of mind that it will not be tied to unaffordable repayments in a quiet month.
For too long, the process of lending has been controlled by a cartel of banks and financial institutions who have made no effort to give borrowers a better deal, even in a booming marketplace. Historically, the process has been biased in favour of the multi-national lenders, but now The Ethical Crowd provides an opportunity for borrowers and independent lenders to trade on an equal footing.