Customers looking to borrow up to £2m will receive a credit-approved decision in as little as 45 minutes. All new applications for commercial and residential investment and residential development funding up to £2m will be covered by this process. The new process will provide customers with clarity and certainty, while enabling them to draw down their funds in a matter of weeks rather than months, allowing them more time to focus on their core business

NatWest is set to roll out a new automated lending process for commercial real estate developers and investors who are looking to borrow up to £2m which will give them a credit-approved decision in as little as 45 minutes. The new model is set to be introduced nationwide later this month following a successful pilot in Liverpool and London.

The new process covers all new applications for customers who want to borrow up to £2m for commercial and residential investment and residential development.

Subject to the customer providing the necessary information on the asset or scheme in question as well as the management team’s track record, they will receive a credit-approved decision at the end of a call that should last no longer than 45 minutes.

To further improve efficiencies in the end to end process, NatWest has appointed a small panel of national surveying firms that have committed to a maximum 10 day turnaround for completing valuations. Additionally, part of the new process will see customers using their own solicitors in certain circumstances. As a result, customers will be able to draw down their funds in a matter of weeks rather than months, as is the norm in the property industry.

Michelle Andrew, NatWest’s South East Regional Director for Real Estate Finance, said: “We are determined to provide our customers with a better and more efficient service that will in turn provide them with a greater level of clarity and certainty for their development or investment plans.

“Historically, many of the processes involved in the property industry are the same for an SME or private investor looking to borrow against an uncomplicated, straightforward development or investment asset as they are for a corporate investor with far more bespoke and complex requirements.

“Throughout this process, our guiding principle was to take the pain out of property finance. We have spent the past six months stripping out anything in the process that is not vital to delivering an efficient service for customers while providing adequate protections for both parties. As we continue to streamline and simplify the process, we’ll be able to enhance its automated elements and eventually enable a fully digital-led process in the future.

“We believe that by giving our customers a same day, credit-approved decision, they can focus on what they do best – investing in and building the homes we need, the offices we work in and the places where we relax and play.”

The launch of the new commercial real estate lending process forms part of the bank’s wider innovation and digital agenda. It follows the launch earlier this year of Esme, a new digital platform that allows small and medium sized businesses to quickly obtain unsecured loans of up to £150,000. NatWest has also introduced a new online lending platform which will allow SMEs to borrow up to £35,000 in a process which takes around three minutes. Last December, the bank launched Nift, a software platform that makes T&Cs easier for customers to read and understand.

Over the next five years, NatWest is also investing £70m to give non-personal banking customers the best digital experience. The New Bankline will give customers a more intuitive, secure and efficient environment to work in. It will reduce the number of steps needed to complete a payment and will automatically compare and show customers the cheapest payment method.