New app by UOB, SoReal helps SMEs buy commercial properties faster

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SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may now be able to invest in and get loans for commercial properties quicker, with a new mobile app by United Overseas Bank (UOB) and property portal SoReal Prop.

SMEs can search and get valuations for properties like offices and warehouses on the RealCommercial mobile app, which provides listings from SoReal, an online property platform founded by ERA Realty, Huttons Asia and PropNex Realty last year.

"From our experience in helping SMEs purchase their ideal commercial property, we know they want certainty and speed in the process," said Mervyn Koh, UOB's Singapore country head of business banking. "This means not having mismatched expectations in the property's valuation or the loan quantum, both of which could lead to the SME not being able to secure their desired property."

UOB said its digital valuation service provides SMEs with a bank-backed valuation for their loan application in less a minute, shortening a process which can take up to seven days currently.

Business owners can also view the loan quantum they qualify for on the app, based on their average monthly cash flow or affordability.

One in two businesses plan to invest in fixed assets including buildings and factory premises, according to UOB's survey of over 500 decision makers in senior management roles at SMEs about their planned investments for this year.

Commercial properties are also seeing burgeoning investor interest of late, thanks to their stable income and higher rents. Commercial deals hit S$3.5 billion in the second quarter of this year, making up 52 per cent of total real estate investment sales, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report in July.

In addition, prices are riding on the expectation that yield-hungry investors will be diverted from the bond market to the commercial property market due to the widening yield spread, Cushman & Wakefield had said.

UOB and SoReal said their commercial property solution, featuring a bank-backed valuation, is the first in Singapore. Individual buyers can also use the app to view listings but they will have to apply for loans separately.

The other local banks currently only have property portals for those buying residential properties, with OCBC's OneAdvisor Home and the DBS Property Marketplace.

OCBC said it is not looking at listing commercial properties within its platform, while a DBS spokesperson also said there are no plans to include commercial properties at the moment.

However, DBS is "exploring opportunities" to build on its existing marketplace offerings, the spokesperson said.


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