A New Mortgage Tech Startup

Privlo, a non-QM mortgage startup backed by Spark Capital and QED Investors, just launched in its home state of California where a growing self-employed workforce is increasingly locked out of homeownership by traditional banks. Privlo’s mortgage platform takes in a far wider range of credit criteria and unique documentation than traditional lenders to assess high quality borrowers with complicated incomes or financial histories. These segments include small business owners, entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals and seasonal or commissioned workers with spiky incomes. Where banks may shy away from strong applicants who can’t prove financial ability with simple tax returns or W2s, Privlo works with them to sort through the complexity and find a truer measure of their creditworthiness.

In a state where 1 in 6 people in the workforce are either self-employed or small business owners, traditional lending standards are creating an imbalance. “More than 90% of California’s small businesses are sole proprietorships, and it’s no secret that many in this group are totally capable of taking on a mortgage but simply can’t get approved. There’s pent up demand in every state we’ve launched, but we expect California to exceed anything we’ve seen so far,” says Privlo’s Chief Credit & Product Officer Saro Vasudevan. California cities like Berkeley and Santa Monica lead the nation, hovering around 22% self-employment and reflecting the state’s entrepreneurial and contract-based industries like entertainment and technology.

The company, which also specializes in people who have had a single negative credit event, provides mortgages to highly qualified applicants who may have a bankruptcy or foreclosure as recent as a year old, and a short sale 6 months or older. This is compared to the general standard of two years or more among traditional lenders.

“We retain lifetime interest in every loan we make so we’re still quite selective. When we look past things like uneven income, we’re finding really qualified people, some even with credit scores in the high 700s with great financial capability,” says Privlo Founder and CEO Michael Slavin. “What we’re doing is more of a mind shift if you think about it. If you live here in California, you’re probably blazing your own path in one way or another. Traditional careers are becoming a thing of the past and we believe in embracing people and their entire financial picture, however complex it is, rather than devaluing their true financial ability.”

The company expects most self-employed Californians who will qualify for home loans, or “Privloans” as they are called, to come from consumer-facing industries such as entertainment, tech, food and beverage, hospitality, and health care services – sectors with variable income that make them unattractive to traditional mortgage lenders, but an ideal fit for Privlo.

About The Author

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Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.