Funding Circle, an online marketplace for business loans, has hired Barclays Business commercial director Luke Jooste to head up its move into the property finance arena.
Last month Funding Circle closed a $37 million financing round, promising to use some of the money to expand the types of loans it facilitates.
With the UK property market finally showing signs of recovery but smaller developers still finding credit hard to come by, the start-up has brought in Jooste to exploit what it hopes will be a gap in the market.
Jooste joined Barclays in 2008 as the credit crunch hit, working in real estate finance and becoming commercial director of Barclays Business a year ago.
Speaking to the Funding Circle blog, Jooste says: "There is general consensus across the board that the UK real estate market is improving, and we must be able to service borrowers who need finance as well as investors that are looking to get into this popular asset class."
He insists that the firm "won't be naive" about how it approaches the potentially risky sector but argues that it has an advantage because, as a P2P lender, it doesn't have the legacy in real estate finance that the banks do.
Samir Desai, CEO, Funding Circle, add: "Given the pent up demand, particularly by small and medium sized developers, we think there is a real opportunity in the market and plan to be a significant player going forward."
With Jooste onboard to lead its property efforts, Funding Circle has hinted that it could move into other areas, such as asset finance, in the near future. The firm is also expanding into the US through a merger deal with local player Endurance Lending Network.