Peer to Peer Real Estate Investing for Accredited and Non-Accredited Investors
At some point in your life you’ve probably heard that real estate is a good investment. The problem is that the average individual is unlikely to have the capital required to purchase multiple properties on their own. But what if you could partner with dozens or hundreds of other investors to buy a portfolio of real estate projects and share the profits?
That’s the basic idea behind peer-to-peer real estate investing. Today there are several platforms that allow both accredited and non-accredited investors an easy way to put their money into real estate. Before we look at specific P2P platforms for real estate, let’s take a look at the benefits of real estate crowdfunding on the whole.
How Does Peer to Peer Real Estate Investing Work?
What is Real Estate Crowdfunding?
Peer-to-peer real estate investing or real estate crowdfunding allows individuals to put their money into a variety of properties without spending a fortune. Instead, several investors can put their cash into a portfolio of properties and earn a portion of the profits generated. This allows smaller investors to take advantage of real estate booms without needing to purchase or manage their own properties.
While various real estate crowdfunding platforms may employ slightly different models, the underlying ideas are fairly similar. Therefore, prospective investors may want to explore a few different options and make their decision based on their amount of available funds, investment goals, ability to put their money into specific projects, and other such factors.
What are the benefits of peer-to-peer real estate investing?
There are several reasons why the concept of crowdfunding real estate investments has taken off in recent years. For one, in many cases, the minimum amounts you’ll need to put in upfront are far lower than they would be if you were a part of a private real estate group or buying properties yourself.
Moreover, the portfolios that many of these platforms offer provide you with diversification, which helps reduce risk. So while seasoned real estate investors may prefer a more hands-on experience, those looking for an introduction to the medium may prefer to start their journey here.
Another major benefit to real estate crowdfunding versus buying your own property involves management. Typically, buying a house, multiple-unit dwelling, or commercial property to rent would come with all of the headaches of being a landlord — including finding tenants, collecting rent, making repairs, etc. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer real estate investors won’t have to worry about any of these hassles. However, various platforms and REITs will typically charge investors an annual management fee.
What are the risks of real estate crowdfunding?
Since real estate and rentals are at the core of peer-to-peer real estate investing, they are susceptible to shifts in the market. A prime example of this is the recent COVID-19 pandemic. With many businesses closing due to COVID’s economic impact, some projects or platforms may have found themselves without tenants. These losses then go on to affect individual investors. That said, this example could also be looked as another “pro” for crowdfunding as there’s greater diversification compared to purchasing a single property.
A real estate investment trust or “REIT” is not a new concept nor are they exclusive to online platforms. In fact there are several publicly traded REITs investors may consider. However many peer-to-peer platforms do utilize their own versions of REITs, these can differ from the traditional versions in that they are not publicly traded and remain proprietary to their respective sites.
Accredited investors vs. non-accredited investors
One major thing to consider when looking at peer-to-peer real estate investment and real estate crowdfunding platforms is whether or not they accept non-accredited investors. To become an accredited investor, you’ll need to either have an income of more than $200,000 for at least the past two years or have a net worth of more than $1 million, excluding the value of your primary residence. In other words, you must prove you have the means to invest large amounts.
While several real estate investor platforms are limited to accredited investors, there are a few that are open to smaller investors as well. Let’s take a look at platforms in both categories:
Real Estate Platforms Open to Non-Accredited Investors
Launched in 2012, Fundrise is among the most well-known crowdfunding real estate investment platforms. Perhaps that’s because the site allows both accredited and non-accredited investors to participate. In fact the company allows investors to get started with as little as $10.
Fundrise now offers five plan levels: Starter, Basic, Core, Advanced, and Premium. At the Core level ($5,000 minimum investment), there are also three types of plans that investors can choose from based on their goals. These include Fixed Income, Core Plus, Value Add, and Opportunistic.
Fundrise allows users to invest via what they call eREITs as well as eFunds. They explain, “eREITs and eFunds are the limited liability companies that hold the real estate projects in your Fundrise portfolio. When you invest, you are actually buying shares of these companies, allowing you to diversify into many properties efficiently and at a low cost.” Each Core Plan holds a different mix of eREITs. For example the Core Plus plan currently contains several projects, including:
- A new 330-unit apartment unit community near Austin, Texas
- An acquired 120 unit single family rental community in suburban Houston, TX
- A 376-unit luxury apartment community in Las Vegas
- And more
Another popular platform is Realty Mogul. Like Fundrise, the platform utilizes its own REITs for non-accredited investors. Currently there are several REITs open to investors, open for pledges, or waitlisted.
While both the RealtyMogul Income REIT and RealtyMogul Apartment Growth REIT have minimum investments of $5,000 (with the option to invest additional increments of $1,000), minimums for other investments vary. Also notable is that the Income REIT offers monthly distributions while the Apartment Growth REIT’s are quarterly.
For each REIT, investors can view a list of past and current properties that make up the portfolio. These properties span the United States and can include different types of real estate. In the case of RealtyMogul Income REIT, these property types include:
- Multi-family buildings
- Office spaces
- Retail locations
Notably, although the main Realty Mogul REITs are open to non-accredited investors, the platform does also offer private placements via their platform. However this aspect of the site is only available to accredited investors.
Another platform that’s open to non-accredited investors is Streitwise (note the “REIT” in the spelling). Currently, Streitwise is offering a single REIT called the 1st Streit Office Inc. Properties included in this lot are The Panera Bread HQ in Saint Louis, Missouri and a mixed use development in Carmel, Indiana. According to the site, this public, non-traded REIT is targeting an 8-9% dividend rate for 2021.
To get started with Streitwise, investors will need to purchase a minimum of 500 shares (this was previously 250). With a current price per share of $10.19, this equates to a minimum of $5,095. Once invested, you can increase your position in $500 increments.
Upon first landing at Republic.co, it might not strike you as a real estate site — but that’s for a simple reason: it’s not. Instead, the platform now hosts several different types of crowdfunding projects, from startups to crypto and even video games. Nevertheless, real estate projects are indeed among those featured on Republic, mostly thanks to the company’s acquisition of Compound last year.
On Republic, you’ll find a variety of properties seeking investment. While the platform itself allows for minimum investments of $10, each listing can retain its own minimum.
Some current listings found on Republic include:
- An eco-housing and social club for mindful living
- North Carolina beach houses
- Condominiums in Mexico City (already fully funded)
- A 336-unit, value-add multifamily property near downtown Winston-Salem (already fully funded)
Ultimately, while Republic may not be a dedicated P2P real estate platform, those interested in the concept may still find projects to invest in using the service.
Groundfloor is another platform with a super low minimum investment: $10. However, what makes the platform a bit different is that investors are purchasing a piece of short-term, high-yield real estate debt. In that aspect, the platform is most comparable to a peer to peer loan platform, such as LendingClub. Furthermore, investors can view loans and details such as rate, remaining term, and more, allowing them to select which loans to invest in. To date, Groundfloor has collected more than $12.6 million in interest with actual returns coming in at 10.5%.
According to Groundfloor’s FAQ, loans must be fully funded within 45 days in order to close. Otherwise, investors will see their money refunded along with any interest earned. On that note, interest begins accruing from the date of a user’s initial investment through the loans repayment. However, while Groundfloor notes that monthly interest loans do pay monthly, “There will be a lag between your initial investment and your first monthly interest payment.” For example, a monthly interest loan that fully funds in January will disburse its first monthly interest payment to investors in March.
Formerly known as Rich Uncles, Modiv was a platform that managed its own private REITs consisting of several properties. However, the company has since made a shift and taken its REITs public. Thus, Modiv is no longer a true crowdfunded real estate site, but deserved mention nonetheless. By the way, we’ll talk more about public REIT investing below.
Platforms For Accredited Investors Only
With CrowdStreet, accredited investors can choose to invest directly in projects featured in their Marketplace or opt for greater diversification by investing in a fund. In either case, investment minimums are typically $25,000 but can go up to $100,000 depending on the offering. Additionally, the site offers custom-built portfolios. These Private Managed Accounts require a minimum account balance of $250,000 and charge a percentage-based account fee that varies depending on the size of the investment.
According to their site, CrowdStreet projects have seen an 18.2% internal rate of return based on the past performance of fully realized deals, with deals resulting in more than $197 million being distributed to investors.
While the vast majority of projects on CrowdStreet are only available to accredited investors, the site does note that they’ve had two offerings open to non-accredited investors since 2014. CrowdStreet also includes a filter on their Marketplace where non-accredited investors can see which if any deals are open to them. However, as of April 2021, all open and upcoming offerings are limited to accredited investors only.
Some of the current properties on CrowdStreet include:
- A two-building tech center in Colorado
- An industrial cannabis facility in Perris, California
- A multi-family apartment complex in Houston, Texas
- An office building in downtown Orlando, Florida
- Many more
Another growing real estate crowdfunding option is EquityMultiple. The platform allows accredited investors to invest as little as $5,000 in professionally managed real estate. For that minimum, clients can participate in the first of the platform’s three “investment approaches,” Savings Alternative, which features short-term, diversified notes with zero fees. Meanwhile, the Direct Investing (including Debt, Preferred Equity, and Common Equity) has an investment minimum of $10,000 and the Fund Investing strategy (which includes Debt, Equity, Opportunity Funds, and CRE Securities) has a minimum of $20,000.
According to their site, EquityMultiple’s historical rate of return has been 17.4% (as of December 31st, 2021). As for their portfolio, EquityMultiple currently holds a number of different property types. These range from a “cash-flowing” Sheraton hotel in McKinney, Texas to a newly completed condo complex in Brooklyn, New York.
Patch of Land
Of all the platforms on this list, Patch of Land perhaps best fits the “peer to peer” title — although they actually describe their service as Peer-to-Real-Estate or P2RE. Like marketplace lending platforms such as LendingClub, Patch of Land matches investors with borrowers funding specific projects. These projects are pre-vetted by Patch of Land before being listed for investments.
According to their site, investors must put at least $5,000 toward each loan they choose. They also note that loans have short terms of 30 days to 36 months, after which investors can withdraw their funds or find new projects to roll their money into. In terms of returns, Patch of Land says investors can earn “up to 12% in as little as 12 months.”
PeerStreet is somewhat similar to Patch of Land, allowing individuals the opportunity to invest in real estate-backed loans. However their minimum per loan is lower at just $1,000. Plus, as of earlier this year, users can automatically reinvest as little as $100 (down from $1,000).
One area where PeerStreet tries to stand out is in the quality of investments they list. On their site they note that their “team of finance and real estate experts underwrites each loan using advanced algorithms, big data analytics and manual processes” to ensure this. The majority of loans on PeerStreet have terms between six and 24 months. On their site, they note example returns of 6% to 9% over 12 months.
Alternatives to Peer to Peer Real Estate Investing
If none of these crowdfunding sites sounds right for you, there is always the option of purchasing shares of publicly traded REITs. Currently, dozens of public REITs can be purchased and traded just like stocks. What’s nice about this strategy is that you can typically purchase shares using an existing brokerage account. Additionally, there are no minimum share purchase requirements, allowing you to “dip your toes” into an investment before diving in.
Another potential alternative to peer-to-peer real estate crowdfunding or investing in specific REITs is to purchase shares of REIT ETFs. Just as REITs often consist of multiple projects, REIT ETFs are comprised of multiple REITs. Two popular options in this category are the Vanguard Real Estate ETF ($VNQ) as well as the Charles Schwab US REIT ETF ($SCHH). Granted, purchasing these ETFs is a few steps removed from owning a piece of actual property, but the benefits of this strategy are increased diversification as well as even lower investment minimums.
Final Thoughts on Peer-to-Peer Real Estate Investing
Whether you want to explore the possibilities of real estate investing, diversify your portfolio, or just try something new, peer-to-peer real estate investment platforms may be a good option. Although some of these sites are limited to accredited investors, there are still ways that non-accredited investors can dip their toes into the world of real estate. Regardless of which platform you ultimately choose, just be sure to do your due diligence, choose your investments carefully, and of course only invest money you can afford to lose.
Real estate crowdfunding is where several individual investors pool their funds (usually via a third-party platform) to purchase available real estate properties or a portfolio of properties. Then, each investor can share in any profits such as rental income generated from these properties, minus any management fees and other expenses.
Typically, a real estate crowdfunding platform will either list specific properties that investors can purchase a portion of or offer a portfolio of properties in the form of REITs (real estate investment trust) or similar proprietary options. Each platform will also pay out dividends to investors via different methods based on the investor’s goals, preferences, and other factors.
Various real estate crowdfunding platforms have their own minimum investment requirements, with some also being limited to “accredited investors” only. However, some platforms offer investments as low as a few hundred dollars, which can be used to purchase a portion of a property/project, REIT, or similar investment.
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Also published on Medium.