Dennis Toomey
July 2024
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How Does Real Estate Crowdfunding Work?

If you’d like to be involved in real estate investing, it’s a bit of a tricky time right now. Traditional methods of investing in real estate aren’t necessarily going to make a lot of financial sense during a time when interest rates are incredibly high and might even rise from here, inventory is low, there’s significant economic uncertainty, and prices are still elevated.

That doesn’t mean you have to count yourself out of real estate investing. Instead, you might just have to shift your strategy.

One option that people are increasingly considering is real estate crowdfunding, which makes investing in real estate more accessible.

You might already have some familiarity with the term crowdfunding, as it’s often used to raise money to create businesses or for charitable causes.

Now, however, you can become a real estate investor using crowdfunding, especially if you can’t afford to buy an entire property. Instead, you’re pooling your resources, meaning you can invest with a lot less money than you could otherwise, plus you have less responsibility—none in fact, beyond putting in your initial investment.

With real estate crowdfunding, money is raised for real property ventures, as well as for raw land and other types of investments. This can include hotels, apartment buildings, and offices. It’s a passive real estate investment because the individual investors aren’t involved in managing the property. Instead, the company backing the venture is the one that does that.

You get income from rent once your property hits the market, and if it’s sold, you get a share of the profits.

You can connect with crowdfunding via real estate investment platforms, intermediaries, or marketplaces. They connect investors with developers and companies who need funds for a project, and it’s like investing in an ETF in many ways.

The rules and specifics depend on the platform you’re using.

Most require that you’re at least 18 years old, and you might not have to be a U.S. resident, but the platform may require you to have a bank account in the U.S.

There are limits imposed by the SEC on how much you can invest annually. If your net worth or annual income is below $107,000, your investment is limited to either 5% of your income or worth, or $2,000, whichever is the greater of the two, during any 12 months.

If you make more than $107,000 a year or have a net worth of more than that amount, you can invest up to that total or 10% of your annual income—it’s the lesser of the two.

Some projects and platforms limit their offerings only to accredited investors, who are high-net-worth individuals or people with a lot of experience in investing.

Platforms that facilitate real estate crowdfunding are a collection between investors and real estate companies, but some will offer more extensive account services similar to a brokerage. The platform will outline the projects, deal with regulatory issues, and collect investment money for the sponsor. The sponsor is the real estate company that needs funding. You’ll pay a fee for this service.

Fundrise is one of the more well-known real estate crowdfunding platforms. You can start with just $10, making it appealing to a wide variety of investors. You can then choose your account tier, and your fees are based on how much you invest. Compared to similar platforms, Fundrise boasts a pretty low advisory fee.

Another option is Yieldstreet, which offers crowdfunding investments in real estate, art, and venture capital.

With crowdfunding real estate investments, the pros include the ability to invest small amounts of money, and you can diversify your portfolio. The cons are the limits on how much you can invest on an annual basis and the fact that a lot of the platforms and companies that offer these services are pretty new, so they don’t have a very long track record you can look at.

Another issue you should be aware of is that your investment might not be liquid, and it’s hard to divest these funds, and you will not likely see a fast return on your money.

Even in the current environment, crowdfunding real estate can be a lower risk way to put your money into real estate when you might not otherwise be able to afford to.

Finally, an alternative to this approach is investing in a real estate investment trust or a REIT. This is also a passive form of real estate investing. REITs own, operate, or manage real estate properties. When you invest in one, you’re putting your money in a basket of properties instead of buying or investing in a single property. Many of these are public and traded on exchanges similar to stocks, so you might get more liquidity with this approach compared to real estate crowdfunding.

Dennis Toomey
E-mail: [email protected]

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