Real estate is one of the best asset classes to build long term wealth. As an owner of five properties (3 in San Francisco, 1 in Lake Tahoe, 1 in Honolulu), I’ve seen my net worth soar over the past 15 years as my principal values and rents have increased far beyond inflation. Real estate alone accounts for roughly $200,000 in gross passive income a year.
Now that I’m over 40, my attitude towards buying more physical real estate has changed because of three key reasons:
1) Property taxes. I’m already paying $50,000 a year in property taxes.
2) Dealing with bad tenants. Most of my stress comes from dealing with bad tenants who wreck my property or don’t pay rent on time.
3) Too much financial risk. To add hundreds of thousands of dollars in illiquid real estate exposure near the top market in coastal cities sounds like a bad move.
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT SOLUTION
Real estate crowdsourcing is the best solution I’ve found for investors who want to continue investing in real estate, but more surgically with lower amounts, for potentially higher returns, and less hassle.
Based on my first-hand research meeting with various real estate crowdsourcing CEOs and testing out their platforms, I’ve decided that RealtyShares is the best real estate crowdsourcing platform today. They’ve raised over $32M in company funding from the likes of 500 Startups (top incubator), General Catalyst Partners, and Union Square Ventures in order to open up investment opportunities for accredited investors in the sub-$50M real estate market. They are based in San Francisco like me, and I’ve met with their CEO, Head of Risk, VP of Finance, and Director of Marketing.
RealtyShares offers a mix of fix-and-flip loans, preferred equity and mezzanine products, joint venture equity and commercial loans. Those commercial buildings with higher returns that were once out of reach are now more readily available. So far, RealtyShares has had over $170 million go through its platform from investors like myself investing in over 2,000 properties.
One of the best things about RealtyShares is how vigorous their vetting process is of deals that make it on their platform. Only 5% of the deals they see are approved, giving more confidence to investors that what they are reviewing has already been thoroughly reviewed already.
REALTYSHARES SIGN UP PROCESS
The sign up process is easy and free.
Step 1: Input your first name, last name, telephone number
Step 2: Self accredit by choosing how you are accredited: income, net worth, joint income, or business
Step 3: Link a checking account or skip to first explore the various investments.
Step 4: Verify your e-mail address.
Step 5: Reach The Cooling Off period. This is a great step for all new investors. The Cooling Off period is suggested by the SEC for all investors to get comfortable with an investment before deploying capital. It’s not mandatory, just recommended. After you fill out the questionnaire, you’ll get a phone call from someone at RealtyShares to talk about the product and answer all your questions.
GROWTH OR INCOME?
You’re either looking to invest in growth or income on the RealtyShares platform. My main focus is income given I’m satisfied with my current financial nut.
Three main investment categories:
1) Single family residential property. Target 9% – 11% annual return. You are the senior debt holder (first position on lien). The investment duration is usually 6 – 24 months and income usually paid out monthly. This product is considered their least risky investment for investors and has been around since the beginning. Roughly 40% – 45% of total investments on the platform are in this category.
2) Preferred Equity/Mezzanine debt. Target 12% – 14% annual return. You provide bridge loan for sponsors and are a lower position in the capital stack. The investment period is usually 2 -3 years. Investments are mostly in commercial property. Roughly 20% – 25% of total investments on the platform are in this category. This is where I will probably focus most of my investments since I already own single family residences.
3) Joint venture equity. Target 10% – 16% annual return. You are an equity owner alongside the sponsor and take part in profits once preferred returns are hit. Typical duration is 5 years, but can be as short as 3 years. Income is usually paid quarterly once the deal is closed. This category accounts for roughly 25% – 30% of all investments.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Real estate crowdsourcing is considered an Alternative asset class. Many private wealth advisors recommend a 10% – 20% allocation. Meanwhile, we know that some large university endowments invest 50% or greater in Alternatives. The whole idea of investing in Alternatives is to capture outsized returns from inefficient markets.
The minimum investment is usually $5,000, but it can go as low as $1,000 for certain investment opportunities. Equity investment minimums are usually higher because there can only be a total of 99 investors per deal, and the sponsor may require more capital depending on the deal.
To generate revenue, RealtyShares take a 2.5% to 3% origination fee on the debt it raises for projects. On equity investments the company takes a cost reimbursement and makes a 1% to 2% percent management fee. That’s better than me paying a property manager one month’s rent (8.33%).
Finally, there have been 134 investments successfully completed so far, and there are currently 240+ active investments on the platform. I want to find cap rates in the Midwest or South that are over 10% compared to just 2% – 4% in SF and Honolulu for diversification purposes.
Below is a map of RealtyShares’ current investment offerings. The arrows are where I’m focused on deploying capital. Texas, Alabama, Utah, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia are my top picks due to higher cap rates (returns). If anybody is from one of these states, please share how the real estate investment environment is.
SURGICALLY DEPLOYING CAPITAL
Instead of overly concentrating new money into one very expensive property, I’m now going to surgically deploy capital into multiple types of investments with potentially greater returns, less hassle, and more liquidity across the country.
If you’re looking for yield in this low interest rate environment, don’t want the hassle of managing rental properties, don’t have the downpayment for a physical property, want to more easily allocate real estate dollars around the country, and are looking to diversify your investment portfolio with real estate exposure, take a look at the RealtyShares platform.
Sam owns three properties in San Francisco, one in Lake Tahoe, and another in Honolulu. He spends time playing tennis, hanging out with family, consulting for leading fintech companies, and writing online to help others achieve financial freedom.
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