A lot of you have expressed interest investing in real estate over the years as part of a diversified investment portfolio strategy. However, some of you don't have the 20%-30% downpayment to get started in rental property investing. Therefore, I'd like to explore the real estate crowdsourcing industry with Fundrise.
With Fundrise, you can invest in one of their private real estate funds with as little as $10. I've personally invested $954,000 in real estate crowdsourcing since 2016 to diversify my investments and earn income 100% passively.
I've been a big fan of real estate since college, but I've only invested in actual physical property. I've always just bought a place to live in for several years and then rented it out. This way, no matter what happens in the market, I'm hedged because I've enjoyed the property. Further, I only need to put 20% down initially.
When my master tenant gave me her 30-days notice recently, I saw it as a sign to explore as many investment alternatives as possible. Roughly 40% of my net worth is tied up in illiquid physical property. I'd like to get that figure down to around 30% for my ideal asset allocation.
Real Estate Crowdsource Investing With Fundrise
Ideally, I'd like to transfer a portion of my proceeds in an expensive San Francisco property into higher yielding properties in the Midwest or South without having to manage the physical asset.
The most efficient way I can reallocate the real estate portion of my net worth is by buying shares in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) or by buying real estate online through a real estate crowdsourcing platform. Fundrise has options for investors to buy two REITs, Growth or Income, and invest in individual properties through their platform.
Let's take a look at historical performance first, which is no indication of future performance.
Real Estate Versus Equities Performance
The following chart compares the performance between real estate and the S&P 500. I'm surprised to see such massive outperformance by the FTSE NAREIT ALL REITs asset class. But I guess it makes sense because after the NASDAQ bubble burst in March 2000, real estate started taking off partly because the Fed aggressively lowered interest rates, and partly because equity investors looked at hard assets to park their money.
I'm in the camp that interest rates will stay lower for longer. Australia has now joined Japan, Denmark, and Sweden with negative real interest rates by the way. I'm also looking for yield as a retiree. As a result, I continue to see real estate as an attractive long-term asset class.
Here's another chart highlighting Fundrise's 2015 returns versus the S&P 500, NAREIT Composite Index, and NASDAQ. With my personal investment return goal of 3X the risk-free rate of return (10-year bond yield), anything above 6% looks attractive, depending on risk.
The approximate 13% net average annual return for 2015 is representative of the aggregate historical operating results from 2015 for 43 individual investments offered under Reg D. Their eREIT model gives all investors access to a diversified pool of quality commercial real estate. In their first full quarter of operations the Income eREIT earned an approximate 9.7%.
They've made investments in commercial real estate projects all across the US. To date they've been most active in the New York, Los Angeles, DC, Seattle, Atlanta, and Phoenix markets. I'm glad, because I'm looking at areas outside of San Francisco to invest.
Latest Fundrise AUM And Performance
According to the latest public offering documents by Fundrise for its IPO, the firm manages roughly $3.3 billion in assets under management, has over 400,000 active investors, and over 100 employees. Below is their assets under management in 2017 and 2018. Going from $488 million in AUM at the end of 2018 to over $3.3 billion in 2023 is impressive!
Fundrise's five-year average platform portfolio has also done quite well, yielding a 10.79% return versus 7.92% for the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF and 7.4% for the Vanguard Real Estate ETF. The 14%+ outperformance against the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF in 2018 was particularly impressive.
With a healthy 6-year track record, Fundrise has taken a huge step forward in proving out what they have believed for so long: that a model of individuals diversifying into real estate through a direct, low-cost technology platform is a superior investment alternative to owning only publicly traded stocks and bonds.
Real Estate Investing Sweet Spot
Historically, there's data that shows investors with roughly 20% allocated to real estate have outperformed those who only own stocks and bonds. The 20% real estate model was made famous by the ~$25B Yale Endowment, which outperformed traditional allocations 22.6% annually for decades by investing at least 20% of its portfolio in real estate.
However, in the past, the best private real estate opportunities require minimums of $100,000 or more, making them inaccessible unless you’re very wealthy. The only other option is to go through middlemen who charge high fees, thereby negatively impacting returns. This is where Fundrise and their technology comes into play.
Below is a chart highlighting the different sized real estate markets. You and I can't buy trophy properties like the Empire State Building because these properties are just too large and expensive. You and I can buy fixer uppers to make some sweat equity. I did so in 2014 and am still working on my house slowly today.
But fixers can be risky and stressful if you don't know what you're doing. So it seems like the Midsize market is the sweet spot for investing given less competition, a more inefficient market to exploit, and potentially higher risk-adjusted returns. This is where the real estate crowdsourcing industry currently operates.
Income Is More Passive Investing With Fundrise
One of the biggest advantages of owning equities over real estate is there are no ongoing maintenance costs. Something is always breaking in one of my properties, like a kitchen faucet the other week.
Another advantage of owning REITs and equities is there isn't ongoing property taxes. Even though property tax is only 1.2% of the assessed value in California, isn't it disgusting to know that in 83 years, you will have paid 100% the value of your property in taxes alone?
But the biggest benefit of not owning physical rental property is never having to deal with people. For the most part, tenants are fine to deal with if you've vetted them properly. But sometimes, no matter how nice they can be on paper and in the interview, conflicts may arise.
If I can invest in real estate and make a 7.2% return a year, let alone a 13% return, I'll double my investment after 10 years. The main “drawback” to investing in REITs and real estate crowdsourcing platforms is that I can't leverage up 5:1 like I can with a mortgage on a physical property. But sometimes, not leveraging up can save your hide.
Diversify Your Investments
Everybody should seek to own their primary residence to get neutral inflation. After that, consider investing in stocks, bonds, and real estate crowdsourcing investments through a company like Fundrise. Technology has allowed investors to arbitrage higher net rental yields from all around the country.
Fundrise is the best real estate crowdfunding platform for non-accredited investors. I think it's best for the average investor to invest in a diversified eREIT portfolio, rather than individual real estate crowdfunding investments.
Sign up for free and see what they have to offer.
If you are an accredited investor, another great private real estate investing platform is Crowdstreet. Crowdstreet offers accredited investors individual deals run by sponsors that have been pre-vetted for strong track records. Many of their deals are in 18-hour cities where there is potentially greater upside.
If you want to get more surgical in your private real estate investments, Crowdstreet is a strong solution. I've met the people at Crowdstreet on two separate occasions and came away impressed with their risk-management and product offerings.
An investment in the common shares of any of the eREITs involves risks. Each investor should carefully consider the each eREIT’s Risk Factors in addition to the other information contained in each eREIT’s Offering Circular before purchasing shares. The risks and uncertainties discussed in each Offering Circular are not the only ones each individual eREIT faces, but do represent those risks and uncertainties that such eREIT believes are most significant to its business, operating results, prospects and financial condition. Some statements in each eREIT Offering Circular and on this website, including statements in each eREIT’s Risk Factors disclosure, constitute forward-looking statements. Please refer to the section entitled “Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Information” contained in each eREIT’s Offering Circular, which is available on each individual eREIT offering page, as well as on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR website.
If interested, here's another Fundrise overview with Q&A with the founder. Below is also a conversation I had with Ben Miller about his views on the real estate market today.