RealCrowd Review 2022 – Commercial Real Estate Crowdfunding

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RealCrowdA few years ago, crowdfunding real estate platforms didn’t exist. Now companies engaged in some form of this industry are popping up weekly. Some are focused on residential real estate investing, while others concentrate on commercial and still more offer both.

Commissions & Fees - 10
Customer Service - 8
Ease of Use - 8
Diversification - 7.5
Amount of Deals - 7.5
Due Diligence - 8

7

RealCrowd is a real estate crowdfunding platform that offers a broad selection of investment opportunities. However, it's only for accredited investors, and its deals are not pre-funded.

While each one of these platforms owes its marketable existence to the same two pieces of legislation, Title II and Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, their individual approaches differ.

Three broad categories seem to be emerging:

  • Real Estate Funds Augmented by Crowdfunding Tech — Under this approach, the investment is structured as an LLC, which will in turn invest in another LLC that purchases the property (creating a fund of funds).
  • Localized Crowdfunding — Another approach has been to “de-abstract” real estate assets for investors. These platforms present real estate investments as tangible property, on a real street, with real connections to the physical world and to the community it’s situated in. The selling point for this approach is that regular people who live in or near a community have insider intelligence about properties that non-locals don’t have access to.
  • “Pure” Platform — What this means is that the CFRE is providing the technology and forum that real estate sponsors and investors need to connect, administer, invest, and transact. RealCrowd is a “pure” platform, meaning they aren't broker/dealers, and they never take possession of customer funds or securities and receive no compensation in connection with the purchase or sale of the investment.
  • strong>Investor Education — RealCrowd aims to educate the public about real estate investing. The platform not only hosts an informative podcast, but it also offers a course designed to teach key real estate investing fundamentals.

RealCrowd is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. The company was founded with an undisclosed amount of seed money and has since raised $4.5 million in venture capital. The company has done more than 128 real estate investment deals totaling $134 million in equity funding since launching in late 2013.

The founders envisioned an open marketplace where sponsors and investors make connections, grow networks, carry out transactions, and do deals without all the institutional intermediaries and encumbrances that existed in the pre-JOBS Act era.

As CEO and Co-Founder Adam Hooper explains, “Instead of inserting another layer of management — a source of overhead and justification for fees — our goal is to remove all possible inefficiencies in the relationship between operator and investor.”

According to Hooper, RealCrowd is distinguished as having set the largest raise of any crowdfunding opportunity where one of the funds on the platform raised $24.5 million. They have also brought their network of 15,000 members access to $3.25 billion in real estate opportunities.

RealCrowd does not form intermediary LLCs and is not a registered broker/dealer, therefore it does not provide investment advice or recommendations. RealCrowd does screen sponsors using strict criteria to ensure deal quality for their investors. At an absolute minimum, the sponsor must have at least 10 years of principal level experience and a minimum of $50 million of transaction experience as a principal. “This doesn’t allow for a VP of some larger company to go out on their own and immediately start to begin raising money from the crowd,” according to Hooper. In addition to these minimums, RealCrowd reviews the sponsor track record (bankruptcies, foreclosures, litigation, etc.) and requires lender references. The average real estate sponsor on RealCrowd has over $800 million of transaction experience.

RealCrowd Features

Minimum Investment$5,000
Account FeesNone
Time Commitment36 Months
Accreditation Required
Private REIT
Offering TypesDebt, Equity, Preferred Equity, Direct Ownership
Property TypesCommerical, Residential, Single Family, Foreign Investors
Regions Served50 States
Secondary Market
Self-Directed IRA
1031 Exchange
Pre-vetted
Pre-funded
  • IRA Option — It’s possible to invest via a self-directed IRA with RealCrowd.
  • Investment Liquidity Terms — RealCrowd opportunities typically range from three to five years.
  • Funds or Specific Properties — On RealCrowd, you’ll find both offerings to choose among.
  • No Fees for Investors — Fees are never charged to investors. The real estate sponsors pay RealCrowd a fee to be listed on their platform.

RealCrowd Screenshots

    How RealCrowd Works

    In any investment deal on RealCrowd, there are two parties: Sponsors, the real estate operating companies looking for funding, and Investors, who must be accredited.

    Investors are given access to inspect and browse through offerings on real estate investment deals, including all materials, due diligence, and legal documents.

    The steps to getting started as an investor are relatively simple:

    1. Set up your free account and start browsing deals — Once your profile is finished you are able to begin viewing the latest investing tips and deals that are posted.
    2. Review investment deals — You’ll find both direct property investments and fund investments. The sponsors pay the advertising and technology licensing fees for the service.
    3. Choose your investment(s) — You can choose to invest in a specific property or in a fund on RealCrowd. Each investment opportunity is categorized according to projected risk versus return. You pick the one(s) that suit your personal goals and invest in them through the platform. All of the electronic signatures, communications, and document delivery and storage with your investment partner are handled by the dashboard on RealCrowd’s platform.

    Each commercial real estate opportunity hosted on RealCrowd falls into one of four categories that correspond to the risk and reward inherent in the different types of deals: Core, Core-Plus, Value Add and Opportunistic.

    1. Core: Lower Risk/Lower Return. The most conservative and lowest risk of the four classifications, core property investments utilize lower leverage and tend to generate predictable cash flows. The properties are often positioned in strong markets, like thriving metropolitan areas, and are easily financed. RealCrowd calls this category “the wheelhouse of conservative income seekers.”
    2. Core-Plus: Moderate Risk/Moderate Return. Core-Plus properties are also located in areas with a strong tenant base and generally have few to no issues with securing financing, The difference is found in a limited elevation of risk and potential for increased NOI, like upcoming lease rollover or light value-add opportunity.
    3. Value Add: Medium-to-High Risk/Medium-to-High Return. This class is characterized by the opportunity to improve the investment in some way. This improvement often comes in the form of enhancing the physical property itself or increasing the operational efficiency.
    4. Opportunistic/Development: Higher Risk/Higher Return. These properties require “enhancement” in order to generate the expected level of returns. Enhancement can range from ground-up development to redeployment of existing structures.

    RealCrowd Alternatives

    HighlightsOrigin InvestmentsRoofstockRealtyMogul
    Rating9/108.5/109/10
    Minimum Investment$50,000$5,000$5,000
    Account Fees1.25%/year0.50% or $5001-1.25%/year asset management fee
    Private REIT

    RealCrowd Pros & Cons

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    Summary

    RealCrowd has a lot to offer, especially considering that investors pay no fees to participate and use their platform. (Other CFRE platforms charge upfront fees, 1-2% annually for asset management and may even take a percentage of the profits when the deal is complete.) RealCrowd makes investing in commercial real estate easy by automating every aspect of the deal that you enter in with the business partner. They offer a high level of transparency — you are able to speak with the owner of the business who is raising the funds to ask your questions directly from the source.

    Ruth Lyons

    Trading three decades of financial publishing experience in the corporate world for a life of personal and financial freedom as a freelancer in 2012, Ruth is passionate about helping others take control of their personal finances and to become aware and educated on their options as self-reliant individuals. Disenfranchised with the high cost and lackluster performance of her IRA, college savings and other retirement accounts handled by a full-service broker, Ruth moved her retirement money to a self-directed IRA in 2015. Ruth holds an MS in Finance from Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business (1991) and a Business Management degree from University of Maryland (1984). You can follow Ruth on: Twitter

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