It is no secret that real estate has been used as a tool for generating wealth for years.
We all seem to have that friend or family member who got rich by investing in real estate. Thanks to changes in legislation, it is now easier than ever to invest in private real estate deals. This is because of the emergence of crowdfunded real estate investing.
In the past, private real estate investing was reserved for the elite.
This was the people lucky enough to find out about the deals and with deep enough pockets to invest. The barriers to invest were high, making this a very inaccessible investment.
The internet, and in particular crowdfunding, changed all of that.
Now, investors from all over can pool money together to invest in real estate projects. Instead of having a small group of investors kicking in tens of thousands of dollars, you now have thousands of investors pitching in as little as $5 with some platforms.
All of the platforms listed below are available to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
The minimum to begin investing is just $500 with the Starter Portfolio.
More importantly, you do not need to be an accredited investor. Fundrise has portfolios for growth and income investors, as well as one that delivers a blend of both. The fee structure is very straightforward and transparent at just 1% per year. For that reason, it is our top pick for beginners!
Income investors are looking for consistent dividends or distributions from their investments.
RealtyMogul delivers that through their Mogul REIT I which pays monthly distributions. These can be reinvested back into the REIT or deposited directly to a bank account. This REIT is available to all investors. The $5,000 minimum is a bit steep, however.
When it comes to a low minimum investment, you can’t beat $5.
As crazy as it sounds, that is the minimum required to invest in the Student Housing REIT. This investment is available to all investors. This REIT specifically invests in student housing within walking distance of major universities.
If you want to invest in individual properties, rather than portfolios, here is a great option.
Roofstock offers a collection of vetted single family properties you can invest in. The team at Roofstock manages the investment for you, so it is completely passive and hands off. Most of the properties allow you to buy for as little as 20% down!
However, one of the problems investors often run into when researching these different sites is that many of them are reserved for accredited investors only. For those who are not familiar, an accredited investor is someone who is allowed to be involved with investments that may not be registered with financial authorities.
There are massive regulatory agencies like the SEC and FINRA that are responsible for protecting the average retail investors out there.
However, they simply cannot keep track of every investment opportunity out there. As a result, many private investments forego this regulation and instead have offerings to these accredited investors only.
They expect that accredited investors who are considering these unregulated investments will do their own due diligence on the opportunity. They also understand that these investors meet high net worth an income requirements, giving them a greater risk tolerance.
So, that being said, we are going to share with you a list of crowdfunded real estate sites that do not require you to be an accredited investor. If you meet the minimum investment threshold, and this investment is available in your state, you are free to invest as a non-accredited investor!
Coming in at number one on our list is Fundrise, which is the most well known site out there for private crowdfunded real estate investment.
This company has been around since 2010, and they have an excellent track record so far in terms of transparency and generating great returns for investors.
We think that this is a fantastic pick for beginners for a number of reasons:
With Fundrise, you simply choose which portfolio you want to invest in and then deposit your money. They offer a few different portfolios.
The Starter Portfolio has the lowest minimum of $500. This is a very basic portfolio that will spread your investment over a handful of projects that are chosen to generate both income and appreciation.
You can upgrade at any time to one of the core portfolios which have a minimum investment of $1,000 to get started. This includes an income, growth and balanced portfolio. Each of these portfolios is made up of a different composition of debt and equity projects to accomplish the investor's income or appreciation objectives.
Beyond the core portfolios are the advanced portfolios. These require a minimum investment of $10,000 and will allow you to niche down your investing strategy to a particular location (like Washington DC or LA) or a particular investing strategy (like fix-and-flip).
At this point you'll really start to have more control over your investment and the ability to design a portfolio that aligns with your personal investing philosophies. This also involves getting access to the Plus portfolios which are granular niche-specific versions of the Core portfolios.
As you move up through the tiers your portfolio will automatically be diversified across more projects. In the starter portfolio you'll likely only have exposure to 5-10 projects, but by the time you reach the advanced portfolios you'll have exposure to 80+ projects.
It is important to understand that with Fundrise, you are not actively picking and choosing properties. They have teams of experts vetting properties and doing exactly that on your behalf.
You simply invest in prebuilt portfolios and let them do all the leg work for you. In exchange, they collect an annual asset management fee of 1% regardless of what portfolio you choose.
You can read our full review of Fundrise here.
Up next on our list is a platform that has been around since 2013.
This site offers options for both accredited and non-accredited investors. We really like the investment options offered by RealtyMogul, we just don’t like the high minimum investment of $5,000. For that reason, this site was not a candidate for the top spot.
RealtyMogul has a specific process for acquiring properties. Here’s what that looks like:
By following this set strategy, RealtyMogul aims to minimize the risk for investors while generating solid returns. In terms of the investments, they offer two REITs known as the Mogul REIT I and Mogul REIT II. Both have a minimum investment of $5,000.
Mogul REIT I - This portfolio of properties has income in mind. The goal is to generate income for investors in the form of monthly dividend payments. The portfolio currently holds over $216 million in assets and has over 5,600 investors.
These dividend payments have averaged 6.00% since 2013.
Mogul REIT II - Investors looking for growth over income would lean towards this REIT. The primary aim here is to invest in properties with high potential for appreciation. Dividends are paid on a quarterly basis. The portfolio currently holds nearly $130 million in assets.
These dividend payments have averaged 4.50% since 2013. It's important to note that this fund is aimed for appreciation so dividend yield is only a portion of the return.
As far as fees go, it varies based on the investment. Typically, you pay a 1% annual asset management fee. However there may also be one time fees associated with individual investments, often ranging from 0.50% to 0.60% in most cases.
Income investors love the Mogul REIT I because of the monthly dividends. If you have enough to cover the high minimum investment, this is a solid choice for your crowdfunded real estate investing.
This platform focuses on office buildings that are producing cash flow. One thing beginner’s need to be aware of with Streitwise is the 1 year lockup period when investing. This means that you cannot sell your investment during this period. After 1 year, quarterly redemption is offered.
It is not uncommon for platforms to have this lock up in place. Real estate is an illiquid investment, meaning cash for redemption may not always be readily available.
There is a big difference between Streitwise and many of the other platforms mentioned. That is the fact that Streitwise actually owns and operates the buildings you invest in. Many other platforms out there are just middlemen, collecting fees for connecting investors to sponsors.
As of right now, they have just one investment available which is the 1st Streit Office Inc. The minimum investment is just $1,000 and it is open to non-accredited investors.
Specifically, this portfolio holds commercial real estate in key markets that meet the following characteristics:
Streitwise also comes with a collection of fees for investors. When you invest, Streitwise applies 3% of your investment towards organizational and offering costs (essentially overhead). there is also a 2% annual fee to cover acquisition and operating expenses.
Since inception, Streitwise has generated annual dividends of 9.75% for investors after fees. This return is not guaranteed going forward, but we hope they can keep it up!
Streitwise also offers dividend reinvestment so you can be assured that those dividends will go right back to work earning you compound interest.
If you want to get in on the single family rental market, here's a great option!
Roofstock specializes in making single family real estate investing as simple as possible. Consider this, most families do not like to move around a lot. After they move in, they often stay in place for years while they raise the kids. This makes single family real estate a great investment that people often forget about!
The problem is, you are limited to the properties in your local area that you have to manage yourself.
With Roofstock, you are able to invest in single family homes across dozens of different real estate markets. You are provided with all the tools to research each property. Once you find one that you like, you put an offer in right through the platform. If your offer is accepted, you can start earning rental income immediately!
Roofstock has teams in place that manage the day to day operations for you. That means you can buy a property that already has a tenant and is already being fully managed. So no phone calls from tenants at 1 a.m. asking you to drive over and fix their leaky toilet!
For most properties, Roofstock will only require you to put down as little as 20%.
This platform is unique because it allows you to pick and choose what properties you invest in. With other sites, they limit you to the prebuilt real estate portfolios.
Additionally, there is a 0.5% fee for all purchases on Roofstock which is much lower than the typical real estate agent commission of 3%.
Roofstock also offers a couple guarantees to investors that are quite impressive.
Their 30 Day Money Back Guarantee allows you to essentially "return" a property if you are unhappy with it in the first 30 days. This is quite uncommon among investments or real estate in general. Typically you can't exactly go back to the person who sold you a house a couple weeks later and tell them you changed your mind and would like a refund.
The Lease Up Guarantee offers another layer of protection for investors. If you purchase a property on Roofstock and it it not leased out to a tenant within 45 days, Roofstock will cover the rent for up to a year.
One of the largest risk in owning a single family property is vacancy, if you don't have someone living in your house you aren't making any money. So seeing a guarantee like this from Roofstock has the potential to significantly mitigate this risk for investors.
Uncle Ray launched this platform back in 2012.
We love Rich Uncles because of how accessible they are to beginner investors. You do not need to be an accredited investor, and the minimum investment for their Student Housing REIT is just $5!
That’s right, you can begin investing in real estate for the price of a cup of coffee.
They offer two different portfolios on this site. There are some limitations based on what state you live in. The Student Housing REIT is available to all US states, however the National REIT is only available in just over 20 states.
National (NNN) REIT - This is a portfolio of industrial, retail and commercial real estate throughout the US. The minimum investment is $500. This REIT does not hold any residential real estate. Rich Uncles purchases all properties in this REIT with at least 50% down giving investors a significant equity stake in the properties.
Student Housing (BRIX) REIT - The $5 minimum makes this a great option for new investors. This REIT invests in student housing throughout the US. They look for housing with a 90% occupancy rate or higher with a minimum capacity of 150 beds.
The fee structure for this platform is unique. Essentially, Rich Uncles doesn’t make money if you don’t make money. The first 6.5% of profits are paid to investors. Then, Rich Uncles takes 40% of the profits that exceed 6.5% annually.
This is an interesting platform for sure, with an unconventional approach to fees. The minimum investment of $5 makes this a highly accessible option.
This platform is similar to stREITwise in that they own the properties themselves. The minimum to invest with DiversyFund is just $500 and you do not need to be an accredited investor.
Currently they have just one offering which is the DiversyFund Growth REIT.
This portfolio aims to grow your capital primarily though asset appreciation. It holds cash flow producing apartment buildings. They generate returns through renovation and repositioning of these properties.
One of the unique traits of this investment is that they do not charge fees to investors. Since they own the properties, they cut out the middleman meaning they cay offer investment free of fees. DiversyFund launched in 2016, giving them a very limited track record.
Overall, DiversyFund is lower on our list because they have only been on the scene since 2016. They also only have one investment offering. However, offering investment free of fees at a minimum of $500 gives them huge potential long term.
This is a platform that allows anyone with $10 or more to invest to loan their money to flippers.
This is a type of investor who buys a property with the aim of selling it in the near future after making repairs. These distressed properties often sell well below the market value because of the work needed.
Groundfloor connects these flippers with investors who want to finance these flips. It is important to understand that this is strictly a debt investment, meaning that you do not have any equity ownership in the property.
You instead earn interest by loaning out your money to a flipper.
With the other sites discussed so far, you are investing in both debt and equity investments. Groundfloor is solely a debt investment.
The yield on these investments usually ranges from 6% to 14% based on the risk associated with the loan. The loans are categorized by the risk associated with the investment, from Grade A to Grade G.
Overall, this is an interesting concept and the minimum investment of $10 makes this a highly accessible investment. However, this model is brand new and unproven. There is a significant amount of risk with peer to peer lending.
Investors should have a good understanding of P2P and the risks involved, as well as the possibility for default. For that reason, we don’t recommend this site for complete beginners.
Those with more experience and knowledge of private lending may find it suits their investment needs.
With a minimum investment of just $100, this is a highly accessible investment available to both accredited and non-accredited investors. American Homeowner Preservation or AHP for short aims to help homeowners stay in their home.
They purchase distressed mortgages and make attempts to restructure financing with the owners so that they can begin making payments again.
A distressed mortgage is one where the property owner is unable to pay the mortgage or the taxes. Banks often sell these undesirable loans for pennies on the dollar, as they are looking to get something for them instead of nothing.
AHP purchases these distressed mortgages at deep discounts. Then, they try to work with the homeowner to get them in a position where they can afford the payments.
If they are successful, they sell this performing loan in a package with others for more than they paid.
If they are unsuccessful, they foreclose on the property and sell it.
Overall, this is an interesting investment that falls under the category of “doing good for others.” However, it is another unproven model. It certainly sounds like a good idea on paper, but there are a lot of risks involved with this type of unconventional real estate investment.
Investing in AHP is not as clear and straightforward as other platforms on this list. The low minimum makes it very accessible, but this is far from beginner friendly. Investors should do their own research and understand how these unique investments work.