Crowdfunding for Commercial Real Estate: How It Works and Best Platforms

The dynamic landscape of the investment sector has been transformed by technological advancement. Crowdfunding is one of the significant breakthroughs that have reshaped the real estate industry, providing alternative routes to capital for property developers and democratizing access to investment opportunities for retail investors. This approach, particularly in commercial real estate, has simplified processes and expanded investment portfolios for many individuals across the globe.

The disruptive role of crowdfunding in real estate has been felt over the past decade. With the advent of new technologies, it has become more accessible for people to pool resources and invest in large-scale commercial real estate projects previously exclusive to institutional investors or wealthy individuals. It’s a brave new world, and understanding the nuances of this transformative practice is critical to unlocking its potential benefits.

The Rise of Real Estate Crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding began as a natural progression from the general crowdfunding phenomenon, expanding to cater to the unique needs of the real estate industry. The practice gained significant traction post-2012, with the passing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act in the United States, which eased many of the existing securities regulations and made it feasible for companies to seek public funding.

This legislation made crowdfunding, including real estate crowdfunding, more accessible and streamlined, leading to an exponential growth in the number of platforms and a swell in the volume of transactions. From 2014 to 2020, the industry’s global transactional value grew from approximately $1 billion to over $10 billion, as per Statista data.

Understanding Commercial Real Estate Crowdfunding

Commercial real estate crowdfunding involves pooling funds from large investors to purchase or develop commercial properties such as office buildings, shopping centers, or apartment complexes. This model democratizes the investment landscape, enabling individual investors to participate in commercial real estate transactions with relatively small amounts of money.

Investors become shareholders in the property, earning returns from rental income and, potentially, the property’s appreciation in value. Most crowdfunding platforms allow investors to select from various projects based on their investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizons.

Advantages of Crowdfunding in Commercial Real Estate

There are several advantages to crowdfunding in commercial real estate. First, it democratizes investment, allowing people who may not have had the opportunity to invest in commercial real estate the chance to do so with smaller amounts of money. It significantly lowers the barriers to entry for such high-value investments.

Secondly, it opens up opportunities for diversification, as investors can put money into various properties across different locations and types, thus spreading their risk. Thirdly, investing through crowdfunding platforms can often lead to passive income generation, given the regular rental incomes associated with commercial properties.

Finally, crowdfunding platforms offer efficiency and convenience. The process of investing is often simple and transparent, with most platforms providing investors with detailed information about the properties, projected returns, and inherent risks.

Top Real Estate Crowdfunding Platforms for Commercial Investments

Numerous platforms are catering to investors interested in commercial real estate crowdfunding.

  1. RealtyMogul: RealtyMogul is an industry leader known for its rigorous project selection process, focusing mainly on multifamily and office buildings.
  2. Fundrise: Fundrise offers an easy-to-use platform, and investors can start with as little as $500.
  3. CrowdStreet: CrowdStreet focuses exclusively on commercial properties and has a minimum investment requirement of $25,000.
  4. RealCrowd: RealCrowd offers a variety of commercial properties to choose from, including retail and office spaces.

Before choosing a platform, investors should thoroughly research and consider their financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.

The Impact of New SEC Guidelines on Real Estate Crowdfunding

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has enacted various guidelines to protect investors in crowdfunding platforms. These guidelines, updated in 2020, increased the annual crowdfunding limit from $1.07 million to $5 million for companies. This adjustment has allowed larger and more established real estate developers to utilize crowdfunding for their projects, thus providing retail investors with more robust and secure investment opportunities.

However, the SEC has also established guidelines on who can invest and how much they can invest based on their income and net worth. These rules are in place to protect retail investors from taking on undue risk. As always, investors should do their due diligence and understand the potential risks before investing.

Investing in Grocery-Anchored Commercial Real Estate

One type of commercial real estate that has garnered significant attention from crowd-funders is grocery-anchored real estate. These are commercial properties that host major grocery store chains. They are seen as relatively recession-proof investments because grocery stores generate stable foot traffic and revenues, even during economic downturns.

Crowdfunding platforms have begun to offer such assets as part of their portfolios, providing investors with a viable path to add low-risk, steady-income properties to their investment mix.

Unlocking Diversification and Passive Income Potential

In the realm of investment, diversification is key. Real estate crowdfunding allows for substantial diversification as investors can spread their investments across different types of properties, geographies, and projects. This spreading of risk can protect investors from the volatility of individual markets.

Additionally, commercial real estate investments can generate passive income. Many commercial properties have long-term leases, generating a steady rental income stream. This passive income and the potential for property appreciation make commercial real estate an attractive investment option.

Bottom Line

The innovation of crowdfunding has reshaped the landscape of commercial real estate investing, democratizing access, broadening diversification, and paving the way for passive income generation. With careful research and understanding of the potential risks, individuals can leverage these platforms to make their entry into the world of commercial real estate investment.

FAQ Section

What is commercial real estate crowdfunding? 

Commercial real estate crowdfunding pools funds from large investors to purchase or develop commercial properties such as office buildings, shopping centers, or apartment complexes.

How does crowdfunding work in commercial real estate?

Investors become shareholders in the property, earning returns from rental income and potentially the property’s appreciation in value. Most crowdfunding platforms allow investors to select from various projects based on their investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizons.

What are the advantages of crowdfunding for commercial real estate? 

Crowdfunding in commercial real estate democratizes investment, lowers the barriers to entry, allows for diversification, can lead to passive income generation, and offers efficiency and convenience through online platforms.

What are the best real estate crowdfunding platforms for commercial investments? 

Some top platforms are RealtyMogul, Fundraise, CrowdStreet, and RealCrowd.

How do new SEC guidelines impact real estate crowdfunding? 

The updated SEC guidelines have increased the annual crowdfunding limit for companies and introduced investor protection measures based on income and net worth. This has allowed larger projects to be crowdfunded and provides retail investors with additional safeguards.

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