BulkEstate features only real-estate projects. Interest rates typically vary from 11% to 15% (recent projects were more speculative than early ones); interests are usually repaid in full at the end of the loan, at the same time as the principal.
My opinion on BulkEstate
I used to prefer CrowdEstate over BulkEstate, thanks to the superior interface and much larger loans volume. However, after more than two years on both platforms, I can’t help but notice that the performance of my BulkEstate portfolio is much higher.
Moreover, BulkEstate’s track record is basically spotless, while CrowdEstate is struggling with late or defaulted business loans.
Overall, the platform’s projects offer a good risk/reward ratio for investors who want slightly more speculative loans than at EstateGuru.
BulkEstate’s pros & cons
- Great returns
- Solid track record
- Limited amount of projects
- Very few loans offer monthly interests repayment
Overview of BulkEstate’s loans
Interest rates are usually between 11% and 15% for durations around one year. Several projects offer a bonus to investors who invest a large amount (for example 2% for an amount larger than € 25,000 and 1% for an amount larger than € 10,000).
All financed projects are located in Latvia, most of them in Riga.
One important point is that both principal and accrued interests are usually repaid at the loan repayment date. Indeed, there’s no monthly interest repayment for most of them – although several loans with monthly repayments were introduced in late 2019 -.
The loans are secured by first-rank mortgage. Combined with a LTV (loan-to-value ratio) around 60%, this results in rather safe investments.
The minimum investment is 50€, which is higher than for personal loans but rather common in real-estate financing.
There are usually 2 or 3 new investment opportunities each month, with a large amount to invest in. However, they tend to get filled rather quickly.
BulkEstate’s loans aren’t covered by a buyback guarantee.
Platform’s transparency and reliability
On one hand, I regret that the platform doesn’t provide more information about the overall loans portfolio. However, in my mind, this aspect is more than compensated by the platform’s excellent track record. Let’s examine these aspects in detail !.
As a side note, in late 2019, anonymous Twitter account Roasted PeerDuck listed BulkEstate among his top 5 suspicious platform. It stood right with Kuetzal, Fast Invest, Envestio and Grupeer ! However, he has since changed his mind as he tweeted in April 2020 that the platform got “promoted to normal”, which makes me feel much more confident.
BulkEstate’s background and team
BulkEstate was founded in 2016. They have their offices in Riga, Latvia – where most projects are also located -.
What sets BulkEstate apart from competing platforms is that in addition to their crowdlending activity, they also provide the opportunity to buy an apartment in Riga through bulk deals. The discount based on the average market price stands between 19% and 38%. The resulting prices range from € 514 and € 1,254 per meter square, depending on the property’s standing.
Part of the team is introduced on the BulkEstate’s website. There’s no direct link to the employees’ LinkedIn profile, but many can be found at BulkEstate’s LinkedIn page. The top management has a lot of experience in real-estate.
- Loan amount, interest rate and duration
- LTV (loan-to-value) ratio
- Loan purpose and object
- Valuation of the property
- Map showing the exact location of the property
The valuation of the property (which is used to compute the LTV) is assessed by an independent firm. For example, for the recent project “Kr. Valdemāra Apartment No.34a”, it was appraised by Ober Haus, a large Latvian real-estate company. The valuation documents are available for download.
Reporting & statistics availability
The platform’s website lacks public statistics regarding the loans portfolio. It doesn’t even disclose the overall loans volume ! Similarly, as an investor, it’s quite hard to follow the projects’ life. Indeed, late loans aren’t identified as such in your portfolio’s summary. Fortunately, as we’re about to see, BulkEstate’s excellent track record means there there are few delayed loans.
One of BulkEstate’s strengths is that the platform’s selection of projects seems rather solid. Overall, out of 85 funded projects at BulkEstate, nearly 50 were already repaid.
The statistics for my own portfolio are as follows :
- Twenty projects where the capital was fully repaid on time
- Zero default
- Only one late capital reimbursement – a 3 months delay was incurred by the borrower’s death –
- Two currently delayed loans (from the same borrower), which should be partly settled in September
In addition, the platform’s due diligence process has prevented one fraud attempt. Indeed, they detected the use of fraudulent documents in order to obtain the loan. The loan was of course pulled back from the platform, and investors were reimbursed in full.
In contrast, several loans at CrowdEstate proved to be frauds, and a large part of my portfolio on this platform is late or defaulted !
Communication & support
Although it partly depends on the borrower’s willingness, communication regarding delays is usually very good. In June 2020, a delay regarding the capital reimbursement for several projects was notified before the expected repayment date. In total, 4 loans were granted to the same borrower, for a property named Aleksandra Apartments. I really appreciated BulkEstate’s proactive approach : it’s always great to be notified ahead of time !
I appreciate the fact that investors can ask questions in the forum regarding their investments. Although the platform usually sometimes a few days to reply, they do a great job at giving precise answers.
When it comes to e-mail communication, BulkEstate won’t clutter your inbox ! Indeed, you will only receive notification when a new investment is made through the auto-invest feature, when a project is fully funded, and in order to announce new projects.
One essential feature that’s missing is receiving a notification when capital is reimbursed. As I don’t often log in to my BulkEstate account, I regularly have the (pleasant) surprise to discover idle funds there ! There was one exception, though. Indeed, I received an e-mail from the platform in order to inform me that the late loan in my portfolio finally got reimbursed.
BulkEstate also launched a blog in late June 2020. The first article introduced the three largest properties funded through the platform. It wasn’t exactly thrilling, but I appreciated reading about the projects I invested in !
In terms of support, there’s no live chat available. I got in touch with BulkEstate by e-mail regarding account statements for tax purposes. They answered quickly and were very helpful : in a few hours, I received the statement by e-mail.
Impact of Covid-19 outbreak on BulkEstate
Coronavirus ? Which coronavirus ?
There’s been zero communication from BulkEstate regarding their management of their crisis, or its impact on the platform. The only visible impact was the huge reduction of amount for one very large loan. Indeed, the amount funded for the “Vikingi” project got slashed from € 2,250,000 to € 435,000 ! More funding rounds are expected to be available once the situation improves, though.
Regarding existing investments, it looks like the crisis had little impact until now. Indeed, as very few loans pay interests monthly, most investors won’t notice any change. I received interests on time for my only project with monthly repayments. Even better, the borrower of my only late loan at that point also reimbursed the principal in late May ! Overall, the impact of the coronavirus disease on my BulkEstate portfolio is really minimal.
Manual investing at BulkEstate
BulkEstate usually announces projects a few days before they are available for investing. It gives just enough time to transfer funds if necessary. For a long time, it was easy to invest manually; however, it now requires to be in front of the computer when the project opens. Indeed, because of the platform’s large investors base, most projects sell out in a few hours – sometimes even less -.
Opportunity to use auto-invest was added in April 2018. It’s really easy to configure it; the required inputs are maximum investment amount, minimum return and maximum term.
One drawback of BulkEstate’s auto-invest algorithm is that any change to its configuration will put you back at the end of the queue. As a result, if investors who didn’t modify it choose to invest a large amount, you may not get your share of the project. In late June 2020, two roughly similar projects were scheduled for the same day at noon. The system allocated me the requested amount for the first one, and I immediately received a confirmation. However, it didn’t invest in the second project – but I still managed to invest manually two minutes after it was available -.
I really prefer the way CrowdEstate handles this aspect, as it basically guarantees that anyone gets their share.
As a result, I recommend investors not to modify their auto-invest settings unless it’s necessary. Moreover, it won’t hurt to be in front of the computer at the right time and try to invest manually, just in case !
There’s currently no secondary market. BulkEstate is supposedly working on it, but didn’t provide any timeline.
Website’s ease of use
BulkEstate’s registration process
BulkEstate now uses Onfido for the KYC check. I found the process less streamlined than on platforms using Veriff. Indeed, I couldn’t complete it entirely on my PC and also needed to use my phone in order to take a picture of my passport. Validation was very quick, though. It was literally a matter of minutes.
Account funding and funds withdrawal
Initially, investors didn’t have the opportunity to fund their BulkEstate account; money had to be wired at time of investment. This could cause troubles if the transfer took too long, and was overall bothersome. Fortunately, an upgrade introduced the opportunity to send funds ahead of time, like most competitors allow.
However, one slightly annoying aspect remains. Before transferring money, it’s mandatory to generate an invoice on BulkEstate’s website, by inputting the transferred amount ahead of time. This is slightly inconvenient, and apart from Crowdestor, no other platform requires it.
Website’s design and ergonomics
I was initially not very satisfied with the usability of BulkEstate‘s website. However, things have improved and it’s much more pleasant to use now.
One slight glitch remains, though. Indeed, the “login” button sometimes fails to display the login form, which forces to refresh the page.
Available languages & translations quality
The quality of the website’s English translations has greatly improved over time. Although they’re still not perfect, they’re good enough to be pleasant to read.
The investments list used to be rather basic, providing very little details; however, it has improved as BulkEstate added new features. For example, it’s now possible to view the payment schedule, although it actually has to be downloaded as a PDF file.
I also recently discovered that the dashboard got a nice upgrade in term of reporting. Indeed, there’s now a chart displaying the repayment schedule, roughly similar to the one provided by CrowdEstate. It’s a very handy feature, which allows to visualize future cash-flows effortlessly.
While the How investing works document isn’t detailed enough, the very extensive FAQ provides many details regarding the investing process. Most investors are likely to find answers to their questions there.
Actual performance of my BulkEstate portfolio
At the end of August 2020, the XIRR for my BulkEstate portfolio was 8,94%.
Because interests for most BulkEstate's loans only get reimbursed at the loan's repayment date, I only received them for my early projects. However, compared to my CrowdEstate portfolio, the performance of my BulkEstate portfolio is much higher. Moreover, the platform's excellent track record makes gives me a lot of confidence regarding future returns !
Don't hesitate to read my most recent crowdlending portfolio review for detailed platforms performance comparison as well as historical performance.
Portfolio creation date
I created my BulkEstate portfolio in September 2017.
BulkEstate's main competitors
For a detailed comparison of the different real-estate and business crowdlending platforms, check out this article.
BulkEstate's facts & figures
As of May 2020
Who can invest at BulkEstate
Any company or any person over the age of 18 can invest in any of the active investment opportunities on the BulkEstate platform.
Several aspects of the website could be improved. Indeed, I would appreciate better projects descriptions, as well as public statistics on the platform's loans portfolio - such as those provided by EstateGuru. In addition, most investors would appreciate a fairer auto-invest algorithm.
However, I greatly appreciate the platform's track record and BulkEstate's proactive communication regarding the delayed projects. As a result, I plan to allocate slightly less than 10% of my crowdlending portfolio there, mostly at the expense of my CrowdEstate portfolio.
Please note that this review may contain affiliate links. It means that I will earn a commission if you decide to invest after clicking through the link – at no additional cost to you, of course -. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the commissions I make if you decide to invest through my links.