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.
The large range of interest rates will appeal to most investors’ profiles, from conservative to speculative.
BulkEstate doesn’t add projects as frequently as most competitors.
BulkEstate’s reporting is rather basic – but has improved over time -.
Transparency & reliability
Transparency is BulkEstate’s weak point. Indeed, I would appreciate more information regarding the platform or the overall loans portfolio, as well as more detailed projects descriptions.
The website is easy to use, and the translations have been greatly improved.
BulkEstate's pros & cons
- Great returns
- Solid track record
- Limited amount of projects
- Very few loans offer monthly interests repayment
Long-term : more than one year
Buyback guarantee NOT AVAILABLE
EUR – Euro
Overview of BulkEstate's loans
Interest rates for BulkEstate loans usually vary between 11% and 15%. Their durations are usually 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).
Nearly all financed projects are located in Latvia, most of them in Riga. A recent exception was a property on a Finnish island.
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. The LTV The LTV (Loan-To-Value ratio) is simply the ratio between the loan amount and the collateral value, expressed as a percent. Smaller values indicate safer loans, where the collateral value greatly exceeds the borrowed amount. LTV values around 50% – 60% are usually regarded as safe. usually stands around 60%, which is a reasonable level. Several loans even had an LTV of 30%, making them really safe.
Many projects are funded in several stages. This is a common practice for real-estate developments. Before investing in a project, don’t forget to check whether you already invested in a previous stage. This will prevent your portfolio from being over-exposed to a given borrower !
The minimum investment is €50, which is higher than for personal loans but rather common in real-estate financing. The invested sum doesn’t have to be a multiple of €50, which allows to quickly reinvest interests.
There are usually 2 or 3 new investment opportunities each month. The financed amounts usually vary between one and two hundred thousand euros. Projects tend to get filled up rather quickly, regardless of their size.
Like all real-estate and business loans, BulkEstate‘s loans aren’t covered by a buyback guarantee. However, should a project default, the low LTV is likely to result in a great recovery level. This will limit the risk of capital loss for investors.
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 great 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
- Property location on a map
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.
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.
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, the communication regarding delayed or defaulted projects is usually detailed enough.
One of BulkEstate‘s strengths is that the platform’s selection of projects seems rather solid. Overall, out of 85 funded projects at BulkEstate, around 50 were already repaid.
In March 2021, BulkEstate co-founder Igors Puntuss gave a summary of delayed and defaulted loans. 5% of all outstanding loans have defaulted, while 5% are delayed. It’s a great result, even compared to EstateGuru‘s track record. Indeed, around 9% of the projects have defaulted there, and 7.5% are delayed.
The statistics for my own portfolio are as follows :
- Twenty one projects were fully repaid. The overwhelming majority of these were repaid on time, or even earlier. The greatest delay was 3 months. It was caused by the borrower’s death.
- Two projects have defaulted, and the recovery process is well under way. Indeed, the auction will take place in April. Please note that these projects were actually granted to the same borrower. It was a mistake on my part as it increased my exposure to a single borrower !
- Two loans were extended for one year
- One loan is delayed by a few months
It’s of course always annoying to have late repayment or extended loans. However, this track record is overall very good when taken in consideration the bad shape of the economics.
All defaulted loans were actually granted to the same borrower. The platform started the recovery process by setting up a forced auction. However, it was expected to result in a loss for investors – 18% of the loan amount -. As a result, instead of continuing with the auction process, the borrower will refinance the loan at CrowdEstate. The refinancing is expected to be completed in late May 2021. The borrower is expected to be able to repay all capital, as well as part of the accrued interests.
Such refinancing aren’t uncommon. Indeed, one of Crowdestor‘s projects already got refinanced at EstateGuru. They’re an interesting alternative to the more classical auction process, as the financial outcome is usually better for investors.
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.
Finally, it’s worth noting that detailed statistics about the platform and projects are expected to be available in 2021. In addition, financial reports should be provided as well.
Communication about delayed or defaulted projects
Although it partly depends on the borrower’s willingness, communication regarding delays is usually very good. The platform seems to transmit information as soon as it’s available. However, in some cases, investors will only learn about the delay on the expected repayment date.
When it comes to the progress of recovery processes, BulkEstate could communicate more timely.
Early exit NOT AVAILABLE
There’s currently no secondary market. BulkEstate is supposedly working on it, but didn’t provide any timeline.
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, due to the platform’s popularity, it’s now often necessary to be in front of the computer when projects open. 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 !
Website’s ease of use
English, Russian, Ukrainian, Estonian, German
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.
BulkEstate's registration process
BulkEstate now uses Onfido for the KYC KYC (Know Your Customer) checks are procedures used by financial businesses in order to verify the identity of their clients. Most Crowdlending platforms will require a copy of an identification document (identity card, passport, driving licence); an utility bill or bank statement may be necessary as well. 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 website. However, things have improved and it’s now much more pleasant to use.
One slight glitch remains, though. Indeed, the “login” button sometimes fails to display the login form, which forces to refresh the page. This happens mostly when using a having a bad internet connection, or opening too many tabs at simultaneously.
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.
Although it doesn’t give much detail, a recent blog post hints that further improvements are planned in 2021 for the investors’ cabinet.
While the How investing works document isn’t detailed enough, the very extensive FAQ A FAQ is simply a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions provides many details regarding the investing process. Most investors are likely to find answers to their questions there.
Communication & support
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 ! More recently, another post summed up the year 2020 and introduced the planned changes for 2021.
2020 saw Telegram‘s discussion groups and channels grow in popularity among peer-to-peer and P2B investors. Indeed, groups have been created for roughly all platforms. Most platform use this opportunity to communicate directly with their investors.
For example, Robocash has an official channel for announcements, and PeerBerry‘s Head of Marketing and Communications answers questions daily in the relevant discussion group. For BulkEstate, a good way to ask questions is the BulkEstate discussion channel, where the platform’s co-founder often answers interacts with investors.
Official BulkEstate pages on social networks
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.
Actual performance of my BulkEstate portfolio
At the end of April 2021, the XIRR for my BulkEstate portfolio was 8,56%.
Interests for most BulkEstate's loans only get reimbursed at the loan's repayment date. As a result, it took time for returns to attain a decent level. However, after a bit more than three years on the platform, my performance is close to double-digits.
Don't hesitate to read my most recent crowdlending portfolio review for detailed platforms performance comparison as well as historical performance.
For a detailed comparison of the different real-estate and business crowdlending platforms, check out this article.
Portfolio creation date
I created my BulkEstate portfolio in September 2017
BulkEstate's facts & figures
Riga, Latvia – Tallinn, Estonia
Number of investors
Loans amount financed
As of April 2021
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 enjoy 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 as well as 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.