Real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms

An overwhelming choice

Several real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms are reviewed on Alternative Investments. CrowdEstate, BulkEstate, EstateGuru, Envestio and Crowdestor all received good or great ratings; it may be hard to get an overall picture of their similarities and differences. This article aims at comparing them in a more specific way.

Why invest in real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms ?

An obvious reason is that returns for these projects are usually higher than with individual loans. Also, investing in such projects allows to diversify your portfolio.

Drawbacks of these investments​

Apart from a few exceptions, these investment opportunities don’t come with by a buyback guarantee[?]. This is obviously a price to pay for the higher returns.Also, with the notable exception of CrowdEstate and Envestio, these platforms lack a secondary market. This may not be a concern with short-term business loans; however, being stuck for two years on a real-estate investment may be annoying.

Real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms overview

We’ll compare the following platforms :

CrowdEstate is a large platform for both real-estate and business crowdfunding loans.
EstateGuru is a direct competitor to CrowdEstate.
BulkEstate is a company focusing on bulk real-estate deals; however, they also provide real-estate crowdlending projects.
Envestio is a recent platform. They mostly focus on business crowdfunding, but also provide a few real-estate projects.
Crowdestor is a another recent platform; they provide both real-estate and business crowdfunding projects.

Detailed platforms comparison

I will compare the platforms using the different criteria.We’ll first examine the loans themselves : loans volume, interest rate, projects diversity, and cash-flow regularity.Then, the platform’s track record will evaluate how many projects were already successfully exited.Finally, we’ll have a look at the features provided by the platform’s website : secondary market, auto-invest feature and platform usability.

Loans volume

CrowdEstate and EstateGuru feature many large projects; however, CrowdEstate also have a huge investors base. This means that most projects will fill up very quickly.BulkEstate’s projects fill up more or less quickly, depending on their returns; the least interesting ones usually take several days to reach the investment target.Envestio’s projects often involve large amounts of money, and as they’re a relatively new platform, they usually don’t get entirely filled. Finally, Crowdestor’s offer seem to perfectly match their investors’ demand.

Our choice

Interest rates

EstateGuru is probably the most conservative platform, with interests rates around 11%; CrowdEstate’s real-estate loans usually yield slightly more.

Envestio seems to offer the best returns. However, Crowdestor had a recent project returning a crazy 36% annual interest rate (!).

BulkEstate stands somewhere in-between, with returns between 13% and 16%; CrowdEstate’s business loans usually yield 16%.

It’s actually rather hard to pick up a winner, especially when considering the risk associated with greater returns. The great news is that every investor will probably find at least one platform that suits him !

Our choice

Projects diversity

BulkEstate is the only platform that only focuses on real-estate investments. All other feature both real-estate and business loans. Envestio features very diversified opportunities, while Crowdestor, CrowdEstate and EstateGuru are slightly more restricted.
Projects listed at Envestio
A sample of Envestio's available opportunities

Our choice

Cash-flow regularity

Crowdestor’s and Envestio’s loans usually pay interests monthly, as well as CrowdEstate’s business loans. This is an advantage over most of CrowdEstate’s real-estate projects and all of BulkEstate’s projects, which usually reimburse the capital and interests only once the project is completed.For EstateGuru’s projects, the reimbursement frequency varies from one loan to another. It may be monthly, or happen at the end of the project’s duration, at the same time as the interests.

Our choice

Track record

This is an essential criterion when evaluating a platform. Indeed, most of us will be hesitant to invest large amounts without a solid track record !CrowdEstate and EstateGuru has been there for a long time, and are the clear winners when considering this criterion. They list as many as thirty exited investment opportunities for CrowdEstate, and slightly less than two hundred for EstateGuru !BulkEstate is slightly more recent, and only has three repaid investments and fifteen active ones. This platform should have newly exited projects each month from now on, leading to an improved track record.Both Envestio and Crowdestor are newcomers. One of Crowdestor’s projects was repaid prematurely, making it the first platform’s exited project; While Envestio lists many completed projects, most seem to date back to the time when it was still a private investment company.
Projects available at CrowdEstate marketplace
CrowdEstate's recently exited opportunities

Our choice

Secondary market

Only CrowdEstate provides a secondary market[?] as such. It’s both a curse and a blessing, however, as it leads to a lot of speculation; many investments are on sale on the secondary market for a price higher than what was originally paid !Envestio provides what they call buyback; it means that the platforms guarantees that it will buy back your investment. The fee varies from project to project; it’s typically 5%.Finally, investors at Crowdestor, BulkEstate and EstateGuru are stuck with their investments until the project’s completion.

Our choice

Auto-invest

I don’t really consider auto-invest[?] a necessity when investing through real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms; indeed, as the projects are often less standard than individual loans, manual investing is often a wiser choice.

CrowdEstate feature an auto-invest; dues to the platform’s success and speculation on the secondary market, using it to invest is recommended. However, recent changes in the way bookings are processed make manual investment a possibility.

Investors at EstateGuru will also have access to this feature, although it will be restricted for most of them. As a result, manual investing is often a better choice.

Our choice

Platform usability

CrowdEstate’s platform is by far the most user-friendly; projects are extremely detailed and reporting is rather complete. Envestio’s website is rather neat too.While EstateGuru’s website works well and is properly translated, I find the design unappealing and sometimes confusing. It’s much less readable than CrowdEstate’s website.The two other competitors are clearly lacking behind. Crowdestor’s interface is rather rough, and lacks several useful features to follow the portfolio’s performance. BulkEstate’s platform still has room for improvement; however, in all fairness, it has improved a lot since the initial version !

Our choice

Choosing the right real-estate and business crowdfunding platforms

While CrowdEstate, Envestio and EstateGuru are clearly ahead of their competitors in the comparisons above, your choice should be based mostly on your risk tolerance.

Conservative portfolio

EstateGuru seems to be the platform providing the most conservative projects. Their loans volume is impressive; there are sometimes several opportunities daily !

Balanced portfolio

For investors who want higher returns but don’t want to risk investing through platforms with little track-record or in speculative investments, CrowdEstate is an obvious choice.

In addition, BulkEstate is great for those who want to invest in relatively conservative real-estate projects, while still getting good returns.

Speculative portfolio

Finally, both Envestio and Crowdestor are excellent ways to diversify your portfolio and potentially increase your returns, if you don’t mind the additional risk. I am greatly impressed by Envestio; the large projects offered on the platform allow to invest large sums in many domains. At the same time, Crowdestor is not a bad choice either; while the interface clearly needs some improvement and the projects could be more detailed, I find their investment opportunities very interesting.

CrowdEstate‘s business loans also offer great returns, with the added safety of a long track record.

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