Should Buyers Crowdfund Their Way Into Homeownership?

In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular way to pay for a remarkably wide range of ventures. Want to back a sliced-ketchup product, a self-serve cocktail machine, or maybe a charity race? Just pull out your smartphone. But more recently the technology has been moving a bit closer to home—right up, in fact, to your doorstep. Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way for aspiring home buyers to tap into their networks to come up with down payments.

A new wave of crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter for real estate, could be a game changer for younger, tech-savvy generations of home buyers saddled with student loan debt. It’s an idea that is gaining traction, with sites such as HomeFundMe and Feather the Nest, which helps folks raise money for down payments and repairs, and online registries such as HoneyFund, which includes the option of gifting a down payment contribution.

“The No. 1 challenge that we hear from millennials in terms of their ability to buy a home is the down payment,” says Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions for Fannie Mae. “Crowdsourcing is an interesting new way that a person can generate a down payment, one made possible by technology. … We think there is a great future for it.”

Users who are typically pre-qualified for a mortgage can create personal pages on these platforms, on which they can talk about their journey toward homeownership, illustrated with photos and maybe video. These pages can be shared with family and friends.

“[Many] people find they can afford [mortgage] payments, but not the down payment to own a home,” says Christopher George, CEO of CMG Financial, a San Ramon, CA–based mortgage banking firm that launched HomeFundMe late last year.

George, a father of four millennial sons, came up with the idea for HomeFundMe in 2016 after seeing the financial struggles of his kids’ generation. The crowdfunding platform is the only one of the bunch designed solely for down payments and is the first to be backed by mortgage industry giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“We’re talking to millennials saying their social network is their net worth,” George says. “Why not allow your sphere of influence [to] help as well?”

What you need to know about a crowdfunded down payment

Using gifted funds for a down payment can be tricky—mortgage lenders typically require a letter from the giver, specifying that the money is a gift, not a loan, and there are no strings attached. But using an online fundraising platform can allow buyers to bypass some of that red tape.

Using HomeFundMe, anyone can give up to $7,500 to a campaign without documentation. HomeFundMe also doesn’t charge fees to use the platform, or take a cut of what’s raised. The company will even give buyers $2 for every $1 they raise, up to $1,000, or up to 1% of the purchase price if they undergo home buyer counseling beforehand. Buyers who earn less than their area’s median income can earn up to $2,500, or 1% of the home price.

So what’s the catch? Crowdfunders must get their mortgage through HomeFundMe’s parent company, CMG Financial. They have to close on a home within a year of accepting their first gift. And if they don’t use the money to buy a home, funds marked “conditional on the recipient purchasing a home” are returned to the donor. The crowdfunder can keep the rest.

Other crowdfunding platforms have slightly different business models.

The online gift registry Feather the Nest has helped about half of its 3,000 “nesters” raise down payments since it launched in 2014, according to company officials.

Fees include a 5% transaction fee that goes to Feather the Nest, and a fee of 2.9% plus 30 cents that goes to its payment processing system, Stripe.

At HoneyFund, another online registry, about 6% of the 100,000 mostly millennial couples who use the site each year ask for down payments, according to company officials. There are no fees to use the platform, but users are charged 2.8% processing fees plus 30 cents per gift when the money is moved into their PayPal or WePay accounts.

“A lot of couples are not only saving for their home down payments but also home improvements,” HoneyFund CEO Sara Margulis says.

The dangers of crowdfunding your down payment

However, there are risks to buyers relying on crowdfunding to come up with money for a home.

“If somebody is not able to save for their own down payment, it might be because they are stretched financially. But it [also] might be that they are bad at saving,” says Fannie Mae’s Lawless. “The ability to generate savings is a critical aspect of being a responsible homeowner.”

Remember, it was homeowners who couldn’t really afford their homes that led to the financial crisis just over a decade ago. So helping more people who haven’t mastered the art of saving, or who may be so financially stretched that they can’t afford to save, is worrisome.

It’s “a very risky proposition,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Carrington Mortgage Holdings, a real estate company in Aliso Viejo, CA. These kinds of buyers may be “one unexpected car payment, one roof repair, one water heater replacement away from missing a mortgage payment and possibly going into a downward cycle they can’t recover from.”

By Young Ha

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Crowdfunding for Real Estate – read on….

I am all about innovation and positive change.  When I heard that crowdfunding has made its way into the Real Estate market – I thought I’d have a look.  Read this article I found about a local company – RealtyShares…

RealtyShares Gets $10M From Menlo To Grow Its Platform For Crowdfunding Real Estate Projects

Sort of like a “LendingClub for real estate,” RealtyShares has taken the idea of crowdfunding and applied it to the real estate market. After about a year of operations in which it was able to show product-market fit, the company has raised $10 million in funding from Menlo Ventures to quickly grow the number of projects made available to investors.

Unlike some other crowdfunding platforms, RealtyShares isn’t aimed at the consumer market. Like AngelList, it is focused fully on helping accredited investors easily find opportunities for investment. Its main goal is to reduce the friction between project sponsors and real estate developers looking for capital and investors who are looking to diversify their portfolios.

RealtyShares accomplishes this by doing the actual work of underwriting opportunities for outside investors, and allowing them to invest as little as $5,000 into any individual project. As a result, it can give them access to projects that were either too small or too difficult to underwrite themselves.

For real estate developers, meanwhile, RealtyShare’s model helps them get access to capital much faster than if they were to turn to a bank or other lender to fund a project. Projects on average are fully funded within four days of being put on the RealtyShares platform.

Since being founded, it’s funded hundreds of residential and commercial properties worth more than $300 million. More importantly for investors, it’s already returned some of their capital, enabling them to re-invest in its platform. RealtyShares founder and CEO Nav Athwal tells me that investments on the platform have paid back $2 million in capital so far, though it’s early days.

Returns vary by project, based on the type of deal (commercial versus residential), as well as risk profile and whether they are debt or equity deals. But they can range from 8 percent to 20 percent, which generally outperforms most other investment opportunities available.

RealtyShares has been growing quickly, as it increases the number of projects that investors can put money into. Just over the last few months, it’s seen both the number of deals available and dollar value of investments made on its platform double month-over-month. Part of that growth has just come from having a bigger pipeline of deals come its way.

Athwal says the company is receiving about 1,000 applications a month from borrowers, which is up from about 300 at the end of 2014. It then does the work of narrowing down which projects it makes available to potential investors. According to Athwal, in March investors on its platform funded about 15 deals to the tune of $7 million.

But there’s a lot more deals it could make available, if it had the ability to underwrite its projects more efficiently. That’s where the most recent funding comes in. With it, RealtyShares will invest in hiring more people and streamlining its internal processes in an effort to more quickly vet applications that come its way.

Today it’s announcing a $10 million Series A round of financing led by Menlo Ventures, which also includes participation from previous investor General Catalyst. Along with the funding, Menlo Ventures general partner John Jarve will join the board.

According to Athwal, part of the reason RealtyShares decided to go with Menlo was the firm’s investment in and Jarve’s participation on the board of Betterment. He believes that experience will be useful in helping to grow his platform for real estate investment.

With the newfound cash, Athwal says RealtyShares will be looking to bring on more underwriters to handle the increasing volume of applications coming its way.

The company will also be investing in automating its internal processes for reviewing applications. Athwal believes that such automation will enable RealtyShares to more efficiently screen out projects which aren’t the best fit for the platform, thereby giving its underwriters the ability to focus on more qualified applications and project leads. Either way, the goal is to keep the quality of projects listed high, so that investors can keep investing with confidence.

DISCLAIMER – The Caton Team does not endorse this company or product – all blog content is for your enjoyment.  Please contact your CPA for financial guidance.  

I read this article at: http://techcrunch.com/2015/04/07/realtyshares-gets-10m-from-menlo-to-grow-its-platform-for-crowdfunding-real-estate-projects/

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

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Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

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PURCHASING REAL ESTATE THROUGH YOUR IRA

Investing with your IRA – has been a hot topic I have been looking into for years.  This article, by RealtyShares is a starting point.  If you are curious on how to invest with your IRA – contact your financial consultant.  

PURCHASING REAL ESTATE THROUGH YOUR IRA

Real Estate is a true way to diversify and provides investors a more tangible alternative to the volatile stock market and the low-yield bond market. However, the fact remains that investors can’t access nontraditional assets like real estate through a traditional 401(k) or IRA. Rather, these investors, in order to take advantage of tax deferred returns, must invest exclusively in publicly traded securities like stocks and bonds.

Interestingly enough, real estate has been available to invest in using IRA’s, specifically Self-Directed IRA’s, under a little known IRS Code 4975. A Self-Directed IRA is an IRA like any other under IRS Publication 590 in terms of annual contributions, required minimum distributions, and types such as Traditional, ROTH, SEP, Simple 401K, Health Savings Account and Coverdell Education Accounts. However, it differs from a traditional IRA or 401(k) under IRS Code 4975, in that it allows one to invest in almost anything with the exclusion of life insurance, collectibles and S-corps.

The types of real estate assets that an investor can invest in using their Self-Directed IRA is quite broad and includes:

  • Residential or commercial real estate
  • Unimproved land
  • Rental houses
  • Multiple-occupant dwellings
  • Office buildings
  • Foreclosed properties
  • Deeds and mortgages
  • Crowdfunded Real Estate

The most important aspect of using Self-Directed IRA’s is understanding Prohibited Transactions. A Prohibited Transaction is the buying, selling, leasing, using, having any benefit or receiving compensation, directly or indirectly with a Prohibited Person, which is basically immediate family and lineal and a lineal descendants. In other words, one cannot invest in vacation property and vacation there, nor can they buy a condo for their parents to retire in, even if they rent it to them at market rates.

This post was written with the assistance of James A. Jones of Kingdom Trust Co. James is a national speaker and educator, and the most published author with 6 books in the Self-Directed IRA industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of the Self-Directed IRA Investment Institute and Vice President of Business Development for Kingdom Trust Co. He has pioneered the use of self-directed IRA’s in the Crowd funding space, and serves on the Board and Co-Chair of the Investor Committee for the Crowd funding Intermediary Regulatory Advocacy Group.

DISCLAIMER – The Caton Team does not endorse this company or product – all blog content is for your enjoyment.  Please contact your CPA for financial guidance.  

I read this article at: https://www.realtyshares.com/blog/purchasing-real-estate-through-your-ira

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008