With the recent boom of real estate crowdfunding platforms, I often get this question, “What do you think of the (fill in catchy name) platform? What platforms do you like?”
The problem with this question is that it’s really not asking the right question. I am a real estate investor. When I invest in real estate, either as a general or limited partner, I am looking at the asset itself, the business plan, and the people who are going to carry out that business plan.
All that a platform is doing is bringing deal flow to investors and then collecting fees the way a broker does. So when you invest on one of these platforms, do you know what you are buying?—Sometimes. Do you know what the business plan is to yield the projections?—Not usually. Do you know who is operating the asset, their track record, or whether or not you like the way they do business?—ALMOST NEVER.
You see, investing in real estate or any kind of real asset fund requires some due diligence and, in my book, it always comes back to the people who are operating the asset. Investing in real estate is not like investing in stocks. People can invest in the exact same stocks online from anywhere in the world and they get the same exact thing.
So, you can ask someone, “Do you invest in Apple? What stocks do you like?” and it actually has meaning. After all, the Apple stock I buy is the same one you buy. That’s just not how real estate works.
And to be clear, these real estate crowdfunding platforms know that. They give you the same type of experience that you get on E-Trade so that you think that real estate functions the same way. But it doesn’t.
Unlike Apple stock, there is an unlimited flavor of real estate equity and it should not be mistaken for a commodity. A specific asset can’t even be looked at that narrowly.
Case in point—I was once in the best and final for the acquisition of a $25 million asset in Dallas. As it turns out, it came down to two groups. One group is a heavy value-add player with primary goal of creating forced equity and a large increase in value for investors. They did not intend to make this into a cash flowing asset but saw great opportunity to increase its value and to sell it quickly.
The other team looked at it as a unique long-term opportunity to cash-flow while adding value in a more modest way. This involved keeping occupancies high and increasing rents more gradually.
In the end, the cash-flow team won that battle and it is performing very well. However, it’s being run very differently than it would had the other team won. It would still be doing very well, but the business plan would have been very different. I know this for a fact because I was on both teams!
Bottom line is that it’s not about the platform. It’s about assets and people. I see financial bloggers and self-proclaimed financial experts writing about these platforms as if they were specific investment opportunities, and frankly, they sound like bozos. Don’t take advice on real estate investing from someone who knows nothing about it. They are probably just trying to get you to click on a link to get an affiliate commission.
For me, investing is personal. The majority of my assets are deployed into specific real estate holdings or funds that that are run by specific people. In some cases, I make the decision to invest more because of the people than I do the asset.
A good example of that is AHP Servicing. AHP servicing has provided a fund of non-performing notes that I have, on multiple occasions, participated in as an investor over the years. I understand what they do but the note business is not something in which I would consider myself an expert.
Would I invest in any old note fund? The answer is no. However, I do know the founder and CEO of AHP Servicing well. I also like and trust him.
I am, of course, talking about Jorge Newbery. Jorge has been up to a lot of interesting things lately so I invited him back on the show to get us caught up. Listen to this week’s interview with Jorge and I think you will get a good idea why I like him and his fund as much as I do. He is one of the smartest and most interesting entrepreneurs I have ever met.
Jorge Newbery is the Chairman and founder of American Homeowner Preservation, LLC, or “AHP.” Jorge was the President of Budget Real Estate Inc. from 1995 to 2008, where he brokered over 1,000 troubled Department of Housing and Urban Development and real estate owned properties and acquired, renovated and operated over 200 distressed multi-family, single-family and commercial properties. Prior to that, Jorge was the co-founder of Sunset Mortgage from 1992 to 1995.
- Jorge’s background
- What does AHP Servicing do?
- Jorge talks about the current AHP fund
- Jorge tells us about one of AHP’s best features
- What will happen to AHP’s current holdings if there is a market correction?