Fundrise. Real Estate Investing with some pretty substantial returns. Is it worth it? Is it legit? Should you invest in it? Here’s what I discovered. Enjoy! Add me on Snapchat/Instagram: GPStephan
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Fundrise is a real estate investing service that allows you access to private market real estate deals that they say should “deliver superior risk-adjusted returns over time versus a portfolio of publicly traded stocks.” The biggest difference is that Fundrise is NOT publicly traded on a stock exchange, but they are publicly available. By being publicly available, this means that anyone can invest because they comply with the SEC disclosure regulations, and by doing so, they don’t limit themselves to accredited investors
So there’s gotta be a catch, RIGHT? So I read through all 225 pages of their fine print. Here’s what I found.
First concern is lack of liquidity. By investing through Fundrise, you’re pretty much tying up your money for 5 years. Even though they say that if you pull out your money prior to then at their redemption rate, which is 97% at its lowest - they still make it very clear there is no guaranteed return of your investment with no immediate plan to buy back your shares. As from their fine print: “If we do not successfully implement a liquidity transaction, you may have to hold your investment for an indefinite period.” It goes on to say “Fundrise Advisors, LLC, our wholly-owned subsidiary, has the authority, in its sole discretion, to limit redemptions by each shareholder during any quarter, including if the Manager deems such action to be in the best interest of the shareholders as a whole.”
Second concern I have is their fees…which they say are 1% annually. This seems a bit high compared to other lower cost options, namely a Vanguard REIT - which charges 0.26% annually as a fee, or 74% LESS than FundRise. But, in FundRise’s defense, they’re a smaller company which invests in riskier assets that should generate higher returns to compensate to the higher fee.
My third concern - and also a major reason I’d never invest in this - is that the dividends are taxes as ordinary income at your ordinary income rate. One of the many advantages of holding long term investments is capturing the long term capital gains tax rate - this is typically SIGNIFICANTLY lower than the tax rate for ordinary income.
My fourth concern is how this investment will hold up in a down market. While I agree with their market strategy and can’t find any faults with where they’re investing, at some point there will be a plateau in growth, while these returns are possible NOW, I’m unsure how sustainable these are long term - and again, if you want to re-balance your portfolio, you may be stuck with your investment. And they very much acknowledge this in their fine print: “The significant growth we have experienced, particularly with respect to assets under management and revenues, will be difficult to sustain.”
Fifth, I’m always a little hesitant about companies that give referral fees. While often it’s a nice gesture to give customers SOMETHING for referring business, and I totally agree with this business model, in the age of the internet, there will be people out there who will write falsely positive reviews just to get the referral bonus. When this happens, honest criticism becomes buried or harder to find.
For someone wanting exposure to real estate, I believe there are many other REIT options out there that offer the liquidity and tax treatment that put you in a much better position, even if they’ll give you slightly lower returns. I’d rather sacrifice a percent or two JUST to have access to my money when I need it. So overall, no it’s not a scam - and there are some positives about what they’re doing - but from what I see, the downsides just outweigh the upside, rendering other options as more attractive when put side by side.
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