Crowdfunding Transforms Real Estate Investing

09/06/2016 11:53 am ET Updated Sep 07, 2017
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"When crowdfunding first emerged, I saw in a flash that it was going to be wonderful. It was going to remove the middlemen, the lack of transparency, the cost, and the time. Crowdfunding was going to transform this multimillion dollar industry," explained attorney Mark Roderick. "I remember the day it happened and I said, 'I want to be a part of this.'"

Roderick's prediction held true: since investment crowdfunding was born as part of President Obama's 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), it has revolutionized capital-raising and is forecast to account for more funding in 2016 than venture capital.

As a crowdfunding attorney, Roderick has contributed to the industry's success by representing entrepreneurs who want to raise capital online. Roderick also shares industry data on his blog, crowdfundattny.com, and will keynote and moderate RealCap Chicago on September 29th.

RealCap is a real estate crowdfunding conference that joins leaders and newcomers, developers and investors alike to network and explore this expanding industry. Entrepreneurs can learn to raise money to fix and flip homes, build tiny houses, buy hotels, rehab commercial buildings, and even buy distressed mortgages. Investors seeking above-market returns will also hear from industry trailblazers, meet platform operators, and gain knowledge on what's working and what isn't. Hosted by American Homeowner Preservation and Small Change, RealCap promotes the continued growth of real estate crowdfunding while inspiring socially conscious investment.

The recently enacted Title III (Regulation Crowdfunding) and Title IV (Regulation A+) of the JOBS Act, which allow non-accredited investors to participate in equity crowdfunding, will be a hot topic. Successes and failures will be shared: as real estate crowdfunding sites have matured, the quality of investment offerings have improved and more refined legal structures developed. "There is still a lot of experimentation but individual sites have settled in on business models," said Roderick. "They are also starting to move away from individual investments and onto pooled investments."

While investment crowdfunding has advanced, Roderick reminds participants that the industry is still developing. He noted that the totality of American real estate crowdfunding sites likely account for only 5,000 - 10,000 actual investments. "The sites say, 'We have over 70,000 registered users,' but most never invest. It is a very, very, very young industry," said Roderick. "You could say that the crowdfunding industry today is where the auto industry was in about 1912, when there were a few cars on the road but most people were still riding horses."

Roderick predicts that crowdfunding platforms will become the investment banks of the future. "I think they'll start doing all the things that the huge brick and mortar investment banks do," he said. "They'll start offering investment advice, they'll start brokering transactions, and they'll provide temporary financing for transitions." He envisions millions of Americans directly investing in deals through the internet. Just as travel sites replaced travel agents and Uber is replacing yellow cabs, Roderick believes crowdfunding will become the standard for real estate investment. "Crowdfunding is just the internet coming to another industry," he said.

RealCap Chicago will join over twenty industry leaders to help chart the course for crowdfunding's future. Roderick will lead panelists including Bhavik Dani of Equity Roots, Heather Schwarz of Early Shares, Jordan Fishfeld of CFX, Scott Jordan of Healthios Exchange, and Ben Armstrong of GroundFloor on the "The Evolution of Real Estate Crowdfunding" panel.

Crowdfunding has brought accessibility and convenience to real estate investment, and leaders such as Roderick aim to guide it on a path of continued expansion.