Are you looking to boost your portfolio returns through crowdfunding - especially real estate focused? For the last several years Lending Club and Prosper have allowed everyday investors to profit from consumer lending.
But in the last few years, a new type of real estate investing platform registered with the SEC. Groundfloor is the first company qualified by the SEC to offer real estate debt investments via Regulation A for non-accredited investors.
So far, Groundfloor has lent out $500 million across 2,600+ projects. Investors to date have received average returns of 10% with a loss ratio (the ratio of principal lost to total principal invested) of less than 1% since 2013.
The numbers sound enticing, but is Groundfloor right for you? Here’s what you need to know in our Groundfloor review.
- Investment lending and borrowing platform for real estate
- Focus is on fix and flip properties
- You can invest within a self-directed IRA
None for Investors
Cash and SDIRA
What Is Groundfloor?
Groundfloor is a crowdfunded real estate lending and investing platform. As an investor, you can preview and fund loans for residential real estate projects, including Fix and Flip properties, new construction properties, and buy-and-hold properties.
Potential borrowers submit a loan package that includes detailed numbers, pictures of the property and more. The Groundfloor team of experts reviews proposals, and then chooses to allow the loan into the pipeline or not. The SEC then qualifies each loan as an investment security called a Limited Recourse Obligation (LRO), which is then put on the Groundfloor platform for funding.
Once the deal is in the pipeline, investors can begin allocating funds to the loan. Usually the loan is for a term of 6-12 months, but it could be shorter or longer. When the money is in the loan, it’s not liquid. You can’t sell it to another investor, and you can’t cash it out. Once the principal is returned, you’ll receive a repayment of your investment, plus the predetermined interest. You’ll have the option to invest again or withdraw the cash to your bank account.
Groundfloor works with investors nationwide. They work with borrowers in 32 states.
Borrowers can get loans for $75K - $1 Million at rates as low as 5.5%. Anyone who has worked with a hard money lender knows that these are screaming deals. They will fund up to 100% of the cost of a project for qualified borrowers, and up to 70% of the after flip value. Groundfloor also offers a unique deferred payment loan option, which means you will have no payments during the term of the loan.
Reg A+ Real Estate Lending
Many investors who will never pick up a hammer, talk to a home inspector, or rehab a house want access to Real Estate investments within their portfolio. Most of these investors will gain real estate exposure by purchasing REITs.
Groundfloor isn’t a REIT. It’s a lending marketplace. The Groundfloor Team is loaded with Real Estate Experts, with over 100 years of collective real estate experience, but there are no guarantees. If you invest in a loan, and the loan goes into default and experiences a loss, you could lose your investment. However, it’s important to note that loans in default don’t always (or even usually) result in a loss. According to Groundfloor’s recent analysis, loans that have gone into default have still historically returned over 8% interest on average. Groundfloor is always in first lien position on the home. So some or all of the principal can be returned to you in the event of a loss as well.
Since launching in 2013, Groundfloor’s loss ratio (the ratio of principal lost to principal invested) has been less than 1%. If a loan experiences a loss, it could be the loan you fund. As an investor, you don’t have control over the project. You’re outsourcing that work to others.
The key to successful investing on Groundfloor is diversification. Investors who have diversified their portfolios into a large number of loans can still realize high overall rates of return, even when losses occur. In fact, Groundfloor's analysis shows that a model portfolio consisting of an equal investment made into all 1,545 loans repaid as of July 2021 would've earned an annualized net return of 9.98%. It’s a great concept, and Groundfloor now has over eight years of data that you can review in the many analyses the company has available on its blog.
However, it’s a good idea to take some time to become comfortable with Groundfloor’s model before you commit money. Luckily, the company’s $10 minimum investment size allows you to try the platform out and get a feel for how it works first, without having to invest large sums.
Groundfloor Offers Broad Exposure Potential
Groundfloor doesn’t require you to fund an entire loan yourself. That’s a good thing because the loans are between $75k-$1M. You can gain exposure to loans in up to 32 states. Transparent deals in diverse geographic regions can give you a margin of safety.
A common maxim in real estate is “All Real Estate is Local.” It’s true, but that doesn’t mean that you need all your real estate in one location. To invest through Groundfloor you don’t have to be super-knowledgeable about one particular real estate market. Instead, you can diversify your lending into a number of loans spread across different borrowers in different geographic regions.
The opportunity for diversification across a growing number of high quality loans is one of Groundfloor's biggest strengths. Their $10 minimum investment per project is an intentionally low barrier to diversification, allowing you to easily diversify your portfolio across many projects if you so choose. But as an investor, you need to be mindful about maintaining diversification. Don’t go all in on a single loan unless you’re willing to lose all your money on a single loan.
Remember, make sure you understand all the risks of crowdfunding platforms.
Who Shouldn’t Use Groundfloor?
Groundfloor isn’t an appropriate investment for someone who needs high liquidity. If you need your cash to pay for school, buy a car or start your own business, don’t use Groundfloor.
Groundfloor also isn’t appropriate for an investor who has a low risk tolerance. Investing in Groundfloor doesn’t mean merely riding out volatility. It requires you to trust that marketplace lending is a good way for you to invest your hard-earned cash.
How Does Groundfloor Compare?
Groundfloor is not the only platform where you can invest in real estate related assets. However, they take a different approach by focusing on lending (versus owning an actual cash flowing property). That does give them some unique angles.
There closest competitor would be Peerstreet, which does require a much higher minimum of $1,000 to get started. There are also online platforms like Fundrise that allow you to invest in a pool of real estate.
See this quick comparison:
Open To Non-Accredited Investors?
Who Can Profit From Groundfloor?
If you’re willing to take on a bit more risk in exchange for somewhat higher returns, Groundfloor might be a great investment for you. Groundfloor could function like high-yield bonds in a well-diversified portfolio. It's not as liquid but the minimum to invest is just $10 per project!
Investors who don’t need immediate liquidity, and are willing to experiment, should look at Groundfloor. It’s a passive way to get into the fix and flip action. This will appeal to a lot of investors.
Borrowers who can meet Groundfloor's rigorous standards will receive low-cost loans with terms that are favorable to flippers. The majority of Groundfloor's borrowers choose its deferred payment option, so they don’t have to make payments on the loan during the course of the fix and flip project. As a borrower, this should be a source to consider.
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
Risk Mitigation And Due Diligence
GroundFloor is a P2P real estate lending platform. As an investor, you can preview and fund loans for Fix and Flip properties. Potential borrowers submit a loan package that includes detailed numbers, pictures of the property and more. The GroundFloor team of experts reviews proposals, and then chooses to allow the loan into the pipeline or not.
- Real estate lending platform that allows peer-to-peer real estate loans
- Low minimum investment
- Allows IRA investments
- Less liquid than other investments (terms of 6-12 months)
- Some concerning user experience comments
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor