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These Leading Crowdfunding Platforms Are Changing The Real Estate Investment Game

    Crowdfunding collage

    Crowdfunding platforms promise to democratize real estate investment, and people are taking them up on the offer. Crowdfunding lets investors reap the benefits of real estate investment, traditionally available only to the wealthy and connected, with as little as $1k.

    Crowdfunding is on track to raise more than $30B this year and will surpass venture capital, despite VC raising the most money since the dot-com era. Real estate crowdfunding hit $2.5B in 2015 and is showing no signs of slowing, and while most crowdfunding platforms have something unique to offer, these five are leading the industry.

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    RealtyShares started with a $50k investment from 500 Startups, and today it's worth more than $12M. The firm targets properties valued under $50M, believing the small-deal commercial real estate market is underserved, and offers investors a mix of fix/flip loans, preferred equity and mezzanine products. In July, the firm's founder and CEO, Nav Athwal (pictured), told Bisnow how he's led RealtyShares to raise more than $130M for 1,600 properties since its inception, making it one of the top crowdfunding platforms in the US.

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    Fundrise is a successful e-REIT that charges no fees for the first two years, or until your investment (hopefully) earns a 15% annualized return. More liquid than most real estate investment platforms, Fundrise recently made a big splash in the DC multifamily market, partnering its affiliate RSE Capital with Insight Property Group as part of its plan to invest $200M annually.

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    Jilliene Helman

    CEO and co-founder Jilliene Helman (pictured) is the woman behind one of the fastest-growing crowdfunding platforms in commercial real estate. It took RealtyMogul a little more than three years to dish out over $200M in real estate investments, and the firm boasts 85,000 investors registered on its platform. Nowadays, the firm is testing new waters with its crowdfunding REIT thanks to new legislation that makes it possible for both accredited and non-accredited investors who make less than $200k/year to invest in private companies.

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    For many investors crowdfunding boils down to speed, and on that count NYC-based iFunding delivers. In 2014 the firm raised over $25M from 4,000 investors and funded a $75k project in only five minutes. iFunding invests in commercial real estate by creating a new investment vehicle for each deal, with minimum investments differing depending on the particular project, though it usually ranges between $5k and $10k.

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    CrowdStreet is similar to online dating in that it connects sponsors with accredited investors who are looking for direct real estate investments. The sponsor largely uses the platform as an investor reporting and management tool, setting each deal's structure and terms individually. These terms can be complicated, so people who choose this platform usually have at least a basic understanding of how real estate investments work.