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Why RealtyShares CEO Says His Firm Is Different

There's no doubt the real estate crowdfunding space is getting crowded, but S.F.-based RealtyShares CEO Nav Athwal tells Bisnow his firm is standing out from the pack by being a one-stop shop

We stopped by the company's office at 425 Bush to learn more from Nav, who found RealtyShares after his career as a land use attorney. Nav tells us 2010 was a great time to buy, but the biggest constraint was raising efficient capital in a streamlined way. What started with a $50k investment from 500 startups has ballooned to $12M to date, including a $10M Series A round in April. Since then the team has grown from eight to 18 and he expects to double that number by Jan. 1. Last month RealtyShares closed $9M in originations. Deals have appeared in 60 cities coast to coast.

The company has outgrown its space at 425 (pictured), which Nav says would become a "sweat shop" if they stayed put, so the plan is to look in SoMa or stick in FiDi. He says competitors either do debt or equity but his firm does both. After the recession, there was a big need for single-family bridge loans, but now the firm is expanding its debt offerings to include commercial debt for perm, bridge and mezz. On the equity side, he says the company's looking at where the biggest value proposition exists: small to mid cap real estate that can't get institutional capital through a single source (the $25M to $30M deals). He says those deals can't get a pension fund to write one check for an entire deal. 

The crowdfunding real estate market has yet to see a huge volume of deals, thanks to the small number of investors signed up. Last year at the Crowdfund Banking and Lending Summit at the Grand Hyatt, Flaster/Greenberg attorney Mark Roderick told us the Internet's arrival in real estate funding could unlock $3.5T in investable dollars. Crowdfunding could shake things up just as Uber has done for taxis. He says we are five years away from $50M deals getting done. Nav tells us the biggest he's seen to date is $5M.