20 August 2015 – Cinco Días
Crowdfunding is breaking into the Spanish real estate market; and small investors seem to be thriving in a space that was, until now, controlled by large fortunes and stratospheric projects. It is now possible to make an investment with just €500 in your pocket, through Housers, which describes itself as “the first online real estate crowdfunding platform in Spain”.
With the aim of creating a property investment fund opene to everyone, and based on the success that such platforms have been having in countries such as the USA and UK, Antonio Brusola and Álvaro Luna decided to launch a project that already has 800 users and is only one month old.
The platform, which has been adapted to reflect the new Crowdfunding Law that was ratified in April 2015, is aimed primarily at the purchase of homes. With a minimum investment of €500 in four different projects or €2,000 in just one, individuals can buy a stake in a home and receive monthly rental income, plus a capital gain when the property is sold. Similarly, the funds may be used to finance short-term real estate projects, such as construction and the renovation of buildings, in order to achieve “low risk investment products that generate high returns from rental and sale”, explains the company.
Housers offers homes and retail premises on its website for the moment, but the company is also looking to acquire industrial warehouses, depending on “how each asset performs in the market”. “Homes have the most upside potential, but retail premises have lower maintenance costs. They are two quite different products”, says Brusola, one of the co-founders. That is why the company expects to generate gross returns of more than 7% p.a. and that its properties will appreciate in value by 35% by the time they are sold.
“We try to purchase between 10% and 20% below the market price, so that we can sell them for 35% more with just a small increase”, says Brusola. He also confirms that the security of the investment is “quite high because it is a physical product and the loss is very limited”. “It is always possible that prices will not increase – for example, there could be a 10% decrease in house prices over the next few years, however, the rental income from the property will offset that potential decrease”, he says.
With this initiative, Housers expects to purchase more than 1,500 homes and obtain €300 million from around 10,000 investors in three years. In addition, the company is considering a capital increase in October, a month after the final launch of the platform, in September. And even though the idea was first floated in December last year and the web went live a month ago, the new Law resulted in delays to the project, which had to be adapted to the reflect the new processes required.
The new legislation establishes investment limits of €3,000 per project and a maximum investment of €10,000 in a 12 month period for non-accredited investors. Moreover, it forces platforms to collaborate with payment entities, or with the Bank of Spain, to ensure that segregated accounts are used and investors do not deposit their money directly in the platforms. For this reason, Housers has joined forces with LemonWay, a European payment entity that operates internationally, which affords it access to overseas investors, especially in the USA, UK and Germany, countries in which this property crowdfunding formula is more developed.
Original story: Cinco Días (by Asun Infante & Alfonso Simón Ruiz)
Translation: Carmel Drake