Investing > PeerStreet Review

PeerStreet Review

PeerStreet brings both borrowers and lenders together to facilitate real estate transactions through peer-to-peer crowdfunding.

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PeerStreet is disrupting real estate — one of the largest markets relatively untouched by technology.

If location, location, location is the calling card for real estate transactions, then PeerStreet could be the most important location to be as a real estate investor. 

PeerStreet is a FinTech (financial technology) company that provides asset-based financing, by providing mainly short-term loans that are secured by the borrower’s property (non-owner occupied real estate). 

Speaking after resuming funding loans in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, PeerStreet’s CEO Brew Johnson said, “Our two-sided marketplace business model was created to ensure there’s efficient connection between supply and demand for real estate debt, and after pausing to review the current situation, we’ve adjusted to reflect where the market is now.”

Sound like PeerStreet has what you’re looking for? Let’s find out.

PeerStreet is an online marketplace pioneering peer-to-peer crowdfunding in the real estate industry by connecting lenders primarily seeking short-term loans to renovate and flip houses

Fast Facts

  • Account Minimum: $1,000
  • Fees: 0.25% – 1%
  • Investment Length: 6-36 months
  • Returns: 6%-9% annualized
  • Property Types: Residential, commercial (retail, office, and industrial)

Ratings

  • Fees: 8/10
  • Usability: 7/10
  • Customer Service: 9/10
  • Diversification: 9/10
  • Ease of Use: 8/10
  • Investment Portfolio: 9/10
  • Due Diligence: 8/10
  • Overall: 8/10
Visit PeerStreet on PeerStreet’s website

What is PeerStreet?

PeerStreet is a peer-to-peer marketplace that unites accredited investors with lenders and borrowers to facilitate real estate loans. The Los Angeles-based investment firm was founded in 2013 with the objective of making the platform an easy place for investors to purchase real estate debt.

It fills a much-neglected need in the market by providing high-quality, private real estate loans to those who aren’t traditional real estate investors. 

Its business model hinges on PeerStreet buying loans from private lenders, then aggregating them to create a pool of loans that are disseminated so that investors on the platform can purchase shares. Most of these loans are short term, with their duration ranging from six to twenty-four months. 

On March 19, PeerStreet became one of the first firms to hit the pause button on funding loans in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has resumed funding, albeit with more conservative credit box requirements, updated to reflect the new reality and provide more robust protection for investors.

PeerStreet Overview and Summary

Below are some of the key points that highlight what has defined PeerStreet most recent history:

  1. PeerStreet was founded in 2013 and innovated the marketplace for “fix-and-flip” real-estate loans.
  2. PeerStreet’s rapid growth is underscored by having made up to $3 billion in loan transactions as of November 2019.
  3. In October last year, PeerStreet raised $60 million in Series C funding, along with $4.25 billion in capital commitments.
  4. PeerStreet temporarily halted loan funding due to COVID-19 pandemic, but resumed in May 2020 with a new “credit box” product.
  5. PeerStreet was named by Deloitte as one of the top 25 fastest growing technology companies.

Pros

  • Limited risk by focusing on debt, instead of both debt and equity
  • Lowest minimums in the industry at $1,000.
  • Steady volume of loans through its large network of investors
  • Good investment performance transparency
  • Opportunity to diversify along with short-term maturity of loans

Cons

  • Lower investment yields when compared to other options
  • Eligibility limited accredited investors
  • No mobile app

PeerStreet, Commercial Real-Estate, and COVID-19

Like virtually all industries, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. As the global actions to curtail the spread of the virus continue, CRE is grappling with how to come to terms with it also.

If history is a guide, it teaches us that economic disruptions, whether caused by a pandemic or economic downturn, tends to have an immediate impact on short-term commercial real-estate asset prices.

On the other hand, with regards to CRE transaction activities, there appears to be minimal influence. History shows that the CRE industry is inclined to rebound more quickly from event-oriented downturns, while longer-term events such as the 2008 recession had a more profound impact, consequently resulting in a more protracted recovery.

In addition, the CRE industry has usually lagged the general economy by about six months in terms of experiencing the effect of downturns. However, a caveat remains that the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, together with its reach, depth, and expansiveness is precipitating a much quicker impact on the CRE industry.

As a result, investors and borrowers on PeerStreet should factor in this contingency.

When it started reissuing loans on May 7, 2020 PeerStreet instituted a new “credit box,” essentially a new product that is geared to protect investors and reflect a more conservative approach to lending.

The Commercial Real Estate Industry Pre-COVID-19

Prior to the ravages of Covid-19, the CRE industry was in a pretty strong position. In terms of all the critical indices such as capital availability, liquidity, and balance sheets, companies were well-positioned to manage debt positions, even those that took much longer to mature.

According to a 2019 global survey with CRE C-suite executives, as many as 75% of the respondents anticipated that capital availability would increase in 2020. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Commercial Real Estate

As everyone not living under a rock is aware, the coronavirus has disrupted both supply chains and financial markets. Its impact was also unique on the commercial real estate industry; instead of the typical lag period, the CRE industry was immediately affected by Covid-19.

  • Lending: while markets have remained accessible, investors are skittish because of the enhanced risk
  • Liquidity: there is a short-term liquidity crunch with some hotels applying for debt relief
  • Leasing volume: some markets have experienced the lowest decline since 2013, with YoY as much as 25%
  • Capitalization rates: impact has varied based on property type. Hotels and mall REITs rising by 402 bps and 206 bps respectively
  • Investments: uncertainty causing a slow-down for new investments. 74% of respondents shelving their CRE investment plans
  • Operations: Due to social distancing and other factors, a lot of offices, hotels, and living places closed. More cleaning and sanitizing driving up operation costs.

How Does PeerStreet Make Money?

It is difficult to divorce how PeerStreet makes money from how it works.

Therefore, it is advised that in addition to reading this section, the reader should also incorporate the information in the succeeding “How does PeerStreet work?” section to get a comprehensive picture.

The model of most debt platforms is to facilitate loans to borrowers, then in turn resell these loans on their marketplace. Unlike these others that originate their loans, PeerStreet purchases loans which it in turn lists on its platform. 

In exchange for using its platform, PeerStreet applies a servicing fee (between 0.25% and 1%) to every loan invested. However, this fee is in essence taken out from interest rate payments: spread out between the interest rate that is payable on the loan the interest received by the investor. 

As a result of this structure, PeerStreet only makes their money when the investor gets paid.

Consequently, PeerStreet investors are able purchase pieces of these loans in order to share in their profit or loss.

At the other end of the transaction is the borrower (who is also typically an entrepreneur) who needs the funds to flip a home. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, flipping entails purchasing a home that is run down, fixing it up, and reselling the remodeled home for a profit.

Interested to see how PeerStreet stacks up to the competition? See our EquityMultiple review.

PeerStreet’s Servicing Fee for Transaction Intermediary

PeerStreet’s business model also removes a conflict of interest that usually encumbers other platforms. These platforms often find it difficult to stop originating loans when it is necessary to do so because they profit by charging the borrower an origination fee.

However, PeerStreet tends to be more expensive due to its role as a middle-man that charges an extra “servicing fee.” In contrast, platforms that originate themselves don’t charge this service fee; or if they do, theirs tend to be lower. 

PeerStreet’s service fee is usually 1%, although it can fall as below as the 0.25% to 1%. To its credit, PeerStreet is transparent enough to specify this in its rate details on the loan so customers are aware of how much it is.

Furthermore, customers are also appraised of who the originator of the loan is, and how much “skin in the game” they have, which also boosts the overall transparency of the platform.

Occasionally investors can be confronted with other fees linked to the investment, like when they pay extra to an originator in possession of an older, more seasoned loan.

The logic behind this higher charge is that these types of older loans are at lower risk of defaulting. These fees however, impact the investor by reducing the rate of return on the investment.

How Does PeerStreet Work?

Like in all marketplaces, there are two parties essential to business in PeerStreet. 

How PeerStreet Works

Those borrowing funds through loans provided by PeerStreet are known as real estate equity investors. Those providing the funds are real-estate-backed loan investors.

The lenders who provide the real-estate-backed-loans have the privilege of being first lienholders. This essentially puts them first in line to recoup their money, if and when a deal goes south, protecting their funds in the event of a major problem such as a default on the loan.

PeerStreet differs from the more traditional REITs (real estate investment trusts), in the sense that there is more flexibility and transparency afforded to the investor. The flexibility is implied by the ability PeerStreets provides borrowers to choose from a range of real estate portfolios, designed with diverse geographic locations, property types, LTVs, and loan maturity dates, among others. 

Another cap in its feather is that PeerStreet boasts a lower fee structure when compared to equivalent REIT loans. With all of the aforementioned features, there’s no wonder PeerStreet made our report of the top real estate crowdfunding sites.

PeerStreet Business Metrics

Grasping concepts such as Loan-To-Value (LTV) is crucial for investing in real estate debt. It is a ratio that depicts the loan amount versus the estimated value of the real estate property. For instance, a $55,000 loan taken on a property valued $100,000 would be expressed as “55% LTV.”

Higher LTV values represent higher risks. In practice, PeerStreet loans are under 75% LTVs.  These loans are evaluated on an “as-is” basis, which simply means the value of the property is appraised in its present condition, without factoring in additional repairs and renovations.

PeerStreet’s debts are indirectly structured. 

In most debt crowdsourcing platforms, the platform’s investors don’t directly own notes, which simply means that their investments are not directly secured by a note. In practice, the debt note is held separately by an LLC in direct security. 

In turn, this originating LLC subsequently pledges the note to the LLC to which the PeerStreet real estate equity investor is co-owner of. This is an investor protection mechanism that prevents PeerStreet from disclosing the name of its fillings; which is a plus since most investors rarely want that information disclosed.

Migration of Loans and Debt

This depicts the progression and movement of PeerStreet loans:

Private Investors Nationwide —> PeerStreet platform Investors (lenders) —> PeerStreet platform borrowers

As shown above, the lenders on the platform use the capital provided by PeerStreet (via a nationwide network of private investors) to subsequently lend to individuals seeking to purchase real estate property to flip or generate income.

PeerStreet provides a diverse portfolio of real estate holdings with a minimum investment of $1,000, making the platform one of the lowest minimums in the top 10 range ($1K versus $10K average).

The peer-to-peer model was initially popularized by defunct file-sharing networks like Napster. The more common term for the concept is crowdfunding and Peerstreet achieves this through its online marketplace that sources, manages, performs due diligence, and structures loans.

The overriding purpose of Peerstreet is the provision of real estate loans to those who aren’t traditionally real estate investors. 

Among the other advantages, it provides to investors is the diversification affords them as opposed to typing up all their funds in a single property. 

Before it stalled due to the global pandemic, PeerStreet had been experiencing rapid growth, achieving over $3 billion in loan transactions by the end of last year.

Is PeerStreet’s Debt Better Than Stock Market Equity?

PeerStreet’s business model is a peer-to-peer lending platform that provides access to real estate investments through debt. It is important to distinguish that PeerStreet’s investments are made NOT on the real estate property itself, but rather on the real estate loans.

As an investor, the pertinent question to ask is why you would be better off dealing with PeerStreet rather than investing your funds in the stock market. Even when the top investment apps are utilized — which drastically simplify the process of stock trading — there are important considerations here.

Well, investors assume a greater risk with capital investment through equity ownership. Although the stock market has its attractions, its tendency to be volatile increases such risks.

Debt (usually in the form of bonds), on the other hand, is a much safer alternative. 

PeerStreet’s two-sided real-estate marketplace is the platform of choice for entrepreneurs seeking investment opportunities that are a safer alternative to the stock market. Through debt, PeerStreet finances projects in real estate using hard money lending to lower risk exposure.

Its platform leverages a technological-driven two-sided marketplace that allows accredited investors to broaden their portfolio in what is a fixed-income asset class that had previously proved challenging for individuals to tap into.

A certain knowledge of specialized real estate lending is required in order to be successful; however, it is nothing like investing in certificates of deposits or mortgage-backed securities.

The accredited lenders are vetted on their ability to provide borrowers with short-term loans for real estate. For their risk, these investors are rewarded with first-lien positions.

While there are other crowdfunding sites like Lending Club and Fundrise, PeerStreet is unlocking value by building diversified portfolios through the short-term maturity, secured loans that are unencumbered by fixed-assets.

According to investor and hedge fund manager Dr. Michael Burry, “PeerStreet’s investments have similar yields to Lending Club but are backed by real estate and carry very attractive loan-to-value ratios.” Dr. Burry serves on PeerStreet’s board of advisors.

However, PeerStreet doesn’t work for most investors, especially those of modest financial means. For investors looking for easier access to crowdfunded real estate, a thorough review of Fundrise will be worthwhile.

How is PeerStreet Different From a REIT?

REIT is an investment company that specializes in operating, owning, and financing income-generating real estate assets. It is modeled from the template of mutual funds, pooling capital together from investors and thereby paving the way for individuals to earn dividends from real estate without the hassles of managing, buying, or even financing any properties.

PeerStreet real estate equity investors are different from traditional mortgage borrowers. This is because their profiles demand different needs, with PeerStreet beneficiaries consisting primarily of professional investors who have multiple properties across geographic regions.

Because they are juggling several properties at once, PeerStreet’s real estate equity investors usually find themselves on a tight timeline and often require bridge financing in the interim. 

Both PeerStreet and REIT have real estate experts performing the heavy-lifting aspects of due diligence, with PeerStreet only permitting accredited investors. 

In addition, PeerStreet has a lower barrier to entry, as its fee structure isn’t as burdensome as REIT. 

More Diversified Portfolio

The main distinguishing feature between the two is the PeerStreet provides a more wide-ranging portfolio of offerings while REIT is markedly less diverse. The corollary is that PeerStreet provides more empowerment to its real-estate equity investors, allowing them to customize their portfolio as they deem fit with the ability to select properties across various metrics such as geographical regions.

PeerStreet Data

This range of loan offerings provided by PeerStreet isn’t only limited to location, but also allows a diverse range of loans to be selected based on the markets they are situated, lending terms, return rates and LTV. 

Diversification isn’t the cardinal feature separating PeerStreet and REIT. The latter provides a more opaque methodology while PeerStreet allows their borrowers much more transparency and flexibility in their range of choices. 

PeerStreet gives borrowers the opportunity to self-select loan investments they are interested in, thereby having the chance to build their portfolio based upon desired real estate features such as loan maturities, property types, and so on. 

In the first year of its activities, PeerStreet reportedly celebrated its anniversary by declaring that it had finished by funding $150 million investments with a breathtaking zero losses in the preceding year. It would be hard pressed to find a REIT with an equivalent track record. 

Is PeerStreet a Good Investment?

The competitive edge that crowdfunding brings to PeerStreet is that it makes it easier for businesses to raise money by allowing others to invest, circumventing some of the obstacles required to raise capital. 

The real-estate-backed loan investors are able to lend funds to borrowers at a rate between 6% to 12%. This also grants them the privilege of having first lien on the property. To forestall people abandoning their loans, they are incentivized by not wanting to lose the equity they have accrued in their property because of a default in payment. 

In the worst case scenario that the property inevitably has to be foreclosed, PeerStreet ensures that its assets are liquidated so that the investors can get their money back. This is a far better outcome for investors, especially when compared to other PeerStreet competitors such as LendingClub or Prosper that provide unsecured loans: their only form of a recourse is to lower the defaulting recipients credit rating.

Despite these good feature protections, some PeerStreet investors have complained that they are faced with inadequate information when a deal goes wrong. 

In addition, for the type of investors who tend to conservative, who favor stricter criteria (for example, lower LTVs, preferring only non-judicial states), they are often stymied due to insufficient volume of qualifying loans on the PeerStreet’s platform to justify their effort.

For those investors concerned about its financial standing, it is unlikely PeerStreet is going away anytime soon based on its growth and funding. Late last year, it announced that $3 billion in loans transactions have passed through the PeerStreet marketplace, underlining the exponential growth the company has been experiencing.

And this milestone was achieved after it raised $60MM Series C funding and obtained $4.25 Billion in new capital commitments. 

Miscellaneous Fun Facts About PeerStreet

Apart from being a leader in the real estate market, PeerStreet is also one of the few FinTech firms promoting diversity, not through lip service, but through concrete action. It demonstrated this by promoting Ellen Coleman to the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). 

Prior to receiving this promotion, Coleman was serving as Executive Vice President (EVP) of Finance. Under her new role as CFO, Coleman is tasked with overseeing various teams comprising accounting, finance, treasury, servicing, and capital markets.

For those interested in fun trivia, one of the early backers and investors of PeerStreet, Michael Burry is the hero of the movie, “The Big Short.” He anticipated the subprime mortgage crisis that precipitated the 2008 financial meltdown.

Conclusion

PeerStreet has pioneered the largest marketplace for investing in real estate debt. Some of its important business metrics, such as the year-over-year growth in loan volume have more than doubled each year since the company was launched.

PeerStreet collaborates with accredited private lenders to purchase real estate debt across the United States.

Looking for other commercial real estate options? See our CrowdStreet review.

PeerStreet FAQs

What Does it Mean to Be an Accredited Investor on PeerStreet?

PeerStreet uses only accredited investors on its platform. PeerStreet has substantially lowered the risk accredited investors are exposed to allowing as little as $1,000 for each loan.

Accredited investor in the United States, according to SEC regulations, have to meet the following criteria:

  •  In each of the prior two years, as an individual, you must have earned a yearly income that is greater than $200,000. If a spouse is involved, then a combined $300,000 is required.
  • Or alternatively, the individual has a net worth of over $1 million, whether by themselves or together with a spouse.

Other eligible categories for accredited investor include the following:

  • An entity that has all its equity owners as accredited investors
  • A trust, not formed with the intention of purchasing the “subject securities,” worth more than $5 million. This trusts loan investments has to be directed by a “sophisticated person,” who is an individual that possess extensive experience and knowledge in financial business matters.

How Does PeerStreet Protect Investors?

PeerStreet is also astute in the event that an investment begins to turn sour. If a borrower defaults on a loan or stops paying outrightly, PeerStreet tries to negotiate a payment. If these mitigating efforts fail, a foreclosure process will then be initiated. 

In non-judicial states, this process can take months (years, in the case of judicial states) to wind down, not to mention the expensiveness of the whole ordeal. When this aspect is completed, PeerStreet equally handles the rehab and reselling of the property.

If it so happens that the net proceeds from the property exceeds what is owed to the investor, the investor will receive the principal owed, including interest. Conversely, if the proceeds from the sale are insufficient, then the investor will take a loss.

PeerStreet and the Competition

See how PeerStreet compares to the top real estate investing platforms by reading one of the reviews below.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on TheTokenist.io. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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