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Investor Interview: First-time Crowdfund Investor, Long-time Real Estate Broker

The ArborCrowd team had the opportunity to sit down with Anita Aharonoff. An immigrant of Iran, Anita moved to the U.S. as a teenager and eventually became a New York-based real estate agent. She is also an investor in ArborCrowd’s Clinton Hill multifamily portfolio.

Though Anita has invested in Brooklyn multifamily before, this was her first real estate investment through crowdfunding. The interview below details her investment experience, and how CRE crowdfunding compares to direct ownership.

Thanks for speaking with us today, Anita. Can you tell us a little about your professional background and experience with real estate prior?

I’m in the real estate field myself, working as a residential agent for the past 13 years. The circumstances surrounding my investment in Clinton Hill are somewhat unique. What happened was that I had four children and a happy marriage. My husband became ill and passed away in a very short time frame.

Working in the real estate world, I tried to bring in as much income as I could to pay for my kid’s college tuitions. When I found out about ArborCrowd and the Clinton Hill deal, I decided to put my late husband’s life insurance policy to work to generate additional income.

Was this your first investment in real estate?

No, it was not. I am actually the co-owner of a 16-unit apartment property in Brooklyn with my sister and brother. We acquired that asset about 20 years ago.

What lead you to that initial investment in apartments to begin with?

Personally, I’d rather put my money into real estate than the stock market or savings account. Income producing real estate is relatively liquid and isn’t as volatile as the equity markets. Apartments just made sense. It’s not like a retail property where you have to worry about vacancy. People are always in need of quality living space, especially in New York.

How does crowdfunding compare to direct investment and ownership in multifamily?

As a real estate professional, I really want to be the one in charge. I like to oversee the day-to-day business dealings involved in a running a project – everything from leasing to the renovations. Obviously, you don’t get to do that with crowdfunding.

But this opportunity was something I felt very comfortable investing in even though someone else is going to be doing the majority of the work. At 79-units, the Clinton Hill portfolio is a larger scale property than I would have access to otherwise. I also felt very comfortable with the business plan, and that the sponsors had a strong ability to execute.

How were you able to get comfortable with this investment?

First of all, there is the experience that Ivan Kaufman and his affiliated companies bring to the table when it comes to selecting the right property and sponsorship.

Also, the deal presentation materials were very clear and easy to understand – I think professionals outside the real estate industry would have no problem getting up to speed. I also like that the management at ArborCrowd was willing to me meet in person to explain the details.

Even the investment process was very straight forward. I am not a computer wizard by any means so investing online was new to me. But ArborCrowd’s investment portal was easy to navigate and I was guided through every step of the process over the phone. It was comforting to be able to speak to someone on the other end.

Is there any advice you’d give to someone thinking about investing in real estate, whether it be crowdfunding or brick and mortar?

It’s an amazing sector for someone who wants to put their money somewhere and see it grow. For someone to leave their money sitting in the bank, gaining no interest, versus putting it in real estate through ArborCrowd to realize significant returns over a few years – it is simply a no-brainer.

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