The ArborCrowd Team interviewed one of our early investors about why he chose to put his money into commercial real estate.
Investor Webster Schelble gives us a glimpse into his entire investment thought-process – from why commercial real estate was the right type of investment to why the crowdfunding model was the best platform.
Q&A with ArborCrowd Investor Webster Schelble
ArborCrowd: Tell us a little about your investment background. Have you dipped into real estate before?
Webster: I’ve made some investments in startups – it’s a bit riskier than some of the traditional ways like a 401K or even the ups and downs of the stock market. But, I’ve never honed in on real estate in the past – mostly because it felt out of reach. Although I had the financial resources, the world of commercial real estate seemed only accessible to a tight-knit network. I didn’t know how to break into that world, but it sounded incredibly appealing to invest in a tangible entity, a piece of property.
ArborCrowd: It sounds like crowdfunding broke a barrier for you?
Webster: Definitely. Real estate crowdfunding opened up an investment opportunity that I would not otherwise have.Investing in multifamily properties in a city like New York – one of the best real estate markets in the country – is usually limited to high net worth individuals or institutional investors. I now own New York City property – and I’m already making money off of it. That just wouldn’t have been possible without crowdfunding through ArborCrowd.
Crowdfunding lets you put a quarter of what you’d put down for a single unit apartment in NYC and instead invest in an entire multifamily property. Additionally, there’s an immense amount of work and time needed to maintain a large property – with ArborCrowd I don’t worry about that, I just invest and wait to see the returns.
ArborCrowd: There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms out there. Why did you decide to invest with ArborCrowd?
Webster: The decision to invest boiled down to the people and companies I’m choosing to partner with. Arbor and AMAC have the experience and proven success in sourcing good properties, flipping them and getting high returns. Other companies were started by tech and finance people that had no real estate background, but just wanted to start a real estate crowdfunding site. The problem with this is that they lack the institutional knowledge and experience in real estate – a very complicated and inside baseball industry.
ArborCrowd is backed by a company with a long history of successes, experience and leadership, giving them the edge amidst a crowd of inexperienced startups. And, with an influencer and leader such as Ivan Kaufman, you also have this intangible that combines intuition with 30-plus years of experience building one of the leading companies in the industry. Then you have sponsors such as AMAC that have also proven their success over the years – this level of combined industry leadership is unmatched.
ArborCrowd: It’s great that you’ve done your research on the real estate crowdfunding competitors – how did ArborCrowd differentiate itself?
Webster: ArborCrowd differentiated itself in a few key ways. I already talked about the depth of its leadership and the invaluable experience that goes with it. Another key aspect was how carefully and closely ArborCrowd built and managed the entire process – from beginning to end.
I have a day job so I don’t have the luxury of time and energy needed to own property – and there’s a ton of work involved in maintaining property, especially one that’s going through renovation. I trusted the partners that ArborCrowd brought together and it enabled me to own real estate without the frustration of managing and maintaining a huge piece of property.
ArborCrowd: What was unique about the ArborCrowd platform and investing process?
Webster: ArborCrowd makes it easy to get investment details – I loved getting updates on capacity and vacancy. They are also really transparent about the full scope and details of the investment and post investment.
I also liked that they placed the focus on being mobile friendly from the get-go. Browsing on your phone as you’re on the go is so essential nowadays. Some tech companies launch with a desktop version and the mobile version is just a secondary afterthought. The platform’s interface is also very clean and easy to use – I never once came across a technical issue.