Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

January 23, 2018

Aggressive Retirement Investing in Real Estate Lending

By David Reiss quoted me in Investors ‘Flocking In’ to Real Estate Lending. It reads, in part,

The stock market is off to a roaring start in 2018, but there’s no shortage of investment gurus who warn that continued equities growth is far from guaranteed.

The dreaded market correction could be coming sooner, rather than later, some say.

That gives some money managers pause about what asset tools to steer in and out of a client’s retirement portfolio. But there’s an emerging school of thought that one specific alternative investment could be good protection against a stock market correction.

“We’re seeing financial experts weigh in with their 2018 investing recommendations, citing everything from mutual funds to value stocks,” said Bobby Montagne, chief executive officer at Walnut Street Finance, a private lender.

But one prime retirement savings vehicle often gets overlooked — real estate lending, Montagne said.

Real estate lending means investing in a private loan fund managed by a private lender. Walnut Street is one such lender in the $56 billion home-flipping market.

“Your money helps finance individuals who purchase distressed properties, renovate them, and then quickly resell at a profit,” Montagne explained. “Investments are first-lien position and secured by real assets.”

With real estate lending, investors can put small percentages of their 401(k)s or IRAs in a larger pool of funds, which lenders then match with budding entrepreneurs working on home flipping projects, he said.

“It allows investors to diversify their portfolios without having to collect rent or renovate homes, as they would in hands-on real estate investing,” Montagne added.

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An Aggressive Investment

Some investment experts deem any investment associated with real estate flipping as a higher-risk play.

“Investing a percentage of a retirees funds in real estate flipping would be considered an aggressive investment,” said Sid Miramontes, founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Miramontes Capital, which has more than $250 million in assets under management.

Even though the investor would not directly manage the real estate project, he or she has to understand the risks involved in funding the project, material costs, project completion time, the current interest rate environment, where the properties are located geographically and the state of the economy, he said.

“I have had pre-retirees invest in these projects with significant returns, as well as clients that did not have experience and results were very poor,” he added. “The investor needs to realize the risks involved.”

A 1 percent to 5 percent allocation is appropriate, only if the investor met the aggressive investment criteria and understood the real estate market, Miramontes said.

Investment advisors and their clients should also be careful about grouping all real estate lending into one basket.

“You could invest in a mortgage REIT, which would be a more traditional vehicle to get exposure to real estate lending,” said David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, N.Y. “If you’re doing something less traditional, research the fund’s track record, volatility, management, performance and expenses.

“You should be very careful about buying into a fund that does not check out on those fronts.”

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