Real estate investing is a big business with the potential for lucrative returns on your investments. Whether you invest in single-family homes or multi-family structures, real estate is a sound investment.
The increased popularity of real estate as an investment option means heightened competition. And as an investor, you need to align yourself with the best possible real estate investment brokerage.
Real estate brokers manage property transactions, including writing up contracts and overseeing the purchase and sale of properties. But each offers slightly different services for varying prices. In this article, I’ve compiled some of the best real estate investment options from the top brokers to help inform your decision.
Overview of the best real estate investment options
Broker Best for
Fundrise Low budget investors
Crowdstreet Variety of properties
Roofstock Real estate investment option for new investors
EquityMultiple High-quality properties
Realty Mogul Non-accredited investors
Streitwise Commercial REITs
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing REIT ETFs
Fundrise allows you to invest in properties with a minimum account fund as low as $500. This lower threshold opens up the service to investors who do not possess the wealth required for many real estate brokerages.
A 1% management fee applies.
A variety of eREITs and eFunds are available via four investment portfolios, based upon your requirements.
The minimum account balance required increases based on your account type as follows:
- $500 minimum for base account.
- $1,000 minimum for core plans.
- $10,000 minimum for advanced account.
- $100,000 minimum for a premium account.
This variety of funds allows for flexibility among investors, even if you possess a small budget.
CrowdStreet allows you to compare multiple investment properties at once to seek out the best opportunity.
They provide advisory resources on funds and management and information on a variety of properties. The diverse options let you make the best investment for your unique criteria.
There are no startup or membership fees associated with CrowdStreet. The broker acts as more of a marketplace for investment options rather than a specific brokerage service.
However, you will need to be an accredited investor to move forward with any investments.
To qualify, you’ll need:
- Net worth over $1 million.
- Annual income over $200,000 ($300,000 for married couples).
- A membership to a trust with a total of $5 million in assets.
If you use its Blended Portfolio service, you will need to pay a 1% management fee, alongside a 2%-2.75% fee on assets under management for the first year. Once this initial year is over, that percentage drops to 0.25%.
There are three investment options available via CrowdStreet:
- Direct investing – You can invest directly with sponsors, selecting as many offers as you wish to move forward.
- Fund investing – You make a single investment contribution to a blended portfolio of 30 to 50 properties. The management fee is 1%, and the minimum investment for fund investing is $25,000
- Managed investing – CrowdStreet will manage your investments entirely—providing you have the money. You need $250,000 in upfront capital to use this service. You also must pay a 2 to 2.25% management fee, which reduces to 0.25% after one year.
Ideal for those new to investing in property, RoofStock provides a variety of features that are user-friendly. They allow for an accessible introduction to the property market.
Signup is entirely free with Roofstock. Its additional fees are a lot lower than most investment brokerages due to how the service is technology-based. Sellers can expect a 2.5% marketing fee. Plus, there’s a 30-day guarantee attached to all investments. If you aren’t satisfied with your property, they will relist it.
The primary focus of RoofStock is single-family rental investments. Many of the properties listed on their site already have tenants in them. This feature is one of the many reasons RoofStock is so beginner-friendly. As an investment, it can lead to immediate passive income.
It’s also worth noting that all RoofStock properties must get certified before listing. The stipulation adds more security to your investments. They hold their listed properties to high standards.
The first thing noticeable on EquityMultiple‘s website is its commitment to property standards. They accept fewer than 10% of property submissions. If you invest in an EquityMultiple property, you know it’s quality assured.
There is an annual fee of 0.5% alongside a 10% cut from an Investor’s profits after recovery of the initial investment. This scheme is what industry experts call profit share.
You must be an accredited investor to use EquityMultiple’s services. The investment options available include:
- Common Equity.
- Preferred Equity.
- Syndicated Debt Investments for commercial real estate.
- Qualified Opportunity Zone investments.
Realty Mogul stands apart from many competitors because it accepts both accredited investors and non-accredited investors. This flexibility allows for more people to use their services, but it does result in higher fees.
A 1% – 1.5% fee management fee applies, with additional fees attached depending on which services you use. You will also need a $5,000 account minimum.
There are three investment types available through Realty Mogul:
- Joint venture equity.
- 1031 exchange.
- Non-traded REITs.
Only accredited investors can invest in joint venture equity. Non-accredited investors can invest in non-traded REITs.
As its name may suggest, Streitwise is more REIT focused than other real estate brokerages. If you’re looking for REIT specificity, then look no further. In addition to cash, you can fund your account using your IRA or trust, as well as your Bitcoin or Ethereum account. An iOS app makes monitoring your portfolio easy.
There is a 3% investment fee with a 2% annual management fee.
Both accredited and non-accredited investors can use Streitwise. They offer a full portfolio, mostly consisting of office buildings as opposed to housing. They also accept investors outside the U.S.
Their primary focus is making commercial investment opportunities available to lower-income investors.
J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is a self-guided trading platform where you can invest in stocks, ETFs, options, fixed income, and mutual funds; OR you can use J.P. Morgan Automated Investing – which offers pre-blended and managed portfolios.
If you open a J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account to purchase REIT ETFs, you’ll get unlimited commission-free online trades for ETFs, as well as individual stocks and options trades. Some option contracts do have a fee, and there are some other minor fees assessed.
If you decide to open a J.P. Morgan Automated Investing account, you’ll have a flat 0.35% management fee.
With J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, you can open any one of these account types:
- Individual taxable brokerage account.
- Traditional IRA.
- Roth IRA.
And within each account type you can invest in the following equities:
- Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).
- Fixed Income.
- Mutual Funds.
With J.P. Morgan Automated Investing, you’ll be matched to a pre-mixed blend of investments based on your risk tolerance and other financial goals.
There’s a minimum investment requirement of $0 for J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing and $500 for J.P. Morgan Automated Investing. Plus Get up to $625 when you open and fund with $250,000 or more.Disclosure – INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE
Summary of the best real estate investment options
Company Minimum investment Investment types Fees
Fundrise $500 eREITs, eFunds 1%
Crowdstreet $10,000 Direct investing, Fund investing, Managed investing Varies by account
Roofstock $5,000 Mostly single-family homes 2.5% marketing fee
EquityMultiple $5,000 Common equity, preferred equity, syndicated debt investments for commercial real estate, qualified opportunity zone investments 0.5% annually + 10% of investor profits after investment recovered
RealtyMogul $5,000 Joint venture equity, 1031 exchange, Non traded REITs 1-1.5%
Streitwise $5,000 Non-traded REITs 3% upfront; 2% annually
J. P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing $0 Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, fixed income $0 commissions on ETFs, stocks, and options
How I came up with this list
To come up with this list, there were a few things I wanted to make sure I considered:
- Low barrier to entry – While some of the options on this list require upwards of $10,000 to get started, many are much lower. The goal here was to allow you to invest in real estate for a much smaller amount than you would by buying a full investment property.
- Ease of use – All of these platforms are easy to use, have a slick online interface, and plenty of supporting content on how to best use the researches available to you.
- Investment options – I chose firms that give you several different options for investing while staying within the real estate space. This includes things like REITs, funds, as well as actual investment properties.
- Reasonable fees – Considering the type of investment (real estate investing isn’t as cheap as stock investing) I looked for firms that a) had transparent pricing and b) had reasonable pricing for what they offered.
What is a real estate investment brokerage?
A real estate investment brokerage connects investors to available properties. They present a variety of properties via specific portfolios and perform due diligence checks to ensure that the properties offered are up to standard.
In many ways, brokers act just like real estate agents, except they work with investors as opposed to homeowners. They provide security to your transactions and a wealth of advice that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Fees associated with brokerages deduct from your investment earnings, so you aren’t going to get scammed out of your profits.
Why you should use a real estate investment brokerage
There are numerous reasons why you should make use of a real estate investment brokerage. To make things a little easier to digest, I’ve compiled just some of the most important:
As an investor, you may find it challenging to find a trustworthy developer or property owner who is worthy of your investment. It’s hard to know which opportunities are worth pursuing when you’re out on your own. Real estate investment brokers bridge this gap and directly provide you with worthwhile properties.
Most real estate investment brokers perform background and security checks into both the properties they list and the developers/owners that list them. This investigation minimizes the risks for you. It keeps you from pouring money into a property that’s only going to either vanish or close up months later.
Immediate cash return
Some investment brokerages (such as RoofStock, for instance) provide investment properties that already possess tenants. With these options, you can begin to see capital returns on your investments almost immediately.
Why you shouldn’t use a real estate investment brokerage
You don’t have the money
To earn big in the world of real estate investment, you need to spend big. This game can be dangerous if you don’t have the wealth to back up your investments. The vast majority of investment brokerages require a minimum amount in the thousands of dollars, and that’s before you consider annual management costs and other such fees.
You aren’t committed
Investment and real estate are two of the fastest moving markets in the financial world. Mix them, and you have a recipe for a highly lucrative, but complicated, business prospect. Granted, the purpose of brokerages is to make all of that more straightforward, but this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Investing in real estate takes time and effort if you want to see real rewards.
What to look for in a real estate investment brokerage
Specifically, you need to know how experienced your chosen brokerage is with your local market. Many of the newer brokerages operate entirely online, so they will likely source properties from across the nation for your investments. However, it still may be possible to keep track of which locations they promote the most and if that is practical for your requirements.
Succeeding in investing is all about far-reaching connections that place you in the best position to seize a lucrative opportunity. Signing up with a brokerage lets you make the most of those connections. Don’t waste your money on a service that can’t provide you with the best possible opportunities.
This point might sound a little Aesop’s fables at first, but trust us, it’s crucial. If a brokerage is dangling the opportunity of making tens of thousands in your first month investing with them, give them a wide berth.
Investment in any area is a marathon, not a sprint. In real estate, this caution is especially true. The more grounded in reality, the expected outcomes an investment broker offers you, the more trustworthy a company they’re going to turn out to be.
Real estate investing can be a complicated business to move into, but when you do it properly, it can be highly rewarding. Above, I’ve listed and reviewed some great options for the best real estate investment platforms.
However, deciding which is the right one for you comes down to your financial circumstances and goals. Whether you’re looking for an easily liquidated investment property or a long-term source of income, there’s a brokerage suited to you.