Title III Crowdfunding Now Everyone Can Invest

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Well last Friday it finally happened. The SEC passed Title III of the JOBS Act which effectively allows non-accredited investors to invest in private placement investment deals. In plain English this means when you visit any of the crowdfunding platforms they will allow you to view and invest in their offers without confirming that you are an accredited investor. Well at least in theory this will be the case.

On the surface this seems like the day we have all be waiting for in the crowdfunding industry but in reality it may have limited impact. While everyone has been jumping for joy about the new legislation and don’t get me wrong there is a lot to jump for here, there are still some issues. The problems are basically due to the capital limits placed on the deals which can be offered to non-accredited investors. In the current version of Title III the maximum that can be raised in these offerings will be $1 Million dollars. This may seem like a lot, but for most high quality real estate deals the capital limit basically prevents any of these deals from opening up to the small retail investor.

In my opinion the greatest potential crowdfunding offers retail investors is precisely in these type of investments which are relatively lower risk investments compared to start-up investing. The limit will have a small impact on the start-up investing platforms such as seedrs.com and seedinvest.com as most of these offerings are for less than $1 Million dollars. This is the exact issue that Nav Athwal, CEO of Realtyshares.com addresses here.

There are other issues regarding the additional regulatory hurdles which will be placed in front of the companies wishing to take advantage of this new legislation as Tanya Prive points out as well. You can read more about her concerns here.

In contrast to the issues raised by Athwal who runs a real estate crowdfunding platform, Chance Barnett CEO of crowdfunder.com a platform for startups, was singing the praises for the new legislation in his article here.

The contrast of these two views I think is really dependent on what Athwal pointed out. The implications of Title III are vastly different for real estate platforms as opposed to start-up platforms. The start-up platforms have a lot to gain as most of their offerings will fit under the $1 Million dollar cap and due to inherent riskiness of investments into start-ups investors will in any case want to commit less of their money to these investments. The opposite is true for the real estate platforms, which need more capital for each deal and are inherently much more stable investments which attract larger investments from each investor, the investment caps on these type of deals will seriously hinder the participation of retail investors.

One of my major concerns as well is that when the legislation actually goes into effect the start-up platforms will be the first to adopt offerings under title III. The hype and exuberance on the part of many retail investors to get in on these deals will lead to money flowing in without sufficient due diligence and without the proper hedges against risk. Since these are the most risky investments in the crowdfunding space it is really a horrible place for us to have to start with retail investors. A few deals that go bad and with start-ups the majority go bad will put a black cloud over the industry in terms of retail investors and this is all before the real estate platforms will be able to figure out the proper way to take advantage of the new legislation.

I hope for the industry and for investors both platforms and investors will proceed with caution using the proper due diligence and diversification to invest.

Title III of JOBS Act, Equity Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors

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Here is a great article from Chance Barnett, CEO of crowdfunder.com about the implications of the Title III for start-ups.

The SEC just voted on and passed rules to implement Title III of the JOBS Act, bringing non-accredited investors into the fold for equity crowdfunding. This sets the stage for equity crowdfunding to continue its exponential growth over the next 3-5 years, on top of the existing market for accredited investors.

Crowdfunding was already expected to surpass VC in 2016 at $34B a year in total crowdfunding online, across all types of crowdfunding. By bringing in a new class of investors with Title III, we can expect further growth of the equity market as venture capital continues to move online.

The public has been waiting on Title III equity crowdfunding for three and a half years now, as the SEC continuously stalled in finalizing rules to allow non-accredited investors to come into the market and invest in startups under Title III.

Read the full article here.

What Is Wrong With Title III Crowdfunding

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Not everyone is so convinced about the prospects of Title III of the Jobs Act which was recently passed by the SEC.We thought we would post some thoughts from around the web on the issues with the current legislation.

Nav Athwal, CEO of Realtyshares.com voiced his concerns about the legislation because the capital limits effectively exclude real estate deals.

Athwal writes:

In theory, it seems like a win-win for both sides but putting the Title III changes into practice may not be a realistic goal at this stage of the game. At my two year old crowdfunding for real estate startup RealtyShares where the goal has always been to cater to the general public and not only Accredited Investors, we’re struggling to determine if this rule is actually as impactful as it appears to be in theory. That is because while Title III does expand crowdfunding opportunities for non-accredited investors, there are still certain requirements that have to be met and restrictions that apply.

For instance, under Title III individual investments would be limited to either 5 or 10% of the investor’s gross annual income, based on their net worth. And any investment opportunity would be capped at $1 million in total fundraising within a 12-month period. For commercial real estate, a capital intensive asset, these upper limits could be very limiting.

In recent weeks, legislators have been making a push to have the cap raised to $5 million and reduce some of the cost to crowdfunding platforms with regard to Title III offerings. It’s not clear yet which way the SEC will rule on these issues. In terms of the logistics of vetting non-accredited investors and making sure investment deals fall within the guidelines Title III imposes, the challenge may be too much of an obstacle for more nascent startup platforms to take on.

Other verticals, particularly those catering to startups or small businesses, will reap some positive benefits from Title III and those benefits extend to the public as a whole. Unlike real estate, oftentimes startups and small businesses do not need as much cash to hit that next milestone and thus the upper limit of $1 Million could prove workable. On the whole, however, the rules in their current form may not carry as much weight as previously thought.

You can read the full article here.

Other concerns were voiced by Tanya Prive, which concern the higher regulatory demands that will be put both on platforms and start-ups themselves to be allowed to open their offerings to non-accredited investors.

Prive writes:

Plus, a detailed due diligence screening conducted by the intermediaries or their outsourced partners will need to take place before the deal can be admitted, which can take anywhere between 15- 90 days. It will examine every little aspect of the company, its officers and major stakeholders, which depending on whether the intermediary does this in-house or outsources it, will result in additional fees, typically ranging between $2K-$5K. To build on top of that, there is no good way of making this process truly scalable as each due diligence conducted is unique in a way to the company undergoing it.

Read Prive’s full article on Forbes.

It remains to be seen how effective the new legislation will be as well as how many of the platforms will actually start adding offers under Title III. Keep reading more on this issue.