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.