Loanapalooza :)

Loanapalooza :)

There's a buzz around Groundfloor HQ this month that resembles our earliest days as a new startup launching its first loan three years ago. The excitement of scaling up to launch 20 loans for investment in 10 days stretches to every part of the company, from the loan officers who work with our borrowers, to the software developers who build and maintain our website and backoffice, and everyone in between.

As those of you who've been with us the longest know, we've worked hard to deliver "more loans in more places." It's long been the #1 feature request we receive. Some companies might sacrifice quality to grow quickly and meet that demand, but not us. Instead, we did the opposite. We accepted slower growth while building a team and process that focused on finding better quality loans instead. Meanwhile, many would-be investors patiently sat on our waiting list while we invited as many as we thought we could accommodate.

Our efforts to build loan volume took time. Throughout 2016 we improved the practical application of our underwriting process. We added new personnel with decades of lending experience and tested new ways to drive efficiencies in our lending process. We continued innovating to refine our unique application of securities law that first took private lending public in over a year ago, while not one competitor managed to replicate that feat. New borrowers signed up as word spread, and we started getting to know them and identify how we could win their business within our stringent guidelines. 

It's working. As 2016 comes to a close, we now receive and process over 500 loan applications each month. Over the last three months, our data shows that less than 5% receive initial underwriting approval. Only half of those survive due diligence to close. Borrowing from Groundfloor requires meeting a high bar for the borrower and the project alike. Yet by the end of December we project that we will have offered more loans for investment in one month than we were able to offer over the course of any three month period before. We're very proud of those results and look forward to building on them in the months to come.

We have one more related update to share. You may notice a new addition to the disclosures on some of our loans pertaining to the advancement of funds to borrowers. The specifics of these advances are typically reflected in the topmost bullet point of the Project-Specific Risk Factors section (see image below). These advances are a form of bridge loan that we now offer to borrowers for certain projects.

This may be important to you and reflective of our progress in two respects. First, adopting this new funding technique helps attract the best borrowers. After all, they have the most options for where to take their business. They value speed and simplicity and can select their lender accordingly. Our ability to advance funds helps us to better meet their needs. Second, the funds to make these advances are provided by a new institutional financing partner with deep real estate lending expertise. Our underwriting processes and standards had to withstand their critical assessment for us to earn a 7-figure credit approval. That's an important vote of confidence in the professionalism and capabilities our lending operations team.

To close, even as we celebrate with gratitude for the progress of 2016, we know there's still much more to be done with Groundfloor in the new year. None of it is possible without the customers and partners who believe in our vision and trust us with their business. So thank you. We appreciate your confidence and look forward to serving you for a long time to come. 

In the coming weeks, we plan to publish some additional details and information about our lending operation. Watch this space. In the meantime, we invite you to write us at founders@groundfloor.us or comment below with any questions, feedback or suggestions.

Groundfloor Selected to Present at Venture Atlanta

Groundfloor Selected to Present at Venture Atlanta

Today we’re proud to announce that Groundfloor has been selected to present at Venture Atlanta 2016, the South’s premier event for connecting technology innovation and investment capital. The event will be held November 2-3 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

We’re one of just 16 venture stage companies chosen from a large pool of applicants. It’s an honor to represent the region’s most innovative tech businesses. In a sea of “real estate crowdfunding” startups based in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, we’re still the first and only platform of our kind. Only Groundfloor offers access for non-accredited and accredited investors alike to participate in high-yield private real estate lending. This innovation was born in Atlanta, raised on Secretary Kemp’s innovative Invest Georgia Exemption, and we are now taking it nationwide.

During the two-day event, presenting companies and conference attendees will engage with regional as well as national venture capitalists, investors and other key players in the current technology ecosystem. Now entering its 16th year, Venture Atlanta has helped launch more than 350 companies and raise more than $1.8 billion in funding to date—a number that continues to grow. The conference provides an invaluable experience for entrepreneurs resulting in funding, national investor exposure, unparalleled relationship building and mentoring by successful technology executives.

Presenting as an early stage company in 2014 served as important springboard for Groundfloor. At that time, we had just five employees, had raised just over $1.0 million in seed capital and had not yet achieved $1 million of loan origination volume. What a difference two years has made: Since then we’ve grown to over 20 employees, added $6.5 million of investment capital, and originated over $14 million in loans. We appreciate and look forward to the opportunity to take part in the Venture Atlanta conference again.

Follow us on twitter during Venture Atlanta 2016 using #ventureatlanta and #fintech.

Looking Back: One Year After Our Historic Qualification by the SEC

Looking Back: One Year After Our Historic Qualification by the SEC

Click to expand and see the entire infographic. 

Yesterday, we celebrated a significant milestone by announcing a significant expansion.

First, the milestone. It was just one year ago that Groundfloor became the first-ever (and still only) real estate lending marketplace to be qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission. We joined Lending Club and Prosper as the third issuer ever authorized to allow non-accredited investors in the United States to participate in the funding of high-yield loans.

Since then, our community of lenders has more than tripled. Early adopters are using Groundfloor to take control, building self-directed portfolios of loans they choose rather ceding control to a REIT or fund manager, and paying dearly for the privilege. Together during this year we’ve funded over 100 loans for $12.5 million in aggregate. Our underwriting standards practices are stronger than ever, and our discipline to restrain growth to a manageable level has paid off: Our lenders have earned average annual rates of return of approximately 14 percent, with no loss of capital on over 40 loans successfully repaid to date.

Second, the news. Groundfloor remains in a limited release while we prepare to open our doors fully in the new year. In the meantime, we’re ready to expand by doubling our lending footprint, which will now extend to 23 states.

Why? First and foremost, to supply more loans sooner--without lowering our standards. Before starting our nationwide expansion a year ago, funding five loans for $250,000 took us a full month. Just last night, at 5pm ET, we did that in 15 minutes with 142 lenders getting in on the action. Our investors have been ready for us to expand, and now are our lending operation is ready too.

We continue taking steps to bring Groundfloor to more investors, to continue opening up more capacity for everyone to participate and to ensure there are enough loans to go around. Today’s news is a helpful step in that direction, and one that signals confidence in the lending operation we’ve built in 2016. Stay tuned for more exciting developments on the horizon--more features, more loans, and more geographic expansion. One year in, we are as fired up as ever and continue to appreciate your continued interest, support and trust.

The Peer-to-Peer Economy

The Peer-to-Peer Economy

What is the Peer-to-Peer Economy?

The peer-to-peer economy (P2P) is where individuals buy and sell goods and services directly with one another. Peer-to-peer investing or peer-to-peer lending describes when self-directed investors use alternative financial products, like Groundfloor, to invest their money.

Peer-to-peer lending is becoming increasingly common in the real estate industry. Groundfloor is the only marketplace offering direct access to private real estate investing for accredited and nonaccredited investors alike. Investors earn high yields over short-terms with loans backed by real estate.

Peer-to-peer investing at Groundfloor gives you the opportunity to directly fund a fix-and-flip loan and earn returns from 7% to 26%. Loans are graded, A through G, and assigned a corresponding interest rate by our rating algorithm. Our Lending Operations team reviews and approves only a select few that meet our high underwriting standards. You choose when, where, and how much to invest.

Why You Win with Groundfloor  

With so many options for investing - Certificate of Deposit (CD), Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF), Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), and more - what sets peer-to-peer investing apart?

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

Parking your money in a CD, generally issued by a commercial bank, offers you a pre-determined interest rate for depositing your money for a certain amount of time. Peer-to-peer investing with Groundfloor affords you the same predetermined rate and term, only you earn more. Where you can earn 1% with a 1 year CD, Groundfloor offers returns from 7% to 26% over terms of 6 to 12 months.

Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)

An ETF is traded like stock on a stock exchange. The benefit of investing in an ETF is that you earn when the ETF price jumps throughout the trading day. Consequently, if the market is down, you’re losing money; and you’re still paying fees. Creating an account, investing, and earning with Groundfloor is fee-free.

Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)

Investing your money in a REIT affords you access to high returns and dividends. Additionally, your investment supports diversification within the portfolio, but without any visibility. When you invest with Groundfloor, you can build your own REIT. You diversify your portfolio according to your investment strategy and risk tolerance. You are completely in control of your money.

How P2P Lending is Changing Finance

Thousands of Internet investors are changing finance by investing through alternative financial products like Groundfloor. When the crowd comes together to fund loans, it creates a more stable and more reliable financial environment. Everybody wins. Borrowers get access to cheaper and faster capital; and investors, like you, earn greater returns than with traditional investment products.

Build better finance. Sign up for an account today, fund your account, and start earning average returns of 13%. 

Groundfloor is a growing community of lenders and borrowers using the scale, scope, and sensibility of the Internet to finance real estate development in a way like never before. Our platform connects a community of 15,000 and growing lenders to a network of borrowers offering real estate projects that yield returns between 7% - 26%.

Private Real Estate Investing is Now Public

Private Real Estate Investing is Now Public

What is private real estate investing? And what makes it public? Private real estate investing or private lending is an iron-clad industry that has historically only been open to the wealthiest 3%. Thanks to new rules implemented by the Securities and Exchange Commission around Title III and Title IV of the 2012 JOBS Act, the public at large can access investment products that have previously only been available to a select few.

Antiquated Regulation

The Securities Act of 1933 still largely regulates the sale of securities. This was the first major federal legislation around the offer and sale of securities to individuals. The nearly hundred-year-old Act remains the foundation and guiding legalese for disclosure and filings around securities. Much of what is included in the Act was written so as to protect the individual investor. However, when interpreted today, the protections seem antiquated and out of line with modern finance.

Disrupting Regulation

The disruptive nature of the Internet doesn’t stop short of finance and securities. With more information than ever before available in a few clicks, self-directed investors are hungry for alternative ways to earn more with their money. Using technology and Regulation A+ (under Title IV of the 2012 JOBS Act), Groundfloor opened up access to short-term, high-yield investment opportunities yielding returns of 7% to 26%. That’s 10X more than stashing cash in a savings account, CD, or other short-term financial product.

Big Banks

Prior to the recent implementation of rules for crowdfunding under Title III and Title IV, only accredited investors or institutional capital like funds or big banks had access to investments with the most favorable returns.They could chip in the large amounts of cash and earn outsized returns. However, the persuasion of one institution or a small group of wealthy investors is inherently volatile; and has potential for far-reaching negative effects. Think back to the Great Recession, caused in part by over-reliance on big banks and institutional capital.

Broadest Base of Capital

You are the counterbalance. Thousands of Internet lenders are changing finance, investing in fractionalized increments using platforms like Groundfloor where the minimum investment is $10. When small businesses and entrepreneurs are funded by a broader base of capital, it creates a more stable and reliable environment where everybody wins. It’s less expensive for borrowers and the rewards are greater for investors.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Trusting the knowledge of a few or the trends of a market isn’t aligned with the principles of  modern finance where everyone can choose their own risk and reward. Why let Wall Street manage your money for you and take a cut of your earnings?

The Wisdom of the Crowd

When you join thousands of investors funding loans on Groundfloor, you’re using the wisdom of the crowd to make investment decisions aligned with your investment strategy and risk tolerance. It’s a new way of finance - transparent and efficient - contrary to archaic traditions that preclude most of us from earning more with our money.