Investing in real estate offers a number of benefits over the stock market, including diminished risk and volatility, tangible assets, tax benefits, and the ability for greater diversification. This has positioned this sector as a preferred investment among some Millennials who are increasingly skeptical about stocks.
Find the perfect investment property for your needs with Roofstock
Despite the growing popularity of real estate investing, investors looking to get started, face a high barrier to entry. This hurdle has been overcome with a unique solution: online real estate investment platforms allow investors to contribute to a collective pool, thereby lowering the cost of entry while delivering profits to all investors.
There is a range of websites available to real estate investors, with various features, fees, and requirements. To get a better handle on what’s out there, I took some time to look at the platforms and picked the best ones. Here are my top picks for online real estate investment websites.
Overview of the best real estate investment websites
Roofstock is a real estate investment portal that focuses on single-family rental properties that already have tenants. The site also offers great, easy-to-navigate resources to help beginner investors develop skills, including the Roofstock Academy training program.
The website is user friendly and clearly laid out for easy navigation. Whether you are seeking to invest, list a property, or purchase, you will find straightforward drop-down menus on the main landing page to guide your journey.
As soon as you get to Roofstock, you will be able to check out certified properties using search filters including address, list price, gross yield, funding type, estimated appreciation, and more. If you find something of interest, you can register with just a few easy steps and create custom filters to streamline your property searches. Roofstock offers detailed information about all listed properties, saving time and ensuring that you always know what you are getting.
By lowering the barrier to entry into the real estate market by requiring only a low $500 minimum investment, and for investors just starting out, Roofstock’s property management team ensures that you can be a landlord without worrying about any of the operational responsibilities.
Even if you are new to investing or aren’t tech-savvy, Roofstock is simple to use and although there is no mobile app, the website is mobile optimized for real estate investors on the go. With crisp design and a simple UI, Roofstock is ideal for first-time real estate investors.
It’s easy to sign up with Roofstock via the quick online form with automatic fields for name, address, and email if you sign up through your Google or Facebook account. The initial sIgn up takes just a minute and the form includes a question about what you are interested in so the choices are already filtered from the get-go.
Once registered, every time you log in to your account, you will be able to view new, attractive investment properties and make transactions with the click of a button. If you decide to invest, you will be required to provide additional details such as your Social Security number and banking information.
Roofstock’s website hosts a range of resources for investors at any level. Users can access paid courses and coaching, or tons of free articles, calculators, and FAQs via the “Learn” tab. When deciding what property to invest in, Roofstock provides ample information, including pictures, floor plans, and 3D tours, in addition to valuation, cost estimates, and location.
CrowdStreet is a commercial real estate investment platform only for accredited investors. Investors can earn potentially high returns, however, the high minimum investment and low liquidity mean that this option might not be right for novice investors or those who want to cash out quickly.
Investors will get a complete view of the property with detailed information, important documents, and projections.
CrowdStreet makes things transparent and simple with comprehensive online tools, allowing investors to view performance projections, deal comparisons, and portfolio analytics. Once you have invested, the investor dashboard gives you easy access to all pertinent information, including quarterly reporting, taxation, performance, and sponsor details.
On the site, users can also find information about CrowdStreet’s investment options under the “Ways to invest” menu, including direct investing, fund investing with CrowdStreet’s Blended Portfolio, and managed investing with CrowdStreet’s expert advisors.
The sophisticated website is simple to navigate and is optimized for mobile.
It’s free to sign up with CrowdStreet and browse properties according to a range of filters, such as type of property, investment structure, risk assessment, and region. CrowdStreet’s offerings run the gamut, from residential to retail, and from equity to REIT, making advanced filter settings very useful in narrowing down your choices.
To get started you can either fill in the online form or sign in with Google or LinkedIn. Once you’re ready to invest, you’ll need to fill in an investor profile, including attesting to being an accredited investor.
The initial investment of $25,000 may be too steep for some investors, plus, to qualify, you will have to be accredited. But if you can demonstrate accreditation and funding details, you’ll be ready to invest in just a couple of minutes. Once your investment is approved, usually within 48 hours, you will be asked to transfer funds to the sponsor to finalize the deal. It’s also important to know that once your money is in, it will likely be locked up for 2-3 years.
As soon as you begin looking through CrowdStreet’s website, you will find a host of educational and informational resources, including webinars, marketplace performance analyses and articles, and a robust help center.
CrowdStreet’s help center also hosts a range of articles and FAQs, so you can often find answers to your questions simply by searching. There is also a real-time messaging chatbot in case you don’t find what you’re looking for.
EquityMultiple is only available to accredited investors, and most options require a minimum of $10,000. However, if you meet these requirements, the platform offers an easy, secure way to invest in real estate with up to 14% returns!
This very streamlined website is simple to navigate and uses easy language that even a beginning investor can understand. Once you are signed up, you can monitor your portfolio, view asset performance, and access asset management services directly from your investor dashboard’s tabs. There is no mobile app at this time, but the website is mobile browser friendly.
Like other sites, EquityMultiple lets users register for the platform and browse offerings before committing. Just fill in your email address and create a password to browse offerings. Users can check out investment details such as asset type, investment strategy, investment term, and location before completing the account setup and providing bank account details.
When you’re ready to invest, just complete the process by supplying the requested financial documents and verifying your accreditation – this only takes a minute. Investments listed on EquityMultiple also require a minimum of $10,000 and fall into three main categories:
- Fund investing for diversified offerings across multiple assets.
- Direct investing.
- Tax-deferred investing designed for investors seeking to mitigate capital gains.
Information about each investment category can be accessed via the “How It Works” drop-down.
Users will find plenty of resources at the click of a button. Investor stories, videos, FAQs, and testimonials can all be found easily. EquityMultiple also hosts a performance tracker, however, you will need to have an account to view this resource.
The goal of passive income is being made accessible to more people with RealtyMogul’s seamless investment platform. With a rigorous vetting process and comprehensive asset management on all properties, RealtyMogul puts the dream of earning income off of real estate in the palm of your hand.
Potential investors will appreciate the site’s simple to follow drop-down menus and clean layout. Whether you are looking to invest or raise equity capital, RealtyMogul gives you a range of investment options and makes it easy to explore past property offerings and their performance even before signing up. Once you’ve created your account, you can view current properties according to list price, investment type, property type, location, and other relevant criteria before investing.
You will find properties divided into three investment types. These are: REITs that are available to all types of investors, individual properties available only to accredited investors with a minimum investment of $15,000-50,000, and 1031-eligible Private Placement investments.
Current investors can easily access their portfolio and view performance via the RealtyMogul dashboard. The dashboard includes details about how much money you have invested, how much money you have made, and information about any active transactions.
Get invested in just four steps with RealtyMogul, whether you are accredited or not. First, create your account by answering a few questions about your goals and providing basic personal information. Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be able to peruse properties, including key financial details.
When you are ready to invest, RealtyMogul gets it done quickly and online. According to SEC regulations, you may have to demonstrate accreditation for some investments, which will require submitting some additional financial documentation. Once all your information and funding details are submitted, the investment is approved within two days.
With a wealth of educational resources, new investors will also find plenty of information to help them decide how to achieve their financial goals. RealtyMogul’s Knowledge Center hosts a broad range of resources across various topics, helping investors better understand and assess where their money would work the hardest. The FAQs also provide helpful answers, so you can save the time and effort of contacting a customer service representative for every question.
For any additional questions, investors can access customer service by phone or by email. While there is no live chat option, customer service is responsive, and you can often find answers in the site’s resources.
Fundrise has created a platform that makes real estate investing available to everyone with a low-cost, diversified portfolio of institutional-quality offerings.
With advanced tech solutions and expert personal guidance, Fundrise gives the best of both worlds with a low barrier to entry.
Users may find Fundrise’s website more cluttered than competitors’ minimal and streamlined sites, but you will find a wealth of information at first glance. The investor dashboard is simple to view and includes your returns, account goals, project updates, and options like auto-invest, making managing your account and portfolio a pleasing experience. Plus, unlike many of the picks on my list, Fundrise offers a mobile app with all of the functionality of a web-based platform.
There’s no phone or live chat option for customer service, however, you can contact Fundrise via the online email form and should expect an answer within the day. If you are looking for quick answers to common questions, check the FAQs first – you’ll likely find what you need.
To get started, all you have to do is provide an email and you will be presented with three options to begin investing, depending on the amount of money you have to invest. There are four levels, beginning with the Starter plan with a low minimum investment of $500. When you are ready to invest, just click ‘Invest Now’ and provide more personal details, including social security and funding bank information. After signing off on some standard acknowledgments, you’ll be asked to select the amount of money you want to contribute and choose the offerings you want to invest in.
You can choose from among three packages: The Starter packages are super accessible with a low $500 minimum investment, Core offers a well-rounded and diverse portfolio with several options depending on your specific needs and goals, and Advanced gives investors the option of directly investing in individual properties for a greater potential return. At just a $500 minimum investment for a starter portfolio, Fundrise is an ideal choice for beginner investors or those with less money to spare.
This real estate investment platform hosts an array of interesting and informative resources to keep you empowered with knowledge. From Investing-101 to Advanced Investing, Fundrise has content for every type of investor.
Unlike other real estate investment sites included in this list, Streitwise is not a crowdfunding platform. Instead, this company focuses exclusively on real estate investment trusts or REITs.
The Streitwise website is easy to navigate and features details that first-time investors will find useful, including highlighting last dividends so you can gauge how your investment will perform. Other information you can find includes details of previous investments, such as property type, price, location, and more. In the “Top Questions” section, you can find plenty of relevant information to guide your investment journey.
Since this platform only has one REIT on offer, you won’t find the same range of investment choices displayed on the other websites included on this list. There is no mobile app, but the site is optimized for mobile browsing.
It’s easy to get started with Streitwise—just click “Get Started”. Fill out the details in the pop-up form, including the type of investor you are and how you will be funding your account. The next steps will include filling in additional personal details, financial information, and funding authorization.
It can take some time for your application to be processed, but once you are accepted, you can put money into Streitwise’s REIT and watch your investment pay off. Currently, Streitwise only has two properties on offer in their REIT, both office properties, however additional offerings are being pursued and will likely be added in the near future.
Like all of my other top picks, Streitwise delivers transparent, helpful, and comprehensive resources for investors, including a link to SEC filings and specific information about investing with a self-directed IRA. Investors and potential investors can easily access customer care representatives by phone, email, or online chat. Phone and chat options are limited to business hours but are very responsive.
DiversyFund makes investing in real estate accessible to almost anyone by crowdsourcing investments in their REIT. DiversyFund directly purchases properties, eliminating the middleman and lowering costs, renovating properties, and renting them out for steady passive income.
This website is my personal favorite in terms of both content and visuals. You can give the landing page a quick glance and immediately get an idea about the dividends, offerings, and benefits of investing in real estate. With an emphasis on making real estate investment accessible to the 99%, DiversyFund creates a seamless, user-friendly browsing experience and the same goes for the easy-to-understand and appealing dashboard for members.
The investor dashboard gives you instant access to your invested value, investment reports, tax documents, distribution updates, and other relevant information about your portfolio.
Like most of the platforms included on this list, you can open a DiversyFund account with just basic information such as name and email before you will be required to provide more personal details once you’ve decided to invest. At that stage, you will be asked how much money you want to invest. With the lowest investment minimum on this list, you can get started with only $500 and no surprise fees. This makes DiversyFund an attractive option for investors with any budget.
Once you’ve decided to invest, you will be asked to provide additional personal details for tax purposes and to confirm a funding source. After completing sign up, DiversyFund will direct you to your personal dashboard where you will be able to monitor your investments.
It’s easy to learn about real estate investment, REITs, and personal finance with DiversyFund’s wide range of resources. The fund’s founders also regularly contribute, personalizing the platform, and delivering unique content. Whether you are a first-time or advanced investor, you will find interesting articles that enhance your knowledge base. Investors can access customer support by email, by chat, or by filling out the ‘Help’ pop up form. Representatives are responsive and the company is active on social media, so this is another way to reach out.
This unique real estate crowdsourcing investment platform gives investors of every type of socially responsible real estate projects to put their money into with absolutely no fees. Reputable developers list vetted projects and minimum investment amounts on Small Change – all you have to do is choose.
As a real estate investment platform focused on impact investment and generating positive social change, Small Change’s website features listings and information about how these offerings are propelling this mission. Users can easily access informational resources, such as how the ‘Change Index’ determines the impact of specific properties, and other property data. However, since it is a very new platform there is less historical financial data than some of the other picks on this list.
Small Change offers limited access to customer service, with only an email option. You can also contact the company via social media channels.
Signing up is free and users can check out property listings without even providing basic information. To sign up, just fill in the form and when you are ready to invest, click this option, and follow the instructions. You’ll be asked for personal and financial information, and to sign off on an Investment Agreement before you can put any actual money down. Small Change is a marketplace for real estate investment crowdsourcing so investors directly invest in vetted opportunities displayed on the site.
The site hosts a range of informational articles, calculators, and FAQs so that you can learn more before taking the plunge. This creative platform is focused on propelling social change with real estate investment for every level of investor, so for younger investors seeking to make an impact as well as profits, this is a great place to start.
Summary of the best real estate investment websites
|Website||Minimum investment||Fees||Investment types|
|Roofstock||$500||0.5%||Single-family rental properties|
|Crowdstreet||$25,000||Up to 2.5%||Diverse property types and investment structures|
|EquityMultiple||$10,000||Up to 1% management fee||Diverse property types, fund, direct, and tax-deferred investment structures|
|RealtyMultiple||$5,000-$50,000||1-3%||REITs, individual properties, 1031 exchanges|
|Fundrise||$500||1%||Diverse properties and easy to understand investment packages|
|Streitwise||3% upfront plus 2% annual management fee||$1,000||One REIT invested in two commercial properties|
|DiversyFund||No fees||$500||One REIT invested in a variety of properties in Texas and California|
|Small Change||No fees||Minimums determined by individual developer on the marketplace||Wide range of properties available for direct investment|
How did I come up with this list?
When choosing the platforms on this list, I looked at a few main features, including minimum investment amounts, fees, and investment types, and included a variety of options for investors of every ilk. Another thing I was looking for is website usability.
Almost all of the sites offer three steps for registration. First, the initial sign up to view properties, second to open an investor account, including providing funding information, and third is becoming an active investor. These processes have become increasingly seamless as technology facilitates investor onboarding and transactions in just a few clicks of a button.
Each of my picks is easy to use and offers frictionless sign-up, lots of well-designed resources and FAQs, and accessible customer support. Whether you have only a few dollars or tens of thousands, you’ll find a good fit among these vetted online real estate investment options.
What is real estate investing online?
Real estate investment platforms connect developers and investors. Investors receive distributions based on what they put in, and the platform generally collects a fee, either from the developer, the investor, or both.
Some platforms are only going to be available to accredited investors, but others have lower barriers and requirements, making them available to anyone looking to get into real estate investing. There is a range of investment types, including rental units, REITs, and 1031 exchanges.
What should you look for in online real estate investing platforms?
Whenever you are putting your hard-earned money into an investment, it is vital to check the credentials and security of the platform. Each of the sites on my list offer vetted investment opportunities and comprehensive customer service.
Some other things to look for are whether you need to be an accredited investor to invest, what the terms are of investment, and types of properties offered. Many real estate investments are illiquid, keeping your money locked up for longer periods of time. If you think you’ll need that money soon, find platforms offering shorter terms.
Make sure you meet the minimum investment threshold and accreditation requirement before signing up to a platform. While many sites require significant initial investments, others can get you into the real estate game for as little as $5.
When signing up for a real estate investment platform, aside from the technical financial details, it’s important to make sure that the site and investor dashboard are easy to navigate. Look at how property offerings are laid out and how much information is included on the listings to help you decide where to put your money. Many of the sites on this list provide historical performance, which will give you a good idea of how the platform will make you money.
You will likely be checking in on your portfolio frequently, so having a user-friendly and attractive dashboard makes all the difference. It’s also helpful for the site to either have a dedicated mobile app or be optimized for mobile browsing. All of my picks for this list offer this benefit so you will be able to keep on top of your portfolio anywhere, anytime.
In the new reality of online real estate investing, even people with just a few hundred dollars can benefit from this potentially lucrative market. Pool your money with other like-minded investors, join funds, or invest through your IRA.
With these tech-forward platforms, you are in control of where you put your money and how much you invest. While some platforms do require investors to be accredited, others do not, so no matter how much you make, you will likely find an investment opportunity that suits your budget and goals.