EquityRoots: Democratizing Hotel Investments

3 min read

Hi. I’m Bhavik Dani, Dealflow Organizer with EquityRoots.com. It’s my pleasure to talk to you about how crowdfunding is revolutionizing the hotel industry. EquityRoots.com uses crowdfunding as a finance mechanism to raise capital for real estate assets, specifically for premium branded franchised hotels. EquityRoots combines and harnesses the buying power of the crowd to bring you investment opportunities in institutional grade investments that were once available only to REITs, insurance companies, and the largest corporations. Our crowdfunding technology allows even the smallest of investors to pool their capital right next to proven developers and industry leaders. Hotel crowdfunding is really a system in which everyday folks like you and I become the source of capital. The capital can be structured as equity, debt, mezzanine debt, and sometimes even convertible debt. This capital is fairly flexible with how a developer can use it to further grow and improve business, from renovating a pre-existing hotel development to constructing and designing an entirely new development from scratch.  The advantages of crowdfunding to investors include:

Diversifying Risk

We can diversify risk by allowing the crowd to buy fractional interests in different hotels across the country. EquityRoots allows investors to select multiple assets, affiliated with different brands and located in various geographic territories.

Institutional Grade Assets

Next, it allow hotel investors to own a piece of an institutional grade quality hotel. Let me explain a little further. The average hotel groups and hospitality groups have the ability to build a standard 80-120 room hotel in a suburb, where barriers to entry and construction costs are often lower. However, in center city urban markets – like Chicago and New York – investors often encounter high barriers to entry and substantially higher construction costs. Deals in such markets can become out-of-reach for traditional hoteliers and real estate investors. This is where crowdfunding kicks in. By pooling capital from everyone, it allows combined leverage of the crowd to pursue a higher-grade, higher-quality deal. It’s something usually reserved for institutions –  REITs and insurance companies as I mentioned.

No Middleman and Commissions

Another advantage is removing middlemen and commissions. The crowdfunding process is very clean and simple. Our crowdfunding platform doesn’t allow broker fees or commissions for buying and selling the investment. EquityRoots aims to make every penny of your dollar count in the investment.

 

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Ownership Beyond Paper

Investing in property and buildings that you can see and visit is probably one last advantage I’d like to share. Hotel crowdfunding investments are markedly different than paper stocks and bonds – paper certificates that we trade on by speculation and can never actually “see” in the same sense that you can see and visit a hotel you invest in. Real estate is an investment that you’ll always be able to see. It has real property interest and improvements on the land.

Conclusion

These are just a handful of the reasons why hotel crowdfunding is such a game changer – not only does it harness the power of real estate crowdfunding, but it also allows real estate investors new and old to gain access to those high-barrier markets. EquityRoots is hotel crowdfunding, democratized for today’s investors.

 

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Limitations on Funding for Development Proposals

2 min read

Limitations on Funding for Development Proposals

What are our limitations on funding?

Many times we get inquiries about what types of deals EquityRoots.com funds. We fund a variety of deals: opportunistic turnarounds, acquisitions, new developments. However, we do have some qualifying criteria to ensure that our hotel investors have the highest quality crowdfunding projects available to them. All projects must be franchised with one of the big three brands. This includes Marriott, Hilton, and IHG. Why is it that we are only picking these three? It’s not to say that other properties and other franchises do not make money or are that they are poor investments. These properties do have the potential to perform well and earn returns, but the three big brands that EquityRoots has identified have proven track records of customer service, brand standards, and a sense of predictability that corporate travelers have come to expect. It’s the hotel brands that we feel comfortable investing behind and sharing to our hotel investors on our hotel crowdfunding platform. They have strong brand support that includes a robust central reservation system working to fill your guest rooms each night.

EquityRoots.com also likes to look at the type of transaction. New development hotel projects from the ground up tend to have longer planning times and disposition periods, but they also tend to draw in higher revenue than a comparable pre-existing hotel upon stabilization.  It’s no secret that new hotels often become market leaders, but hotel investors must endure 18-24 months of deferred returns during planning and construction.

Alternatively, existing asset acquisitions are also an attractive proposition because you’re ready to recognize a return on your hotel investment the day after closing.  Existing stabilized assets also allow hotel investors to see exactly the income that they’re buying, whereas new development deals are based on projections.

 

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Are there any dollar amount limits on funding?

In short – no. Traditionally, potential real estate investor bases are often limited by their location. EquityRoots’ platform allows sponsors to reach a larger investor base, using technology to enhance how they source capital. A Hampton Inn in New York City will have no problems raising capital online. It’s strong brand and larger sized market will allow this project to draw not only local investors in New York, but also investors from outside New York State. Our technology department focuses on effective quality search algorithms to make sure that investment opportunities are available to local investors. Interested hotel investors that may be researching how and where to invest in hotels online may find themselves directed to EquityRoots.com’s platform. You don’t have to live near an asset to perform due diligence and invest. With that said, we would expect the New York City Hampton Inn would raise quite a bit more capital than a La Quinta Inn in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Looking beyond the deal itself

Oftentimes, the sponsor behind a hotel crowdfunding deal matters just as much as the merits and location of the deal itself. Although we don’t set funding limits, we often push project sponsors to contribute at least 50% equity, requiring them to share a significant stake in the success of the project.  This way, both passive hotel investors and project sponsors both share a mutual, financially backed interest in the success of the deal. Other factors matter too, and we look at each submitted project holistically before presenting the hotel crowdfunding opportunity to our hotel investors. In general, the better the flag, brand, sponsor, and market size – typically improve the outcome on the capital raise.

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Should I Invest in a New Hotel or an Existing Hotel?

5 min read

Should I Invest in a New Hotel or an Existing Hotel?

Do I invest in a brand new hotel, or in an existing hotel? Real estate investors often find this decision difficult when first expanding their investment portfolio to include hotel assets. When deciding between hotel investment opportunities, knowing the distinctions between new and old hotel assets can serve you well. Combine that knowledge with information about the cost basis, time, quality, and potential disposition value of each deal, and you have the foundational tools you need to make smart investment decisions.

For starters – there are two types of investments available for hotel investors. Hotel investors can choose to invest in a new construction project. This is where a hotel developer takes the time to design and build a brand new hotel. On the flip side, hotel investors can choose to invest in an existing hotel, usually in the form of a renovation project. Renovations could include structural upgrades to a building, but may also involve a change of a hotel’s brand name. For example, a developer might want to take a pre-existing Country Inn & Suites and convert it to a Staybridge Suites.

The benefits of new construction hotels might seem apparent to many first time investors. After all, the hotel asset that you invest in will be brand new, often coming with the newest amenities. However, existing hotel renovation projects also have their fair share of benefits.


New Construction Hotel Investments

New Construction Hotel Investments

Investing in a new development project can be a risky but rewarding investment. It is truly a unique experience, being able to invest in a project that you can see from its designing stages, to the groundbreaking, and to the final construction phases.

Advantages to New Construction Investments

New construction developments have numerous benefits, including:

  1. Modern Design: Everything is new! The guest experience and floorplans of today’s hotel prototypes are more efficient and modern than older hotels. Guests are satisfied and leave great travel reviews, encouraging additional business.
  2. Market Leaders: New construction hotels typically beat out the older competition in the area. These new assets often become market leaders in rate and occupancy in large part because business travelers don’t mind spending more money to stay in newer hotels.
  3. Lean Operating Margins: Operating margins in new hotels tend to be leaner than their older counterparts because the newer hotel is less susceptible to extensive maintenance and repairs.
  4. Higher Disposition: When selling a newer hotel after owning it for a few years, it is common to see offers that are higher than those that would be made for old hotels. REITS and institutional buyers demand the best performing assets and often pay the highest value to new or newer hotels.

Disadvantages to New Construction Investments

However, savvy real estate investors know that depending on the individual deal, new does not always mean better. New construction hotels have their own share of risks:

  1. Longer Process: The development process often takes 6-18 months of hard work with engineers, attorneys, and architects. Only after the development undergoes several rounds of approval does the project move forward to construction, which often takes another 16-24 months of time.
  2. Income Delay: New hotel assets are not taking in any income during that development and construction process.
  3. Building Codes & Zoning Laws: Government review can have a huge hand in restricting the hotel design. Different local governments vary greatly in what is allowed or not allowed in construction. With a brand new hotel, it can add on additional work and approval rounds with city officials, all which can lengthen the amount of time until opening day for that hotel.
  4. Difficult Construction Financing: Construction financing is generally more scarce expensive than existing hotel acquisition loans. There are plenty of lenders for existing hotels, but not as many for new-construction loans.

Existing Hotel Investments

Existing Hotel Investments

When real estate investors decide to invest in the renovation of an existing hotel, they must compare the cost basis of acquiring the hotel to the cost benefit of changing flags or renovating the property into a different brand. In other words, how does the price of investing in the hotel compare with the potential return of the renovated property? This comparison is especially important if the existing hotel is located in an extremely busy market, center-city location, or in a market where vacant land is scarce.

Advantages to Existing Investments

Existing hotel investments offer many benefits that are distinct from new hotel assets, including:

  1. Clear Performance History: Investing in or purchasing an existing hotel with an operating history provides an accurate look at how the hotel is performing right now. This can give you a clear picture of what the return on your investment currently looks like before renovation.
  2. Reduced Development Costs: Due to rising costs of construction and scarcity of land in strong markets, the building a new hotel is easier said than done. With an existing hotel asset, you do not have to shell out for materials to build an entirely new building.
  3. Faster Income: Assuming that the hotel asset is cash flow positive, investors can recognize income 12-24 months sooner compared to new construction hotel investments. Again, hotel investors benefit from a shorter waiting period before the hotel operates.
  4. Shorter Development Period: Pre-existing hotel assets have already undergone the entitlement, design, and development process from its initial construction, so developers and investors can save valuable time.
  5. Assuming Financing: The acquisition cost for an existing hotel can be significantly below new construction replacement cost. Additionally, existing hotels often have financing that you can assume from the previous owner. It’s convenient not having to go searching or negotiating for a loan when you can readily assume a quality loan.

Disadvantages to Existing Investments

With older hotel buildings (and for real estate assets in general), maintenance and other disadvantages can lower the value of your investment. Investors must be careful to make sure that the price of acquiring a pre-existing hotel does not outweigh the cost of simply constructing a new hotel. Other downsides to existing hotel assets include:

  1. Outdated Infrastructure: Many older hotel buildings lack adequate electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems to keep up with the demand of today’s travelers. Investors can often spend just as much money replacing these systems as they would installing brand new ones.
  2. Limited Branding Options: Older hotels may be limited on branding options, as some brands (particularly high performing ones) may have additional restrictions on which buildings they are willing to allow their branding on.
  3. Lower Disposition Value: Renovated or repositioned hotels will most likely sell for a substantially lower premium than newly constructed assets.
  4. Higher Maintenance Costs: Older, existing hotel assets will cost more to maintain than new construction hotels.

 

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Conclusion

Both new and existing hotel assets come with their own set of pros and cons, and investors should take into account their financial goals when considering investment decisions. If investors seek to supplement their short-term cash flow, then the types of investments that work best for them will be different than if those investors were seeking to maximize their long-term gain. Beyond looking at the type of hotel investment, looking at other variables including “equity multiples” can provide valuable information.

Equityroots recently found value in partnering with Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), licensing two of their most iconic brands, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in a dynamic dual-brand design. The development was able to identify Class-A vacant site in a market with barriers to entry, it was an easy decision to pursue new development given the circumstances.  New development projects and investments often require a higher degree of patience compared to existing hotel acquisitions, but the added layer of patience is often rewarded during the exit strategy.

Equityroots.com is website owned and operated by Equityroots, Inc., a Delaware Corporation and real-estate developer specializing in select service and full service hotel development.  For more information on hotel investments, visit us at www.equityroots.com or sign up for our monthly newsletter at the bottom of our homepage.

Sources

“Hotel Investment: How to Finance the New Supply.” Hotel Online. Apr 11, 2014.

Jones, Michael. “What Does it Take to Start a Hotel?”  Forbes. Feb 23, 2013.

LaSalle, Jones. “5 Forces Driving Hotel Investment.” Building Design and Construction. Feb 5, 2013.

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Hotel Crowdfunding vs REIT Investments

4 min read

Hotel Crowdfunding vs. REIT Investments — Investing Tools for the 21st Century

The 21st century has brought about quite a few developments in the real estate industry. As with most industries, technology has played a huge role in propelling the real estate industry forward. Two have jumped to the forefront within the real-estate industry: Crowdfunding and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  These two innovations – particularly as they relate to hotel crowdfunding, are alternatives to the traditional investing methods. Now, many investors wonder how to best utilize hotel crowdfunding and REITs for their investment or capital raising needs.

What’s so Special about Crowdfunding for Hotels?

With the passing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (JOBS Act), online platforms such as EquityRoots can now solicit the sale of real estate backed securities to prospective investors by registering Form D with the SEC—the Security and Exchange Commission, or qualifying for an exemption. When using general solicitation, all purchasers of the public offering (in this case hotel assets) must have accredited investor status. The JOBS Act has also paved way for non-accredited investors to participate.  More recently, and under newer offering types like Title IV Regulation A+, unaccredited investors can participate under certain limitations.  This opens up the possibility for online platforms to extend investment opportunities to everyone, not just accredited investors anymore.

Under these circumstances, hotels are a great asset class to crowdfund because of its existing large and loyal customer bases associated with each of the top Hotel chains such as Marriot, IHG, Hyatt and Hilton.  In most cases, commercial real estate like hotels yield investors a greater rate of return than residential real estate investments.  Equity crowdfunding investments can easily exceed the typical returns from residential real estate, often seeing a rate of return above 20% when factoring 5-year holding periods and including the disposition proceeds.  The cash flow performance of hotel assets can also impress investors, especially when the development is backed by a strong reservation system and strong brand.  Crowdfunding is not limited to equity, you can also crowdfund a mortgage or a business loan.

 

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What’s the infatuation with REIT(s)?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) didn’t start to matriculate in the investment marketplace until the 1960s—when Congress introduced this investing tool into the U.S. economy. What is a REIT? By definition, it is a corporation that owns and operates income producing real estate. More specifically, it joins the capital of several investors and investors earn a share of the income produced, yielding a 8.8% rate of return averaged over the last 10 years.

A REIT offers investment flexibility at a reasonable entry price. REIT(s) can invest in multiple asset classes such as retail, residential, healthcare, offices. and for each of these asset classes, investors can earn a share of the income produced. Many people find REIT(s) an attractive investment because of it’s liquidity, meaning you can wake up and sell it if you need the cash.  Be weary, certain REIT’s often have restrictions on when and how much you can sell.

Conclusion & Comparison

After comparing the two investment tools, it’s clear that each has their pros and cons. A REIT’s ability to earn a reasonable rate of return and the liquid nature of the investment may be a good fit for some people. But for the savvier investor that can decipher between good/bad markets and good/bad flags, they have multiple options on what they can invest into.  It is not uncommon for online investors to yield a higher rate of return through a variety of equity and debt instruments via crowdfunding, and outperform their REIT counterparts.  Real estate and hotel crowdfunding may allow people to diversify their portfolio by personal preferences that are strategically better than a giant pool of assets accumulated over time.

The same cannot be said of REIT(s).  Essentially, a REIT is a pool of multiple properties that you are investing into.  Sometimes the REIT picks good apples and sometimes it picks bad apples, and sometimes the good ones go bad over time, you’re essentially investing into the average. REIT(s) do not allow the investor to pick and choose which investment type they would like to fund, whereas crowdfunding gives control back to the investor and allows them to choose investments that may be most suitable for them, sorting by debt, equity, brand, flag, geographic market, hold period, etc.

Remember, that all investments come with risk.  Investing is inherently taking on some form of risk for a potential reward.  And although people have 24/7 internet access to crowdfunding platforms, they should consult an attorney or financial advisor prior to investing.  Crowdfunding platforms like www.equityroots.com enable its online investors to easily share due-diligence documents and investment contracts with their attorney prior to investing.  Past performance is never a guarantee of the future.

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1031 Exchange: Defer Your Tax Obligations

3 min read

1031 Exchange- Defer Your Tax Obligations

Investing in hotels and real estate continues to be one of the best ways to build your wealth, grow your portfolio, and minimize your taxes. Thanks to Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, investors are able to enjoy these advantages.

What Is Section 1031?

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows an owner of any business or investment property to defer paying federal capital gains taxes and depreciation recapture if they exchange business or investment properties of like-kind. The 1031 Exchange allows you to swap properties or businesses while ignoring the taxable gains and reinvesting it into more valuable property. Essentially investors are using money that would otherwise be due in taxes to continue funding a bigger portfolio.

What are the Benefits?

There are numerous benefits that can be the result of a 1031 Exchange, but there are a number of requirements that must be met in order to complete an exchange. The most obvious benefit of a 1031 Exchange is tax deferral. The true power, though, lies in what comes as a result. Depending on your investment objective, a 1031 Exchange offers a wealth of opportunity.

Preserve Equity

If you are looking to preserve your equity, a 1031 Exchange can do that. Tax deferral will allow your initial investment to continue to grow. And since there’s no limit on how many times you can do a 1031 Exchange, you can defer indefinitely and continue to reap the benefits.

Purchasing Power

Or if you’re simply looking to increase your purchasing power, a 1031 Exchange can do that too. By allowing you to use all the sale proceeds- money that would otherwise be tied up in taxes- you can leverage it into more valuable real estate, which can subsequently increase the return on your investment by producing more cash flow and greater depreciation values.

Diversify Investments

And if you’re looking to diversify your portfolio and improve your investment position, a 1031 Exchange can do that too! Although this tax provision is limited in scope to only property located within the US, diversifying into different geographic regions or into different types of business or investment properties may be desirable for you or your business.

But if you’re looking to split up property or consolidate properties, a 1031 Exchange can do that too! Allowing you to roll over the gain from property to property, gives you the option to exchange a large property and split up the gain among several smaller properties or to exchange multiple properties and consolidate the gain into one larger property.

EquityRoots - Hotel Real Estate Investments Platform

Is it Right For Me?

A 1031 Exchange may be just the thing if you are intending to sell business or investment property, and you plan to buy a business or investment property of like-kind, within 180 days following the closing of your relinquished property.

It is ideal for taxpayers looking to sell their appreciated property–a low tax basis, business or investment property that has been held for more than one year. However, it should not be utilized if you have recently refinanced the property you want to sell, nor is it recommended if the transaction will result in a capital loss.

It’s important to know, though, that 1031 Exchanges are subject to strict rules. And depending on the type of transaction involved, these can sometimes be very complex. However, the use of a qualified intermediary to coordinate the essentials is imperative to the success of any exchange. Despite its complexity, though, 1031 Exchanges remain a very powerful investment strategy- that allows ‘real estate to help defer your tax obligations!

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