Real Estate

NordStreet Review 2020: Pros and Cons Uncovered

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The European property market is growing at rapid rates these years, with much of this driven by innovative crowdfunding models.

With today’s European real estate crowdfunding platforms, small-time investors have the option to invest as little as €100 in real estate objects that were previously inaccessible to them.

Gone are the days when real estate was exclusively for venture capitalists and investment management firms. Estate developers are now raising funds easily for their projects, while private investors are benefiting from high returns on secured loans without the hassle of dealing with stacks of paperwork.

One such platform that is looking to democratize property investing is Lithuanian Nordstreet.

Launched in 2018, Nordstreet is a regulated and licensed investment platform that allows you to invest in properties while enjoying returns averaging 11.5% per year,

To evaluate whether Nordstreet is the right platform for you, we’ll be exploring how the site works, how investments are made, where the money is invested, what kind of risks are involved, and what the different pros and cons are.

If property crowdfunding sounds like something you would like to add to your portfolio, make sure to read our in-depth Nordstreet review.

Nordstreet review

Lucas Peterson

Products
Platform and tools
Fees
Account opening
Customer support

Summary

Founded in 2018, Nordstreet offers investors a young but licensed and regulated platform to invest in real estate loans in the Baltics through crowdfunding. The one downside of Nordstreet is the limit deal flow; otherwise, the platform delivers when in comes to returns and LTVs.

4.3

What is Nordstreet?

Nordstreet - P2P Platform for Real Estate
The Nordstreet Platform

Nordstreet is a fintech real estate crowdfunding platform based in Vilnius, Lithuania. Founded in February 2018, the platform provides opportunities for real estate developers to raise funds, while investors benefit from double-digit returns.

Nordstreet uses crowdfunding investment models that allows real estate developers to borrow property-backed loans that are funded by numerous individual investors.

These loans are secured by collateral, property or land pledged by the developer, which developers can use for development and refinancing purposes.

Investors, in turn, can select from a range of projects and receive monthly interest-repayments from the developer. The principal amount paid at the maturity or completion of the project.

Investors have the option to invest in a project of their preference, starting with €100 per investor as a minimum investment requirement.

Nordstreet thus provides a venue where investors and estate developers can connect and conduct business in an innovative and agile environment.

Is Nordstreet Regulated and Safe?

Before making an investment, you should perform due diligence at your end to ensure that company is regulated and credible. But you can put yourself at ease after discovering that Nordstreet is both: credible and regulated.

Is Nordstreet Regulated and Safe?
Nordstreet is regulated by the national Bank of Lithuania

Nordstreet is regulated by the Bank of Lithuania, and you can see it in the top left corner of their website. Moreover, you can visit the Bank of Lithuania’s website and put the keywords ‘UAB Nordstreet’ in the search bar shown on the site.

You will find the basic information about Nordtreet, and that the Bank of Lithuania is supervising and regulating it.

Internal Due Diligence

Nordstreet performs thorough due diligence before listing any projects on their platform. Their team engages with the property developers to discover how long the project will take to complete, how much money the borrower (estate developer) needs, what are the payback terms, how long is the loan period, and many other details to minimize the risk.

This detailed assessment of the project and developer minimizes the risk of default and ensures that all the projects listed are legitimate and backed by collaterals. You can see the loan-to-value of all the projects listed. 

However, when it comes to due diligence, you should still perform a risk analysis at your end before making any investments.

Nordstreet Statistics

Nordstreet has shown impressive numbers since its inception. Initiating 60 loans and successfully repaying 31 of them, the company has lent more than €7.3 million, split among 1071 investors.

The average amount per investor is €1204, and the average loan amount is €105,518. Investors have earned more than €300,000 so far.

Nordstreet statistics and numbers
Nordstreet statistics (May 2020)

Nordstreet also set some records in terms of investment, funding, and funding time. The highest amount invested in a single project is €155,000, while the project that got the highest number of investors lured 310 different investors. The biggest amount funded for a single project is €95,000, and there’s a project that got funded in just one hour.

Nordstreet funding record

These numbers are changing daily as the platform is growing and attracting new investors and developers every day. You can see these numbers on Nordstreet’s website in their statistics section of the about us page.

Pros and Cons

There are many advantages of investing with the Nordstreet platform, but also a few things to keep in mind before opening an account. While the decision to invest is ultimately yours, we try to provide all the relevant information you will need before going forward.

Pros

  • Returns are quite high, with annual interest rates ranging up to 13%.
  • Nordstreet is a trusted platform as it is supervised and regulated by the Bank of Lithuania.
  • You invest in secured loans, meaning the borrower pledges some of his assets as collateral for the loan.
  • The platform is user-friendly, and you can navigate all around it quite easily.
  • It is efficient and quick, and in some cases, it takes only 24 hours to register and get your money invested in a project of your choice.
  • You can either invest in whole loans or fractional loans.

Cons

  • As is the norm in real estate crowdfunding, Nordstreet provides no buy-back guarantee.
  • The platform is young and has a limited track record

How Does Nordstreet Work?

Developers approach Nordstreet and apply for funding. Once the application is received, Nordstreet’s team performs due diligence on the project and its developers. After a detailed assessment and verification, the project is listed on Nordstreet’s website with all the information investors need.

Projects vary in terms of funding requirements, project duration, loan type, project location, risk level, and the type of property.

Investors can navigate around the platform to find a range of projects by clicking the ‘invest’ button in the top right corner of Nordstreet’s homepage.

When you click the ‘invest’ button, it will take you to the projects page. Here you can see a list of projects with basic information in a snapshot.

You can see the pictures of the property along with all the information that you require before making investment decisions.

NordStreet Review 2020: Pros and Cons Uncovered 1
Funded real estate projects from NordStreet loan book.

You have different investment options because the loan purpose and requirements vary from project to project. Property developers have access to various types of loans depending on their requirements.

There are multiple options, including development loans, refinancing of an old loan, loan for installing new equipment or facility, loans for acquisitions, and business loans.

Select a project you find suitable and hit the ‘details’ button. It will open another page where you can find all the information about the project. This information includes the numbers, including annual interest rates, funding goal vs funding raised, number of investors, loan to value in percentage, and the loan period in months.

Moreover, you can see the property type, its location, number of investors it has attracted, and also the purpose of the loan.

Example Project

Let’s explore how a typical investment works at Nordstreet. We selected a project in Vilnius (the capital city of Lithuania) from Nordstreet’s list of projects to illustrate how it all works. 

€69,500 Residential Development Loan in Vilnius

Nordstreet Property Development Project
  • This is the second stage (second tranche) of a residential development project in Vilnius that requires €69,5k in funding for financing the construction of a new building.
  • The minimum amount you can invest in this project is €100.
  • The assessed loan-to-value ratio is 58%, which can be considered low.
  • The debt is secured by a first-rank pledge (senior debt claim) on the land with a construction permit, including the unfinished construction work, valued at €335,400.
  • Nordstreet has put this project in Class ‘B’ which means they consider it a low-to-medium risk project.
  • The loan period is 6 months.
  • The annual interest rate for investors is between 11% to 12%, depending on your investment. From €100 you get 11% interest rate, while at €20k you get 12%.
  • The principal amount (your initial investment) will be paid at the end of the loan term, meaning the loan is non-amortized, while interest will be paid in regular instalments over a fixed time period.

In addition to the details we discussed above, you can dig into more information that Nordstreet provides about each project. In our case, you can see the development details, purpose of the loan, collateral information, loan terms, and interest repayment schedule. You can also find details about the developer and the documents they submit on Nordstreet’s website.

How Are My Investments Secured?

Before making any investment decisions, you should make sure whether your investments are protected or not. In our case, we are investing in property loans that are listed on Nordstreet. Therefore, we should know the criteria that Nordstreet has in place to protect and secure investor’s money.

Nordstreet uses first-rank and second-rank mortgages to make sure all the investments on the platform are secured by collateral.

If you’re new to peer-to-peer lending and real estate crowdfunding, you might not be familiar with the terms (first-rank and second-rank mortgage, also called first and second rank charge), but we can help clear your concepts.

Simply put, a first-rank mortgage means that the lender of this mortgage will have the first right to proceeds from the forced sale of the pledged property.

A second-rank mortgage, on the other hand, means the lender will have the right to sales proceeds after the first-rank lender has been paid.

In general, it is recommended to invested in loans secured against property assets with a first charge, although second charge debt sometimes offer more attractive yields.

In case of any default, Nordstreet has the right to sell the pledged properties of the borrowers to pay back the investors.

You can first a detailed description of the debt collection process in Nordstreet’s FAQ section.

What are the Risks Involved?

Risk assessment is one of the foremost things you should do before putting your money in any crowdfunding loans, financial instruments, and investment platforms.

As is the case with many other investment avenues, real estate crowdfunding and P2P lending can also expose you to risks that you should account for.

Nordstreet takes several precautionary and safety measures to ensure there are least or no chances of default, but still, crowdfunding is volatile, and your investments can be exposed to certain risks you should take into account before making any investment decisions.

Let’s talk about these risks one by one.

  • Unlike many other investment platforms, Nordstreet offers no buy-back guarantee i.e Nordstreet won’t buy your loan back from you in case of any default. However, your investement is secured by a mortgage.
  • There is concentration risk because investments are made only in real estate objects.
  • Most projects are Vilnius-based, i.e. they’re majorly dependent on the Lithuanian economy. An economic downturn in Lithuania might hurt your returns.
  • Property prices are subject to market volatility and economic climate.

Are My Earnings with Nordstreet Taxed?

This section does not constitute tax or legal advice or consultation but simply references the information available at Nordstreets website. Investors should seek independent tax advice.

Your interest earnings at Nordstreet are subject to taxation, i.e. Personal Income Tax (PIT). The investors are divided into two categories based on their residential status. 

There are two types of tax classes i.e. Class ‘B’ for Lithuanian residents and Class ‘A’ for foreign residents. Nordstreet will provide the STI information with all the relevant details for Lithuanian residents that fall in Class ‘B’.

UAB Nordstreet is administering the State Tax Inspectorate (STI) since the beginning of 2020. Previously, this information was provided by the borrowers.

Lithuanian Residents Class ‘B’

Lithuanian investors are required to declare and pay PIT (Personal Income Tax) on their annual interest earnings. The tax rate is 15% that will be applied to your total interest earnings (on the amount exceeding € 500) only if your earnings exceed € 500.

Simply put, the tax rate will be applied to the part of your interest income that exceeds the € 500 threshold. Let’s suppose you earn € 700 as interest income during the year, the tax rate of 15% will be applied to the amount exceeding € 500 i.e 700 – 500 = 200. The total tax payable would be (€ 200 x 15%) = € 30, this is the tax amount you’ll pay to Nordstreet.

Foreign Residents Class ‘A’

Foreign investors are also subject to 15% PIT (Personal Income Tax) that they will pay on their annual interest earnings. This tax is deducted and paid by Nordstreet itself, therefore, the foreign investors will automatically be charged a 15% tax before they receive their interest income.

Unlike Lithuanian residents, foreign investors are not required to declare and pay their taxes themselves, this duty rests with the Nordstreet platform. The tax amount charged to the foreign investors is transferred to the STI budget. 

Nordstreet Alternatives

Now that we have developed a thorough understanding of the Nordstreet platform, let’s explore what alternate options are there and how you can make passive income from these investment avenues.

We have selected two alternate crowdfunding platforms that we’ll compare with Nordstreet to make it easy for you to decide which platform suits your requirements the best.

One such platform is EstateGuru, and the other one is CrowdEstate. They have similar business models, but there are some differences that we are going to explore below. 

EstateGuru

EstateGuru is one of the largest and most popular real estate crowdfunding platforms in Europe. Founded in 2014, Estateguru operates on a similar model to that Nordstreet. Like Nordstreet, Estateguru helps borrowers raise funds from a pool of investors, through property-backed loans just like Nordstreet does.

Nordstreet vs Estateguru
Estateguru vs Nordstreet

However, there are some key facts that we’re going to discuss.

  • The minimum investment requirement with EstateGuru is €50, while at Nordtreet it is €100.
  • EstateGuru has funded 1478 loans at a total value of 200 million, and the average LTV stands at 59%
  • EstateGuru has attracted more than 49,000 investors from 106 countries, and they have earned more than €14 million in interest.
  • Estateguru is not obliged to withhold tax as the company is headquartered in Estonia.
  • The average annual return is 11.88%, which is slightly higher than Nordstreet.
  • Most of its loans are in Baltic countries, with 65% in Estonia, 18% in Latvia, and 13% in Lithuania.
  • It uses 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rank mortgages, with 95% of its loans backed by a 1st rank mortgage.

EstateGuru is a well-established crowdfunding platform that boasts impressive statistics and provides excellent peer-to-peer lending opportunities to investors all around the world. You can create an account quickly and start investing from €50 in the loan of your choice.

You can invest in property-backed loans that are secured by 1st rank mortgages in most cases. Borrowers can raise funds for business loans, development loans, and bridge loans. One key factor worth noting about EstateGuru is they have never reported a loss on investments made through their platform.

CrowdEstate

CrowdEstate is another established crowdfunding platform that allows you to generate passive income by investing in real estate loans. Founded in 2014, it is headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia, and allows you to select a loan of your choice and make an investment starting from €100.

Nordstreet vs Crowdestate
Crowdestate vs Nordstreet

Let’s see how CrowdEstate compares with Nordstreet in terms of investments, returns, and reliability.

  • Just like Nordstreet, investments at CrowdEstate start from €100.
  • CrowdEstate has funded 239 projects attracting more than 10,000 investors so far.
  • The average number of investments per person is 20, and there are more than 3300 active investors.
  • It has raised approximately €91 million and provides an average annual return of a whopping 17%.
  • CrowdEstate provides you the option to sell your loans, and the total value of loans sold exceeds €14.5 million.
  • CrowdEstate allows you to invest in business loans, development loans, and construction loans.
  • Your investments are secured by 1st and 2nd rank mortgages and by commercial collateral in some cases.

CrowdEstate is similar to EstateGuru and Nordstreet in terms of their investment model, but they allow you to use a secondary market to buy and sell your investments. You can choose your investments from 448 investment opportunities spanning over 81 countries.

You also have access to an auto-invest tool that allows smooth and swift investments. Another great feature of CrowdEstate is the ability to make multiple investments through business and private accounts. In terms of average annual returns, it is the leading platform in Europe, but that doesn’t imply it’s risk-free.

Final Thoughts on Nordstreet

Nordstreet is a relatively young platform as compared to CrowdEstate and EstateGuru. But in terms of performance, it is competing well and is on the right track to become a major player on the European real estate crowdfunding scene.

Loans are backed by 1st and 2nd rank mortgages, with most of them having 1st rank. It has a unique risk assessment criteria to classify loans in different risk classes. Most projects have an LTV of lower than 60% (this remains the same during the project) that makes it slightly less risky than its competitors.

You can also access the documentation submitted by the buyer, and track the progress of your project. Moreover, creating an account is super easy, and you can start investing in no time.

What is Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a smart and efficient investment model that allows borrowers to raise funds for development, construction, and various other purposes through a group of investors.

Real estate crowdfunding is a quick way for real estate developers to raise finances through a variety of loans that are funded by a pool of small investors. Many small investors join to fund a big loan that developers use for several objectives. These loans are secured by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rank mortgages, and commercial collateral in some cases.

The crowdfunding platform acts as a facilitator and connects investors with borrowers. These platforms take care of all the documentation, collateral, and perform due diligence before listing any funding request on their platform. Investors can choose a project to invest and earn interest repayments.

Advantages of Real Estate Crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding is a fast and reliable funding method that enables borrowers to raise capital quickly through property-backed loans.

Let’s have a look at the major advantages of crowdfunding.

  • Borrowers can reach more investors globally.
  • Investors have the option to invest in a variety of projects.
  • Borrowers can raise funds in a short time.
  • Investors can track the progress of their projects.
  • Investors don’t have to deal with lengthy documentation.

How Safe is Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Just like traditional crowdfunding, real estate crowdfunding has its unique risks and limitations that you should be aware of before making any decision.

  • Most investments are made in commercial and residential development projects, so there’s a limited diversification.
  • Most investors are not experts in real estate, and that means limited due diligence.
  • Your earnings are dependent on the borrower’s payback strength.
  • Individual investors don’t have a reliable risk assessment process in place.

We advise you to consider all the risks, limitations, and safety measures to minimize your risks. Don’t simply rely on the platform and instead do your risk assessment and due diligence to increase your chances of making profits.

About the author: Lucas Peterson is an investor and expert finance writer with over 10 years of industry experience. Lucas has previously served as editor for a major financial news outlet in his European home country but now spends his time dealing with investments, managing his real estate portfolio, and learning about blockchain technology. To learn more about Lucas, visit his profile page.