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In the real estate investing world, there’s a crowded arms race to become the go-to “fractional” investing platform where you can buy $100 shares in $1 million homes.
Here, the latest contender, has wisely branched off from the main conflict to pursue a lucrative niche: vacation homes. After all, vacation homes generate 160% more revenue per month on average compared to the typical rental property says Here citing Zillow research. As a result, pursuers of high-yield passive income generators should be perking up.
But how does Here work? How are the offerings? What are the hidden risks, and is fractional vacation home investing really for you?
Let’s investigate Here.
Here Pros & Cons
- Low buy-in $100
- Hand-selected properties in revenue-rich areas
- Safe and straightforward payment structure
- Proper SEC filings
- Reasonable fees
- It’s a tiny startup with no track record
- Properties aren’t self-governing LLCs
- No secondary market = illiquid
- Zero available options at certain times
What is Here?
Here is a fractional real estate investing platform specializing in vacation homes.
Founder Corey Ashton Walters saw an opportunity emerge with the explosive rise of AirBnBs in the late 2010s: Why not let retail investors own partial shares of vacation homes, where the monthly revenue is 160% higher than your average rental property?
Such thinking gave rise to Here, which launched in early 2022 and quickly secured $7 million in VC funding. The site is live and they’ve already fully funded over a dozen properties, generating passive income for themselves and their investors (Here takes a minimum 1% stake in every property).
Who Is Here For?
Here is for the investor who recognizes the potential high returns on vacation properties but:
- Doesn’t have the capital for a 10% down payment, and/or
- Lacks the patience for property management – or even finding a decent property management company
Here assuages both concerns by lowering the buy-in to just $100 per share and managing every aspect of property ownership themselves. They list the properties on AirBnB et al, clean and maintain it, and handle every other possible headache.
That being said, investing with Here isn’t totally risk-free. So let’s dive into the details.
How Does Here Work?
Here’s a brief rundown of Here’s business model:
- Here acquires a property in a hot, high-revenue vacation market like the Blue Ridge Mountains and invests a little capital to make it “vacation ready.”
- They then register the property under a Series LLC which lives underneath the Here umbrella LLC. Simultaneously, they begin renting the property out on short-term vacation rental sites like AirBnB and VRBO.
- The fun part! Here “launches” the property like an IPO, selling up to 99% equity as $100 shares.
- You and the other investors (including Here themselves) start receiving quarterly “dividend” payments commensurate with your ownership stake.
- Finally, in five to seven years — or whenever they set the investment term for — Here will sell the property and share the spoils with you.
Now that you have the basic idea of how it works, let’s break down each of Here’s key features.
What makes Here great?
>Simple Signup Process
Since Here doesn’t require you to be an accredited investor, signup is a breeze. Just register your name, email, and password, and you’re in. You can start browsing properties within seconds.
Once you’re ready to buy, you’ll have to jump through a few more hoops to prove you’re not laundering cartel money. Those steps include:
- A Know Your Customer (KYC) questionnaire
- Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks
- Various personal questions, and
- Linking your bank account
Still, that’s about the bare minimum number of hoops for non-accredited investors to jump through.
>User-friendly Site Design
Just look at how clean Here’s website is. Anyone who’s visited a website since 1996 will instantly understand how it works and where to go.
There are tabs for Properties and your Portfolio, plus FAQs and a blog. It’s crisp, simple, and intuitive. A+.
Unlike some other real estate investing platforms, Here doesn’t cast a wide net, listing 137 properties at once just to see which ones will garner investor interest.
Rather, the team eliminates 99.8% of properties they consider, and only the crème de la crème makes it to the site. And while their vetting process remains proprietary, Here themselves take a minimum 1% ownership stake and their overall revenue model depends on the properties being successful investments.
In other words, investors can invest with a reasonable amount of confidence.
Traditionally, the minimum buy-in for a vacation rental property has been a 10% down payment plus taxes and fees. In a high value vacation market like Blue Ridge or Pasadena, that number could easily surpass $100,000 cash.
With Here, the minimum buy-in is just $100. That’s the cost of each share in the Series LLC, i.e. the entity representing the property. So while that share may only represent 0.01% of the property value, it still eliminates the enormous barrier to entry for traditional vacation rental investing.
>Reasonable Property Management Fees
Here charges a management fee of 25% of the property’s monthly revenue. That’s honestly pretty generous, considering the industry average for vacation rentals ranges from 25% to 30% — and those companies didn’t find and broker the property for you.
Other fractional real estate companies keep their properties on the blockchain, making it tricky to regulate (a mistake that cost BlockFi $100 million).
And indeed, some fractional investors don’t feel too bothered about the security of their platforms, saying “It’s the same as buying property with your friends,” so no SEC filing needed. This is how my colleague, a former SEC attorney, reacted to that one.
That’s why I’m relieved to see that Here is playing ball, filing Forms 1-A so they’re less likely to get the door kicked in by regulators.
What are Here’s Drawbacks?
No secondary market (yet).
The team at Here says they intend to hold each property for between five and seven years. If you’d like to cash in your chips before then, well, too bad. Here has no secondary market, and selling shares in an LLC controlled by the Here LLC may involve extra steps (and attorneys).
>Limited – Sometimes Zero – Options
At the time of this writing, Here had 10 properties listed for investors – but all were Sold Out:
Here says their offerings sell out extremely quickly, so they’re hoping to eventually list up to four per month.
>Longevity and Scalability Concerns
At the time of this writing, Here has just a dozen full-time employees including a single Property Manager with no prior experience.
I’d be less concerned if Here had a plan in place to protect investors in case the company folded. Lofty has one, but Here doesn’t appear to. And the unusual Series LLC/LLC structure certainly raises questions about the legal fallout if the company dissolves.
>No Shareholder Voting Rights
When I saw no mention of “voting rights” or “self-governing” in Here’s extensive FAQs, I grew suspicious that Here was quietly retaining 100% control of every property. Here’s head of Investor Relations, Brianna Watterson confirmed my suspicions, saying, “Here… will retain voting control of the Series [LLC] and determine when to sell.”
This stands in stark contrast to other fractional investing platforms like Lofty and Rally Rd. These platforms treat assets as 100% self-governing LLCs, and let the investors decide when to sell, renovate, etc. Heck, they’ll even facilitate the vote.
But not Here. And that may be a big turnoff for investors who like some control over how their shared investment is treated, either for liquidity purposes or simply in principle.
>No Mobile App
Here has no mobile app and no plans for one, but at least its site is mobile-friendly.
Here Pricing and Fees
As a business, Here makes money in three ways:
- An Asset Management Fee totaling 1% of the property’s total value each year, paid out from the property’s income at a rate of 0.25% each quarter. This covers asset management, payment fees, and investor relations.
- A Property Management Fee of 25% of the property’s gross annual revenue, paid out each month. This covers typical management expenses such as cleaning, guest relations, maintenance, repairs, booking, and more.
- Investing their own money in the properties, and collecting a little rental income for themselves.
Here also stands to make a little cash from the sale of a property it partly owns. According to the team, they plan to hold properties for between five and seven years, but may sell sooner — or later — if they decide it’s in the best interest of shareholders (again, no voting).
Aside from Here’s cut of the property revenue, there are no direct fees to investors. No signup fees, initiation fees, nada. And as mentioned, Here’s low buy-in of just $100 per share is a highlight of the platform.
Lack of liquidity is the #1 thing that scares the typical investor away from the rental market, and unfortunately, Here doesn’t present an immediate solution. Investments are locked up until Here – not the shareholders – decide it’s time to sell.
How to Contact Here
Here has a contact page which lists an email (email@example.com) and a live chat available 9am – 5pm EST Monday through Friday. I pinged them at 2:30 and didn’t hear back the same day, but that could be a fluke.
Is Here Safe?
Here’s safety derives, in part, from its simplicity. The platform doesn’t share data with third parties without your consent and facilitates all of its transactions via Plaid.
By contrast, Lofty.ai, Pocket Properties, and others have replaced payment providers with blockchain-based smart contracts. While cheaper and more efficient in theory, these new-school methods present their own new set of risks: what if the blockchain gets hacked ala Ethereum 1.0? What if the “tokens” representing equity get stolen? What if the SEC steps in with an iron boot?
In other words, Here’s “old school” approach may provide solace to investors nervous about blockchain-based solutions.
Best Alternatives to Here
HappyNest is a bit like Here but for commercial real estate. So instead of part ownership in a cabin in Aspen, you’ll own part of an office building rented by CVS.
Similar to the team at Here, the team at HappyNest does the bulk of due diligence for you. In fact, the whole platform is just one big REIT; you’re either in or you’re out, the choice is binary.
Commercial real estate may not provide the exciting annualized returns of vacation rentals (HappyNest targets ~6%), but for a low buy-in of $10, HappyNest offers an easy way to diversify with some CRE.
Check out our full review of HappyNest.
Having launched in 2019, Arrived Homes is a relatively more experienced player in the fractional real estate investing space. And considering it’s about to break into vacation homes, it’s poised to become Here’s chief competitor.
Both have $100 buy-ins, both have a target holding period of five to seven years, and both strive to provide generous passive income to investors. Arrived Homes has more experience and features (such as the ability to sell them your home and keep a 10% stake), but you could say that Here has the advantage by specializing in vacation homes from the get-go.
The Bottom Line
While Here’s unproven track record and vexing lack of shareholder voting rights might turn some investors away, others might look past the kinks and see the opportunity. Fractional ownership of a vacation property certainly be highly lucrative, surpassing even dividend aristocrats for glorious, retirement-accelerating passive income.
For more on fractional real estate investing, check out our breakdown of the 5 Best Fractional Real Estate Investing Platforms.