The platform's goal is to give participants a passive,sole-ownership vehicle -- managed from initial deal sourcingthrough ultimate disposition -- through which to invest incommercial real estate. And while it is open to more than justhigh-net-worth participants-- entities and corporations are alsoviable members – it is the latest illustration of the growing rolesingle investors are playing in real estate finance.


Not that high-net worth individuals have been strangers to thereal estate finance markets. They are strong players in mostprivate equity funds, for instance. And the 1031 tenant-in-common(TIC) exchanges, as another example, were developed precisely togive small sized investors a venue in which to rollover assets in atax efficient manner.


Now, though, as the capital markets remain in seizure, savvyinvestors are swooping in on what they see as good opportunities,says Adam Petriella, senior director of Finance & Investmentsin Marcus & Millichap's Los Angeles office. "A whole cottageindustry has sprung up where people are raising money for privateinvestors to invest anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. They arepromised anywhere from 9% to 12% in returns." These pools ofcapital then turn around and make bridge loans to strugglingdevelopers or projects that are otherwise good bets – but just havebeen cut off from their usual source of funds, he explains.


Petriella says this trend began in earnest in Q4 2007 as moretraditional lenders began to exit the markets. Individuals beganreplacing – but not entirely – the more traditional sources in allmanner of ways, from the formal platforms such as those introducedby Grubb & Ellis, to approaching brokers like Petriella to findout whether good deals were available. "I've had several clientsask me if I knew of deals that required short term, last-minutemoney," he says.

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