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.

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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.

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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.

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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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