The Soapstone is similar to other investment properties advertised by Arrived, like the Sheezy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, or the Mimosa in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The first homes to be advertised on the platform likely won’t be sold for two to three years, giving them time to appreciate, says Frazier, Arrived’s CEO. Then investors can cash out.
The average investor spends around $3,500 on five or six properties, Frazier says. But investments can top $25,000 and include accredited investors, says Bret Neuman, head of brand and content at Arrived. Still, most people invest less than $1,000. And, according to Arrived, it delivered $1.2 million in dividends for investors in 2022. Its portfolio of properties appreciated a total of $1.4 million over the same year, the company says.
Other fractional ownership startups take different approaches to the same idea. reAlpha, the vacation-rental company, sells shares in investment properties to be used as Airbnbs. The company says it uses AI to analyze properties and predict their viability as vacation rentals. Then it buys, renovates, and manages the properties. Y Combinator–backed Lofty AI lets people buy tokens for $50 in homes. People can then use their tokens to vote on management decisions about their properties, like how repairs should be done and whether a tenant should be evicted.
Landa is selling shares in at least a dozen townhouses in Douglasville, Georgia, a city just west of Atlanta, and more homes in Atlanta and its other suburbs. It’s a region that has seen an influx of investors, thanks in part to controversial legislation that favors landlords—including a law that bans rent control. But major investor activity in Atlanta dwarfs this space of listings—four big real estate investors in the area own an estimated 27,000 properties.
The affinity for Sunbelt and Mountain states that stretch across the southern US should come as no surprise—fractional investment startups are simply following trends set by other real estate investors. That’s largely been the case since the Great Recession, which began in 2007, reshaped the real estate market in the US. Large investors, backed by venture capital and bolstered by new proptech, swooped in and bought not just apartment buildings, but single-family homes in historically more affordable suburbs, like those around Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Phoenix.
The move may have helped some areas recover financially more quickly, according to research from the US Federal Reserve. But it brought big investors to the single-family home market for the first time. Their presence has nudged home prices upand they’re also more likely to buy in neighborhoods where Black people live, as opposed to predominantly white areas. And in the rush to profit, foreign investors have become more common in single-family homes in the US, too.
But big and fractional investors aren’t the only competitors for home buyers. The real giants of American real estate? Your mom and dad. Smaller investors, or mom-and-pop landlords, own 70 percent of rental properties in the US and the majority of all rental properties with four units or fewer, according to the latest US Census data. Institutional investors own a small share of single-family homes, but their presence is growing.
And if the fractional trend continues, it could shake up the market, particularly affecting the dominance of mom-and-pop landlords. “The barriers to entry [in real estate investing] have really come down,” says Jay Parsons, chief economist at RealPage, a property management software company. “There are a lot of different players in the single-family rental market.”
Those players now include people like Peniche. She doesn’t hold the deed to the Soapstone or field complaints from its tenants, but her investment is making money. Even if she could afford to buy the whole property, she might not want to do so. Peniche says high mortgage rates and rising home prices have made her rethink whether she wants to own her own home at all. And she’s happy with the returns she’s seeing from her more passive investments. “I’m not sure [home ownership] is a goal of mine anymore—at least for the foreseeable future.”