Willow Review | How to invest in commercial real estate

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Did you know that real estate investing has created 90% of the world’s millionaires? It’s an impressive statistic. However, as many of us know, you need to be in pretty good financial standing to be able to afford to buy a single home these days. For many Canadians, the idea of owning more than one property and turning it into a passive revenue stream seems like a dream. However, that dream might be a lot closer than you think, thanks to Willow.

What is Willow?

So, what is Willow? Willow is a Canadian business that aims to make real estate investing easy and accessible for Canadians across the board. Traditionally, investing in commercial real estate has been reserved for pension funds and the very wealthy, but Willow is changing that with their investment model: PropSharing. That’s where individuals can invest in commercial real estate properties in a very similar way to how you would invest in the stock market. CEO and Co-Founder Logan Yergens came up with the idea after being priced out of the market. He quickly realized he wasn’t the only individual facing these issues and turned his thoughts to creating a model that would allow individuals to buy a fraction of a property. The goal was to create a more accessible way for Canadians to buy real estate as an investment option.

Willow review

How does Willow work?

Willow offers investors access to PropSharing, allowing people to invest in commercial real estate properties the same way they would in the stock market. Except in this case, your asset is tangible, you own part of a physical building.

These properties, which are fully owned by Willow, are split up into 100,000 equal units and are then offered for sale on the Willow Platform. This means that Canadians can choose to buy one or more units and own a piece of these properties. Think of it like the stock market, where you buy a certain number of shares in a company. Willow works the same way. You are just buying units or shares in commercial real estate buildings.

PropSharing removes many financial barriers and burdens usually come with investment properties. If you choose to buy an entire property on your own, not only do you need to worry about the down payment and the mortgage, but you also will need to think about renovations, repairs, and other maintenance costs that come with owning property.

When you invest in real estate with Willow, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Willow makes real estate investment simple, easy, and affordable.

Is Willow safe?

Investing always comes with risk but in terms of the business itself, Willow is legitimate. The company is fully approved by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), which means that they are as safe as any other security on the market. Note that similar business models run by Addy and BuyProperty are not approved by OSC or provincial equivalents such as the British Columbia Securities Commission.

Willow is run by a team of finance, real estate, and technology experts who believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to invest in real estate. The company is Toronto based and subjected to the same rules and regulations as any other Canadian financial institution.

On top of being secure, Willow also prides itself on being a fair and good landlord. Additionally, Willow makes it very clear that they are not just another investor looking to make money on real estate and therefore making it harder for everyday Canadians to find homes. Willow does not buy single-family residences but instead purchases properties such as multi-residential apartments, offices, retail, industrial, and mixed-use buildings.

So, not only can you feel good about the security of your investment, but you can also feel good about the company you are investing with.

How to invest in commercial real estate

How do I get started with Willow?

Ready to get started with Willow? The first step will be to open an account on the Willow platform. The compliance and investment team will review your profile and investment goals before approving you and making recommendations based on your goals. You’ll receive an email within a few days regarding your approval. At that point, you can transfer funds to the platform from your bank and start investing in units of the properties that catch your eye.

The money from investors goes towards paying the property’s mortgage. Then, every month after expenses are paid, dividends are paid out to the investors. It’s also worth noting that Willow is a very liquid platform, you can buy and sell your units as you please.

As for fees, Willow has some of the lowest fees in the industry. The fee structure is as follows:

  • $4.99 transaction fees + $0.65 HST
  • 0.5% management fee (based on the value of the property)
  • 1% one-time property acquisition fee for each new property on the platform
  • 0% performance fees

Right now, Willow has six properties in Canada. At the time this article was written, two are up and running with available units; one in Downtown Toronto and another in Ottawa. The remaining four properties include one in Halifax, one in Calgary, one in Montreal, and one in Vancouver, all of which will be coming soon. So, if you are thinking of getting started with Willow and PropSharing, now is a good time.

Get started now with Willow.

Willow review

Investing in real estate is nothing new. It’s been one of the most popular and lucrative investments over time, and that’s not changing anytime soon. However, with inflation reaching 30+ year highs and property prices being what they are, traditional real estate investing isn’t an option for many Canadians. However, Willow’s concept of PropSharing provides an affordable approach to this type of investing that makes it much more accessible to everyone.


About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

3 Comments

  1. Jennifer on July 26, 2022 at 8:13 PM

    What is the minimum iniital investment to buy shares in a property?

    • Barry Choi on July 27, 2022 at 2:35 PM

      Jennifer,

      There are no minimum investments. It all depends on the minimum share price of the property. Right now, the Queen St. property is $36.06 and Ottawa $12.56.

  2. Duncan on October 20, 2022 at 1:48 PM

    How does the share increase in price? Is it based on a market value of the property, or what someone is willing to buy it from me? Or can you redeem when the property is sold? Or does the price stay static and you are paid dividends? Thanks.

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