I haven’t written anything about my real estate crowdfunding portfolio since July. Enough changes happened in between, so I’m ready to provide new updates.
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British Pearl is a UK property investment platform that lets you invest in properties as either shareholder or lender.
If you invest as a lender, you’ll receive monthly income from the loan interest payments. As a share investor, you’ll receive monthly dividends from rent income.
They’ve opened their platform in 2018, and I heard about them while they were running a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. Since I wanted to invest in them, I also needed to test their product and see what they offer.
I’ve invested so far in 6 properties with expected annual returns from 8% to 13%. The most part of the expected return is based on expected property appreciation, so in 3-5 years when these properties are sold, it might not produce that much.
The rental dividends for the past 12 months amounted to 18 GBP. My profits also include 21 GBP in unrealised property price gains. And from my gross profit, I had to subtract the 11.78 GBP fees I’ve paid in order to invest in the 6 properties.
British Pearl just ran a new crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs, so as soon as newer properties will appear on the platform, I’ll add some more funds.
Each property they put on the market is incorporated into a separated UK limited company, a special purpose vehicle (SPV). In this way, your investment is protected in the case British Pearl goes bankrupt.
Share investors get shares of the property, and the loan investors invest in a loan secured by the property, at a loan to value typically between 50% and 75%.
During the investment, the share investors receive dividends from net rental income and loan investors receive monthly interest.
When the property is sold, the share investors receive any profit resulted from the property price appreciation, after the loan has been paid back to the loan investors.
British Pearl chooses on the platform 2 types of investments: development investments (up to 2 years) and rental investments.
The rental properties chosen are either tenant ready new builds or properties that need some refurbishment to add value to the investment. All properties have typically a 5-year investment term.
I love the fact that you can transfer any amount of money through a debit card. Using my Revolut card, the funds appear instantly on my account and I can invest my funds on the spot.
From what I see, anyone can register on the platform. UK residents can also open an ISA account with them.
Should I invest as a loan investor or as a share investor? It all depends on the risk you’re willing to take.
Loan investors have a fixed return. At the end of the investment term, they receive their loan back, plus the monthly interest.
Share investors receive a share of the profit gained from the property appreciation after the loan has been paid. If the property increased in value, the profit is higher. If the property decreased its value, they might even lose money.
As a loan investor, you don’t pay any fees unless you want to exit earlier from your investment and sell it on the Resale Market, in which case you pay a 0.5% fee.
As a share investor, you pay a 2% fee at the time of investment, plus a 20% success rate fee from any property price appreciation at the end of the investment term. So, if the property doubled its price during the 5-year investment term, 20% of the price increase is paid as a fee to British Pearl. You’ll also pay a 1% fee if you want to exit your investment earlier and sell it on the Resale Market.
You can see the list of available investments on the Properties page. Each property has listed all sorts of details related to financials, property costs, rental income, expected capital gain.
If you decide on an investment, you can choose to invest in shares or the loan. For share investments, the 2% fee is paid at the time of the investment.
Once you invested in a property, you’ll be able to see your investment on the My account page.
The resale market is a bit weird on the British Pearl website because it doesn’t have its own page. Instead, each property that was fully invested has a separate section named Resale Market.
There’re only 8 properties on the website so far, and only 2 of them are available on the market because the others are still in the funding phase, but still. A separate page would work better.
From what I see, the offers and bids are disconnected right now, with offers to sell too high and bids to buy too low. I assume for now there’s not much activity on the resale market.
British Pearl platform is only a year old and there are only a few (8) properties available on the platform for now. I like the user experience the website offers, even though there are some features I’d like them to have, like a separate space for the Resale Market.
I don’t mind that they don’t have an auto-invest tool, as I want for now to test out their products, I bet they’ll be adding that in the future, as auto-invest is the new hype on all fintech platforms.
British Pearl is FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulated and this provides an extra layer of trust.
Since they started, around 2400 investors registered on the platform, although only around 500 of them are actual investors. Since these 500 investors put more than 2.5 million GBP into the available properties, British Pearl decided they should raise their minimum investment amount from 100 GBP to 1000 GBP – with fewer investors but higher invested amounts, comes less hassle for British Pearl team.