Bulkestate is one of the newer players on the real estate crowdfunding landscape in the Baltics. It offers investors loans secured by real estate mortgage with a period of 12 to 24 months.
If you’re interested in real estate investments in Riga, Latvia, Bulkestate might be what you’re looking for.
- Launched: December 2016
- Headquarters: Latvia
- Loan types: Real Estate Development Loans
- Loans from: Latvia
- Loan terms: up to 2 years
- Interest rates: 10% – 16%
- Loans funded: ???
- Investors: ???
- Fees: no fees
- Minimum investment: 50 EUR
- Currency: EUR
- Secondary market: no
- Auto-invest: yes
- Buyback guarantee: no
- Accepts investor countries: all countries
- Started investing: December 19th, 2018
- Current value: 302 EUR
- Earnings: 10 EUR
- Average interest rate: 12.84%
For almost a year I’ve only had 1 investment on Bulkestate. When it matured, I had to decide if I want to invest more or if I should just leave the platform.
There was nothing that I didn’t like about the platform, except maybe the speed by which the available projects are funded, so I decided to slowly add more funds to the platform.
Every 1 or 2 months I keep adding 100 EUR to the platform and invest in one of the available projects. My main issue with them is that they only have real estate development projects from Riga (which they know best), so I can’t diversify my portfolio here. Good thing there are other platforms available.
Can I join Bulkestate
You can register with your email or even easier, with your Facebook or Google account. As long as you are more than 18 years old, you can invest from anywhere in the world.
They say on their FAQ page that you can only fund your account from a European Union bank account, but from what I see a Transferwise borderless account will do just fine.
Weird thing is, there’s no verification process. No picture ID required, or proof of address, as it’s customary with all the other European peer to peer lending platforms.
Adding funds to your account
You can transfer money to your virtual account through bank transfer. The minimum deposit is 50 EUR.
Your funds are kept separately from Bulkestate’s operational account into a “virtual account”. From what I understand, this is a separate bank account that will be safe even in the event Bulkestate declares bankruptcy.
How safe are my investments
All loans are secured by real estate property. If the loan defaults, Bulkestate will execute the mortgage and recover the invested funds. This will also cover the interest owed to the investors.
Bulkestate is regulated only by general commercial legislation of Estonia.
If Bulkestate goes bankrupt, the liquidator will continue to handle all investors assets separately from the assets of Bulkestate.
Investing with Bulkestate
Bulkestate does an evaluation of the investments and then makes them available on the website. All loans on the platform are secured by real estate properties.
Besides basing this evaluation on their experience, they also only allow loans where loan-to-value is less than 70%.
Bulkestate takes a commission of 2-3% of the loan amount (paid by the borrower), and that’s the only fee they take. I like that they’re transparent with their pricing model, and they have a separate page for it here.
The details available for a specific loan vary from project to project. Some of them have extensive details, regarding the use of funds, business details, market outlook, financials. Some of them have just a few lines with a description of the property and the purpose of the loan.
However, there’s always a short document named “project x valuation” with more details on the loan security. Too bad the document is written in Estonian (I think since it’s an Estonian company) and that’s a language I don’t know, so I always have to use a google translate tool and get a distorted document in order to understand what it says.
There is no secondary market or a buyback policy, so once you invest in a project your funds are locked until the loan is repaid.
There are few loans available on the platform and they get funded quick.
Bulkestate displays them around a week before the funding starts, so you can fund your account in advance. However, by the time you try to invest in a project, it might be already too late.
One way to increase the chances to invest in the projects you like is to use the auto-invest tool.
You can only set the maximum investment per project, the minimum interest rate and maximum loan term. It would be more useful if it also had maximum loan-to-value in its settings.
You’ll also need to fund your account with a minimum of 50 EUR in order to enable the auto-invest tool.
Anyway, when a project becomes available, Bulkestate collects investments chronologically. This means that if you set your auto-invest profile a month in advance and the project matches your settings, it will collect your investment first, ahead of other users that invest manually on the platform.
In its current state, I don’t think the auto-invest tool is very useful. It will invest your funds in every available project, as long as it matches an interest rate threshold regardless of how risky it is.
Group buying deals
Besides issuing loans to real estate developers, Bulkestate also deals with selling apartments.
If a building owner wants to sell all the apartments, they can do so through Bulkestate. The deal will be published on the website, and you can buy an entire apartment directly from here.
That’s not really my cup of tea, but it’s an interesting approach to the real estate market.
Conclusions on Bulkestate
Bulkestate is regulated only by general commercial legislation of Estonia. This means they’re not regulated by the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority. That also means they’re subject to fewer regulations that should protect the investors.
They are still a small company, so I assume that’s why they don’t need yet to apply for more legal approvals.
I like the loans on the platform and their return rates are really good. The fact that all of them are secured by mortgages adds a good level of protection to investors.
The auto invest tool is there but it’s useless from my point of view. I’m not going to fund my account and then wait for weeks for my funds to get invested.
The number of projects available is low, usually only one is available. And that’s only for a day or two because it gets funded fast.
You can’t exit your investment before the loan term, so your funds are locked for the entire loan period. A secondary market would be a nice addition to the platform.