Alternative Investment

Unveiling Alternative Investment Opportunities in Real Estate

In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, savvy investors are increasingly seeking alternative avenues to diversify their portfolios and maximize returns. As the demand for creative investment solutions continues to surge, a distinguished panel of experts is set to take center stage at the highly anticipated Diversity in Commercial Real Estate Conference, scheduled from July 27 to 30, 2023.

On the 28th of July, a panel of real estate trailblazers will converge to shed light on “Alternative Investment Opportunities” in the real estate sector. This panel includes Osei Rubie, President of National Standard Abstract and Reside in Opulence; Vernon J., founder of EquityCoin and Maurice Russell Grey, co-owner of ESRA Realty.

Navigating this insightful discussion as the moderator will be Leonard Smith, a Managing Partner at East Chop Capital. The panel promises to be a compelling blend of knowledge, experience, and foresight, sharing invaluable insights into three distinct areas of alternative investments.


Prior to their upcoming panel session, we had the chance to catch up with several panelists to explore their noteworthy investment deals and how these align with the world of alternative investing. These insightful interviews offer a glimpse into the expertise they will bring to the table on the 28th of July.

Osei Rubie

Alternative Investment

Reside in Opulence has achieved notable success in the luxury short-term rental market. Could you share a specific project or success story that exemplifies the potential returns and growth opportunities in this alternative real estate investment niche?

In 2019, we acquired our first property in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard for $685,000. Leveraging insights from the established Black Eco System of property owners on the island of Martha’s Vineyard following “best practices” shared by friends and owners, we elevated the renter’s experience with branded bathrobes and towels.

Our goal is to create tailored luxury experiences for our renters. A successful renovation project allowed us to command over $1,000 per night, significantly higher than the previous rental income. In 2022, we sold the property for an impressive $1.5 million, demonstrating the lucrative potential of this alternative real estate investment niche.

In addition to short-term rentals, you have also achieved success in the title insurance industry, approaching $3 billion in closed deals. Can you share a notable deal that you believe demonstrates the potential of alternative investment opportunities in commercial real estate?

A notable example of the potential in alternative investment opportunities in commercial real estate is the Glenmore Manor Development Project in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

This transformative project includes the development of 233 units of affordable housing, almost 19,000 square feet of commercial/ retail space, and a community facility to support future entrepreneurs. The successful closure of this ambitious $175 million deal in June 2023 marks one of our largest transactions this year.

The Glenmore Manor Development Project not only demonstrates the potential for significant financial returns but also showcases the positive impact real estate investments can have on revitalizing communities and fostering economic development. Our team of title insurance experts at NSA was grateful to work on this monumental project.

Vernon J.

Alternative Investment

Affordable housing is a pressing issue globally. How does EquityCoin® address the challenges associated with funding and financing affordable housing projects?

As the first digital token backed by government voucher-based affordable housing, EquityCoin® houses families in danger of becoming homeless, while offering local community members the ability to own fractions of real estate equity. Through the use of Crowdfunding and Real Estate Tokenization, shareholders gain access to residual cash flow and benefit from the increased liquidity that blockchain technology provides.

We’ve white-labeled our system by developing a Crowdfunding and Tokenization platform called EquityShare, which allows community developers all over the country to raise up to $5M for their affordable housing project and tokenize their equity so that everyday investors can build generational wealth through fractionalized real estate.

What unique advantages does the use of digital tokens on the blockchain offer in terms of transparency, accessibility, and scalability?

Blockchain is a revolutionary technology disguised as a casino. Many people are caught up in the ‘hype’ of the wild crypto price swings, while unaware of the efficiencies that the underlying tech is bringing to traditional markets such as real estate investing.

By placing financial systems on the blockchain, there is increased transparency as all transactions are recorded on an immutable ledger, dividend payments are streamlined, and real estate syndicators have an incredibly clean way to manage their investor base. I see blockchain as the internet of accounting, transforming antiquated spreadsheet models into dynamic chains of value.

Maurice Russell Grey

Alternative Investment

ESRA Realty has facilitated over $30 million in property sales and has been actively involved in various types of real estate transactions. Could you shed light on the particular focus or niche that your company has carved out within the Harlem market?

Our firm was founded in 1929, by my Grandmother and her 2 sisters, who immigrated from Guyana in the 1920s. We are currently the oldest Black owned real estate company in NYC. The period of the late 20’’s to early 30’s in Harlem is commonly referred to as the Great Migration, because thousands of Blacks from the South and the Caribbean flooded NYC and desperately needed housing.

This led to a boom in Harlem and the period knowns as the Harlem Renaissance. For almost the last 100 years we have provided valuable housing services such as helping Blacks buy properties when it was extremely difficult to do so, helping them get financing, and assisting them in managing their properties. We are experts in the Harlem, market selling everything from HDFC coops, to luxury brownstones, to multifamily apartment buildings.

Could you share a specific example of an alternative real estate investment project that you have been involved in and explain how it presented unique benefits or challenges compared to traditional investments?

Our company was heavily invested in multifamily real estate in Harlem, and during the late 2000s through 2020, Harlem properties experienced a boom in value. The problem was, the cash flows on the properties were no longer in line with the high perceived values.

We were able to sell several of those multi-family properties at peak value and move them into the triple net sphere which doubled our cash flows. Triple net is a completely different realm than multi-family, very hands off, and you aren’t able to force appreciation like multifamily, but it has its benefits, which include large residual incomes, backed by corporate credit. Real estate is by definition cyclical, so it’s always important to remain flexible and keep up to date on other avenues within real estate. There will be a point when you need them.

by Tony O. Lawson

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