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real estate investing

4 mins read

In Conversation with Bakari Adams, Head of Starwood Impact Investors

As the Managing Director and Head of Starwood Impact Investors (SII), Bakari Adams leads a return-driven investment platform dedicated to investing in commercial real estate opportunities controlled by underrepresented partners.

Through this collaboration, Starwood Capital, a global private equity real estate firm, will invest programmatic capital and provide strategic advice through board participation and infrastructure support. 

In this interview, Bakari sheds light on the inspiration behind SII, the challenges it aims to address, and his vision for the future of impact investing in the industry.

What motivated Starwood Capital to launch Starwood Impact Investors (“SII”), and what challenges do you hope to address in the real estate industry? 

Starwood Capital Group (“SCG”) started by partnering with top local operators in strong markets and asset classes, which provided broad exposure to investment opportunities.

However, as the firm grew, its strategies evolved. SII returns to SCG’s roots, supporting skilled partners to pursue attractive investments the firm might otherwise miss, widening the net for greater opportunities. SII aims to achieve this by investing in undercapitalized and underrepresented real estate operators who historically lacked liquidity to optimize outcomes.

Less than 5% of real estate firms are diverse or woman-owned. Diverse managers oversee less than 3% of real estate AUM, and only 0.5% of recent third-party capital funding goes to diverse or woman-owned managers. This highlights a significant market segment with immense potential that is currently overlooked. Through SCG, SII is positioned to drive more equitable outcomes in the real estate industry while capitalizing on excellent investment opportunities. 

What are some key criteria you consider when evaluating impact investments? 

  • SII investments include non-controlling positions in real estate operating companies and GP / LP positions in real estate assets through joint ventures.  
  • Sponsors seeking OpCo investments should have strong institutional experience, demonstrate expertise as investors, present a proven track record, and have institutional-grade, scalable business plans with a strong pipeline. Collaboration is key in our partnerships. For asset-level joint ventures, we seek partners with a proven track record and strong institutional experience. 

How will SII support its partner companies beyond providing capital?

SII goes beyond providing capital to its partner companies, offering infrastructure support and board oversight. Partners gain access to training, research, industry experts, and a network of operators,  capital providers, and real estate professionals to aid in their growth. Furthermore, partners can utilize SCG’s capabilities in acquisitions, asset management, and capital markets.

What is your vision for the future of impact investing in real estate?

Impact investing in real estate is a powerful force for driving strong financial returns and positive change in the built environment. Strategies such as affordable or workforce housing, energy efficiency, sustainability, community development, and investing capital with underrepresented sponsors are gaining popularity. Impact investing’s ability to uncover positive opportunities and deliver great returns makes it increasingly appealing.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals from underrepresented groups interested in pursuing careers in real estate? 

Several excellent real estate training programs and organizations are available to assist young professionals in their development. Each offers valuable insights and expertise across different skill levels.

Some notable options include REEC, REEC Mentorship Program, Project Destined, SEO, Toigo, and Wall Street Prep Real Estate.

by Tony O. Lawson

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13 mins read

East Chop Capital: Building Wealth and Community Through Luxury Vacation Rentals

The global vacation rental industry is expected to surge by 17% by 2030, reaching a value of over $112 billion. The demand for luxury rentals, which offer privacy, uniqueness, and luxury design, is especially on the rise among travelers.

East Chop Capital is a private equity firm that invests at the intersection of real estate, travel recovery, and the new norm of hybrid and remote work.

We caught up with founders Calvin L. Butts, Jr. and Carrington M. Carter, to gain insights into their company and its goals.

Tell us about the founding of East Chop Capital and what inspired you to start the company. 

[Carrington]: Calvin and I started investing in vacation rental homes back in 2014, when we built our first home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, a 6-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 2800 sq ft mountain chalet, and launched the Getaway Society brand.

The idea for entering this industry came after I went on several ski trips with friends from college (shout out to Hampton University). Our group of 15+ would stay in large vacation rental homes. After the third trip, I ran the numbers and concluded that the industry had lots of potential, especially with the growth of platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb. 

We quickly expanded to Martha’s Vineyard and then to Hilton Head in order to grow our portfolio, buying about $3.5 million worth of real estate in five years. For Martha’s Vineyard, we both knew about the history as an enclave for African Americans, but after Calvin experienced the magic of the Vineyard firsthand following a Sigma Pi Phi Grand Boule’ conference in Boston, we quickly bought some property. 

As people learned of our success and inquired about how to invest alongside us, we decided to create a separate private equity firm, East Chop Capital, and launched a real estate fund focused exclusively on luxury vacation rental homes. Through this process, we discovered just how much a vehicle like East Chop Capital is needed in our community. 

For our first fund, we raised $4 million from 90 investors, 89% of whom are Black, 11% White, and 18% Women. We are on track to deliver 27% returns, net of fees, which is an outstanding performance for any fund manager, especially for a first fund. 

Our firm is named after the East Chop area in the town of Oak Bluffs on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where we own two homes. 

Your firm has been able to raise more than double the amount of capital in less time for its second real estate fund compared to its first. What do you attribute this to? 

[Calvin]: We’ve been owners, investors, and operators in this space for almost a decade. Our track record is likely the biggest reason we’ve had faster success raising capital for our second fund compared to our first. For Fund I, it took us three years to raise $4 million.

For Fund II, we raised $9 million in about six months. We’ve sold four properties from our first fund, some at triple digit ROIs, returned over $3 million back to investors, and we’ve done so in this current economic environment. We are pleased with our results, and certainly, our investors are as well. 

In addition to our track record, we’ve spent considerable time building relationships and trust over the past nearly five years since we started East Chop Capital. We are hardworking, genuine, honest, and really dedicated to bringing people along on the journey to learn, network together, and of course, build wealth. The relationships and trust that we’ve built, coupled with our communication, transparency, and “building in public” across social media, gives people the comfort and confidence to recommend us to others. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t received an investment from institutions or family offices, which is critical in order to scale a business. We know the statistics around the lack of access to capital for minority-owned businesses and are aware of competitors who have received $100+ million in support, despite having less experience. We hope that our track record and continuing to tell our story will lead to larger investments in our firm. 

Can you discuss your focus on the intersection of real estate, the rebound in travel, and the future of hybrid work? 

[Carrington]: The thesis of our second vacation rental home fund has four key components:

  1. Real estate as a cash-generating hard asset: Real estate has a well-documented history of generating income and appreciating over time, especially luxury real estate in key locations. 
  2. The rebound in travel post-COVID: COVID is certainly not over, but we are adjusting to living with it as best we can, including traveling. There is still significant pent-up demand to travel and connect with family and friends–birthdays, weddings, new babies, promotions… lots of reasons that people want to celebrate and celebrate together. We feel that experiences will remain a priority over material things.
  3. The demand for drivable, leisure destinations: Our strategy includes building a geographically diverse portfolio of luxury vacation rental homes, within a six-hour drive of major metroplexes across the country. Drivable, leisure destinations will continue to be a viable option for families and large groups who want to enjoy a vacation and save money by driving instead of flying.
  4. The future of work in which hybrid is the new normal: You see headlines everyday about companies trying to force workers back into the office. While company policies will vary, for office workers, it appears that the new normal will be 2-4 days in the office, often with an additional week(s) of remote work offered. We are in the early innings of employees discovering, and more importantly acting on, this flexibility to live, work, and travel in ways never before possible. Vacation rentals will play an increasing role in this new life of flexibility as weekend trips turn into a full week, or a one-week vacation may turn into multiple weeks.

What is your strategy for identifying and acquiring luxury vacation rental properties in desirable locations across the US and internationally? 

[Carrington]: It’s part art, part science. First, it starts with us. Places that we have visited and enjoyed, or places that we have heard about as enjoyable vacation destinations. Aside from personal insights, often this intel comes from family, friends, investors, and others in our network. Put another way, we listen to customers of luxury vacation rental homes.

Next, we analyze travel reports and other “top destination” lists from companies like Vrbo, Airbnb, Vacasa, Evolve, AirDNA, and media outlets like Travel + Leisure, Conde’ Nast, National Geographic, Travel Noire, CNN Travel, TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Skift, and others. 

We also track growing metroplexes and look for the surrounding areas that people will escape to for weekend getaways and extended trips. When given the choice, travelers tend to have a strong affinity for beach, lake, mountain, and entertainment destinations. 

east chop capital
Getaway Yacht Charter’s 54-foot Azimut Flybridge named Struqqle –  Photo: Above Visuals.

What are your future plans for growth and expansion in the vacation rental market and in the private equity industry overall? 

[Calvin]: With our Getaway Society brand, powered by East Chop Capital, our goal is to own a boutique portfolio of 100-150 luxury vacation rental homes around the world. Buying, building, renting, and opportunistically selling over time to generate returns and build wealth while delighting guests around the world. 

Right now we have homes in Martha’s Vineyard, Hilton Head, Orlando, Gatlinburg, the Pocono Mountains, Virginia Beach, and Broken Bow (Oklahoma). We are building two large homes in Orlando: a 12-bedroom, 13,000 sq ft home and a 10-bedroom, 6,000 sq ft home, which we’re calling self-contained resorts.

east chop capital
3D rendering of 12-bedroom, 13,500 sq ft property in Orlando. FL – Photo credit: MJS Designers Group.

They’re being built with amenities such as a resort-style pool, bowling alley, indoor basketball court, movie theater, game room/arcade, and fitness center.

east chop capital
3D rendering of 12-bedroom, 13,500 sq ft property in Orlando. FL – Photo credit: MJS Designers Group.

We are also building four beach houses along the Texas Gulf Coast in Port Aransas, and two luxury mountain homes in Banner Elk, North Carolina, located two hours outside of Charlotte, and near Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, and Grandfather Mountain. 

Carrington and I also have a fascination with yachts, and we hope to build this fascination into a parallel business that gives guests a new experience on the water in places where we have homes. I grew up in Savannah around water. We went to Hampton University, which is three-quarters surrounded by water, and loved watching yachts in the harbor. Getaway Yacht Charters had a soft launch last year, with the acquisition of a 54-foot Azimut Flybridge. This business is still in its infancy, but we are excited about its future. 

On the private equity front, earlier Carrington mentioned how much a vehicle like East Chop Capital is needed in our community. It was an “Aha moment” for us. Real estate will continue to be our foundation, but under the overall objective of building wealth, we have discovered a unique way to mobilize our community of 150+ LPs [limited partners/investors] to make sizable investments ($100,000 to $1+ million) in other deals.

We are equally excited about this vertical within East Chop Capital, as it perfectly aligns with our commitment to provide the best combined financial, educational, and social returns through curated and vetted investments across various industries. 

We’d love to have your support as we continue to scale and welcome the opportunity to host you for a vacation! Please follow us @GetawaySociety and @EastChopCapital on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and join our email lists to stay connected about our growing portfolio of luxury vacation rental homes, and other East Chop Capital investments.

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3 mins read

Proptech 101: Understanding the Growth and Impact of Real Estate Technology

Proptech (property technology) is the use of technology to improve the efficiency and profitability of real estate transactions and operations.

From online platforms for buying and selling properties, to virtual reality tools for property tours, to data analytics for real estate market analysis, proptech companies are leveraging the latest technology to create new and innovative solutions for the industry.

The proptech industry is experiencing significant growth, as more and more companies enter the market and investors begin to recognize the potential for strong returns. The market size is estimated to reach $86.5 billion by 2032, up from $18.2 billion in 2022. A report stated that there were 2,045 PropTech companies– operating in 66 countries – at the end of the fiscal year in 2021.

This growth is driven by a number of factors, including the increasing adoption of technology in the real estate industry and the growing demand for more efficient and sustainable real estate solutions.

Proptech can be used in a variety of ways to advance the real estate industry, including in the construction and sustainability sectors. In the construction industry, proptech companies are using technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D printing to improve the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings. This can lead to more efficient construction processes, reduced costs, and better-performing buildings.

In the sustainability sector, proptech companies are using technology such as energy management systems, smart building controls, and sensor networks to improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of buildings. This can lead to significant cost savings for building owners and tenants, as well as a reduction in the environmental impact of the built environment.

One specific example of proptech in action is the multifamily industry, where technology is being used to improve the leasing process, streamline property management, and enhance the overall living experience for residents.

For example, many multifamily buildings now use digital platforms for leasing and rental payments, making the process more convenient for both tenants and landlords.

Additionally, proptech companies are developing virtual reality tools for property tours, allowing prospective tenants to explore a property from the comfort of their own homes.

Another example is the industrial industry, where proptech companies are using technology to optimize the performance of warehouses and distribution centers. For example, companies are using sensor networks and data analytics to improve inventory management, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

Lastly, proptech is also being used in the office sector, where technology is being used to improve the experience of working in an office building. For example, companies are using sensor networks and data analytics to optimize the performance of HVAC systems, improve indoor air quality, and enhance the overall comfort of the building.

Overall, this dynamic industry offers a lot of potential for growth and innovation, and it will be interesting to see how it develops in the near future.

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4 mins read

4 Reasons Why Mobile Home Parks are Recession-Resistant Investments

Mobile home parks (MHPs) are frequently associated with a variety of unfavorable perceptions and the idea that they are unattractive places to live.

Many people do not realize that some of the richest people in the world have been investing in MHPs for years. One reason is that this asset class can produce exceptional returns even in the worst economic circumstances.

Here are five reasons why mobile home park investments are recession- and inflation-resistant.

1. Mobile home parks are the most affordable housing.

During a recession, it is natural for individuals to seek out the most affordable ways to live. Mobile home parks experience increased demand during economic downturns because they are the most affordable housing option.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, manufactured homes can cost half as much per square foot to construct as site-built homes. Census data. A manufactured home costs approximately $70,600 on average, compared to $286,000 for a single-family site-built home, excluding land costs.

In many parts of the country, the monthly rent for a manufactured home with land in a land-lease community averages between $844 and $935.

2. Residents own their homes and rarely move.

Affordability attracts residents, but ownership of a mobile home ensures their long-term presence. This resident ownership is the most distinctive characteristic of MHPs and a little-known reason for their stability throughout all market cycles.

Residents pay monthly rent for the lot on which their home sits, but because they own their homes, they are also responsible for all ongoing repairs and maintenance.

As homeowners, residents have ownership pride and a vested interest in staying at the MHP, resulting in their rare relocation. It is not uncommon for residents to reside in the same park for an average of 15 years, and some residents live their entire lives in the same park.

 3. Multiple Income Streams

In multifamily buildings, rent is the only source of income. When you own a mobile home park, there are multiple ways to generate income. You can generate income by renting out space in your park. You can also purchase multiple mobile home units and rent them out. Additionally, you can rent out additional garage spaces and even issue master leases if you so choose.

4. Supply is Restricted and Declining

It is very difficult to construct new mobile home parks in desirable locations. As the majority of MHPs were built in the 1960s and 1970s, most cities’ zoning regulations prohibit the construction of new parks. Additionally, MHPs are frequently targeted by developers who want to convert them into more expensive housing options, such as multifamily apartments.

Estimates indicate that the national supply of Mobile Home Parks is decreasing annually, which, when combined with rising demand, creates an extremely favorable investment structure for the long term.

Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Investor Owns Over $70 Million Worth of Multifamily Real Estate

Clive Davis is the founder of Park Royal Capital, a private equity commercial real estate investment firm focused on investing, acquiring, and operating multifamily communities.

He is a full-time multifamily real estate investor with a portfolio of nearly 2,000 units valued at over $70 million.

In this episode, Clive shares:

  • His journey from 20 years in corporate America to becoming a full-time investor.
  • His thoughts on the current multifamily real estate market.
  • The hottest markets for multifamily property investing.
  • What makes a good multi-family investment.
  • His blueprint for acquiring over $70 million in multifamily properties.
  • His thoughts on using real estate to create generational wealth.

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