A real estate crowdfunding model for social impact : The Alley Flat Initiative in Austin, Texas
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The signing of the Jumpstart Our Businesses (JOBS) Act on April 5th, 2012 has unleashed the potential of crowdfunding for private ventures in the US. The changes on regulation imposed by the JOBS Act and the development of online platforms for crowdfunding have revealed the potential of crowdfunding as an alternative funding mechanism for projects in diverse industries, including real estate. The real estate crowdfunding sector will continue to grow, especially since the implementation of Title III of the Jobs Act in October 2015, which allows for non-accredited investors to participate in the equity crowdfunding industry. This research project studies the potential of real estate crowdfunding as an alternative financing option for projects related to the equitable and sustainable development of urban communities. Specifically, the study is centered on the financing of “reasonably affordable” rental ADUs on legacy homeowner properties in East Austin – a housing infill model proposed by The Alley Flat Initiative. City of Austin ordinances promoting the development of ADUs, approved in November 2015, and an affordability crisis connected to rapid growth of the city make the study of financing alternatives for affordable ADUs relevant and necessary. Findings reveal that the real estate equity and peer-to-peer lending crowdfunding models, at the time of study, do not offer a convincing alternative for legacy homeowners to pursue the development of ADUs in their properties. Major limitations stand in the way of a crowdfunded Alley Flat project. However, the research presents recommendations that could contribute to more attainable models of crowdfunding financing for individual homeowners.