Today's interview is with Jeff Karsh, the co-founder & CEO of Streitwise, a private REIT.
In this episode we talk about commercial real estate types office, retail, industrial, multi-family apartments, hotels, etc., some potentially attractive geographies (Indianapolis) and then more detail on Streitwise itself - fees, liquidity, types of properties and how they add value.
0:00:00 Welcome and context
0:01:35 What is Streitwise?
0:03:05 What are commercial properties?
0:05:20 What are the trends for office spaces right now?
0:08:41 Where are multifamily homes headed?
0:10:59 Why do you invest in not-so-popular real estate markets?
0:13:45 What are the trends that stand out to you at these geolocations?
0:17:51 What are some risks of investing in commercial properties?
0:21:18 What are the states of leverage on Streitwise?
0:24:07 How do the funds operate within Streitwise?
0:27:52 How do you think about bankruptcy protection?
0:31:05 What geolocations are you most bullish on?
0:34:00 Where can people find out more about you?
[00:00:00] Ben: Welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast, exploring alternative investment opportunities available to the everyday investor. Here's your host Ben Lakoff.
Hello and welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast. Today's interview is with Jeff KSH. He is the co-founder and CEO of streetwise, which is a.
Rate commercial real estate is a tricky one. This spans many different real estate types, such as office retail, industrial multi-family apartments, hotels, et cetera. In this episode, we talk about these different types, some potentially attractive geographies. For instance, we end up talking about Indianapolis a little bit, and then we go into more detail on streetwise.
Fees liquidity types of properties and the value add they make to the properties themselves as they purchase them platforms like streetwise offer long term investment vehicles with real estate, with solid cash flows, but they don't come without their risks. This wasn't a paid or promotional interview.
I just wanted to bring in streetwise to discuss the platform and commercial real estate in even more detail. Before we jump into the episode, I wanted to take a second to thank you for all the great questions and feedback I've been getting you guys. If you're getting some value from these, from this podcast, please drop me a line or a review.
These things really help and mean a lot. All right. Jeff cars on commercial real estate, investing with streetwise. Enjoy
Jeff. Welcome to the alt asset allocation podcast from the other side of the us. Excited to have you on today, sir.
[00:01:39] Jeff: Thank you, Ben pleasure to be on.
[00:01:41] Ben: Likewise. And we both live in the same city normally.
We'll meet up in real life at some point sometime in the future.
[00:01:48] Jeff: Sounds like a plan.
[00:01:49] Ben: Cool, well, commercial real estate want to get into all the details, but let's start off with a little intro into streetwise who you guys are and what you do.
[00:02:03] Jeff: Yeah. So streetwise is a public non-trad REIT.
That I started back in 2017 and really it was the, the idea driving. It was number one to have a long dated investment vehicle. One where, you know, the sort of short termism of fix and flips was. At play and more so just focused on identifying great real estate and holding for a long term for a long period of time.
And, and, and just, you know, milking cash flows over, over a dated term where you can take advantage of all the sort of tax efficiencies that real estate offers and and benefit investors that way. Number one, number two. We had some deals in 2017 that we sort of rolled into the re to get it started that were exactly sort of what we were looking for.
If we were to start a long dated read and they were sort of urban, suburban office buildings they're well, amenitized close to retail, sort of the. Type of office product that I think is gonna survive for indefinitely. Nice.
[00:03:15] Ben: Yeah. And long term investment vehicle, real estate, solid cash flows. All all great things.
I like to hear on this channel that's for sure. Let's start off. I mean, streetwise is primarily commercial properties, so let's start off just by defining commercial properties.
[00:03:31] Jeff: Yeah, I mean, commercial properties, in my opinion, is anything that cash flows and. I guess is not necessarily residential.
So, you know, retail office hotel, even although hotel can be considered an operating business industrial real estate and you know, that's, that's pretty much commercial real estate.
[00:03:50] Ben: Gotcha. And streetwise invests into like, what's the, what's the spread or allocation amongst these different types of commercial properties.
[00:04:02] Jeff: So right now we are predominantly where we are all in office, urban, suburban office in particular. Think right now what's going on in the office space is very interesting. You'll see, kind of headlines in the paper that. Often times misleading, you know, the death of office work from home forever. think two years into the pandemic, we've learned that work from home is going to be a part of life, but is, it is not everything there is to life.
And certainly being in the office is unnecessary. Part of building a company, building a culture and The other part of that is that employees now, in order to get them to the office, you need to entice them. You need to give them something desirable, some, some reason to go to work. And that reason really is amenities.
Amenities, amenities, amenities is your building has to be, you know, it has to have that coffee shop or be close to the gym or, you know, down the street from the lunch spot, just, you know, it has to, it has. Make people feel like they're in the mix. Cuz that is what the new generation of worker wants.
[00:05:10] Ben: Wants. Yeah. Well, I mean amenities is one thing, but there, there has to be a bit of a seismic shift away from every company thinking they need an office. I mean, this has been a fun, fundamental change in the market that work from. Or work remotely does have some aspect within the workforce. Right. So when you're looking at these like office buildings has that changed significantly the criteria when thinking about these office buildings as investible assets,
[00:05:46] Jeff: 1000%.
So I I'd say the office market has bifurcated into the investible. Office buildings and the completely uninvestible office buildings that, you know, regardless of the value at play, you just wouldn't touch. Because long term you'll be putting more money into them that you're taking out. And those, those buildings that are, you know, no longer investable they're commodity office buildings that you see sort of off one off interchanges, not much going on around them.
You, you kinda look at them and say, wow, that looks extra. Well, yeah, that's the case. And you know, if you think of people in their twenties and thirties, if they want to be there, For any extended period of time, the answer is no. And employers know that so employers are strategically moving away from those office buildings and toward the better buildings.
It used to be such that that was sort of a value proposition for companies, right. Going to the cheaper building in town. Well now because of the leverage that of the employer, the employee workforce has in work from home. The employer needs to identify a great office experience. And so that means, you know, paying up for quality.
And so that's what I've seen in the marketplace is that companies are willing to oftentimes downsize their footprint to you know, or right size, I should say to account for the fact that there's this new work from home element, but. Certainly they're all looking to upgrade to a better spec of office and closer to more retail and, and more fun.
[00:07:23] Ben: Yeah. I mean, that totally makes sense. My my aversion to offices, I mean, I've worked from home are, or walked to a small office for eight years now or nine years. So When I did work in an office, it was very much that drab office, like Offwhite cubicle farm, like not a place that you like to spend a lot of time, especially in your twenties.
so that definitely resonates. I, I, I would think I would enjoy one of these newer offices cuz I love ping pong and that's what it's all about, right? Yeah,
[00:07:52] Jeff: exactly. It's it's ping pong and air hockey and all that. And, and look there, there's no question. And there are a lot of folks like yourself who who don't go to an office.
And I think the new equilibrium is less office based needed overall. But if the shift is going from commodity to quality, then net, net quality buildings are gonna win out.
[00:08:13] Ben: Definitely. Look, remote work is great, but like there's, it makes certain things infinitely harder and longer and more difficult kind of going back and forth.
So it's, it's definitely not. Pania that's for sure. Okay, so jumping into kind of other categories within there multifamily. Multifamily has had tremendous growth over the last like five years. Is this representative of some sort of macro trend in the entire real estate market or, or let's let's double click a bit on multifamily in general.
[00:08:45] Jeff: Yeah. Multifamily is interesting. You know, people have been saying. Over the last decade at various times, that multifamily is, you know, quote unquote overheated or due for some sort of contraction that never really came. It, it was a function of, I think the millennial generation taking longer than normal to settle down and, you know, Mary have kids want space that lends itself to multi-family rent.
And then one thing that happened that was interesting during COVID, which you know, is no secret how home values and, and apartment rent shut up is that, you know, household formations were actually up a lot of divorces. A lot of just people seeking their own space, created new households and created more demand for apartments.
I think that that has been priced in. Certainly I've been saying that for a number of years, but the cap rates are very low on multi-family, so I'm cautious. It's, it's the fundamentals of, of multi-family are great. They're solid, but you know, fundamentals can't always overcome high prices. And so I think that the prices right now are such that they, they reflect continued strong fundamentals for a long period of time to the point where I think I'm, you know, I'm, I.
I'm waving the caution flag.
[00:10:07] Ben: Yeah, fair. We've talked a bit about like broad, real estate market overall. And you know, my listeners have heard me say this a million times. Whenever we're talking real estate, it's very hard to say like the real estate market overall, because each of these geolocations.
Operate slightly differently. Versus other ones we were talking before we started, you know, of buying properties in Indiana, where I'm from or a place like California, where both of us reside. So very different markets, prices, expectations and with streetwise, a lot of your investments, your past investments have been in kind of these unsexy places like, like where I'm from or St.
Louis, Cleveland, you know Tempe, Minneapolis, these sorts of places. So let's can you talk at first broadly about these types of locations, why they, they appear to be a little bit more investible from your perspective, and then maybe we'll jump into one or two of them.
[00:11:04] Jeff: Yeah, Ben. Well, I, I think where you're from is very sexy.
And I, I say that because it, it, it's not really the picture on the brochure that sends the distributions to investors. It is the investment, the underlying asset itself. And so, you know, an example of one property that we do own in streetwise is a property in Carmel, Indiana. It's a well healed suburb.
Indianapolis is sort of implemented for our broader thesis, which is, you know, if you go to these markets, these well healed markets where the decision makers live that have great amenities good incomes, you know, you're gonna see demand. The decision makers always wanna be within a short drive of where they live to the office and in places like an Indianapolis, you know, Carmel is a great.
Place for them to locate just because, you know, it, it gives 'em that short drive, but it also gives them access to a great employee, an employee base. And so the, the deal that we did in Carmel is sort of right on something called the moan which you may know, but your listeners probably don't know California, where you live now has the ocean has got oceanfront.
And you know, there's park city, the mountains in, in, in Utah. Well, Indiana has the moan and Indianapolis in particular has the moan, which is this great walking, biking trail that stretches all the way from downtown. And, and this building sits right on the moan, which is very attractive. And, and creates a great sort of mixed use, just energetic environment which is exactly what employers are looking for and is why we have gotten to a hundred percent occupied in, in such a short period of time and have stayed there.
Ever since we got
[00:12:57] Ben: there. Yeah. And I, I have a buddy that lives right near the moon on trail. I'm curious, like what, what sort of trends are you looking for in these geo locations? Is it population growth, job growth, demographic changes, like what, what are kind of the top line things that start off this checklist when entering a new location, like, like Indian Indianapolis, for instance.
[00:13:23] Jeff: Yeah, I'm glad you asked the question, cuz we're not really top line thinkers. We're more bottoms up. We look at the deal first at the deal pencils. Then we look at the location and sort of take it from there. So for instance, I didn't know anything about the Mona. I didn't know how sexy your, your hometown was until I found that deal.
And I looked into car and I said, you know that this is a great place. It's not just a great building and a great opportunity and a great value. It's a great submarket. So. Always look at the deal first, make sure that pencils then cuz you know, a million deals don't pencil before one does. And then when, when it does, then you gotta, you know, check the area of the surrounding area to make sure it's you know, acceptable.
[00:14:05] Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. So you start with the individual deal, the micro make sure that that tick the boxes, but then inevitably you do roll up to the macro and you make sure that you're not buying in some terrible section of some terrible dying. Town, what what kind of red what type of deals would fall away?
You know, it looks very good at a micro level, but once you kind of roll up and start thinking more top line what, what red flags have caused these good micro deals to fall off?
[00:14:34] Jeff: Yeah. Places where populations are declining or places where there is greater than average exposure to one or two industries.
Could move away from you. One example of that is maybe Houston with its oil exposure. It's all great. When, you know, the price of oil is at a hundred bucks, but when it dips down to 50 things, get a little dicey and you see a lot of, a lot of companies putting their space up for sublease or you know, just things get dicey quickly in your, and you don't wanna be exposed to these fluctuations in markets that you can't control.
And so. A place like Indianapolis or a place like St. Louis, you know, they've got diverse demand drivers. They've got diverse industries there. And so while they're not growing led the same as say in New York city they're diversified enough where that lack of volatility is actually a benefit to you as an investor, because you can lock in sort of your, your go forward assumptions of low growth, low steady growth.
Will more likely play out.
[00:15:43] Ben: And I, I mean, the thing about Indianapolis in, in general, you know, for listeners, you guys operate in many different markets, we're just kind of sitting on this one, perhaps, cuz it's a little bit closer to home for me. But with something like Indianapolis, I think you have two counter like macro trends in the us or at least like.
Where I'm thinking. And one it's like unaffordable housing in these bigger locations, ability from work, work from home work in these live in these other cities. But counter to that, like a headwind would be the aging boomer population moving away from like cold winters because they don't wanna shovel their driveways.
Those two perhaps net out, hopefully still a net positive, but that's. Am I completely off base with those assumptions?
[00:16:32] Jeff: Yeah, I mean, we take all those things into account. Things like taxes in California. I mean, it's getting harder and harder to sort of wrap your head around what their, what, what politicians are gonna do on a go forward basis and that unpredictability leads to, you know difficulty in, in performing your, your deals in, in California.
So certainly we look at all these things. Yeah.
[00:16:54] Ben: So
[00:16:54] Jeff: I I'd be curious.
[00:16:56] Ben: What sort of unique risks do does investing in commercial properties carry? So we've talked a lot before on this podcast with residential and multi-family specifically, but I'd say just unique risks for commercial properties in general,
[00:17:13] Jeff: unique risks for commercial properties in general.
I mean, You're not G I think going into any investment, you've gotta really understand the micro location dynamics and being an investor in out of state properties that is incumbent upon myself and my team to really go out and diligence that stuff, because if you haven't grown. Indianapolis.
You're not gonna know all the drivers, all, all the different things that go on there, but it's incumbent upon the streetwise team to, you know, really speak with all the brokers in town, speak with, you know, business owners at the property and, and nearby, and, and just kind of get a sense of what has been going on, what is going on and, you know, what, what are, what is the municipality doing around it?
Structurally either. For the greater good or, or, you know, for the folly to either improve or, or disprove a property. Okay. That makes sense.
[00:18:19] Ben: And when you, when you purchase properties like these micro deals, do you typically renovate them and add value? If so, what sort of like quick value add lever?
Do you typically pull when after purchasing.
[00:18:37] Jeff: Yeah. Well, my favorite value add lever is identifying a property. That is a good deal that has been undermanaged. When you can find a property that's owned by sort of a, a mom and pop who is not terribly sophisticated. You can find a lot of low hanging fruit things like just, you know, lease structure, putting in little little bells and whistles into leases that can over the long term improve the value of your property.
Paying, paying higher leasing commissions and, or providing better tenant improvements to increase your rent is another sort of low hanging fruit. Piece that we look for. And then just generally speaking, mom and pops don't operate properties as efficiently. So maybe you'll find something that is.
A hundred percent least because they're just not charging enough. That's one way that they screw up. Another way they screw up is not paying enough attention to it and letting it languish at, you know, 60 or 70% occupancy. And you say to yourself, well, gee, this isn't a great location with, you know, great retail amount around it, great infrastructure around it.
And Lots of investment around it. There's no reason for this thing not to be stabilized. That's a great situation to put yourself into as well. Just throw yourself into that and manage it properly.
[00:19:53] Ben: Yeah, that also makes sense. I've read that that street wise is pretty conservative when it comes to leverage.
I'd be curious if you could talk on the state among of leverage amongst other REITs. Currently.
[00:20:09] Jeff: Yeah, I think most reeds use pretty conservative leverage. It, some funds get more aggressive. Some syndicators get more aggressive on crowdfunding sites and whatnot, but the only way to really lose in real estate is to get over your skis and leverage.
If you can continue fighting another day you can generally win in real. And I'd say that if you're willing to give up some points in return, you know, some, some some yield in return for more conservative balance sheet that's a good trade off that's, that's something you should do because, and that's something that.
We abide by because you know, we could juice our cash, yield to investors a little more by increasing our leverage. But really when you increase your leverage, yes, you, you increase the returns, but you're increasing your risk. And when something bad happens, that's magnified as well. And that's gotta be taken into account.
[00:21:08] Ben: Yeah. When investors are looking at different rates of the public or private what other things should they be looking.
[00:21:16] Jeff: I think they should be looking at, I mean, the underlying P properties themselves, if they, if they have the bandwidth the, the team, the team that is managing the properties and identifying the new properties and really working the portfolio because you know, experience is important. You don't wanna be in a situation where you're backing some fly by night sponsor.
That is sort of just like, you know, ha hasn't hasn't seen business cycles enough to understand how to protect capital. You want sponsors with a proven track record and frankly, that's what streetwise brings. I mean, we are batched by a private equity company that our role and, you know, our track record is second and none having Having deployed, you know, three closed end funds having fully realized two of them with pretty, pretty good results.
And all of
[00:22:10] Ben: those funds are commercial real estate as well.
[00:22:14] Jeff: Yes. Those funds, I mean, in those funds, you know, we invested in all different property types, office, retail, hotel, industrial apartments even cold storage. So, you know, anything that cash flows almost.
[00:22:30] Ben: Can we talk about how the different closed in funds work within with streetwise and how all of these kind of fit together?
[00:22:39] Jeff: I'm sorry, can you repeat the question? Ben? Just,
[00:22:42] Ben: Like streetwise and then the three closed in funds. How these work together are different.
[00:22:49] Jeff: Yeah. So streetwise is sponsored by a private equity firm called Trin holdings. And. I'm the CEO of both and Trion holdings does some more sort of aggressive value add type deals.
Whereas streetwise is the more long term, safer core plus vehicle. And so. You know, that's, it's, it's the same team working on both vehicles. It's just, it just so happens that the funds that I speak of these are value, add funds. These are, you know, like I said, more aggressive funds, little higher leverage seeking higher returns and Those are you know, on the Urian side.
And then the non-trad read is on the, is on the streetwise side and eventually I'm gonna offer some deals from the Urian side on for streetwise investors.
[00:23:41] Ben: Gotcha. And then streetwise is open for non-accredited investors, smaller minimums. It's like more of this like crowdfunding reggae, plus anybody can get involved.
[00:23:53] Jeff: Exactly. It's it's utilizing reggae plus, and, you know, you can invest in three wise for as little as about $5,000. So it's, it's for it's for investors who take their. You know, investments seriously wanna diversify into real estate and wanna be, you know, on a platform that is very transparent, online, able to invest easily online and see the sponsors that they're investing alongside.
And you know, kind of go from there.
[00:24:26] Ben: And let's so let's double click on streetwise a bit and talk about fees.
[00:24:32] Jeff: Let's, let's start with. So in streetwise, the fee is 2% of the equity amount. So if the mid asset value of the streetwise portfolio goes down, our fees go down. If it goes up our fees go up we don't charge.
Any, you know, acquisition fees financing fees, or disposition fees. It's just that 2% asset management fee. And then 3% on your investment day. One that's sort of are, that's not a recurring fee. That's a marketing take that's for our marketing expenses.
[00:25:14] Ben: Sure. And that could almost be considered like a front end load kind of thing.
Exactly. Okay. And then talk about liquidity. I mean, obviously you had said this is for longer term investors. I think there's like a one year lock, but that there is some sort of secondary market liquidity, right.
[00:25:32] Jeff: There is a one year lockout, and then you're able to redeem your shares subject to a step down in penalty over the course of the first five years of your investment.
So we certainly. We are very transparent in saying that this should be looked at as a long term investment until your five. Well, for example, if you're selling your, if you're redeeming your shares in your four, you will get 97 and a half percent of the nav, the net asset value of your shares back. If you sell after your five, you get a hundred percent.
So this, this is a vehicle where you want to be in long term. Yeah, that makes sense.
[00:26:17] Ben: I I'd be curious next about like bankruptcy protection. What would happen if, if something were to blow up like how, how, how should investors think through bankruptcy protection? With something like fun
[00:26:32] Jeff: street.
Yeah, I think the, the bankruptcy protections are the same sort of at the streetwise level as they are sort of at the asset level, because the sponsor which is Trian is strong. And if you're the, I guess the susceptibility of the investments to to being foreclosed on. Is the same sort of just on a, on an asset by asset level as at the company level.
If that makes sense then maybe can you just ask that question in a little more detail? Yeah. I mean, I guess,
[00:27:09] Ben: It, for the uninformed investor, it's like, this is a website that I put money in. It's crowdfunding. I, I have owned these, this non. Publicly traded re what happens if the company behind it goes, goes poof, like there's still assets there.
Do I have any claim to them? How, what does that process look like to reassure me that I should give money? Or invest money?
[00:27:37] Jeff: Yeah. If, if the company goes bankrupt, then essentially what happens is there's a liquidation of the properties. And, you know, the equity is returned to the owners, which are the investors.
And so long as the properties are sound, you know, your, your equity is secure. Okay. Okay.
[00:27:56] Ben: That makes sense. What should people know about streetwise that isn't listed on the website or very well
[00:28:03] Jeff: known? Well, that it's sponsored by Trian holdings, which has. Almost a decade long a decade in business with three different closed end funds, which I, I spoke about earlier, but, you know, the first two funds were very high performing.
The second fund was a top decile fund within its vintage set, which was 2015. And you know, we have a number of investors, happy investors in those funds. And so this is sort of the same management team you're getting at streetwise. As, as the Trian holdings, investors are getting nice.
[00:28:46] Ben: What thinking about all of the different categories of commercial real estate and the different geo like locations within the us, what would be your most bullish ne like niche or vertical industry geo over the next 10 years?
[00:29:07] Jeff: That's a good question. I don't the reason that we're bottoms up investors is because I'm really bad at making those bets. I mean, I could say there's some sexy markets that people are liking secondary markets like Phoenix and Nashville and Austin that a lot of people are talking about. Right now.
Cause frankly, there are a lot of people moving there, but they're also priced as such. So that's why I'm, I'm not necessarily just looking for like, what is the next hot city? What, yes, I think it's important to have sort of a view on where that city will be 10 to 20 years from now, but I think what's much more informative is the price that you're paying today.
Because it's, there is even if you think that Phoenix is gonna be, if everybody from LA is gonna move to Phoenix, there is a price at which it doesn't make sense to buy in Phoenix. So I know I'm not answering your question, but it's it's because I don't really think about that too often. I think more.
Deals and you know, how, how, how the property level metrics look rather than the the markets 10 years into the future.
[00:30:22] Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. What about upcoming roadmap for streetwise that get you most excited by diversification?
[00:30:31] Jeff: Right now we've got a few buildings in the Midwest and eventually I want to expand even beyond office.
And into, you know, different commercial property types, into different submarkets and you know, just offering our investors a, I think a, a more diversified portfolio as a safer portfolio. And so that's, that's sort of the idea going forward. And now with the federal reserve actually increasing. Rates as opposed to bringing them down and, and also letting their balance sheet run out, which is essentially quantitative tightening.
I think there's gonna be a good opportunity to buy properties in the next six to 12 months. I think I'm already seeing in the marketplace, some some distress, you know, refinancing or owners who thought that their properties were worth X, but they're really worth Y now. It's an interesting time in real estate and I'm really looking forward to being more aggressive on the acquisition side.
[00:31:35] Ben: Nice. It is an interesting time indeed. And the financial markets can humble you very quickly. It's a very interesting time, indeed. Jeff really appreciate you coming on today, talking about streetwise. What else would you like my listeners to know? And then where can they find out more about you and street?
[00:31:56] Jeff: Look, I we're, we're open for investment 24 7 on streetwise.com. It's S T R E I T w I S e.com. And you know, we're working hard for our investors and they've been happy so far. They've earned, I believe over an 8% dividend yield. Annualized dividend yield every quarter, since we began in 2017. So I'm, I'm proud of that.
I'm looking to extend that streak as long as we can and just, you know, further strengthen our portfolios. So, you know, if there are long term investors out there watching Ben lake off, and I know there are you know, streetwise is a long term focused real estate.
[00:32:44] Ben: Awesome Jeff. And I'll link up all of these things in the show [email protected]
Really appreciate having you on today. Have a great day and the rest
[00:32:54] Jeff: of your summer. All right. Likewise, Ben. Thank you. Thank you.
[00:33:00] Ben: There you go. First off. Thank you very much for listening all the way through. I hope you got a lot of value out of that conversation as always. You can find show notes, links, and [email protected]
Please share this with anyone you think might be interested and deriv any value from this conversation. And as always, you can reach out to me for any feedback or questions. Please give the video a like, or even better subscribe on YouTube or your podcast player of choice. This really helps others find the podcast or the video as well.
Thanks a lot. Hope everybody has a fantastic day and stay safe out there and invest wisely. Cheers.