FAQ

About Willow


What is Willow?
Willow is Canada’s premier PropSharing investment platform, empowering people to invest in properties like they would stocks. PropSharing is a revolutionary type of investment vehicle created to elevate real estate investors and provide an ideal online platform for coordinating shared interests.

Who is behind Willow?
We are a team of entrepreneurs with expertise in finance, real estate, and technology who aren’t satisfied with the status quo.

We are a Canadian company with headquarters in downtown Toronto, and we are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other financial company in Canada. Our platform security is bank-grade. We have a strong team of developers with experience from IBM, Dell, BMO, Ubisoft, and more.

Learn more about our team.

Willow is founded on the concept of PropSharing. What is that?
PropSharing splits a property into fractional units and allows clients to buy and sell over time. It optimizes shared ownership of real estate properties and removes intermediaries such as realtors, lawyers, or land transfer taxes that extract value from two people exchanging ownership.

Want to know more about PropSharing? Check it out here!

Is Willow regulated?
Yes! Willow is regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission—the first real estate investment platform in Canada to have received OSC approval. Willow is registered in every province and territory in Canada.

How is Willow different from any other REIT (real estate investment trust)?
Willow enables clients to choose the specific properties they want to invest in and create custom portfolios based on those choices. You pick the properties based on asset type, strategy, and location, giving you 100% confidence in where your money is invested. Willow properties also don’t trade on the public stock markets, saving you the headache of public market forces and volatility. Willow is also more tax-efficient than REITs, saving you half the tax by being charged Capital Gains tax versus Income tax on the income generated.

How does PropSharing differ from real estate crowdfunding?
With PropSharing, users find professionally sourced and managed properties on the Willow platform, and the legal ownership is standardized and split into 100,000 units per property. In addition, PropSharing allows for secondary transactions, meaning you’re not locked into the entire term of the investment.

In contrast, you can’t buy or sell anytime you like with real estate crowdfunding. In addition, crowdfunding limits the total amount raised to $1.5 million, meaning the best investment properties are unavailable. Finally, crowdfunding limits the amount an individual can invest in a single property to a max of $2,500.

Is Willow or PropSharing only in Canada?
Willow is excited about working with all clients. Right now, we are easily accepting clients from within Canada. For international investors, book a call with us to determine your eligibility. Email us at support@willow.ca to get in contact with one of our team members.

How it Works


How is Willow set up as a company?
Willow manages a Limited Partnership with a unique series for each property consisting of 100,000 units. This isolates the risk and returns to each property. Willow is the General Partner, similar to executive management in a company, and manages the partnership.

What happens if Willow as a company fails? Will I get my money back?
All of our clients’ cash and investments are separate from Willow’s operations and are subject to creditor protection. All cash is held in in-trust accounts at Canadian financial institutions. All cash would remain accessible, and your ownership of properties would not be impacted.

What drives the value of a unit up or down?
Overall market forces dictate the value of a unit. In providing recommended price ranges, Willow assesses the property based on numerous factors, including recent appraisals, demand for the property, outstanding mortgage balance, cash reserves, and overall market conditions.

Do clients take on liability by investing, such as a mortgage or requirement to pay other property expenses?
No. All expenses and liabilities fall on the partnership, and clients cannot lose more money than they invest. Willow, as the General Partner, assumes any additional risk on behalf of the partnership.

Do I have any obligations to tenants?
No. Willow is responsible for managing each property.

Can I live in one of the units I invest in?
Clients participate in financial ownership only. There are no occupation rights. Although, if you’re a tenant in a Willow property, we would encourage you to buy some of the property to save on rent.

What happens to my investment if the property is damaged and needs significant repairs?
Willow has insurance on every property. Clients can be reassured that in significant loss scenarios insurance coverage will be triggered.

If minor repairs are needed, such as a new toilet or fridge, these costs would come out as monthly expenses from the monthly revenue. If the monthly expenses are more than the rent generated, those costs would be covered by the cash reserve for each property. When the cash reserve has been depleted, the monthly rental payments will go toward replenishing it before any dividends are paid. The target cash reserve amount is posted on each property.

Do Willow investments involve risk?
Yes, there is risk to any type of investment. However, unlike direct investment in real estate, Willow clients cannot lose more than they invested. Willow clients can also be assured that a professional acquisitions team and seasoned investment committee conduct thorough analysis on every property to ensure a sound investment.

Does Willow invest in its own properties?
Yes, Willow has its own “skin in the game” with every property. We believe in investing alongside our clients and ensuring our incentives are aligned.

Will investing on Willow impact my credit score?
No. Clients are not responsible for the mortgage on the properties, and their investments have no impact on their credit scores.

How do you determine whether an individual can be an investor on Willow?
We want to elevate real estate investing for everyone and include as many as possible. As long as prospective clients meet the age of majority, they are free to sign up. Willow will conduct a suitability assessment with tailored limits based on their specific financial details entered during the onboarding questionnaire.

The Process and Properties


How does Willow obtain properties?
Willow has an experienced acquisitions team and investment committee constantly scouring the market for the best properties, which are often off-market. They conduct thorough due diligence on every property, including appraisals, physical inspections, interviews with tenants, contract reviews, and location and financial analyses.

Once an attractive market and property have been determined and negotiated at an attractive price with the seller, Willow signs a conditional sale agreement. Willow then conducts additional due diligence on the property before listing it on the platform for reservations. Once listed, clients fund the equity required for the property, and Willow secures the mortgage. Following successful financing, the properties are onboarded and become a property in Willow's Portfolio, and clients start receiving the financial benefit. If the closing date comes and not all of the equity has been raised, Willow may secure the balance and sell off the remaining units after the acquisition. If Willow chooses not to back-stop the acquisition of a property due to a lack of client interest, any of the clients who contributed to that property will receive a full refund.

What kind of properties does Willow target?
Willow’s primary focus will be on purpose-built, income-producing residential, office, retail, and industrial properties. As we grow, we hope to broaden the types of property available and enable people to own portions of solar wind farms, heritage properties, affordable housing developments, and more.

Where will Willow’s properties be located?
Just as we intend to have different types of properties, Willow will also have properties across various geographies to enable further choice and diversification.

Our clients can expect to have access to properties across Canada, including properties in every major city. Over time we will offer international properties as well.

How does Willow determine rent prices?
When determining rental prices, Willow and its partners assess the local market and determine the fair value for that property. Some properties will have a social impact mandate and include below-market rates. In such situations, this information will be made clear on the property page. In all other cases, the mandate will be to manage the property as a responsible business and maximize rental income while being a good neighbour and avoiding harmful practices like “renovictions.”

How long does Willow own a building?
When we acquire a building, we determine a defined life span for it on our platform that may range from 1 to 15 years. While it is on the platform, its units can be traded freely. When a target sale date has been reached, trading will be paused. The property will be delisted as we go to market and find a buyer.

When the building is sold, each investor will receive payment from the profits that is proportional to their unit ownership, e.g., an investor who owns 1% will receive 1% of the proceeds as cash into their Willow account.

It’s important to note that 100% of every sale goes back to our clients. There are no performance fees.

Does Willow sell its buildings at the predetermined sell date every time?
Although our goal is to stay as true to our initial timelines as possible, if we feel the market is mispriced as the target sell date approaches, we may delay selling the property until we think the market is fairly pricing the asset. However, this would be rare and depend on extenuating circumstances. If that happened, we would set a new target date and share it with all clients.

Why does Willow sell its buildings instead of keeping them on the Willow platform?
We maximize liquidity for our clients by having a target sell date. Clients can have peace of mind knowing that they won’t be locked into an investment regardless of the liquidity on the platform. This also ensures properties are priced accurately to the larger real estate market. Of course, before the target sell date, clients can request to sell their units on the Willow platform.

Do the buildings that Willow acquires have pre-existing tenants? Who manages the buildings?
In most cases, yes. We typically acquire buildings that are occupied and generate steady monthly income. Willow partners with industry-leading property management companies to ensure each property is managed to exacting standards.

What happens if a property loses a tenant? Will Willow reach out to clients for more money?
Part of the due diligence that we do before adding a property to our portfolio is not just looking at the building structurally, we also look at who’s living or occupying the spaces. In the event of a vacancy occurring, each property has a cash reserve to fund the gaps of filling those vacancies, so our clients don’t need to worry. Having our properties in desirable areas ensures filling vacancies will be a timely process as well.

What does the trading process look like?
Four months after the last unit of a property is sold, the secondary platform opens. Willow has created a dynamic trading platform where clients across Canada can buy or sell at the minimum or maximum price they determine. Willow will act as a market maker to add additional liquidity to the platform, and will try to provide price improvement to clients whenever possible.

Getting Started


How do I sign up to be an investor on Willow?
Simply visit www.willow.ca and fill out an investor profile. Our compliance and investment teams will review your financial profile and investment goals before approving and providing recommendations.

What type of information do I need to provide for the investor profile?
We'll be looking for things like:
  • Name, address, and other contact information
  • Current employment and history
  • Investment experience
  • Investment goals and timelines
Why does Willow provide recommendations on how much to invest?
We want to make sure people who are investing on our platform are using Willow in a way that is appropriate and advantageous for their individual circumstances.

Much like other registered investment platforms, we look at a number of factors to ensure we accept clients who are suitable for Willow, including your:
  • Overall net worth
  • Risk appetite
  • Investment knowledge and experience
These factors help us determine the threshold of purchases clients are authorized to make on Willow. If a trade is viewed as unsuitable based on your profile, the risk profile of the property, or the price you have requested to trade at, Willow will advise that the action is not recommended. Our goal is to ensure our clients are informed about financial risk and we do everything we can to protect their self-interests.

What kind of documentation can I expect when I sign up to be an investor on Willow?
We want our clients to be as well-informed about Willow and our properties as possible. When you sign up, you will receive very detailed disclosures on our platform and properties. On each property page, you can find an offering memorandum providing extensive information on each property. Willow will keep clients informed of any changes and will regularly update the Willow platform.

How do I pay for the units of property I want to invest in?
There are a couple ways to fund your Willow wallet. The easiest way is to link your bank account to your profile for instant deposits. With this method, there is no delay in purchasing units. Willow also supports e-transfers and bill payments for funding your account, but these methods can take a little longer to see the funds added to your account.**Note: With the linked bank account, the status of the deposits will read “pending” while the two banks transfer and receive the funds. This is normal, and purchases can be completed instantly while the banks complete their process.

Are there fees to invest with Willow?
Yes, but we have some of the lowest fees in the real estate industry. Willow has a simple and transparent fee structure:
  • $4.99 transaction fees + $0.65 HST (about 99.9% less than traditional selling fees)
  • 0.5% management fee
  • 1% one-time property acquisition fee for each new property on the platform.
  • 0% performance fee (meaning our clients earn 100% of any property appreciation on top of the income generated)
How are fees charged?
  • Transaction fees are just that - they are charged on each buy or sell transaction on the platform.
  • Our 0.5% management fee is an annual fee based on the value of the property. The fee is deducted monthly and comes out of the rental income on the property.
  • The 1% property acquisition fee is built into the cost of the units, so no additional fee is taken from your investment.
How do Willow’s management fees differ from management expense ratios (MERs)?
Our management fee (0.5%) is based on the value of the property. It does not change based on the amount of mortgage on the property.

Willow’s MERs reflect the fees in relation to the equity portion of an investment. With properties on Willow typically having a 50% mortgage, our MERs are about 1%. This will be slightly lower for properties with a lower mortgage ratio, and slightly higher for ones with a higher mortgage ratio.

By comparison, average MERs for mutual funds in Canada are approximately 2.25%, and fees for typical real estate investment are even higher.

It’s important to note that Willow does NOT charge performance fees. Our clients capture any appreciation in asset value on top of the monthly income generated from the rents.

Are my investments on Willow TFSA and/or RRSP eligible?
Initially no, but we are working to offer TFSA- and RRSP-eligible investments. Coming soon!

Is my personal information safe on Willow?
Absolutely. We have built bank-grade security to keep everything safe. Want to know more? Check out this article!

Making money on Willow


How much of my investment goes toward owning the property?
Your entire investment will go toward the property minus the fees. Willow does not take any percentage of the profits.

How do I make money on Willow?
There are two main ways you can make money on Willow:

First, properties that you have invested in will likely generate rental profits from tenants, which are distributed to unit holders each month.

Second, if your property increases in value over the time you own your units, you will gain that value when you sell your units, or when the property is sold after reaching the target sale date.

What is an expected dividend?
This is our average annual dividend amount over the property's hold period. The timing and amount of the payments will vary based on expenses (property tax, management costs, etc).

Will I receive rental profits monthly?
Any profits from rental income are paid to clients each month once the property has been completely sold out and the capital reserves are filled, and each property might have a different timeline, as every property is different. If an expense is required or the property becomes temporarily vacant, rental profits may decrease or stop while the reserve fund is replenished. Rental profit distributions are deposited into the clients’ Willow wallet, where they can be withdrawn or invested into a new property.

If there is a rental profit, how do I receive my portion?
WDistributions paid to clients will go into their Willow account as cash. These funds can be used to invest in other units or transferred to their personal bank account.

How can I sell my unit(s) on Willow? Do I have to find a buyer?
No, we will help! Once the secondary platform opens, you’ll be able to post offers to purchase or sell units at a minimum or maximum price of your choosing. Willow may accept or reject any order and provides recommended price ranges. Where possible, Willow will provide price improvement, meaning that you will get a better price than you requested.

Why would a client want to sell units?
The reasons for buying and selling are as unique as the client. Some examples include:
  • Wanting cash to make a purchase outside of Willow (such as a house or a wedding)
  • Capturing gains on the investment
  • Wanting to reinvest into another market, e.g., selling in Toronto and buying in Vancouver
  • Funding their retirement
Am I taxed by the government on any profits I make on Willow?
As with any investment, your jurisdiction’s tax laws will apply. Willow will prepare all necessary documentation and guidance to help our clients file their taxes appropriately. We recommend you consult a tax professional to assess your specific circumstances.

Willow property distributions are considered Return of Capital, meaning they reduce the cost basis of your investment. When those units are sold, Capital Gains tax is applied to the sale price less the adjusted cost basis.

For example, you bought $5,000 worth of units of 356 Queen Street West and received $1500 in distributions over 10 years, and then sold those units for $8,000. You would be taxed Capital Gains tax on $4500 (8,000 - 3500), which is then taxed 50% at your marginal tax rate.

In contrast, with other real estate investment vehicles such as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), distributions are considered Income and are taxed at 100%. Meaning, if you made the same amount of profit with Willow versus a REIT over that same 10-year period, YOU WOULD ONLY PAY HALF AS MUCH IN TAXES WITH WILLOW.

Can clients trade Willow units off of the Willow platform?
No. All purchases and sales must take place on the Willow platform. We determine whether we accept or fill trades. It is not an automatic process between clients.

Willow’s Impact


How does Willow help people who are impacted by Canada’s housing affordability issues?
Willow is based on the concept of PropSharing, which splits a property into fractional units and allows clients to trade their properties the same way they would trade units in companies on the stock market. This optimizes shared ownership of real estate properties and acts as a barrier buster that allows everyone to enter the real estate market, ultimately creating a more inclusive and prosperous Canada for all.

How is Willow committed to bettering the Canadian community?
We have pledged 1% of our company's equity to the Upside Foundation of Canada. This organization enables early-stage, high-growth companies to build social responsibility into their business by pledging equity to charity. We are incorporating social impact into our DNA from day one. We are excited by the prospect of using our investment vehicle to better our society. We believe a more inclusive world is better for everyone.

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