About Willow What is Willow?
Willow is Canada’s first PropSharing investment platform, empowering people to invest in properties like they would stocks. PropSharing is an entirely new type of investment vehicle created to open the door for 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 want to remove obstacles and allow anyone to enter the real estate market. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to invest in real estate and have access to sustainable wealth creation.
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 leadership team. Willow is founded on the concept of PropSharing. What is that?
Investing in real estate has traditionally been out of reach for many people. Huge lump sums, fees, and legal work make a real estate purchase often the largest and most difficult investment in a person’s life.
PropSharing splits a property into fractional units and allows investors to buy and sell over time. It optimizes shared ownership of real estate properties and acts as a barrier buster that allows everyone to enter the real estate market. It empowers the individual, not the middleman. It grows wealth in real estate whether an investor owns their home or not.
Willow created PropSharing by building a platform that solves the complexities of real estate. Now the asset that makes so much sense on paper makes sense in real life.
Outside of Willow, you can buy a whole property or shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT). However, you don’t get to decide what’s inside that basket, and buying an entire property is costly and lacks diversification. With Willow, you get to decide which properties you want to invest in—and how much. Is Willow just another investor looking to make money in real estate, making it hard for Canadians to get by?
Absolutely not. For starters, we are NOT
buying single-family residences that first-time homebuyers are trying to acquire. Instead, we purchase purpose-built multi-residential apartment, office, retail, industrial, and mixed-use buildings.
Our mission is to break down the capital and informational barriers that prevent everyday Canadians from owning great commercial real estate, making a more inclusive and prosperous Canada for all.
In addition to our plans to fund social development projects and restore historic buildings, we are teaming up with others to build better communities and increase the available housing supply.
Going beyond our portfolio commitments, 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. Is Willow or PropSharing only in Canada?
For now, Willow is only in Canada. How does PropSharing differ from real estate crowdfunding?
With PropSharing, users will find properties on the Willow platform that are professionally managed. The legal ownership is then standardized and split into 100,000 units per property. People use the platform to buy units of properties. With Willow, you can divest your units in a property quickly and easily.
In contrast, real estate crowdfunding uses traditional real estate investments that aren’t easily converted into cash. You can’t buy or sell anytime you like. In many cases, real estate crowdfunding does not provide ownership in property, and when it does, ownership is not fixed, and investors are subject to widely ranging fee structures. How is Willow different from any other REIT?
Willow enables investors 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 and geography. The number of units is fixed at 100,000, so you know exactly how much you own of each property.
In contrast, REITs offer little transparency on the assets within their portfolio, and the number of shares fluctuates daily. REITs are required to deploy cash and continuously acquire properties, regardless of attractiveness. REITs also suffer from the inherent volatility from being listed on a public exchange. Can I view Willow’s property profiles if I’m not a client?
Yes, basic property details can be viewed by anyone. For additional details such as Willow’s offering documentation, individuals are required to sign up prior to gaining access. 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 in properties would not be impacted. 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. Do investors take on a liability by investing, such as a mortgage or requirement to pay other property expenses?
No. All expenses and liabilities fall on the partnership, and investors cannot lose more money than they invest. Willow, as the General Partner, assumes any additional risk on behalf of the partnership. 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, and overall market conditions. How does Willow obtain properties?
We obtain properties by signing a conditional agreement with the owners. Following successful financing the properties are onboarded to the Willow platform.
We have experienced professionals scouring the market for the best real estate deals. They work with our acquisitions team and a network of real estate partners to make great purchases. We conduct thorough due diligence on every property, including appraisals, physical inspections, interviews with tenants, contract reviews, and location and financial analyses. 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.”
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:
How do you determine whether an individual can be an investor on Willow?
- Name, address, and other contact information
- Current employment and history
- Social Insurance Number
- Investment experience
- Investment goals and timelines
We want to make sure people who are investing on our platform are in a financial position to use Willow in a way that’s appropriate and advantageous for their individual circumstances.
Much like other investment firms, we look at a number of factors to ensure we accept investors 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 investors are authorized to make on Willow. Why does Willow provide recommendations on how much to invest?
Willow will provide a recommendation on how much to invest based on your profile. 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 investors are informed about financial risk and protect their self-interests. How will I know if I’ve been approved to invest in real estate on Willow?
Within a few business days of completing your profile, you’ll receive an email from us. What kind of documentation can I expect when I sign up to be an investor on Willow?
We want our investors 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 investors 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?
One of the first things you’ll do after being approved to use Willow is link your bank account to your Willow wallet. In order to buy a unit, you’ll need cash in your Willow wallet. You will also be able to transfer cash to and from your bank as you buy, sell, and receive monthly rental income payments on Willow. When can I see the properties on Willow?
Once you’ve created a Willow account, you will have wide-open access on our platform to view all of our properties. Once I am an approved investor on Willow, what does my profile look like?
Every investor has a portfolio page that serves as a dashboard with information such as:
Are there fees to invest in Willow?
- Asset summary
- Watch list
- Wallet balance
Yes, and we have some of the lowest fees in the real estate industry. Willow has a simple and transparent fee structure:
How do Willow’s management fees differ from management expense ratios (MERs)?
- $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
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 approximately 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 investors capture any appreciation in asset value. 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. Are my investments on Willow TFSA and/or RRSP eligible?
Initially no, but we will eventually offer TFSA- and RRSP-eligible investments. Is my personal information safe on Willow?
Absolutely. We use bank-grade security to protect your information. We encrypt all information transmitted between your browser and our web servers, which keeps your account information safe, including passwords and personal information.
Willow properties What kind of properties does Willow have?
At first, our focus will be on purpose-built, income-producing residential, office, retail, and industrial properties.
Long term, 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.
The more users we have, the more properties we’ll be able to buy and put on the platform. Where will Willow’s properties be located?
Just as we intend to have different types of properties, Willow will also have properties from across various geographies to enable further choice and diversification.
Our investors can expect to have access to properties across Canada, including properties in every major city. Over time we will be offering international properties as well. Do the buildings that Willow acquires have preexisting tenants? Who manages the buildings?
In most cases, yes. We 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. Will Willow make it harder for me to own my own home?
Absolutely not. Willow targets assets that only the top 1–5% of Canadians can afford currently and makes them more accessible to everyone else. We are on a mission to make property investment accessible for all who wish to participate.
It’s important to note that Willow will NOT be competing with the average home buyer for properties. In time, we hope to have a positive impact on supply by investing in new developments. 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 investors 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. It empowers the individual, not the middleman. It grows wealth in real estate whether an investor owns their home or not.
We work to provide:
How much of one property can I own?
- Access for Canadians: We allow those who may never be able to own an investment property on their own to participate in the real estate market.
- An increased housing supply: We invest in new builds and improving densification. Willow will help housing affordability by creating more housing.
- Impact investing opportunities: Investors can generate financial returns while creating a positive social impact with Willow. We intend to offer impact investments in the affordable housing space to provide deeply affordable rental housing. This will be supported, in part, through public-private partnerships.
The maximum any one investor can own of an individual property is 10%. What information is on each property profile?
Every investor will have a full view of all details available on Willow properties, including:
- Type of property
- Purchase price
- Monthly rent
- Neighbourhood information
- Financial measures, such as cap rate and net yield rate (see Willow’s Key Terms)
- Cash reserve
- Latest dividend
- Latest monthly expense
- Mortgage balance
For investors who want more detail, each property page also includes a comprehensive offering memorandum. 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 five 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 investors. There are no fees. Why does Willow sell its buildings instead of keeping them on the Willow platform?
We maximize liquidity for our investors by having a target sell date. Investors 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, investors can request to sell their units on the Willow platform. 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 best we can, if we feel the market is mispriced as the target sell date approaches, we may delay selling the property until we feel 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 investors. Can I live in one of the units I invest in?
Investors participate in financial ownership only. There are no occupation rights. Do I have any obligations to tenants?
No. Willow is responsible for managing each property. Do Willow investments involve risk?
Yes, there is risk to any type of investment. Willow’s platform has been designed to allow investors to build diversified portfolios, and individuals cannot own more than 10% of any property. Investors cannot lose more than they invest, unlike direct investment in real estate. Is Willow regulated?
Willow is regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission—the first real estate investment platform in Canada to have received OSC approval. Willow is registered as an Exempt Market Dealer in every province and territory in Canada. Does Willow invest in its own properties?
Yes, Willow has its own “skin in the game” on every property. We will own about 2.5% of every property, and not more than 10%. This ensures our incentives are aligned with our investors’ goals. What happens to my investment if the property is damaged and needs significant repairs?
Willow will have insurance on every property. Investors can be reassured that in significant loss scenarios, such as catastrophic events, 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. Every property will have a cash reserve. When the cash reserve has been depleted below the threshold amount, the monthly rental payments will go toward replenishing it before any dividends are paid. The target cash reserve amount is posted on each property. Will investing on Willow impact my credit score?
No. Investors are not responsible for the mortgage on the properties, and their investments have no impact on their credit scores.
Making money on Willow 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 may generate rental profits from tenants, which are distributed to unit holders like a dividend 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. Will I receive rental profits monthly?
Yes, any profits from rental income are paid to investors each month. Each building maintains a capital reserve fund to cover any unexpected costs so that our investors can count on stable monthly distributions. If a large expense is required or the property becomes temporarily vacant, rental profits may decrease or stop while the reserve fund is built back up. If there is a rental profit, how do I receive my portion?
Dividends paid to investors 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. Am I taxed by the government on any profits I make on Willow?
Yes, as with any investment, your jurisdiction’s tax laws will apply. Willow will prepare all necessary documentation and guidance to help our investors file their taxes appropriately. We recommend you consult a tax professional to assess your specific circumstances. How can I sell my unit(s) on Willow? Do I have to find a buyer?
No, we will help! You’ll be able to post offers to purchase or sell units at a 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 an investor want to sell units?
The reasons for buying and selling are as unique as the investor. Some examples include:
Can investors trade Willow units off of the Willow platform?
- 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
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 investors. 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).