How Willow is not a REIT

By Mike Hibberd

Take one look at the conversations happening on social media and it’s clear people compare Willow to a REIT (aka a Real Estate Investment Trust). While both types of investments centre around real estate and both pay dividends, Willow offers a fundamentally new way to invest in real estate. So let us set the record straight on how Willow differs from a REIT.

Willow offers a unique way to invest in Canadian real estate. We’ve created Canada’s first regulated real estate investing platform making it possible – not to mention simple - for anyone to buy and sell fractions of individual properties. We call this concept ‘PropSharing.’

The idea is incredibly straightforward. Willow scours the market and buys stable rent generating properties and splits each one into 100,000 Units of ownership. These Units are made available for purchase on the platform. For example, you could choose to buy 1% (or 1,000 Units)of an office tower in downtown Toronto and 2% (or 2,000 Units) of a warehouse facility in Calgary. Deciding what properties you buy and how many Units is entirely up to you. You have complete control over your real estate portfolio and can own anywhere between 0.001% and 10% – or 1 and 10,000 units – of a building, making the possibilities pretty much endless.

Willow manages the properties and pays all associated expenses. At the end of the month, any profit is distributed to the unitholders like a dividend. Our customers also have the flexibility to buy and sell their units over time. At the heart of it, PropSharing is an entirely new type of investment vehicle designed to help open the door to the real estate market for everyone.

In the case of a REIT, you would be purchasing a mixed bag of properties – often in the thousands – without any say over which properties actually exist within the investment trust. Which properties go into the REIT and how the REIT is controlled is up to the trust’s managers, leaving the power largely out of your hands. This type of investment can be an option for some investors who prefer that hands-off approach to real estate investing. However, the Willow model favours individual choice in the properties you want to own. Imagine driving down the QEW in Toronto and seeing the properties that you handpicked along the highway or peering out at Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital and knowing you own a part of that surrounding scenic landscape. Willow allows the customer to build and control their own personal portfolio, no matter how much money they can invest.

For most Canadians, investing in property is out of reach, especially in cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. But let’s say you have a few friends who want to buy a property together. Navigating the legal paperwork, taxes and setting up an ownership structure can be tough and time consuming for anyone, let alone people who aren’t well versed or experienced in the area. Even if you are successful in overcoming these barriers, you then need to add on the extra stress of being a landlord. With Willow, investors no longer need to worry about those constraints. Willow’s mission is to help everyone succeed in property investment, a reality that until now has been reserved for the wealthiest one percent. PropSharing tears down barriers and allows everyone to enter the market, making property investment accessible and inclusive to all Canadians.

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