The pair behind one of the property industry's most popular podcasts have now launched an app that they say will 'completely disrupt the sector', allowing anyone to become a property investor in minutes through their phone.
But how safe is it, where did the idea come from, how does it differ to property crowdfunding and why do they believe democratising property investment is so important?
Here, PIT chats with the two Robs - Rob Bence and Rob Dix, the co-founders of Property Hub and the co-hosts of The Property Podcast - to find out more about the Portfolio app, part of its ongoing mission to rip up the rule book and tear down the barriers that have stopped people investing in property for many, many years.
Where did the idea for the Portfolio app first come from?
The barrier to entry for buy-to-let has continued to get higher and higher due to property prices and regulation, so we wanted to make investing in property more accessible.
We knew we wanted to combine tech with investing and thought the app was the best way to merge the two. You can invest in stocks and crypto from your phone – so why not property?
We asked our Property Hub members what their biggest barriers to investing in property were, and they answered money, time and confidence – all of which we aim to address through Portfolio.
How does it work in practice?
Investors who invest through the Portfolio app will be investing in a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). Investors buy shares in a fund which gives them exposure to all the properties within the portfolio.
As more properties are added to the portfolio, each investor’s portfolio also grows. Investors receive regular rental payments (in the form of dividends), just as they would if they invested in property themselves, and if the properties grow in value, so does the value of their shares – just like the capital growth you get from owning a buy-to-let property.
Are there any risks involved?
All investments involve risk, and investors should ensure they’re comfortable with the risks of property in general and a REIT in particular before they invest.
One of the common questions we’ve had is around the selling of shares – which investors can request to do at any time, although the ability to sell within a certain timeframe is not guaranteed. However, under normal market conditions, we expect the process to compare favourably with the selling of property directly – which usually takes at least several months, and of course, you can’t sell only part of a property!
Isn't this quite similar to property crowdfunding, which has declined in popularity and faced issues in recent years?
No, crowdfunding is entirely separate.
A REIT is a fund that holds multiple assets (properties) within it.
Crowdfunding is commonly used to pool multiple investors together to (usually) purchase a specific property. Some crowdfunding platforms raise funds to develop or refurbish property, which is very different again.
We believe Portfolio is more appropriate for investors who want a more diversified, professionally managed portfolio to hold for the long term.
How can investors get involved?
By joining the waiting list at https://portfolio.co.uk.
Is it important for property investment to be more democratic and accessible?
We believe so. We’ve spent years making sure education is accessible, rather than investors paying hundreds (if not thousands) to attend expensive training courses to learn how to invest in property. We’ve helped thousands navigate through the education world, now we want to break down the barriers to physically investing to make property more accessible to those who want to invest in it.
Not only that, but we wanted to do it without losing that tangible feeling of ownership. That’s why we’ve focused on immersive video tours and regular updates through the app so investors have the full experience of being a property investor but without the hassle.