Commercial real estate marketplace Red Swan has tokenized $2.2 billion in real estate through security token platform Polymath.
According to Red Swan CEO Ed Nwokedi, $780 million of that is available to investors in pre-sale, while the company has another $4 billion in real estate in its tokenization pipeline. The $2.2 billion represents 16 different Class A commercial properties based in Austin and Houston, Texas, Brooklyn, N.Y., Oakland, Calif., and Ontario, Canada.
Tokenization has struggled to transform the multitrillion-dollar real estate market as institutions hesitate to re-engineer back offices until they see liquidity. Graeme Moore, head of tokenization at Polymath, believes this project will work where others failed.
“I think what kind of happened in the past was there were platforms like Harbor, Propellr and Fluidity, which were really tech companies,” Moore said. “They didn’t really have the real estate background or the expertise to understand how the private real estate market works.”
(Harbor’s flagship project reportedly crumbled over paperwork issues. The startup was acquired by crypto custodian BitGo earlier this month. The Fluidity and Propellr project was quietly shelved last summer.)
New York City-based Red Swan is holding investors’ funds in escrow and plans to distribute shares in April. Meanwhile, Nwokedi said Red Swan is in the middle of becoming a registered investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which will allow it to manage assets for accredited investors.
The tokens are ST-20 tokens running on Ethereum, but Red Swan plans to switch over to an Enterprise blockchain platform in the future for increased speed and security, Nwokedi said. Polymath only provides the tokenization technology while Red Swan appraises, markets and sells the deals.
Nwokedi, an 18-year veteran in the real estate space, turned to tokenization because he was looking for a way to open up high-quality real estate investment, usually only available for institutions and high-net-worth individuals, to accredited investors. Red Swan claims it has 30,000 accredited investors on its platform.
“You have a very large segment of investors who are between half a million and $10 million that were not participating because they just don’t have enough equity to buy a quality piece of real estate,” said Nwokedi. “So they’re focused on more risky, lower class-level projects.”
Nwokedi also hopes to help property owners who are property rich and cash poor by allowing them to pull more equity out of their properties without having to go to the bank. While banks will usually only allow roughly 50 percent leverage on a given asset, Red Swan allows property owners to tokenize 90 percent of the net equity underlying a property.
Red Swan makes money by taking a percentage of the equity that’s issued, and tokens sit within a digital wallet custodied by Prime Trust and are insured up to $1 billion.