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House Remodeling And Flip. Property Flipping. Real Estate Fix

Upright review 2024: Invest in short-term real estate development loans

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

🗓️

Updated: April 03, 2024

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4

Wise Reviews™

Commissions and fees - 4.5

Ease of use - 4

Number of deals - 4.5

Due diligence - 4

Historical performance - 4

Liquidity - 2.5

Upright lets accredited investors invest in short-term real estate debt starting with $1,000. It offers both note funds and individual deals and has returned 10.8% annually on average.

4

Wise Reviews™

Upright provides an interesting spin on fractional real estate investment. While most platforms are equity-based, Upright is debt-focused. This reduces risk, as your investments are secured by collateral. In the event of borrower default, Uprise can leverage a first-position mortgage to enforce payment legally. This is displayed with their 99.7% success rate of returning at least your principal investment.

The 10.8% average annualized return is also favorable. Overall, Upright is an appealing platform for real estate investors and borrowers.

This review walks you through everything needed, including how it works, offerings, historical performance, safety, and more.

Pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Fixed and mostly predictable distributions

  • Regular performance reports and updates

  • 10.8% average annualized returns for investors

  • 99.7% success rate of returning principal investments

  • Investments are collateralized by first-position mortgages

  • Variety of investment products and loan options for investors and borrowers

  • Borrowers and deals are heavily screened, with only 6-8% of projects approved

Cons

Cons

  • Potential for late distributions if borrowers are delinquent

  • High minimum investments of $1,000, $5,000, or $15,000

  • Only available to accredited investors and qualified borrowers

  • There are no secondary markets, with the inability to withdraw investments early

  • Potential risks associated with real estate investing, such as market fluctuations and property-specific issues

What is Upright

Upright is a real estate investment platform that connects accredited investors with vetted residential real estate loans. The platform focuses on providing loans secured by first-position mortgages. This approach differs from other real estate crowdfunding platforms that primarily offer equity investments. Accredited investors can earn passive income through fractional investments in these loans.

Upright

In addition to serving investors, Upright also acts as a direct money lender for real estate investors and developers seeking financing for their residential projects. The platform offers a variety of loan products, including rehab loans, new construction loans, portfolio loans, and DSCR rental loans, with competitive rates and terms.

The platform employs strict underwriting criteria. Only 6-8% of projects are approved, and Upright provides regular performance reports to investors.

How does Upright work?

Upright screens residential real estate deals from borrowers and presents them to accredited investors. Effectively, it's a two-sided mortgage capital market platform. As such, it works depending on which side you're on:

For investors

Upright offers investors three mortgage investment products. While the products are explained in detail below, you must notably be an accredited investor. This means you must have a $1,000,000 net worth, earn $200,000 annually, or be a licensed investment professional in good standing.

To start, you must sign up and verify your accredited status, transfer funds to your Upright wallet, and then select an investment product. The products vary in term lengths, distributions, and minimum investments. However, all Upright products have a lockup period preventing early withdrawals.

For borrowers

For borrowers, Upright offers short-term and long-term mortgage financing for your projects. This includes hard money loans of up to 15 months for projects relating to rehab, new construction, or portfolio loans. You must have an exit strategy to ensure investors receive their money back. 

Otherwise, Upright also offers DSCR loans for a 15-year or 30-year term length. Upright emphasizes faster and more flexible financing than traditional banks.

To become a borrower, you must have completed at least four successful real estate projects. You must also display a network of contractors, legal professionals, and real estate agents. After passing the initial application, deals are screened on a project basis. For hard money deals, Upright looks for the following details before offering it to their investor network:

  1. 1.

    10% minimum requirement of borrower's own money in each project.

  2. 2.

    70% maximum loan-to-value (LTV) or property's forecasted after repair value (ARV).

  3. 3.

    ARV should be thoroughly supported with a comparable properties analysis, appraisal, and broker price opinion (BPO). Upright will likely conduct an independent analysis to verify.

  4. 4.

    A detailed statement of work, with line-by-line costs of all repairs and improvements.

  5. 5.

    A home inspection report. Upright may also perform an independent inspection.

  6. 6.

    An exit strategy.

  7. 7.

    Property photos, including current state and critical improvement areas.

Upright offerings

Upright's offerings vary for investors and borrowers. Investors can access three types of projects, spanning managed funds and individual mortgage deals. Meanwhile, borrowers can access short-term and long-term mortgage financing.

  • Investment offerings: Borrower Dependant Note (BDN), Pre-Funding Note Fund (PFNF), Horizon Residential Income Fund (HRIF)
  • Loan offerings: Hard Money Loans, DSCR Rental Loans

Upright's three investment products

For investors, Upright offers fixed-income products backed by mortgages. A first-position lien with sufficient borrower equity secures all investments. This makes it safer than equity investments since there's collateral in the event of default.

Upright has a strong investment track record. They tout a 99.7% principal repayment rate but don't discuss the interest repayment rate. At best, you'll earn up to a 13% interest rate. At worst, you may wait months to receive your principal back. However, your investment is sufficiently collateralized, and there's a high probability you won't lose money.

-
Borrower Dependent Note (BDN)
Pre-Funding Note Fund (PFNF)
Horizon Residential Income Fund (HRIF)
Average Return
11.49%
9.58%
10%
Term Length
3 – 24 months
3, 6, 9, or 12 months
Minimum 12 months
Distributions
At maturity
Monthly
Quarterly
Minimum Investment
$5,000
$1,000
$15,000
Principal Repaid
99%+
100%
N/A

1. Borrower Dependent Notes (BDNs)

Upright's BDNs are fractional mortgage investments. You'll own debt in one project and can choose based on developer, region, and project type. Each BDN has a $5,000 minimum investment, making it difficult to diversify.

Due to this, Upright claims strict funding criteria. The diligence is reflected in their success rate, with 99.7% of initial investments repaid. However, they don't mention the percentage of interest owned return to investors or how late each payment was.

You can earn up to a 13% return on Upright's BDN investments, with an 11.49% average. Your money is locked up throughout the term, ranging from 3-24 months. You'll receive funds back upon completion, with the option to roll over into another investment.

2. Pre-Funding Note Fund (PFNF)

The Pre-Funding Note Fund (PFNF) is another term-length debt investment. This option improves diversification and reduces the minimum investment to $1,000. When investing in the PFNF, you're providing financing to Upright to invest across all their projects. This means Upright will invest in deals for you rather than self-analysis as you would with the BDN.

The PFNF seems like a better option than the BDM, given increased diversification and accessibility. You'll receive monthly income distributions, improving cash flow. The PFNF has a strong track record with 100% of principal and interest paid consistently on time. However, the 9.58% return is slightly lower than individual BDMs.

3. Horizon Residential Income Fund (HRIF)

The Horizon Residential Income Fund (HRIF) is a managed fund. It uses a REIT structure but consists of short-term mortgage bridge loans. The fund collects interest and fees from the underlying loans and then makes quarterly distributions to investors. Aside from distributions, HRIF reinvests money into new bridge loans until the fund is closed. At this point, the principal is returned to investors.

There is no specific mention of the holding period aside from a 12-month minimum. You're expected to see this information when reviewing the private placement memorandum. Across all products, HRIF has the highest minimum investment of $15,000. The fund targets a 10-13% annualized return.

Upright's two loan products

Upright invests the funding received into their two loan products. These are hard money and DSCR loans used to finance residential real estate projects within the United States. Developers must have at least four successful projects, with further project-specific criteria.

As an investor, you may be interested in the underlying loans you are investing in. Otherwise, borrowers will also benefit from knowing the funding terms.

-
Hard Money Loans
DSCR Rental Loans
Loan Types
Rehab Loans, New Construction Loans, Portfolio Loans
30-year ARM, 15-year ARM, fixed rate, or interest-only
Minimum Loan Amount
$50,000 - $100,000
$75,000
Loan Term
Up to 15 months
30 or 15 years
Property Types
Single-family, 2-4 family, 5+ multi-family, townhouses, condo
Single-family, 2-4 unit residences, condominiums, townhomes, multi-family up to 10 units
Exit Strategy
Required
N/A (long-term rental financing)

1. Hard Money Loans

Upright's Hard Money Loans are short-term financing options. Spanning up to 15 months, they incentivize borrowers with quick and flexible funding. Upright provides hard money loans to three projects: rehab loans, new construction, and portfolio loans. Upright exclusively works with residential projects. Each option must have an exit strategy, ensuring the investors are repaid quickly.

2. DSCR Rental Loans

Upright's DSCR Rental Loans are for long-term borrowers. A DSCR loan allows investors to qualify based on the property's cash flow rather than personal income. The term lengths span 15 or 30 years and can manifest as an adjustable rate, fixed rate, or interest only.

Upright fees

Upright doesn't charge fees for the most part. Their primary source of revenue is a 1% to 2% spread collected between loans. For example, imagine you invest in a project for a 10% return. Upright will fund the loan at 12% and pocket the difference. It's a similar model to banks, as they lend out your deposits.

Otherwise, some managed funds and other products collect fees. This will be clearly shown on the deal card and private placement memorandum.

Historical performance

Upright's founder, Matt Rodak, maintains an active blog on the website. He publishes monthly performance reports, quarterly fund updates, and more. At the time of writing, the most recent monthly performance report detailed the following:

  • 10.85% weighted average return across all three investment products.
  • 11.49% annualized BDN return.
  • Annualized HRIF return exceeds 10%.
  • 9.58% weighted average PFNF return.
  • Individual BDNs are the most popular investment product.
  • 1,517 total investments
  • Over $89MM interest earned by investors

The report notes that Upright has a historic principal recovery rate of over 99.7% since its inception. However, it doesn't detail the interest recovery rate or average timeframe for collecting a late payment. You could forego accrued interest and wait months to recover your initial deposit.

At the time of writing, 12.7% of their total loan count was 31 days or more late on payments. The percentage of late payments has consistently increased over the last few months. However, Upright claims this percentage increase is mainly due to reducing the overall portfolio size rather than a significant increase in delinquent loans. They only show a four-month snapshot when a year-over-year overview would provide a clearer picture.

Liquidity

As with many private investment platforms, exiting your investments early is difficult. Upright has no secondary market, meaning you must wait until your term ends. You should be prepared to hold investments for the specified term and understand that early liquidation may be impossible or result in penalties. That said, Upright's investment products have varying levels of liquidity:

  • BDNs: Terms range from 3 to 24 months, with investors receiving principal and interest payments on loan maturity.
  • PFNFs: Terms of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, with monthly interest payments and principal repayment at maturity.
  • HRIF: A minimum holding period of 12 months and offers quarterly distributions, with the potential for principal return upon fund closure.

Is Upright safe & legit?

Upright appears to be a legitimate platform with a track record of strong historical performance and a focus on transparency. However, as with any investment, there are risks involved. It isn't FDIC-insured, meaning you can lose any non-invested deposits in the event of their bankruptcy.

Your invested funds carry separate risks. This entails impacts on regional real estate markets and issues specific to particular developers and properties. Although Upright promotes a 99.7% principal payout, it doesn't disclose the payouts of interest owed and the average wait time for a late payment.

You'll earn up to a 13% annualized interest rate at best. At worst, you may not receive accrued interest and wait months for your principal investment. Regardless, there's a strong track record of receiving your initial deposit.

Investors should thoroughly research the platform, review offering documents, and consider their financial situation and risk tolerance before investing. It is also recommended to consult with a financial advisor, attorney, or accountant to fully understand the risks associated with real estate investing through Upright.

How to contact Upright

You can contact Upright through email, telephone, or mail. Their general contact info is as follows:

  • Email: info@upright.us
  • Telephone: 646-895-6090
  • Mailing Address, 1300 East 9th Street, Suite 800, Cleveland, OH 44114

For loan-related questions:

For investment-related questions:

Best alternatives

There are numerous real estate crowdfunding websites you can use to invest in real estate these days. Many are equity-based, so you're buying shares of income-generating real estate and usually earn quarterly or annual dividends. But some platforms like Upright also focus on short-term, debt investing.

Highlights Upright Fundrise Groundfloor streitwise
Rating 4/5 4.5/5 4/5 3.5/5
Minimum investments $1,000 $10 $10 $3,515
Account fees No fees for investors 1%/Year No fees for investors 2% annual management fee
Private REIT
- Learn more Read Review Read Review Read Review

Groundfloor is the closest alternative to Upright. The main difference is that the minimum investment amount is $10, and you don't need to be an accredited investor. Since the investing minimum is so low, you can easily diversify your loan portfolio to reduce risk.

Fundrise is another excellent alternative for investing in real estate without much money. It pays quarterly dividends and only charges 1% in annual management fees. Investors have seen an average 4.81% annual return since 2017. 

Streitwise is another alternative you can consider if you're interested in dividends. The platform has generated an average of 7.2% annual dividend in 2022, although fees are higher than Fundrise.

Bottom line

Upright offers a unique approach to real estate investing by focusing on debt-based investments secured by first-position mortgages. With an average annualized return of 10.8%, a 99.7% principal repayment rate, and strict underwriting criteria, Upright can be an attractive option for accredited investors seeking to diversify their portfolios and earn passive income.

However, investors should carefully weigh the potential benefits against the risks and limitations associated with the platform. These include the higher minimum investment requirements, the potential for late or missed interest payments, and difficulty exiting your investment early.

With files from Tom Blake

About our author

Daniel Schoester
Daniel Schoester, Freelance Writer

Daniel is an expert on travel, finance, and SEO. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Here, he learned various SEO tactics that were instrumental in quadrupling monthly traffic to one million views. Now the founder of Croton Content, Daniel helps financial companies scale through evergreen content. Aside from Money Wise, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hardbacon. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.

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