Small Change enables everyday people to invest in real estate projects that change cities and neighborhoods for the better. With minimums as low as $250, it's an easy and accessible way to diversify into real estate investments while promoting affordability, environmental goals, and local communities—rather than fighting against them.
Let's take a closer look at some reasons you may want to consider Small Change, as well as some drawbacks to keep in mind.
Who is Small Change?
Eve Picker is the Founder and CEO of Small Change. Among other things, she's developed a dozen buildings in blighted neighborhoods, founded the non-profit cityLAB, built Pittsburgh's first tiny house, organized a speaker series, and established Pittsburgh's first co-working space. She also hosts a weekly podcast series about real estate impact investing.
Small Change enables real estate developers to raise capital from everyday people to build high-impact projects. Offerings must score at least 60% on its Small Change Index to use the platform, which considers factors like walkability, bike-friendliness, affordable housing, green features, and location near underserved communities.
Each opportunity offers different risk and reward characteristics. For example, many deals are preferred equity with a mix of interest/dividends along with profit-sharing on the backend. The opportunities also include a lot of background information about how they help the community or reflect environmental priorities, making them impact investments.
Why you might sign up
Many investors use real estate to diversify their investment portfolios. After all, you can generate monthly or quarterly rental income from tenants while locking in upside from any increase in property value. Real estate investment trusts, or REITs, and eREITs like Fundrise, have opened up these investments to the masses.
The problem with real estate investments is that they typically contribute to the housing affordability crisis. For example, Fundrise uses investor capital to buy up residential housing that it rents out. In addition to pushing up housing prices, many of these projects maximize income by building subdivisions of single-family homes.
Small Change lets you invest in real estate that changes communities for the better. For example, a project might convert a hotel into a multi-family residential apartment building, increasing population density. Other projects focus on urban revival Opportunity Zone projects or creating permanent affordable housing through BIPOC cooperatives.
Why you might pass
Small Change structures real estate deals through Regulation CF (Crowdfunding), enabling anyone to invest in deals previously reserved for high net worth individuals. Of course, these deal structures are typically more complex than a simple stock, bond, or fund, meaning there's a learning curve for retail investors.
Investing in individual real estate deals also translates to less diversification. For example, REITs and eREITs have large portfolios of hundreds of properties. So, if one property fails, the rest of the portfolio can absorb the losses and maintain returns. If a Small Change project fails, you could be out your entire investment amount.
Finally, private real estate deals have little to no liquidity. For instance, if you invest in a publicly-traded REIT, you can sell it anytime for cash. However, Small Change deals are not listed on any exchange, nor do they offer guaranteed liquidity. As a result, you will typically have to hold the project through completion to receive your money back.
The bottom line
Small Change provides a unique platform for anyone to invest in real estate deals that improve communities and the environment. As long as you understand the risk of these investments, they are an excellent way to diversify your portfolio into real estate and realize attractive potential returns while simultaneously meeting your impact goals.