In 2016, the JOBS act was passed and a whole lot of stuff was enacted but something cool that happened was that you now didn’t have to be an accredited investor to buy a ownership share in a private company. An accredited investor is someone who makes $200k or more a year or has $1 million in assets but now any jo shmo down the street could invest.
If you are a black person like me who spends a lot of time on Instagram you might have already seen Instagram posts about the “Tulsa Real Estate Fund”. I saw a lot of debate in the posts and I saw what I thought was a lot of easily susceptible people potentially losing their hard earned money so I wanted to make this article.
What is the Tulsa Real Estate Fund? Who is behind it?
The Tulsa Real Estate Fund claims to be “the first 100% Black-Owned SEC Regulated Tier 2 Investing crowd fund and economic vehicle inspired by the historic Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma.” Which by the way not to get into semantics is a confusing statement in itself because it isn’t clear on whether they are saying they are the first “Black Owned SEC Regulated Tier 2 investing crowd fund” or “Black Owned SEC Regulated Tier 2 investing crowd fund and economic vehicle INSPIRED by the historic Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma”. There is a difference between the two but that isn’t the real point of this article, just something to note.
This company is headed by Jay Morrison and Ernestine Johnson who market themselves as a young black power couple trying to do something revolutionary. Jay Morrison on his personal instagram lists his profession or jobs as “CEO • Fund Manager • Private Lender • Coach • Author • Speaker • Community Organizer” and from Ernestine’s Instagram I’ve gathered that she is an author and actress.
The first time I saw a post about this fund was a couple days ago and at first I was excited like I am sure many others who have seen the instagram ads/posts. The prospect of investing in a crowd funded real estate business for and by black people sounds great. But I soon realized that this was and is probably going to be an American Greed episode in the future.
Why? Well here is a whole host of reasons.
They aren’t based in Tulsa.
They are named after the original black wall street a neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was burnt down in 1921. Hell the IPO is today (June 1st) and marks the anniversary of when that terrible incident occurred. Due to this is probably why some people posting on Instagram and Twitter and other platforms seem to think that this fund is based in Tulsa or will be trying to rebuild the original black wall street. But that isn’t the case at all they are simply paying homage to it.
They aren’t buying a town.
On the Instagram post above they claim they are looking to buy a town. But on the website this town isn’t discussed, in fact on the IPO page all I see is references to a hotel, the “temple project”, and “the indigo temple hotel project”.
That’s just in the QnA section but maybe they will say something in their investment thesis description on the page? Nope they do not.
But then again I noticed after rereading the instagram post it does say “The couple will partner with investors in the Fund to potentially purchase 60 acres of a 100-acre town.”
Well that’s funny because I myself am also looking to potentially buy a town.
Your paying for someone else’s gamble
We now know from more information being put out by the fund that they are looking to raise $50 million because that is what they authorized to raise up to over a twelve-month period as a Tier 2 Real Estate crowdfund. Generally, the average fund raises $18.2 million.
Currently as of this update at 5:32 pm EST time, they have raised $4,355,000 with their IPO. Mind you that’s 18% more then what I saw 2 hours ago so investments are coming in fast. But here’s the thing, the reason why I say you are paying for someone else’s gamble is because before the IPO, the Company had $0 in cash and total liabilities of $15,350.the Company had $0 in cash and total liabilities of $15,350.
Meaning that the investors are the only ones who face to lose money from this deal. I don’t know about you but if I am investing in someone’s business I want them to have a vested interest in the business. Otherwise they are simply playing with my money and ultimately they won’t work as hard as someone who has money involved and doesn’t want to lose it. Jay Morrison and his team are going to get a 5.5% management fee + 50% of the profits yet possibly own no shares.
This is not a stock in the normal sense.
In a normal IPO, you would be able to buy a share and then sell it whenever you want. This is not the case with this investment however I did read on their site that they plan to have a market place where investors can privately sell their shares to each other once the company has sold the 1,000,000 initial shares. But that’s a lot of if’s and when’s.
Also though this is an IPO and you are buying shares of the company. Once you purchase your minimum amount of $500, they own your money for the next year. After one year, only then can you attempt to withdraw your funds and if they don’t have enough cash on hand to give you back the money, they are not obligated to liquidate assets and will pay you back on a “pro rata basis” which essentially just means in portions whenever they can.
Discrepancies and I don’t mean spelling errors.
In one of the questions in the QnA part of the IPO page someone says that they see spelling errors but they don’t care cause they are about the money. Well if they were to really be paying attention they would see beyond just the spelling errors. I can live with spelling errors, hell I am sure this article itself is filled with a few. But like the old adage says women lie, men lie, numbers don’t.
On the IPO page they originally said they are looking to raise 10 million with their IPO on June 1st.
but then if you look at the FAQ portion, there’s a question about the crowdfunding goal being currently $2.4 million.
So are you looking for $10 million or $2.4?
Update (6/1/2018): If you go on the IPO page now where the invest button is, right above it is a section called Max. Raise and it now says $50 million instead of the original $10 million Max. Raise, which you will see in the 2nd picture above this paragraph.
Honestly this is what I think is happening right now.
Mr. Morrison and his partner Ms. Johnson have a great idea but they are either actively trying to scam people or just simply don’t have everything really worked out. They have the idea but not the real experience and know how to accomplish it or they are hoping to fake it till they make it.
Personally It’s frustrating because in my opinion what they are banking on is that there are going to be thousands of black people without investing experience or knowledge who are going to sign up for this.
They are also banking on all the people like me, who will be called detractors or haters, or someone who doesn’t want to see a “young black couple succeed and do right for their community”. All those comments on IG will only motivate and fuel the people that have the right idea at heart of wanting to support a good cause by us and for us but are ultimately going to lose their money.
It’s a great idea.
But unfortunately I just don’t see this as being legit.
Editors note: Besides my own research, I got some great info for this article from the article about the Tulsa Real Estate Fund, from the Ivy Investor who talks about some of the things I address in this article and more. You should also go read it before you invest.
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