Jorge Newbery was one of the first people I met when I joined the crowdfunding world. I heard him speak forcefully about how he used the trials of his past to bring about massive change in his personal life and to create a business that could change other lives too. That business is American Homeowner Preservation, a crowdfunding platform that pools underperforming mortgages into investment vehicles while allowing financially at-risk tenants to stay in their homes. It’s like a neighborhood stabilization program wrapped up in a crowdfunding website. Jorge and I recently spoke about his work.
EP: What gets you up every morning?
Jorge: 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. 43% of Americans spend more than they make. In 2013, the average net worth of America’s 400 richest rose by $800 million each, while the median net worth of African-American families dropped to $4,995, poorer than the average household in India. For the sake of everyone, rich and poor, we must correct this situation. The rising income and net worth gaps in our country must be reversed. American Homeowner Preservation helps mitigate this situation. At this point, our impact is very, very modest. There are millions of families in need and we help just thousands. We need to attract more capital and strengthen our infrastructure and processes in order to help many more families.
What do you love about what you do?
AHP is a market solution to a social problem. With Wall Street’s often-predatory financial products, there is typically a winner (Wall Street) and a loser (consumer). AHP generates strong returns for our investors, but it’s not off the backs off consumers – it’s by sharing the discounts we negotiate with the banks and hedge funds which sell us non-performing mortgages. The only perceived “loser” is the banks and hedge funds, but they are selling to us at prices they would sell to someone else for, so even the banks and hedge funds “win.” To answer directly, I love that we can deliver transformative financial solutions to struggling families and generate strong returns for investors.
How did you happen on crowdfunding? What does it solve for you?
I saw an Angel List listing for RealtyMogul in early 2013 and made an investment in their first online offering: that was my introduction to equity crowdfunding. The ability to share our offerings was the biggest for me. Now, with Regulation A+, we also have the ability to accept non-accredited investors with investments as small as $100, which ties in perfectly with our social mission: it’s no longer just the rich helping the poor, but now just about anyone can participate.