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Episode #25: Crowdfunding with Charles Clinton, CEO of Equity Multiple

In this episode, Millionacres editor Deidre Woollard talks with Charles Clinton, the CEO of Equity Multiple, about crowdfunding, the current market for commercial real estate, and how to allocate assets across different real estate sectors.

Charles Clinton, the CEO of Equity Multiple, a real estate crowdfunding platform for accredited investors. Prior to Equity Multiple, Charles was a real estate attorney with Simpson, Thatcher, & Bartlett where he worked with private equity on many real estate transactions. 


Deidre Woollard: Hello, I'm Deidre Woollard, an editor at Millionacres, and thank you so much for tuning in to the Millionacres podcast. If you've listened to the podcast before, you know how much I believe that real estate crowdfunding is the future. There's just so much potential that we haven't seen fully realized yet. We're still very early days on all of this, which I find very exciting. To explore that topic some more, today, I'm speaking with Charles Clinton, CEO of EquityMultiple, a top crowdfunding platform. Prior to EquityMultiple, Charles was a real estate attorney with Simpson, Thacher, and Bartlett where he worked with private equity on many real estate transactions. Thank you for joining me today. I want to start off talking a little bit about founding of EquityMultiple because I think it mirrors some of the issues that crowdfunding itself is trying to solve. You're a real estate attorney, you're working on these big deals, but you yourself couldn't invest, and that led you to find other solutions, right?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, that's exactly right. First, thanks so much for having me on. You nailed it. I think I saw firsthand this huge disparity between what was happening institutionally, the level of access that Blackstone and those sort of companies had, and then at the individual level, the total lack of access, really only in the form of a handful of investment products that, oftentimes, were pretty bad deals for investors, really, really loaded with fees at that point. So we started EquityMultiple to make real estate investing more accessible, more simple, more transparent for individual investors.

Deidre Woollard: How long has EquityMultiple been around? Can you explain a little bit about the founding of the company? I know there's a relationship between EquityMultiple and Mission Capital, and Mission Capital is now part of Marcus Millichap. You can explain how all that works?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, absolutely. We started back in 2015. My primary partner was in real estate private equity on the buy side. I was the legal half of it and he was really the acquisitions background. When we started, we thought it was important to try to partner with someone who was inside of the industry, really have a strategic partnership as opposed to pursuing venture capital given the type of business it is. Because we're a two-sided business. On the one hand, we of course need to go out and find investors, but on the other hand, we need to find good real estate opportunities. From our perspective, being within the real estate industry, it really all started with how can we find good quality investments to offer on the platform. That's really how the partnership with Mission Capital came around. They are a commercial real estate brokerage firm, been around for about 20 years, and they had, I think, thought about the space a lot themselves, thought about going into it themselves. But rather than launching it as a business line, they decided to invest in us in the early days, and we were able to, in addition to of course the investment, leverage the business they've built, the contacts they've built, the network of operators and deals. That really helped us get a jump start in the early days to building out those sponsorship relationships that are really so important within real estate. The acquisition by Marcus & Millichap is a really, really exciting one. It definitely has a lot of potential for our business in the long term. If you don't know Marcus & Millichap, they're the largest commercial real estate broker in the country by transaction volume and they really dominate what we call the middle market. So deals below, say, $40 million in total value, that's where we spend a lot of our time concentrating. We're really hoping that we can mirror the same partnership we have with Mission Capital with the much larger footprint of Marcus & Millichap.

Deidre Woollard: Interesting. That really opens up a whole new avenue of potential deals and a more rapid pipeline for expansion. Is that how you're seeing that?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, absolutely. I think with any kind of business like ours, it's always the balance of quality and quantity, and the more that we can be evaluating at the top of the funnel, the more things we can see. We can maintain our stringent standards on what actually gets in front of investors, but it all starts with seeing as much yield flow as possible and really putting that through our process of evaluation.

Deidre Woollard: In terms of deals you're evaluating, about how many are you rejecting versus accepting in general?

Charles Clinton: It's varied over time. It fluctuates between five and 10 percent depending on the period. We think that it will never really go higher than that. Honestly, we suspect it will push lower over time just as we see more and more transaction volume for more and more sources.

Deidre Woollard: You work with accredited investors, and one of the things I found interesting about EquityMultiple is you've also done some work with IRA accounts. I know that's a question that we receive at Millionacres a lot. It's very important to a lot of investors to be able to put things in self-directed IRAs and build that retirement account and use real estate crowd funding to do that. What has your experience been like with that?

Charles Clinton: We, of course, hear the same thing. We know investors want to use tax-advantaged funds to invest in real estate and other alternatives. We jumped on that pretty early. We've partnered with about a half dozen IRA custodians, including some of the largest ones that deal with alternatives. I think the bottom line is, if you have IRA funds and you want to invest with us, we will find a way to make that happen. If we're not already working with your current provider, we will see if we can, and if we can't, we'll facilitate the process to transfer funds into one of the providers that we do work with.

Deidre Woollard: Has that been a challenge for you? Do you find that a lot of your developers, or some of them, hesitant to accept self-directed IRA capital, or is it a pretty smooth transition?

Charles Clinton: It's a pretty smooth transition, and that is in part because of the way that we're set up. We set up our own investment vehicle for every investment. We pool investor capital and then we invest with the sponsor. This has a few different advantages as we see it. One, these kind of administrative things, we take that on, we're good at that stuff, it's in the nature of our business. We're operations-focused, we're technology-focused, so even if the sponsor isn't, they don't have to worry about that. But we're also able to essentially achieve collective bargaining power on behalf of the investors. We'll take rights on behalf of the investor group in the underlying transaction. If the sponsor wants to sell the property or refinance the property, we provide an extra layer of protection on behalf of investors.

Deidre Woollard: Excellent. When I read your letter to investors on the EquityMultiple site from last spring, which was of course right in the heart of the coronavirus, you talked about bridge funding as a strategy, so I was really curious about that. Wondering if you could explain what that is and how that worked out for you.

Charles Clinton: Yeah, absolutely. Broadly speaking, bridge funding is deployed for value add and development projects, the type of project where a sponsor is trying to invest heavily in a relatively short period of time to increase value. Think about an apartment building where you have dilapidated old units, and a sponsor wants to go in, put 10 or $20,000 into new units, make everything new and shiny and up to modern standards, increase rent significantly with the goal really being, once this work's complete, they can go out and either, of course, sell it, but often times, refinance it for longer term debt that is significantly cheaper. So you're provided higher cost financing during this period where they're doing the heavy lifting, and then once the lift's over, they can find cheaper capital to replace yield. This has always been one of our strategies. We think it's been a great fit for the crowd investor, in part because you're able to get relatively short duration and a higher return than you are in a more stabilized deal. Part of the reason why we were drawn to it during these periods of volatility like we saw in the spring time is, the world of who's searching for bridge lending tends to expand in these moments of volatility. Banks are afraid to lend, so now, groups that would've gotten a loan from a bank are now turning to someone who is willing to lend at 10 percent instead of at five percent. So even though the underlying project is the same, the opportunity is broader. We definitely were able to get into some interesting deals as a result of the little crisis moment where the capital markets froze up. But this is, like I said, a strategy that is very much core to what we offer at all times, regardless of market cycle. Two other things that we did during this time, we of course have these individual direct deals, but also, funds. So we're working on two different bridge lending funds where these are all loans, it's a diversified pool. So for investors who don't want to pick out every investment, they have the option to come in and invest in a strategy like bridge lending. So we launched one of those at the end of last year and we're launching another one in the next couple of months.

Deidre Woollard: Interesting. Obviously during the heart of the pandemic, you probably saw a more requests. How has that shifted over time? Are you seeing more requests for bridge funding? Are you seeing some of your projects go through a second round of needing capital? How is that playing out for you?

Charles Clinton: Yeah. A little bit of both. I think that the need for that kind of transitionally capital, whether it's for existing projects or ones that people are buying new, is definitely at a high. [laughs] during 2020. As we head into 2021, we're starting to see a slightly different set of opportunities and I expect that's going to change as the year continues. The fact is the private markets lag typically about a year behind the public markets. So while we've seen volatility in real estate, oftentimes, you won't see prices actually start to drop for a while. It makes sense. You have sellers who are hoping things get better, they don't want to sell at a reduced price at a bad moment, but if they're not able, if conditions don't really change, eventually they have to sell. So I think we're getting to that point in the cycle where there's going to be good opportunities for investors, for opportunistic buying. Some of those will need bridge funding, but some of those will just be good things to invest in a classic buy low, sell high. The last couple of years have been really hard to find assets that you would say are good values, but I think that is starting to change right now.

Deidre Woollard: Yeah. I think that's absolutely starting to change and we're seeing so many distressed asset funds start to form, not a lot of deployment yet, but a lot of formation.

Charles Clinton: Yes. Definitely.

Deidre Woollard: I know at the end of the year, EquityMultiple published its asset allocation breakdown, and so speaking to that and the opportunities, hotel and retail properties right now, I'm watching that, I know you've got some exposure to hotels, a little bit of exposure to retail. Are you looking at some of those hotel properties? Some of the CMBS loan stocks that I'm hearing about, there could be a lot of distress this year, hotels in default. Is that something you're looking at as well?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, absolutely. I think that there will be a great middle point between when risk meets opportunity. In 2020, the feeling of just about everyone in the market is, it's a little bit like trying to catch a falling knife. But now that we have the vaccine and that's starting to become more rapid, hopefully we'll see widespread vaccination by midway through 2021, I think everyone's thinking that there's going to be a surge in demand. Personally, and I think on behalf of EquityMultiple, we see a surge in leisure demand as extremely likely. I think there's a huge pent-up leisure demand. I don't know about you but I'm desperate to get out of my house. [laughs]

Deidre Woollard: Exactly, yeah.

Charles Clinton: I think business demand is a little bit more complicated, because look, we're on a Zoom call right now. This is something maybe we would have done face to face a year ago. So I think it's yet to be seen if business travel just sees permanent reductions as a result of this shift in the way that people meet with each other, which will affect parts of the hotel industry, but not all of it. I think we will definitely make a push-back into hotels at some point this year, but we're giving ourselves a little time to see how some of these things begin to shake out and trying to inch our way closer to that point when demand is going to start picking back up. Retail, I think it has more secular challenges. E-commerce was killing retail before this started, and I think it's only accelerated it. I think there's, of course, always a price where things make sense. It's the basic precept of value investing. There's almost always a value that will make you want to invest in something, and I don't think retail is an exception, but I think that there are painful trends that are not going to reverse there. So there may just be a real permanent resetting on price expectations for at least some property types. Retail is a huge sector. Restaurants are different from malls, which are different from fast food. So you have to get a little bit more granular there on where to find value.

Deidre Woollard: That's true, and I think another thing we also saw is essential businesses, essential retail obviously had the big year in 2020 with grocery stores and things like that.

Charles Clinton: Absolutely.

Deidre Woollard: Are you concerned though, especially around New York and some of the hotels, and those assets just not coming back in terms of like conferences and things like that? Are some of those hotels you think just going to go under?

Charles Clinton: They'll certainly change hands. I think that whether they'll actually change use will depend. My guess is that the answer is no and that somebody will come in and we'll get them for the right price, and they may be buying it from the lender or buying it in a foreclosure. I'm a big believer in New York. I've heard about the death of New York many, many times, and I'm not even that old. People who are a generation older than me I think [inaudible 00:16:07] have seen it even in larger cycles. I think hotel will come back when tourism comes back. To me, that is 100 percent tied to vaccination and what we see with managing the coronavirus nationally and globally for a city like New York.

Deidre Woollard: Absolutely. We talked a little bit about bridge funding, and also on EquityMultiple at the end of the year, you broke down where different investments fall inside the capital stack. Wondering if you can explain, first of all for listeners, just a refresher on what the capital stack is, and also, why participate in different sections of the capital stack? Does that help with diversification? How do you think about that?

Charles Clinton: The capital stack basically refers to the different types of investments that make up all the capital that are required to do a project. For most real estate investments, that's going to involve a senior loan which is coming from a bank or some other kind of lender, and equity which is provided by a combination of investors, and the actual project sponsor or operator. Just like with your house, the loan gets paid back first, it earns a fixed return, the equity gets paid back last, then it earns the upside. The basic dynamic is more risk, more return. In the institutional world, it's common to have additional financing that sits in between debt and equity. That can either be in the form of another loan as mezzanine debt or it can be as preferred equity, which is again, somewhere in between debt and equity basically. For both risk and return, these kind of investments sit in the middle of the senior loan and the equity. You have some upside, but also, some downside protection. Part of our innovation I think as a company is offering investors the chance to participate at all three levels, in the debt, in this middle tier, and in the equity. That way, you're able to diversify your basic risk and return structure. So in some projects, you might want something that is like senior debt which your risk is really managed but your potential for return is very, very capped. In other cases where you feel really strongly about the potential for the upside in a project, you'll want to be in the equity and try to get a piece of that upside recognizing that there's more risk there. We really want to let every investor balance that for their own portfolio and what their goals are.

Deidre Woollard: Interesting. So as someone diversifies their portfolio into real estate crowdfunding, they can also further diversify, of course, by sectors, but also by types of funding?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, absolutely. I think our ultimate goal is to help you build something that's personalized to you. I think people think of real estate as a monolithic thing, but just like the stock market, it's not at all monolithic. We're here to provide a diverse suite of options and let you really slowly build something that's customized to your portfolio goals. Whether that's going to be 10 percent of your portfolio or 20 percent of your portfolio, whatever it is, we see it as a strong compliment to what you're doing with stocks and bonds.

Deidre Woollard: Will that also tie to depending on what your individual financial goals are if you're saving for kids college, or saving for retirement, or things like that?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, of course. We tend to see, of course, our younger investors are more oriented towards upside of risks and our older investors tend to be more income-oriented and downside protection-oriented. But really, the whole point of our model is, you're not investing in a fund. While you may invest in a fund as part of your strategy, but you're not just saying, "Here's my money. Go do what you will." You can really tailor it to exactly what you want and that may change over time.

Deidre Woollard: Obviously, 2020, really strange, really anomalous year, and we all learned so much. Moving forward, how do you future-proof against other potential crises? What did your company really learn?

Charles Clinton: It's a great question. As unprecedented as 2020 was, and obviously, the thing that triggered the recession is not something we ever could have foreseen, we were always thinking about when is the recession coming because it's just the nature of business cycles. There's always going to be a next recession and we were fortunate to have an incredibly long bull run. But I think we were thinking, even as early as our founding, how are we going to deal with a recession. Maybe this is just having lived through the last one and everyone having the scars of that. But future-proofing, I think, is how all investors should be thinking, or at least have it in the back of their minds. Our business model is I think distinct from some of our competitors in a couple of ways. One, what I mentioned before, we're really trying to get key rights in investments on behalf of investors, so basically be a bit of a watchdog on the actual sponsor or operator. Not to say that they don't know what they're doing. They're all great professional companies, they all have track records, but it does help to have another set of protective eyes on behalf of investors always. I'm a strong believer in that. I think that also plays into active asset management. We have a whole team that's dedicated to just monitoring performance of how investments are doing, working with the sponsors to try to maximize strategy. During, of course, the early onset of the pandemic, we were providing resources about how to get PPP loans, other state-run programs that they might be eligible for. Our goal is to not just provide value to our customer by offering them access. It's really to provide value all the way through to the point of sale. I think, really, all the events in 2020 reinforce some of the things that we were already doing and have made us double down on those. I think there's things, of course, around the edges, around how we set up deals that I think we will take away as real lessons, but some of the lessons are honestly about just our business and making it more efficient. Operating of course in this remote way, I think, [inaudible 00:25:00] challenges that every business went through that moved from being in person to being remote and more fully online.

Deidre Woollard: Did it change how you evaluated in deals? I mean, obviously, you couldn't go check things out in person. Did you find yourself relying more on data? How did that work out for you?

Charles Clinton: Yeah, definitely. We always have tried to take a very data-heavy approach and also build into networks in local markets where we're operating, relying on whether it's local brokers who are not connected to the deal, people in the local lending community. You're always trying to find a combination of purely qualitative information that we can pull through databases and the software factors that are really hyper-local. Recreating those software factors is definitely the more challenging part but this did force us to get creative and do some learning on the fly.

Deidre Woollard: Obviously, we're starting a new administration. There are going to be secondary and tertiary and a whole bunch of stimulus programs both on the federal level and individual states and localities. Are you seeing that as having an impact on any of your business in any way?

Charles Clinton: Stimulus has definitely worked for real estate. I think we see it not just in our deals but in market studies. The effective stimulus is real. It did help I think improve what would otherwise be higher vacancy rates, higher delinquency rates, particularly for things like apartments. I think the effect on the office sector and businesses is a little bit more murky and a little bit more uneven, but at least in terms of multi-family where we've focused a lot of our efforts in 2020, the effect was felt. So I do think extending that may get us through some of the problems that you'd otherwise expect in 2021 as some of the underlying recessionary pressures that are still there start to bubble up to the surface when they're not covered up as much by stimulants. I think the extent of stimulus and the extent of the recession are, of course, still yet to be seen, and they're competing a little bit, but we are optimistic that this is going to continue to bridge us through a period that could've been a lot rougher.

Deidre Woollard: Excellent. Thank you. You came into real estate I know from the legal side of things. One of the things I've been watching in real estate crowdfunding is we had some rule changes last year from the SEC. Do you feel like they're going to be more rule changes around crowdfunding and who can invest in the future?

Charles Clinton: I think so. Definitely, this was a big slate of changes relative to what's happened over the last few years, so I don't think that there's going to be another series like this over the near term. But it does seem like there's so much momentum behind real estate crowdfunding right now. Companies which just a few years ago were in the tens of millions of dollars are now in the hundreds of millions and the billions, and the more this becomes a large and legitimized portion of the broader real estate investing sphere, I think the more that the SEC has to tackle it and ideally help facilitate it. Bigger picture, I think that the SEC definitely seems to recognize right now that there has to be a new middle ground between what's happening in public companies and what's happening in the private markets. There's so much of the market has moved into the gray world of private markets. I think the SEC is very much trying to shed some light on some of it, move it to a more structured middle ground between private and public so that they can have a little bit of oversight on it, but also, so that access for investors can be improved and safer, and all the things that the SEC is doing from a mission perspective.

Deidre Woollard: I have to ask as a regulation A investor myself, are you planning on doing a regulation A fund, or doing anything that involves working with non-accredited investors?

Charles Clinton: We don't have immediate plans to expand to non-accredited investors. It's not on our roadmap for 2021, but ultimately, the answer is absolutely yes. We see expanding access to commercial real estate as a key part of our mission, as I said at the top. That means expanding it to all sorts of investors, not just the credited ones.

Deidre Woollard: Thank you. I watched your video, your Teams video from the end of 2020, and there was something that really stood out to me that I want to ask you about. Your partner, Marious, mentioned the mobile home sector. We haven't seen a lot of investment in real estate crowdfunding in mobile homes, but he had mentioned Blackstone has invested in that space recently. That always makes my ears perk up a little bit. What are you thinking about mobile homes as an investment class?

Charles Clinton: They're a really interesting sector and we've participated a few times over the years. Mobile home investing has been slow to institutionalize. I think there's a few reasons for that. One, it's really operationally intensive, and there's, of course, just a pure stigma on it. The other is just deal size. For Blackstone, they don't want to do things that don't end in a billion, and that becomes really hard in a sector like mobile homes where, unless you have a truly enormous one, a more typical 50-150 lot mobile home, it just doesn't cost enough, frankly. While that is a headwind for institutional investment, it really does create opportunity for companies like ours that are trying to operate in the world where institutional capital [inaudible 00:31:02] the world where there's less competition. I think there's a lot to like about mobile homes. The cap rates and cash yields tend to be attractive. They're higher than what you see in multi-family, sometimes significantly so. They've proven to be really recession-resistant. The fact is that giving up your home is the absolute last thing that you're going to do, so you find a way to pay your rent. The other piece, and this is really important, is that new supply is incredibly rare. New supply is really, really important to whether an investment is going to be successful. In some cities, you can have a new apartment building go up right next to yours and that can really crush the sort of rental returns that you're expecting. People do not want new mobile homes built in their towns and that stigma really becomes a major barrier to entry. The number of new mobile home developments that has been authorized across the country is shockingly small. You have real year-over-year growth in total supply and multi-family that you just don't see, which should make it an interesting long-term investment.

Deidre Woollard: I think it also speaks to the need for workforce housing too. I mean, seems to me that mobile home committees could be a big solution in that area. But as you said, a lot of towns really fight that. You don't find the funding for it in the same way that you find traditional construction. So I think there are a lot of challenges. At the same time, like you said, there's also a lot of opportunity.

Charles Clinton: Yeah. When opportunity zones launch, one of the investments we worked on there was a opportunity zone mobile home fund, and they were able to work within the regulations provided for opportunity zones with the strategy just focused on mobile homes and workforce housing. I think you're absolutely right. If you can figure out a way to scale it effectively, it not only provides good returns to investors but can really help the total housing supply in a way that's needed.

Deidre Woollard: You mentioned opportunity zones, so I have to ask how you're feeling about those now. It seems like we're probably going to have potentially some shifts. It's still an evolving program. What are you and the team thinking about right now when it comes to opportunity zones?

Charles Clinton: It's a complicated sector, one that we have not offered new investments in recently. That was driven in first by the pandemic. I think people's focus on reinvesting their capital gains obviously disappeared there for a while as the market wiped out a lot of capital gains. We're looking at it again now that the market has surged back and I think people are thinking about whether it's the right time to pull out some money.

Deidre Woollard: Another thing I found that was interesting in that year-end video was about the fact that crowdfunding fills in a particular niche that's like a Goldilocks. Its projects, they're too small maybe for giant institutional investors but maybe not quite too big for individuals. So what does that really mean? Aside from, of course, Mission Capital and Marcus Millichap, how else do you find those deals?

Charles Clinton: Our view is that there's tremendous opportunity in the kind of $5-40 million total deal size. It's the largest part of the market by transaction volume. As you said, it's too small for big institutional investors. The fact is, for a fund like Blackstone that has $20 billion to deploy, they're just never going to be able to do it, doing it 10 or 20 or $30 million at a time. They want to make billion-dollar investments so they can allocate that capital quickly. This really means that there's less capital competition, and that's really important, I think, for investors. This whole world is very, very fragmented compared to bigger deal sizes, which means that you tend to find better value there, and that's really what's attracted us to it. In terms of finding deal flow, we have a huge number of sources, its broker partnerships, whether that's the one with Mission or with small local brokerages, it's really all over the map. We have a team that does direct outreach, so we will look at a target market, we will find out who the major players are in it through searching databases, contact them, try to set up relationships and meetings the old fashioned way. We have direct inbound all the time. Look, we're a web-based company, so the same sort of advertising we do to attract investors, we do to attract new sponsors and new relationships. Our view is really the more that you can have at the top of the funnel, the better, because ultimately, we trust our evaluation process to sort what's worth doing and what's not.

Deidre Woollard: Did the pandemic change how you're feeling about geography in general? We touched on New York a little bit earlier, but one of the things that everyone keeps talking about is migration, Sun Belt cities, companies moving to Texas, companies moving to Florida. What's your take on all of that?

Charles Clinton: You're always trying to separate the signal and the noise with this stuff to a certain degree and what's going to be an immediate trend versus what's a long-term one. Certainly, the Sun Belt low tax trend is one that had been there before the pandemic started, and I think it's just accelerated. I think that is very much a real thing. But on the other hand, I also don't think there is a death at the Gateway city. I think that you'll see a material bounce-back, whether it's LA or New York, the places really hit hardest over the last year, some time over the next few years. I think unlike the multi-family side, we've been targeting those kind of South East cities for the last few years, and we'll continue to do that. We've honestly operated outside of those core markets largely, the biggest ones, in part because the costs there are just at a totally different point. One, deal sizes are much larger and we do like to stay in that kind of sub-$40 million deal size typically, which really limits you in major cities like New York. But the other pieces, the cap rates, the yields that you're buying are also all lower in those markets. So we've always liked the value proposition of the secondary markets, particularly when you start layering on the demographic data that's so positive.

Deidre Woollard: At Millionacres, we see a lot of people, often experienced stock market investors, but totally new to real estate and to crowdfunding. Wondering if you see that too and what your advice is for someone who's new to crowdfunding and trying to get interested, try to maybe think about their first deal.

Charles Clinton: It's a great question, and we of course do. That's a huge percentage of our investors. I think first and foremost, the answer is education. Take some time to learn a little bit about real estate investing, a little bit about what the sector looks like, who the different players are, and what your options are. I think that companies like Millionacres doing it from a more surely educational perspective, but also companies like us, we spend a ton of time producing educational content. Luckily, in the age of Internet investing, there is a lot out there that investors interested can go out and start learning the basics. The other thing we always encourage is to just ask questions. As much as we are an Internet business, we're also one that has people on the other end of the phone. So if you don't feel comfortable about something, you have a question about how something works, pick up a phone and see who answers, and make sure you get the answers that satisfy you. Just like investing in anything, you want to understand who you're investing with and what you're investing in.

Deidre Woollard: Absolutely. I'd like to end on a fun question. If you could be part of the development of any real estate project current, throughout history, anything, what would it be?

Charles Clinton: That's a good one. I'm definitely a believer that the most glamorous project is not the best investment. I think we've very much built our business on that. That being said, I would say as a professional, I'm most drawn to challenges. So I think I would go with One World Trade. I'm a born and raised New Yorker. I think the World Trade Center is a big part of both the city and the country's history. So being involved in a project like that I think would feel personally and professionally fulfilling. But it was also just so enormously complex. You have so many stakeholders involved and you're balancing everything from honoring the victims to very practical things like this enormous insurance case. Then ultimately, you're getting into something that is iconic, rebuilding a tower that redefines the skyline.

Deidre Woollard: I love that. Well, thank you very much for your time today.

Charles Clinton: Thanks so much for having me.

Deidre Woollard: Just a reminder, listeners, you can find out more at Stay well and stay invested.