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Bergfürst Analysis

Real Estate Debt
Real Estate Crowdfunding
Explore Bergfürst

Last updated in April 2024.

What is Bergfürst?

Founded in 2011, Bergfürst is a German real estate crowdfunding platform based in Berlin that acts as a broker, connecting investors with property projects primarily in Germany, Austria, and Mallorca, Spain. Bergfürst also originates loans, providing real estate companies access to mezzanine capital for their project development or the refinancing of their existing properties. The platform is regulated as an investment broker by Germany’s regulatory authority, the Deutsche Industrie und Handelskammer.

Registration on the platform is open to both individuals and companies. Individuals must meet a minimum age requirement of 18 years.[1] While Bergfürst does not explicitly state whether its platform is exclusively for investors in German-speaking countries, it is noteworthy that the website is solely accessible in the German language. Since its launch, Bergfürst has raised more than €192.28 million, with an average monthly volume of €0.61 million in the last 12 months.[2] The platform boasts a community of 113,500 investors.[3]

Key Takeaways

  • Bergfürst facilitates investments in property projects mainly across Germany, Austria, and Mallorca, Spain.
  • The platform originates loans to real estate companies, providing mezzanine capital for project development or refinancing existing properties.
  • Investments start at €10, with loan terms ranging from 2 to 54 months.
  • New investments incur no subscription fees, but there is a €10 charge for secondary market transactions and a 10% management fee on escrow deposits.

How Bergfürst Works

Bergfürst acts as a broker connecting investors with real estate firms in need of mezzanine capital for development or refinancing. Also a loan originator, the platform addresses the gap left by banking regulations, which limit banks to covering only 60%-70% of property funding. This leaves real estate companies to seek mezzanine capital for the remaining 30%-40%, a service facilitated by Bergfürst. Investors have the opportunity to invest in these loans, which start at a minimum of €10.[4]

Among the active campaigns, investment durations range from 2 to 54 months, with project targets varying from €1.69 million to €6 million. Bergfürst offers subordinated secured bank loans typically ranked second in priority after first-tier financing. These junior loans are backed by material assets.[5]

Interests are paid annually or at the end of the term, depending on the project, with the principal returned at loan maturity.[6] Bergfürst offers a secondary market for investors to sell their investments before term completion. The platform does not offer an auto-invest feature for queuing new investments. However, Bergfürst does provide mobile apps available on the Apple Store and Google Play, making it easy to browse for new investment opportunities.

Bergfürst deducts tax on interest payments during the offer phase. In the secondary market, investors may encounter additional capital gains taxes, which can be claimed accordingly on tax returns.[7]

Bergfürst Returns & Fees

Among the active campaigns, Bergfürst offers interest rates ranging from 6% to 10%.[8] Since its launch, the platform has paid out a total of €122.47 million. However, advanced statistics, including overdue loan rates and default rates, have not been disclosed.

For investors, subscriptions to new investments are free. However, there are €10 fees for purchases and sales on the secondary market. Bergfürst also applies a 10% management fee on escrow account deposits, calculated based on the original investment amount. Additionally, there is a €30 charge if investors contact the platform via email or telephone.[9] However, the platform has not disclosed the fees applied to borrowers. Bergfürst generates revenue through service fees and brokerage fees collected from loan originations and various service fees.

Bergfürst Management

Dr. Guido Sandler is the founder of Bergfürst and currently serves as the platform’s CEO. Before starting Bergfürst, he held leadership roles at Berlinereffektenbank AG and E*Trade Bank AG. Alongside him is Dennis Bemmann, who initially served as the CTO before transitioning to the supervisory board after playing a crucial role in establishing the platform. He also founded the German Young Researchers Network in 2000 and later established studiVZ, Germany’s leading website with 17 million active members, before transitioning to supporting young technology companies as an investor from 2007 onwards.

Dr. Guido Sandler is the largest shareholder of Bergfürst AG. The second-largest shareholder is Commerz Real AG, a subsidiary of Commerzbank, with approximately a 24.9% stake in the company.[10] Other notable investors in Bergfürst include Axel Springer, Digital Ventures, and Berliner Volksbank Ventures.[11]

Special Considerations

According to Bergfürst’s financial statements, as reported on the German Company Register, in the fiscal year 2022, the platform realised retained earnings of €70,811.02 for the first time. From its inception until the fiscal year 2021, Bergfürst had accumulated losses totalling €6.43 million, which were offset by its FY21 capital reserves of €12.01 million. Consequently, Bergfürst’s capital reserves in FY22 stand at €5.79 million.[12]

Bergfürst recently faced controversy for allegedly concealing conflicts of interest linked to the “Courtyard Hotel Laxenburg” project in Austria. Investors were unaware that their funds primarily served to repay a loan issued by a company also owned by Bergfürst’s CEO, leading to the project’s failure and significant financial losses.[13]

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