Since the onset of the Opportunity Zone program, one of the main requirements for investing in OZ assets has been that the investment must be done through a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund.
Before you make the decision to put your investment capital in one of these ventures however, it is important to understand how these funds work, where they are, and how an LLC or a corporation can become a qualified fund.
We’ll set out to answer these questions below.
What is an Opportunity Zone Fund?
An Opportunity Zone Fund is an investment vehicle whose main purpose is to facilitate capital investments in Opportunity Zone assets located in the United States.
These funds can be formed as an LLC, corporation, or partnership, and they can invest in either real estate or businesses located in Opportunity Zones.
A Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund must hold, or intend to hold, at least 90% of its assets within Opportunity Zones. Otherwise, the fund’s investors will not qualify for the program’s tax benefits.
Finding an Opportunity Zone Fund to Invest In
Understanding how QOFs work is only the first step. Next, you need to choose a fund that matches your investment objectives.
The couple of options here depend on how much decision-making power you would like to have as an investor, or in other words, whether or not you should establish your own QOF.
More sophisticated, hands-on investors, for example, may choose to self-certify and chase down specific assets on their own, whereas passive investors may prefer to leave the heavy lifting to an already-established fund.
Self-certifying as an Opportunity Fund is actually very simple. All you need to do is fill out the IRS Form 8996, and submit it with your yearly tax filings.
This form has twofold purpose. First, it is a way for LLCs, partnerships, and corporations to establish and certify themselves as an Opp Fund. Second, it allows these companies to report that the fund has met its investment standard in the preceding tax year.
As we mentioned above, self-certifying as a QOF allows more freedom in the investment process. As long as your fund meets the 90% mark, investment properties can be chosen freely.
In addition, some large Opportunity Funds charge fees for investing or have an investment amount minimum. In order to avoid these stipulations, seasoned investors can simply establish a new LLC with their existing investment team and start making moves immediately.
Investors who choose self-certification will need to identify the Opportunity Zone properties their fund will be investing in, and tools like Reonomy can make this process very easy and efficient.
<h4″>Find Opportunity Zone Real Estate With Reonomy
Their database includes information on all asset classes other than single-family homes, as well as layers of sales, debt, tenant, and ownership data on individual properties that can be used for detailed property analysis.
For example, if you are only interested in a specific region of the country, you can use Reonomy OffMarket to search for Opportunity Zone properties in any state, city, MSA, county, zip code, and neighborhood, or even search by an exact address.
Furthermore, you can add filters for specific sales and property debt characteristics, or search for specific owners and tenants.
Reonomy also features property ownership and contact information, so you can easily find the name of the owning LLC or party, as well as the individuals associated with it, their address, phone number, and more.
By investing in off-market properties you identified directly with Reonomy, you can save on broker fees, avoid the competition of other buyers, and minimize the number of people involved in a transaction.
In other words, you can save on your initial Opportunity Zone investment, and then sit on the property and collect even grander tax benefits for years to come.
Find an Existing Opportunity Zone Fund
As we mentioned earlier, more passive investors may choose to join an existing Opportunity Fund instead of self-certifying.
It is important however, that you first understand how well the fund’s investment strategy aligns with yours in terms of asset classes, target markets, and level of development and risk.
There are a number of qualified funds all across the country, and their investment focus can be nationwide, regional, or even as targeted as a single city or neighborhood.
The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) and Novogradac both provide extensive Opportunity Fund directories, which categorize different funds by the area and asset type they specialize in. See those here:
Below, we will review an assortment of Opportunity Zone Funds in order to give you an idea of the range of options out there.
Fundrise is one of the largest Opportunity Funds in the country, serving investors nationwide and specializing in a variety of commercial and residential real estate asset types.
In addition to being an investment vehicle, the fund provides a great deal of information on the Opportunity Zone program, and serves as a thought leader in the industry. Their website even includes a savings calculator so you can see your potential QOF savings over time.
EquityMultiple is another nationally focused Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund that invests capital in both commercial and residential real estate. Similarly to Fundrise, the company seeks to also inform investors about Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds through their website.
Fundrise and EquityMultiple are two of the largest, most extensive vehicles that investors can turn to.
Cresset-Diversified QOZ Fund
Cresset Partners offers a nationwide Opportunity Fund, called the Cresset-Diversified QOZ Fund. It allows its members to invest in multi family, office, industrial, retail, student housing, hospitality properties, and more.
Much like the aforementioned funds, Cresset also provides a wide range of Opportunity Zone information to their website visitors, including a timeline visualization of how the tax benefits unfold over time.
The Gateway Opportunity Fund
Based in St. Louis, The Gateway Opportunity Fund is primarily focused on investments in the local metro area, however it also has growing opportunities across other regions of the country.
What sets Gateway apart from other funds is the fact that their investment efforts are backed by hard assets and deliver significant returns.
Loyalty Opportunity Fund
Another nationwide fund, Loyalty Opportunity Fund invests primarily in small business, as opposed to physical real estate.
John Hewitt, who has established around 5,000 franchises in his career, is behind the Loyalty Fund. Its main goal is to invest in new small business development in Opportunity Zones around the country.
Obsidian Opportunity Fund
Obsidian Opportunity Fund specializes in solar and other renewable energy developments nationwide. The company takes on projects of various sizes, but claims that “no development is too large,” even referencing a professional sports stadium as an example.
Propel Opportunity Fund
Propel Opportunity Fund has set a goal of raising $450 million for investment in real estate projects located in Opportunity Zones across the United States.
Propel is an example of a fund with a threshold, as the minimum required investment to join is $100,000.
Sixty West Funds
Sixty West Funds is a QOF offering nationwide opportunities to investors interested in mixed-use properties—including multi family, hospitality, office, and retail.
The company offers custom funds for investors of different levels, including individuals, family shops, and large investment groups, and caters to their specific location and asset type requirements.
Virtua Opportunity Fund I
Virtua Opportunity Fund I is focused on multi family developments in Opportunity Zones across the United States.
Another early thought leader of the Opportunity Zones program, Virtua has been sharing insights, information, and webinars since early 2018.
Caliber has a diverse set of Opportunity Zone investments across the nation for those looking to take advantage of the program’s tax benefits.
Through the Caliber Tax Advantaged Opportunity Zone Fund, the Caliber Diversified Opportunity Fund II, the Caliber Residential Advantage Fund, and the Caliber Fixed Income Fund III, investors can buy into hospitality, multi family, single family, and commercial properties.
There are a number of Qualified Opportunity Funds that have “upcoming” funds or have a fund “in the works.” Given the timely nature of the program, these funds establish their online presence long before allowing partners to begin investing.
Not Sikari Luxe, however. This fund was founded in 2018, and for awhile was one of the few Opportunity Funds actually accepting investors.
Sikari Luxe is focused specifically on Florida Opportunity Zones, with available funds in Tampa, Miami, Orlando, and St. Augustine. They also have a Florida Recovery Opportunity Fund aimed towards properties in storm-damaged areas.
Based in California, Urban Catalyst is an Opportunity Fund that invests primarily in San Jose and Oakland Opportunity Zones.
Due to the rising costs of real estate in San Francisco, the fund chose to focus on walkable businesses and housing outside of San Jose’s downtown and residential properties in Oakland.
While less extensive, their portfolio also offers Opp Zone investment options in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta, New York, Houston, and several other locations.
Midtown Opportunity Fund
The Midtown Opportunity Fund has $4.8 billion of Opportunity Zone deals in various real estate categories, including senior living, hospitality, multi family, office, and retail.
While the fund invests in a number of real estate assets and sectors, it focuses largely on shovel-ready Opportunity Projects and prefers to work with experienced developers.
Monarch Private Capital
Monarch Private Capital is a national investment firm that develops, finances, and manages a portfolio of tax-advantaged assets. Over the past 13 years, the firm has operated a number of tax credit funds.
At the beginning of 2019, Monarch Private Capital launched three Opportunity Funds for partners that would like to invest in Opportunity Zones throughout the country.
Rural COZ is an example of a state-specific Opportunity Zone Fund, focusing only on investments in the state of Colorado and select areas of Wyoming. While the fund invests primarily in real estate and businesses in select rural communities, it is open to any national investor interested in the area.
In addition to delivering better than market returns, Rural COZ’s mission is to help local communities with missing infrastructure, workforce housing, and job creation.
Savage Grant Opportunity Fund
The Savage Grant Opportunity Zone Fund is another example of a fund with a very specific investment focus.
The fund is in place to invest capital in Opportunity Zone assets in West Virginia and Central Appalachia. Typically, Savage Grant invests in commercial real estate and small businesses in these areas.
Last on our list is the Fortuitous Partners Opportunity Fund, which has a nationwide focus on sports-anchored mixed use developments and industrial real estate.
The fund is also looking to invest in tech startups, sports teams, and sports-related businesses.
In conclusion, and as illustrated by our list of funds, those looking to invest in Opportunity Zone properties and businesses certainly have a wealth of options, both in geography and asset types.