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There is a moment in the film “The Big Short”, directed by Adam McKay, where Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale), is explaining to two of his biggest investors why he has taken a enormous short position on the U.S. housing market, essentially contradicting every bank and top economist in the country. With two sentences, he sends an arrow through the entire premise of the American Dream:

 “Average take home pay is flat yet home prices are soaring. That means homes are debts, not assets.”

Burry was talking about the U.S. housing market in 2007, but a decade later with the scars of the 2008-09 crisis still visible, his words are still prescient. Whether he stills feels this way or not, Burry has placed a different bet on the U.S. housing market by becoming an investor in PeerStreet, a peer to peer marketplace that allows investors to buy into the debt of real estate investments. Think Lending Club, but for real estate, where investors can access prime traunches​ of real estate debt. It’s real estate loan securtization​ by any other name, but by investing in the debt of a real estate investment at low loan to value ratios, PeerStreet is offering a new alternative for real estate investing. If things go sour, debt investors are paid off ahead of equity investors, thereby cushioning the risk. Furthermore, PeerStreet advertises 6-12% annualized returns, and the loan periods are as short as 6 months to a just a couple years, but only for accredited investors.

Co-Founders Brew Johnson and Brett Crosby are banking their bet on offering choice loans, picked by real estate investing experts in local markets around the country. They are using a peer to peer marketplace via a simple technology interface honed by the founders’ combined experiences at Google for Crosby and real estate law for Johnson to pair up investors with loans.  As home values soar in top markets amid stagnant wages, tight inventories and rising mortgage rates, you can almost hear Michael Burry’s ominous warning from, “The Big Short”, ringing out nearly a decade later. Instead, Burry is an investor and advocate for the company, joining other investors including Andressen-Horowitz and Rembrandt Partners, among others. Its list of advisors is stacked with a mix of real estate executives, technologists and Wall Street veterans, including Barry Ritholtz, and Howard Lindzon, founder of StockTwits.

Instead of a warning, Burry gets the pole position quote on PeerStreet’s homepage:

"PeerStreet’s investments have similar yields to LendingClub, but are backed by real estate and carry very attractive loan-to-value ratios. Simply a smarter way to invest.”

Burry’s track record of betting against the US real estate market has been well documented and celebrated, earning Christian Bale an Oscar for his portrayal. His bet, and PeerStreet’s approach to opening up the U.S. housing market to retail investors, is still being written.

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