Taking risk for modest returns

As interest rates on “safe” bonds and CD’s decline, those with cash to invest may look to riskier options in order to generate significant return. M P McQueen in the WSJ identifies possibilities including cellphone towers, self-storage facilities, parking lots, and offcampus student housing.

The article notes some cases of > 100% returns, but what’s scary is the indication that an ordinary investor with reasonable luck is told to expect returns more in the range of 7% – 10%.  Does that compensate for the risk involved?  Or is everyone still counting on selling out at a profit several years down the road?

Of course another option is peer-to-peer lending, such as Lending Club or Prosper, who claim returns in the same range. There’s still plenty of risk, but a modest investor can diversify by participating in a hundred or more loans.  Liquidity is limited, but at least in the case of Lending Club loans can be bought and sold (no guarantees about the price, however).