Last week I attended an exciting meeting in San Diego hosted by CrowdfundingLawyers.net, a boutique law firm specializing in Syndications, Private Placement Offerings, Private Equity Funds, and Joint Ventures for real estate. The two partners, Gene Trowbridge and Jillian Sidoti, along with their Associates, Jonathan Nieh and Nancee Tegeder put on a two-day “boot camp” for private placements and syndications.
I came back from the meeting wanting to share with you all what I learned and what you should be looking at when it comes to real estate opportunities.
What questions should you be asking?
What documents should you look for?
Modern Real Estate
But first, let’s take a step back and look at the scope of the industry. In 2017, $1.8 trillion was raised for private placements or syndications in the U.S. Actually, that figure is likely understated because the majority of funds are able to raise an unlimited amount.
It’s a staggering amount of money. What most people consider in the real estate industry is probably just a small piece of the pie. Most people think about how single family homes are financed — not large commercial projects.
At the meeting I also learned the average offering size is about $30M. When you take into consideration some of the massive projects pulling the mean up, the median is probably closer to $50M.
So, I’ve created a “checklist” of items to look out for in any opportunity.
What You Should Ask A Deal Syndicator in Real Estate Investing Opportunities
1. The paperwork.
Who’s doing the paperwork?
Who is the law firm handling all the legalities of the opportunity?
These opportunities are securities, meaning they are subject to the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). You need to make sure the deals are papered right.
2. The fees.
Secondly, I would ask about the fees being charged. You want people to charge fees.
Why do you want them to charge fees?
Simple. You don’t want someone to work for free.
No one is going to find an opportunity, get all the lending lined up, put together a team and do all the due diligence for free. Even if someone were to do that, what if they got hit by the proverbial bus?
Are you going to find someone else to do these things to take their place for free? No.
There are all kinds of fees, you just need to ask what they are.
Are they realistic?
We’re certainly happy to educate people on what usual and customary fees are, like annual management fees, disposition fees, and so on. Reach out to us for more info.
3. The continuity plan.
Let’s say something does happen to the person putting together these deals. They’re either gone or incapacitated.
What happens next?
What is the continuity plan?
Who is going to take their place?
If you’re bringing your money to this opportunity, you need to know how they plan for the unexpected.
4. Is 1031 Exchange money allowed?
In essence, these opportunities are partnerships and the shares are more like personal property. Even if you’re getting the benefits of real estate investing, including the depreciation, just as you would with a personal property, 1031 Exchange may not be allowed. Just ask.
5. Are you investing in a specific property?
Generally speaking, I recommend investing in a specific property.
For the most part, I would not recommend investing in a blind pool where you give money to someone and then they go out and find an asset.
In some cases, it does make sense. When you’re working with someone with ample experience and access, raising money on the frontend gives them leverage to make an offer on an asset.
But, generally speaking, I believe it should be a specific property that you can vet.
6. Are they going to have skin in the game?
Certainly the ones putting this deal together are going to be spending hundreds of hours on the opportunity, so they’re already invested.
But it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’re putting their own money in the deal, too. I wouldn’t say this is a disqualifier if the answer is no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
7. What’s the minimum investment? What’s the exit strategy?
How much is the entry ticket?
What is the timeline?
How long is my money going to be in this?
Everyone wants to know what their return is going to be, but safety and exit strategy are equally as (if not more) important. Sometimes these things can’t be pinned down exactly, but you should be able to get some answers.
These are complex matters. You need to feel comfortable asking hard questions. If the people putting together an opportunity are not comfortable answering, I think that tells you pretty clearly, it is not the right opportunity for you and your capital.
Check out some related posts on this topic:
And, as always, we’re here when you’re ready.