Guide to the Real Estate Syndication Universe

7 minute read

Ever walk down the bustling streets of New York City, look up at the Empire State Building, and wonder who owns that? Surprise, it could’ve been you (or at least a piece of it)! The iconic building was sold to a syndicate back in 1961 for $65 million. BOOM! There’s your first taste of the power of real estate syndication.

Hop into the TimesMachine for the original 1961 article: Empire State Sold; Price Is 65 Million; Empire State Building Bought By Syndicate for $65,000,000.

Of course, knowing that the Empire State Building was purchased through syndication doesn’t necessarily help you understand how syndication works. It does, however, show you that it isn’t a new concept. Real Estate syndication is a tried and true method for growing wealth that has existed for decades. So why haven’t you heard of it? Better yet, why have you not been invited to the party?

Because for a long time, like many wealth building opportunities, it was available only to the wealthy and well-connected. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations have only recently moved away from restricting any public advertisement, to allowing it for specific opportunities. This shift in regulations is what allows me to share investment opportunities like this with you!

What is real estate syndication?

A real estate syndication is where people pool money together to purchase a larger real estate property than any one individual or entity would be able to afford alone. Think of it like a potluck: if only one person brings a dish, we are all leaving hungry. But when everyone comes together and contributes, all of a sudden you’ve got a real party.

As the saying goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

The “Who” Of Real Estate Syndication

There are two groups in any syndication: the syndicator and the investor. Also referred to as the general partner (GP) and limited partner (LP).

The syndicator is the active partner responsible for: finding the property, underwriting, obtaining financing, due diligence, raising capital from investors, creating and executing the business plan, asset management, working with property management, communicating with investor, and arranging the sale of the property.

If you read all that and thought, “that sounds like a lot of work!” you would be correct. The goal of any good syndicator is to maximize investor’s returns on their investment by executing the business plan.

The investor is the passive partner, responsible for bringing money into the deal. This investment translates into direct ownership of the property, similar to owning shares of a company but special benefits. Investors receive passive cash flow through monthly or quarterly distributions (depending on the deal structure) and equity when the property sells. The only work for the investor happens upfront before entering the syndication. It is critical to vet the syndicators to ensure they have a solid track record, and that they are the right fit for you and your investment goals.

The Benefits Of Real Estate Syndication

Real estate syndications offer many benefits that traditional investment opportunities do not:

The Risks Of Real Estate Syndications

Of course, there are no investments entirely devoid of risk. Though real estate syndication offers many incredible benefits to growing your wealth — as with any investment, there are always risks involved. The goal is to mitigate those risks AND leverage the potential upsides, by choosing the right market and, even more importantly, the right syndicator.

As seen in 2008, on a large scale, economic and market changes can impact your investment. Many times these changes are out of anyone’s control. What is controllable is strategically selecting markets with strong, consistent economic indicators like population and job growth. Two main benefits of larger commercial properties are their ability to withstand common market shifts and major corrections with the ability to buy and hold. These properties are resilient as they continue to actively generate cash flow during the hold period, further mitigating risk.

As an investor myself, the biggest risk I see is to ensure you choose an experienced and trustworthy syndicator with a proven track record. It is essential to vet any syndicators before deciding to invest. Finding the right partners who can mitigate risks and protect your investment. A good syndicator who knows how to execute and manage problems as they arise, because they will arise, will be the difference between an anxiety-filled roller coaster ride or smooth sailing into the sunset with a mai tai.

How To Invest In Real Estate Syndication

Before investing, you must establish that you meet the eligibility criteria for investing in a real estate syndication. To be eligible, you must be a sophisticated investor or accredited investor.

A sophisticated investor understands what real estate syndication is, how it works and can assess for themselves what makes a good or bad investment. They also need to “know” the syndicator, meaning you have an established relationship prior to ever being asked to invest. Only then can a sophisticated investor be able to invest in a 506(b) offering which cannot be advertised to the public. Another form of gate-keeping that has been done to both protect and limit it’s opportunity for the average person.

An accredited investor is someone who:

This opens up the opportunity for an accredited investor to invest not only in a 506(b) offering but a 506(c) offering.

Whether you currently meet the requirements to invest in a real estate syndication or not, you can start the most important part as a passive investor: finding the syndicators.

The internet has made networking to find like-minded investors and reputable syndicators much easier. Leverage social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or in-person meetup groups (Meetup, Eventbrite, etc.) to find these people and grow your knowledge. Once you find a syndicator you are interested in investing with, sign-up for their deal flow list and newsletters to stay up to date on their latest real estate syndication offers. These newsletters often contain a goldmine of valuable information to help you meet the criteria above if you do not already.

Are you still wondering why you have not been invited to the party?

Take this as your invitation to the syndication party.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or investment advice. Always consult with a financial or investment professional before making any investment decisions.