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What Are Group Syndications? - Real Estate Investment Tips

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Published on Jan 10, 2013

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If you pick up a copy of any major newspaper and open it to the business section, you'll commonly see headlines of extremely large real estate purchases that are usually well over $50-100 million. Most people glance at these articles and think "man it must be nice." However, most people don't realize that these extremely large transactions don't involve just one individual as a seller or buyer...in fact, only a small percentage of these super large transactions are bought or sold by just one or two people. Easily over 90%+ of these properties are bought and sold by groups, companies, retirement funds etc.

So imagine you're looking at a $10 million building which needs a $3m down payment. Let's say you have a good $1 million of equity to buy the property, but that's not enough...How do you go about getting the rest of the funds without selling everything else that you own? Well first off, we know you can't go to the bank and get a loan for both the $2 million difference on the down payment AND the $7 million loan to buy the building. Also, your friends and family don't have the money for you to borrow. Instead, your real estate broker mentions to you that they know of a few individuals that look for properties just like this, but they don't have enough money to buy the place on their own either. At this point, the best chance that you and the other individuals could have in buying this building is by forming a syndication.

Syndication is when two or more individuals pool their money together to buy one or more properties. They usually do this by forming an s-corp or c-corp, but most commonly they form an LLC, which I defend in my "LLC vs. TIC" video. Once everyone has their money ready, an attorney will draft a "Private Placement Memorandum", or PPM. This is basically a document that says that no one is draining their bank account, they understand the risks involved and so forth.

Once this investment group is formed, the percentage you own is usually equal to the amount of money you put in. For example, let's say you put in that same $1M, and four other people put in $500,000 each, totaling $3M. Unless otherwise agreed to in writing, you would own 33.3% - or one third, - and everyone else would own slightly more than 16.6% which is 1/6th. If this $10 million building generates $1 million net cash flow every year, you would get 1/3 of the proceeds, and everyone else receives their 1/6 share.

The biggest problem with forming a syndication group is when the "what-if's" start happening. "What-If" the property triples in value in a few years? "What-If" the biggest anchor tenant goes dark, and leaves the building? Who's going to put more money into the group to cover the losses until you find another anchor tenant? "What-If" one person wants out of the syndication group for personal reasons? Who's going to be allowed to buy them out? These are just some of the "What-Ifs" that could happen.

This is the reason why you have an attorney draft a general outline of the project goals, called a "Prospectus". It identifies what type of property you plan on attaining along with many of the common "What-If" scenarios and solutions outlined beforehand. That way everything is agreed to in writing upfront, so disputes are minimized later on. Most of the time this includes the sale of the property as well in a few years.

Once the group has the PPM stating that people are not risking their entire life savings and the general goals are outlined, the broker will go out shopping. Once there's a property that has been identified, who makes the decisions to make an offer? Beforehand there will be usually one person along with the broker to make most of the decisions. Again the reason for this is to streamline everything so there aren't 5 different opinions when everyone wants the same ultimate goal.

The property is then purchased, everyone's money is pooled together and the returns to each investor are divided as specified as the months and years continue on. The great thing about syndication is that you don't have to put ALL of your own money into one SINGLE property -- you can spread it out to minimize your risk. It's the same concept as to why people don't put ALL of their 401k or investment money into ONE single stock -- they put it into MULTIPLE stocks.

So along with spreading your risk our so it's not all in one project, you're also able to buy some of the sizable stable real estate properties most individual investors could never afford. Or you could be involved in some larger stable deals along with some more profitable yet riskier deals as discussed in my "Value Add Properties" video. It simply depends on your appetite for return vs. possible risk...Now that's good to know.

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