Commercial Real Estate Syndication: Property Selection and Purchase, Part 1
By Craig Higdon
Let's assume that you've decided to start assembling groups of investors to buy investment real estate. If you followed my Roadmap of a successful syndication in my previous articles (Part 1 and Part 2), then you know that the first step is to research a neighborhood and pick a property to buy. You'll first want to focus on the type of commercial real estate to purchase for your syndications.
So what is the best kind of investment real estate? In the process of putting together your groups, you'll come to realize that not all types of real estate are "created equal" from an investment perspective. Here is a breakdown of property types and their attractiveness as syndication investments:
LAND: Including Remote (currently unusable), agricultural, and "pre-builder" land.
1. "Remote" land is held for a long period of time with the expectation that growth will increase its value. Unfortunately, it's highly risky and provides no current income for investors. The biggest down side is that investors would have to make periodic contributions of capital to cover expenses for taxes, insurance, and possibly loan payments.
2. Agricultural land is used to create crops for sale. It is essentially unimproved land used in a business and its value is derived from the ongoing operations of that business.
3. "Pre-builder" land is subdivided and sold off to various builders who complete the end product, whether housing or commercial. The land is effectively inventory and its value is created in the subdivision process.
CONSTRUCTION: Including new commercial and sub-division projects, beyond the pre-builder stage.
EXISTING: Operating residential and commercial income producing property.
If we go by the list above, we'll soon realize that as syndicators, we'll want to focus our efforts on only one of the major categories. This would be income producing rental property. There are several reasons for this, some obvious, and others that can get you into a heap of trouble if you don't spend some serious time with your attorney. You'll want to be clear on the benefits both you and your co-investors will derive from your real estate investment efforts, as well. This will help not only in focusing your efforts, but in promoting your properties to prospective investors. Here they are:
- Agricultural land, pre-builder land, and new construction projects derive their value from the efforts of others beyond the investment in the property itself. This creates a "corporate securities risk" for the money investors and puts the syndicator under the jurisdiction of both state and Federal securities laws. Ultimately, it means that you could be severely liable to your investors if things don't go as planned. Do not operate in these types of investments without both significant previous experience and excellent legal help.
- Remote land will most likely require "capital calls" to existing investors to pay real estate taxes, insurance, and debt service as you wait for its value to increase. There is nothing an investor hates more than a call from his managing partner to ask for more money. Even if it's disclosed up front and anticipated, it's not good psychologically.
With existing properties:
1. Investors' capital is contributed without the expectation of future contributions, in most cases.
2. There is minimal involvement of the capital contributors beyond providing the investment funds.
3. The owners can expect to receive spend-able income on a periodic basis.
4. The owners can expect an increase in equity through the amortization of any loan used to assist in the acquisition.
5. There is also a realistic expectation of an increase in value of the asset from both monetary inflation and appreciation.
6. There will also be tax benefits from depreciation of the improvements (not the land) and utilizing a 1031 Exchange reinvestment strategy at the property's sale.
So as we go forward on this topic, we will focus on existing, operating, commercial rental income properties. This greatly reduces the syndicator's exposure to regulatory requirements and provides investors with regular checks, making them very happy to get your phone calls!
About the Author
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| Some other articles by Craig Higdon|