5 Tips for Raising Money from Family Offices to Buy Apartments

The typical progression for raising money for apartments goes like this:

  • For the first deal, you raise money from your family and/or closest friends
  • After the first deal, you continue to raise money from your family and/or closest friends. However, people who you are less familiar with begin to invest. Examples would be extended family, less close friends, work colleagues, and others who you’ve known for a few years or less
  • As you do more and more deals, you begin to raise money from investors who were referred from other investors. You also attract passive investors from your thought leadership platform
  • Eventually, you transition to raising money via 506(c), which allows you to advertise your deals to raise capital

The commonality between all steps in the above progression is that you are raising money from individual investors (or two investors who are a couple). 

Another, more advanced model for raising capital is to pursue private institutions. An example of a private institution from which you can raise money are family offices.

According to Investopedia, family offices are private wealth management advisory firms that serve ultra-high-net-worth investors. They are different from traditional wealth management shops in that they offer a total outsourced solution to managing the financial and investment side of an affluent individual or family. 

Family offices can be a great source of equity for advanced apartment syndicators. Seth Wilson, the founder and managing director of Clarity Equity Group, raises money from family offices for his real estate deals. 

We recently interviewed Seth on the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. His episode is scheduled to be air on 9/16/20. In that interview, Seth provided his top five tips for raising money from family offices.

1. You Must Have Relevant Experience

The first step before you even consider raising money from a family office is that you must have experience. If you’ve never done a large apartment deal in the past, a family office isn’t going to take you seriously. If you’ve only been doing large apartment deals for a few years, a family office still isn’t going to take you serious.

It took Seth over 12 years and $65 million worth of real estate in order to raise money from family offices.

There is not a shortcut. If you want to raise money from family offices, the first step is to have years of experience successfully buying, managing, and selling apartment buildings.

2. You Must Be An Expert

It is likely that if you meet the “experience” requirement, you will meet the education requirement as well. 

The reasons why you need the relevant experience and need to be an expert on apartment investing are two-fold. First, family offices are entrusted by an individual or family to invest on their behalf and, more importantly, preserve their net worth. The individual or family did adequate due diligence on the family office prior to using their services. The family office did adequate due diligence before hiring their employees. Therefore, they are going to do adequate due diligence on you and your business.

Secondly, and because of reason number one, they are generally more sophisticated than your family, friends, and others you are used to raising money from. They are going to ask more complex, detailed questions about you and your business plan. When you are an expert, you can hold your ground when these questions are asked. They must be confident in your ability to conserve and grow their client’s investment.

3. Put Together the Look

Whether you like it or not, Seth says that a book is judged by its cover, especially in the higher echelons of investing. 

A family office is most likely not going to invest in your deals without seeing you in person. Therefore, you need to wear the proper attire. And there isn’t a one-sized-fits all approach. 

The acceptable attire when visiting a family office based out of Denver is a lot different than one in Manhattan. Seth says that the best way to learn the dress code is by asking. Call the receptionist, ask what the dress code is and dress one notch higher.

4. Speak to the Right Contact

When you are ready to raise capital from family offices, maximize your chances of success by speaking with the right contact.

If you are reaching out to a family office who manages the wealth of a second-generation or later family (i.e., the wealth was created by the parents, grandparents, etc.), the best person to speak with is the Chief Investment Officer. Seth said that more established family offices will have an investment committee who sign off on all investments. The CIO typically sits on this committee. If you can win over the CIO, you’ll have your inside person on the investment committee to argue your case.

If you are reaching out to a family office who manages wealth for a first-generation family (i.e., the wealth was created by someone who is still alive), you want to speak to the patriarch or matriarch of the family. The person who made the wealth is likely heavily involved in investment decisions.

5. Take Massive Action

Like all things in real estate, raising money from family offices requires massive amounts of action. Seth recommends having one or two great phone calls with family offices each day. Use resources you already have to add value and take care of them.

Focus on building a business relationship and a personal relationship. For example, if you come across something that you think they would personally be interested in, text them. 

You also want to make sure you are physically meeting them in person. Seth has no problem flying out in the morning, having an hour or so meeting with a single family office in the afternoon, and fly home in the evening. 

Raising money from a family office is a great way to take your apartment syndication business to the next level. But it is a strategy that takes time to work up to. You must establish relevant experience and expertise before making the jump from “family and friends” to family offices.

Once you have a track record, make sure you dress the part, know who to speak with, and take massive action.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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Joe Fairless