internal rate of return vs. cash on cash return

Internal Rate of Return (IRR) vs. Cash on Cash (CoC) Return: What Is the Difference?

When an apartment syndicator analyzes the results of their underwriting, and when a passive investor is deciding whether to invest in a syndicator’s deal, the two main return factors they focus on are the cash-on-cash return and the internal rate of return.

In this blog post, you will learn the definitions of these two important return factors, how they are calculated, and why they are relevant in apartment syndications.

 

What is Cash-on-Cash Return?

Cash-on-cash return (commonly referred to a CoC return) is a factor that refers to the return on invested capital. CoC return is the relationship between a property’s cash flow and the initial equity investment, which is calculated by dividing the initial equity investment by the cash flow. For the purposes of the CoC return calculation for apartment syndications, cash flow is the profits remaining after paying the operating expenses and debt service.

There are actually two different versions of the CoC return for apartment syndications: including profits from sale and excluding profits from sale. The CoC return factor excluding profits from sale will show passive investors how much money they should to expect to receive for each distribution during the hold period, as well as an average annual return on their investment. The CoC return factor including the profits from sale will show passive investors how much money they should expect to make from the project as a whole.

In order to calculate both CoC return factors, you need the initial equity investment amount, the projected annual cash flows, and the projected profit from sale for both the overall project and to the passive investors.

Here is an example of how to calculate CoC return for an apartment project:

 

Year 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Year 5 CFSales Proceeds
Project CF$(7,923,378)$471,608$821,793$626,271$710,025$13,710,776$796,687$12,914,089
Project CoC (w/o profits)5.95%10.37%7.90%8.96%10.05%
Project CoC (w/ profits)5.95%10.37%7.90%8.96%173.04%

 

Passive investors aren’t as concerned about the overall project’s CoC return but more so the CoC return to the limited partners (LP).

Here is an example of how to calculate the CoC returns to the limited partners based on an 8% preferred return and 70/30 profit split:

 

Year 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5Year 5 CFSales Proceeds
Project CF$(7,923,378)$471,608$821,793$626,271$710,025$13,710,776$796,687$12,914,089
LP CF$(7,923,378)$471,608$765,416$626,271$687,178$12,164,718$747,842$11,416,876
LP Coc (w/o profits)5.95%9.66%7.90%8.67%9.44%
LP CoC (w/ profits)5.95%9.66%7.90%8.67%153.53%

 

In this example, the average annual CoC return to the LP is 8.33%, which is good because it is above the preferred return offered. The overall CoC return for the five years is 185.72%. So, someone who invested $100,000 would make $85,720 in profit.

However, as you can see in the example above, the CoC return to the limited partner is below the preferred return percentage in years one and three. So, for this deal, the syndicators options are to review their underwriting assumptions to see if they can increase the cash flow, have the preferred return accrue and pay the accrued amount at sale or when the cash flow supports it (i.e. end of year two to cover the year one shortfall), or pass on the deal.

A “good” CoC return metric is subjective and based on the goals of the syndicator and the passive investors. However, a good rule of thumb is a minimum average CoC return excluding the profits from sale equal to the preferred return offered to the limited partners.

 

What is Internal Rate of Return?

The main drawback of the cash-on-cash return metric is that it doesn’t account for the time value of money. For example, receiving a 185.72% CoC return over a 5-year period is very different than receiving the same CoC return over a 10-year period or a 1-year period. That is where internal rate of return comes in.

The technical definition of internal rate of return (commonly referred to as IRR) is the interest rate that makes the net present value of all cash flow equal to zero. In layman’s terms, this equates to a project’s actual or forecasted annual rate of growth by isolating the effect of compounding interest if the investment horizon is longer than one-year, which CoC return does not.

If you have the data to calculate the CoC return, you can calculate an IRR for the overall project and to the passive investors. What is needed is the initial equity investment and the annual cash flows, with the final year including the profit from sale.

The IRR formula is complex (click here if you want to see the full formula), so for simplicity, the IRR() function in excel should be used.

Following the same example, here is the 5-year IRR for the overall project and for the limited partners:

EquityYear 1 TotalYear 2 TotalYear 3 TotalYear 4 TotalYear 5 Total
Project CF $ (7,923,378) $   471,608 $   821,793 $   626,271 $   710,025 $ 13,710,776
Project IRR17.34%
LP CF $ (7,923,378) $   471,608 $   765,416 $   626,271 $   687,178 $ 12,164,718
LP IRR14.73%

 

Another IRR metric is XIRR. For the regular IRR calculation, the assumption is that the cash flows are distributed on a fixed, periodic schedule (i.e. annually, monthly, quarterly, daily, etc.). The XIRR function calculates the internal rate of return when cash flows are distributed on an irregular period.

In order to calculate XIRR, the additional data required are the exact days that the cash flow was distributed. Examples of instances where the XIRR would come into play are when the syndicator refinances or secures a supplemental loan to return a portion of the passive investors’ equity and when the syndicator sells the asset since the closing date likely will not be exactly 1, 2, 3, etc. years after purchasing the deal.

A “good” IRR metric is also subjective and based on the goals of the syndicator and their passive investors. For my company’s deals, we want a 5-year IRR to the limited partners of at least 15%.

 

The main difference between the cash-on-cash return and internal rate of return metric is time. If the investment is held for one-year, then the two return metrics are interchangeable. But if the projected hold period is more than a year, internal rate of return is more accurate.

 

Want to learn how to build an apartment syndication empire? Purchase the world’s first and only comprehensive book on the exact step-by-step process for completing your first apartment syndication: Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book.

how passive investors make money

How Do Passive Investors Make Money in Apartment Syndications?

Passive investing is one of the best ways to receive the benefits of owning a large apartment building without the time commitment, funding the entire project or obtaining the expertise require to create and execute a business plan.

A passive investor might not see the same returns as an active investor who is finding, qualifying and closing on an apartment building use their own capital and overseeing the business plan through its successful completion. But compared to other passive investment vehicles, like stocks, bonds or REITs, apartment syndications cannot be beat (assuming the passive investor has found the right general partnership and qualified their team).

The returns offered to the limited partner (i.e. the passive investors) vary from general partner to general partner. Before making the commitment to invest, the limited partners (referred to as the LP hereafter) should understand the general partner’s (referred to as the GP hereafter) partnership structure, which includes the type of investment structure and how the returns are distributed.

Typically, a passive investor is either an equity investor or a debt investor in an apartment syndication. In this blog post, I will outline these two investment structures and the types of return structures for each.

 

Equity Investor

Of the two main types of investment structures, being an equity investor is the most profitable, because they participate in the upside of the deal. However, they typically will not receive their initial equity investment until the sale of the apartment.

The equity investor is offered an ongoing return, as well as a portion of the profits at sale. Generally, after the operating expenses and debt service are paid, the a portion of the remaining cash flow is distributed to the LP. For some partnership structures, the GP will take an asset management fee before distributing returns to the LPs. I do not like this approach since it decreases the alignment of interest because the GP receives payment before the LP. So, my company puts our asset management fee in second position to the LP returns (which means we don’t get an asset management fee until we’ve paid the LP).

The most common ongoing return is called a preferred return. The preferred return ranges from 2% to 12% annually based on the experience of the GP and their team, the risk factors of the project and the investment strategy. The less experience and the more risk, the higher the returns. In regards to the preferred returns associated with the three main apartment syndication investment strategies, the GP will offer the highest percentage for distressed apartments and the lowest percentage for turnkey apartments, with value-add apartments falling somewhere in-between.

For example, on a highly distressed apartment deal, the GP may offer a 12% preferred return. However, since the deal will likely have a lower or no return during the stabilization period, the preferred return would accrue and be paid out to the LP in one lumpsum. For turnkey apartments, the preferred return will fall towards the lower end of the range because, since the apartment is already stabilized and minimal value can be added, there is less risk. For value-add apartments, the typical preferred return that is offered to the LP is 8%.

Conversely, the GP may not offer a preferred return but a profit split instead. For example, 70% of the cash flow is distributed to the LP and the remaining 30% to the LP. However, I do not like this structure for the same reason why I don’t like putting the asset management fee ahead the LP returns – a reduction in alignment of interest. Therefore, the GP will usually offer a preferred return and the remaining cash flow is split between the LP and GP.

This remaining profit split can range from 90/10 (i.e. 90% to the LP, 10% to the GP) to 50/50. A common variation on the profit split will include hurdles, using return factors like the internal rate of return (referred to as IRR hereafter) or cash-on-cash return. For example, the LP is offered an 8% preferred return and the remaining profits are split 70/30. But, once the LP receives a 13% IRR, the profit split drops to 50/50.

The equity investor also participates in the upside of the deal, which means they are offered a portion of the sales proceeds.

The most common equity structure for value-add apartment deals is an 8% preferred return with a 50/50 LP/GP profit split. The next most common equity structure is an 8% preferred return with a 70/30 LP/GP profit split until the LP IRR passes a certain threshold (10% to 20% is the standard range), at which point the remaining profits are split 50/50.

 

Debt Investor

Of the two main types of investment structures, being a debt investor is the least profitable. However, the lower profitability comes with a lower risk. Once the GP pays operating expenses and debt service, the remaining cash flow must go to distributing the fixed interest rate to the debt investor. However, unlike the preferred return offered an equity investor, if the GP is unable to pay the fixed interest rate (assuming they are still able to cover the operating expenses and debt service), the debt investor can take control of the property. Hence, less risk.

Unlike the equity investor, the debt investor doesn’t participate in the upside of the deal. Instead, they are offered a fixed interest rate until the GP is able to return 100% of their investment.

Similar to the preferred return, the interest rate that is offered to a debt investor is based on the GP’s experience, the risk factors associated with the project and investment strategy. However, since there is an overall reduced risk involved with being a debt investor, the interest rate is typically lower than what the preferred return would be for a similar project.

Another difference between equity and debt investors is that debt investors will typically receive their capital back before the apartment is sold, which generally occurs after a refinance or securing a supplemental loan. A supplemental loan is a financing option that is secured on top of the existing financing on the property that is typically available 12-months after closing the initial loan.

 

What’s a Better Passive Investment?

Like any investment, the best partnership structure is based on the passive investor’s goals. For those looking for a low-risk investment vehicle to park their money for a few years while receiving a fixed return that beats inflation, then becoming a debt investor may be more appealing. For those looking for an investment vehicle that offers a higher ongoing return (although not guaranteed) and the potential for a large lumpsum profit at sale, then being an equity investor may be more appealing. And of course, diversifying between the two structures is also an option!

 

Want to learn more about passively investing in apartment syndications? Visit the Best Ever Passive Investor Resources page, the only comprehensive resource available to passive investor.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

glossary of apartment terms

Glossary of Apartment Syndication Terms

A glossary of terms and definitions, listed in alphabetical order, used in apartment syndications for aspiring apartment syndicators and passive investors to study in order learn the industry terminology.

Navigations: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

A

 

Absorption Rate: The rate at which available rentable units are leased in a specific real estate market during a given time period.

Accredited Investor: A person that can invest in apartment syndications by satisfying one of the requirements regarding income or net worth. The current requirements to qualify are an annual income of $200,000, or $300,000 for joint income, for the last two years with the expectation of earning the same or higher, or a net worth exceeding $1 million either individually or jointly with a spouse.

Acquisition Fee: The upfront fee paid by the new buying partnership to the general partner for finding, evaluating, financing and closing the investment.

Active Investing: The finding, qualifying and closing on an apartment building using one’s own capital and overseeing the business plan through its successful execution.

Amortization: The paying off of a mortgage loan over time by making fixed payments of principal and interest.

Apartment Syndication: A temporary professional financial services alliance formed for the purpose of handling a large apartment transaction that would be hard or impossible for the entities involved to handle individually, which allows companies to pool their resources and share risks and returns. In regards to apartments, a syndication is typically a partnership between general partners (i.e. the syndicator) and limited partners (i.e. the passive investors) to acquire, manage and sell an apartment community while sharing in the profits.

Appraisal: A report created by a certified appraiser that specifies the market value of a property. The value is based on cost, sales comparable and income approach.

Appreciation: An increase in the value of an asset over time. The two main types of appreciation that are relevant to apartment syndications are natural appreciation and forced appreciation. Natural appreciation occurs when the market cap rate naturally decreases over time, which isn’t always a given. Forced appreciation occurs when the net operating income is increased by either increasing the revenue or decreasing the expenses. Force appreciation typically occurs by adding value to the apartment through renovations and/or operational improvements.

Asset Management Fee: An ongoing annual fee from the property operations paid to the general partner for property oversight.

B

 

Bad Debt: The amount of uncollected money owed by a tenant after move-out.

Breakeven Occupancy: The occupancy rate required to cover all of the expenses of a property.

Bridge Loan: A mortgage loan used until a borrower secures permanent financing. Bridge loans are short-term (six months to three years with the option to purchase an additional six months to two years), generally having higher interest rates and are almost exclusively interest only. Also referred to as interim financing, gap financing or swing loans. The loan is ideal for repositioning an apartment community that doesn’t qualify for permanent financing.

 

C

 

Capital Expenditures (CapEx): The funds used by a company to acquire, upgrade and maintain a property. Also referred to as CapEx. An expense is considered CapEx when it improves the useful life of a property and is capitalized – spreading the cost of the expenditure over the useful life of the asset. CapEx included both interior and exterior renovations.

Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate): The rate of return based on the income that the property is expected to generate. Also referred to as the cap rate. The cap rate is calculated by dividing the net operating income by the current market value of a property.

Cash Flow: The revenue remaining after paying all expenses. Cash flow is calculated by subtracting the operating expense and debt service from the collected revenue.

Cash-on-Cash Return: The rate of return based on the cash flow and the equity investment. Also referred to as CoC return. Coc return is calculated by dividing the cash flow by the initial equity investment.

Closing Costs: The expenses, over and above the purchase price of the property, that buyers and sellers normally incur to complete a real estate transaction. These costs include origination fees, application fees, recording fees, attorney fees, underwriting fees, due diligence fees and credit search fees.

Concessions: The credits given to offset rent, application fees, move-in fees and any other cost incurred by the tenant, which are generally given at move-in to entice tenants into signing a lease.

Cost Approach: A method of calculating a property’s value based on the cost to replace (or rebuild) the property from scratch. Also referred to as the replacement approach.

 

D

 

Debt Service: The annual mortgage amount paid to the lender, which includes principal and interest. Principal is the original sum lent to a borrower and the interest rate is the charge for the privilege of borrowing the principal amount.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR): The ratio that is a measure of the cash flow available to pay the debt obligation. Also referred to as the DSCR. The DSCR is calculated by dividing the net operating income by the total debt service. A DSCR of 1.0 means that there is enough net operating income to cover 100% of the debt service. Ideally, the DSCR is 1.25 or higher. A property with a DSCR too close to 1.0 is vulnerable, and a minor decline in revenue or minor increase in expenses would result in the inability to service the debt.

Depreciation: A decrease or loss in value due to wear, age or other cause.

Distressed Property: A non-stabilized apartment community, which means the economic occupancy rate is below 85% and likely much lower due to poor operations, tenant problems, outdated interiors, exteriors or amenities, mismanagement and/or deferred maintenance.

Distributions: The limited partner’s portion of the profits, which are sent on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, at refinance and/or at sale.

Due Diligence: The process of confirming that a property is as represented by the seller and is not subject to environmental or other problems. For apartment syndications, the general partner will perform due diligence to confirm their underwriting assumptions and business plan.

 

E

 

Earnest Money: A payment by the buyers that is a portion of the purchase price to indicate to the seller their intention and ability to carry out sales contract.

Economic Occupancy Rate: The rate of paying tenants based on the total possible revenue and the actual revenue collected. The economic occupancy is calculated by dividing the actual revenue collected by the gross potential income.

Effective Gross Income (EGI): The true positive cash flow. Also referred to as EGI. EGI is calculated by subtracting the revenue lost due to vacancy, loss-to-lease, concessions, employee units, model units and bad debt from the gross potential income.

Employee Unit: An apartment unit rented to an employee at a discount or for free.

Equity Investment: The upfront costs for purchasing a property. For apartment syndications, these costs include the down payment for the mortgage loan, closing costs, financing fees, operating account funding and the fees paid to the general partnership for putting the deal together. Also referred to as the initial cash outlay or the down payment.

Equity Multiple (EM): The rate of return based on the total net profit and the equity investment. Also referred to as EM The EM is calculated by dividing the sum of the total net profit (cash flow plus sales proceeds) and the equity investment by the equity investment.

Exit Strategy: The general partner’s plan of action for selling the apartment community at the conclusion of the business plan.

 

F

 

Financing Fees: The one-time, upfront fees charged by the lender for providing the debt service. Also referred to as finance charges.

 

G

 

General Partner (GP): An owner of a partnership who has unlimited liability. A general partner is usually a managing partner and is active in the day-to-day operations of the business. In apartment syndications, the general partner is also referred to as the sponsor or syndicator and is responsible for managing the entire apartment project.

Gross Potential Income: The hypothetical amount of revenue if the apartment community was 100% leased year-round at market rental rates plus all other income.

Gross Potential Rent (GPR): The hypothetical amount of revenue if the apartment community was 100% leased year-round at market rental rates. Also referred to as GPR.

Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM): The number of years it would take for a property to pay for itself based on the gross potential rent. Also referred to as the GRM. The GRM is calculated by dividing the purchase price by the annual gross potential rent.

Guaranty Fee: A fee paid to a loan guarantor at closing for signing for and guaranteeing the loan.

 

H

 

Holding Period: The amount of time the general partner plans on owning the apartment from purchase to sale.

 

I

 

Income Approach: A method of calculating an apartment’s value based on the capitalization rate and the net operating income (value = net operating income / capitalization rate).

Interest Rate: The amount charged by a lender to a borrower for the use of their funds.

Interest-Only Payment: The monthly payment for a mortgage loan where the lender only requires the borrower to only pay the interest on the principal.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR): The rate needed to convert the sum of all future uneven cash flow (cash flow, sales proceeds and principal paydown on the mortgage loan) to equal the equity investment. Also referred to as IRR.

 

J

 

K

 

L

 

Lease: A formal legal contract between a landlord and a tenant for occupying an apartment unit for a specified time and at a specified price with specified terms.

Letter of Intent (LOI): A non-binding agreement created by a buyer with their proposed purchase terms. Also referred to as the LOI.

Limited Partner (LP): A partner whose liability is limited to the extent of their share of ownership. Also referred to as the LP. In apartment syndications, the LP is the passive investor who funds a portion of the equity investment.

London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR): A benchmark rate that some of the world’s leading banks charge each other for short-term loans. Also referred to as LIBOR. The LIBOR serves as the first step to calculating interest rates on various loans, including commercial loans, throughout the world.

Loan-to-Cost Ratio (LTC): The ratio of the value of the total project costs (loan amount + capital expenditure costs) divided by the apartment’s appraised value.

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV): The ratio of the value of the loan amount divided by the apartment’s appraised value.

Loss-to-Lease (LtL): The revenue lost based on the market rent and the actual rent. Also referred to as LtL. The LtL is calculated by dividing the gross potential rent minus the actual rent collected by the gross potential rent.

 

M

 

Market Rent: The rent amount a willing landlord might reasonably expect to receive and a willing tenant might reasonably expect to pay for tenancy, which is based on the rent charged at similar apartment communities in the area. The market rent is typically calculated by conducting a rent comparable analysis.

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA): A geographical region containing a substantial population nucleus, together with adjacent communities having a high degree of economic and social integration with that core. Also referred to as the MSA. MSAs are determined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Model Unit: A representative apartment unit used as a sales tool to show prospective tenants how the actual unit will appear once occupied.

Mortgage: A legal contract by which an apartment is pledged as security for repayment of a loan until the debt is repaid in full.

 

N

 

Net Operating Income (NOI): All the revenue from the property minus the operating expenses. Also referred to as the NOI.

 

O

 

Operating Account Funding: A reserves fund, over and above the purchase price of an apartment, to cover things like unexpected dips in occupancy, lump sum insurance or tax payments or higher than expected capital expenditures. The operating account funding is typically created by raising extra capital from the limited partners.

Operating Agreement: A document that outlines the responsibilities and ownership percentages for the general and limited partners in an apartment syndication.

Operating Expenses: The costs of running and maintaining the property and its grounds. For apartment syndications, the operating expense are usually broken into the following categories: payroll, maintenance and repairs, contract services, make ready, advertising/marketing, administrative, utilities, management fees, taxes, insurance and reserves.

 

P

 

Passive Investing: Placing one’s capital into an apartment syndication that is managed in its entirety by a general partner.

Permanent Agency Loan: A long-term mortgage loan secured from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Typical loan terms lengths are 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 or more years amortized over up to 30 years.

Physical Occupancy Rate: The rate of occupied units. The physical occupancy rate is calculated by dividing the total number of occupied units by the total number of units at the property.

Preferred Return: The threshold return that limited partners are offered prior to the general partners receiving payment.

Prepayment Penalty: A clause in a mortgage contract stating that a penalty will be assessed if the mortgage is paid down or paid off within a certain period.

Price Per Unit: The cost per unit of purchasing a property. The price per unit is calculated by dividing the purchase price of the property by the total number of units.

Private Placement Memorandum (PPM): A document that outlines the terms of the investment and the primary risk factors involved with making the investment. Also referred to as the PPM. The PPM typically has four main sections: the introductions (a brief summary of the offering), basic disclosures (general partner information, asset description and risk factors), the legal agreement and the subscription agreement.

Pro-forma: The projected budget with itemized line items for the revenue and expenses for the next 12 months and five years.

Profit and Loss Statement (T-12): A document or spreadsheet containing detailed information about the revenue and expenses of a property over the last 12 months. Also referred to as a trailing 12-month profit and loss statement or a T-12.

Property and Neighborhood Classes: A ranking system of A, B, C or D assigned to a property and a neighborhood based on a variety of factors. For property classes, these factors include date of construction, condition of the property and amenities offered. For neighborhood classes, these factors include demographics, median income and median home values, crime rates and school district rankings.

Property Management Fee: An ongoing monthly fee paid to the property management company for managing the day-to-day operations of the property.

 

Q

 

R

 

Ration Utility Billing System (RUBS): A method of calculating a tenant’s utility usage based on occupancy, unit square footage or a combination of both. Once calculated, the amount is billed back to the tenant.

Recourse: The right of the lender to go after personal assets above and beyond the collateral if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Refinance: The replacing of an existing debt obligation with another debt obligation with different terms.

Refinancing Fee: A fee paid to the general partner for the work required to refinance an apartment.

Rent Comparable Analysis (Rent Comps): The process of analyzing the rental rates of similar properties in the area to determine the market rents of the units at the subject property.

Rent Premium: The increase in rent demanded after performing renovations to the interior and/or exterior of an apartment community.

Rent Roll: A document or spreadsheet containing detailed information on each of the units at the apartment community, including the unit number, unit type, square footage, tenant name, market rent, actual rent, deposit amount, move-in date, lease-start and lease-end date and the tenant balance.

 

S

 

Sales Comparison Approach: A method of calculating an apartment’s value based on similar apartments recently sold.

Sales Proceeds: the profit collected at the sale of the apartment community.

Sophisticated Investor: A person who is deemed to have sufficient investing experience and knowledge to weigh the risks and merits of an investment opportunity.

Subject Property: The apartment the general partner intends on purchasing.

Submarket: A geographic subdivision of a market.

Subscription Agreement: A document that is a promise by the LLC that owns the property to sell a specific number of shares to a limited partner at a specified price, and a promise by the limited partner to pay that price.

 

T

 

U

 

Underwriting: The process of financially evaluating an apartment community to determine the projected returns and an offer price.

 

V

 

Vacancy Loss: The amount of revenue lost due to unoccupied units.

Vacancy Rate: The rate of unoccupied units. The vacancy rate is calculated by dividing the total number of unoccupied units by the total number of units.

Value-Add Property: A stabilized apartment community with an economic occupancy above 85% and has an opportunity to be improved by adding value, which means making improvements to the operations and the physical property through exterior and interior renovations in order to increase the income and/or decrease the expenses.

 

W

 

X

 

Y

 

Yield Maintenance: A penalty paid by the borrower on a loan is the principal is paid off early.

 

Z

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

 

 

 

apartment investing offer

How the General Partner Submits an Offer on an Apartment Deal

Generally, the general partner (referred to as GP hereafter) in an apartment syndication has certain investment criteria to determine which deals to submit offers on. This criteria could be as sophisticated as requiring a projected internal rate of return and cash-on-cash return above a certain threshold, which is what my company does, or as basic as a cash flow per door.

 

Regardless of their investment criteria, an experienced GP will perform underwriting on tens, if not hundreds, of deals before finding one that qualifies for an offer. And once they do, there is a four-step process for submitting an offer.

 

Understanding this process is obviously important for those striving to syndicate their own apartment deals in the future. But it is important for those passively investing in apartment syndications to understand as well. If they are entrusting the GP with their hard-earned capital, they should know how the offer price and terms are calculated.

 

1. Pre-Offer Conversation

 

Before completing the underwriting process and submitting an offer, the GP will likely need to reach out to the listing real estate broker and their property management company.

 

If questions arise during the course of the underwriting process, the GP will need to get the answers from the listing broker before submitting an offer. For example, there might be a discrepancy between the rent roll and the offering memorandum in regards to the number of units renovated by the current owner. Or the properties used by the listing broker for the rental comparable analysis are too dissimilar to the subject property. Or the GP needs more information on the exterior capital expenditures completed by the current owner over the past few years. The GP should leave no stone unturned before determining an offer price.

 

Similarly, the GP should review the underwriting with the property management company who will manage the deal after acquisition in order to confirm the assumptions there were made.

 

Additionally, the GP should visit the property in-person. Ideally, the GP visits the property with their property management company and, if they plan on performing renovations after acquisition, a general contractor. Together, they should look at the condition of the big ticket exterior items, like the roofs, siding, parking lots, clubhouse, amenities (i.e. pool, fitness center, playground, etc.), landscaping and signage. They should interview the onsite property management company to understand the historical operations of the property. They should tour a handful of units, preferably the “best” and “worst” unit. Then, they should leave the property and drive a 2-mile radius around the property, making note of nearby retail centers, restaurants, employment hubs and other apartment communities. Lastly, they should visit these other apartment communities to gain an understanding of the local competition.

 

Based on the feedback from the real estate broker and property management company, and the in-person visit, the GP should update or revise any underwriting assumptions in preparation for submitting an offer. At this point, the GP will have better assumptions than those that were made by simply reviewing the rent roll and profit and loss statement. But, if they are awarded the deal, the GP will conduct more detailed due diligence in order to finalize their assumptions.

 

2. Determine an Offer Price

 

During the underwriting and pre-conversation phase, the GP will usually have an idea of the price at which the owner is wanting to sell. Sometimes, the sales price is explicitly stated but this is usually only the case for smaller apartment deals. For deals with 50 to 100 or more units, the listed purchase price will likely say “to be determined by the market.” If that is the case, the GP can usually get a ballpark number from the listing real estate broker or the owner. If not, then they may use the current market cap rate  and the current net operating income to get an estimated sales price.

 

However, the sale price the owner desires is fairly irrelevant when determining an offer price. Experienced GPs will set an offer price that results in projected returns that meet their investment criteria. For example, my company will set an offer price that results in, at minimum, a 8% cash-on-cash return and a 16% 5-year internal rate of return to the limited partners.

 

If the GP’s offer price differs greatly from the listed, stated or estimated sales price, it may be due to an error on the GP’s side or due to the seller making too aggressive of assumptions. If it is the latter, the GP can either walk away from the deal or submit their offer along with an explanation for why the offer is much lower than what the seller desires.

 

In addition to determining an offer price, the GP should also have a conversation with their lender or mortgage broker to obtain estimated loan terms to include in their offer.

 

3. Submit an LOI

 

At this point, if the results of the underwriting meet their investment criteria, the GP will submit an offer in the form of a letter of intent (referred to as LOI hereafter). The LOI should be prepared by the GP’s real estate attorney.

 

The LOI is not legally binding. Its purpose is to show the GP’s intent to purchase the apartment at the stated price and terms, which includes the purchase price, down payment amount, earnest deposit and the due diligence timeline.

 

For the earnest deposit, 1% of the purchase price is standard and goes hard (i.e. is non-refundable) once the inspection period is completed (30 to 45 days). However, if the GP is in a competitive offer situation, the earnest deposit terms can deviate from the norm, whether it is a higher deposit amount and/or a shorter time frame before it goes hard (with the most competitive offers having the earnest deposit go hard day 1). For example, on a recent deal, my company had a $200,000 earnest deposit go hard day 1.

 

The GP can have a conversation with their real estate broker about what they are seeing in the current market for earnest deposit and its terms. Or, the GP can base the earnest deposit amount and terms on their previous acquisitions in the same submarket.

 

After submitting the LOI, the GP may be invited to a best and final call with the sellers. This is when the sellers ask for the interested investors’ best and final offer. Then, the investors with the most competitive offers will be invited to a call with the sellers, which is basically an interview so that the seller can determine if the investor is capable of closing on the deal.

 

4. Submit a Formal Offer

 

If the sellers accept and sign the GP’s letter of intent or they are awarded the deal after the best and final round, the GP will submit a formal offer in the form of a purchase sales agreement. Similar to the LOI, this sales agreement should be prepared by the GP’s real estate attorney. The purchase sales agreement is a detailed contract that outlines all of the terms of the sale.

 

Funding the upfront costs

 

In addition to the earnest deposit, other fees paid prior to closing are the upfront bank fees. Since the earnest deposit is due soon after closing, the GP needs to know where these funds will come from prior to putting the property under contract. The GP may front these costs and reimburse themselves at the close. Another option is for the GP ask an investor to fund the earnest deposit and upfront bank fees and create a promissory note so that the GP is responsible for paying the investor back if they lose the money (which happens if the contract is cancelled after the earnest deposit goes hard). Or, the GP could partner with someone on their team that has those funds. Ideally, the party who funds the earnest deposit will fund the other upfront banks fees as well.

 

In terms of how much upfront cash is needed, a good estimate is 2.5% of the purchase price (1% for the earnest deposit and 1.5% for the bank fees). For example, a $10 million purchase price would require an estimated $3.5 million in equity (25% down payment, GP fees, closing costs and cash reserves) at close. Of that $3.5 million, the GP would need approximately $250,000 in cash to cover the earnest deposit and upfront bank fees to get the deal to the closing table.

 

To learn more about the apartment syndication process from the perspective of a passive investor, visit my passive investor resources page here.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

 

REIT vs. Apartment Investing

Apartment Vs. REIT: Which Is The Better Passive Investment?

Originally Featured on Forbes.com here.

 

In real estate investing, there are two major strategies to choose from, and each can be used to pursue a variety of different opportunities. In passive real estate investing, two of the most popular investment opportunities are apartment syndications and real estate investment trusts, or REITs.

 

REIT is a company that owns, operates or finances income-producing real estate that generates revenue, which is paid out to shareholders in the form of dividends. An apartment syndication is when a syndicator (i.e., the general partner) pools together capital from passive investors (i.e., the limited partners) to purchase an apartment community while sharing in the profits.

 

In both cases, the passive investor is investing in real estate. However, the investment structures differ, which means that there are distinct pros and cons for each strategy. From my experience syndicating over $300,000,000 in apartment communities, when compared to REITs, I’ve found six pros and cons of passively investing in an apartment syndication.

 

1. Liquidity

 

With REITs, you have the ability to buy and sell like a standard stock. If you find yourself needing to pull out your capital, you can do so relatively quickly. Conversely, a passive apartment syndication is less liquid. Your initial investment is locked in until the end of the projected hold period. However, depending on the syndicator, there may be exceptions to this rule.

First, the syndication may have a clause that allows you to sell your shares of the company with the written consent of the general partnership. It is not as fast or as simple as selling shares of a REIT, but if an emergency were to arise and the syndication has such a clause, there is a process for reclaiming your investment. But overall, the passive apartment syndication is less liquid than a passive REIT investment.

 

In regards to liquidly, REITs win. REITs 1, apartments 0.

 

2. Barrier To Entry

 

To invest in a REIT, a large sum of capital isn’t required. Most REITs have no minimum investment, although they may require that you purchase blocks of 10 or 100 shares. That means you can invest in a REIT with less than $1,000, whereas apartment syndications have a higher barrier to entry.

 

First, you may need to be accredited, which means having an annual income of $200,000 or $300,000 for joint income for the last two years, or an individual or joint net worth exceeding $1 million. Additionally, apartment syndication may require a minimum investment. For example, my company requires a first-time minimum investment of $50,000 and then $25,000 thereafter. You can find syndicators that don’t require a minimum investment or for which you meet the accredited investor qualifications, but regardless, the financial barrier of entry is higher for apartment syndications than REITs.

REITs 2, apartments 0.

 

3. Diversification

 

With REITs, you invest in a diversified portfolio of properties that provide a blended return. Because the risk is shared across a pool of assets, you will not see major fluctuations in your returns and portfolio value. With a passive apartment investment, your return is directly tied to the performance of a single asset. If something negative happens to the property or the submarket in which the property is located, your projected returns will be reduced accordingly. However, the same logic applies to the upside as well.

Of course, this risk can be greatly reduced by only investing with apartment syndicators who follow the Three Immutable Laws of Real Estate Investing. Additionally, you can make up for the lack of diversification by investing in multiple apartment syndication deals, essentially creating your own personal REIT.

 

I’m calling this one a draw. So, the score remains: REITs 2, apartments 0.

 

4. Returns

 

The major benefit of passively investing in apartment syndications is the higher average returns. The total REIT return over the last five years (May 2013 to 2018) is 25.213%, including dividends and distributions. If you initially invested $100,000 in May 2013, your total profit by May 2018 is $25,213. As a comparison, my company does not purchase an apartment community unless the average annual return exceeds 9% and the five-year internal rate of return exceeds 16% to our passive investors. On a deal we purchased in 2015, we projected a 13.5% average annual return and a 20% five-year IRR to our passive investors, which would result in a total five-year profit of $102,805. As of this writing, not only are we on pace to exceed these projections, but we were able to refinance the property into a new loan and return about 40% of our passive investors initial capital. That is the power of apartment syndications.

 

Money is the crux of why people invest in real estate at all, so I’m giving apartments three points on this consideration. REITs 2, apartments 3.

 

5. Ownership

 

When investing in an apartment syndication, you also benefit from having direct ownership of the underlying asset. The major benefit of direct ownership is transparency — you see the actual asset you are investing in. As the general partnership progresses through the business plan, you will receive updates where, again, you can to see the actual asset, along with pictures of the updates and a variety of KPIs (rents, occupancy, etc.).

 

Another — and essential — benefit is having the direct contact information of the person calling the shots. If you have a question, you won’t have to worry about speaking with customer service or an automated phone service. Instead, you have direct access to the general partner who is managing the asset.

 

Another point for apartments: REITs 2, apartments 4.

 

6. Taxes

 

From a tax perspective, both REITs and apartment syndications will pass the depreciation benefits through to the passive investor. However, where these two strategies differ is with the profit at sale. For a passive apartment syndication investment, you have the opportunity to utilize the 1031 exchange tax instrument, which allows you to defer the taxes on your profit at sale by reinvesting in another deal with the same syndicator.

 

The final tally: REITs 2, apartments 5.

 

While the returns on both REITs and apartments have historically exceeded those of regular stocks as long as you are financially qualified and willing to tie up your capital for five to 10 years, passively investing in apartment syndications is, overall, the superior strategy.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

apartment syndication taxes

The Five Tax Factors When Passively Investing in Apartment Syndications

In addition to the capital preservation and cash flow benefits, one of the main reasons that passive investors seek to invest in real estate opportunities, and apartment syndications in particular, is because of the tax benefits.

 

When a passive investor invests in a value-add apartment syndication, they will generally receive a profit from annual cash flow and the profit at sale. Being a profit, this money is taxable. However, for apartment syndications, there are five pieces of tax information that the syndicator and the passive investor need to understand in order to determine the tax advantages of investing. These are 1) the depreciation benefits, 2) accelerated depreciation via cost segregation, 3) depreciation recapture, 4) bonus depreciation and 5) capital gains tax at sale.

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. SINCE I AM NOT A TAX ADVISORY FIRM, I REFER ALL GENERAL TAX-RELATED REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS FROM PASSIVE INVESTORS BACK TO THEIR ACCOUNTANTS. HOWEVER, I WILL SAY THAT INVESTORS OFTEN SEEK REAL ESTATE OPPORTUNITIES TO INVEST IN DUE TO THE TAX ADVANTAGES THAT MAY COME FROM DEBT WRITE OFF AND LOSS DUE TO DEPRECIATION. BUT I DON’T INCLUDE ANY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THESE TAX ADVANTAGES IN OUR PROJECTIONS.

 

1 – Depreciation

 

Depreciation is the amount that can be deducted from income each year as the depreciable items at the apartment community age. The IRS classifies each depreciable item according to its useful life, which is the number of years of useful life of the item. The business can deduct the full cost of the item over that period.

 

The most common form of depreciation is straight-line depreciation, which allows the deduction of equal amounts each year. The annual deduction is the cost of the item divided by its useful life. The IRS considers the useful life of real estate to be 27.5 years. So, the annual depreciation on an apartment building worth $1,000,000 (excluding the land value) is $1,000,000 / 27.5 years = $36,363,64 per year.

 

Generally, the depreciation amount is such that a passive investor won’t pay taxes on their monthly, quarterly or annual distributions during the hold period. They will, however, have to pay taxes on the sales proceeds.

 

2 – Cost Segregation

 

Cost segregations is a strategic tax planning tool that allows companies and individuals who have constructed, purchased, expanded or remodeled any kind of real estate to increase cash flow by accelerating depreciation deductions and deferring income taxes. A cost segregation study performed by a cost segregation engineering firm dissects the construction cost or purchase price of the property that would otherwise be depreciated over 27.5 years, the useful life of a residential building. The primary goal of a cost segregation study is to identify all property-related costs that can be depreciated over 5, 7 and 15 years

 

For example, my company performed a cost segregation on our portfolio for 2017. On one of the properties, we showed loss from depreciation of greater than 412% than we would have seen with the straight-line depreciation using the 27.5 year useful life figure.

 

To perform a cost segregation, the syndicator will need to hire a cost segregation specialist. This can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000 depending on the size of the apartments.

 

3 – Depreciation Recapture

 

Depreciation recapture is the gain received from sale of depreciable capital property that must be reported as income. Depreciation recapture is assessed when the sale price of an asset exceeds the tax basis or adjusted cost basis. The difference between these figures is “recaptured” by reporting it as income.

 

For example, consider an apartment that was purchased for $1,000,000 and has an annual depreciation of $35,000. After 11 years, the owner decides to sell the property for $1,300,000. The adjusted cost basis then is $1,000,000 – ($35,000 x 11) = $615,000. The realized gain on the sale will be $1,300,000 – $615,000 = $685,000. Capital gain on the property can be calculated as $685,000 – ($35,000 x 11) = $300,000, and the depreciation recapture gain is $35,000 x 11 = $385,000.

 

Let’s assume a 15% capital gains tax and that the owner falls in the 28% income tax bracket. The total amount of tax that the taxpayer will owe on the sale of this rental property is (0.15 x $300,000) + (0.28 x $385,000) = $45,000 + $107,800 = $152,800. The depreciation recapture amount is $107,800 and the capital gains amount is $45,000.

 

4 – Bonus Depreciation

 

One of the major changes with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was the bonus depreciation provision, where business can take 100% bonus depreciation on a qualified property purchased after September 27th, 2017. Click here for more information on the qualifications and benefits of the change in bonus appreciation.

 

5 – Capital Gains

 

When the asset it sold and the partnership is terminated, initial equity and profits are distributed to the passive investors. The IRS classifies the profit portion as long-term capital gain.

 

Under the new 2018 tax law, the capital gains tax bracket breakdown is as follows:

 

Taxable income (individual or joint)

  • $0 to $77,220: 0% capital gains tax
  • $77,221 to $479,000: 15% capital gains tax
  • More than $479,000: 20% capital gains tax

 

Annual Tax Statements

 

At the beginning of the following year, the syndicator will have their CPA create Schedule K-1 tax reports for each passive investor. The K-1 is a tax document that includes all of the pertinent tax information that the passive investor will use to fill out their tax forms.

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. SINCE I AM NOT A TAX ADVISORY FIRM, I REFER ALL GENERAL TAX-RELATED REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS FROM PASSIVE INVESTORS BACK TO THEIR ACCOUNTANTS. HOWEVER, I WILL SAY THAT INVESTORS OFTEN SEEK REAL ESTATE OPPORTUNITIES TO INVEST IN DUE TO THE TAX ADVANTAGES THAT MAY COME FROM DEBT WRITE OFF AND LOSS DUE TO DEPRECIATION. BUT I DON’T INCLUDE ANY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THESE TAX ADVANTAGES IN OUR PROJECTIONS.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

Secure Passive Investor Commitments

5 Step Process for Securing Passive Investor Commitments for Apartment Syndications

There are three main steps to take an apartment deal from contract to close. First, the apartment syndicator performs detailed due diligence to confirm or update the underwriting assumptions. Next, the apartment syndicator secures a loan to finance the deal. Lastly, and the focus of this blog post, the apartment syndicator secures financial commitments from passive investors in order to fund the deal.

 

For apartment syndications, and the value-add investment strategy in particular, the syndicator will get a loan to cover the majority of the project costs. Generally, the costs that are not covered by the loan are the down payment for the loan (which is 20% to 30% of the purchase price or the purchase price plus renovations, depending on the loan), general partnership fees charged by the syndicator, financing fees (which are approximately 1.75% of the purchase price), closing costs (which are approximately 1% of the purchase price) and an operating account fund (which is approximately 1% to 3% of the purchase price).

 

In total, a syndicator should expect to require 30% to 40% of the total project costs in order to close on the deal. These remaining costs come from a combination of the general partners (i.e. the syndication team) and the limited partners (i.e. passive investors), with the majority generally coming from the limited partners.

 

The purpose of this blog post is to outline the 5-step process for securing financial commitments from passive investors after an apartment deal is under contract in order to cover this 30% to 40% of the project costs and close on the deal.

 

1 – Investment Package

 

From the syndicator’s perspective, one of the first steps towards securing commitments from passive investors is creating an investment package. Before closing on the deal, the syndicator underwrote the property, conducted a rental comparable analysis, visited the property in-person and negotiated a purchase price. During this time, they become extremely familiar with the property and the surrounding area. The purpose of the investment package is to take all of this knowledge gained by the syndicator from initially qualifying the deal and consolidating it into a digestible form so that the passive investors can review the deal and make an educated investment decision.

 

The form of and the information included in an investment package will vary from syndicator to syndicator, depending on their experience and the business plan. At the very least, the investment package will include the main highlights of the deal that are relevant to the passive investor. These highlights include the purchase price, the projected returns for the project and to the passive investors, an explanation of the business plan including the exit strategy, and the partnership structure. However, ideally the investment package includes much more about the underlying assumptions behind these investment highlights.

 

For example, my company creates an investment summary package which includes the following sections:

 

  • Executive Summary: a summary of the information that is relevant to the passive investor, which is expanded upon in later sections. This includes things like purchase price, return projections and the business plan
  • Investment Highlights: an explanation on why this apartment deal is a solid investment. This includes things like our value-add business plan, the debt terms, the exit strategy and anything unique to the specific deal or market
  • Property Overview: an overview of the property details. This include things like the community amenities, unit features, a property description, the unit mix and floorplans, and a site map
  • Financial Analysis: shows the underlying analysis and assumptions of the return projections. This includes things like the offering summary, debt summary, projected returns to the investor and the detailed proforma
  • Market Overview: an overview of the submarket and market in which the apartment deal is located. This includes things like job growth, demographic data, nearby transportation of developments and the rental and sales comparables that were used to calculate the projected rents

 

Mostly everything that a passive investor needs to know in order to make an educated investment decision should be included in the investment package.

 

2 – Passive Investors Notified about New Deal

 

Once the investment package is created, which could take anywhere from a few days to a week, the next step is for the syndicator to notify their investor database about their deal.

 

I highly recommend that a syndicator gets verbal commitments from passive investors and creates an investor database prior to looking for deal (here are over 20 blog posts on how to find passive investors). In fact, understanding how much money they can raise will determine the size of deal a syndicator should pursue. For example, understanding the they will require approximately 30% to 40% of the project costs to close, a syndicator with $1 million in verbal commitments can look for apartment deals in the $2.5 to 3.3 million range.

 

For my company, once we put a deal under contract and creates the investment package, we notify our passive investors about the new opportunity via email. In this email, we include the top two to three highlights of the deal, include a link to the investment package and invite them to a conference call where we will go over the deal in more detail. We set up the conference call using www.FreeConferenceCall.com and include the date and call-in information in this email.

 

3 – New Investment Offering Call

 

A few days to a few weeks after sending the notification email, my company hosts a new investment offering conference call. Here is a blog post I wrote that outlines my 7-step approach to preparing and conducting a successful new investment offering call. Read this post for more details, but the 7-step approach is:

 

  1. Get in the right mindset
  2. Determine your main focus
  3. Introduce yourself and your team
  4. Provide an overview of the deal, the market and the team
  5. Go into more detail on the deal, the market and the team
  6. Questions and answers session
  7. Conclude the call and send the recording to the investors

 

This is my company’s approach, but it will vary from syndicator to syndicator. Some syndicators will structure their presentations differently. Some syndicators may host a video webinar. Others might just send the investment package and/or a recording to their investors.

 

4 – Secure Commitments

 

After the new investment offering presentation, however the syndicator decided to approach it, the next step is to secure financial commitments from the passive investors.

 

If you are a passive investor, if the deal aligns with your investment goals, you can verbally commit to investing in the deal. How you make your commitment will vary for syndicator to syndicator. For my company, we ask our passive investors to send us an email with their commitments and we hold their spot until they review and sign the required documentation, which I will outline in the next section.

 

If you are an apartment syndicator, this process will vary depending on your experience level. When you are first starting out, you will need to be more proactive when securing commitments. A good strategy is to send emails to your investor database every week or two, inviting them to invest in the deal and providing them a new piece of positive information. You don’t want to send them an email that only asks them to invest. You want to provide a new piece of positive information like a due diligence report came back clean, a new development that was recently announced down the street, the rental comparable report came back and the rents are higher than what you projected, etc. Then, as you gain more experience and credibility from passive investors, they will come to you. Your goal should be to have 100% of the funding 30 days before closing. And once the deal is fully funded, don’t turn away interested investors. Instead, tell them that the deal is fully funded but that you will put them on a waiting list.

 

5 – Complete Required Documentation

 

The last step is for the passive investors to make their investments official by reviewing and signing the required documentation. There are five main documents that the syndicator needs to prepare (with the help of their real estate and securities attorney) and the passive investors need to sign in order to make the investments official.

 

  1. Private Placement Memorandum (PPM)

 

The PPM is a legal document that highlights all the legal disclaimers for how the passive investor could lose their money in the deal.

 

Generally, a PPM will include two major components. One is the introduction, which includes a summary of the offering, description of the asset being purchased, minimum and maximum investment amounts, key risks involved in the offering and a disclosure on how the general partners are paid. The other section covers basic disclosures, which includes general partner information, offering description and a list of all the risks associated with the offering.

 

The PPM should be prepared by a securities attorney for each apartment deal.

 

  1. Operating Agreement

 

For each apartment deal, my company forms a new limited liability company (LLC). My company is a general partner (GP). Our investors will purchase shares in that LLC and become a limited partner (LP). However, every syndicator should speak with a real estate attorney to determine which approach is best for them.

 

The operating agreement outlines the responsibilities and ownership percentages for the GP and LP.

 

The operating agreement should be prepared by a real estate attorney for each apartment deal.

 

  1. Subscription Agreement

 

Simply put, the subscription agreement is a promise by the LLC to sell a specified number of shares to passive investors at a specified price, and a promise by the passive investors to pay that price. For example, a passive investor that is investing $50,000 would purchase 50,000 shares of the LLC at $1 per share.

 

Like the operating agreement, the subscription agreement should be prepared by a real estate attorney for each deal.

 

  1. Accredited Investor Qualifier Form

 

The accredited investor form required is based on whether the offering is 506(b) vs. 506(c). Most likely, the general partner is either selling private securities to the limited partners under Rule 506(b) or 506(c). One key difference is that 506(c) allows for general solicitation or advertising of the deal to the public, while 506(b) offerings do not. But the other difference is the type of person who can invest in each offering type. For the 506(b), there can be up to 35 unaccredited but sophisticated investors, while 506(c) is strictly for accredited investors only. That being said, a syndicator should have a conversation with a securities attorney to see which offering is the best fit for them.

 

If the general partners are doing a 506(c) offering, they must verify the accredited investor status of each passive investor, which requires the review of tax returns or bank statements, verification of net worth or written confirmation from a broker, attorney or certified account. The accredited investor qualifications are a net worth exceeding $1,000,000 excluding a personal residence or an individual annual income exceeding $200,000 in the last two years or a joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000.

 

If the general partners are doing a 506(b), they are not required to verify the accredited investors status – the passive investor can self-verify that they are accredited or sophisticated. In addition, for the 506(b) offering, to prove that the general partners didn’t solicit the offering, they must be able to demonstrate that they had a relationship with the passive investor before their knowledge of the investment opportunity, which is determined by the duration and extent of the relationship.

 

This form should also be prepared by a securities attorney, but only on one occasion (unless the accredited investor qualifications change).

 

  1. ACH Application

 

Lastly is the ACH application. This document is optional but recommended. It will allow the passive investor to receive their distributions via direct deposit into a bank of their choice.

 

Once a passive investor has committed to investing in a deal, the general partners should them these five documents to make the partnership official.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

 

securing financing on apartments

How a Syndicator Secures Financing for an Apartment Deal

Once a syndicator puts an apartment deal under contract, concurrent with the due diligence process is the process of securing financing. Generally, debt is a part of the apartment syndicator’s business plan because of the benefits that arise from leverage. Rather than purchasing the apartment community with all cash, they obtain a loan for upwards of 80% of the value while benefiting from 100% ownership.

However, not all debt and financing are the same. The type of debt and financing an apartment syndicator puts on the asset is highly dependent on the business plan. Also, different types of financing bring different levels of risks. Therefore, as a passive investor or an apartment syndicator, it is important to understand 1) the different types of debt and 2) the different types of financing. In doing so, you will be able to identify which combination of debt and financing is in your best interests based on the business plan.

 

Two Types of Debt: Recourse and Nonrecourse

Before diving into the two main types of loans, it is important to first distinguish the two types of debt – recourse and nonrecourse. According to the IRS, with recourse debt, the borrower is personally liable while all other debt is considered nonrecourse. In other words, recourse debt allows the lender to collect what is owed for the debt even after they’ve taken the collateral (which in this case is the apartment building). Lenders have the right to garnish wages or levy accounts in order to collect what is owed.

On the other hand, with nonrecourse debt, the lender cannot pursue anything other than the collateral. But, there are exceptions. In the cases of gross negligence or fraud, the lender is allowed to collect what is owed above and beyond the collateral.

Apartment syndicators almost universally prefer nonrecourse debt while lenders almost universally prefer recourse debt. But, while nonrecourse is advantageous to the borrower for the reasons stated above, it generally comes with a higher interest rate and are only given to individuals or businesses with a strong financial history and credit.

 

Two Types of Financing: Permanent and Bridge Loan

Generally, an apartment syndicator will secure one of two types of loans: a permanent agency loan or a bridge loan.

A permanent agency loan is secured from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and are longer-term compared to bridge loans. Typically loan term lengths are 5, 7 or 10 years amortized over 20 to 30 years. For example, with a 5-year loan amortized over 25 years, the syndicator would make payments for 5 years at an amount based on a loan being paid off over 25 years. At the end of the loan term, the syndicator will either have to pay off the remaining principal, refinance into a new loan or sell the asset.

The permanent agency loan is an LTV (loan-to-value) loan at 75% to 80%, which means the lender will provide funding for 75% to 80% of the value of the apartment and the syndicator provides the remaining 20% to 25%.

Generally, permanent agency loans are nonrecourse. However, value-add or distressed investors likely won’t be able to have the renovation costs included in the loan. Additionally, depending on the physical condition and operations, the asset may not qualify for permanent financing.

Compared to bridge loans, the interest rate is lower, and you may be able to get a few years of interest-only payments. Also, since these loans are longer-term in nature, they are less risky. The permanent loan is a set it and forget it loan where you won’t have to worry about a balloon payment or refinancing before the end of your business plan.

The other most common type of loan is the bridge loan. A bridge loan is a short-term loan that is used until the borrower secures long-term financing or sells the property. This loan is ideal for repositioning an apartment, like with the value-add or distressed apartment strategy.

Typically bridge loans have a term of 6 months to 3 years with the option to purchase an extension of a year or two. They are almost exclusively interest-only. For example, with a 2-year bridge loan, the investor would make interest-only payments for two years, at which point the investor must pay off the loan, refinancing, purchase an extension or sell the property.

The bridge loan is an LTC (loan-to-cost) loan at 75% to 80%, which means the lender will provide funding for 75% to 80% of the total project cost (purchase price + renovation costs) and the syndicator provides the remaining 20% to 25%.

Generally, bridge loans are nonrecourse to the borrower and have a faster closing process. Also, since they are interest-only, the monthly debt service is lower. However, the disadvantages are that they are riskier than permanent loans because they are shorter term in nature. Before the end of the term, which will likely occur before the end of the business plan, the syndicator must refinance or sell. And if the market is such that permanent financing isn’t available or if the business plan didn’t go according to plan, the syndicator is in trouble.

When securing financing, the most important thing is that the length of the loan exceeds the projected hold period, which is law number two of the Three Immutable Laws of Real Estate Investing. In doing so, as long as the syndicator follows the other two laws (buy for cash flow and have adequate cash reserves), the business plan is maintainable during a down turn. This law will usually be covered with the permanent loan. However, if the syndicator secures a bridge loan that will come due in the middle of the business plan, they better have a plan in place well ahead of time, whether that’s an early refinance or purchasing an extension.

 

Overall, the type of debt and financing a syndicator secures is based on their business plan. Bridge loans can be great for value-add investors, as long as they buy right, plan ahead and have an experienced team in place. And permanent financing is great because it is less risky and is a set it and forget it type of loan.

But regardless of the business plan, the syndicator should always have a conversation with a lending professional before securing financing for a deal.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

18 Creative Ways to Market Apartment Rental Listings

One of the 11 responsibilities an apartment syndicator has as the asset manager of an apartment community is maintaining and maximizing the economic occupancy. For value-add investors, this involves renovating the units and upgrading the community amenities in order to increase the rents, thus increasing the cash flow and returns.

 

However, no matter how beautiful the newly upgraded apartment community is, the syndicator still needs to implement a marketing strategy in order to fill the units with high-quality residents. Ideally, the syndicator hires a property management company that already applies the best marketing practices. But it is still their responsibility to oversee the management company and make sure the marketing strategy is being implemented properly.

 

Therefore, whether you are an apartment syndicator or a passive investor in syndications, it is helpful to understand the main ways to effectively market rental listings to attract the desired resident – one who pays rent on time and is courteous to their neighbors – and increase overall economic occupancy.

 

Here is a list of 18 creative ways to market an apartment rental listing to accomplish the above stated goals:

 

  1. Create a landing page, either standalone or as a part of your website, that captures the information of potential residents
  2. Create a direct mailing campaign and send it out to people living in similar buildings, inviting them to move into yours by offering some sort of concession (i.e. reduced rent for the first month, reduced security deposit, waive the application fee, etc.) and highlighting the major selling point of your community compared to theirs (i.e. direct garage access, new fitness center, BBQ pit, etc.). This strategy could anger local owners, so if you decide to do this, don’t expect to be popular and expect others to do it to your residents
  3. Contact the Human Resources departments at all the major employers in the area, letting them know that you own an apartment in the area and asking if they can direct new hires to your community
  4. Create a resident referral program where you offer current residents a flat fee ($300 is standard) if they refer someone that signs a lease
  5. Set up an open house and invite members of the local community to attend. Having a model unit and offering refreshments is helpful
  6. Offer special pricing to soldiers, police and first responders, like 50% off the first month’s rent
  7. Design a “for lease” banner and put it near the entry of your property, or near an area that has high foot or car traffic
  8. Design and place flyers at local establishments that are frequented by your resident demographic, like laundry mats, hair salons, nail salons, gyms, coffee shops, etc.
  9. Purchase advertisements in the local newspaper
  10. Post “for rent” listings to Craigslist, Zillow, Realtor.com, Apartments.com and other free online rental listing services
  11. Partner with a real estate broker or agent and advertise your apartment community on the MLS
  12. Create a Facebook advertisement, which allows you to select criteria to hyper-target your preferred resident
  13. Create a Facebook page for your apartment community, posting weekly content to generate a following and posting your rental listings
  14. Pay close attention to the nearby landmarks to cater to that audience, like colleges, military bases, large corporations, etc.
  15. Provide good old-fashioned customer service. Be responsive and timely with requests and questions. If doesn’t matter if you are a marketing wizard and get hundreds of responses to your rental listings if you don’t pick up the phone or respond quickly to emails, politely answer their questions and get them one step closer to viewing the property and signing the lease
  16. Call all residents who have previously notified you that they plan on leave at the end of their lease, asking them about their reason for leaving to see if it is something that can be addressed
  17. Send marketing material or gift baskets to businesses and employers surrounding your community
  18. Follow-up with old leads that are older than 90 days

 

Some of the strategies are free and just require effort on the part of the syndicator and/or property management company. Others will require an upfront investment or result in a short-term reduction in income. Therefore, it is important that the syndication team understands the marketing strategy prior to closing on the deal so that they account for these expenses in the underwriting.

 

What about you? Comment below: What strategies do you implement to fill vacancies at your rental properties?

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

apartment building during fall

The Ultimate Guide to Performing Due Diligence on an Apartment Building

After putting a deal under contract, the due diligence process for an apartment building is much more involved and complicated in comparison to that of a single-family residence or smaller multifamily building. For the real estate due diligence process on an SFR or smaller multifamily building, the lender will likely only require an inspection report and an appraisal report in order to provide you with financing. Then, for your own knowledge, you’ll perform your own financial audit, comparing the leases and rent rolls with the historical financials to make sure the rental rates are in alignment.

When you scale up to hundreds of units, the increase in the number of potential risk points is such that the lender will require additional reports prior to financing the deal, and you will want to obtain additional reports before deciding to move forward with the deal.

For the apartment community due diligence process, you’ll want to obtain and analyze the results of these 10 reports:

  1. Financial Document Audit
  2. Internal Property Condition Assessment
  3. Property Condition Assessment
  4. Market Survey
  5. Lease Audit
  6. Unit Walk
  7. Site Survey
  8. Environmental Site Assessment
  9. Appraisal
  10. Green Report

In this ultimate guide, I will outline the contents of each report, how to obtain them, the approximate cost of each (for apartment communities 100 units or more) and how to analyze the results. This should be a great introduction to how to do due diligence on real estate, and you can build on this for your unique deals.

1 – Financial Document Audit

The financial document audit is an analysis that compares the apartment’s historical operations to your budgeted income and expense figures you set when underwriting the deal.

For the audit, a consultant will collect detailed historical financial reports from the sellers, including the last one to three years of income and expense data, bank statements, and rent rolls. The output of the analysis is a detailed spreadsheet of the asset’s historical income, operating expenses, non-operating expenses, and net cash flow which are compared to the budgeted figures you provided.

The summary will take on a form that is similar to a pro forma, with the income and expenses broken down into each individual line item for an easy comparison on your end. They will also provide you with an executive summary document, which will outline how to interpret the audit, what data was used to create the audit spreadsheet and an explanation of any figures that deviate from your budget.

To obtain this document, you will need to hire a commercial real estate consulting firm that specializes in creating financial document audits. An approximate cost for this report is $6,000.

When you initially underwrote the deal, you set the income and expense assumptions based on how you and your team will operate the property once you’ve taken over. These assumptions came from a combination of the trailing 12 months of income and expense data and the current rent roll provided by the seller and the standard market cost per unit per year rates for the expenses.

Once you receive the results of the financial audit report, part of your real estate due diligence is to go through each income and expense line item and compare them to the assumptions in your underwriting model. Ideally, the consultant that performed the audit already compared the results to your provided budget, made adjustments based on their expertise and any inputs you provided, and commented on any discrepancies.

If any discrepancies were found or if the consultant recommended any adjustments, discuss them with your property management company to see if you need to update your budget. If you and your management company come to the conclusion that the budget needs to change, make the necessary adjustments to your underwriting model.

2 – Internal Property Condition (PCA) Assessment

The internal property condition assessment (PCA) is a detailed inspection report is an integral part of your real estate due diligence because it outlines the overall condition of the apartment community.

A licensed contractor will inspect the property from top to bottom. Based on the inspection, he or she will prepare a report with recommendations, preliminary costs, and priorities for immediate repairs, recommended repairs, and continued replacements, along with accompanying pictures of the interiors, exteriors, and the items needing repair.

Being an internal report, you will be responsible for hiring a licensed commercial contractor to perform the assessment. An approximate cost for this assessment is $2,500.

During the underwriting process, you created a renovation/upgrade plan for the interior and exterior of the apartment community, which included the estimated costs. Once you receive the internal PCA, compare the results to your initial renovation budget.

The results of the internal PCA are preliminary costs, not exact costs. However, they will most likely be more accurate than the assumptions you made during the underwriting process. Therefore, if there are discrepancies between the contractor’s estimated renovation costs and your renovation budget, update the underwriting model to reflect the results of the internal PCA.

Hopefully, your initial renovation assumptions were fairly accurate. And ideally, if you made very conservative renovation cost assumptions, you discover that you over-budgeted and can reduce the costs in your underwriting model.

3 – Property Condition Assessment

The property condition assessment is the same as the internal property condition assessment, except this one is created by a third party selected by the lender. The cost is approximately $2,000.

Analyze this reports the same way that you analyzed the internal PCA. Then, compare and contrast the results of the two PCAs. Maybe the lender’s contractor caught something that your contractor did not, and vice versa.

4 – Market Survey

The market survey is a more formal and comprehensive rental comparison analysis than the one you performed during the underwriting phase, which is why it is a necessary part of your real estate due diligence.

For the market survey, your property management company will locate direct competitors of the apartment community. Then, they will compare your apartment community to each of the direct competitors over various factors to determine the market rents on an overall and a unit type basis. A few key points on the market survey analysis is to make sure that your property management company uses apartment communities that are upgraded similarly to how your apartment community will be post-renovations and not in its current condition. These should also be in similar neighborhoods and built within a similar time period.

When initial underwriting the deal, you set your renovated rental assumptions based on a combination of performing your own rental comparable analysis and, if the sellers had initiated an upgrade program, proven rental rates. Compare the results of the market survey to your initial renovated rent assumptions. If there are any discrepancies, update your underwriting model to reflect the results of the market survey and complete this portion of the real estate due diligence.

5 – Lease Audit

Your property management company will collect all of the leases of the current residents at the apartment community and perform an audit. They will analyze each lease, recording the rents, security deposits, concessions, and terms. Then, they will compare the information gathered from the leases to the rent roll provided by the owner, recording any discrepancies.

Unless the current property management company was extremely incompetent, the discrepancies should be minor, if there are any at all, and it should affect your financial model.

6 – Unit Walk

A question my apartment syndication clients ask a lot is “when I am performing real estate due diligence, do I need to walk every single unit?” The answer is a resounding yes! And that is the purpose of the unit walk report.

During the unit walk, your property management company will inspect the individual units. The purpose of the unit walk is to determine the current condition of each. So, while conducting the unit walk, they will take notes on things like the condition of the rooms, the type and condition of appliances, the presence or absence of washer/dryer hookups, the conditions of the light fixtures, missing GFCI outlets, and anything else that stands out as a potential maintenance or resident issue.

Once you receive the unit walk report, compare the results to your interior renovation assumptions to determine the accuracy of your interior business plan.

Do the number of units that require interior upgrades match your business plan? Is there unexpected deferred maintenance that wasn’t accounted for in your budget? Are there a high number of residents who will need to be evicted once you’ve taken over the operations?

Using that data, you can create a more detailed, unit-by-unit interior renovation plan and calculate a more accurate budget. Make any adjustments to your interior renovation assumption on your financial model.

Most likely, your property manager will perform the market survey, lease audit, and unit walk report, and they will usually do it for free. However, ask the property manager how much they will charge you for these three reports if you do not close on the deal. And if you have to hire a 3rd party to create these three reports, the cost is approximately $4,000.

7 – Site Survey

A site survey resembles a map and shows the boundaries of the property, indicating the lot size. It also includes a written description of the property.

There are a lot of third-party services that can conduct a site survey. A quick Google search of “site survey + (city name) will do the trick. I recommend reaching out to multiple companies to get a handful of bids for your project. The approximate cost for the site survey is $6,000.

The site survey report will list any boundary, easement, utility, and zoning issues for the apartment community. Generally, if a problem is found during the site survey, the bank will not provide a loan on the property. So, if something does come up during this real estate due diligence report, your options are limited and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If the problem can’t be resolved, you will have to cancel the contract.

8 – Environmental Site Survey

The environmental site assessment is an inspection that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. It will address the underlying land, as well as any physical improvements to the property, and will offer conclusions or recommendations for further investigations of an issue is found. The environmental site assessment is also performed by a 3rd party vendor selected by your lender. The approximate cost is $2,500. Similar to the site survey, if the vendor identifies an environmental problem, the lender will not provide a loan for the property. Again, these issues should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

9 – Appraisal

The appraisal report is created by an appraiser selected by your lender and determines the as-is value of the apartment community. The cost is approximately $5,000.

The appraiser will inspect the property, and then calculate the as-is value of the apartment community. The two appraisal methods that will be used to determine the value of the property are the sales comparison approach (i.e. comparing the subject property to similar properties that were recently sold) and the income capitalization approach (i.e. using the net operating income and the market cap rate).

Once you receive the appraisal, you should compare the appraised value to the contract purchase price as part of your real estate due diligence. The lender will base their financing on the appraised value, not the contract price. Therefore, if the appraisal comes back at a value higher than the contract price, fantastic! That’s essentially free equity. However, if the appraised value is lower than the contract price, you will have to either make up the difference by raising additional capital or renegotiate the purchase price with the seller.

10 – Green Report

The Green report is an optional assessment that evaluates potential energy and water conservation measures for the apartment community. The report will include a list of all measures found, along with the associated cost savings and initial investment.

The report is created by a 3rd party vendor selected by your lender. The approximate cost is $3,500.

The green report, which is the only document that won’t disqualify a deal, will outline all of the potential energy and water conservation opportunities. It will list all of the opportunities that were identified, the estimated initial investment to implement, the associated cost savings and the return on investment. Deciding which opportunities to move forward with should be based on the payback period and the projected hold period of the property.

An Example of Green Options

For example, the following energy efficient opportunities were identified at an apartment project my company assessed:

  • Dual pane windows
  • Wall insulation and leakage sealing
  • Roof insulation
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Low-flow showerheads and toilets
  • Interior and exterior LED lighting
  • Energy Star rated refrigerators and dishwashers

After analyzing the investment amount and cost savings, the opportunities we implemented, and the associated savings and payback periods were:

  • Low-flow showerheads: 1-year payback, $16,827 annual savings
  • Exterior LED lighting: 14.4-year payback, $3,236 annual savings
  • Pool cover: 1.5-year payback, $409 annual savings

The reasoning behind the low-flow showerheads and pool cover was that we planned on holding the property for 5-years, so, once we paid back the initial investment amount, it was pure profit. We ended up losing money on the exterior LED lighting project. However, we installed these lights to increase resident safety.

You will find that the green report will list ALL opportunities, even if the payback period is absurdly long. If we implemented all the opportunities identified in the example above, the overall payback period would have been 91.9 years, with the longest payback period being 165 years for the Energy Star rated dishwashers. Unless we decided to hold onto a building until we died or unit they’ve discovered an immortality serum, we stuck to the opportunities that either resulted in a payback period lower than our projected hold time or address a resident safety concern.

How to Pay for the Due Diligence Reports

Usually, the costs of the real estate due diligence reports will not be due until closing. So, when underwriting the deal, make sure you are taking these costs into account when determining how much equity you need to raise.

Other times, you will need to pay for a due diligence report upfront. If this is the case, you can do one of two things. You can pay out-of-pocket and reimburse yourself at close. Or, you can take a loan from a third-party (maybe one of your passive investors) and reimburse the initial loan amount with interest at close.

Review the Results of Your New Underwriting Model

Based on the financial document audit, market survey report, lease audit report, and green program report, you will either confirm or update your income assumptions. The financial document audit will help you confirm or update your expense assumptions. The two property condition assessments and the unit walk report will lead you to confirm or update your renovation budget assumptions. Based on the appraisal report, you will either confirm the accuracy of the purchase price or determine that you have the property under contract at a price that is below or above the as-is value. And based on the site survey and environmental survey, you will determine if there is anything that disqualifies the deal entirely.

Once you have received the results of all 10 real estate due diligence documents and made the necessary adjustments to your underwriting model, you need to re-review your return projections. If you had to make drastic changes to the income, expenses or renovation budgets in the negative direction, then the new return projections will be reduced. In some cases, the return projections will be reduced to such a degree that the deal no longer meets the return goals of you and your investors. Also, if an issue came up during the site survey or the environmental site assessment, which is rare, it will need to be resolved prior to closing. If the seller is unwilling or unable to address these issues, your lender will not provide financing on the property, which means you will have to cancel the contract.

If the updated return projections fall below your investor’s return goals, adjust the purchase price in your underwriting model until the projected returns meet your investor’s goals again. Then, explain to your real estate broker that you want to renegotiate the purchase price and state the reasons for doing so.

If the seller will not accept the new contract terms, don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal. At the end of the day, it is your job to please your investors, which means providing them with their desired return goals.

How a Passive Investor Qualifies an Apartment Syndicator’s Team

One of the three main risk points associated with passively investing in apartment syndications is the syndication team (the other two are the deal itself and the market). The best deal, from a projected returns standpoint, in the best market in the country may result in failure if the team cannot successfully execute the business plan. Therefore, prior to committing to a particular apartment syndicator or to a particular deal, a passive investor should qualify the main team members involved in the deal.

 

Before asking these questions, however, you need to qualify the actual apartment syndicator. Click here for a blog post for how a passive investor qualifies an apartment syndicator.

 

There are the 7 team members involved in syndication process: property management company, real estate broker, CPA, mortgage broker, real estate attorney, securities attorney and a consultant (optional). But the main team member is the property management company.

 

The property management company is the boots-on-the-ground force that is responsible for overseeing the ongoing, day-to-day operations of the apartment community. This includes marketing efforts to attract new residents, resident relations (like hosting resident events), managing turnovers, fulfilling maintenance requests, maximizing rents and occupancy levels, etc. If the syndicator is following a value-add or distressed investment strategy, the property management company will also oversee the renovation process.

 

Prior to investing with an apartment syndicator, you want to determine the credibility of the property management company, which you can accomplish by asking the following 8 questions:

 

  1. How long have they been in business?

 

A relatively new property management company might not have enough experience managing certain sized or types of apartments. Generally, the longer they’ve been in business, the better. For example, the property management company that we use has been in business for over 75 years.

 

  1. What geographic areas do they cover?

 

The property management company MUST have a presence in the market in which the apartment syndicator is investing. That means the company must be local to the market or, if they are a national property management company, must have a regional office located in the market.

 

  1. How many units do they manage?

 

Similar to the question 1, the property management company should manage multiple apartment communities in the same market. However, bigger isn’t always better, because if they manage too many units, they might not be able to provide the highest quality service. Also, if they have been in business for decades but only manage a handful of communities, that could be a red flag.

 

  1. How many units do they own?

 

If the property management company owns other apartment communities in the same market, it could be a conflict of interest. If the syndicator’s property and their property have a vacant 2 bed, 1 bath unit at the same time, which one are they likely to fill first? Not a deal breaker, but this is definitely something that you want to be aware of.

 

  1. What asset class do they specialize in?

 

The property management company MUST have experience implementing the same business plan that the syndicator is pursuing. For example, If the syndicator is following a value-add investment strategy, the property management company must have experience with value-add apartment communities.

 

  1. What are some of the names of nearby properties they are currently managing?

 

This proves that they are actually managing apartments in the local market. But it will also allow you to perform some research to see how the apartment communities are maintained. If you are local to the market, you can visit these properties in person. If not, you can perform online research by looking at the website and by looking at the property on Google Maps. Also, you can look up the apartment community on Google or Apartments.com to read resident reviews and see the overall rating.

 

  1. Have you worked with this company in the past?

 

Since you are ideally investing with a syndicator who has previous apartment experience, this shouldn’t be the first time they used their property management company. If the property management company doesn’t manage the majority of their portfolio in their target market, that could be red flag. So, if that is the case, a follow-up question would be to ask them why this management company doesn’t manage the majority of their portfolio.

 

  1. Is the property management company showing alignment of interests?

 

Alignment of interests are always important, but they are especially important if the syndicator doesn’t have a long, successful track record with apartment communities. There are five main ways that the property management company can show alignment of interest.

 

The lowest level of alignment of interests is the management company has a proven track record managing apartment communities that are located in the local market, has worked with the syndicator in the past and has followed the same investment strategy that the syndicator is implementing. Regardless of the experience level of the apartment syndicator, this level of alignment of interest should be shown.

 

The next level up is when the property management company has an equity stake in the general partnership.

 

The third level of alignment of interest is when the property management company invests their own capital in the deals.

 

The fourth level of alignment of interest is when the property management company invests their own money in the deal AND brings on their own passive investors.

 

And the highest level of alignment of interests is when the property management company signs on the loan.

 

Again: it is ideal that the syndicator has previous experience with apartments, but if they don’t, having alignment of interests with the property management company – or with other team members, like the real estate broker or a local apartment owner/consultant – can offset their lack of experience. If the syndicator does have experience, then the level two to five alignment of interests are less important.

 

 

Over the course of your communication with a prospective apartment syndicator, these are the eight questions you want to ask in order to determine the credibility and experience of their property management company.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

qualify an apartment syndicator

How a Passive Investor Qualifies an Apartment Syndicator

The syndicator, also referred to as the sponsor or general partner, is an individual or a group of individuals that puts an apartment syndication together. And, this entails a lot of responsibilities.

 

Their main responsibilities include creating the syndication team, selecting and evaluating a target market, finding a deal, qualifying or disqualifying the deal through underwriting, submitting an offer and negotiating the purchase price and terms.

 

Once a deal is under contract, their main responsibilities are to manage the due diligence process, confirm the underwriting assumptions, create the business plan, arrange the debt, secure the equity from passive investors and coordinate with the real estate and securities attorney to structure and create the partnership.

 

Once the deal is closed, they are responsible for the ongoing asset management of the project, which includes implementing the business plan, distributing the returns to the passive investors, communicating updates to the passive investors, visiting the property and frequently analyzing the competition and the market.

 

Essentially, they are responsible for managing the entire process from start to finish. Because of their heavy involvement in the process, the success or failure of the deal rests mostly on their shoulders. Therefore, rather than investing with the first apartment syndicator you find, you need to qualify them by asking questions.

 

The Business Plan

 

One of the first things you want to know is the general business plan they implement. Click here to learn more about the three apartment syndication options. This will segue into the next question, which is what is their past experience with this particular business plan? In particular, you want to know if they have taken a deal full cycle (from acquisition to sale) following this business plan and whether or not they were successful (which is determined by how the projected returns compared to the actual returns distributed to the passive investors).

 

Alignment of Interests

 

If the syndicator does not have previous experience implementing the business plan, that is not an automatic disqualifier. However, their lack of experience must be made up for by having a credible team and strong alignment of interests. And for the experienced syndicator with a proven track record of successfully implementing their business plan, having a partnership structure that promotes alignment of interests is the icing on the cake.

 

There are many other team members that are involved in the syndication process, but the three team members with the most involvement in the deal are the property management company, the real estate broker and – if the syndicator doesn’t have previous apartment experience – a consultant. And each of these team members bring different levels of alignment of interests to the deal. Generally, an experienced property management company results in the most alignment of interests, followed by an experienced syndication consultant or local owner who is active in the apartment industry, followed by an experienced real estate broker.

 

The syndicator themselves can also promote alignment of interests. For example, one of the common fees the syndicator charges in an ongoing asset management fee. If they put that fee in second position to the preferred return, that promotes alignment of interests. If you don’t get paid, they don’t get paid.

 

Additionally, they can promote alignment of interests by investing their own capital in the deal, whether that’s is their personal funds, company funds or by allocating a portion or all of their acquisition fee into the deal. By not having money in the deal, the syndicator isn’t exposed to the same level of risks as you are. If the deal performs poorly, they won’t get paid but they also won’t lose any capital either. Whereas, by having their own skin in the game, they are incentivized to maximize returns.

 

Another way to promote alignment of interest is for the syndicator, or a member of the team, to personally guarantee the loan as a loan guarantor.

 

Transparency

 

Another characteristic of a good syndicator is transparency. To determine the level of transparency, ask them about their ongoing communication process. How often do they send updates on the deal? Will they provide you with financial reports so you can review the property’s operations?

 

You also want to ask them what the communication process is when you have a question. Will they provide you with their cell phone number or direct email address? And if you do have a question, what will be the turn-around time?

 

You are trusting the syndicator with your hard-earned capital, so having transparency in regards to what they are doing with your money and how the deal is progressing is a must.

 

Credibility

 

A good question to determine the syndicators track record is to ask them how many of their passive investors have invested in multiple assets. Syndicators who have investors that continue to come back deal after deal is an indication that they have a proven track record of meeting and/or exceeding the projected returns. While the opposite may be true if the syndicator has a poor investor retention rate.

 

Similarly, ask the syndicator what percentage of their new investors come in the form of referrals. If they have a lot of referrals, that indicates satisfied investors who are motivated to share their success with friends and colleagues.

 

You can also gauge the reputation and credibility of a syndicator by their online presence. Are they easily found when you perform a Google search? Do they have a website? Do they create content in the form of a podcast or blog? You can learn a lot about a syndicator by performing online research prior to actually speaking with them.

 

 

The syndicator’s past experience with the apartment business plan, level of alignment of interests, transparency and credibility are important factors to understand when determining whether or not to passively invest in their deal.

 

If you are a current passive real estate investor, what do you think? Comment below: what do you look for when qualifying an apartment syndicator?

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

 

How the General Partner Makes Money from an Apartment Syndication

The types of fees and the range of each fee will vary from syndicator-to-syndicator. But every fee that is charged should be directly tied to a task that is explicitly adding value to the apartment deal.

 

In order to identify the fairness and reasonableness of the GP compensation structure, you need to understand 1) the types and standard ranges of the general partnership fees for the industry, 2) what tasks they are performing in return for those fees and 3) if each of those fees promotes alignment of interests between the LP and GP.

 

There a lot of different fees that the syndicator could charge, but here is a list of the seven fees that you will come across most often. An important disclaimer to make is that this is not a list of the fees that every syndicator will charge every single time. Rather most syndicators will mix-and-match the types of fees that charge, depending on the project.

 

1 – Profit Split

 

Depending on the type of LP compensation structure, the general partnership may earn a portion of the remaining profits after the preferred return is distributed.

 

For example, the LP may receive an 8% preferred return and the profits thereafter are split between the LP and GP. This split can be anywhere from 50/50 to 90/10 (LP/GP)

 

If the LP invested $1,000,000 into a property that cash flowed $100,000 for the year, assuming an 8% preferred return and a 50/50 split thereafter, the LP would receive $80,000 as a preferred return, plus another $10,000 as a profit split. Then, the GP would receive the remaining $10,000.

 

The profit split promotes alignment of interests because the GP is financially incentivized to operate the apartment community such that the annual return exceeds the preferred return. Because if they don’t, they are missing out on an opportunity to make money. Then for the passive investor, when the annual returns exceed the preferred return, the LP receives a higher annual distribution and – since the net operating income is directly tied to the property value – a higher distribution at sale.

 

On a related note, you want to confirm that at sale, the profit split is calculated based on the remaining profits AFTER the LP’s initial equity is return. Also, when the GP is outlining the LP return projections, you want to confirm that those projections are net of the GP fees. This means that you want to make sure that the projections they show you are AFTER the GP has taken their fees, because if not, the actual returns will be less than what they are showing you.

 

2 – Acquisition Fee

 

Nearly every apartment syndicator will charge an acquisition fee. The acquisition fee is an upfront, one-time fee paid to the GP at closing. The acquisition fee ranges from 1% to 5% of the purchase price, depending on the size, scope, experience of team and profit potential of the project.

 

Think of the acquisition fee as a consulting fee paid to the GP for putting the entire project together. It is a fee that pays the GP for their time and money spent on market research, creating a team (lawyers, CPAs, real estate brokers, etc.), finding the deal, analyzing the deal, raising money, securing financing, performing due diligence and closing.

 

3 – Asset Management Fee

 

The asset management fee is an ongoing annual fee paid to the GP in return for overseeing the operations of the property and implementing the business plan. The asset management fee is either a percentage of the collected income or a per unit per year fee. The standard percentage range is 2% to 3% while the standard per unit per year is $200 to $300.

 

The range of the asset management fee is usually based on the business plan. If the plan is to perform interior renovations and exterior renovations/upgrades, a higher asset management fee may be justified, because the GP will be heavily involved in ongoing oversight of the business plan. But the opposite is true if the property is already stabilized and up-to-date from day one. In other words, the more effort and time required by the GP, the higher the asset management fee. And since the asset management fee is directly tied to the collected revenue, if the business plan isn’t implemented effectively, the GP doesn’t maximize what they could make, which helps with alignment of interests.

 

Additionally, there is a higher alignment of interests with the percentage-based fee as opposed to the unit-based fee. Since the percentage-based fee is tied to the actual collected income, the lower the collected income, the lower the asset management fee. So, the GP is incentivized to maximize the income, which in turn will maximize your returns. Whereas the unit-based fee is a flat fee that remains the same regardless of the amount of collected income.

 

For another level of alignment of interest, the GP will put the asset management fee in second position behind the preferred return. That means that if the preferred return isn’t distributed, they won’t receive the asset management fee. Not every GP will have a compensation structure with the asset management fee in second position. So, for the ones that don’t, the alignment of interests is lower than that of the GP that does.

 

4 – Refinance Fee

 

A refinancing fee is a fee that is paid to the GP for the work required to refinance the property. Of course, if the business plan doesn’t include a refinance, the GP will not charge such a fee.

 

At the closing of the new loan, a fee of 1% to 3% of the total loan amount is paid to the GP. However, to promote alignment of interests, this fee should only be charged if a specified equity hurdle is reached. For example, the return hurdle may be returning 50% of the LP’s initial equity. If only 40% is returned, while that is still beneficial to the LP, the GP will not collect the fee. Therefore, this type of refinance fee structure incentivizes the GP to maximize the property value such that they will hit the equity return hurdle at refinance. And the LP benefits by receiving a large portion of their equity back and – again, since the property value is directly tied to the net operating income –  higher ongoing returns.

 

5 – Guaranty Fee

 

The guaranty fee is typically a one-time fee paid to a loan guarantor at closing. The loan guarantor guarantees the loan. The GP may bring on an individual with a high net-worth/balance sheet to sign on the loan to get the best terms possible. Or, the GP may sign the loan themselves, collecting the fee or deciding to forgo it.

 

At close, a fee of as low as 0.5% to 1% and as high as 3.5 to 5% of the principal balance of the mortgage is paid to the loan guarantor. The riskier or more complicated the deal, the higher the guaranty fee. If the GP doesn’t have a good relationship with the loan guarantor, that individual will charge a higher fee as well. In some instances, the GP will offer the loan guarantor a percentage of the GP (10% to 30%) in addition to the one-time upfront fee.

 

Also, the size of the fee depends on the type of loan. Generally, there are two types of debts: recourse and nonrecourse. Recourse debt allows the lender to collect what is owed for the debt even after they’ve taken collateral. Nonrecourse debt does not allow the lender to pursue anything other than the collateral (with a few exceptions or “carve outs,” like in instances of gross negligence or fraud). So, the guaranty fee will be higher for recourse loans compared to nonrecourse loans.

 

Since the loan guarantor is personally guaranteeing the loan, this promotes alignment of interests. Because if they project fails, the GP is personally liable.

 

 

6 – Construction Management Fee

 

The construction management fee is an on-going annual fee paid to the company overseeing the capital improvement process. If the GP has a hands-on role in the renovation process or if the GP has their own property management company, they may charge a construction management fee.

 

This fee ranges from 5% to 10% of the renovation budget, depending on the size and complexity of the improvement plan.

 

For some syndicators, this fee will be built into the asset management fee, while others will charge a construction fee on top of the asset management fee. When a GP charges both an asset management and construction management fee, it may reduce your ongoing returns, especially while renovations are being performed.

 

7 – Organization Fee

 

The organization fee is an upfront fee paid to the GP for putting together the group investment. This fee ranges from 3% to 10% of the total money raised, depending on the amount of money raised.

 

For some syndicators, this fee will be built into the acquisition fee, while others will charge an organization fee on top of the acquisition fee. When a GP charges both an acquisition and organization fee, your overall return may be reduced.

 

 

These are the seven type of fees you will most commonly come across as a passive apartment investor.

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com

active vs. passive

Active Vs. Passive: Which Is the Superior Real Estate Investment Strategy?

 

Originally featured in Forbes here.

 

When the average person thinks of real estate investing, they might imagine a billionaire who develops massive commercial properties, or an HGTV fix-and-flipper who turns a profit by converting a run-down property into someone’s dream home. With this mental representation, it’s no wonder more people aren’t real estate investors.

 

Obviously, this isn’t the case in reality. There are thousands of different real estate investing strategies from which to choose. The difficult part — aside from shedding the false belief that real estate investing is only for the rich —  is identifying the ideal investment strategy that fits one’s current economic condition, abilities and risk tolerance level.

 

Generally, entry-level investment strategies fall into two categories: passive and active investing. The question is, which one is best for you?

 

For our purpose here, I will define active investing as the acquisition of a single-family residence (SFR) with the goal of utilizing it as a rental property and turning over the ongoing management to a third-party property management company. Alternatively, passive investing is placing one’s capital into a real estate syndication — more specifically, an apartment syndication — that is managed in its entirety by a sponsor.

 

In order to determine which investment strategy is best for you, it is important to understand the main differences between the two. Based on my personal experience following both of these investment strategies and interviewing thousands of real estate professionals who have done the same, I’ve discovered that the differences between passive and active investing fall into three major categories: control, time commitment and risk.

 

Control

 

As a passive investor, you are a limited partner in the deal. You give your capital to an experienced sponsor who will use that money to acquire and manage the entire apartment project. You have no direct control over any aspect of the business plan, so you are putting a lot of trust into the sponsor and their team. However, this trust is established by not giving your money to a random, unqualified sponsor but through an alignment of interests. For example, the sponsor will offer you a preferred return, which means that you will receive an agreed-upon return before the syndicator receives a dime. Therefore, the syndicator is financially incentivized to achieve a return above and beyond the preferred return.

 

As an active investor, you can directly control the business plan. You decide which investment strategy to pursue. You decide the type and level of renovations to perform. You decide the quality of tenant to accept and the rental rate to charge. You determine when to refinance or sell. With for passive investing, all of the above is determined by the apartment syndicator.

 

Time Commitment

 

As an active investor, the advantage of more control comes with the disadvantage of a greater time commitment. It is your responsibility to educate yourself on the ins and outs of single-family rental investing. Then, you have to find and vet various team members. Once you have a team in place, you have to perform all the duties required to find, qualify and close on a deal. After closing, as long as you have a good property management company, it should be pretty hands-off. Although, if (really, when) something unexpected occurs, you’re responsible for making those decisions, which can come with a lot of stress and a lot of headaches.

 

Of course, it is indeed possible to automate the majority, if not all, of the above tasks. But that requires a certain level of expertise and a large time investment to implement effectively.

 

Passive investing is more or less hassle-free. You don’t have to worry about any of the actions described above. You just need to initially vet the apartment syndicator and vet the deal. From there, you simply invest your capital and read the monthly or quarterly project updates.

 

Risk

 

You are exposed to much less risk as a passive investor. You are plugging into an already created and proven investment system run by an experienced apartment sponsor who (preferably) has successfully completed countless deals in the past. Additionally, there is more certainty on the returns. You will know the projected limited partner returns — both ongoing and at sale — prior to investing. And assuming the syndicator conservatively underwrote the deal, these projected returns should be exceeded.

 

Active investing is a much riskier strategy. However, with the higher risk comes a higher upside potential. You own 100% of the deal, which means you get 100% of the profits. But, you also have to bear the burden of 100% of the losses. For example, a turnkey rental will likely cash flow a few hundred dollars a month depending on the market. The costs associated with one large maintenance issue or a turnover could wipe out months, or even years, of profits. A value-add or distressed rental has a huge upside potential. However, a common tale among distressed or value-add investors, especially the newer or less experienced ones, is projecting a certain renovation budget but finding an unexpected issue during the rehab process that drastically increases their budget, resulting in a lower or negative overall return.

 

Additionally, failing to accurately calculate a post-renovation unit’s rental premium will also result in the reduction or elimination of profits. While these profit reduction or elimination scenarios could technically occur with a passive investment, the risk is spread out across many investors, and a sponsor with a proven track record and a qualified team will mitigate these risks.

 

Real estate investing is for everyone, not just the moguls of the world. However, not all investment strategies are the same. It’s important to understand the pros and cons associated with each to determine which strategy will set you up for success.

What is Your Ideal Passive Apartment Investment?

Last updated 9/28/18

 

After reviewing the differences between active and passive real estate investing, assessing your current economic condition, ability and risk tolerance level, you’ve decided to passively invest in apartment syndications.

Great! You are one step closer to investing in your first deal. So, what’s next?

Similar to determining your ideal general investment strategy (i.e. active vs. passive), you need to establish your ideal passive investment. And in order to establish your ideal passive investment, you need to know what your options are first. In particular, you need to learn about the different types of apartment syndications in which you can passively invest your money and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Generally, apartment syndications fall into one of three categories: turnkey, distressed or value add.

 

1 – Turnkey Apartment

Turnkey apartments are class A properties that require minimal to no work after acquisition. These properties are fully updated to the current market standards and are highly stabilized with occupancy rates exceeding 95%. Therefore, the turnkey business model is to take over the operations and continue managing the asset in a similar fashion to the previous owners. No renovations. No tenant turnover. Nothing fancy.

Of the three apartment syndication strategies, investing in turnkey apartments has the lowest level of risk. The property is fully updated and fully stabilized at acquisition. The risks associated with performing renovations, which include overspending, unexpected capital expenditures, bad contractors, incorrect rental premium assumptions, etc., and turning over a large percentage of tenants are minimized. Additionally, the asset will achieve the projected cash flow from day one, because the revenue pre- and post-acquisition remains the same.

The drawbacks of the turnkey apartment syndication strategy are the lower ongoing returns and the lowest upside potential compared to the other two apartment types. Because the property is fully updated and stabilized, there isn’t room to increase the revenue of the property. Therefore, the ongoing returns are and remain in the low to mid-single digits. Additionally, since the value of the asset is calculated using the net operating income and the market cap rate, unless the overall market naturally appreciates, the property value will remain the relatively stable. As a result, there is little to no upside potential at sale. Most likely, you will receive your initial equity investment back with minimal to no profit.

 

2 – Distressed Apartment

On the opposite of the end of the spectrum is the distressed apartment. Distressed apartments are class C or D assets that are non-stabilized with occupancy rates below 85% and usually much lower due to a whole slew of reasons including poor operations, tenant issues, outdated interiors, exteriors, common areas and amenities, mismanagement and deferred maintenance. Generally, distressed apartment syndicators will take over and, within a year or two, stabilize the asset by addressing the interior and exterior deterred maintenance, installing a new property management company, finding new tenants, etc. Then, they will either continue their business plan to further increase the apartment’s occupancy levels and/or rental rates or they will sell the property.

The major advantage of passively investing in a distressed apartment is the upside potential at sale. Once the asset is stabilized the revenue – and therefore the value – will increase dramatically, resulting in a large distribution at sale.

The drawbacks of distressed apartments compared to the other two types are being exposed to the highest level of risk and receiving the lowest ongoing returns. The high upside potential at sale also comes with the risk of losing ALL of your investment. There are a lot of variable to take into account with a distressed apartment, which means there are a lot more things that could go wrong. Additionally, since the asset is not stabilized at acquisition, there will be little to no cash flow – and maybe even negative cash flow. That means you won’t receive ongoing distributions unless the syndication structure is such that you receive interest on your investment before the sale.

 

3 – Value-Add Apartment

Lastly, we have value-add apartments. Value-add apartments are class C or B assets that are stabilized with occupancy rates above 85% and have an opportunity to “add value.” Generally, the value-add apartment syndicator will acquire the property, “add value” over the course of 12 to 24 months and sell after five years.

Adding value” means making improvements to the operations and physical property through exterior and interior renovations in order to increase the revenue or decrease expense. These renovations are different than the ones performed on a distressed apartment. Typical ways to add value are updating the unit interiors to achieve higher rental rates, adding or improving upon common amenities to increase revenue and competitiveness like renovating the clubhouse or pool area, adding a dog park, playground, BBQ pit, soccer field, carports or storage lockers and implementing procedures to decrease operational costs like loss-to-lease, bad debt, concessions, payroll, admin, maintenance, marketing, etc.

Compared to the other two apartment types, value add apartments have a lower level of risk, the highest ongoing returns and a high upside potential at sale. At acquisition, the property is already stabilized and generating a cash flow. So, at the very least, the property will continue to profit at its current level and your passive investment is preserved. That also means that you will receive an ongoing distribution (typically around 8%, depending on the syndication partnership agreement) during the renovation period. Once the value add projects are completed, the ongoing distribution will increase to the high single digits, low double digits and remain at a similar level until the sale. Additionally, the increase in revenue and decrease in expenses from the value add business plan will increase the overall value of the asset, which means there is the potential for a lump sum distribution at sale.

 

What’s Your Ideal Passive Investment?

Your ideal passive investment will be in an apartment type with the benefits and drawbacks that align most with your financial goals.

Are you content with tying up your capital for a year or two with minimal to no cash flow and willing to risk losing it all in order to double your investment? Then I would consider passively investing with an apartment syndicator that implements the distressed business plan.

Are you more interested in capital preservation and receiving a return that beats the inflation rate? Then I would consider passively investing with an apartment syndicator that purchased turnkey properties.

Are you attracted to the prospect of receiving an 8% to 12% cash-on-cash return each year with the prospect of a sizable lump sum profit after five or so years?  Then I would consider passively investing with an apartment syndicator that implements the value-add business model.

 

Want to learn how to build an apartment syndication empire? Purchase the world’s first and only comprehensive book on the exact step-by-step process for completing your first apartment syndication: Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book

stop sign

When to NOT Work with a Passive Investor on an Apartment Deal

When I first started raising money from investors to purchase apartment communities, as long as the individual was interested in a passive investment and met the accredited qualifications, I accepted their capital without hesitation. And if you are just launching your syndication career, perhaps you’re doing the same. However, as you begin to gain experience and your list of private investors grows, it is beneficial to be aware of the red flags that may indicate the potential for future disputes and, if necessary, to not add or remove the investor from future new investment offering correspondences.

 

To understand these red flags, it is first important to define the ideal syndicator/passive investor relationship. The typical life cycle of an apartment syndication is 5 years. Therefore, when forming a relationship of this length, I want a passive investor who both trusts me as a person and treats me as a partner, as opposed to considering me as their vendor. Based on my experience from hundreds of accredited investor conversations and completing more than ten apartment syndications, I’ve found that there are two main factors that indicate to me that our relationship will not meet these requirements.

 

Red Flag 1 – Contempt

 

A famous study published in 1998 by marriage researcher John Gottman videotaped newlywed couples discussing a controversial topic for 15 minutes with the purpose of measuring how the fought over it. Then, three to six years later, Gottman and his team checked in on these couples’ marital status – were they together or were they divorced? As a result, they determined that they could predict with an 83% accuracy if newlywed couples would divorce. The study found that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to marriages and of the four, contempt is the strongest.

 

If there is contempt in a marriage, it will not last. And I believe that the same applies to business relationships.  According to Dictionary.com, contempt is the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving of scorn.

 

How I identify contempt is based on my initial gut reaction. Do I get the feeling that this person sees me as an equal and as a partner? Or do they look down on me and see me as a vendor? For example, I recently had an email correspondence with a potential investor. He led off the conversation by saying, “My standards are high. My patience for slick marketing is low.” Then, after I provided him some information about my company, including past case studies of the returns I provided to my investors, his reply was, “So what I need to hear is why do some deals with you as opposed to (the company with which he currently invests)?” I felt that this individual’s replies had traces of contempt and politely explained that we wouldn’t be a good fit. If I was earlier on in my career, I would have likely brought this individual on as a partner, but since I already have strong relationships with my current investors, I didn’t find the potential issues worth pursuing the relationship any further.

 

If you are having a conversation with an investor and your gut is telling you that this person holds you in contempt, I would consider passing on the relationship. To set the relationship up for success, only work with investors who treat you as an equal and who want a mutually beneficial partnership.

 

Red Flag 2 – Lots of accusatory questions that don’t convey that they trust me

 

The second red flag I’ve come across is when a potential investor asks a laundry list of questions in an accusatory tone. For example, I have an investor who literally sends me a list of 50 or more questions that are written in an accusatory fashion for every new investment offering. After taking the time to answer each question on multiple deals, they have yet to invest. Because they are asking questions in that manner, regardless of my answer, they will still be suspicious.

 

An important distinction to make here is that I have no issue with my investors sending me a list of questions, no matter how long. In fact, that is encouraged, because the more information I can provide about the deal, the more confidence they will have in the investment. The red flag is when the questions are asked in an accusatory manner. That conveys that they don’t have trust in me and that they’ll likely never invest in a deal. At the end of the day, the key to a successful, long-term relationship is trust, and when my instincts are telling me that there is a lack of trust, I decide to no longer pursue the relationship.

 

Conclusion

 

The two red flags to look for when having conversations with investors is contempt and the asking of a long list of questions in an accusatory tone that conveys that they don’t trust me.

 

Keep in mind that both these factors are highly subjective. Each syndicator and each investor has a different personality and will get along with different types of people. Just because you get the feeling that someone holds you in contempt or asks questions in an accusatory tone does not mean that they are a bad person. However, what it does indicate is that you will have an issue connecting in such a way that builds a relationship that is capable of surviving the course of a syndication deal. So, if either of these red flags arise, be polite, but strongly consider not working with that investor on your apartment deal.

 

If you have had a rocky business relationship in the past that came to an unfortunate end, what did you identify as the cause?

 

Also, subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice: http://eepurl.com/01dAD

                       

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.

 

 

aparment real estate from the ground

The 3 Secrets to Attract and Keep Your Passive Apartment Investors

Before raising money for my first deal, I thought the primary reason accredited investors would passively invest in my deal would be because of the return. However, after raising $1 million for that deal, I discovered that the return on investment was not the major concern. Because there are other syndication and investment avenues to which an investor can go, offering solid returns cannot be the driving factor.

 

So, if returns aren’t their primary motivation, what is?

 

Since my first deal, I’ve partnered with hundreds of accredited investors on more than ten apartments communities worth nearly $200,000,000. From this experience, I have narrowed down the passive investors’ three primary reasons for investing in an apartment syndication:

 

  • My money is in good hands
  • I will be updated on relevant information on the deal
  • The process is hassle-free

 

Need #1 – Is my money in good hands?

 

My first need is to know that my money is in good hands. First and foremost, that means I want to know that – at the very least – you won’t lose my money. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has two rules for investing: 1) Never lose money. 2) Never forget rule number 1. Therefore, your main focus when managing other people’s money should be capital preservation.

 

Like any investment, there are never guarantees – not for returns or the preservation of capital. So, I need to know that you are proactively mitigating any major risks. The syndicator accomplishes this by adhering to the three principles of apartment investing:

 

  • Don’t buy for appreciation
  • Don’t overleverage
  • Don’t get forced to sell

 

Follow these three principles and I will be confident that you will not only preserve my capital, but maximize my return as well.

 

Along with this, I want to know that my money is in the hands of an experienced syndicator. So, before you’re ready to raise money for your first deal, you must establish a solid educational foundation and have a track record in business and/or real estate. If you are lacking in either or both of these areas, you can make up for your deficiencies by surrounding yourself with a trustworthy, credible team, like a mentor, property management company and broker who have experience in the apartment industry and have successfully completed syndications. For me to invest in your deals, I must be confident in you and your team’s ability to return my capital and provide me with the projected return.

 

I also need to trust you as a person. I need to have a good feeling about you and truly believe that you have my best interests in mind. This trust is established by the length and quality of our relationship and by you demonstrating your expertise through your experience, your team or your thought leadership.

 

With this trust, I will be confident that you will have common sense, make good decisions, conservatively underwrite the deal, perform all the required due diligence before purchasing an apartment and at a minimum, meet the projected returns you outlined.

 

Finally, I want to know that you are a responsive communicator. If there is a problem with the deal, I want you to not only notify me of the issue, but have a proposed solution as well. And if I reach out to you with a question or concern, I expect that same lightning quick response with an answer.

 

Overall, I want to know that my money is in good hands. The syndicator will convey this to me by proactively mitigating the risks, having the relevant experience, building a trusting relationship and being a responsive communicator.

 

Need #2 – Will I be provided with status updates on the deal?

 

Additionally, I want to be provided with ongoing status updates of the project. On a consistent basis, I want a director level – not a CEO or entry-level employee level – update on the deal with supporting data.

 

To accomplish this, the syndicator needs to provide their investors with a monthly email update (I use MailChimp) that includes the following information:

 

  • Distribution details
  • Occupancy and pre-leased occupancy rates
  • Actual rents vs. projected rents
  • (If you are a value add investor) actual rental premium vs. projected rental premiums
  • Capital expenditure updates with pictures of the progress
  • Relevant market and/or submarket updates
  • Any issues, plus your proposed solution
  • Any community engagement events

 

Then, on a quarterly basis, provide me with the profit and loss statement and rent roll so if I want, I can review the operations of the property and dig deeper into the details. My company actually provides monthly distributions – as opposed to quarterly or annual distributions – so our investors are not only provided with updates on a monthly basis, but are paid as well.

 

Need #3 –  Is the process hassle-free?

 

Finally, I want a hassle-free process. The reason I am a passive investor is because I want to park my money in an investment and not have to worry about doing any of the day-to-day operations. I am busy making money with other business endeavors, so I want to minimize my time investment in the deal.

 

After performing my initial due diligence on the deal prior to investing, I want a boring investment with little to no surprises. All I want to do is read the monthly email updates and receive my distributions. So, to effectively provide investor distributions, set up a direct deposit, as opposed to sending checks in the mail, so all I need to do is look at my bank account rather than going to the bank each month to deposit a check.

 

If I do reach out with a concern, I want a quick resolution with minimal back and forth. Therefore, you should proactively address potential concerns in your monthly updates and if an investor has a concern, have a solution in place prior to replying.

 

Conclusion

 

In summary, I’ve completed nearly $200,000,000 worth of apartment syndications with hundreds of passive investors, and if you set your business/deals up so your investors answer YES to these 3 questions, you’ll be well on your way to closing more deals:

  • Is my money in good hands?
  • Will I be provided with status updates on the deal?
  • Is the process hassle-free?

 

If you use private money investors for you deals, what have you found to be their top motivations for investing with you and not with another qualified investor?

 

Did you like this blog post? If so, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons on this page.

 

Also, subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice: http://eepurl.com/01dAD

                       

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

3 Essential Factors of Diversification in Passive Real Estate Investing

Jeremy Roll, who is currently an investor in more than 70 deals across over $500 million worth of real estate and business assets, is one of many speakers who will be presenting at the 1st annual Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Conference in Denver, CO February 24th to 25th.

In a conversation with Jeremy last year, he provided his Best Ever Advice, which is a sneak preview of the information he will be presenting at the conference.

 

What was Jeremy’s advice? He explains the three essential factors to take into account when approaching diversification in passive real estate investing – geography, asset-class, and operators.

 

Geographic Diversification

 

Some investors like to invest locally, which can be defined as a location that is within an hour or two-hour drive. Others will invest out-of-state, but all in one sub-market. There are thousands of different ways to invest and most of them are effective. However, there is a problem with having all of your properties concentrated in one geographic location: you are much more susceptible to economic, weather, and other geographically related risks.

 

If there is a major earthquake, for example, and you own 10 properties within 3 miles of each other that are all destroyed, you are in trouble. I know this is an extreme example, but it is still a risk. Since earthquakes and similar risks are such a rarity, Jeremy calls them 1% risks.

 

In last months of 2016, Florida was hit by hurricanes, which most likely had a major affect on some real estate. While it might be okay to own real estate in Florida, if you were heavily invested in one Floridian location and one hurricane wiped out half of your properties, again, you are in trouble.

 

Another weather related example – Jeremy invests in six different funds with some very large mobile home park operators, with one being the 5th largest in the world. This operator shared a story about why they have no issue with investing in areas that have tornados, but they avoid hurricane areas. The reasoning was that when a hurricane hits, it typically wipes out a massive territory. As a result, the different governmental agencies and insurance companies are too overwhelmed and can’t handle it, so it takes forever to repair the damage. But for tornadoes, a more isolated area is affected, so FEMA will come in immediately and help. Isolated areas are much more manageable. In this specific situation, these mobile home operators had all of their homes that were damaged or destroyed by a tornado replaced for free. The lesson here is that tornados are manageable and hurricanes are unmanageable.

 

Besides weather related risks, another reason to diversify across different geographical areas is that each has it’s own unique economies and as a result, it’s own unique challenges. If you are invested in a city that relies heavily on a specific employer and they decide to relocate their plant across the country, you are in trouble.

 

There are countless other examples, so all in all, it is important to spread your investments out across different geographical areas.

 

Asset-Class Diversification

 

It is also important to diversify across different asset classes, both from an asset-type and tenant perspective. For example, Jeremy won’t invest in apartments unless they are 100 units of more. For a 100 unit building, when one person leaves his vacancy rates increases by 1%. On the other hand, if you invest in a 4plex and one tenant leaves, your vacancy rate increases by 25%!

 

Diversifying across asset-types is key because certain types perform better in a growing economy while others perform better, or are at least more manageable, during a downturn. For example, office and retail don’t perform as well during a good economy, but can go through a recession relatively well. Specifically, retail with anchor tenants – big grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens. Mobile home and self-storage – can perform even better during a down turn. In 2009, self-storage vacancy only increased by 1%. This is probably due to the increase in demand that came from homeowners who were foreclosed on and needed a place to store all their personal belongings.

 

In the long-term, you want to be as diversified as possible. In doing so, whether we are in a good economy or a bad economy, the cash flow is still going to come in. This is especially important if, like Jeremy, you are dependent on cash flow to live off of.

 

Jeremy does not recommend that you invest in every asset class. For example, he personally doesn’t invest in hotel or industrial space. On average, these asset classes tend to do really well in an upturn or positive economy. However, they tend to have really quick revenue reductions during a downturn. He doesn’t want to be exposed to that volatility.

 

Therefore, it is important that you diversify as much as possible, but make sure that you are comfortable and knowledgeable in all the asset classes you select.

 

Operator Diversification

 

Whenever you invest passively, you are trading control for diversification. You are giving someone else control of the day-to-day operations and you are probably investing with multiple different investors, so your control is minimized. Therefore, if you are going to give up control, you better trade it for diversification. Jeremy finds that there is always a 1% risk with operators, due to the possibility of mismanagement, fraud, a Ponzi Scheme, etc. You are increasing your risk inherently by being a passive investor. To mitigate that risk, diversify across operators. Don’t have too many eggs in one basket.

 

Everyone has their own take on the maximum exposure an investor should have in terms of number of operators. The common number that Jeremy sees is that people don’t like to be exposed to an operator with more than 5% to 10% of their total capital. The same applies to geography and asset-classes as well.

 

It is also important to keep in mind that proper diversification takes a long time, but it is the best way to reduce risk. The more diversified, the better. Jeremy recommends that you shouldn’t invest more than 5% of your capital into an opportunity. This means that your goal should be to diversify across at least 20 different opportunities. At that point, you can determine how many operators you are comfortable with – 1, 3, 5 or more, depending on the person. It is very subjective and depends on what you are comfortable with.

 

Conclusion

Diversification in real estate investing is a must to ensure long-term success and reduce risk. Jeremy Roll diversifies his investments by keeping three essential factors in mind:

  1. Geography
  2. Asset-class
  3. Operators

 

Jeremy believes your ultimate investment goal should work towards investing no more than 5% of your overall capital into a single opportunity and to expose no more than 10% of your capital to a single geography, asset-class, or with a single operator.

 

 

What are some stories of problems you have come across that were a direct result of not being diversified enough?

 

 

Want to learn more about lease-option investing, as well as a wide range of other real estate niches? Attend the 1st Annual Best Ever Conference February 24-25 in Denver, CO. It’s the only real estate investing conference whose content and speakers are curated based on the expressed needs of the audience. Visit www.besteverconference.com to learn more!

 

 

 

Related: Best Ever Speak Brie Schmidt Sneak Peek How to Avoid the Shiny Object Syndrome in Real Estate Investor

 

Related: Best Ever Speaker Kevin Bupp Sneak Peek Lessons Learned From Losing Everything During the Financial Crash

 

Related: Best Ever Speaker Theresa Bradley-Banta Sneak Peek Don’t Invest in Real Estate on Unfounded Optimism and Emotions

 

Related: Best Ever Speaker Linda Libertore Best Ever Success Habit of the Nation’s #1 Landlord Aid

 

Related: Best Ever Speaker Kevin Amolsch Why Moving at a STEADY Pace is the Secret to Real Estate Success

 

Related: Best Ever Speaker Bob Scott and Jimmy Vreeland How to Acquire over 100 Properties in 24 Months Utilizing the Lease-Option Strategy

 

 

The Importance of Diversification in Passive Real Estate Investing

Putting all of your eggs into one basket can be very dangerous in real estate investing. Jeremy Roll, who currently invests in more than 70 opportunities across over $500 million worth of real estate and business assets, is a firm believer in creating a diversified investment portfolio. In our conversation on the podcast, he explains how he personally approaches diversification by breaking it down into the 3 most essential pieces – geography, asset-class, and operators.

 

Geography Diversification

 

Some investors like to invest locally, somewhere that they can drive to within an hour or two. Others will invest out-of-state, but all in one sub-market. Everyone has their different investment strategies and most of them are effective. However, the problem with having all of your properties concentrated in one geographic location is that you are much more susceptible to weather and economic related risks.

 

For example, if there is a major earthquake (or volcanic eruption) and you own 10 properties within 3 miles of each other that are all destroyed, you are in trouble. While this is extreme, it is still a risk (Jeremy calls these 1% risks).

 

Certain parts of the United States, like Florida, are frequently bombarded with hurricanes, which have a major impact on real estate. While it might be okay to own real estate in Florida, if you were heavily invested in one Floridian location and one hurricane wipes of half of your properties, again, you are in trouble. On a related note, if you are impacted by a hurricane, make sure you follow the SOS approach, especially when you have private investors.

 

Another weather related example – Jeremy invests in 6 different funds with some very large mobile home park operators, with one being the 5th largest in the world. This operator shared a story about why they have no qualms with investing in areas that have tornados, but they avoid hurricane areas. The reasoning was that when a hurricane hits, it typically wipes out a massive territory. As a result, the different governmental agencies and insurance companies are too overwhelmed, so it takes forever to repair the damage. Whereas for tornadoes, a more isolated area is affected, so FEMA will come in immediately and help. Isolated areas are much more manageable. In this specific situation, these mobile home operators had all of their homes replaced for free. The lesson here is that tornados are more manageable than hurricane.

 

Asides from weather related risks, another reason to diversify across different geographical areas is that each has it’s own economies and applicable challenges. If you are invested in a city that relies heavily on a specific employer, if they decide to relocate their plant across the country, you are in trouble. Job and economic diversity is just one of the many factors to look at when selecting a target market.

 

There are countless other examples, so all in all, it is important to spread your investments out across different geographical areas.

 

Asset-Class Diversification

 

It is also important to diversify across different asset classes, both from an asset-type and tenant perspective. For example, Jeremy won’t invest in apartments unless they are 100 units of more. If one person leaves, his vacancy rate increases by 1%. On the opposite end, if you invest in a 4plex and one tenant leaves, your vacancy rate increases by 25%.

 

Diversifying across asset-types is key because some perform better in a growing economy, while others perform better, or are at least more manageable, during a downturn (and, of course, you should always follow the Three Immutable Laws of Real Estate Investing to thrive in any market condition). For example, office and retail don’t perform as well during a good economy, but can remain consistent during a downturn – specifically, retail with anchor tenants like big grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens, etc. Mobile home and self-storage can perform even better during a down turn. In 2009, self-storage vacancy only increased by 1%. This is due in part to the increase in demand that came from homeowners who were foreclosed on and needed a place to store all their items.

 

In the long-term, you want to be as diversified as possible. In doing so, if we are in a good economy or a bad economy, the cash flow is still going to come in. This is especially important if, like Jeremy, you are dependent on passive cash flow to live off of.

 

Jeremy does not recommend that you invest in every asset class. He doesn’t invest in hotel or industrial space, for example. On average, these asset classes tend to do really well in an upturn or positive economy. However, they tend to have really quick revenue reductions during a downturn. He doesn’t want to be exposed to that volatility. Therefore, it is important that you diversify as much as possible, but make sure that you are comfortable in all the asset classes you select.

 

Operator Diversification

 

Whenever you invest passively, you are trading control for diversification. You are giving someone else control of the day-to-day operations and you are probably investing with multiple different investors, so your control is minimized. Therefore, if you are going to give up control, you better trade it for diversification. Jeremy finds that there is always a 1% risk with operators, due to the possibility of mismanagement, fraud, a Ponzi Scheme, etc. You are increasing your risk inherently by being a passive investor. To mitigate that risk, diversify across operators. Don’t have too many eggs in one basket.

 

Everyone has their own take on maximum exposure an investor should have in terms of number of operators. The common number that Jeremy sees is that people don’t like to be exposed to an operator with more than 5% to 10% of their total capital. The same applies to geography and asset-classes as well.

 

It is also important to keep in mind that proper diversification takes a long time, but it is the best way to reduce risk. The more diversified, the better. Jeremy recommends that you shouldn’t invest more than 5% of your capital into an opportunity. This means that your goal should be to diversify across at least 20 different opportunities. At that point, you can determine how many operators you are comfortable with – 1, 3, 5 or more, depending on the person. It is very subjective and depends on what you are comfortable with.

 

 

What about you? Comment below: What are some stories of problems you have come across that were a direct result of not being diversified enough?

 

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice www.BestEverNewsletter.com