How to Form The Ideal Partnership in Apartment Syndication

While it is possible to perform all of the duties of the general partnership on your own, most apartment syndicators elected to partner up with one or more individuals, either on a deal-by-deal basis or in order to launch a full fledge syndication business.

If you want to become an apartment syndicator, one of the first steps after educating yourself on the process is to seek out a potential business partner. And the structure of this partnership and even the type of person/people you partner up with will vary depending on your current skill set.

In this blog post, we will go over the process for creating an ideal partnership so that you are setting yourself up for success from the start.

 

What Do You Want Out of a Partnership?

When making any sort of business decision, the first thing you need to know is what you actually want.

What do you specifically want to get out of your new partnership? The answer to this question will determine the characteristics of the ideal partner.

First, you will likely want to find a partner who is able to invest a similar amount of time into the business. If you have a full-time job and plan on spending a few hours each night on the business, you’ll likely want to seek out a partner who will do the same.  Of course, you may desire a partner who will invest more time into the business than you, but you are likely setting yourself up for failure, as this person may begin to resent the fact that they are spending significantly more time on the business than you. In order to address this potential resentment from the beginning, the equity ownership of the general partnership should reflect any imbalances in time investments.

Next, you will want a business partner whose skillsets are complementary to your own. This starts by honestly evaluating your own skill sets and desires to determine the role you will play in the business. The roles that you either don’t have experience in or don’t want to do can be fulfilled by a business partner. For example, do you have a network of high net-worth individuals but hate underwriting? Then you can focus on raising capital, find a business partner with underwriting expertise, and determine how to split up the remaining roles.

To piggy back off of the previous point, in order to maximize your business’s efficiency, you will also want each partner to stay in their own lane. Obviously, all partners in the business should know what the others are doing. However, that doesn’t mean the person responsible for equity raising should be underwriting deals, unless that is one of their other responsibilities. Each partner should have a defined role in the business and should focus on fulfilling their duty.

You’ll also want a partner that you can get along with. This doesn’t mean that you and your business partner need to be best friends. But you do need to have complementary personalities. This point is more subjective than the previous characteristics of an ideal partnership, so you are going to need to rely on your own judgement. If you’ve known a potential partner for a while, it is a little easier than if you’ve just met the person. Either way, don’t rush into a formal partnership. Work together for a few months informally (i.e., don’t meet someone at a conference and create an LLC together over lunch) to determine if this is an individual you enjoy working with and if this person is serious about building an apartment syndication business.

Lastly, you will want to set expectations about how the business will function and flow from the start. This includes setting expectations on the responsibilities, ongoing communication, initial goals, etc. We will go into more details about assigning responsibilities in the next section.

In regards to ongoing communication:

  • How often will you have meetings?
  • What will be the logistics of these meetings? Who will call who? Will you use a call-in service like Zoom?
  • What will be the agenda for these meetings? Will each meeting follow a similar structure?
  • If you have a question for the other business partner, how quickly will they respond?

In regards to goals:

  • What are the initial goals of the business?
  • Do your goals align with your business partners’ goals?
  • How will the success of these goals be measured?
  • Will you have a shared project tracker so that you can see what the other person is doing?
  • What are the goals each week, each month, each quarter, each year?
  • What are the longer-term goals of the business?

 

What Will Be Each Partners’ Role in The Business?

As I mentioned in the previous section, an ideal partnership is one in which the partners have complementary skillsets. And each partners’ role in the business is based on their skillsets.

In apartment syndications, the roles of the general partnership can be broken into 7 categories, and each responsibility has a commonly accepted range of equity ownership.

First, who will raise the equity? The person who raises the equity should also be responsible for all ongoing communication with the passive investors. They will notify investors when there is a new opportunity. They will lead the new investment offering conference call. They will be responsible for formalizing investor commitments. They will notify investors once they deal has closed. And they will be responsible for sending ongoing deal updates to the investors. Generally, this investor relations person will receive anywhere between 25% to 40% of the general partnership.

Next, who will guarantee the loan? In order to qualify for commercial financing, someone who meets the lender’s liquidity, net worth, and experience requirements will need to sign on the loan. When you are first starting out, this will likely be a third-party, because you and your business partner won’t meet the lender requirements on your own. If this is the case, you will offer this individual an equity stake (5% to 20%) in the general partnership and/or an upfront fee (0.5% to 5% of the principal balance). Eventually, you and your business partner will be able to guarantee the loan and you can split the equity ownership 50/50.

Third, who will find the deals? The person who finds the deals will focus on building relationships with the commercial real estate brokers and implement off-market lead generation strategies. Generally, 5% to 10% of the general partnership is allocated to the deal finder.

Fourth, who will perform due diligence on deals? This person is responsible for underwriting deals, submitting offers on deal, securing financing, overseeing the post-contract due diligence, and ensuring a successful close. Mostly likely, the person who finds the deals will also perform due diligence on the deals. If this is the case, this person can be referred to as the acquisition’s manager. Generally, 10% to 15% of the general partnership is allocated to the person who performs due diligence, and 15% to 25% is allocated in total to the acquisition’s manager.

Next, who will asset manage the deals? This person is responsible for ensuring the successful implementation of the business plan once the deal has been closed on. Among other duties, they will do the weekly performance reviews with the property management company and frequently analyze the market to determine the best time to sell. Generally, 20% to 35% of the general partnership is allocated to the asset manager.

Sixth, who will pay for the upfront due diligence costs? There are costs associated with closing an apartment deal. These costs are typically reimbursed at closing, but someone will need to front these costs. These costs include lender fees and legal fees associated with securing financing and formalizing the syndication partnership between the GPs and the LPs. Generally, 5% of the general partnership is allocated to the person who fronts these costs.

Lastly is the upfront work required to create the foundation syndication business. Who will evaluate and select the target investment market? Who will create the business’s brand (i.e., the website, company name and logo, business cards, thought leadership platform, etc.)? Who will find and interview team members? Most likely, these responsibilities will be split up between the partners, and will likely be based on who is responsible for the other 6 duties (i.e., the equity raiser will likely be responsible for the thought leadership platform, the deal finder will likely be responsible for finding commercial real estate brokers, the asset manager will be responsible for finding the property management company, etc.).

One of the first things you’ll want to do with a new partner is determine who will perform the duties for each of these seven categories and negotiate a fair split of the general partnership equity based on those duties.

 

Conclusion

The formation of a business partnership is both common and extremely beneficial to launching and growing an apartment syndication business.

In order to create the ideal partnership, the first thing you want to do is determine what you specifically want out of the partnership. Overall, you want a partnership where the equity percentages reflect the time investment and role of each partner, where each partners’ skillset complements the others, where each partner stays in their own lane, where each partner can get along, and where expectations are defined from the beginning.

Once you’ve found a partner or partners who meet this criteria, the next step is to determine who is responsible for what and the equity percentage given to each partner.

Follow these best practices in order to maximize the long-term success of your new syndication business!

 

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