Three Ways To Break Into The Apartment Syndication Industry With No Experience
Last Updated: 3/14/19
In an apartment syndication, a syndicator raises money from passive investors to acquire apartment communities while sharing in the profits. It being an advanced real estate strategy, an investor will rarely, if ever, begin their career by raising millions of dollars to purchase and asset manage an apartment syndication by themselves. They must have the educational and experience requirements before becoming a syndicator.
Now that sounds like a Catch-22: To become an apartment syndicator, you need the education and experience. To gain experience and obtain an education, you need to be a part of an apartment syndication.
So then, how do you become an apartment syndicator?
Well, as an experienced apartment syndicator myself, with a company that controls $570 million in apartment communities across over 6,000 units, I’ve identified three main ways to break into the apartment syndication industry with no real estate experience.
1. Past Business Experience
If you don’t have prior real estate experience, but you do have a successful business background, then you may easily be able to translate those skills into buying apartment communities. And by a “successful business background,” I mean that you’ve either started your own company or you’ve held a high-level position at a large corporation.
To start a business or climb the corporate ladder, you typically need high-level project management skills, networking abilities and resourcefulness. As an apartment syndicator, these skills will help you manage team members, find and oversee apartment deals and find passive investors, which is about half of the syndication puzzle.
However, since you’re still lacking in real estate experience and education, it’s vital that you surround yourself with a credible team, which includes an advisor (ideally, someone who is an active apartment syndicator), a partner who complements your background (ideally, someone with real estate or apartment operational experience), a property management company to manage the day-to-day operations and a real estate broker to help you find deals.
2. A Thought Leadership Platform
If you don’t have prior real estate or high-level business experience, you can break into the apartment syndication industry by creating a thought leadership platform. This is an online networking tool where you create valuable content about a specific business niche (in this case, apartment syndications). Examples of thought leadership platforms are a podcast, a YouTube channel or a blog, with the most powerful — in my opinion — being the podcast.
To fulfill education and experience requirements, your platform must be interview-based. That is, the content you create must be based on interviews with real estate professionals in the apartment syndication industry. Through these interviews, you are getting a practical, real-world education from people who are active in the field. At the same time, you are networking not only with the people you interview but with the people who are consuming your content. This opens up the opportunity to find the advisors, partners and team members that will offset your lack of experience, as well as passive investors to fund your deals, covering all of your bases.
An additional benefit of a thought leadership platform is your ability to become a reputable, well-known force in the apartment syndication industry. You’re creating content that is valuable to apartment syndicators and passive apartment investors alike. I cannot count how many times I’ve spoken with passive investors or other real estate professionals who say they feel like they already know me because they’ve listened to my podcast. This will give you a leg up that you wouldn’t have without the platform, because it essentially allows you to network worldwide, even while you sleep.
3. Intern For An Apartment Syndicator
The third option for breaking into the industry is to intern for an apartment syndicator. This will cover the educational and experience requirements because you are getting a practical, real-world education and you’re actually implementing your education on a day-to-day basis.
To find apartment syndicators, attend real estate and apartment conferences, seminars and meetup groups. Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos or read blogs that are hosted by or have interviewed active apartment syndicators. Search on social media networks. Nearly every apartment syndicator will have an online platform, so perform a Google search to find their websites and blogs.
The easier part is finding apartment syndicators. The hard part is getting them to bring you on as an intern. People constantly reach out to me asking to intern for my business. The vast majority of the messages are people simply asking to intern for my business for free. While I always appreciate the offer, we’ve reached a place where “free labor” isn’t enough of a value-add to my business.
To increase the chances of an apartment syndicator accepting you as an intern, offer something more than free labor. One strategy is to conduct research on the apartment syndicator’s business, identify a need they might have and then in your message, offer to fulfill that specific need.
If you want to really impress the apartment syndicator and essentially guarantee an internship, take the previous strategy one step further. Once you’ve identified a need, proactive fulfill it before reaching out. For example, if an apartment syndicator is struggling to find deals in their market, bring them a deal. Or, at the very least, show them that you’re in the process of finding deals in that market, even if that just means you’ve spoken with a real estate broker who has sent you a handful of deals. The point is to stand out from a sea of messages by showing the syndicator that you’re actually willing to put forth effort and that you’re serious about adding value to their business.
These strategies have been used by aspiring investors with no experience to break into the apartment syndication industry. Pick one, stick to it and you could find yourself completing your own syndications in the next 12-24 months.