Working in Apartment Syndication – What’s Possible in One Year!
Guest Post by David Thompson
This month is my one year anniversary working in commercial real estate. I started helping an apartment syndicator raise capital to close on a 320-unit apartment in Dallas last May. Prior to that, I spent about three to four months learning from Joe Fairless who had a program that was meant to teach me how to find, purchase and syndicate my own 100-unit apartment over what we decided would be about a 12 to 18 month goal. Three months into his program, it dawned on me that this end-to-end syndication business was pretty overwhelming and that it was definitely going to be a team sport. The landscape was competitive and I starting feeling that brokers, lenders and investors would be asking what my experience was before I would be able to get any business from them. Since I didn’t have any commercial real estate experiences beyond some single-family and small multi-family properties that I managed, I thought there must be a better, faster and more successful way to get into this business. I had left the full-time corporate world about six months prior to fully dedicate myself to this area. Since I had the time and thought, why not just work with the experts for a while and gain that experience?
One day I simply asked Joe how I could help him as he was doing a lot of large apartment deals in the background. That led to him suggesting that I raise capital for him. I would learn and leverage the expertise and credibility of his partners while learning how to discuss apartment investing and deals with prospective investors. Those investors I brought in would be my investors not his and that per the SEC rules, I had to be part of the general partnership (GP) and help him with other activities to be able to market the deals legally. Being part of the GP had an attractive potential income component to it that further enhanced this proposition. I would be compensated for how much I raised, paid a bit of the acquisition fee at close (my wife liked that), I would get part of the GP quarterly distributions so creating a passive income stream and a potential for a much larger payout when we refinanced and / or sold the property in two to five years.
Fast forward one year and I’ve raised close to $9m to help acquire over five large apartment communities. I’m part of the GP team and own a part of over 1200 units. I’ve grown an investor base to over 80 accredited investors. On this last deal that I’m finishing up, almost half of the investors are return investors from prior deals which makes the capital raise process easier. I am starting to get referrals in bunches, folks are coming to my website asking how they can learn about what we do and what opportunities are out there. My exposure has increased dramatically in a rather short period of time.
I’ve been interviewed a handful of times on real estate investing podcasts with one interview covering a BP post I did on the top ten things I’ve learned raising $1m in two weeks on my first deal, which I turned into my first book (eBook you can download for free on my website). I’ve spoken at a REI conference this past February on capital raising and handling international investors. I am in Bigger Pockets apartment forums regularly sharing ideas on what I’ve learned about raising capital, the syndication business, vetting sponsors, apartment investing, markets, you name it. As my knowledge expands, I’ve increased my connections with others, giving back when I can and helping those either interested in learning more about investing in this area or simply wanting more direction in how to accelerate their growth.
My business model has morphed into other attractive niche areas like self-storage as I have a growing investor base who have done several apartment deals and are looking to further diversify. I’ve met other mentors that have helped introduce me to other top notch sponsors in these niches as they all seem to need capital to continue their acquisitions. I’ve come to learn that if you can raise capital, significant capital, you can be a big player in this business. I’m now discussing potential partnerships with other folks that do what I do, looking to create unique funds targeting certain niches, leverage a larger pool of capital to negotiate better terms with the operators to ensure my investor base is getting exposed to solid opportunities with attractive returns. I’ve met with some of the top sponsors in the self-storage industry to see if we’d make a good match. I’ve written a blog on why I find this niche attractive to start getting my investor base warm to the idea. I’m attending a three-day self-storage workshop in two weeks as part of my professional development plan and already diving into his home study program. My goal is to ensure I’m well educated in any niche area first, then vet and partner with the top sponsors and provide my investor base with solid opportunities to diversify both by niche, geography and by sponsor.
My personal financial goal is to be part of the general partnership in several of these niches with long term partners that are experts in their field, believe in win/win philosophies and have aspirations to continue to grow with solid deals. When I left the corporate world over 18 months ago, it’s amazing how busy but exciting my new life has become. This passion and success I’m seeing did not come without a ton of hard work, but I found that because I thoroughly enjoyed the process, meeting new people, sharing and educating them in opportunities they never had even heard about was a natural for me. I never ever felt I was in a sales or marketing role and I still don’t. I simply educate and if the right person is ready, they and you will know, I then simply lead them to the next step in the process.
Joe is an expert at not only multifamily apartment investing but his background is marketing and advertising. I had no clue when I started other than an investment summary deck to talk to accredited investors about. Since then, he’s helped me immensely understand the power of reach, credibility and presence. I have a website, I blog bi-weekly, I’m in the BP apartment forums almost daily sharing thoughts, I wrote the eBook that I’m going to get on Amazon later this year, I’ve spoken at his conference, I developed a monthly newsletter for my clients and prospects, I attend regular local multifamily meetups, but unsatisfied with that, I’m going to create my own monthly meetup group over the summer that will be a club membership for accredited, passive investors only to review educational and deal flow opportunities.
I have had so much fun with this that I approached Joe about doing a capital raising workshop next spring to share our best ideas on taking this niche within a niche to building an incredible business. Wow, can’t wait to see what happens, who I’ll meet and what roads and doors will open up over the next few years at this pace. It’s been an incredible year. I share this with you not for me, but to give you an idea of what’s possible when you put your heart, passion and energy into something and give it your time. It won’t seem like work, it’s all fun to me. My wife told me the other day she could not believe how hard I work at it and I tell her it does not feel like work, put more time in, surround yourself with experts to get the right coaching, create a solid home support system to enable you to be your best and you will surprise yourself.
Author Bio: David has strong experiences in real estate investing in both domestic and international projects covering single-family, multi-family and land development. He earned his MBA in finance from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. degree from Arizona State University. David spent over 20 years in high-tech management positions at Dell, AT&T, and Lucent Technologies. At Lucent he managed a $2.5B investment portfolio and raised over $1B in funds for acquisitions.
After leaving the corporate world, David started Thompson Investing and has raised several million dollars in private equity. Most recently Dave has partnered with Ashcroft Capital and as part of the General Partnership has helped provide investor capital to purchase over 800 apartment units in three separate communities worth over $68M.
David prides himself on building long-term relationships with investors and partners while providing a great customer experience. Dave has lived in Austin, Texas for twenty years with his wife and has two daughters.