Complete Guide to Real Estate Syndication

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Contributor, Benzinga
April 29, 2024

Real estate syndication presents an attractive investment opportunity, allowing individuals to pool resources and gain exposure to larger, institutional-grade properties. While it's not as well known as other investment opportunities, it provides an interesting opportunity for potentially high returns. 

By understanding the intricacies of this approach, investors can diversify their portfolios and potentially achieve higher returns. This comprehensive guide delves into the world of real estate syndication, exploring its history, structure and key players while providing insights into the pros, cons and investment eligibility criteria.

What Is Real Estate Syndication?

Real estate syndication is a process where multiple investors contribute capital to fund the acquisition, development or renovation of a property. This collaborative approach combines the resources of a syndicator (sponsor) and passive investors, forming a joint venture. 

While most people can’t simply decide to finance and construct a large apartment building or mall by themselves, a syndicate of a few dozen investors could raise enough capital to do so. In that way, a real estate syndication pairs developers and knowledgeable real estate professionals with investors who put in working capital.

The syndicator identifies and manages the real estate project, while the investors provide capital in exchange for ownership shares and a share of the potential profits. Key agreements, such as the preferred return and operating/partnership agreements, govern the terms and outline the distribution of returns.

History of Real Estate Syndication

Real estate syndication has a long history, with its roots dating to the early 20th century when Congress introduced regulations to oversee the practice. The Securities Act of 1933 and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 further shaped the syndication landscape, providing guidelines and fostering a more accessible investment environment.

Until the JOBS Act, real estate syndicates either had to raise money through private solicitations or register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and raise funds from the public. Now real estate syndicates can raise capital from anyone who is an accredited investor.

For individuals, this typically means an annual income of more than $200,000 for at least two consecutive years or $300,000 for couples. You can also qualify with a $1 million net worth excluding your primary residence.

Because real estate syndications are now commonly crowdfunded by accredited investors, real estate crowdfunding has become a popular form of real estate syndication.

Example of Real Estate Syndication

Real estate syndication has significant potential financial benefits. Consider a scenario where a syndicator identifies a promising multifamily property worth $10 million. To acquire and renovate the property, the syndicator raises $3 million from passive investors through a real estate syndication. The remaining $7 million is financed through a commercial loan. After renovations, the property's value increases to $15 million, and the syndication generates substantial rental income. The profits are distributed among the investors or parties involved, proportional to their respective ownership shares.

Key Players of Real Estate Syndication

Here is a summary of the roles and responsibilities of those involved in real estate syndication:

  • The sponsor (syndicator) is the driving force behind a real estate syndication. They are responsible for identifying potential properties, conducting due diligence and managing the project. The syndicator is often also the general partner.
  • Investors, often referred to as limited partners, contribute capital and share in the potential profits. 
  • Facilitators often are crowdfunding platforms that provide access to syndication opportunities for a broader range of investors.

Structure of Real Estate Syndication

A typical real estate syndication involves two distinct groups: general partners (GPs) and limited partners (LPs). The GPs, often the syndicators, manage the day-to-day operations, while the LPs are passive investors. Income and profits generated by the property are typically split between these two groups, with the LPs receiving a predetermined share or income split or profit split. 

Real estate syndication typically involves five members: real estate syndicators, passive individual investors, limited partner investors, managing entities and joint venture partners.

How to Invest in a Real Estate Syndication

To invest in a real estate syndication, individual investors must meet certain criteria as accredited investors based on annual income or net worth thresholds, as defined by the SEC. Real estate crowdfunding platforms have made it easier for accredited and sophisticated investors to access syndication opportunities, streamlining the investment process.

You'll need to meet one of two criteria:

  • Annual income of at least $200,000 or $300,000 for a couple for the past two years, with a reasonable expectation of the same in the current year.
  • Net worth of $1 million, excluding the value of your primary residence.

Pros of Real Estate Syndication

Real estate syndication offers several advantages, including the potential for high returns, access to unique investments that may be out of reach for individual investors, and portfolio diversification opportunities.

Pros of real estate syndication

  • High return potential: The top reason to consider real estate syndication is its potential for high returns. For example, CrowdStreet keeps a record of all of the sold properties that raised capital through its platform. Of 115 investments, the average has produced a 17.7% internal rate of return (IRR) for investors.
  • Unique investments: Real estate syndication gives investors without extensive real estate development experience the ability to participate in these investments.
  • Portfolio diversification: Investing in real estate syndication can help to diversify your investment strategy.

Cons of Real Estate Syndication

While syndicated real estate investments can be lucrative, they also come with drawbacks. These investments are typically illiquid, meaning investors may have limited ability to exit their positions easily. Additionally, the performance of a syndication is tied to a single asset, which can be risky. It’s also possible that deals will not work out as planned, leading to inconsistent or reduced income for investors.

Cons of real estate syndication

  • Illiquidity: A syndicated real estate deal is typically illiquid for the entire holding period, making it one of the least liquid real estate investments.
  • Performance of a single asset: While investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) can help diversify your portfolio, in syndicated deals, your money is typically tied to one asset, increasing the risk of large losses.
  • Must be an accredited investor: These investments that open the possibility of higher returns are typically open only to investors with a high income or net worth.
  • High risk: While syndicated real estate investments can produce excellent returns, not all will work out. If you’re investing in one syndicated real estate deal, you risk losing a significant amount. 

Who Can Invest in Real Estate Syndication?

SEC regulations govern investment eligibility for real estate syndication. Accredited investors who meet specific income and net worth thresholds and sophisticated investors with a certain level of financial knowledge and experience are typically eligible to participate in 506(c) syndications. 

The criteria for 503(b) syndications may be less stringent. Common types of real estate syndications investors can participate in include multifamily properties, office buildings and retail centers.

Real Estate Syndication vs. Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)

While both real estate syndication and real estate investment trusts provide exposure to the real estate market, they differ in several key ways. They vary in terms of capital, ownership, tax breaks, returns and accreditation.

  • Syndications typically involve a single property or project, require larger capital investments and offer direct ownership. 

REITs, on the other hand, are publicly traded companies that own and manage a portfolio of properties. They offer greater liquidity and diversification but potentially lower returns. REITs also provide tax advantages not available to syndications

Should You Invest in a Real Estate Syndication?

If you're an accredited investor, the potential for high returns makes real estate syndicates very attractive. With the right knowledge and guidance, real estate syndication can open the door to exciting investment opportunities. It can help you to diversify your portfolio and gain exposure to larger, institutional-grade properties. 

As with any investment, it's important to do your research and understand the leadership experience of a particular syndicator. By understanding the nuances, investors can make informed decisions and potentially achieve higher returns. However, it's crucial to carefully evaluate the risks and ensure compliance with investment eligibility criteria. Consider also fractional real estate ownership or REITs for further diversification. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Is real estate syndication profitable?


Real estate syndication can be profitable, offering the potential for high returns. However, like any investment, it carries risks, and profitability depends on various factors, including the property’s performance, market conditions and effective management.


What is the minimum investment for real estate syndication?


The minimum investment for real estate syndication can vary depending on the specific deal and the syndication’s requirements. Generally, investments can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.


What is the difference between crowdfunding and syndication in real estate?


Crowdfunding platforms facilitate the process of raising capital from a pool of investors for real estate projects, including syndications. Real estate syndication is the process of pooling funds from multiple investors to acquire, develop or renovate a property, often facilitated through crowdfunding platforms.

Alison Plaut

About Alison Plaut

Alison Kimberly is a freelance content writer with a Sustainable MBA, uniquely qualified to help individuals and businesses achieve the triple bottom line of environmental, social, and financial profitability. She has been writing for various non-profit organizations for 15+ years. When not writing, you will find her promoting education and meditation in the developing world, or hiking and enjoying nature.

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