If you know what type of asset class you want to invest in and have found an opportunity, you’ll want to put together a business plan. This can include where the property is located, how you plan to improve it, and details related to the project. Once you have formulated the business plan, you might consider bringing in a partner—especially if you don’t have experience in real estate investing.
Since commercial properties typically have starting prices in the millions of dollars, new investors frequently struggle to gather the needed capital to make an acquisition. Rather than trying to figure it out alone, bringing in a great partner can help resolve these initial funding obstacles. If you connect with someone who has a track record of accomplishments and relationships with investors and lenders, it could be the perfect way to step into the game. Moreover, you’ll benefit from their experience and can pick up insight as you go through the investment process.
Use these guidelines as you are looking for a partner who can help you break in and achieve more in the commercial real estate space.
Research Noteworthy Players
Look to see which investors, operators, and developers are actively carrying out projects that are similar to yours. Check online, read trade publications, and review what’s trading. Make a note of anyone you see who is already doing the type of project you want to emulate.
Oftentimes an established professional who is doing a larger project might be interested in the idea of bringing on a junior partner to do the day-to-day business on smaller deals. Suppose you’re looking to convert mixed use properties in Brooklyn. Maybe you’re considering a 10-unit multifamily with a store. There could be a developer who is doing a project involving 100 units with five stores. You could ask if they would consider partnering with you for a smaller arrangement. Offer to take care of the daily tasks and help with what’s needed.
Leverage Your Deal Team
Reach out to the professionals you’ve worked with, including your attorney, mortgage broker, and investment sales broker. Tell them you’re looking for a partner for a potential project. Check if they have other clients or know developers who might be interested in hearing about your business plan. Your deal team can provide the inner track to get you connected with the right person.
Get Involved in Organizations
Many cities have real estate associations—check your area to see what’s available at a local level. Look for national organizations and tap resources like Bisnow to see how you can connect. I helped found the Colgate Real Estate Council at my alma mater as a place where alumni, students, parents, faculty, and staff can connect with others in the real estate industry. Check alumni groups from your years of education, as they may open doors and lead to potential partners. Also review your social media channels and groups—sites like LinkedIn can be a powerful tool. Start following influencers who share information and updates on commercial real estate in your area; also reach out to others who share your same interests.
Vet Real Estate Professionals
As you evaluate a potential partner, follow up on the references they provide. Then go a step further and research their background and transactions. Find the lenders and brokers they worked with in the past and ask questions to see what they were like when doing business. Keep in mind that not every transaction has optimal results. Sometimes it’s equally as important to see how someone acted when things didn’t go as planned. Integrity goes a long way in this space, and you’ll want to work with others who have a stellar reputation (which will help you as you build your own too!).
Meet in Person
While it’s easy to connect digitally today, there’s really no substitute for meeting someone in person and getting a feel for them. You’ll be able to identify what their values are and how they will act as a partner. You want to understand their traits and skills so you know exactly who you’ll be working with as you go into a deal. While expertise and a history of high-performing projects play a role, the way they achieve their success is far more important.
When I started in real estate, I built a couple of strong relationships that have lasted for decades. In fact, throughout my 25-year career I have relied on these personal connections, as they have led to some of the best long-term deals that have outperformed the market. As you move ahead, choose a partner wisely—if done well, you can create a working relationship that is maintained in deal after deal.