Navigating Real Estate Investment: Syndications vs. REITs

Real estate stands out as an asset class that has created enormous wealth over time.

a close-up of hands shaking



Jan 21, 2021

What’s a Rich Text element?



The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

However, the high capital required to invest in direct property across residential or commercial real estate limits participation largely to ultra-high-net-worth individuals or institutions. Innovative real estate investment vehicles like Syndications and REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) now offer lucrative realty-focused investment alternatives to accredited everyday investors with lower entry barriers.

Understanding Real Estate Syndications

Real estate syndication refers to a partnership structure where multiple accredited investors pool capital overseen by a sponsor to acquire an institutional-grade income-producing property like an apartment, office complex, or retail center. Investors commit to investing in either equity or debt. The sponsor in charge of the syndication handles identification, acquisition, upgrades, and managing the asset to profitability. Periodic cash flows from the property get distributed proportionately to investors after accounting for expenses and fees.

Syndications make large commercial properties accessible to everyday investors that would otherwise remain out of reach. The aggregated small investments from multiple backers are deployed to purchase and upgrade tangible bricks-and-mortar assets they partially own over the long term.

Investment Process in a Syndication

A typical real estate syndication investment unfolds across five phases:

  • Investor Identification: Sponsors first determine the investment thesis, highlighting a focused property type, target market location, financial aspirations, and acceptable risk levels before seeking potential investors who share matched return goals through industry events, referrals, or online capital networks.
  • Due Diligence: For real estate properties identified as per the decided thesis, sponsors research merits and risks related to parameters like past performance, occupancy rates, cash flows, lease analyses, demand drivers, local market economics, and regulatory issues to determine an optimal bid price that meets return expectations. This data is presented to investors for buy-in before proposing formal offers to sellers.
  • Capital Commitment: Once an offer becomes accepted, investors complete formal capital commitments towards the agreed equity amount. Parallelly, sponsors would arrange for property financing and overhead projections. Investors stand obligated to wire their contribution by the deal closure date towards finally owning the acquired property.
  • Acquisition and Management: Sponsors transact the actual property purchase culminating in ownership transfer to the special purpose entity formed to represent the investor group. Post-acquisition, sponsors may oversee light refurbishments or tenant improvements to boost property appeal and leasing rates, leading to an uplift in market value and monthly cash flows.
  • Profit Distribution: As operating income is generated from the property, sponsors periodically distribute pre-decided preferred returns on invested capital to investors after accounting for corporate taxes, management fees, and operating expenses. Payout frequency can be monthly/quarterly spanning deal duration.

Benefits of Real Estate Syndications

Key merits of syndication investments include:

  • Access to High-Value Properties: Syndications allow even small investors indirect ownership exposure equivalent to having invested between $50,000 - $100,000 through clubs pooling multiple fractions of this large investment participating in institutional category multi-million dollar real estate. This gets utterly impossible at an individual level within limited capital.
  • Professional Management: Seasoned sponsor groups, through their real asset expertise, relationships, and operational infrastructure, handle all heavy responsibilities across deal sourcing, negotiations, financing, enhancements, maintenance, leasing, compliance, etc., as turnkey solutions that release passive investors from active obligations.
  • Portfolio Diversification: Syndications provide presence across tangible bricks-and-mortar real estate as an alternative asset class from traditional securities diversifying risk exposure beyond just stocks, bonds, or mutual funds vulnerable to systemic market volatility.
  • Potential for Tax Advantages: Significant potential tax deductions based on depreciation and operating expenses not available in traditional investments boost after-tax returns from profitable syndication investments.
  • Hassle-free Ownership: Syndications resolve the hassles, such as permitting, contracting, rent collection, tenant coordinator, etc., related to direct ownership of rental properties, making the model ideal for passive investors unwilling to get operationally involved.

Drawbacks of Real Estate Syndications

That said, a few limitations exist:

  • High Investment Minimums: While lower than outright property purchases, the minimum checks required hover between $25k and $100k, leaving small investors unable to participate.
  • Illiquidity: Investments are locked in for deal durations, often spanning multiple years, until the property is sold, leading to exit. Early exits remain extremely restrictive and are subject to steep discounts if available.
  • Sponsor Dependence: Success rests heavily on sponsors’ capability in deal selection, negotiations, value engineering, enhancements execution, asset management, and rental demand stimulation, which requires extensive due diligence into team competence.
  • Limited Control: No direct control rests with passive investors on aspects like leasing decisions, capital projects, or exit timing compared to direct ownership. Trust in sponsor alignment to stated objectives remains imperative.

Understanding Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

REITs represent corporations listed like stocks on exchanges that invest in portfolios comprising real assets. They must distribute 90% of taxable profits as shareholder dividends, making them ideal indices reflecting real estate sector performance for investment or market tracking purposes.

REIT portfolios predominantly include assets like offices, warehouses, hotels, data centers, cell towers, storage facilities, hospitals, etc., leased on a long-term basis to tenants. REITs earn revenue generated from the lease rental incomes, which are distributed among shareholders after operating expenses are deducted.

Types of REITs

REITs are categorized based on the property types they invest in:

  1. Equity REITs: Own physical buildings, deriving profits from assets they operate themselves.
  2. Mortgage REITs (mREITs): Deal with financing aspects, such as originating or trading in mortgages, loans, etc., instead of operating properties themselves.

Benefits of Investing in REITs

  • Liquidity: REIT shares trade actively on stock exchanges, allowing easy entry or exit based on market pricing, unlike assets in syndications, which have fixed tenures for locking up capital.
  • Low Investment Minimums: REIT ETFs or shares allow investing as low as $100 to facilitate diversified real estate investing. Syndications demand accreditation necessitating $200k income / $1 Million net worth.
  • Diversification: Individual REITs themselves comprise a diversified basket of thousands of properties across various real estate classes, while REIT ETFs bundle the performance of several dominant REITs, lowering risk rather than having equity in just a single property.
  • Professional Management: REIT performance remains insulated from individual property manager capabilities, with institutionalized supervision standardized through established REITs with decades of real estate operating experience successfully managing market cycles.
  • Transparency: Audited financial statements, inspection protocols, and public disclosures on compliance in line with stock listing requirements ensure management transparency on aspects like AFFO, yields, leverage ratios, rent rolls, and more, aiding analysis.

Choosing Between Syndications and REITs: A Tailored Approach

Suitability ultimately hinges on the difference between real estate syndication and REIT:

  • Investment Goals: Whether income consistency, portfolio diversification, inflation hedging, or higher risk are key expectations guiding choice between assured REIT dividend or syndication-defined returns over 5-7 years.
  • Risk Tolerance: REITs' exposure across thousands of assets reduces volatility and guarantees quarterly payouts through market ups and downs. Syndications carry singular asset risk, partially offset by collateral backing from owned property.
  • Liquidity Requirements: REITs offer daily liquidation, while syndications lock investments for years. Redemptions, if available earlier, accompany penalties.
  • Taxation Preferences: REIT dividends are fully taxable as ordinary income year on year adds substantial liability, whereas syndications structure payouts comprising a partial tax-free return of capital with depreciation advantages deferring taxability.
  • Research Interest: Syndications warrant extensive evaluation of sponsor track record, target neighborhood viability, lease rates comparison, etc., requiring weeks of due diligence before commitments get signed. REIT metrics are readily tracked by listed issuers, who frequently provide analyst coverage to assess management p and pedigree.


Real estate syndications and REITs open lucrative realty investing, once possible only for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, to millions of accredited investors hungry for outsized sector-outpaced returns over bonds or fixed deposits.

REITs satisfy instantly diversified, low-commitment exposure to institutional quality commercial real estate monitored by seasoned management teams worthy of portfolio allocations to balance volatility risks.

Syndications alternatively deliver higher, tax-optimized yields through stakes within tangible bricks-and-mortar infrastructure, unlocking wealth compounding leveraged off rising property values. Appetite across these twin pillars of crowdsourced realty gets determined by assessing individual preferences, risk tolerance thresholds, and liquidity needs.

Discover your dream home in German Village, OH.

Learn More
April 4, 2024
For questions on this blog, click here.


You Might Also Like
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
All Related content
You Might Also Like
No items found.

Be The First to Know. Join Our Newsletter.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form