One of the more elegant features of the real estate world is the way the whole ecosystem encourages symbiosis. Investors often are stronger together, especially in the face of an obstacle. For most investors, start-up capital or even cash flow to expand will become issues at some point in an REI career. Money partnership is one creative way REIs are helping each other by offering complementary skills to one another and combining forces on an investment. This is a clever way to square a capital issue or get help finding deals, depending on your role. Everybody wins when these arrangements work out. Here are some of the things you need to know to make sure yours does.
The money partner is the term for the person in this arrangement who has capital to spare. As for the person that has time or scouting skills or other resources, they are sometimes called the entrepreneurial partner. Other terms for these types of arrangements include credit partnership and partner funding.
Many of our investor clients are at the stage in their careers where they’re richer in capital than time. But don’t get discouraged, most beginners start out rich in resources other than cash. It may be your willingness to spend time researching, number-crunching, your day job skill set, or even your charm or tenacity--but there is certainly something about you that makes you valuable to another investor even if you’re cash-poor. Eventually, as your career progresses, your time will become “expensive” enough that you may assume the other role. Many REIs transition into mentorship.
If you’re the “bank” in any kind of deal, you’ve got to look out for yourself. Money partnerships aren’t any different. You’re taking a risk, so of course you want to take the steps you can to mitigate that risk. Here are some of the most important tools you can use to keep yourself protected.
If you’ve got concerns about what your new partner may do if they’re not responsible in their duties. But that’s why the smart folks in our early legal system (and its predecessors) gave us contracts: to get everyone’s roles, responsibilities, and rewards in ink. Simply using basic contracts to solidify your verbal agreements can prevent nasty disputes, and even lawsuits, down the road.
If you have specific concerns, address them in the contract. Ask your attorney what some wise provisions would be given the specific fears or worst case scenarios you’re aiming to prevent. Odds are good you can rule out a lot of shenanigans by simply taking the time to create an effective contract. Anyone who wants to make money with you should be willing to sign a contract with fair, reasonable, comprehensible terms.
Where a contract can’t always help you out is in the realm of lawsuits. Unfortunately, partners sometimes get bad blood. Deals sometimes don’t go as planned. Of course, most people get angry and play the blame game. Some people’s preferred venue for the blame game just happens to be the courtroom.
Don’t become a victim to your partner revealing themselves to be bitter or litigious. Protect yourself by creating an LLC and operating it in a manner to a venture-specific LLC. Use your Operating Agreement to clarify your relationship to as fine a degree as you like, and even divvy up profits and losses as you agree is fair. The great thing is you can have equal power if you like, or a money partner may want a greater share of profits. These are all the details you can get on paper when you file your LLC, but filing your LLC serves a second purpose: asset protection.
The LLC limits liability around real estate investments. Moreover, a Traditional or Series LLC separates you from the asset and its problems. You’re separate and no longer “own” it, but control it. What’s great about not owning something is it’s impossible to lose it in court. But of course, you retain legal control. Clever business structures can have many benefits on top of helping you CYA in a money partnership.
Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. He's on a mission to help fellow investors free their time, protect their assets, and create lasting wealth.
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