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Craig Lawrence – Understanding Real Estate Syndication

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODCAST:

1:37 – Introduction into the real estate world
5:20 – The Entrepreneurial Itch & how Craig balances that with being an attorney
9:22 – How do you find a good attorney?
11:56 – The basics of a syndication
16:55 – What would you look for in a Limited Partner as a General Partner?
20:58 – Finding great LPs

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FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE PODCAST AUDIO:
Craig Lawrence:
The disconnect is, I know that real estate makes sense, but in between is where I’m going to mess up and go buy something without really understanding all the details. This allows for somebody that’s got, every case is accredited, so they’ve got some amount of wealth and basically connect them with a general partner that would run with that syndication. Provide a return that would exceed in many cases what they could go and in the public markets.

Spencer Sutton:
Welcome back to another episode of ‎The Birmingham Real Estate Investor podcast. I am one of your hosts, Spencer Sutton, and I have with me, my cohost, Matthew Whitaker, Matthew, welcome to the show.

Matthew Whitaker:
You’re getting weak sauce on the intro is that for a while there I was all types of awesome things. Now, you’re just introducing me. I’m so tired of talking to you on this podcast. I’m kidding.

Spencer Sutton:
Well, the good news is we have Craig here that’s going to blow everybody’s socks off, so you don’t have to talk to me. Why don’t you introduce him?

Matthew Whitaker:
Our guest, we’ve got a great guest with us today. Craig Lawrence, who’s a partner with Balch & Bingham here in Birmingham. Craig, you specialize in real estate. We are excited to get to talk to you. So welcome to the show.

Craig Lawrence:
Absolutely. Thanks for having me like to look forward to getting into it with you guys.

Spencer Sutton:
It is really exciting to have a high-powered attorney on here. Instead of two goofballs, we’ve got somebody legit, instead of just property managers.

Matthew Whitaker:
We’re going to get some real advice, finally. One of the things Craig, you’re really interested in real estate. What I want to know, just kick everybody off is talk about your journey being an attorney, and then also being interested in real estate. You’re also interested in startup world. Tell everybody a little bit of your background.

Craig Lawrence:
I appreciate that. Well, when I was in grad school, I actually started off doing both the MBA and law because I had just had this passion for finance, this passion for business, this passion for startups. Going to law school, trying to figure out how that all fit together. Coming through grad school, I got really deep into the startup world.

Craig Lawrence:
Worked with a couple of different startups, different capacities. I actually at one point worked with a Bitcoin startup and this was some number of years back. I actually went into the business world. We’ll work with Cadence Bank at the time they were privately held. Of course, I left before they went public, which is, as you’ll see that’s about how some of my career advice has gone.

Craig Lawrence:
I got to work with their private equity team, which is this group out of the Northeast called Sageview Capital. Doing spreadsheets, learning index match functions, and just really enjoying the process of putting together finance, putting together a business, all of a sudden sort of got this weird feeling of, “Hey, I went to law school, I should be really using my law degree a little bit more.”

Craig Lawrence:
I synced up with my buddy Drew Jenkins, he and I had clerked together in the Senate, way way back in law school. He had started this little real estate shop. At the time, I didn’t really have that much interest in real estate, but was more geared towards startups, more geared towards small businesses.

Craig Lawrence:
He had started this little small real estate law firm. I was like, “What are you done with this law firm?” Of course I had to get them going at Cadence, of course I just walked out and decided to join Drew across the street. We started a little shop. That’s really where I first started getting into real estate, working with investors, doing closings, dealing with all sorts of real estate.

Craig Lawrence:
At that point since then, my legal career has been gone less towards startups and then more towards real estate that startup mentality has always been mixed in there, definitely. Since then, I’ve had an opportunity to go to bigger firms and work with bigger clients. The cool thing to me about real estate is one plus one equals three.

Craig Lawrence:
In the real estate syndication world that I am often in, you’re dealing with somebody that’s really good manager. Somebody that’s really good with the real estate and then somebody that has capital that they’re willing to put into play. When you combine those two things, it’s a match made in heaven. That’s large degree when working with the property management company is like.

Craig Lawrence:
You’re dealing with somebody that’s an expert, so you don’t have to be an expert yourself. It’s just lots of, I guess you could say it captured my imagination in the same way that that startups originally did. It’s been a fun journey for sure.

Matthew Whitaker:
That’s a great story. Talking about your entrepreneurial journey, you sound like an entrepreneur, you said, “I quit a good thing.” In other words, everything was going right. I decided to quit and go to something new.” Every entrepreneur out there can be like, “Yeah, that’s exactly right. Things are going way too good. I need to break something and go fix a new problem.”

Matthew Whitaker:
I always hear sometimes there are wartime CEOs and peacetime CEOs and all of us entrepreneurs are definitely wartime CEOs. It sounds like you’re the same, Craig. The interesting thing, too, I actually wrote this down even before we talked, because I was thinking about what we would talk about today. The name Charlie Munger came to mind.

Matthew Whitaker:
If anybody knows Charlie story, he was first an attorney and then now he’s an investor and he even appreciates and enjoys real estate. Done lot of Los Angeles real estate. I’m curious, number one, obviously, hopefully you know Charlie is, correct?

Craig Lawrence:
Yes.

Matthew Whitaker:
Number two, talk about the entrepreneurial itch along with being an attorney and how do you deal with that split personality in that environment?

Craig Lawrence:
A lot of people have the impression that the last couple of firms I’ve worked with, we’ve had almost 300 attorneys. A lot of people get the impression that working with a law firm, they’re going to be you’re this way, you got to do it this way. I got to do this way. And in certain cases, you have to do things a certain way.

Craig Lawrence:
I think a lot of the best transactional attorneys that I’ve worked with are try to help get the entrepreneur, trying to get the real estate professional and find a way to say yes. I mean, really from an attorney’s perspective, the easiest answer in the world from a risk standpoint, is to say no. You can say, “Oh no, you can’t do this. You can’t do this.”

Craig Lawrence:
That’s the easiest advice that requires the least amount of thought. The least amount of understanding of the actual underlying business. The best, I think, in my opinion, the best legal advice is, “These are the risks you are going to do this. This is some of the things that you need to think about, and this is how we mitigate those risks.”

Craig Lawrence:
If you’re out raising money for an apartment syndication, you can get sued a couple of different ways. One of which is on the dirt itself, one of which is on the, you know, from your investors. Obviously, complying with securities regulations is never going to be 100%, 100% perfect. You wouldn’t want to spend unlimited amounts of money getting it 100% perfect.

Craig Lawrence:
Just because there’s diminishing returns on things of that nature. I guess you could say I live vicariously through my clients. I work with some very successful, very wealthy investors that I would consider basically in many ways, my friends, just because I work with them so much. I get excited about their deals.

Craig Lawrence:
In some cases I feel more than they do sometimes, but I get to do cool things with them. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Virgin islands for several days looking at properties. There’s some cool things that come along with that.

Spencer Sutton:
Wow. Tag me up. We’ll do that every day.

Craig Lawrence:
The benefit of working with people that are doing it at a high level is you get to see how they do it. Getting to see large transactions is a lot of fun. At first, when I started off just doing investors that were doing house by house, I started thinking about apartments in terms of, “Well, we can get 30, 50, 100 of the same cashflows all in one deal.”

Craig Lawrence:
That’s where it kind of clicked in my mind of that’s the same concept. It’s just really hard to do 30, 50, 100 closings and you know, the same amount of time. It’s all the same, but definitely seen in a larger scale. It’s a lot of fun and jump and see, I get a kick out of it.

Spencer Sutton:
For sure, it’s interesting advice and I totally agree with you is about finding an attorney that will be very on the risks. Part of being an entrepreneur, part of being an investor, a real estate investor is it’s going to be carry risk with it. You having a basic understanding of that and then getting back to a Buffet Mungerism, making the right bets on a consistent basis.

Spencer Sutton:
Knowing what the risks are is great advice on finding an attorney that won’t overlawyer your any deal or over lawyer any decision. I’m curious if you have any other advice being on your side of the table, what advice would you give somebody on finding a good attorney to represent them?

Craig Lawrence:
I would say the best recommendation would be similar to finding a good property management company would be just talk to people that are doing it at a very high level and see who they’re comfortable with. Ask the right questions. There’s so many subspecialties within real estate law.

Craig Lawrence:
I got a call earlier on a residential thing, it just came up on Google. Generally speaking, if you’re focused just on real estate syndications, you’re going to be a little bit better at real estate syndications by being narrow. Having someone within that little specialty is going to be really important with syndication, you get into a lot more securities.

Craig Lawrence:
My training is a lot more on the dirt side of things, but I have to interact with on our 10th floor, we have all our securities folks. If you’re raising a 506(b) or 506(c), just being familiar with what things someone needs to be thinking about, or if they’re going in all the way and going with a fund where you would have multiple projects or multiple properties, all put together in one fund.

Craig Lawrence:
Just being familiar with what direction the client needs to go, because a lot of times, if someone’s starting to set up a syndication or starting to set up a fund at the beginning, they’re still trying to really get a feel of kind of what direction to go. A lot of times they’re seeking input into, “I think I’ve got the ability to raise $2 million, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to find the right property.

Craig Lawrence:
Is this setting more like a syndication or is a sounding more like a fund?” Well, somebody that’s really not living in that world is going to, it’s just a subspecialty where if you’re going for a certain type of surgery, you’d want somebody that’s familiar with that. We’ve got several people that focus entirely on apartment. Just having the right industry expertise is helpful as well.

Matthew Whitaker:
That’s great. Just having a deep understanding of what you’re trying to do and somebody that has seen it a bunch of times before. We always talk about in property management, we approve and decline so many applicants, and then somebody tries to jump in this business and doesn’t know even the first step to underwriting an application.

Matthew Whitaker:
You’re like, “It’s the biggest piece of property management is getting the right resident in your home. Why would you not want somebody who’s an expert at getting the right resident in your home, putting that person in versus you, who may not what to do with an application. All that holds true.

Matthew Whitaker:
I would love to know, talk about the basics of a syndication. Let’s say somebody is fairly new to real estate and wants to understand, “Oh, he keeps talking about the syndication.” Tell somebody a 20,000-foot view of the basics of a syndication.

Craig Lawrence:
Syndication is just a really amazing way of combining capital, which would be generally sourced by passive investors, with someone that would be a sponsor or a in my world, we often call them a GP, which stands for general partners, the lingo from when we used to mainly have limited partner structures.

Craig Lawrence:
Now, we’ve gone a little bit more towards LLCs, but a lot of times comes about in my experience in the apartment world, although you could use it for single family, you could use it for a lot of different areas, but basically you’ve got somebody that’s a subject matter expertise. They’re full-time. This is what their career is.

Craig Lawrence:
They fix and flip maybe like a C class apartment and move it up to a B class. They’re, they’re doing a renovation, it’s a three-year business plan and they’re shooting to gave you a 16% to 20% IRR. You come in as a passive investor and you look at their business plan and say, “Hey, this looks great. I’ve got 100,000 that I want to invest with you. Here’s all the documents.”

Craig Lawrence:
You sign all the document, invest 100,000, and then you might get monthly distributions. You might get quarterly distributions, but you would get in many cases, distributions along the way, based on what the cash on, cash return would be. A lot of times you’ll see in the presentation materials, that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of around 6%.

Craig Lawrence:
If they’ve got 100,000 in my example, they’re getting about 6,000 per year, so that’s nice money that’s coming in. Then there would be the upside when they ultimately go through the disposition at the end of the time period. The reason I get so excited about it is the passive investor. Doesn’t really have to know an incredible amount about all of the complexities of this, his and this and this, which to me is the big disconnect in real estate.

Craig Lawrence:
You’ve got so many folks that know real estate makes sense. They’ve maybe read a bigger pockets book, they understand little parts, but they might make a lot of money in a W-2 position. Maybe they’re a doctor. Maybe they pull down $400,000 a year doing surgeries. Well, somebody that’s in that position, they don’t need to stop doing surgeries to learn real estate necessarily.

Craig Lawrence:
The disconnect is, I know that real estate makes sense, but in between is where I’m going to mess up and go buy something without really understanding all the details. This is allows for somebody that’s got, every case is accredited. They’ve got some amount of wealth and basically connect them with a general partner that would run with that syndication.

Craig Lawrence:
Provide a return that would exceed in many cases what they can go and in the public markets like an index fund or something like that. That’s the general structure, lot of different variations, just depending on the specifics of the deal, but that’s what you would see in a lot of cases.

Matthew Whitaker:
Let’s talk about both sides of that. First of all, Spencer 100,000 means $100,000.

Spencer Sutton:
Oh, $100,000. I absolutely have no idea. I thought $20 or $10.

Craig Lawrence:
Sorry.

Spencer Sutton:
No, you’re fine. I’m kidding.

Matthew Whitaker:
We’re giving him a hard time.

Spencer Sutton:
Let’s talk about those sides of that. You have a limited partner, generally a general partner, and sometimes you do this under an LLC structure, but the whole point is you have two different parties. The party that I would call the expert, which in most cases or some cases is the general partner, the real estate expert.

Spencer Sutton:
Then you have the limited partner, who is a financier of the general partners deal. One of the things I want people to understand is the mindset because Craig went a little bit into it in the limited partner versus the general partner. The limited partner is I have access to money. I just don’t have access to deals and I don’t have access to expertise.

Spencer Sutton:
If somebody will introduce me to somebody that has the deal and the expertise, then I have the money to invest and participate in that. Now, sometimes people, and these are doctors, attorneys, accountants, busy professional salespeople that may make a lot of money. That’s a great way to invest in real estate without having to be on the front lines of it.

Spencer Sutton:
The general partner, I think is important too, because what is the motivation behind a general partner? The general partner has deal flow and expertise, but doesn’t have the money to do all the deals that are hitting his or her desk. I think a lot of people would think, “Well, why would a general partner, if it’s such a good deal, go out and raise capital from limited partners to do the deal?”

Spencer Sutton:
If you think about it from the general partners perspective, I can do more deals. I can do the deals that are coming down the pike. Of course, I can spread my risk. I’ll probably participate with some of my capital as a general partner, but then I can spread my risk over multiple deals.

Spencer Sutton:
I’d love to know from you Craig, what do you see from general partners? Well, let me ask you this. Let’s say we’re talking to a bunch of limited partner, potential people out there. What would you look for as a limited partner in a general partner? How do you find them? Then once you find them, how do you vet them?

Craig Lawrence:
Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. So a lot of folks that are getting into being a limited partner for the first time are unfortunately, thinking it’s as simple as just press a button. A lot of times they’ll end up on some website, that’s got projects on there and their mindset is just find the highest IRR.

Craig Lawrence:
Basically, the highest return that you would be able to get from apartment deal or a syndication deal. The part that’s lacking a lot of times is being able to underwrite the deal for themselves and just have a really good sense of how good the sponsor or general partner is. A big part of this world is introductions. A big part of this world is referrals.

Craig Lawrence:
If someone reaches out to me and says, “Hey, I’m looking for single family rental.” I can refer them without hesitation to you guys, just because I know of what line of business you’re in and how many systems you’ve implemented, do what you guys do. I can easily refer them. Well, in that situation, equivalent would be talking to other limited partners that have worked with general partners before.

Craig Lawrence:
Big part of it will be what sort of reporting will you get? You obviously need to understand the economics of the deal specifically. You need to look a lot deeper than just what the quoted IRR on the page is. Some folks even, I just heard this just before we got on a call, a lady had put her entire life savings, which was very significant. She put it into one syndication deal in a guy was absolute fraud, took all of the money. He ended up in prison, but she ended up with nowhere to go.

Craig Lawrence:
I mean, she lost her entire life savings. Doing due diligence. I can help with that. I always recommend running a background check on folks, but in this industry, working with someone that has a strong track record and has referrals, and is well into the industry and this isn’t my first go around. There are newer, which is fine.

Craig Lawrence:
They’re partnered up with solid property management companies that have a lot of expertise. If it is apartments, they have that track record and built up. If you can get to know them and the network, I think that’s very important, but I wouldn’t necessarily just say, “Find an IRR and wire the money.” There’s folks that will accept that, but if you’re working with a GP that’s just advertising some IRR, that’s not necessarily someone you want to work with.

Matthew Whitaker:
A lot of GP’s will actually advertise a very conservative IRR just because they know I’ve done this before. I know I can get over this hurdle. Then it’- the under promise over-deliver. They understand that in the long run, as long as you’re consistently delivering returns that you’re going to be successful and it’s not their first radio, not their first deal.

Matthew Whitaker:
Spencer and I often taught the two things, which you brought back up. This comes up in almost every single one of our conversations. Just a reminder to everybody, two things to be successful in real estate. At the end of the day,

Spencer Sutton:
It doesn’t matter if it’s a small deal or a big deal.

Matthew Whitaker:
It doesn’t. No matter what you want to do in real estate, you can be successful by doing two things networking and that doesn’t mean showing up at a necessarily a BNI group and just throwing networking around. Whether that’s having lunches, reaching out, meeting a lot of people, asking a lot of questions.

Matthew Whitaker:
Networking can be done outside of cocktail hour, but meeting lot of people and hustling. If you meet a lot of people in hustle as an LP, you’re going to be successful because you’re going to meet the successful GPs. Those are the two things that keep coming up time and time again.

Matthew Whitaker:
Well, talk a little bit to the GPs now, Craig, the general partners. The people that are the deal makers. The ones that are having these deals come across. Talk about finding and advice probably is going to be about the same. Talk about finding great LPs to invest in your deals.

Craig Lawrence:
Depends on where you’re starting out. If you’re starting out from scratch and this is you’re somewhat new to the industry, I would say the best thing you can do is really try to align yourself with someone that’s got industry expertise. If I’m buying an apartment building for the first time, I need to find a really good property management company to help me think through.

Craig Lawrence:
“What does this look like? Does my proforma makes sense? I need to find some folks to put around me that can really help my track record as a new guy.” One of the things that you’ll do when you raise money in this space is put together, a little pitch deck business plan that says here’s who the team is. Put me on there, as your attorney put your CPA, whoever you’re working with, whatever.

Craig Lawrence:
If they’ve got track record and take their advice into account and you can show, it’s not just you and you’ve got the property management team, all of their expertise got the legal side, whatever that looks like all of the tax side. Really, when you go to sit down with investors, you want to show that you’ve got the expertise. You’ve got right track record to bring this to bear.

Craig Lawrence:
A lot of times, when you’re starting off, you’re using personal relationships as you guys seen many times. Having that personal relationship it’s the first go around is built heavily on trust and what your experience has been with that particular person already. At first raises, it’s almost less built on exactly what the specifics of the deal is and more of who they think of you kind of as a person. Just to give reminder to be-

Matthew Whitaker:
Be that person.

Craig Lawrence:
Be that person helps a lot. Sitting down, I would say, have your plan put together whoever your law firm is, can certainly look at that and make sure we’re not blowing any securities rules, but sit down and have an understanding of who your target market is going to be. A lot of times your target market may just be accredited folks.

Craig Lawrence:
Well, that case you’re going to have to be understanding, “Okay, is this person a good fit for me? Am I can fit for them?” If you’ve got a specific deal, people are going to be pretty interested in learning about the specifics of that property. They’re going to be pretty interested, learning about the specifics of what your plan is for that property.

Craig Lawrence:
They’re going to hear you. They’re going to largely speak and hear you out and take that meeting. It gets a little bit harder if you’re talking about a fund. Fund would be not the easiest place to start. If you’re talking about a fund, that would be like, “Hey, we’ve got a directive to go buy this buy box. We’re going to go buy 100 houses here in Birmingham.”

Craig Lawrence:
That’s great, but your imagination, get your head around a hundred things that don’t exist right now. They do exist, but it’s a lot easier to start with a project specific “syndication.” Once you have that business plan put together, you would get enough committed verbals that you would be like, “All right, Craig, I’m ready to spend the legal dollars to get our full flown legal docs put together on this.”

Craig Lawrence:
Maybe somewhere along the way, you would make that determination, but you would continue to network and continue to get comfortable and then make sure you’ve oversold it, because when that PVM comes across, it’s like a downer, it’d be like, “Oh, here’s all the ways your investment could go wrong.” You need to oversell it to get past that. You’re still excited.

Matthew Whitaker:
There’s no doubt, getting somebody to verbally commit that it’s a good idea, to writing the check is a long distance.

Spencer Sutton:
It’s a big difference to me, that’s like a friends and family. Maybe your first deal is a friends and family syndication. Then once you have a track record, then you can go back and say, “Hey, this is what I was able to do.” When your reputation you’re able to show some results, it’ll get easier and easier for you to go out and do deals like that.

Craig Lawrence:
A big part of that too, is what election you decide to go with. What’s come out recently is more advertising, more options under the SCC rules to go with advertising. You’ll see things on Facebook, things on Twitter that are within the rules that you can do now to pursue accredited investors. Those are the entire world is definitely changing. If you have that track record, there’s definitely a market there.

Matthew Whitaker:
I’ve got a few friends that do this in other markets and they’re great investors. In fact, we’ve had meetings go them walking me through their deals. This is something that I’m excited about one day. I think one of the thing, a piece of advice I would give is, if you’re a new general partner, find some people that have a number of these deals under their belt.

Matthew Whitaker:
They may be willing to participate with you and you do a lot or all of the work and use some of their credibility. Of course, they’re going to make the lion’s share of the revenue or the income, but make sure that you can use them and use their credibility and get a one shot at kicking this thing off with some people that know what they’re doing.

Matthew Whitaker:
The second thing I would say is it is easy to ask for money. A lot of people will have a lot of fear. I had a lot of fear about asking for money, but there’s a lot of people that think this is fun. That are the LPs, the people that are willing to give you money and exciting. You need to know that they want to find you.

Matthew Whitaker:
You just need to get out there and start having those conversations. One thing you mentioned was the word accredited investors, just for clarity for the audience, tell everybody what an accredited investor is.

Craig Lawrence:
I refer to it as the one, two, three rule. You’re accredited and if you have a net worth of over $1 million that excludes your house, unfortunately, your equity in your house. If you have a network over $1 million, you are credited and then you can also be accredited by your income.

Craig Lawrence:
If you personally make $200,000 per year or with your spouse, you make $300,000 per year. The one, two, three, depending upon who you talk to, as little as six to 10% of the population is accredited, that is a big narrowing factor, which is why folks will oftentimes choose the 506(b), which would allow you to get up to 35 unaccredited folks.

Craig Lawrence:
You’ve got a little bit more disclosures. You got a little bit more lift on that end. Then you’ll see like the Grant Cardone’s of the world do an A+, which is basically, some people call it a mini IPO, which would allow you to take more unaccredited folks as well. With the 506(c), you would get the opportunity to broadcast your investment opportunity to the entire world, which would be like Facebook, Twitter, wherever you want to put it out there.

Craig Lawrence:
You would be limited under a 506(c) to accredited folks only, which would mean that when they sign up with you, you’d have to send them to some portal where they would actually have to verify that they are actually accredited and that can be challenging if you’re trying to work with your family and friends and folks in your network. Some may be accredited, some may not be.

Spencer Sutton:
Let’s take a step back and let’s just talk about general real estate principles. I’d love to know some of your blocking and tackling lessons, maybe two or three lessons. You’ve been in real estate a long time. You’ve seen a lot of stuff. What are two or three things that you can teach people so that they’ll be successful, whether they’re in syndicating deals or not?

Craig Lawrence:
The first one sounds overly basic, but I would really carefully read your purchase agreement and that sounds like, “Oh, that’s so basic, Craig, you don’t have anything better than that.” Reading your purchase agreement is really important.

Craig Lawrence:
You need to on the commercial properties that I’m involved in or retail or multi-family and things of that nature, the contract gets chopped up a million different ways, but at the end of the day on the buying side, you have to be really, really clear on what circumstances will allow you to close, and what circumstances will you allow you to back out of your contract.

Craig Lawrence:
If it’s a financing contingency on residential contracts, you don’t want it to be you’re going to use some best efforts, some standard that nobody really knows what that means. Am I supposed to go talk to 70 different banks? I would really read it and understand it if you don’t know what it means, ask the question.

Craig Lawrence:
One of the best negotiation strategies that people ever use on me is they’ll say, “Hey, I read it where it says this, walk me through that. What does that mean?” Maybe they’re trying to tell me the words I used. It makes sense, which is entirely possible. What they’re trying to do is really flush it out to say, “I read this, I’m thinking about it. What does it mean? Do we need to rephrase that?

Craig Lawrence:
Unfortunately, the same goes for either title policies, your title markups. I see a lot of folks not pay a great deal. I know this is potentially dry, but if you have your title work come back and you’ve got a piece of raw dirt and you’ve got a big easement running through the middle of it. We’ve run into that situation before and you don’t want to be, post-acquisition realizing that’s the case.

Craig Lawrence:
A lot of times it’s like, “Oh, I’ll just came back. It’s probably fine, whatever.” The stuff that gets on these residential policies is just unbelievable. Just from the way we would do stuff on commercial, but they have exceptions on there for pretty much anything and everything. I’m like, “Here’s your insurance policy.” Accept anything that’s like ever existed ever.

Craig Lawrence:
That’s good insurance policy.

Matthew Whitaker:
I’m sure as long as nothing bad happens.

Craig Lawrence:
As long as nothing bad, title insurance is the only thing where you can write it knowing all of the risks on the front end. It’s a pretty amazing that some of those exceptions exist, but just really ask, even if you don’t know what a document is, just ask the question, ask whoever’s involved, the attorney, whoever’s doing the closing. “I see this. What does this mean?”

Craig Lawrence:
It doesn’t matter where you sit in the deal, if you really are in the deal and you don’t really understand, you ask someone, call me, whoever that would be willing to look at something or help you out and just ask the question. It seems like there’s a lot of people willing to sign and just see how it goes and that seems to be a formula for something to go sideways later down the road.

Matthew Whitaker:
Well, if you’re new at something you don’t want people to know you don’t know, and then you’re willing to sign it because you’re like, “Well, I guess this is how everything works.” You just rubber stamp everything and then those are the types of things that can bite you years down the road.

Craig Lawrence:
If you’re getting financing, ask your banker. I mean, I see this as in the language, is this what you guys mean by this? If you talk through it with them enough, in some cases they may say, “Well, we could rephrase this.” The people that seem to know the most are the ones that say the most frequently, “This might be a dumb question. This is a dumb question, but what are we talking about here?”

Craig Lawrence:
At some point, “What are we doing here?” The willingness to raise your hand and say, “I don’t understand this document.” That’s a lot better than signing it and just hoping nothing goes wrong. I would say that’s an easy piece of advice out there.

Matthew Whitaker:
No, it takes a lot of confidence to sit there and say you don’t know something and try to seek advice from somebody. At the end of the day, what you want is you don’t need to be so worried about what other people are thinking. If you don’t know the answer, you really need to ask the questions and empower yourself for the knowledge.

Matthew Whitaker:
It’s shocking how many times I’ve done this and or somebody asks these “dumb questions” that end up actually being legitimate questions. Then all of a sudden it changes the direction things are going. Ask a lot of questions, become an expert. Make sure you’re reading all the documents that you’re signing is great advice. Spencer, any last thoughts?

Spencer Sutton:
No, this has been great. I’m glad we talked about syndication because it’s become a very, very popular topic. Even in the single family world, as people try to put together a bunch of investors to take down portfolios. Thank you for your time here. If anybody wanted to get in touch with you, Craig, how would they do that?

Craig Lawrence:
Best way would be drop me a line on my email. It’s C Lawrence, C-L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E @balch B-A-L-C-H.com. I’ll definitely respond to everything I get and love to hear what you guys are working on.

Spencer Sutton:
Well, thanks so much, Craig for joining us. We really appreciate it. If you have not already subscribed, please go ahead and do so. Leave us a review on iTunes and that’s a great way for people to find us. We’ll be back in one week with another episode.