Have you ever tried to make reservations for a Subway restaurant? That’s a ridiculous question, right?

Subway started in the 1960s and grew to be the largest food franchise in America, with over 25,000 locations. No matter where you are, if you’re craving a Subway footlong, you are likely minutes away from satisfying that urge.

Have you ever tried to get reservations for Noma restaurant in Copenhagen?

René Redzepi’s Noma is the most in-demand table in the world. On the sixth day of every month, the third month out opens up for reservations (this coming January 6th, for example, they start taking requests for March). It takes only a matter of hours for an entire month to book up. Noma managing director Peter Kreiner estimates that about 20,000 people attempt to get a table on reservations day.

(Note: This is the historical norm. Noma reservation policies are different during the pandemic, but the restaurant is still prospering. And Subway started spiraling in 2014. Poor location selection and the Jared scandal were the culprits.)

So, what does this have to do with real estate?

Real Estate Syndication Deals Abound
I’m entering my third decade as a full-time real estate investor. And I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Syndicators and investment opportunities are popping up on every corner, like Subway restaurants.

I fear the future for many of today’s celebrated syndicators. The rising tide has lifted all boats since the Great Financial Crisis. But as Warren Buffett said, the tide will eventually go out, and then we’ll see who is swimming without a bathing suit.

Are you planning to invest in a passive real estate opportunity?

I’ve been investing this way for some time, hundreds of friends have joined us to do the same. We’ve been combing the fruited plain for years on a quest to find the very best operators and deals. And we’ve learned something: This is a lot harder than it looks!

If you want to do it really well, that is.

I started researching syndication in the mid-2000s. I spoke with a Virginia-based syndicator of shopping centers to learn all I could about that process. The barriers to entry for syndicators and investors seemed hard to overcome in those days.

The word “syndication” made me nervous back then. I had grown up watching The Godfather, and I wondered if syndicates had anything to do with horses’ heads and such.

In those days, it was hard to find a great syndication opportunity. The fat cats had the corner on the market and small investors had little meaningful access. And there was limited information online. I can’t imagine just how little information was available before the internet.

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