This week I’d like to be both practical and a little futuristic. On Bloodhound Blog, my blog, Bonzai, and several other blogs lately, there has been talk about changes in the real estate field, and one of those changes, the team approach, is a topic I’d like to relate to investing — not just “team” as in professionals you use for guidance or as vendors to make individual deals, but a partnership “team”, a small, local investment company. I was going to write about Economic Conversion, but I’ll save that. Investment groups are nothing new, just as real estate teams are nothing new, but how these teams/groups function in a biz 2.0 world will, no doubt, be changing quickly.
It’s difficult for one person with a notebook to keep up with all the information inundating us in the information age. The concept of a local diverse, super investment team using some of the practices of Business 2.0 is an appealing idea. How such a team could be arranged is open to many possibilities, but allow me to build one possibility. Let’s say you’ve decided to become an investor, or you are an experienced investor, and you’ve realized it would be much more effective and efficient if you formed a partnership team. You’ve been a leader all your life and you’re skilled at bringing people together to achieve a common purpose, so you thought you’d use these skills to create an investment team. Your idea is to build the team on four strengths: Internet/information mangagement, financial expertise, real estate expertise and local government expertise.
With constant innovations taking place in online information search all the time, the investor who’s being fed the most focused, contextual information has an advantage. Having that expertise on an investment team, someone skilled in web 2.0 concepts, allows the players to consider a steady stream of useful information that can be analyzed on a daily basis. Many local governments are putting up websites with updated changes you can feed into by email alerts. Although small cities may not be on the edge of information yet, all this is rapidly changing. Also, by hooking up the investment team with web 2.0 tools, you’ll be able to make information management efficient: blogging to encourage interaction in the communtity; online meetings for the team, quick information display and contact management through something like Open Office, Web Officeor Zoho (check them out carefully — each has strengths and weaknesses) to be accessed anywhere; mapping technology for visual inspiration — being connected will be light years ahead of those investors who aren’t and will bring the following categories together in powerful, useful ways.
Having someone knowledgable about financial management and loan products with their finger on the industry’s pulse will be a powerful addition to the team. New products are coming out all the time — being quick to take advantage of the innovatons, knowing the trends of loan products and having connections to lenders will place the team in a good financial position to maximize profits and design each investment with the most efficient and profitable financing.
Real Estate Expertise:
This could be a commercial agent or a real estate attorney, anyone with real estate expertise that has comprehensive knowledge of the local RE market, access to market information and connections to all the local RE players. People who spend all their time in the RE business hear things and know things that the general public would not be aware of, plus they have a feel for the trends and red flags to consider. Someone experienced and connected to the local RE community will be a valuable addition. You might also want to consider someone who has experience with building and knows about the product itself — building and buildings — at least enough to be helpful in identifying maintenance, repair and renovation costs.
Local Government Expertise:
It would probably be helpful to have someone on the team who knows local government, who has experience dealing with zoning and planning, knows all the players and how to navigate the system. Insider knowledge would be helpful in effectively analyzing information by understanding the mindset of the local players for future development in different areas of town – what concerns for development are a top priority? Are there plans to promote growth on the east side? Are there plans underway to provide incentives for downtown investment and re-building?
Building a strong local investment team like this has pros and cons. The pros are a co-ordinated team approach that if managed correctly could be synergistically more powerful and efficient than an individual effort. If pulled off, it could be attractive to private lenders who want to put up money but not get bogged down in nuts and bolts. It would be attractive to banks, giving them confidence that the well rounded approach would be effective in producing results. It would be effective in making good investment decisions, and being the first to recognize opportunities for investment. It would be good for the gathering, managing and analyzing of information and helping with the due diligence process, having four areas of expertise investigating the viability of a project. It would give each team member more confidence, drawing from the strength of each other, bouncing ideas around, communicating and receiving feedback. It would add financial strength so that larger, more profitable projects could be handled.
The cons, or possible problems, are settling disagreements among team players over strategies and investment choices, creating equitable partnership arrangements, deciding where responsibilities lie with each team member, ending partnerships if it’s not working for a member — there can be many problems with any team or partnership arrangement, so it would pay to take the necessary time to work all these out and to choose carefully. However, I believe all the problems can be worked out if there is an easy exit plan for dissatisfied members. I believe the pros outweigh the cons, but not if it’s poorly planned — four minds can be worse that one if teamwork is not executed to its full potential.
If teamwork IS executed to its full potential, I think an investment team could achieve extraordinary results, especially if all the modern tools of information management are used to provide speed, co-operation, comprehensive knowledge and efficiency.
Note from the editor: Read more about assembling your real estate investing team and be sure to look at some of the great suggestions in the comments.