Mortgages & Creative Financing

How to Raise Money for Your Next Deal—Without Legal Issues

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Personal Development, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management, Commercial Real Estate
175 Articles Written
increasing-income

At the time of this writing, I am sitting on an airplane. My family is with me. We are flying to Hawaii. We are going to see a good friend, Darren Sager. It’s been a while and we are excited! And in another couple days, we’ll see another good friend, Brandon Turner. We are notably less excited about Brandon, as you can imagine, but have made peace. 

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We are meeting in Hawaii to mastermind. All three of us have been increasingly active in real estate over the past year, and once in a while, a getaway like this is necessary. Now, while we are here to work out some plans, at least one day will be more play than work. Darren turns 50 will be turning 50!

Overall, this trip has a bit of a surreal flavor for me. You see, I like clarity. I like definiteness. There is nothing less appealing to me than lack of definiteness. And yet, that’s exactly how I feel. I feel like I am stuck in no man’s land. Darren, let’s face it, is an older guy. I mean, a quite good-looking and accomplished, but an older guy.

Brandon is just a baby. 

And then there is me—at 43, neither this nor that. What am I? How do I fit in? Am I not old yet, or am I not so young anymore? Am I just starting, or am I finishing? That feeling of not knowing your place that I am trying to describe is prevalent among new investors. I certainly felt it in my day.

So, today, with some very simple advice, I am trying to clear up that feeling for you newbies as it relates to one of the most important aspects of real estate investing: raising money. When you are done reading this article, you will have clarity!

To Preface This Discussion

In the world of real estate investing, we have two main hurdles to clear: finding deals and finding money to finance those deals. Both are challenging, and both are often used as an excuse to not get into the game. There was a time not so long ago when finding deals was easy, but funding was hard. Some people used that as a reason to stay on the sidelines. Today, funding is everywhere, but good deals are not.

I am telling you this to forewarn against excuses. Excuses are easy to find in any cycle if you look hard enough. The question should never be, “Why should I not do this?” The question is, “How can I do this?”

Related: How to Fund Any Real Estate Deal

How to Raise Money

raising-money-fund-deal

This is where I tell you that I am not a licensed professional and cannot offer specific legal advice. I will outline my understanding of the laws in very generalized terms. But, please, seek professional advice from a qualified licensed professional.

That said, as you should know by now the SEC is rather specific as to who you can and cannot ask, why, and how. But, the reality is that if you don’t ask you don’t get, and that’s not an option. With this in mind…

What Does the SEC Want?

What the SEC really has a problem with is a combination of these words: general solicitation. Now, this is not always an issue, but to steer clear of any wrongdoing, simply avoid doing things that can be described as general solicitation, and you should be just fine.

Let’s consider this one word at a time. What is general?

Well, the easiest way to understand that is in terms of relationships. If there is no pre-existing relationship, then the relationship is general.

What is solicitation?

Well, asking for money is solicitation.

What is general solicitation?

General solicitation is you asking for money from people where you don’t have a standing relationship. If you avoid doing something that is both general and solicitation at once then you should be fine.

How This Works in the Real World

Suppose you are at a party and someone you hadn’t previously met asks you what you do. And you answer that you pool money together from people to buy large apartments and that you’ve been really busy lately because you are under contract to purchase another asset.

Now, since you don’t really know the person you are speaking to, this relationship should most likely be considered general. You are OK, though, because first of all, you are not making a public announcement—you are speaking to one individual. Secondly, you are not triggering the conversation, but merely answering a question posed to you. And lastly, there is no solicitation going on here. You are not asking for money. You are not offering up an investment opportunity. You are simply telling this person what you do.

So, you should be OK.

Another Situation

friends-gathering

The following weekend you get together for a brunch with three friends and you proceed to tell them about the opportunity to invest in your deal. This time, you actually are pitching an investment opportunity. However, this is totally legal as well, because you are talking to a group of friends—people with whom you’ve had a standing relationship.

Remember, what gets you in trouble is the general + solicitation. You can have general conversations without soliciting, and you can solicit from pre-existing relationships. You just can’t solicit money from strangers, at least not under Regulation D 506(b).

What About Social Media?

Well, I am not a huge fan. It’s true if your post on Facebook is visible only to your friends, then I suppose you can argue that you are talking to people  you have a pre-existing relationship with. And this makes it OK to solicit. I get uneasy with this, though. How well do you know your Facebook friends? Have you had meaningful contact with all of these people?

Do you see the thin line?

Related: 7 Life-Changing Lessons I Wish I Knew as a Real Estate Newbie

Conclusion

You have to ask for money if you are going to succeed in real estate investing. But, next time you are about to ask, or about to make that post on a social network, just remember: What gets you in trouble is general + solicitation.

What are your thoughts on solicitation and do you agree with this advice—why or why not?

Share with a comment below!

Ben has been investing in multifamily residential real estate for over a decade. An expert in creative financing, he has been a guest on numerous real estate-related podcasts, including the
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    Kevin Moules Rental Property Investor from Turlock, CA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks for the clarity Ben! I have been thinking about private money a lot lately in order to grow my business in the future. I know folks who have plenty pecos. I was planning on sending an email out to family and friends telling them about my new passion in life and offering them an opportunity to jump on board while also making a return on their money. In this scenario I will avoid the “general solicitation”. As you said, to grow in this business I will have to ask for money eventually. My personal cash cow will dry up after several deals. Currently in escrow on a 4 plex here in CA after my visit to AZ. Thought of flipping apartments is still very much in my mind. As always thanks for being a teacher!
    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks for the clarification Ben. I was aware of the general solicitation stuff. it is most pertinent to me as I don’t know many accredited investors hehe.
    Jerry W. Investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Thanks for the clarification Ben. I was aware of the general solicitation stuff. it is most pertinent to me as I don’t know many accredited investors hehe.
    Carolyn Clark Homeowner from Mililani, HI
    Replied 10 months ago
    Ummmmm, did you forget the title of your post, or maybe just wanted us to click on the other links in your winding road of a post?! Any of those other links address the question of raising capital ? All that aside I hope you enjoyed Hawaii. and thanks for the legal distinctions.