4 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Made-in-Heaven Real Estate Partnership

4 Lessons I’ve Learned From My Made-in-Heaven Real Estate Partnership

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Experience
Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Education
Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

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My current real estate business relationship is truly a match made in partnership heaven.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t seem to be able to say this. They aren’t in good business or real estate partnerships. Maybe you’ve even had some bad ones before (I’ve had several). Yet when you do find that great match, you can enjoy going much further and faster than you could alone. The company can make the journey so much more enjoyable, too.

So what should entrepreneurs and investors be looking for in a great partner and partnership? Here’s some insight on how things are structured in my real current partnership.

Create Alignment

You’ve got to have alignment. If not, you’ll tear everything to pieces as you head in different directions.

When it comes to picking a partner to have in a company, especially when equity is on the line, make sure your goals and interests are aligned. If one partner wants to build the company to sell and the other has a vision of building to continue as the long-term operator, it may not be the best partnership. I always recommend finding someone who shares your vision.

Yes, there are times when we disagree on things. I mean, business isn’t all flowers and roses all the time, right? We don’t see eye to eye on everything all the time, but we always work things out to reach an agreement and get on the same page. At the end of the day, it comes down to achieving the big-picture vision.

Decisions should always be geared toward that.  

Man giving fist bump in sun rising nature background. power of teamwork concept. vintage tone

Related: The Most Flexible & Tax Efficient Way to Structure a Partnership

Find Someone Who Completes You

My current partner is a numbers guy. He’s always working with those darn spreadsheets. When it comes to implementing systems, he is the go-to guy. My side has always been about the sales, marketing, and business development.

Personality-wise he’s more of an introvert. I’m an extrovert.

Some skills may overlap. This is completely fine—especially in areas that are of the highest value for the company. For us, this is property acquisitions, running rehab numbers, and property management.

I know how to read a spreadsheet; it just doesn’t excite me. He can analyze a deal and fill out a contract, but he’d rather be in the office than knocking on doors and meeting people. You don’t want to have identical skillsets—that makes one of you unnecessary. Plus, then you’ll have to hire out to cover more gaps for certain needed skills.

But understand not just what you are good at, but what you makes you thrive, too. 

Related: The Biggest Real Estate Moguls Relied on Partnerships. Here’s Why You Should, Too.

Know Each Other

Carrying on from the last point, there should be clarity about roles and skills, etc. The great thing about structuring a partnership the right way is that the other partner should know when he needs to take over something.

In the event we need to run financials, my partner will know to take it and run with it. Likewise, when it comes to anything in the marketing department, I know that’s my responsibility.

This factor also rolls over into understanding when your partner has their plate full or if something else outside of work is demanding some of their attention.

two puzzle pieces about to be fit together with blurred cityscape in backdrop

Have a Plan for All Scenarios in Advance

Anything can happen. I expect this current business relationship to last. Many don’t. Sometimes you can’t tell in those early days. Just like in personal relationships, some people change, some don’t, and some appear to be on the same page but aren’t.

Some become more invested when things go well. Others might derail your work. Or you or your partner may face totally unforeseen circumstances in your personal lives.

You just don’t know.

What I do know is that it is always better to have good partnership agreements and to have a plan for all contingencies. It makes things much cleaner, simpler, more streamlined, and more amicable if things don’t work out. The partnership agreement will give you a predetermined guideline to handle the toughest situations.

And when this is in place, your clients will be better served, as will all of the partners.

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What have you learned from your real estate partnerships?

Let me know with a comment!