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How to Scale Commercial Real Estate

Jun 11, 2022


Ruben has a popular podcast about raising money for multifamily syndication called the Capital Raiser Show where he learns from the best multifamily syndicators in the country.

In 2019, Ruben partnered with a local syndicator on the acquisition of 190 Units, and has since become a fund manager who is building a 98 unit housing subdivision in Louisiana, a 154 unit housing subdivision in Alabama and partnering with multiple select syndicators bringing equity, advisory and investor management. He primarily uses Regulation D. Exemption 506(c) in his deals including ones discussed here.
He has partnered in $5M of capital raising partnerships. He got his start by bringing joint venture capital to successfully raise $625K for small Multifamily deals during the post-crash buying frenzy in Phoenix.

Stay tuned and listen to how Ruben Greth shares his experiences and insights on how to raise your capital.


[00:01 - 03:36 Opening Segment


  • Ruben Greth started selling Mortgages and learning about Truth and Lending.
  • He learned how to raise capital without actually asking for money
  • Moving in Join Venture Capital raising during the real estate crash
  • And eventually moving into Heavy Lift Multifamily Syndication
  • Started “The Capital Raiser Show”
  • Launching his fund structure.
  • Ruben recommends using a fund structure rather than a Co GP structure to avoid legal compliance issues.


[03:37 - 15:32] How to Fund Your Security: Fund Structure, Interest Rates, and Returns

  • Raising funds and deploying a check as a limited partner into somebody else's deal.
  • As a limited partner, you don't participate in the decisions.
    • But you have to do investor relations,
    • Underwrite deals,
    • Market the security,
    • and operate the fund.
  • Finding a way to get a side letter agreement with your deal sponsor if you want to participate in acquisition fees or advanced economics is essential.
  • Vertical multifamily is detached multifamily units or, better said, houses like a full-blown house with the backyard

[08:06 - 12:35] Smaller Neighborhood Development Takes More Time to Get Approved in Big Cities

  • In larger markets can take longer to get approvals for multifamily projects than in smaller markets.
  • In smaller markets, building a subdivision of two or 300 houses can be faster than in a bigger city.
  • The biggest headache for financing a multifamily project is dealing with the moving parts of the construction process, such as lumber costs and interest rates.

[12:36 - 16:13] How Vertical Multifamily Development Can Improve Stability and Rent Potential

  • Ruben shares that their development goal is to sell the entire subdivision off to one particular buyer.
  • Vertical apartment complexes typically require building the entire complex and then renting it out, while horizontal multifamily developments can be built in stages and leased out as they are completed.
    The density per acre difference between horizontal and vertical multifamily development is a critical factor in deciding which approach to take.
  • In Phoenix, built around developers are building 2000 square-foot houses, while in Louisiana, a 1200 square-foot cottage is being developed.

[16:14 - 23:44] Selling off your building

  • The similarities between two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom townhome-style homes.
  • The advantages of selling off a building instead of individual homes.
  • There is nuance to the underwriting process, and the investor experience can be different depending on when they are paid.
  • The goal is to calculate when the project will be profitable and then start distributing money to investors.


[23:44 - 24:14] Closing Segment


  • Reach out to Ruben
    • See links below
  • Final words


Tweetable Quotes

“It's more about the operator and how we feel about them versus the deal. So, it's not about the market, it's not about the deal. It's about our relationship with existing operators” – Ruben Greth


“When you're building a vertical apartment complex, you typically have to build the entire thing and then start renting in order to make it. So that it's not Vacant anymore. You have to give away concessions and that's a problem. You have to wait a couple of years in order for it to stabilize. The thing that's different about horizontal is if you're building 10 or 20 at a time, you're leasing them up as they're being built. So, if you've built 50, you know, by the time you get to 60, 40 of them are already rented out.” – Ruben Greth




Connect with Ruben Greth on LinkedIn. Visit their website.

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Want to read the full show notes of the episode? Check it out below:


[00:00:00] Ruben Greth: one thing that I would say is like, when you're building vertical apartment complex is you typically have to build the entire thing and then start renting and in order to make it so that it's not . Vacant anymore. You have to give away concessions and that's a problem. You have to wait a couple of years in order it to stabilize


[00:00:18] Sam Wilson: Ruben Greth is a fund manager podcast host and build a rent subdivision developer Ruben. Welcome to the show. Thanks


[00:00:38] Ruben Greth: man. I'm so stoked to be here, Sam, man, I really appreciate you. Hey


[00:00:42] Sam Wilson: pleasure.Is mine man. Three questions. I ask every guest that comes to the show in 90 seconds or less. Can you tell me, where did you start? Where are you now? And how did you get there?


[00:00:49] Ruben Greth: So I started in mortgage. I guess selling mortgages. And then from there learned a little bit about this thing called truth and lending. And really what I learned from that is how to capital raise without asking for money and also how to not promise any guaranteed money. So I moved into joint venture capital racing back during the real estate crash, eventually moved into. Syndication heavy lift multifamily syndication with the local mom and pop operator here then started my show. The capital raisers show learned about these capital raisers, their strategies. And I met all these sponsors and then the lawyers told me if you want to make money, putting these guys together, you need to start your own fund. So I left to go launch my own fund. When Andy McMillan, my partner at legacy acquisitions approached me and said, Hey Let's get into the build to rent space and then raise capital for these ultra other multi-family sponsors using fund structure so that we can legally stay compliant. And now, I'm a partner in his company and legacy acquisitions, and that's essentially what we do. We build out subdivisions and then sometimes we raise capital for select sponsors in the space and the multi-family value ad space.


[00:01:58] Sam Wilson: It's a lot of moving parts. So yeah, just to make sure I understand that where you guys are now you're developing subdivisions. And then also when the opportunity and deal makes a heck of a lot of sense, you'll take your fund and you'll say, okay, we're gonna deploy capital into your opportunity as well.


[00:02:11] Ruben Greth: tip typically it's more about the operator and how we feel about them versus the deal. Sure. So it's not about the market, it's not about the deal. It's about our relationship with existing operators and yeah, so we have two divisions of our business. One where we raise capital for other sponsors in fund structures or Co-GP structures. And then the other part is we build out subdivisions and raise capital for our own deals that way.


[00:02:36] Sam Wilson: Right, right. Let's talk about that. What we'll kind of tackle both of those and succession there fund versus co GP. How do you guys select which way you're taking it down? What are the differences and why?


[00:02:49] Ruben Greth: So a Co-GP P structure requires some kind of an ongoing duty in order for you to stay legally compliant. Typically that's either asset management or marketing or investor relations, underwriting of the deal and market analysis and stuff like that. So we have to have a board of advisory kind of position where we're constantly participating in the decision-making and the operations of a deal versus a fund. It's quite the opposite, right? So if fund you're your own security, you raise money in the fund, you deploy a check as a limited partner into somebody else's deal. And you're essentially not obligated to do anything, maybe participate in board of advisory, but you're managing your own security, right? So you've got to do investor relations.You've got to underwrite deals, you've got to do marketing, and then you got to do the operations of your own. But as far as operations of the deal go, it's completely hands-off because technically as the limited partner, you don't participate in the decisions. Right. So, but then the question becomes, well, how do you pay for your fund?When does it make sense? Well, there has to be, different tiers of money, or I should say interest and returns that you get as a fund. That's gotta be a. And beyond what a 50,000 retail investor makes. Right? So sometimes the fund makes money because it gets advanced economics like a better return structure, something.The money, I should say the fund gets paid because they participate in acquisition fees or other kinds of structures like that. And every time it's different, right? So every sponsor, even some sponsors will allow you to do both. You can either coach GP or you can do a fund. It just depends.You always wanted to make your investors the greatest amount of money, and you're always probing with your sponsors. Hey, what is that form? And in some cases, the coaching piece structured in some cases,


[00:04:42] Sam Wilson: Right, right. Yeah. And that's been one of the, one of the challenges that the fund structure has had is that, it does or could potentially dilute investor returns.So like you said, finding a way to get a side letter agreement with your with your general or with your deal sponsor. If you do want to participate in acquisition fees, or if it is like you said, a what'd you call it advanced economics, that's a nice way of. So, so I really love, like you said it's truly, it's an iterative process.It sounds like for you guys in that each person you work with, it might be a slightly different arrangement, but yet it's something that a. Just figure it out on the


[00:05:18] Ruben Greth: fly, even with the same sponsor from deal to deal, the agreement can change. But yeah, like you mentioned, the side letter agreement, which is extremely important when somebody comes and approaches us and says, we'd love to have you participate in our capital raise and you have a few weeks left to raise for XYZ deal At that point, it's too late because there's no side letter agreement in place typically. And we, it takes us time to build our own entity, create that structure, deal with our lawyer, probe our investors, to make sure that they liked the market and the sponsor. So at that point you're it's way beyond, too late. Right. Right. So you have to have the relationship in place with the side letter, understanding what you're going to get before the deal is even coming down the pipeline, honestly. So you need a great deal of time to raise in a fund, make sure that your investors have an appetite for whatever's that your investing.


[00:06:10] Sam Wilson: Right. No, that's a, that's great. Let's talk about the build to rent side of things. You I'm sure you're busy, but before we get into that, define the difference between, say vertical Mo multifamily and horizontal multi-phase.


[00:06:23] Ruben Greth: Okay. So vertical multifamily typically is like a garden style, four story building or something.That's built units on top of units on top of units with no backyard, no personal driveway, no, space of your own, right. You're sharing that space with other people that are above and below you in a lot of cases. Whereas bill to rent, at least the way that we approach it and look at it is it's horizontal.Multi-family meaning it's detached. Multi-family units. Or better even said his houses like a full-blown house with a backyard and a doggy door and a driveway and some cases technology. And we build these things out all in one subdivision so that all of your units at one place, so you can operate at the same way that a multifamily is operated, where a property manager can be onsite in some cases, or at least, have the general vicinity all in one place.And people love that because they want to buy a house. I should say institutions and really big buyers. They want to have like a hundred or a thousand or 8,000 houses, but they can't have them spread out in different counties. You can't property manage it effectively that way. So there's a big appetite from institutions and reeds and all these other huge buyers that are looking for, these mom and pop operators that are building about a hundred to 300 units at a time.And then here's the other thing too. It's like, you can do. In certain markets and it's going to be a lot easier and faster, like a sub market Or a secondary market better said in Louisiana, which is where we're building and an Alabama, you, the cities want to help you get across the finish line quickly because they need affordable housing and they're in growth stage.Whereas if you go to a city like Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, there's all this red tape. It may take two or three years before you can even entitle the land. Right? So our investors were wanting their money pretty. Quickly. So the, in these bigger markets, unless you're very well integrated into that market and have a track record and have figured out ways to move quicker, because you have a ton of private equity or private money from these big institutional players, you probably going to go through the process a lot slower.So in those cases, maybe bill Trent looks like, Hey, I'm going to buy a two acre piece of land and build five. Townhome buildings, right? Four units each or something like that. It's a lot faster to get through the red tape in a big city doing something like that. Whereas, if you're trying to build a subdivision of two or 300 houses in Phoenix, man, you better be able to wait because it takes a long time to get across the finish line.


[00:09:02] Sam Wilson: Yeah, no, that, that makes a lot of sense. You mentioned Louisiana and Alabama. I mean, what are the size of neighborhoods you're buying or building, I should say, and talk to us about the financing as it pertains to that. I mean, it's like a, it's like a construction loan, but it just keeps going on. I would imagine it's gotta be a really interesting kind of way that the financing.


[00:09:24] Ruben Greth: It's the biggest headache of the financing part, when you compare it to multi-family value, add syndication, right? Because there's moving parts, there are supply chain issues that are changing lumber costs and your lenders constantly looking at like, what's the cost for the next 10 units that you're going to build.And if it changes from 10 units to 10 units, well guess what? All of a sudden, the reserves change, the interest rates change. So it's a little bit trickier and it's. It's kind of more of a moving animal versus, you know, it'd be great. If some banks of community or regional bank was just like, Here's, like a huge check that, you can take out and draws, but it's a guaranteed interest rate for the duration of your construction. That would be like the ideal scenario. Some places will do that. And some places won't and then it based it's based on. Your market, your track record and your relationships, right? So like where are you building? Are you building right on the coast where hurricanes are landing and, we have to worry about insurance issues and tornadoes and hurricanes and cyclones and all that stuff or are you building in a place where it's a little bit safer where there's not going to be any fluff? Those things kind of taken to account are taken into account. So you asked about the size of these developments. The first one that we're doing is a little bit over 11 acres, maybe just shy of 12, we're building 98, what they refer to as cottages, but they're like little mini tank houses, all cookie cutter with the exact same floor plan that are built with cement board. So, they're designed for hurricanes, right? So the only thing that you're going to deal with. It's possibly a few shingles being blown by, heavy with. They're elevated. So you're not worried you're not in a flood zone, but you still have to do in this particular market, these things called retention pond. So if there's a hundred year storm, like the water has somewhere to drain within that subdivision. Right. But other than that, maybe like the worst thing that could happen is. A fence gets blown down. Nothing too crazy. But the big deal for the RA for the residents is like, if there's a big storm that comes through, how long is it going to take before my power comes on our, as the food in my refrigerator gonna survive are the fish. That get, circulating air in my aquarium. Are they going to die? Because we don't have electricity for 36 to 48 hours or whatever for whatever long it takes. So those are kind of the things. This next project is 18 acres that we're going to be doing. It's a 5 0 6 C all the stuff that we do is 5 0 6 C typically in the build to rent space. But this next one's going to be a unit mix of twos, two house, two bedroom houses, three bedroom and four bedroom. And then there's going to be a couple of attached townhome complexes, like three units. And the whole thing, I think if we ever try to sell it out individually would have to be like condo converted.So we'll probably sell the entire community. Not subdivided, but like this one that we're doing in Louisiana is each house is subdivided. So we have the opportunity if we need to, or want to sell them off as houses or chunks of house, like 10 at a time. But ideally what we want to do is just sell the entire subdivision off to one particular buyer.


[00:12:39] Sam Wilson: Yeah. And that's a great, that was the next question is what's the end game and it sounds like that's it. You're going to build these, get them stablized. And then move them off to an institutional buyer. Is that right? Yeah. And


[00:12:49] Ruben Greth: you asked about the differences between horizontal and vertical. And one thing that I would say is like, when you're building vertical apartment complex is you typically have to build the entire thing and then start renting and in order to make it so that it's not Vacant anymore. You have to give away concessions and that's a problem. You have to wait a couple of years in order for it to stabilize. The thing that's different about horizontal is if you're building 10 or 20 at a time, you're leasing them up as they're being built. So if you've built 50, you know, by the time you get to 60, 40 of them are already rented out. And then when you get to like hundred, you don't have to give away concessions for rent that the whole community is almost already rented typically in the markets where we are developing.


[00:13:36] Sam Wilson: Yeah. That's a brilliant point. Not something I would have thought about is that you could, it's a stabilized as you build approach. And that's a, that's really, that's a really compelling reason to go down that route. Is there a density per acre that I don't know, maybe asking the wrong term. So, what I'm thinking of is like on a vertical multifamily, there may be, I don't know, again, I don't know the right numbers here, but is there a, see if you can help clarify the question density per acre difference in horizontal versus vertical multi-family


[00:14:09] Ruben Greth: you're talking about zoning delineations and like how much density. In a specific area you're allowed to build, right? So for example, in our Foley Alabama project that we're going to be doing in about a month in may of 20, 22, or maybe June of 2022, we have a piece of land 18 acres that allows for 180 units, 180 houses, better set, but we're only going to build 150. And part of that is, to allow for, walkways. Places where people can run and have doggy parks and have amenities and things of that nature, it's going to increase the value to the point where we believe it. It's more effective to build bigger units versus that, which we can rent out for longer. By the way, when a renter comes into a house versus a apartment, they tend to stay for 40 months versus the average apartment rent, or might be there for 18 months. So that's another reason you really like the stability and long-term mindset of the renter in there and, or the resident as we call them. And then the other factor about that is, well, I mean, that's it in the internet.


[00:15:21] Sam Wilson: Right. Okay. Okay. What's the square footage, build the rent. Are they typically smaller? I'm just thinking on a typical home compared to a typical apartment apartments are typically smaller or the is the build for rent houses. Is that footprints?


[00:15:37] Ruben Greth: That's a pretty loaded question. Cause just depends on what you're trying to do. I know in Phoenix, the bill, Trent developers here are building like 2000 square foot houses. What we're doing in Louisiana is a 1200 foot little cottage, right? So it's a two bedroom, three bath. It's got some extra closet space and a living room, but it's nothing too grand, other than maybe a little bit of technology implemented, it's pretty basic. Cottage style home. And we like that on this next project, we're going to be doing similar floor plans, but we're going to be integrating a couple of unit mixes, right? Where there are two bedroom, three bedroom or four bedroom, or count home style. But essentially they're all going to be very cookie cutter when you compare them to each other. And they will look very similar on the inside, even though the elevation or exterior may be a little bit slightly different on the.


[00:16:27] Sam Wilson: Right. That's a that's cool. I love the thoughts around that. And really, I mean, in that space, there's, I would say, I would think the only competition is really speed to market and.


[00:16:39] Ruben Greth: that's a big part. Like how fast can you build these? How fast can you get your investor money back? So one of the things that we do to increase that speed is we entitle the property. Like we buy the property or either that, or put it under contract and entirely. And have it ready to go so we can stick the shovel in the ground, right? When the capital raise begins. So we're not raising money and then entitling, and then dealing with city, civil engineering and city red tape and everything else. Like we're already like way along the way, by the time that we start raising for these deals. As typically we do them as syndications, but at some point we're hoping to. A project or two to a fund model and say, Hey, we're just going to do this over and over in this fund. And at some point we're going to get there. But right now we're running these as syndicated.


[00:17:28] Sam Wilson: Right, right. Yeah. And I guess that's a question in it doesn't sound like you've gone full cycle on an entire neighborhood yet.


[00:17:36] Ruben Greth: Is that we're barely building our first one. Right? So we have eight, our first eight units on the it's called the Crestone Colorado. It's in Lafayette, Louisiana. And then we're about to. Starts while we're going through the entitlement process. And the city department has approved our plans, our architectural plans for this next one. And it's in an area of the country where they're starting to put in moratorium. So we've already been approved.That makes it exciting for us because they're not going to allow a bunch of developers to come in here. So we're going to have exclusivity in some, at some degree, but. That's kind of where we're at there. Right,


[00:18:13] Sam Wilson: So Ruben, tell me, I guess, on the investor side of things, because these get built, they get rented. Walk me through because I don't know, from my perspective, modeling that out and then modeling returns to investors would be very unique or different compared to say a multi-family project. We buy here's the value add plan. Here's what we're gonna, , rents change. And then we're done. I mean, is there some nuance to this and how you underwrite and then how you plan for distributions to your invest?


[00:18:40] Ruben Greth: Well, there is definitely, I wish I could say that I do the underwriting, the civil engineering, the construction management, but I only have one part that I really focused in on, which is creating relationships with investors and raising capital and bringing capital racers to become part owners of our funds.And there's definitely something to what you just said. Like, how do you underwrite this versus the multi-family syndication and like your calc, I think some of the moving pieces that you would add. Is like, what's your projecting? What are development costs along the way? Right? And then you get hit with a new charge that the city is wanting in order for you to create something or they say, in order for you to make this happen, you have to add this to the property. And you're trying to calculate that as best as you can. And the other part that we mentioned earlier is what's the loan product, right? So you're not dealing with the stabilized bridge loan that you know exactly even. That's less of a product that you want to keep long term, maybe it actually is not a bad situation for some multifamily syndicators in this market with the mark with the way that the economic climate in terms of interest rates is changing. But you have this moving animal where their bank is constantly. Re underwriting you right as you are going. So the investors get a little frustrated in comparison to multi-family syndication, where they know what the loan product is. They know exactly what it's going to be throughout the duration of the first three years. And then maybe they don't know what the refinance is or what the next loan product is. But with us, it's constantly changing for every 10 units that we're building. Unless we find a very specialized, sophisticated debt fund or. Building housing development, kind of loan, construction, private equity firm. That's already on board with the whole idea of bill Tourette's, but they're typically harder to find than than most, regular agency debt, lenders, or banks that you may join.


[00:20:34] Sam Wilson: Talk to me real quick. Your last question, before we jump off, talk to me about the investor experience. When does an investor in your models, when did they get paid? How does that work? Because again, it's, this is it's just a very different thing. So really.


[00:20:48] Ruben Greth: You're attempting to calculate at what occupancy are you breaking even? And what if that number is like 40, 50 or 60%? So once you get to 60% of the houses built and rented, even though the entire project maybe.Not completed. You can start collecting cashflow and then starting to start doing distributions to your investors. But the other thing that we typically like is that we're building these things out, or our construction team is very quickly so we can build a group of 10 houses every month, so we can build an entire subdivision and around 12 months possibly we would underwrite it and say, just in case of, for unforeseen circumstances, we're going to say that we're going to build this thing out in 18 months and sell it out in 30 months or something like that.But the reality is we can have these things completely built out and rented in about 18 months. And at that point you can potentially sell it. It may take you a few more. But you can beat the projection, a five-year projection. And in this space, you can typically get a two X equity, multiple, which means you can double your LP, your limited partner.Money in about 30 months or however long it takes you just to stabilize and sell the project, which once again, we're being very conservative because we believe that we can sell these. We can build these in about 10 months, we're projecting 18 months just in case anything crazy happens, but in reality, we're selling, Hey, we can double your money in about 30, 36 months. But the reality is we have these things stabilized and going in about 24, if not much.


[00:22:24] Sam Wilson: That's awesome. I love it. Ruben, thank you for taking the time, but to break down your business, how you guys are raising capital, where you see opportunity in the market and what you guys are doing to take these deals down a certainly love it. And thanks for breaking down, kind of that build to rent model. That's not something we've talked about a lot here on the show and I love. I love the way you guys are doing it. So thanks again for taking the time to come on today. If our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about you, what is the best way to do that?


[00:22:51] Ruben Greth: So  Check out the show at capital raisers or check out our opportunities and my business, my construction and development and capital raising fund management business. That legacy or just find me on LinkedIn.


[00:23:05] Sam Wilson: Awesome. We'll certainly include all of those links. Thank you again for your time, buddy. Ruben.


[00:23:08] Ruben Greth: Appreciate it. Thanks brother. This has been a blast.