A sucker born every minute for real estate deals?

Who consistently profits from real estate syndicates, REITS and OZ funds? The promotors and managers for sure; it’s a great business sector.

Not so much the average retail investors. The investors’ return is largely driven by economic factors outside of the real estate holdings. For example: interest rates. If interest rates drop, that is normally good news for real estate investors. On average, these investments kept pace with or slightly exceeded the stock market over the past decade of declining interest rates. If interest rates rise, we would normally expect to see investor returns turn negative as we did in the 1970s.

This basic economic information was known decades ago and hasn’t changed much over time. The wording and hype of deals is new and exciting, but not the net investment performance expectations.

One additional caveat known to tax preparers but probably not the general market: those who need to sell out of a syndication, REIT or real estate fund often do so at significant losses. I can count on one hand the number of capital gains I’ve seen in my lifetime when an investor had to sell early (to settle a divorce, for example). On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of conversations of “tell me again why we chose to buy that investment?”.