Real estate investment structures are as varied and complex as the properties they relate to. For General Partners (GPs) navigating the world of real estate investments, understanding these structures is crucial for making informed decisions and maximizing returns. This blog post will delve into the different types of real estate investment structures, helping GPs choose the right path for their investment goals.

1. Direct Ownership: The Foundation of Real Estate Investing

Direct ownership is the most straightforward real estate investment structure. Here, the investor owns the property outright, either individually or in partnership with others. This structure offers complete control over the asset, including decisions related to leasing, development, and sale. However, it also comes with the responsibility of managing the property and the risks associated with direct market exposure.

2. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): Accessibility and Diversification

REITs offer a way to invest in real estate without owning the property directly. These trusts own and often operate income-producing real estate. Investors buy shares of the REIT, making them partial owners of the properties within the trust's portfolio. This structure provides diversification and liquidity, as REIT shares are often traded on major stock exchanges. However, investors have limited control over individual property decisions.

3. Real Estate Limited Partnerships (RELPs): The Partnership Approach

RELPs are a form of investment where GPs and Limited Partners (LPs) come together. The GP manages the partnership and the real estate it owns, while LPs contribute capital and receive income distributions. This structure allows for pooled resources, potentially leading to larger-scale investments. However, it involves more complexity in terms of partnership agreements and profit-sharing structures.

4. Real Estate Funds: Professional Management and Diversification

Real estate funds, like mutual funds, pool money from various investors to purchase a portfolio of properties or real estate-related assets. Managed by professional investment managers, these funds offer diversification and expert management. They can focus on various real estate sectors or adopt specific strategies (like growth or income-focused). Investors in these funds must be comfortable with the fund's strategy and trust the management team's expertise.

5. Joint Ventures: Sharing the Load

In a joint venture, two or more parties come together to invest in a specific real estate project. This structure allows for sharing of capital, expertise, and risk. It's common in developments where large capital outlays are required. The success of a joint venture heavily relies on the clarity of the agreement and the synergy between partners.

6. Crowdfunding: The New Frontier

Real estate crowdfunding is a relatively new structure enabled by digital platforms. It allows GPs to raise capital from a large number of investors in smaller increments. This structure democratizes real estate investing, allowing smaller investors to participate in larger projects. However, it comes with regulatory considerations and relies heavily on the platform's ability to attract investors.

7. Real Estate Syndication: Pooling for Specific Projects

Similar to crowdfunding, real estate syndication involves pooling funds from multiple investors for a specific project. The syndicator (usually the GP) is responsible for identifying the property, raising funds, and managing the investment. Investors contribute capital and share in the profits but have limited involvement in management decisions.


Each real estate investment structure offers unique benefits and risks. GPs must consider their investment goals, risk tolerance, and desired level of involvement when choosing a structure. Whether opting for the direct control of ownership or the diversified exposure of a REIT, understanding these structures is key to successful real estate investing.