A property syndicate pools money from individual investors to buy property and share the rental income. Syndicates are set up through a formal legal structure. Some syndicate managers are licensed by the FMA,which means they need to meet certain minimum standards.
Investors in the syndicate buy something that might be called ‘units’ or ‘shares’ that represent a portion of the property. The number of units available depends on the price paid for the property and you can buy more than one unit. The unit cost will vary but is typically about $50,000.
Investment returns are based on the property’s rental income, minus the costs the syndicate has to pay. One of these costs will be for a property manager to take care of the management and maintenance of the property.
Before you invest in a property syndicate, ask yourself the following questions:
Property syndicates are generally riskier than other types of property investment so we strongly recommend you speak to a financial adviser before deciding to invest.
Unlike a bank term deposit where you can get your money back at the end of a set time period, property syndicates don’t usually have a fixed term. This can make it difficult to get your initial investment back if you need it, as there is no active market available for on-selling your investment when you want to sell.
Syndicate managers don’t have to return your money if you need it, but they might help you sell your unit(s) to another investor. If you do this, you may have to pay fees. You may also have to sell them for less than you paid, especially if returns have dropped since you first invested. Otherwise you’ll need to wait until the property is sold, any loans repaid and the syndicate is wound up.
As a part-owner of the property, you will share responsibility for its costs and debts. These are divided by the number of units in the syndicate, and investors pay their share based on how many units they own.
If there isn’t enough money in the syndicate pool to meet these obligations, you may need to invest more money (for example, if tenants can’t pay for essential maintenance, or if there are other fees or costs the syndicate can’t meet). In some cases you’ll need to make this payment quite quickly.
Please note: Inland Revenue is usually able to pursue individual investors for the full amount of any GST owed if the syndicate doesn’t pay.
You should be aware that the return you receive on your investment may be different to the rate advertised by the property syndicate. Reasons for this include:
Investors in property syndicates pay fees to cover specialist services such as property management, legal and financial services. This can result in high fees that may increase even further over time.
When you’re looking to join a property syndicate, you will receive documents explaining how the syndicate operates and what the risks are.
It’s very important you read these documents carefully, including the 'product disclosure statement', ‘deed of participation’ and valuation report for the property.
We recommend you ask yourself the questions covered in our property syndicate investing checklist.
A financial adviser can help you understand whether a property syndicate is right for you, and give you advice about how much to invest. While property syndicates may be suitable as part of an investment portfolio, there are other options that enable you to invest in property, such as managed funds.