Financial Poise

A Few Minutes With…Tracy Treger

Tracy Treger column head shot

Tracy Treger is the Senior Director of Corporate Strategy at Syndicated Equities, a private equity real estate investment firm established in 1986. Her job entails assisting investors in understanding and assessing the company’s various real estate investment offerings, and also evaluating properties for the company’s acquisition. Treger also helps investors identify replacement properties to defer taxes under the § 1031 “like-kind” exchange rules, either through fractional ownership of larger projects or as stand-alone net leased properties.    

Treger joined Syndicated Equities in 2013 after a 20-year career practicing law.  She served as vice president and assistant general counsel for a private REIT, where she handled the legal aspects of the company’s daily operations and its joint venture relationships in the U.S. and Mexico.  Prior to that, she was a partner in two large Chicago law firms with national and international practices. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. in Psychological Services from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Chicago Kent College of Law, where she graduated with honors and was a member of the Law Review.  

Soon Treger will begin covering commercial real estate in a regular column for Financial Poise.  Here we chat with Treger about her background, which provides her with unique insights on the topic.

Tracy, what is a Senior Director of Corporate Strategy?

My ultimate goal is to help our investors create and preserve wealth.  I do that by making sure that we consider what our current and prospective investors are looking for when we evaluate new investment properties and structure our acquisitions.  At the same time, I work on expanding our business opportunities by cultivating new clients and making our current investors’ experiences with us more satisfying.  For investors who already own real estate, I help them defer taxes when they sell their property by completing a “like kind” exchange.

So, I spend a lot of time talking with investors, learning what they want to achieve with their real estate portfolios, and how we can personalize and improve company-client interactions.  I use this feedback to develop or improve company initiatives.  For example, I organized a series of “road shows” where our senior leadership team visits cities across the country to meet with investors face to face.  I also cultivated the 1031 exchange portion of our business through active participation in the educational, networking and lobbying activities of FEA, the preeminent trade association for that industry.

Tell us about Syndicated Equities.

Syndicated Equities has been assisting high net worth individuals and family offices to incorporate real estate into their investment portfolios since 1986.  We are a real estate private equity firm, meaning that we find institutional quality, cash-flowing properties, and we offer accredited investors the opportunity to acquire a fractional ownership interest in each professionally managed asset.  We provide regular reporting and distributions of cash flow, typically quarterly.  Our properties are located across the country, and include federal government buildings, apartments and student housing, retail centers, medical and traditional office buildings, and hotels.  While our primary focus is stabilized property that will maintain its value over time, we occasionally offer projects with a development component with the goal of capturing a more significant shorter-term gain.  We also assist investors who need replacement property to complete a tax-deferred “1031” exchange, either as part of one of our syndicated offerings, or as an individual acquisition of a net-leased property.

Three things that make Syndicated Equities special are our hands-on personal relationships with our investors and strategic deal partners; that we personally invest our own money in every single deal that we offer to investors, so we always have “skin in the game”; and that we raise funds on a property-by-property basis rather than in a fund, so our investors can personally decide whether a specific asset is a good fit for them.  We can be patient and wait for prudent investments rather than being forced to get dollars out the door by a specific date.

How do you compete with institutional PE funds and crowdfunders?

Rather than being direct competitors, I view crowdfunders and PE funds as alternative types of investments that serve different functions and segments of the investor base with discrete products.  The majority of our acquisitions are properties selling at a price point that is too small for institutional buyers, and too large for many crowdfunds.  Because we do not have a fund, each property stands on its own merits, and we help our investors select investments based on their own personal criteria.

We also offer a far more personalized investment experience than institutions and crowdfunds.  We keep track of our investors by name rather than using account numbers, and we welcome opportunities to meet with investors in person.  When you call us, you get a live person on the phone, and we will work directly with you and your financial advisors to answer questions and provide information.  We hold an annual investor conference where our clients can meet us, as well as fellow investors, in person.  As a consequence, we tend to know all of our investors on a personal level.

Additionally, we invest our own funds in every single deal.  If an operational issue arises with a property, we have a strong incentive to work quickly to find a resolution and to communicate promptly with our investor base, and the means to address specific concerns of individual investors.

How does your legal background help you in your job?

One of the most important aspects of my position is discussing prospective investments with clients.  To have those conversations, I need to understand how our investments are structured and why, the risks involved in each acquisition, the legal and financial relationships between Syndicated, our strategic partners, and our investor base, and why a given project may (or may not) be a good fit for the investor.  I also need to present Syndicated’s projects and platform to professionals in the industry, and to assess potential synergies that may assist our company or friends of the firm.

My legal background enables me to understand the technical nuances specific to each of our investments, especially for 1031 exchange transactions.  More importantly, however, my law practice honed my skills listening to clients, asking questions to understand the transaction from their point of view, and learning what they want to accomplish.  So I have had a lot of practice discussing legal matters with non-lawyers in a respectful way, and without a lot of jargon.

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