Definitive Guide to Creating a Real Estate Investor Presentation

5 min read
Shawn Amsler
Bullpen Advisor
Published on
June 15, 2020

The following blog is a compilation of teaching notes and best practices for the creation of an institutional quality real estate investor presentation from my "Real Estate Capstone" course at Columbia University.

PART I – Tips for Institutional-Quality Real Estate Investor Presentations

Investors often have very limited time and many investment opportunities seeking their attention. It’s important to keep your real estate investor presentation comprehensive but succinct.

Throughout your investor presentation, keep things simple, easy to follow and not confusing. Cut right to your main points. 

Use bullet points wherever it makes sense. Use charts to illustrate things like your organizational structure or investment process. Include maps where applicable. 

It is critical to articulate clearly how your strategy will create value and generate returns for investors. 

You may not always have the opportunity to walk investors through your materials in person, so be sure your presentation is easily understandable as a stand-alone document, fully self-explanatory (yet succinct).

Every page should have a purpose and should tell an essential part of the overall story. Don’t include pages that are merely “fluff” and don’t add value. 

Your real estate investor presentation should communicate your investment opportunity visually and in a way that gets investors excited about your project. When appropriate, images can be a much more effective way to communicate vital info.

Be professional with the layout and appearance of the presentation. Some common missteps: 

  • Maps or images that are blurry
  • Drastic inconsistencies with layout or margins from one page to the next
  • Too many different font sizes
  • Fonts that are too small to read

Have someone proofread the investor presentation for typos and other errors, including numerical inconsistencies between different parts of the presentation (a very common issue often resulting from updates to the financial analysis). 

In particular, watch for small errors that spell check might miss. 

All of these things can detract from an otherwise quality document.

It can be very helpful to save your presentation as a PDF file and then print it out. Often this can help you spot errors that you have not previously noticed.

When sending your presentation to investors, it is always advisable to send as a PDF file.

PART II – A Roadmap for Your Real Estate Investor Presentation

1) Executive Summary 

Ideally, the executive summary section should fit onto a single page (two pages maximum).

I recommend that you complete this section after having completed all of your other sections.

It is important to have a strong executive summary that provides investors with a quick overview of your proposal, as opposed to making your audience leaf through many pages in order to understand what is going on.

Investors like to know right up front what you are doing and what they are being asked to say "yes" or "no" to. Get to it right away, rather than having a slow build-up.

Right up front, state very succinctly the key facts of the project: 

  • The market opportunity and your strategy for capitalizing on that opportunity 
  • What is being developed? 
  • Vision, concept, program, uses, target market, positioning, etc.

Provide a preview of the most essential numbers and key financial figures: 

  • Size (total square feet, unit count, etc.) 
  • Acquisition price 
  • Total cost 
  • Equity and debt amounts (as applicable) 
  • Levered returns (equity multiple, IRR and net profit) 
  • Stabilized yield (if applicable)
2) Team 

Investors weigh the sponsor team at least equally if not more than the investment opportunity. Your team section needs to convey trust.

Include a company profile.

Add your team’s qualifications and credentials, as well as other reasons why investors should trust your team for this project.

How long has your current management team been together?

Explain your team’s competitive advantages. How will you out-perform your peer group?

  • What can investors get from your team that they can get from only your team? 

Add an organizational chart.

Include bios of key team members:

  • Professional background 
  • Notable past projects 
  • Areas of expertise 
  • Roles and responsibilities 

Do you have a track record? Include it, as well as the returns you achieved.

Lastly, tell investors your “why”. Share your mission statement and company culture.

3) Market Analysis 

Often, investors will conduct their own market research, so this section should be succinct and limited to market data which is directly relevant in supporting your investment opportunity.

Avoid data that is not directly relevant.

Some sponsors find it helpful to “start wide and then narrow.” Begin the market analysis section with macroeconomic or regional data, and then gradually narrow to neighborhood-specific and eventually property-specific data. Only include macro data that is directly relevant to your specific investment opportunity.

For all data presented, be sure to state what it means for your project specifically and how it substantiates your business plan. Be careful to not bore your audience with too much raw data – especially that which does not serve an essential purpose in supporting your business plan. 

Include in the appendices, any tables, graphs or raw data that you used to source your findings. End notes can be used to refer the reader to exhibits of more in-depth market data placed in the appendices at the end of the real estate investor presentation.

The market analysis section may also include the following items (depending on the property type or strategy). Again, limit the information to only the most directly relevant: 

  • Demographics 
  • Household income 
  • Spending patterns 
  • Consumer preferences 
  • Price points (rents, sales price per square foot, ADR, etc.) 
  • Trends and cycles 
  • Demand (vacancy or occupancy), key demand drivers 
  • Supply analysis (competitors, pipeline and comparables) 
  • Cap rates 
  • Any other relevant data 

Some sponsors find it helpful to include maps locating the project with respect to: 

  • Comps or competitor properties 
  • Transit nodes or transportation infrastructure 
  • Retail, restaurants, schools, parks, other urban amenities or points of interest 

I advise providing comps of recent similar transactions within the same market to demonstrate that your acquisition price and/or exit valuation projections are realistic.

4) Site Description / Property Description 

Some sponsors find it helpful to locate the subject property on maps of more than one scale. Start with a wider map of the overall metro area, then zoom in to a tighter map showing just the immediate neighborhood. 

Describe the parcel and its immediate surroundings. Include lot dimensions and area or existing building size and description.

Sometimes it can be helpful to explain key details of the existing zoning parameters, especially when your business plan calls for building modifications or when a new ground-up development is proposed.

Add photos of the property in its current state.

5) Investment Strategy, Concept and Program 

Walk the reader, step-by-step, through the development process or investment strategy.

Wherever possible, communicate key project facts and information through graphics: charts, tables, graphs, drawings, or images - as opposed to paragraphs of text. Be creative!

Take every opportunity to communicate your concept visually, in a way that gets investors excited about your project.

Briefly summarize the vision, scheme or use(s). Particularly if there is an interesting “story” about the project, explain the genesis of the deal or the “inspiration” for the vision.

Provide a detailed programmatic breakdown: 

  • Total gross square footage and/or total net square footage 
  • If your development contains more than one use, list the gross and/or net square footages of each use
  • Number of units and/or keys (if applicable) 

Market positioning: where is your product positioned within the market?

Target market: who is your target customer/buyer? (Income, age, family composition, education - as applicable).

Floor plans, sections, stacking diagrams and/or other drawings as necessary to illustrate the placement of uses on your site or within the building.

Provide a few brief bullet points with accompanying renderings or representative images that best convey your vision and/or inspiration for this development. What is the “look and feel” you are going for?

Be sure to use the highest resolution images possible, as low resolution or blurry images will ruin an otherwise high-quality presentation.

For renovations, adaptive reuse or reposition projects, some sponsors find it helpful to show “before and after” images.

If your business plan includes a retail component, consider naming the specific retailers or types of retailers you are targeting.

Provide information on the project architect and/or design team, to the extent that this has been determined.

For non-typical strategies, discuss precedent projects (they do not necessarily need to be in your immediate geography).

How will your project be differentiated from not only the existing competitive landscape, but also from projects that will be delivered to the market before or after your project? How will you outperform them?

6) Financial Analysis Section 

For financials, it can be helpful to provide numbers in table format, rather than burying numbers deep within paragraphs of text.

Discuss the investment process, hold period and exit strategy. 

  • Who are the most likely buyers for your project upon exit? (Family offices, REITs, etc.) 

Show the sources and uses of funds.

List all relevant assumptions (as applicable): 

  • Sale prices 
  • Rental rates and rental growth rates 
  • Square footages 
  • Unit count / unit mix / key count 
  • Vacancy rates / occupancy rates 
  • Cap rates 
  • LTC/LTV, other debt terms 

Include the land/property acquisition price that the concept can support.

Detail a hard and soft cost budget breakdown (this section can also show each line item per unit and/or per square foot).

Show a cash flow or income statement with a total exit valuation or sales proceeds amount.

Present return and debt metrics:

  • Levered and unlevered returns
  • IRR, equity multiple, net profit, yield (cash on cash) etc. 
  • Stabilized yield-on-cost
  • Debt service coverage ratio (DSCR)
  • Sensitivity analysis on major assumptions

Some sponsors find it helpful to show returns for the most conservative “base-case” first, and then show returns for more optimistic scenarios.

It may also be helpful to show returns for stress-tested scenarios.

Depending on the specific audience, it may be helpful to compare the projected returns of your investment opportunity with those of alternative investments or other asset classes.

7) Other Things to Include In Your Real Estate Investor Presentation

Project schedule; timeline of the strategy or investment/development process.

Summary of key terms (often presented in table format) 

  • Total amount of equity required 
  • Minimum investment amount per investor 
  • Promote structure (waterfall) 
  • Fees 
  • Other key terms, as applicable

Investment considerations (risks - often presented in bullet point or table format)

  • Some sponsors find it helpful to preemptively disclose the most obvious concerns that investors would most likely have about the investment opportunity. 
  • Investors will often try to find the “Achilles Heel” in your strategy anywhere they can. Preemptively disclosing risks accompanied by your plan to address these potential pitfalls can reassure investors that you have thought the project through all the way. 
  • What could go wrong that could result in your project not meeting target goals? Explain how you would mitigate each of these things. 
  • If things do not go according to plan, what is Plan B?

Community relations strategy / social responsibility 

  • How will your project improve the lives of end users or other stakeholders, and/or make a positive impact on the surrounding community? 
  • Explain your approach to community concerns. 
  • What will you do to win over neighbors, local elected officials or other stakeholders to be in favor of your project and not against it? 
  • This section often discusses sustainability. 

One or two representative “Case Studies” of similar prior projects: 

  • Walk the reader, step-by-step, through the development process 
  • Provide key facts and figures of the project (table format is recommended) 
  • Show realized returns (as applicable) 
  • Provide “before and after” images 
  • Can be an excellent way to articulate your strategy 
  • Particularly for less typical strategies or less familiar markets, case studies can be used to illustrate that the concept is not conjecture, it has been proven before. 
8) Investment Highlights (Conclusion)

Using bullet points, succinctly summarize the most compelling points about your investment opportunity.

Why should someone invest? What are the last key points you want to emphasize and leave the reader with?

Accompany with a nice image of your project.

9) Legal Disclaimer

Consult your attorney.

10) Contact Information

How can investors reach you?

11) Appendices 

The appendices can be used to provide helpful supplemental materials that would encumber and drag down the flow if included in the main body of the real estate investor presentation, such as: 

  • More detailed market data, tables, graphs, maps or original source materials referenced in the main body of the market analysis section. 
  • More detailed financial information, cash flows or income statements. 
  • Additional detail on track record or representative case study projects. 
  • Any additional supporting information.
About Shawn

Shawn has experience in real estate development and investment in the United States, Latin America, the
Caribbean and Europe.  His roles have included financial feasibility analysis, preconstruction oversight and strategic advisory for real estate developers, private equity funds and family offices.  His past projects have included the Hotel Giustiniano Imperatore in Rome, and the Castello di Casole Hotel in Tuscany, Italy, which was recognized in 2017 by Travel+Leisure as the Best Resort Hotel in Europe.

Shawn served as Preconstruction Manager for the Kor Realty Group / Viceroy Hotels, where his projects included the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, and the Four Seasons Anguilla in the British West Indies.

Shawn currently serves on the adjunct faculty of Columbia University and the NYU Schack Institute of Real
Estate where he has taught a graduate-level course on Hotel Development and Investment since 2018, and where he received the Award for Teaching Excellence in 2019.  He holds a Master of Science Degree in Real Estate Development from Columbia University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude, as well as a
Bachelor of Architectural Engineering Degree from the Pennsylvania State University.

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