Bob Fransen founded Timberland Partners in 1992, when he convinced a couple of commercial real estate friends to join him in acquiring a 46-unit apartment property. He has been the vision behind the growth of our company, leading it from a single partnership focused on personal investment returns, to a national organization that enriches the lives of hundreds of investment partners and team members, and thousands of residents.

Why is real estate, particularly the multifamily sector, a relatively safe and sustainable investment?

I think real estate is a pretty fascinating area. There are so many sectors of this business. There’s commercial — which includes office and warehouse properties —retail, land development and the apartment market. I think the apartment market is likely the safest of all of those investments. It provides stable cash flows, appreciation of real estate values over time and tax advantages. While it may sound kind of simple, people do need a place to live, and more and more people are selecting apartments today as a lifestyle choice versus a necessity. I think the apartment market is certainly more stable than all of the other sectors of the real estate investment field. That’s one of the reasons that we made the decision many years ago to focus exclusively on apartments.

Why is Timberland Partners’ long-term approach to multifamily real estate particularly well-suited for current market conditions?

We tell those who consider investing with us that we’re forming a long-term relationship, and they should plan to have their money tied up for a while. That might mean 10, 15, 20, maybe even 25 years in some cases. Some of the earlier partnerships we put together over 20 years ago still exist. We ride the ups and downs. There are going to be periods when the economy is stronger than others, but over a 10 or 15-year hold, we’ll come out, and we’ll do just fine.

How important is co-investing for Timberland Partners?

We invest substantially in every deal we make. I’m typically the largest investor in each of the partnerships we put together. Our team is looking for properties that we feel comfortable with. Then, we’re asking our investors if they want to join us. We see ourselves as being in the business of helping people invest in real estate and investing alongside them. One of the things that we do that not everybody does is manage all of our properties. We also don’t do third-party management for other folks. Our acquisitions team is in alignment with our operations team, so we don’t have an acquisitions team purchasing properties and then expecting somebody else to operate it to their standards. We work together to make sure that acquisitions and operations are in agreement. They understand how the properties are going to operate and any potential challenges.

Why is Timberland Partners committed to a hands-on business model?

One thing that’s really important to us is managing the real estate and taking complete ownership of the entire process — the acquisition, the financing, providing investors with all of the information they need to make the right decision and then managing the properties.