May 6, 2020

JF2073: How To Calculate Class A and B Return Projections | Syndication School with Theo Hicks


In this Syndication School episode, Theo will first review the difference between Class A and Class B investors. Afterward, he will share with you how to calculate the projected returns for each class, and to follow along with Theo you can download his free excel document below.

Free Class A and Class B document

To listen to other Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and to download your FREE document, visit Thank you for listening and I will talk to you tomorrow. 

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Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.

Theo Hicks: Hi, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to another episode of the Syndication School series, a free resource focused on the how-to’s of apartment syndication. As always, I’m your host, Theo Hicks. Each week we air two podcast episodes that focus on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy.

For the majority of these episodes we offer a free document. These are free Excel template calculators, free PDF how-to guides, free PowerPoint presentation templates, some sort of resource that will help you along your apartment syndication journey. All of these free documents, and past free Syndication School series are available at

In this episode we are going to talk about how to calculate the returns to limited partners when you have a two-tiered path of investment structure. What does that mean? Well, generally when people get started as syndicators, they offer one investment tier to their investors, and it’s either a preferred return only, a profit split only, or a combination of the two, with the most common being an 8% preferred return, and then a 50/50 or a 70/30 profit split.

Now, as you gain more experience, or even at first, you might decide to offer two investment tiers – class A and class B. Our episode is focusing on what are the differences between class A and class B. I’m gonna do a quick refresher on that, talking about the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then I’m gonna talk about how to actually calculate the return on investment and the internal rate of return to investment tiers.

For this episode, I’ll be giving away a free document. It will be a  calculator that will allow you to automatically calculate the ROI and the IRR based on the steps I discuss in this episode. So I’ll talk more about that free document here in a little bit.

First, let’s just do a refresher on class A and class B. Class A, investors sit behind the debt in the capital stack, which means that when all expenses are paid, including the debt, the next cash goes to the class A investors. Class A investors are offered a preferred return that is generally higher than the preferred return offered to class B investors.

On Ashcroft deals, the class A preferred return is 10%. Class A investor have virtually no upside upon disposition or capital events, nor do they receive a split of the ongoing profits. So they are getting the 10% or whatever the preferred return is, and then that is it. But in order to be taxes the same as class B investors, they do get a very small piece of the upside, that varies from deal to deal… So they do get a small piece of the upside for tax purposes, but overall they’re not given a large upside in the deal.

In Ashcroft deals the class A tier is limited to 25% of the total equity investment, and the minimum investment is $100,000. So the reason why is because let’s say year one the project cash-on-cash return is only 7%, and you may say “Oh, well I can’t pay my 10% preferred return then.” Well, if only 25% of your investors are offered a 10% preferred return, then you can hit that preferred return of 10% to that portion of investors. I’m not sure exactly how that math will work out, but as long as these class A investors aren’t making up a large portion of your investor pool, then you don’t need to have a 10% project cash-on-cash return to distribute 10% to the class A limited partners.

Now, of course, other syndicators may offer a different preferred return, or have different equity percentages or different minimum investments. That’s just what Ashcroft does currently, and I just wanted to give you an example.

Class B investors sit behind class A, so all expenses go out, including debt, and then class A investors get paid, and then class B investors get paid with what’s left. But they sit in front of the general partners generally in the capital stack, so they get paid before the GP is paid.

Class B  investors are offered a preferred return that is lower than the preferred return offered to class A investors. On Ashcroft deals that return is 7%, compared to that 10% for Class A. If the full preferred return cannot be paid out each month, or each quarter, or each year, depending on what the payment frequency is, then it accrues over the life of a deal.

Class B  investors do participate in upside upon disposition or capital events. On Ashcroft deals the split is 70% of the profits up to a 13% IRR, and then 50% of the profits thereafter. The Class B  minimum investment for Ashcroft is 50k for first-time investors and 25k for returning investors. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think that Ashcroft recently reduced the class A minimum investment to 50k. [00:09:04].21] and really all other types of tiers offered. Syndicators may offer different preferred returns, profit splits, different minimums for these class B investors.

So since class A investors are in front of class B investors in the capital stack, they are paid first, plus the class A investors are offered a higher preferred return, therefore the class A tier is a deal for investors who prefer a stronger ongoing cashflow… So they’re more likely to get this cashflow, and it’s higher than what it would be if they were class B.

Since class B investors are sitting behind the class A investors in the capital stack, they are paid what is left over after the class A have received their preferred return. So if the full preferred return isn’t met, it accrues and is ideally paid out upon disposition or a capital event. So class A investors are offered a lower preferred return, but they do participate in the upside upon disposition or capital events like  a supplemental loan or a refinance… So the overall return over the life of a deal is higher for class B investors, compared to class A.

Class A is gonna get 10% a year, or whatever that percentage is, class B might get less than their preferred return year one, maybe 5%, but maybe eventually their cashflow goes up to 9% or 10%, but then they’ll get a massive 20% return on investment at sale over the life of the investment. It’s really at the end where they surpass the class A investors.

So the class B tier is ideal for investors who want to maximize their returns over the life of the investments. And if I’m the person who wants both – if I want strong ongoing cashflow AND to participate in the upside, typically that passive investor will be allowed to invest in both. So if you have a passive investor that wants to do both and you’re offering class A and class B, they should be able to invest a portion in class A and a portion in class B. So that’s what class A and class B are, as a reminder.

Now, how do you calculate the returns? I recommend downloading the document and having it open right now in Excel, but I will assume that you don’t have it open, and I will do  my best to explain exactly how to calculate. At the end I will discuss in more detail how the free document works. So the first thing that you need to know in order to calculate the returns to class A and class B investors are 1) total equity investment. So this is the total amount of money that you as a syndicator raised from investors for the deal, because that’s what’s gonna be their capital account and that’s what their return is gonna be based on… And then assuming it’s a five-year hold, you need the project-level cashflow; that’s income minus expenses gives you the NOI. NOI minus debt service gives you the cashflow. So you need the cashflow for year one through year five, as well as the sales proceeds.

Basically, you have year zero a negative amount of money technically, because that’s what the investors are paying, and then year one, year two, year three, year four, year five you’ve got your cashflow coming in positively, and then for the sales proceeds it’s just the profit remaining after all expenses are paid at sale. If you’ve downloaded the simplified cashflow calculator, it should be as easy and copy and pasting these figures into this model. As a reminder, the sales proceeds is the sales price minus the debt owed to the lender, minus any closing costs you need to pay for, minus any other costs associated with the sale, like disposition fees, broker’s fees… And then what’s remaining is the total sales proceeds. So that’s one bucket of numbers that you need.

Next you need to determine what the structure is going to be for class A and for class B. So for each, you need to know what the preferred is going to be, and what the profit split is going to be. So for the purposes of this document, the preferred return to class A is 10%, and the profit split is zero. For class B the preferred return is 7% and the profit split is 70%.

Now, the next step is to determine what that preferred return amount looks like for class A and class B. Basically, for class A you need to determine of the equity investment which portion is class A. To keep things simple, in this calculator it’s just set at 25%; obviously, you can go in there and manually adjust it if you want to. Class B is set at 75%, but you can go in there and manually-adjust it, if you want to.

So you’ve got 25% of the equity investment, you multiply that by the preferred return percentage of 10% to get the preferred return amount. Same thing for class B. So Class B  you take 75% or whatever percent of the equity investment, multiply it by the preferred return, which is 7%, and you’ve got the preferred return amount owed.

Now, if you remember, class A is paid first. So when you’re looking at your year one cashflow number, you take your year one cashflow and you subtract the class A preferred return amount completely out of there. And then what’s left over is what goes to class B investors.

Now, let’s say that year one you are able to cover the entire preferred return amount to the class A investors, but the cashflow that’s remaining is not enough to cover the preferred return owed to the class B investors. Obviously, they’re still going to get paid, but it’s not gonna be full. So in the sample cashflow calculator that you download it shows that the class B investors only get a 3% return on investment year one, as opposed to 7% preferred return that they’re owed. Every time that happens, for every year that happens, you need to track how much of the preferred return is actually accruing. So if they’re given a 3%, then they’re owed an additional 5%. So that’s going to accrue.

Now, for this particular document the way I have it set up is that it accrues and then it is paid out at sale. I’ll talk about how that happens later, but it’s not gonna be paid out the next year, it’s gonna be paid out at sale. If you want to have it paid out the next year, you’re gonna have to do some manipulations to the cashflow calculator.

Basically, you repeat that process for each year. This is how it works in this cashflow calculator. Let’s say at year two you take your full cashflow  for year two, you pay your class A investors their preferred return if the remaining amount is greater than the preferred return owed to the class B investors. So class B gets their full 7%, so the profits remaining after the 10% is paid to the class A, after 7% is paid to class B, that extra cashflow is going to be split. In this case, 70% goes to class B and 30% goes to the general partners.

Now, typically, profits are considered a return of capital, preferred return is considered a return on capital. So whenever capital is returned to them, then their capital account reduces. Now, in Ashcroft deals the preferred return is always gonna be based on the original investment, and then the general partners will catch up at sale. So what that means is whenever the class B investors are receiving a profit split, you need to track that so that you understand “Okay, after five years I’ve returned a  total of $15,000 to investors from this profit”, because they’ve got $15,000 in profit, therefore they’ve been returned $15,000. Therefore at sale, I’m gonna return them their full equity minus that $15,000 they’ve already received.

Basically, the two things that you need to track whenever you’re paying out your class B investors is if they’re not receiving their full preferred return, how much is accruing that year, and then number two, if they received a profit split, how much profit do they make, because that’s something you need to track, because that’s considered a return of capital.

So you repeat that process for years one, years two, year threes, year four and year five. When you do that, you should have a total class A accrued preferred return number, and a total return of capital from the profit split for the class B investors.

Obviously, if you aren’t able to distribute the full 10% preferred return to the class A investors, then the same concept applies… But since they’re not receiving a split of the profits, you only need to focus on the preferred return accrual and not anything about them receiving a return of capital, because they’re not.

Alright, so now you sell the deal and you have your sales proceeds calculation… So you’ve already copied and pasted the sales proceeds into the cashflow calculator… So now you need to determine which portion of the sales proceeds goes to class A, and which portion goes to class B. If you remember, class A is in front of class B in the waterfall, so class A gets their equity back first. That one’s pretty simple, because class A did not get a return of capital, so they receive their entire equity investment back. So the sales proceeds are a little bit less.

Next is the money that goes back to the class B investors. If  you remember, they’re owed three things at sale. First, they’re gonna be owed their equity back. So the equity they receive is going to be their total equity investment minus whatever capital they’ve received thus far as profits. So if they’ve received $15,000 in profits, it’ll be their total equity investment originally, minus $15,000 which is returned.

The second thing that’s returned to them is the preferred return that they’re owed. So whatever the total accrued preferred return number is, that is also owed to class B investors. So it’s the equity owed, plus preferred return owed. Lastly, it’s going to be the profit split. So whatever is left over after the class A is paid, class B has received their equity investment back, class B has received their accrued  preferred return, the  remaining profits are split 70/30 between the class B investors and the general partners.

Now, if you have some sort of tier structure where it’s based on IRR, and once there’s a 13% IRR it drops to 50%, you’re gonna have to do that calculation on the back-end, because that’s not what this does. This is just a straight-up profit split, just to keep things simple.

So the remaining profits are multiplied by 70%, and that also goes to the class B investors. So if you’re got profits of class B investors, plus preferred return owed to investors, plus equity to class B investors. So now you have a total proceeds to the class A, which is just their equity investment, and a total proceeds to class B.

Now what you wanna do is you wanna create a data table so that you can do your IRR and your ROI calculations. The ROI calculation is pretty simple – it’s just their initial equity investment divided by the money that they’ve received each year; so year ones, two, three and four it’s just the cashflow they’ve received… So for the class A it’s always gonna be 10%, for class B it’s gonna be ideally 7%, maybe lower at first, and maybe eventually higher… And then same thing for year five, but this actually includes the sales proceeds as well, so it’s gonna be a number that’s ideally over 100%. Then you can average all those to get your annualized cash-on-cash return.

Then for the IRR calculation, it’s just an Excel function where you basically do =IRR and then you highlight year zero through year five, and then it’ll give you what the IRR is.

Now, let’s talk about how to use this model. On the document that you’ll see there are a few locations that you need to input data. Basically, everywhere you input data, it’s gonna be in red, to make it very simple for you.

So you need to input the initial equity investment year one, two, three, four and five, project-level cashflow, the total sales proceeds for project-level, and then the preferred return percentage and the profit split for class A and class B. Once you input those numbers, it’ll automatically calculate year one through five cashflow for class A and class B, as well as the return on investment and the internal rate of return. So it’s essentially a very simple calculator.

And again, where you get the equity investment year one, two, three, four and five and sales proceeds numbers from – that comes from your simplified cashflow calculator that you gave away a while ago now. So if you wanna find that, go to to download that document.

That concludes this episode of Syndication School. Thanks for listening. Make sure you download your free calculator for calculating class A and class B return projections. Check out some of our other Syndication School episodes and those free documents as well.

Have a best ever day, and I will talk to you tomorrow.

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