My Interview With One of Chicagoland’s Most Experienced Industrial Real Estate Syndicators

My Q&A with Joel Friedland & Eric Schneider of Rosemont based Brit Properties

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Principals of Brit Properties: Joel Friedland (Left) and Eric Schneider (Right)

Austin Garwood, a member of Brit’s team, interviews Joel Friedland & Eric Schneider of Brit Properties, based in Rosemont, Illinois.

Before founding Brit Properties, Joel was a co-founder of Epic/Savage Realty Partners, a provider of comprehensive real estate services to its valued clientele. In 2014, Joel and his partners sold their firm to Houston-based Transwestern, a multi-national corporation with affiliates in the United States, Europe and Asia. Eric was a futures trader who also invested in real estate prior to joining Brit Properties.


Q: Can you tell me how you got your start in the industrial real estate business?

Joel: Sure, my career began at age 22, back in 1981, as an industrial real estate broker working for Milt Podolsky and his family. They were owners of about 6 million square feet of industrial properties in the Chicago area. Milt was a personality powerhouse and the most entertaining man I’ve ever met in business. I was mentored for 10 years by Milt, his highly capable sons Steve and Randy, daughter Bonnie and their most trusted partner, Richard Levy.

Eric: My first and only position in real estate started at Brit Properties. From the beginning I handled both brokerage and property management for our clients and investors. I have first hand knowledge with regard to leasing, selling, and maintaining the value of industrial properties of all ages and sizes.

Q: What are the takeaways from your 40 years in the real estate industry?

Joel: Real estate is a relationship business. Long term success is based on straightforward communication and collaboration with clients and investment partners. Many of our investors are families and an important part of my role is to help them address their collective and individual investment goals.

Finding the “right” deals requires a number of skills and a significant amount of patience. I believe the two of the most important factors for a successful real estate investment are

1.) Location; and 2.) Staying power through economic cycles.

Q: How did you become a real estate joint venture partner with a number of families:

Joel: At different times each of the families had recently sold a property and were looking to identify a property to benefit from income tax deferral through a Section 1031 Exchange. In each case I proposed a structure where my internal investor group and I provided for the family to buy into a 50% Tenancy in Common (TIC). Our firm provides all of the documentation and then handles the property management, accounting and leasing. This arrangement has resulted in our being subsequently asked to provide multiple additional investments.

Q: How many 1031 Exchanges have you arranged during your career?

Joel: Over 40.

Q: What are some of the key business points of your investment partnerships?

Eric: There are often a handful of discussion points that are common in each deal:

1. Governance regarding how major decisions are made.

2. Long-term vs. short-term hold strategy.

3. Balancing cash distributions with maintaining prudent reserves.

4. Conservative leverage for preservation of capital.

5. Fees: Who gets fees, for what reason, and how much?

6. Reporting tailored to the needs of each client.

7. Succession planning for the future.

Q: You and Joel often speak of shared values, can you elaborate?

Eric: Joel and I agree, family first, stay healthy, work diligently, character counts.