Left Field INvestors Blogs

How to Avoid Investment Scams: Lessons Learned

*This was part of a monthly update the blog’s author, Denis Shapiro, provided for his income fund investors. Due to ongoing court matters, he tried to avoid mentioning any names, but he did provide an SEC link to the actual charges.  Before we get into the most recent SEC investigation that has made significant waves […]

Do Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban Really Believe That Diversification Is for Lazy Investors?

Mark Cuban: “Diversification is for Idiots.” Important note: If the headline is changed, and drops the Cuban quote, I am including it in a box here for the article lead. But if the quote is preserved in the article, we can delete it here…   “Diversification is for idiots.” – Mark Cuban “Diversification is protection against […]

Apply the Who Not How Principle to Succeed in Real Estate Syndication Investing

I love when I come home from a long day at work and see that my lawn has been freshly manicured. When I used to do the mowing, I would have to mentally schedule time after work or on the weekends. Of course, I would also have to watch the weather forecast and adjust my […]

A Beginner’s Guide to Passively Investing in Syndications: Thoughts From a Rookie Investor to Get Into your First Deal

It’s hard to believe that just one year ago passive syndication investing was a foreign world to me. Twelve months back, I was nose-deep in a course on active real estate investing, researching markets, contacting various agents, lenders, and contractors, analyzing deal after deal, and wondering how I would ever find a cash-flowing rental property […]

Preferred Returns: The Difference of a Single Letter

Clarifying Return ON Capital vs. Return OF Capital In most passive investments, the sponsor commits to paying the investors a specified percentage of their investment per year before the sponsor can start to collect performance fees. As such, these payments are referred to as “preferred returns” and the payment relative to the investor’s capital is […]

Money, Power, and Responsibility: 6 tips to avoid passive investor pitfalls in a commercial real estate syndication

You have evaluated the deal metrics of a prospective commercial real estate syndication and you like the deal. What’s next? Ask the sponsor for the offering documents. The “offering documents” are the instruments that create a legally enforceable contract among the sponsor, the investors, and the business entity (the issuer) that is issuing a passive […]

How This Midwest City Can Help You Achieve Better Returns

Indianapolis, Indiana, metro is home to over two million people. It features a growing corporate base, highly educated workforce, world-class sporting events, high-end cultural attractions, as well as a consistently growing list of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Residents benefit from an above-average quality of work-life balance, as reflected by consistently high national rankings and […]

My Journey to a Becoming a Full-Time Passive Investor

Prior to discovering real estate syndications, like many, my idea of passive investing was mutual funds and looking at my statement a few times per year. For most of my professional career, I was a business owner in the IT industry. Working 80-hour weeks left no time for anything other than setting up a monthly […]

The Easy Way to Reduce the Interest Rate on Your Life Insurance Policy Loan

Many real estate investors are aware that high-cash value, or overfunded, life insurance policies are designed to maximize the cash value instead of the death benefit. The cash value growth is typically 5+% tax-free and can have uninterrupted compounding even if policy owners access the cash. It is an ideal place for investors to store […]

Cryptocurrency Investing: A Primer for Non-Crypto People

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is financial or investment advice in any respect. Technical accuracy has intentionally been sacrificed for the sake of simplicity and relatability. One of the biggest news stories over the past few years has been the rise of cryptocurrency and its impact on the economy, technology, and, frankly, all of humanity. […]

13 Lessons Learned From 13 years of Private Syndication Investing

If you talk with me about real estate, you will soon find out that I am a huge fan of passively investing in private syndications. However, my initial investments into syndications did not go well. You may wonder why I trusted any syndicators after those experiences. After witnessing my net worth plummet after each stock […]

Why Real Estate Investors Need to Pay Attention to Inflation, the Economy, and Yield Curves

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post titled “The Inflation-Deflation Debate and What It Means for Real Estate Investors.”  One of the questions I raised at that time was whether or not consumer price inflation would rise and force the Federal Reserve’s hand in raising interest rates and tightening liquidity.  More importantly, if […]

The “Lazy 1031” – A Powerful Tax Strategy That Puts Passive Real Estate Investors in the Driver’s Seat

A few years ago, I sold all of my multifamily properties as well as a few of my single-family turnkey properties.  As I was getting ready to sell, I contacted Nate Busch, my CPA, and asked him how I could avoid the capital gains taxes on these assets.  The market had done very well – […]

9 Lessons From ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ to Help You Become a Better Left Field Investor

I recently re-read Rich Dad Poor Dad, one of the top-selling personal finance books of all time and probably the one book that most real estate investors have credited with kickstarting their journey. Ironically, most of the book doesn’t discuss how to make money in real estate. However, most devotees do acknowledge that this book […]

Five Questions to Ask When Evaluating a “Value-Add” As A Limited Partner

As a limited partner, you’ve heard the term “value-add” a few times by now.  It’s probably the most overused term in multifamily investing today.  If a property was built prior to 2020, there’s a good chance that the sponsor will label it as a value-add.  But is it really though? That term references the incoming […]

How Has Inflation Impacted Multifamily Real Estate?

  “Inflation is taxation without representation” – Milton Friedman “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” – Ronald Reagan As a long-standing Executive Member of Costco, I have always marveled at two things. One, how have they been able to sell a […]

Bonds and the 60/40 Portfolio Are Dead – Where to Invest Instead

Financial advisors have long touted the 60/40 portfolio as the silver bullet to managing retirees’ portfolios.  By investing 60% of investable assets in stocks and 40% in bonds, historically, this portfolio construction has achieved diversification, volatility reduction, and solid appreciation.  The ultimate goal, of course, is ensuring said portfolio will provide for an enjoyable lifestyle, […]

Cash Flow is King: Benefits of Real Estate Syndications

You hear the phrase “Cash is king” quite a bit in the finance world. I don’t agree – whether you are concerned about inflation or not, having your money in cash is not the most efficient use of your capital. I prefer “Cash flow is king”. That is why I buy real assets that produce reliable cash […]

6 Metrics to Help Assess the Riskiness of a Multifamily Syndication

The cash flow metrics of multifamily syndications are usually the ones that get the most attention from passive investors. In my first syndication investments, I rarely looked at any of the other numbers as long as I knew, liked, and trusted the sponsor and vetted the location of the asset. In the Left Field Investor’s […]

Escape the Rat Race! – Invest Your Way Out of Your Job with Real Estate Syndications

Do you ever ponder how you could replace your salary from you day job, or become less reliant on it, so you could focus more on the things that matter to you?  One of the biggest mistakes people make is being dependent on only one source of income – their job.   Similar to how insurance protects […]

A 16-Point Checklist of Actions to Take AFTER Deciding to Invest in a Syndication

Most of the time spent on a passive investment decision occurs before you make the investment; however, there are many important actions to take after you have decided to invest in a deal as a limited partner. It is easy to get excited about doing the next deal, but before you do the next deal, […]

Why wait for the Market? “Force Appreciation” with Apartment Investing

Why do we invest?  It’s not a trick question.  To make money of course!  Hopefully enough money that someday we have what we need to live a comfortable retirement.  What I find interesting, though, is the lack of control most investors accept when they make an investment.  Maybe due diligence was performed, fundamentals were understood, and projections seemed realistic.  But once […]

6 Reasons Why Everyone Is NOT Investing in Real Estate Syndications

Because of my role at Left Field Investors, I speak to a lot of people who are new to syndications, and one of the most common questions I get is “Why isn’t everyone doing this?”  It’s an appropriate question to ask as they hear for the first time that the typical syndication might pay you […]

Self-Storage Supply and Demand for the Passive Investor

Storage is a local business. Oftentimes, you hear people talk about the 3-mile radius of a storage facility. What they are talking about is the local demand area for that storage business. Now the radius for the property could be 4-miles, 5-miles, or even 10-miles depending on where the property is located. Heck, in Manhattan […]

A COVID-Proof Alternative Investment – Automated Teller Machines

Before I invest, I’m always thinking about how a particular investment will hold up during the next crisis, whatever it may be. We all know the crisis is coming; we just don’t know when or what form it will take. It’s not often that I make an investment that, in short order, gets tested by […]

From the Beardstown Ladies & the Boston Mob to Syndications – An Investor’s Story

My investing journey started a little later than most. As a medical resident in my late twenties, I had spent the first two decades plus of my life accumulating debt. I was thrilled to be at the time of my life where I was actually earning a paycheck and had a small amount of money […]

Would you Invest if the Minimum Were Lower? Make the Ask!

I recently had an investor call with Bob Dreher, SVP of Investor Relations of Praxis Capital.  For those of you who have been following/listening to Left Field Investors (LFI) for some time know, we think highly of Brian Burke and his team at Praxis.  Many of us have read Brian’s book, The Hands-Off Investor, and […]

The Recession Caused By A Pandemic That None Of Us Will Ever Forget – Part 2

PLEASE NOTE: This is Part 2 of a portion of the Year-End Summary that Jeremy Roll writes each year for his Investor Group.  He granted Left Field Investors permission to publish excerpts of the report.  If you would like to contact Jeremy, please see his contact information at the end of this article.   Thinking […]

The Recession Caused By A Pandemic That None Of Us Will Ever Forget – Part 1

PLEASE NOTE: This is Part 1 of a portion of the Year-End Summary that Jeremy Roll writes each year for his Investor Group.  He granted Left Field Investors permission to publish excerpts of the report.  If you would like to contact Jeremy, please see his contact information at the end of this article. While you might […]

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now – A Journey Towards a Better Life Through Actively and Passively Investing in Real Estate

I wish I knew then what I know now.  This is a statement everyone has thought of at one point or another.  I think about the person I was and how I perceived the world at different eras in my life. My experiences have shaped me into the person I’ve become. I expect this is […]

How Cost Segregation Can Help You Save on Taxes as a Passive Investor

Successful investors are always looking for ways to lower their tax liability.  One of the most impactful ways to reduce taxable income is by owning rental properties directly or by investing passively in real estate syndications.  If you go the passive route, in most cases the sponsor will utilize a cost segregation study to maximize […]

The Inflation/Deflation Debate and What it Means for Real Estate Investors

Getting a handle on prior economic circumstances is hard enough, but predicting future conditions is virtually impossible.  There are too many unknown and dynamic variables that go into a market economy, not to mention any unforeseeable circumstances.  Putting too much weight on the forecasts of “experts” can be hazardous.  That’s why, in making financial decisions, […]

How to Give Yourself a Raise by Increasing Your Income Streams

Let’s face it – most of us are not Elon Musk and can only effectively handle one full-time job.  If you’re in that group, you are likely capped in what you can make which can lead to a scarcity mindset and thinking.  However, don’t be dissuaded.  With determination and planning, outside of the W-2 you […]

Real Estate Syndications Vs. Funds – Which One Will Help You Achieve Your Diversification Goals?

A diversified mix of investments is often promoted by financial advisors and gurus as a way to reduce risk and volatility. While this strategy is tried and true, the more diversified you are, the more your portfolio’s returns will resemble the overall performance of the market.  You’re not going to be the next Bitcoin millionaire […]

My Journey From Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad to Generating Multiple Streams of Income

I started down the path of passive investing as many of us did, after I picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. After reading that book and doing a little networking, I teamed up with a local real estate investor in Phoenix where I lived at the time. I ended up […]

Manufactured Home Parks (MHPs) 101

Brief History In today’s society, there is often a stigma surrounding mobile home communities, but believe it or not, the history of mobile homes actually began as an upscale concept in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Cities started building them as free spaces for the wealthy to park their trailers, hence the name, trailer parks. These […]

Using Strength in Numbers to Take the Leap Into Passive Investing

While I was sitting in an MBA finance course in 2016 where we were discussing the Efficient-Market Hypothesis, I quickly realized the odds of being able to consistently outperform the market were slim for professional investors and almost impossible for the average person. I’ve always wanted to achieve financial freedom early on in my career […]

6 Fantastic Books to Learn About Investing Passively in Commercial Real Estate Syndications

Most successful real estate investors can give you multiple recommendations for books that helped guide them in their journey.  You can find a wide variety of real estate books with topics ranging from flipping properties to buy-and-hold rentals to investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs). If you have not done any real estate investing, […]

How Understanding the Lending Requirements from Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Can Make You a Wiser Passive Investor

As a limited partner, your role in the life cycle of the deal is passive, but not on the front end.  You have a lot of due diligence to perform with what could be a significant investment in your portfolio – track record of the operator, the MSA, the property, the business plan, and the […]

Syndication or REIT – Which is Best for You?

You already know by adding real estate to your portfolio, you can boost your long-term returns and smooth volatility.  Real estate provides steady income, long-term capital appreciation, diversification, inflation protection, all while offering a low correlation to the stock market.  You’d like to get involved, but you really want to avoid the nightmare stories you’ve […]

The Three Tax Buckets

One of the biggest eroders of wealth is taxes. Many people tie themselves in knots trying to reduce, eliminate and avoid taxes.  Others are careful not to let the tax tail wag the dog. The tax code is written to incentivize investments in different areas of the economy, and passive investment in real estate receives […]

7 Reasons Why Investing Passively in Multifamily Syndications Might Be the PERFECT Investment

You may have heard that real estate investing is the I.D.E.A.L. investment because you get Income, Depreciation, Equity, Appreciation, and Leverage. To take those concepts a step further, I believe that investing passively in commercial real estate syndications, or private placements, may be the P.E.R.F.E.C.T. investment, especially when it comes to multifamily properties. PassiveMany active […]

Which Grass is Greener?

Like so many others, when I first got into real estate investing, I did not have a clue what I was doing. I truly was out in left field in the more traditional sense, since I have always had a thirst to learn, I jumped in without much thought. A close friend had the bright […]

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Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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