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Limited liability companies (LLCs) can take on many, many forms.
Depending on the type of business involved, scale of property ownership, the reason for property ownership, the titles used for members, and the amount of decision-makers, LLCs can look very different from one another.
One consistency is that everyone involved in an LLC is considered a member—but again, the way those members are officially titled and tasked will vary.
Below, we’ll shine a light on the different types of LLCs and common LLC members, then go through the best ways to find the names and contact information of members.
What is an LLC?
An LLC is a legal entity that protects an owner’s personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or other legal issues.
LLC owners are not personally liable for the debts and dues attached to the company itself.
An LLC can be used to run a business or to hold assets—i.e. commercial real estate.
For clarity, you cannot create a Limited Liability Corporation. An LLC is a company, formed and managed by its owner.
LLC vs. Corporation
An LLC is not a corporation in and of itself; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners in many jurisdictions.
LLCs are well-known for the flexibility that they provide to business owners.
Depending on the situation, an LLC may elect to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership, and, under certain circumstances, LLCs may be organized as not-for-profit.
Some differences between LLCs and Corporations:
- LLCs don’t have to elect a board of directors; Corporations do.
- LLCs don’t need to hold board meetings; Corporations do.
- LLCs don’t have to keep records of all their meetings; Corporations do.
- LLCs are not subject to double taxation; Corporations are.
- LLCs can distribute profits however they want; Corporations can’t.
In short, LLCs are the most popular and the most flexible business structure for business owners, entrepreneurs and real estate investors.
But, for those looking to conduct business with commercial owners and assets, LLCs act as a wall to true ownership access.
The ability to uncover those owners is immensely powerful, saving CRE professionals hours of research each week.
LLC vs. Partnership
A business partnership is legally different than an LLC.
LLCs generally offer more flexibility. States can govern the structure of a partnership.
The biggest difference is that a partnership does not offer its members any liability protection on personal assets. An injury claim for a business owner, for example, could end up falling on them as opposed to the company itself.
When it comes to LLCs, owners are also called members.
If an LLC is owned by an individual, it is a single-member LLC. If it is owned by two or more people, then it is a multi-member LLC.
The fact is, what a member actually does can vary from each LLC to the next. The frequent titles you’ll see attached to LLC members, however, are:
You’ll often see variations of these titles, like “managing director,” or “managing member,” which simply serve as a more direct indication of someone as a decision-maker.
So then, after all of this, how exactly does one find the managing members of an LLC?
Understanding LLC Members
LLCs are a hard code to crack—in more ways than one.
From the protection they offer members, to the customization available in creating them, what makes LLCs useful for property owners is also what makes them hard to follow at times.
The toughest part is finding out who the real people are that make up the members of an LLC.
Furthermore, without strict standards in place, it can be difficult to distinguish who the decision-makers are within an LLC based on their titles.
Later in this post, however, we’ll show you that with the right resources, these processes are actually not as hard as you might think.
Common LLC Member Titles
LLC naming conventions are based on a member’s role in the company, as well as their role in the associated business, if any.
For example, if a property owner is using an LLC to own a restaurant, they could have the title, “Chef/Owner.”
Despite the variety in LLC member titles, there are still many names used very consistently across the country.
Common titles for LLC members that you’ll see other than “member” are:
- Managing Member
- Vice Principal
- Managing Director
You may also see slight variations or long-tail versions of the above titles. Take “Chef/Owner” as an example here as well. Another example could be, “Finance Manager.”
A member’s title can also reflect whether or not they are a decision-maker within the LLC. Decision-makers will often be those with leadership titles like CEO, Director, President, or any title that includes “manager/managing.”
Titles like, “managing member,” or “managing director,” are clear indications that the LLC member is a decision-maker.
An unofficial title that you might also hear is that someone is a “passive” member of an LLC. This is usually a member that is strictly an investor, not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
LLC Member vs. Manager
In short, all managers are members, but not all members have to be managers.
Plainly, a member is everyone in the LLC, no matter what. A manager, however is a member that has clear-cut decision-making requirements, and will have more demanded from them than the other members of the company.
How many managing members can an LLC have?
Simply put, in any member managed LLC, you can have as many managers as there are members.
Technically, while not likely in the case of property ownership, according to Upcounsel, an LLC can have thousands of members.
For the most part, there are not heavy restrictions on how many or who the owners of an LLC can be. The main stipulation is that an LLC must have at least one member/owner.
Types of LLCs
In terms of LLC types, there are two main distinctions—whether or not it’s a single member or multi member LLC, and whether it is member managed or manager managed.
Single Member LLC
In the past, LLCs were required to have at least two members. More recently, however, that has changed, allowing a single person or entity to start an LLC individually.
Essentially, what this means is that there is only one owner, and therefore only one decision-maker.
Multi Member LLC
Of course, the other type of LLC would be a multi member LLC. This is where the importance of knowing who is who comes into play.
Aside from the amount of members involved, the difference between single and multi member LLCs is the way that they’re taxed. Typically, multi member LLCs have extra layers of protection on their assets, therefore making it the better option in most cases.
Member Managed vs. Manager Managed LLC
A member managed LLC is one where all members involved take part in the decision-making process, whether one or multiple members.
Manager managed LLCs, however, may be a single member or members among other members that own the decision-making process for the company.
Given their size and the importance of decisions being made, large companies will often have at least one designated manager.
LLCs with passive investors will often have managers as well, given the level of involvement of those investors.
There are not heavy restrictions on who can be a member in an LLC, either. Depending on state law, in fact, the owner of an LLC can actually be another LLC.
How to Find LLC Members
Understanding LLC and member role types is one thing. Being able to find out who the real people are occupying those member and manager roles, however, requires an ample set of resources.
You can use Reonomy TrueOwner to pierce the LLC and see the names and contact information (as well as the role) of those associated with any property owning LLC.
Using the Ownership tab of the search page, simply type in the partial or full name of the LLC you’re trying to pierce, and you’ll be given a list of properties associated with your entry.
Above, you can see that there are 897 properties in the U.S. that have an owner of record that includes the name (not exactly), “123 LLC.”
By applying this filter, you’ll see those 897 properties in a list.
If you’d like, you can also add a number of location, asset type, building and lot, sales, and debt filters to go along with your LLC search.
For example, if you know that “123 LLC,” owns two multifamily properties on Chilton St. in Elizabeth, NJ, then you can search exactly for that.
From there, you can click into any individual profile page to analyze the property and see who the owner is.
Upon visiting the Ownership tab of the property profile, you’ll first be shown the recorded owning LLC or individual. You can then click to see the real people behind the LLC, as well as their role, phone number, and email address.
This allows you to actually see who the LLC members are, who the decision-makers of the LLC are, then reach out directly with your pitch, whether you’re a buyer, seller, lender, or service provider.
To get LLC member contact information in bulk, you can export lists of properties, if say, “123 LLC” has 12 properties in total.
Across the ownership portfolio of that LLC, you can see all the associated individuals and the other LLCs that they may be involved with across a variety of properties.
While it is always beneficial to double-check ownership details and contact information, without Reonomy, piercing the LLC will almost always require you to use multiple sources.
County public records can usually get you the information you need, but will take a number of extra steps just to find the members of a single LLC.
Search Public Records
That being said, public records do still provide very valuable information when compiled.
First, you can search through your local county clerk or assessor to get the deed of formation of the LLC that you’re interested in. This can usually be found in the records search section of any public records site.
This document can assure the location of formation of the LLC.
Some sites, like ACRIS, let you search specifically by document type.
If you already know the name of the LLC, or even if you’ve used Reonomy to find its name, you can then go to the county clerk, either online or in-person, and search for the name of the entity.
Sometimes you’ll be able to find the necessary information online, but in a lot of cases will have to fill out a formal request (with a fee) or visit the county clerk in person.
Take New York for example. On New York’s site, you can access some general information on an LLC, such as its registered agent, address, DOS filing date, DOS ID #, and whether or not it is active.
To get more granular, however, and see the people behind the LLC, the site mentions that you need to purchase a copy of the original paperwork—which is not readily available online, and instead must be requested.
All in all, as more and more tools pop up online, property-owning LLC members may not be as elusive as they once were. With the right resources, you can begin piercing LLCs today, in any market nationwide, for multifamily, land, and any other commercial asset classes.