A few points:
1) Multifamily offers the additional advantage (in addition to the your experience) that the demand for rental units right now is particularly high - even with unemployment at ~10%, 9 out of 10 folks have jobs and can make good tenants. Attention must be paid to the shadow rental market, but there are definitely markets where the rent demanded by the shadow market is still prohibitive compared to medium sized apartment complexes.
2) For commercial, I would argue that 10yr leases would be required with additional options. The reason is that the value of the property is largely a function of the income stream. As such, imagine you owned a commercial space and it had a 5yr lease on it and you wanted to sell at the end of Year 4 (i.e. 1 yr remaining on the lease). I would argue that your ability to sell the property at a solid sales price will be hampered. Now imagine that you wanted to sell at the end of Year 5 - now you are trying to sell an empty building with no income stream.
3) When comparing Multifamily to Commercial, pay very close attention to the Exit Strategy - in multifamily, there is very little probability that you will ever have to try and sell an empty apartment complex - your current situation most likely substantiates this.
4) Syndications can be an effective way to achieve diversification. While there are cons with this approach, the pros can in many cases outweigh the cons.
My recommendation to you would be to map out several different scenarios, comparing apples to apples, across differing asset classes, across differing tax scenarios, complete with appropriate exit conditions over a given hold period to better understand which would be the best course of action for your given requirements. If this is something you would like assistance with, please don't hesitate to contact me at 619-813-5809
Aug 27, 2009