The structural, operational, legal and compliance considerations relevant to sponsoring and managing private real estate funds may be generally familiar for many experienced professionals in the PE or private credit sectors. There are, however, various characteristics unique to the real estate asset class that a fund manager needs to consider before expanding into a real estate strategy or launching a new real estate investment management business. Those differences manifest at all stages of the real estate fund lifecycle. In a guest article, DLA Piper partners John D. Reiss and Nathaniel Marrs describe key features of real estate funds and necessary considerations for fund managers considering pursuing the strategy anew. This first article in a two-part series delineates real estate strategies along the risk-return spectrum; distinguishes between operator and allocator funds; identifies appropriate fund structures for the various strategies; and describes certain other considerations. The second article will detail relevant securities law considerations and registration requirements; special tax considerations, particularly for U.S. tax-exempt investors and non‑U.S. investors; and various other regulatory considerations. See our three-part series on PE real estate funds: “Structuring by Investor Type and Distinct Statutory Considerations” (Aug. 13, 2019); “Private REITs and Other Potential Investment Vehicles” (Aug. 27, 2019); and “Unique Fund Terms and Notable Tax Items” (Sep. 3, 2019).