Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of “right of ways” to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a “must have” trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for “family friendly” or “residential friendly” commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for “mover upper” homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with “urban renovations”.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the “far end” of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find “sleeper” raw land properties. These “sleeper” properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.

Commercial Property Management – Tenancy Schedule Tips Tools and Tactics

The tenancy schedule is the tool of choice for a property manager or leasing manager in a commercial or retail property investment. It is the tenancy schedule that will keep the property manager up to task on forthcoming events and dates.

Often you find that the tenancy schedule is not up to date, so if anyone gives you such a document, treat it with the caution it deserves, and check it out completely before you act on the information contained therein.

So let’s say that you have a great tenancy schedule that you know is totally accurate. I get many questions about what I would want to see in a tenancy schedule. Here are my main priorities:

  • Details of the tenant name, lease, and full contact detail for emergencies
  • Tenancy identifier or suite reference that comes from the plan for the property
  • The area of the tenancy in m2 or ft2 (depending on your unit of measurement)
  • The % of the tenant area to the building net lettable area
  • The rent $’s per annum, per month, and per unit of measurement (m2 or ft2)
  • Lease start date
  • Rent start date
  • Lease end date
  • Term of lease
  • Option term of lease
  • Anniversary dates and reminders for rent reviews, options, expires, renewals, renovations, and make good obligations
  • Outgoings charges for each tenant on the basis of area and monthly charge
  • Outgoings budget for the building
  • Total outgoings recoveries for the property on a currency and % basis
  • Types of outgoings to be charged to the tenants
  • Insurance obligations of the tenant
  • Rental guarantee details or bonds held
  • Provision for critical dates relating to any important lease term or condition
  • Maintenance obligation details of the tenants

This list is not finite and you can add your own extra priorities, I would however make sure that it is totally correct and maintain it to the highest level of accuracy. When you do this you can stay on top of important upcoming events that will impact the occupancy or rental of the property.

Whilst you can buy ‘off the shelf’ software programs that display this above information, that can be quite expensive for those commercial and retail property managers that are first entering this type of property. The alternative is to create some simple spread sheet that contains the data; in saying that, it is essential that great care is taken to maintain the spread sheet that you create. Any errors in the tenancy schedule can destroy your landlord, your business, your tenant, your reputation, and the property. Accuracy is paramount.

Commercial Property Management Tips for Professional Property Agencies

When it comes to managing a commercial property today, controls and efficiencies will help you provide a professional service to your clients. Most particularly, all of your systems should be well documented and relevant to each property type.

This then suggests that particular checklists will apply to office property, retail property, and industrial property. The checklists will also be different when it comes to leasing verses property management.

Here are some tips to help you establish a solid control process as part of your agency property management services.

  1. Lease documentation should always be checked when it comes to taking over a new property management. In many cases you will find that some of the documentation is lacking in some respect or critical dates have not been actioned. If someone gives you a tenancy schedule as part of the property handover, make sure that the schedule is completely checked against existing lease documentation. You should also understand that lease documents are not the only documents relating to occupancy. You can and usually will find special documents relating to licensed occupancy, and that would normally include car parking, signage, storage, and a special use areas. These documents can be separate to the lease documentation.
  2. Check the arrears in the property as part of the handover process. Any existing arrears will need to be quantified for any action that may be required. Ask for copies of any documentation and letters that relate to the pursuit of arrears. If any special agreements have been entered into with existing arrears, you will need copy of the documentation.
  3. Get to know the tenants and the property as early as possible. When it comes to changing property managers, the tenants can be quite sensitive to new arrangements and new people. Introduce yourself personally to the tenants on a daily one of the property Handover.
  4. Understand what the landlord requires of reporting and approvals. Every landlord will be unique and different when it comes to the communication and reporting process. Some landlords will have special requirements of cash flow and the reports to substantiate the cash flow. In complex properties with multiple tenants, this can become quite a challenge. Make sure that your chosen property manager has the experience to satisfy the demands of the landlord.
  5. Talk to the maintenance people involved with the property as early as possible. They will tell you a lot about the property today and the potential maintenance failures in the future. This information will help you planned for cash flow and expenditure over the coming years. Ask the maintenance people about the specific factors of plant and equipment that are critical to the performance of the property. Any older plant and equipment should be closely monitored for potential failure.
  6. Outgoings management forms part of the property management control base. The outgoings for the property should be managed to the building budget and the requirements of each and every lease document. Many leases will have different factors of control and reporting when it comes to outgoings recovery. For this very reason, all lease documents should be carefully scrutinised as part of the property take up procedure.
  7. Property history will always be relevant. Get copies of previous reports, financial activity, and lease documentation where possible. This information will help you when it comes to establishing the status of the existing tenancy mix and how the property can move forward as an investment.
  8. Budgets for income and expenditure may be current or this year. Those budgets should be passed across to the new property owners and property managers. In this way you will know how the existing outgoings recoveries have been established and on what basis.
  9. Vacancy reports and strategies will vary throughout the year. Importantly any vacant areas are successfully marketed to reduce the vacancy downtime. Any pending and upcoming vacant tenancy should be aggressively marketed to find the necessary new tenants.
  10. Rent review profiles and option strategies will be reviewed as part of the lease documentation scrutiny. Look for all of the critical dates as they relate to the rent reviews and option timings. Critical dates should be entered into some form of diary system so you can activate the event early or on time.

Professional commercial property management services are only achieved through systemised actions and well qualified people. Take the steps to establish your own systems as early as possible in the property management process. These items above can be modified and expanded based on the property type and the property location.

Tips to Hire a Commercial Property Inspector

Hiring a commercial property inspector is an important part of buying, selling, or owning a building. Having relevant and accurate information regarding the state of a building can be helpful in each of these circumstances:

1. When an individual is preparing to purchase a building and wants to know the true state and value of their investment.

2. When an individual already owns a building, but wants to know the condition of their building, enabling them to take preventative care measures or reevaluate their investment.

3. When an individual is preparing to sell a building and wants to know the true state and value of their investment.

In each of these circumstances, the property-owning individual requires information that can only be provided by a commercial property inspector, making the process of hiring a commercial property inspector rather important. The tips included in this article are therefore intended to help commercial buyers, investors, and owners gain an accurate evaluation of their investment in order to protect and grow their investment portfolio.

Six Tips:

1. First and foremost, it is crucial to make sure that your commercial property inspector is licensed, whether by National Property Inspections, the International Code Council, the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the state, or another reputable and trusted standards association.

2. Do your research. Social media sites like Yelp and Google Reviews provide unfiltered reviews of commercial property inspection businesses. Though business owners can control the reviews that appear on their company website, they cannot control the reviews posted about their business on social media sites like the examples above. These are the best places to get a feel for the businesses you’re considering; however, don’t let one bad review rule out a company – look for a general consensus.

3. Do more research! Follow up on the company’s references. Of course the references that any business owner provides you with will have a positive review to share, but they may be able to answer specific questions that you have regarding work styles, principles, and other miscellaneous concerns.

4. Make sure that your commercial property inspector’s equipment is updated and conforms to current standards of practice. Advances in technology, such as thermal imaging systems, have bettered an inspector’s ability to identify water and air leaks, and should be on your list of requirements. Further, make sure that your commercial property inspector has adequate training to use advanced equipment – ask for credentials!

5. Discuss payment options. Some commercial and home inspectors are small, often family-owned, businesses and may not have the ability to take credit cards. If you plan on paying by credit card, make your intentions known early on so that you may decide to choose another company or another payment option.

6. Communicate effectively. Be clear about your expectations for the commercial property inspection and discuss obstacles. Inspectors are not expected to move potentially harmful objects, such as heavy machinery or hazardous materials.

If you are unsure of whether to hire a commercial property inspector or not, make the smart decision and move forward with an inspection. For property owners, preventative maintenance is always more cost effective than repairs, which may also stall productivity. Additionally, whether you are interested in buying or selling commercial property, an inspection will give you the information you need to accurately assess your investments.