commercial real estate

Commercial Real Estate Investment Strategies

Commercial Real Estate Investment Strategies: Do-it-yourself Market Research Pays

One of the strategies commercial real estate investors like to employ is hiring consultants or market research companies to analyse a specific market a commercial real estate investor wants to pursue.

To a beginning investor, the overall strategy seems logical and well-intended.  Who better to know a market than the analysts who spend their days and nights collecting, analysing and reporting on such data?

I’ll tell you:  YOU—the commercial real estate investor.

There is no substitute for doing your own research.  There is no substitute for keeping your own counsel.  There is no substitute for doing your own homework.

Why?

Because it’s YOUR MONEY that will ultimately be spent.  It’s YOUR bank account that will ultimately reflect the success or failure of a commercial real estate endeavour.

Too many well meaning beginning real estate investors think they don’t have what it takes to do the homework required on a market.  Too many well meaning investors yield to their analysis people who supposedly know more about the subject than they do.

This is a costly strategic mistake.

I have nothing against market research people or consultants.  I have no axe to grind with them.  They are extremely competent, thorough people who provide a valuable service.

My issue is with HOW they are used by the commercial real estate investor.

The challenge is when an investor trusts their judgment–more than his or her own.  Many times an investor will be in awe of their command of the information, specifically statistics.

The reason I say this is because I have seen many a real estate investor unwittingly fall victim to this process.  It’s very easy to find yourself yielding to a “professionals” opinion based upon research which you have paid handsomely for.

Don’t.  It is a mistake that will cost you later on.

So what is the proper way to use these market research professionals?  There are three common ways which these professionals are valuable to the commercial real estate investor:

  1. One is as a way to flush out new ideas and do homework and research “heavy lifting” which needs doing that the investor doesn’t have time to accomplish on his or her own.  The investor knows exactly the information he is after.
  1. The second strategy is as a way to confirm the findings which the investor already believes are accurate. In other words, the investor is looking for a second opinion before he commits more resources to the project.
  1. The third strategy is very interesting: Some investor will use professional resources to poke holes in their strategy.  To find the fatal flaw.  To find “the fly in the ointment”.  The investor will never admit this to the professionals, yet he wants to know all the reasons the deal won’t work.

You’ll notice one thing in common with these three strategies:  The investor will always do his own research.  It’s a critical aspect of success—one that should never be delegated.

 

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Flipping Real Estate – Calculating Costs

I know, I know – how obnoxiously American a term – ‘flipping’ real estate! However it works – and whatever we chose to call it Down Under – we still do it (and probably better than the Yanks anyway 😉 )

If you’ve been in the real estate investing business, or more specifically been flipping real estate, for more than a few days, you’ve inevitably gotten an email that reads something like this:

“Investor’s Dream. This property will go QUICK.

– Property Address: 1234 Main Street

– Asking Price: $400,000 (Add or subtract zeros!)

– After Repair Value: $500,000

– Repairs: $25,000

– Profit: $75,000

– Details: Needs paint, carpet, tile, new kitchen, update bathroom, some roof damage.

STOP! Before you read on… Take a guess at what you think the “real” profit’s going to be on this real estate investment…

If you haven’t ever gotten an email or fax broadcast like this, then rest assured, you will! I’m about to probably tick off all of the late night infomercials and pitchmen out there! Sure, I understand that when you’ve got 30 minutes (or 90 minutes, for that matter), that you’ve got to sell what’s sexy… not what’s real!

Now it’s my turn to expose the real deal on real estate investing! This goes for flipping real estate itself (i.e. properties) or simply flipping the contract (also known as assigning the contract). When you’re flipping real estate, you need to be able to calculate the “real” bottom line and if your assigning the contract, you need to know your numbers so you don’t get blacklisted by investors! This one piece of information will keep you from getting into trouble because of any “real estate bubble”!

Purchase Costs

Here goes… Have you EVER purchased and sold a piece of real estate for FREE? If you’re not sure what the answer is… It’s an emphatic NO… You are going to have costs to buy, costs to hold and costs to sell. This holds true even if you are buying a property for all cash. (Think stamp duty, titles office fees, conveyancing  fees, etc.)

If you’re not getting a mortgage, your purchase costs are obviously much lower, but nonetheless, there are costs associated with any real estate transaction. Plus, more than likely, if you’re relatively new, you’re probably not paying all cash for property anyway. You’re probably going to be using a home loan/mortgage for your initial real estate investing financing! (As a general rule I expect you would be using loans and mortgages for most if not all of your investments in real estate).

For a quick calculation, you can estimate anywhere between 3% – 5% for settlement costs to just acquire the property. That’s 3%-5% of the purchase price.

Holding Costs

How much is it going to cost you each and every day to own this piece of real estate? See, if you’re making money in real estate, you’d better believe that there are a lot of other people that are going to expect to get paid and they get paid in the form of mortgage interest, council rates, utilities (unless it is rented), property insurance, etc. Each of these is an expense each and every day that you own the property. Here’s an example… A home loan on a bread and butter type piece of real estate might run you 5%. Let’s say you got the property for $400,000. Every month, you are paying $1,666 in interest alone. Let’s say that taxes and insurance are another $200/month and then utilities at $200. Right there, the property is costing you $2066/month – or roughly $68/day. See, why it’s important to know not only your holding costs on a real estate investment, but also how long it’s going to be on the market before you can flip the property.

Selling Costs

Here’s the third part of the real estate investing puzzle. When you want to turn around and sell this piece of real estate, it’s going to cost you yet again! Are you going to use a real estate agent and pay a commission or 1.5-3.5% or even more? On $500,000, that’s anywhere from $7,500 to $17,500 chopped of the top.

If you can remember this… and apply what you’ve just learned to each and every real estate deal that you do, you’ll be safe flipping real estate in any market. You see, if it’s a hot market, you can calculate less time for holding cost. But, in a slower market, make your offer based on 6 months or 9 months of holding costs. It’s really simple mathematics! And real estate really is a numbers game…

5 House Flipping Do’s

1) Do put everything to pen and paper and plan it out carefully before you begin.

2) Do establish a budget for the entire project.

3) Do have an inspection.

4) Do know the neighbourhood and plan your flip according to the needs of the area rather than your personal tastes and needs in a home.

5) Do remember that you are in the market to make money not waste money when it comes to establishing an asking price for the property.

5 House Flipping Don’ts

1) Don’t forget to check out the neighbourhood before you buy.

2) Don’t blow your budget without just cause. Your budget is what you used to determine whether or not the house would be a profitable venture.

3) Don’t forget to set daily goals and hold yourself accountable to those goals.

4) Don’t neglect the exterior. Curbside appeal is what brings buyers into the property.

5) Don’t spend money you don’t need to spend. While it would be great to put in granite countertops and gourmet kitchens into every home it isn’t always practical.

commercial loan

10 Tips for getting a Commercial Loan

Beginners look at commercial loans as a means of realising a dream. They long to own their own restaurant, pub or bed-and-breakfast, and look to their friendly local bank manager for help. Cue frustration and disappointment. These days, commercial loans are decided by back-room underwriters, who use cold calculation to decide your credit worthiness. To the seasoned pro, it’s just another day at the office; a handy way of adding to their portfolio. To get the best deal, you need to prepare in advance. Here are a few tips to help you on your way to securing a commercial loan:

  1. Have your business plan, forecasts and projections, financial records and statements, history of the property’s income, and the appraisal when you approach lenders. Make sure these are accurate and up to date. This lets the bank know that you mean business. If you make them think about your application and make their own assumptions, they are more likely to decline the application.
  1. Put your own money down. You’ll need at least a deposit and settlement costs. Lenders want to share the risk, not own it entirely. They will usually not finance more than 75% of the appraised value of the property. Personal guaranties of the principal owners may be necessary for a commercial loan.
  1. Get your own appraisal of the property. This will provide you with an unbiased estimate of what the property is really worth. You’ll then know whether it’s worth the financial risk.
  1. Apply for your commercial loan as soon as you can. Commercial lenders exaggerate their speed. They’ll quote you forty-five days when it’s more likely to be three months!
  1. Never rely on just one commercial lender. Commercial lending is very subjective.
  1. Lenders near the property generally offer better terms. With those farther away, it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
  1. Have a lawyer who specialises in property investment go over everything. You need someone who knows the business and who can be an advocate on your behalf.
  1. Be certain that you can afford to keep your business going and still meet your payments. Properties must show sufficient debt-repayment ability. If the property is to be occupied by a sole tenant, the lender may want to appraise that tenant’s finances.
  1. Check with your local small business administration for any potential grants or low interest commercial loans you might be able to wangle.
  1. Negotiate. You do not have to take the first offer you get. Getting a commercial loan is like buying any other goods. People are sometimes too in awe of banks to haggle. There’s no need to be afraid; they can only say no!

 

Beginners look at commercial loans as a means of realising a dream. They long to own their own restaurant, pub or bed-and-breakfast, and look to their friendly local bank manager for help. Cue frustration and disappointment. These days, commercial loans are decided by back-room underwriters, who use cold calculation to decide your credit worthiness. To…