Don’t you wish you had a crystal ball that showed you what is to come in the future? A simple wave over the crystal ball, the mutter of a magic word, and your entire future is there, revealed in front of you. Now that you know what is to come, you can prepare and move accordingly so you can be ready for what the now identified future holds.
Unfortunately, this crystal ball does not literally exist, but in commercial real estate there are many tools that you can use that act like a crystal ball. They can show you the future in an indirect way so you, too, may pla
n and move accordingly in order to take advantage of the market place.
Fining tuning your commercial real estate crystal ball is really a matter of paying attention, doing some basic research, and being on top and aware of all elements in your comfort zone, or concentrated area of focus and influence. It does take vision and an element of creativity to really fine tune your crystal ball, and, for some, it is the best aspect of commercial real estate! Being able to predict, envision, and then create something that at one time did not even exist, not even in an idea, and then search out the resources to create and put the plan in motion is a commercial real estate insider’s dream. When done effectively, it can be very satisfying and lucrative!
You should already be doing many things that assist you in predicting and planning for the future, which is extremely important in commercial real estate. If you can see an opportunity coming before it actually presents itself, then you are able to prepare for that opportunity before anyone else, and reap the benefits. These things may include driving the streets of your community to see what land and buildings are for sale, what centres are vacant for leasing, attending planning and zoning meetings, reading the local newspaper for economic and real estate changes or trends, as well as researching other cities and how their market may affect yours in any way, shape or form.
As a real estate insider, it is pertinent that you are up to par, and even an expert in your comfort zone. These things listed above are how you are constantly informed and a step ahead of other real estate people, as well as your own market.
Besides doing these things religiously, and always analysing the data that you collect, there are a few other specific tools that will allow you to see into your commercial real estate future and identify opportunities that others will miss.
The first is a city’s or town’s future land use plan or map that shows the future zoning and use for all the land within a city or town’s limits. Some cities may not have one if they are too small and not looking for growth. However, most cities do have master use plans that are used to dictate the entire future of a city’s economic make-up. The reports that go along with these offer a wealth of demographic information as well which provides great insight into the future development of an area. For example, here is the link to the Melbourne Growth Plan documents http://www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au/Plan-Melbourne . In addition, check out the actual planning websites for your specific state, city or region. Here is Victoria’s http://planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au .
These maps and report are used to plan for growth so that all elements of a city or town are controlled. Zoning and use may change for operating properties; others may remain the same. There is the possibility of raw land to be annexed into the city, having a specific use, offering huge opportunities to the commercial real estate investor. There may be a need to tear down or renovate old properties, and develop them for a different use.
The possibilities of what a future land use map holds is gold in the eyes of an investor, and extremely important to all those working in commercial real estate. Refer to this map, and actually visit the locations of where there is change to identify opportunities. As every area is different, you will be amazed as to what opportunities will unveil themselves when you bring to it a little vision, creativity, and insider information regarding the zoning and use of a property.
Another tool to see into the future is the economic forecast for your area. By looking at both the past and future per capita income, population growth rates, housing costs and other such data that can be found via the Bureau of Statistics, you can see the overall economic environment of your city or town and how it is performing.
Perhaps a continuing decrease in population means people are moving out of the area, telling you not to invest in new home or unit development in that area. Or, the growth has been so extreme that the area is in desperate need of commercial property in order to support the influx of people. You can definitely plan on how you are going to move in the market with this information by your side.
The final tool I urge you to utilise when predicting your commercial real estate future is already approved infrastructural changes within your city. This will require you to attend city and town meetings regarding zoning, planning, development, etc. There could be discussion of a new development a year or more before it actually occurs, and once you hear about it, you can start putting your own ideas into place.
As I am sure you already know, large, influential, infrastructural changes can greatly increase the land values of properties that surround them. For example, a large shopping centre being developed will increase the value of all the land surrounding it, as well as possibly call for a greater demand of residential units, and an increase in the rental prices that can be charged according to the new market.
Let’s say that you hear two years in advance about a shopping centre that will begin development after it is approved. You are then going to get a jump on all competition, look at the site, the land surrounding it, and the opportunities it may offer. Can you purchase the now extremely cheap land adjacent to this site, or perhaps the poor performing units nearby in anticipation of this new development so that you may benefit from the price increase this major infrastructural change is going to cause?
These things happen all the time, and I urge you to be a visionary and look to the future. After all, this is where a majority of commercial real estate profits are made- by creating something that either wasn’t there, or improving upon what is there.
As you can see, you may not have a crystal ball that does all the work for you, but I promise that if you use these tools and follow these guidelines, you will be preparing yourself for great opportunities that others, quite simply, will overlook. It will take some effort and constant dedication. However, the results that you yield will be worth it. Actually, it is much easier to be the first mover, rather than suffering the increased land prices and changes after a development is already in place or even underway.
Realise your power to predict the future and plan your goals accordingly! You will be successful with these tools, so implement them today.
Author: Melanie Burns
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