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Making A Success Out of Commercial Fixer-Uppers

Are commercial fixer-uppers worth the time, expense and effort? My answer to that would be that the right fixer-upper with numbers that make sense can be the right strategy to use. In fact, these types of properties can be an easy way to see an instant value increase in the property but like with any deal, only if the costs to rehab the property make sense.

Commercial fixer-uppers employ one of my favorite value plays called “repositioning”. That means that either the tenant base changes, the appearance of the property changes or that both of these options are exercised on the properties.

In residential real estate investments, the idea of investing in a fixer-upper is to acquire the property at a significant discount due its condition. In commercial property, the same still holds true but in commercial properties it can account for greater cash-on-cash returns. Perhaps you’ve found a property that needs some cosmetic care. Maybe the exterior needs to be updated with a new look. You’ll be amazed at how a small investment can net a high return in value.

How To Make Money Investing in Apartments

Apartment buildings can be a great opportunity for repositioning. In strategies like these, the first thing I usually change is the exterior paying special attention to the parking lot, roofing and sidings. I do other simple things like updating the landscaping and putting new signage on the property which are quick ways to give a new appearance to an older building.

I might also consider repositioning the tenant base with this same apartment building. I’ll replace tenants who don’t pay or don’t fit the target tenant profile with ones that do. This may take months to accomplish, but the increase in value can put the worth of the property through the roof!

When repositioning a commercial property, make sure you keep on top of excessive rehab costs. Have a plan and get estimates upfront. The lack of a rehab plan can cost thousands of dollars to fix especially if the rehab doesn’t produce the results you desire. Remember to also use professionals to get the job done. Trying to be cheap by doing it yourself may mean that you don’t end up with the professional upgrading that your property needs. This will not only waste your time, it’ll cost you the tenants or your building.

A lot money in the deal to help cover the expenses of repositioning. Taking too long to get paid is one of the reasons a fixer-upper investment will fail. If you aren’t collecting the necessary rents to cover the mortgage because repositioning is taking longer than expected, you could have a disastrous situation on your hands. Set a plan that is realistic financially before you commit yourself to any fixer-upper deal.

Commercial fixer-uppers may also be candidates for using a value strategy called “forced appreciation’. This means that property appreciation occurred because rents were raised or expenses were lowered. Was the previous owner afraid to raise rents because he felt the property was in disrepair? Did the property have expenses on the higher side and what will it take to lower the costs? Simple fixes to problems like these can increase the net operating income and the overall property value.

Get rid of your fears about working with commercial fixer-upper properties. By using sound strategies such as repositioning or forced appreciation, you can ensure that your investment will be a success.

PositionRealty.com
Office: 480-213-5251

Commercial Due Diligence: How to Find the Stuff You Need

Due diligence is extremely important, regardless of the type of property you’re thinking of buying. In development property and land deals, buyers start the fact-gathering process with their first encounter with the property and it continues until they either bail out of the deal or go to settlement.

Here’s a list of sources of information (people, places & things) that are good starting points if you’re trying to research a property.

Sales & Ownership Data

Tax assessor information is available in several forms. For every piece of data, there is a primary source. The primary source is likeliest to be the most accurate and current source of information. For real estate documents that are recorded, such as deeds, liens, restrictive covenants, easements and subdivision plans, the primary source is the actual record of filings maintained by the applicable governmental department as well as the documents themselves and the recording information shown on them. These are usually kept at the courthouse for the county in which the property is located (Recorder of Deeds or Tax Assessment Dept.). People usually use title insurance companies who send searchers to the various courthouses to look up records. The deed contains the legal description of the property, which sets forth the property’s actual dimensions.

You can also search in free or fee-based databases that allow you to get information on properties nationwide or in a particular geographic area, such as: http://www.searchsystems.net; http://www.realquest.com; http://www.brbpub.com/pubrecsites.asp. These are great tools as long as you remember a couple of things. They should never be used as a substitute for hands-on research and inspection if you need results that are current and absolutely accurate. No database, even a governmental one, is a primary source of information. The governmental database, however, may be the next best thing to the primary source depending on the manner in which it was created and the frequency with which it is updated. When title companies insure property title, they do not rely exclusively on databases. They send people to where the records are maintained to physically search them. Real estate appraisers do not just use databases. They conduct additional due diligence and physically inspect the properties involved.

For several reasons, the farther you move away from the primary source of information, the greater the likelihood that the information may not be current and accurate. There is the time factor. The information has to pass from the primary source down the line through other people or organizations. In addition, there is the “garbage in, garbage out” principle. The integrity of any database, governmental or not, hangs on the thoroughness and competence of the people responsible for compiling and maintaining it. Databases can save you a tremendous amount of time and effort. You can use them most effectively as screening tools and to gather information subject to confirmation and further research if the situation or property warrants it. In addition, they are invaluable in identifying contacts if you need additional details or clarification.

If you want to find out who owns the property but don’t know the address, one way to be able to identify the property is to go to the municipal building and look at the tax maps or tax plats of properties in the municipality. By process of elimination, you should be able to identify the property (thus giving you the owner name, address, parcel identifying number). It’s a good idea to take a copy of the tax map with you when you return to the property since this will help you to pinpoint its location by counting parcels on the map from intersecting streets or other landmarks, particularly if the property is vacant land. Again, be aware that some of the information in the database or on the tax maps may not be accurate, particularly the size & shape of parcel, zoning classification, and whether the property’s serviced by public utilities.

New Construction Communities

If you want to find out who is or will be building in an area, take one municipality at a time and get the list of approved subdivisions and land developments from the municipality (manager’s office, code enforcement or land development offices). Then you can visit the new construction sites, talk with the site agents and get brochures. If the jobs haven’t started yet, you can go to the builders’ websites for preview information.

Municipal Records

You can identify properties that have applied for rezoning or subdivision & land development approval by requesting a list from the municipality of the properties. After you decide which properties you want to investigate further, make an appointment to review the development files and plans at the municipal office. This is public information, and anyone is entitled to review materials relating to actions taken by a municipality in public meetings and hearings. This can be an excellent source of information on owners who may be thinking of selling their properties.

Utility Maps

Checking the street for manhole covers and hydrants won’t necessarily give you correct information about whether a property can be serviced by public water and sewer. Instead, consult the mapping available through the municipal or regional sewer & water authorities, county or regional planning commission and private water companies.

Zoning

Each municipality adopts a zoning ordinance and zoning map for the properties within its borders. This material is available for review or purchase at the municipal office or through private vendors. Always make sure you’re looking at the most current ordinance and map since these are amended periodically. In addition, read the whole ordinance and not just the section on the particular zoning classification because the ordinance contains provisions that apply across the board on issues like definitions of terms used, accessory uses & structures, signage, and minimum frontage requirements.

The zoning officer (a/k/a code enforcement officer) at the municipality is the one to whom you should direct your questions about the zoning ordinance or map or if you want to find out anything about a property that may have happened in the past, like granting of variances, special exceptions or conditional uses.

Proposed Highways & Facilities

Depending on the nature (federal, state, local), you can access information through the municipality, county/regional planning commission, municipal comprehensive or “master plan” and federal or state agencies.

Profile Data of Area or Municipality

Municipalities and county or regional land planning agencies prepare comprehensive or master plans as a primary tool for their land planning. These plans contain a wealth of information pulled from various sources including US Census Bureau, Dept. of Labor, US Dept. of Agriculture soil surveys, FEMA floodplain mapping. In addition, you’ll find data about natural resources, statistical data on housing stock and non-residential developments, existing and proposed roads, transportation facilities, utilities, plants, commercial operations, hospitals and schools. Be sure to check out the proposed land use map and accompanying text. Here you might find clues for future growth areas and even potential for successfully rezoning particular properties. The master plans are available at either the municipal office or the county/regional planning agency.

Floodplain Maps

To determine if the property is in an area subject to flooding, consult floodplain maps. These are available through either the municipality, county/regional land planning agencies, or FEMA (http://www.fema.gov).

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