When considering a commercial property investment, it is wise to set some standard rules for the review to compare opportunities that the various properties bring you.
Investment properties typically exist in the retail, office, and industrial property markets. We will not go into the other property types of tourism and leisure here in this article as they themselves take more comments and lengthy reviews.
Here is a useful list to consider with investment property.
Some Key Property Concerns
- Rent: The levels of the existing rent are important to the investor or landlord, but more important are the levels of rent in the future. It is a matter of what rent escalation the lease allows for and in what time frame. A good lease with a good rent review profile in a sound and well-managed property will always attract property investors.
- Outgoings: These are the property running costs. Importantly they should be in balance and comparison to other properties of similar types in the same region. If the outgoings are out of balance to similar properties, you need to know why, as any astute property buyer will ask about the outgoings. They know the averages of outgoings in the area and will not want to pay above the average unless there is a solid and sound reason to do so.
- Supply and Demand: How much other property is coming into the market in the next few years? Will that property affect the property that you are looking at? Could this impact the tenant profile or interest in your property? This equation or consideration is called supply and demand. It will impact buyer and tenant interest in the region in which your property is located.
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- Location: Does the property give good exposure to passing traffic or customers, and does it have good access for people and motor vehicles? Add to this the consideration and availability of car parking.
- Design: Is the property user-friendly and attractive? Good property investment usually looks good and is well maintained. This is to maintain interest in the property from the tenant and the customer perspective. If these people feel good about the property when they visit it or use it, then you are well on the way to good property performance. As part of this process, you can conduct interviews with people as they use the property to see and identify any latent concerns. In the case of retail property, this is highly recommended as the retail property is strongly geared to customers’ sentiment.
- Amenities: Are you providing everything that a modern business, tenant, or customer needs? Amenities are many things, and it really depends on what the property is doing or serving. Most people that use the property expect ease of use and access to the amenities, including toilets, car parks, common areas, etc. Retail property has a higher level of consideration in this category.
- Services: Are your property services modern and performing well? This would include water, gas, roads, electricity, lighting, telephones, etc.
- Parking: Are customers and tenants well served concerning the parking of vehicles? Ease of access to the property is critical and at a premium today. Motor vehicles are part of business and life for all people. If parking is not well catered for on the property, then the property’s interaction with public transport is critical.
- Tenant Covenants: This relates strongly to the leases and documents of occupation on the property. The word covenant relates to the clauses or lease terms. Every lease can be different, so it pays to read all occupancy papers or leases. Are the leases and tenant profiles strong and attractive to future occupancy?
- Tenancy Mix: Perhaps this is more critical in a retail property; however, it can impact office property. Some landlords must be cautious as to the tenants that they select for a building. A low-profile and poorly selected tenant may detract from the customers that visit the building. Other tenants will also then become concerned and potentially have little interest in ongoing occupancy. This then says that not all tenants are good tenants for the property. Add to this another question of proximity and placement of tenants to each other. Are the tenancies well balanced to satisfy the customer demands? Can tenants locate near each other eaffect each other’ss business through the impact of customers, product, service, hours of trade, or staff?
- Management: The strength and processes of a property management team will make or break a property. The property management processes will impact so many things, including rent, operating costs, tenant sentiment, and lease stability. For this reason, ask the tenants about the property management experiences that they have seen over recent times. Any negative comments should be explored for hidden problems.
- Lease Agreements: Are they landlord favorable, and do they provide long-term attractive and stable occupancy? What is the length of tenure or terms of all the leases, and do they expire at the same time? Does this present an issue to the landlord as to property stability and exposure?
- Transport Routes: All modes of transport to the property should be looked at. Make your assessment as to whether they are convenient and modern. Do they serve the tenants and the customers to the property, and how is that done?
- Source raw materials: In industrial property, access to raw materials can be an issue for the tenant. What raw materials are needed by the business or tenant, and can they get to them easily?
- Power Supply: Industrial property will usually need a serious amount of power for machinery on the property. Access to that power is a decisive factor for the tenant that occupies the premises. Ask the local power authority if 3 phase or high tension power is nearby or available.
- Labor Availability: Business tenants need a labor source as part of their operation. This labor supply needs to be stable and convenient. This is why businesses are located near transport corridors on the radial road points to a city or town. Is the labor market nearby and active? Can that labor supply reach the property easily? Public transport will enhance this situation.
- Goods end market: If your tenant is to manufacture anything, they will need to move it to their customers. How close is the product buying market for that tenant, and how will they get to it? Is the market for the tenant’s goods or services growing and strong?
- Rent and Vacancies: These are always a concern in investment property and need monitoring. Shifts in population and zoning regulations regarding property can quickly shift the attractiveness to occupy a property.
- Pre-lease market: These are the newer properties that are coming on the market soon. They are usually keenly priced or rented and will impact other existing properties in the area. The property investor or developer in the newer property has one goal only: to fully lease the finished property as quickly as possible. Expect them to chase the tenants in your building.
- Owner Occupiers: Investment property moves in cycles between renting and ownership. Many businesses will do either depending on what is more attractive to them in the economic conditions prevailing.
- Investors demand: The balance between the property market and the share market is interesting to monitor. Investors move into property when they need long-term investment stability. If the share market is volatile and unpredictable, then property investment moves to the front of the line and becomes the investment of choice. The only problem investors can have to get the finance from the banks when they need it. This movement between investment types says that you should monitor the possible levels of return between shares and property.
- Corporate Businesses: Major businesses like to off-load capital from balance sheets. This means a potential sale and leaseback of the property from time to time. This is usually done when the property is in the last stages of use or need for the tenant. They may sell the property and take a lease for years whilst they create the next level of property strategy. Always look for tenants and businesses that are in the stages of change or flux. Mergers, acquisitions, expansions, contractions, etc., all create pressures on the tenant’s property.