Getting the Real Truth in Commercial Property Inspections

When looking at a new commercial or retail investment property for the first time, it is wise to have some form of checklist and system which assists you in the process. We have created this checklist to help get you on the right track.

When inspecting the property is almost like having your own due diligence process underway. Do not believe everything you see and certainly investigate anything of question. Anything of importance that someone tells you about the property should be investigated.

 Property

Having a keen eye for property detail and a diligent record keeping process as you walk around is the only way to inspect investment property. It is remarkable how these records have to be revisited at a later time for reassessment.

So let’s consider the following as some of the basic issues to review in your property inspection process.

  1. A copy of the land title records is fundamental to your inspection before you even start. As part of this process, also seek out a copy of the survey records and any existing leases or licences. Also seek out any unregistered interests that may not appear on the title to the property. If in doubt seek a good property solicitor to help.
  2. Take care to understand the location of the property boundaries and look for the survey pegs relevant to the survey plan. If in doubt seek a good surveyor.
  3. Within the property land title there can be a number of easements, encumbrances, and other registered interests which need fully investigating. These interests can impact the price that the property achieves at the time of sale and can also impact of the method of lease occupancy. If any registered interests exist on the property title, a copy of the relevant documentation is the first stage of the investigation which should then be followed by questions.
  4. Local council records may also have impact on the property. Are there any orders or notices that have been issued or are outstanding on the property, and can these things be of concern to the potential investor?
  5. The zoning for the property and the zoning activity or changes in the precinct can impact a property. As part of this process, it is wise to include neighbouring properties and inspect them to ensure that they have little or no effect or impact on your subject property.
  6. Copies of the local town plan will help you understand current planning issues. A discussion with the local planning office or planning officer can put you on the right track and explain any current issues or matters that may arise. In this process, it is wise to keep records of the discussions and the findings.
  7. If copy of lease documentation is available for neighbouring properties then seek it out and review it. It is always good to know what the neighbouring tenants are doing and how long they will be there.
  8. The local topography and plans across the immediate area will help you understand the fall of the land and the impact of any slopes and natural drainage. Look at the location of any water courses and flood plains. Seek out the history of any flooding in the area.
  9. Supply of electricity into and across the area should be understood. If your property is an industrial property then the supply of energy to the property will be strategically important to any industrial tenant. If any easements or encumbrances exist across the property for electricity, then seek to understand the rights and obligations that these documents create on the property owner.
  10. Services and amenities to the investment property will impact the future operations and interest from the business community. To the question to ask here is the nature of these services and amenities and whether they are well maintained.
  11. Look for changes in road and transport corridors that impact the property or region. Any change in roads can dramatically shift the way in which property is used.
  12. Look for the location of public transport and its potential to enhance your property function. Many businesses need stable and frequent public transport to help employees access their jobs.
  13. Look at the community and business demographics of the region. The growth patterns for the last 5 to 10 years will help you understand the future of the property.
  14. Other property valuers in the area are a good source of market intelligence. They can usually tell you the history of the area and the current business sentiment. Rental levels, incentives, and sale prices per square metre are valuable elements of market intelligence. They will all have impact on the yield that the property presents to any property investor.
  15. Look around the area to see how many other properties are currently available for sale. Seek details of these properties and the prices being sought. If these properties have been on the market for a long time it will give you an idea of just how acceptable the regional prices and business sentiment is at the time of your inspection.
  16. Look around the area to see how many properties are currently vacant. With reference to each particular vacant property, get details of the rental being sought and the time that the property has been on the market. You will need to form their own judgment on whether these rentals are relevant and reasonable in the current marketplace.
  17. The supply and demand of vacant space by property category is an investigation to be undertaken in the region. What you want to know is exactly how much space is coming into the market in the future and how much space exists now for tenants to occupy.
  18. Check out any new property developments that could be in the early stages of consideration and development approval. The key question here is the impact that these properties may have on your property.
  19. The history of the area is always of high value to you. In commercial, industrial, and retail investment property, the history that you are after is the last five years. It is remarkable how much information you can glean from regional property sales and rental trends. Given that commercial and retail investment property works on the cycle of rise and fall, it is the history that can open up your understanding of what’s been going on and where things are headed.
  20. With any property investigation, and particularly with properties that are complex and large, it is wise to seek out the comments of architects and engineers. What you need them to do here is comment on the structural integrity of the property and its future usable life. Also seek to identify how the property may be expanded or refurbished when times require.
  21. Chase down the tenancy schedules for other properties in the area. Whilst these are not always easily obtained, they are of high value. They will tell you so much about the activity in other properties and buildings that may impact your future leasing strategy or property sale. What you do not want is a significantly high vacancy factor near your property when you are trying to lease it.
  22. Review the local precinct for the larger businesses and how they operate. In doing this, you can understand who are the major business players and the major employers. Having these companies in the area is good thing, but losing them can be a major threat to the region. We call this the business stability factor. It should form part of your investment property assessment for the future.
  23. Review the other major tenancies in the area and see how they operate. They can both stress and enhance the area depending on how they operate and the times of day that they do so. Of prime example is a transport company that has vehicle access peaks at certain times of the day. This can challenge the other businesses in the area and how they operate.
  24. Walk around the precinct and the property taking many photographs for later investigation. It is surprising how useful photographs become for the reassessment of the property inspection. Walking through the streets in the region allows you to get a feel for the function of the streets and the neighbouring properties. It puts you in greater perspective for the services and amenities, and the function of all local surrounding businesses. A tip in the keeping of digital photographs for later evidence is the reversion of the important photos to ‘gif’ type files. This format is not easily changed and therefore more stable as court evidence of critical matters. Property
  25. Knock on the doors of the other local businesses and talk to them about how things operate locally for them. Other tenants and businesses in the region will tell you so much and put you on the track of challenges and problems in the region.

Financial Modeling: Investment Property Model

Building financial models is an art. The only way to improve your craft is to build a variety of financial models across a number of industries. Let’s try a model for an investment that is not beyond the reach of most individuals – an investment property.

Before we jump into building a financial model, we should ask ourselves what drives the business that we are exploring. The answer will have significant implications for how we construct the model.

Property

Who Will Use It?

Who will be using this model and what will they be using it for? A company may have a new product for which they need to calculate an optimal price. Or an investor may want to map out a project to see what kind of investment return he or she can expect.

Depending on these scenarios, the end result of what the model will calculate may be very different. Unless you know exactly what decision the user of your model needs to make, you may find yourself starting over several times until you find an approach that uses the right inputs to find the appropriate outputs.

On to Real Estate

In our scenario, we want to find out what kind of financial return we can expect from an investment property given certain information about the investment. This information would include variables such as the purchase price, rate of appreciation, the price at which we can rent it out, the financing terms available fore the property, etc.

Our return on this investment will be driven by two primary factors: our rental income and the appreciation of the property value. Therefore, we should begin by forecasting rental income and the appreciation of the property in consideration.

Once we have built out that portion of the model, we can use the information we have calculated to figure out how we will finance the purchase of the property and what financial expenses we can expect to incur as a result.

Next we tackle the property management expenses. We will need to use the property value that we forecasted in order to be able to calculate property taxes, so it is important that we build the model in a certain order.

With these projections in place, we can begin to piece together the income statement and the balance sheet. As we put these in place, we may spot items that we haven’t yet calculated and we may have to go back and add them in the appropriate places.

Finally, we can use these financials to project the cash flow to the investor and calculate our return on investment.

Laying Out the Model

We should also think about how we want to lay it out so we keep our workspace clean. In Excel, one of the best ways to organize financial models is to separate certain sections of the model on different worksheets.

We can give each tab a name that describes the information contained in it. This way, other users of the model can better understand where data is calculated in the model and how it flows.

In our investment property model, let’s use four tabs: property, financing, expenses and financials. Property, financing and expenses will be the tabs on which we input assumption and make projections for our model. The financials tab will be our results page where we will display the output of our model in a way that’s easily understood.

Forecasting Revenues

Let’s start with the property tab by renaming the tab “Property” and adding this title in cell A1 of the worksheet. By taking care of some of these formatting issuing on the front end, we’ll have an easier time keeping the model clean.

Next, let’s set up our assumptions box. A few rows below the title, type “Assumptions” and make a vertical list of the following inputs:

Purchase Price
Initial Monthly Rent
Occupancy Rate
Annual Appreciation
Annual Rent Increase
Broker Fee
Investment Period

In the cells to the right of each input label, we’ll set up an input field by adding a realistic placeholder for each value. We will format each of these values to be blue in color. This is a common modeling convention to indicate that these are input values. This formatting will make it easier for us and others to understand how the model flows. Here are some corresponding values to start with:

$250,000.00
$1,550.00
95.00%
3.50%
1.00%
6.00%
4 years

The purchase price will be the price we expect to pay for a particular property. The initial monthly rent will be the price for which we expect to rent out the property. The occupancy rate will measure how well we keep the property rented out (95% occupancy will mean that there will only be about 18 days that the property will go un-rented between tenants each year).

Annual appreciation will determine the rate that the value of our property increases (or decreases) each year. Annual rent increase will determine how much we will increase the rent each year. The broker fee measures what percentage of the sale price of the property we will have to pay a broker when we sell the property.

The investment period is how long we will hold the property for before we sell it. Now that we have a good set of property assumptions down, we can begin to make calculations based on these assumptions.

A Note on Time Periods

There are many ways to begin forecasting out values across time. You could project financials monthly, quarterly, annually or some combination of the three. For most models, you should consider forecasting the financials monthly during the first couple years.

By doing so, you allow users of the model to see some of the cyclicality of the business (if there is any). It also allows you to spot certain problems with the business model that may not show up in annual projections (such as cash balance deficiencies). After the first couple of years, you can then forecast the financials on an annual basis.

For our purposes, annual projections will cut down on the complexity of the model. One side effect of this choice is that when we begin amortizing mortgages later, we will wind up incurring more interest expense than we would if we were making monthly principal payments (which is what happens in reality).

Another modeling choice you may want to consider is whether to use actual date headings for your projection columns (12/31/2010, 12/31/2011,…). Doing so can help with performing more complex function later, but again, for our purposes, we will simply use 1, 2, 3, etc. to measure out our years. In Excel, we can play with the formatting of these numbers a bit to read:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4…

These numbers should be entered below our assumptions box with the first year starting in at least column B. We will carry these values out to year ten. Projections made beyond ten years do not have much credibility so most financial models do not exceed ten years.

On to the Projections

Now that we have set up our time labels on the “Property” worksheet, we are ready to begin our projections. Here are the initial values we want to project for the next ten years in our model:

Property Value
Annual Rent
Property Sale
Broker Fee
Mortgage Bal.
Equity Line Bal.
Net Proceeds
Owned Property Value

Add these line items in column A just below and to the left of where we added the year labels.

The property value line will simply project the value of the property over time. The value in year one will be equal to our purchase price assumption and the formula for it will simply reference that assumption. The formula for each year to the right of the first year will be as follows:

=B14*(1+$B$7)

Where B14 is the cell directly to the left of the year in which we are currently calculating the property value and $B$7 is an absolute reference to our “Annual Appreciation” assumption. This formula can be dragged across the row to calculate the remaining years for the property value.

The annual rent line will calculate the annual rental income from the property each year. The formula for the first year appears as follows:

=IF(B12>=$B$10,0,B5*12*$B$6)

B12 should be the “1” in the year labels we created. $B$10 should be an absolute reference to our investment period assumption (the data in our assumption cell should be an integer even if it is formatted to read “years,” otherwise the formula will not work). B5 should be a reference to our monthly rent assumption, and $B$6 should be an absolute reference to the occupancy rate.

What this function says is that if our investment period is less than the year in which this value is to be calculated, then the result must be zero (we will no longer own the property after it is sold, so we can’t collect rent). Otherwise, the formula will calculate the annual rent, which is the monthly rent multiplied by twelve and then multiplied by the occupancy rate.

For subsequent years, the formula will look similar to:

=IF(C12>=$B$10,0,B16*(1+$B$8))

Again, if the investment period is less than the year in which this value is to be calculated, then the result will be zero. Otherwise we simply take the value of last years rental income and increase it by our annual rent increase assumption in cell $B$8.

Time to Exit

Now that we have forecasted property values and rental income, we can now forecast the proceeds from the eventual sale of the property. In order to calculate the net proceeds from the sale of our property, we will need to forecast the values mentioned above: property sale price, broker fee, mortgage balance and equity line balance.

The formula for forecasting the sale price is as follows:

=IF(B12=$B$10,B14,0)

This formula states that if the current year (B12) is equal to our investment period ($B$10) then our sale price will be equal to our projected property value in that particular year (B14). Otherwise, if the year is not the year we’re planning to sell the property, then there is no sale and the sale price is zero.

The formula to calculate broker fees takes a similar approach:

=IF(B18=0,0,B18*$B$9)

This formula states that if the sale price for a particular year (B18) is equal to zero, then broker fees are zero. If there’s no sale, there’s no broker fees. If there is a sale then broker fees are equal to the sale price (B18) multiplied by our assumption for broker fees ($B$9).

Our mortgage balance and our equity line balance we will calculate on the next worksheet, so for now we will leave two blank lines as placeholders for these values. Our net proceeds from the property sale will simply be the sale price less broker fees less the mortgage balance, less the home equity line balance.

Let’s add one more line called “Owned Property Value.” This line will show the value of the property we own, so it will reflect a value of zero once we have sold it. The formula will simply be:

=IF(B12>=$B$10,0,B14)

B12 refers to the current year in our year label row. $B$10 refers to our investment period assumption, and B14 refers to the current years value in the property value line we calculated. All this line does is represent our property value line, but it will show zero for the property value after we sell the property.

On to the Financing

Now let’s model how we will finance the property acquisition. Let’s name a new tab “Financing” and add the title “Financing” at the top of the worksheet. The first thing we need to know is how much we need to finance.

To start, let’s type “Purchase Price” a few lines below the title. To the right of this cell make a reference to our purchase price assumption from the “Property” tab (=Property!B4). We will format the text of this cell to be green because we are linking to information on a different worksheet. Formatting text in green is a common financial modeling convention to help keep track of where information is flowing from.

Below this line, let’s type “Working Capital.” To the right of this cell, let’s enter an assumption of $5,000.00 (formatted in blue text to indicate an input). Our working capital assumption represents additional capital we think we’ll need in order to cover the day-to-day management of the investment property. We may have certain expenses that aren’t fully covered by our rental income and our working capital will help make sure we don’t run into cash flow problems.

Below the working capital line, let’s type “Total Capital Needed” and to the right of this cell sum the values of our purchase price and working capital assumption. This sum will be the total amount of capital we will need to raise.

Capital Sources

A couple lines below our “Total Capital Needed,” let’s create a capital sources box. This box will have six columns with the headings: source, amount, % purchase price, rate, term and annual payment. Two typical sources of capital for acquiring a property are a mortgage and an equity line of credit (or loan). Our final source of capital (for this model anyway) will be our own cash or equity.

In the sources column, let’s add “First Mortgage,” “Equity Line of Credit,” and “Equity” in the three cells below our sources heading. For a typical mortgage, a bank will usually lend up to 80% of the value of the property on a first mortgage, so let’s enter 80% in the line for the first mortgage under the % purchase price heading (again, formatted in blue to indicate an input value).

We can now calculate the amount of our first mortgage in the amount column with the following formula:

=B5*C11

B5 is a reference to our purchase price and C11 is a reference to our % purchase price assumption.

In the current market, banks are reluctant to offer equity lines of credit if there is less than 25% equity invested in the property, but let’s pretend that they are willing to lend a bit. Let’s assume that they will lend us another 5% of the property value in the form of an equity line. Enter 5% (in blue) in the equity line of credit line under the % purchase price heading.

We can use a similar formula to calculate the equity line amount in the amount column:

=B5*C12

Now that we have the amount of bank financing available for our purchase, we can calculate how much equity we will need. Under the amount heading in the row for equity, enter the following formula:

=B7-B11-B12

B7 is our total financing needed. B11 is the financing available from the first mortgage and B12 is the financing available from the equity line of credit. Again, we’re assuming that we’ll have to cough up the cash for anything we cannot finance through the bank.

The Cost of Capital

Now let’s figure out what this financing is going to cost us. For interests rates, let’s assume 5% on the first mortgage and 7% on the equity line. Enter both of these values in blue in our rate column. For terms, a typical mortgage is 30 years and an equity line might be 10 years. Let’s enter those values in blue under the term heading.

The annual payment column will be a calculation of the annual payment we will have to make to fully pay off each loan by the end of its term inclusive of interest. We will use an Excel function to do this:

=-PMT(D11,E11,B11,0)

The PMT function will give us the value of the fixed payment we will make given a certain rate (D11), a certain number of periods (E11), a present value (B11) and a future value (which we want to be zero in order to fully repay the loan). We can then use the same formula in the cell below to calculate the payment for the equity line.

Now we’re ready to map out our projections. Let’s start by copying column headings from the property tab (Year 1, Year 2, etc.) and paste them on the finance tab below our capital sources box. Let’s also pull the owned property value line from the property tab (marking the values in green to show that they come from a different sheet).

Now let’s forecast some balances related to our first mortgage. Let’s label this section of the worksheet “First Mortgage” and below it add the following line items in the first column:

Beginning Balance
Interest PMT
Principal PMT
Ending Balance

Post Sale Balance

For year one of our beginning balance, we will just reference our first mortgage amount (=B11). For years two and later, we will simply reference the previous years ending balance (=B25).

To calculate the interest payment for each year, we simply multiply the beginning balance by our assumed interest rate (=B22*$D$11). B22 would be the current year’s beginning balance and $D$11 would be our assumed interest rate.

To calculate each year’s principal payment, we simply subtract the current year’s interest payment from our annual payment (=$F$11-B23). $F$11 is the annual payment we calculated before, and B23 is the current year’s interest payment.

Our ending balance is simply our beginning balance minus our principal payment (=B22-B24).

Finally, our post sale balance is simply our ending balance for each year or zero if we have already sold the property (=IF(B19=0,0,B25)). This line will make it easy for us to represent our debt when we go to construct our balance sheet later on.

We now repeat the same lines and calculations for projecting our equity line of credit balances. Once we are done with these two sources, we have completed our financing worksheet.

Taking a Step Back

We can now drop in our mortgage and equity line balances back on the property tab in order to calculate our net proceeds. For the mortgage balance we use the formula:

=IF(B18=0,0,Financing!B22)

B18 refers to the current year’s property sale value. If the value is zero, then we want the mortgage balance to be zero, because we are not selling the property in that particular year and don’t need to show a mortgage balance. If the value is not zero, then we want to show the mortgage balance for that particular year which can be found on the financing tab (Financing!B22).

We use the same formula for calculating the equity line balance.

On to Expenses

Let’s label our expenses tab “Expenses” and add the same title to the top of the worksheet. This worksheet will be simple and straightforward. First, let’s create an assumptions table with the following input labels:

Tax Rate
Annual Home Repairs
Annual Rental Broker Fees
Other Expenses
Inflation

Next to each of these cells, let’s enter the following assumption values in blue:

1.10%
$800.00
$100.00
$50.00
1.50%

Each of these assumptions represents some component of the ongoing costs of managing a property. Below our assumptions box, let’s again paste our year headings from one of our other worksheets (Year 1, Year 2, etc.).

Let’s drop in a line that shows our owned property value that we calculated earlier and format these values in green. We will need these values in order to calculate our tax expense, so it’ll be easier to have it on the same worksheet.

Below this line, let’s add a few line items that we’ll be forecasting:

Home Repairs
Rental Broker Fees
Other Expenses

Taxes

Our first year of home repairs will simply be equal to our annual assumption (=B5). For subsequent years, though, we will need to check to see if we still own the property. If not, our cost will be zero. If so, we want to grow our home repairs expense by the inflation rate. Here’s what the function for subsequent years should look like:

=IF(C$13=0,0,B15*(1+$B$8))

In this case, C$13 is the current year’s property value, B15 is the previous year’s home repair expense, and $B$8 refers to the inflation rate. For rental broker fees and other expenses, we can use the same methodology to forecast these expenses.

For taxes, we will need to use a different calculation. Property taxes hinge on the value of the property, which is why we have used a percentage to represent the tax assumption. Our formula to calculate taxes will be as follows:

=B13*$B$4

Since our taxes will be zero when our property value is zero, we can simply multiply our property value (B13) by our assumed tax rate ($B$4). And now we have forecasted our expenses.

Putting It All Together

Now comes the fun part. We need to put all of our projections into presentable financial statements. Since this will be the part of the model that gets passed around, we’ll want to make it especially clean and well formatted.

Let’s label the tab “Financials” and enter the same title at the top of the worksheet. A couple lines below, we’ll start our balance sheet by adding a “Balance Sheet” label in the first column. Just below this line, we’ll drop in our standard year headings, only this time we want to include a Year 0 before the Year 1 column.

Along the left side of the worksheet just below the year headings, we’ll layout the balance sheet as follows:

Cash
Property

Total Assets

First Mortgage
Equity Line of Credit
Total Debt

Paid-In Capital
Retained Earnings
Total Equity

Total Liabilities & Equity

Check

Our cash value in year zero will be equal to the amount of equity we plan to invest, so we will reference our equity value from the finance worksheet (=Financing!B13) and format the value in green.

Property, first mortgage, equity line and retained earnings will all be zero in year zero because we haven’t invested anything yet. We can go ahead and add in the formulas for total assets (cash plus property), total debt (first mortgage plus equity line), total equity (paid-in capital plus retained earnings) and total liabilities and equity (total debt plus total equity). These formulas will remain the same for all years of the balance sheet.

For the year zero balance for paid-in capital, we’ll use the same formula as cash for year zero (=Financing!B13).

Returning to cash, we will use this line as our plug for the balance sheet since cash is the most liquid item on the balance sheet. To make cash a plug, we make cash equal to total liabilities and equity minus property. This should ensure that the balance sheet always balances. We still need to watch to see if our cash is ever negative, which could present a problem.

On a balance sheet, property is usually represented at its historical value (our purchase price), so we will use the following formula to show our property value and format it in green:

=IF(C5>=Property!$B$10,0,Property!$B$4)

C5 represents the current year. Property!$B$10 is a reference to our investment period assumption and $B$4 is a reference to the purchase price. The value of the property will be either zero (after we have sold it) or equal to our purchase price.

Our first mortgage and equity line balances we can simply pull from the post sale balance on the finance tab. We format each line in green to show that it is being pulled from another worksheet.

Paid-in capital, will be equal to either our original investment (since we won’t be making additional investments) or zero after we have sold the property. The formula is as follows:

=IF(C5>=Property!$B$10,0,$B$16)

C5 represents the current year. Property!$B$10 is a reference to our investment period assumption and $B$16 is a reference to the year zero value of our paid-in capital.

We will have to skip the retained earnings line until after we have projected our income statement as it hinges on net income.

The check line is a quick way of telling if your balance sheet is in balance. It is simply equal to total assets minus total liabilities and equity. If the value is not equal to zero, then you know there’s a problem. As an extra bell and whistle, You can use conditional formatting to highlight any problems.

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Calculating the Bottom Line

Below the check line, let’s set up our income statement in the same way we set up our balance sheet – with an “Income Statement” label followed by our year column headings. We will layout our income statement as follows:

Rental Income
Proceeds from Sale
Total Revenue

Home Repairs
Rental Broker Fees
Other Expenses
Total Operating Expenses

Operating Income

Interest Expense
Taxes

Net Income

Rental income, proceeds from sale, home repairs, rental broker fees, other expenses and taxes can simply be pulled from the other worksheets where we have calculated them (and formatted in green of course). Interest expense is simply the sum of the interest payments for both the first mortgage and the equity line on the financing tab.

The other line items are simple calculations. Total revenue is the sum of rental income and proceeds from sale. Total operating expenses is the sum of home repairs, rental broker fees and other expenses. Operating income is total revenue minus total operating expenses. Net income is operating income minus interest expense and taxes.

Now that we have our net income figure, we can jump back up to our retained earnings line in our balance sheet to finish that up. The formula for retained earnings starting in the first year and going forward should be as follows:

=IF(C5>=Property!$B$10,0,B17+C43)

Again, the IF function looks at the current year (C5) and compares it to our investment period (Property!$B$10). If it is greater than or equal to the investment period, then we have closed our our investment and the value is zero. Otherwise, the formula for retained earnings is the previous year’s retained earnings balance (B17) plus the current year’s net income.

And Now for Cash Flow

To answer our original question of what our return on this particular investment is going to be, we need to project the cash flow to the investor. To do so, let’s create another section below the income statement called “Investment Cash Flow,” which also has our year column headings. We’ll also want to add the following lines:

Initial Investment
Net Income
Cash Flow

Our initial investment line will only have a value in the first year zero cell, and it will be equal to our paid in capital only negative (=-B16). Our initial cash flow is negative because we make the equity investment to finance the project.

The rest of our cash flow comes in the form of net income. Since we have the net proceeds from the sale of the property flowing through net income as well, we can simply set the net income line equal to net income from our income statement. To maximize our potential return, we will assume that net income is paid out each year rather than being retained (this could result in some negative cash balances, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll make this assumption).

Cash flow is simply the sum of the initial investment and net income for each year. The result should be a negative cell followed by some negative or positive net income figures (depending on our model’s assumptions). Now we’re ready to calculate our return.

 

Choosing a Commercial Property With Financial Advantage

When assessing commercial real estate, it is necessary to understand the financial factors that the property creates. This is before you price the property or consider it suitable for purchase. In doing this, it is not only the financial factors today that you need to look at, but also those that have formulated the history of the property over recent time.

Property

In this case, the definition of ‘recent time’ is the last three or five years. It is surprising how property owners try to manipulate the building income and expenditure at the time of sale; they cannot however easily change the property history and this is where you can uncover many property secrets.

Once the history and current performance of the property is fully understood, you can then relate to the accuracy of the current operating costs budget. All investment property should operate to a budget which is administered monthly and monitored quarterly.

The quarterly monitoring process allows for adjustments to the budget when unusual items of income and expenditure are evident. There is no point continuing with the property budget which is increasingly out of balance to the actual property performance. Fund managers in complex properties would normally undertake budget adjustment on a quarterly basis. The same principle can and should apply to private investors.

So let’s now look at the main issues of financial analysis on which you can focus in your property evaluation:

  1. A tenancy schedule should be sourced for the property and checked totally. What you are looking for here is an accurate summary of the current lease occupancy and rentals paid. It is interesting to note that tenancy schedules are notoriously incorrect and not up to date in many instances. This is a common industry problem stemming from the lack of diligence on the part of the property owner or the property manager to maintain the tenancy schedule records. For this very reason, the accuracy of the tenancy schedule at time of property sale needs to be carefully checked against the original documentation.
  2. Property documentation reflecting on all types of occupancy should be sourced. This documentation is typically leases, occupancy licences, and side agreements with the tenants. You should expect that some of this documentation will not be registered on the property title. Solicitors are quite familiar with the chasing down all property documentation and will know the correct questions to ask of the previous property owner. When in doubt, do an extensive due diligence process with your solicitor prior to any settlement being completed.
  3. The rental guarantees and bonds of all lease documentation should be sourced and documented. These matters protect the landlord at the time of default on the part of the tenant. They should pass through to the new property owner at the time of property settlement. How this is achieved will be subject to the type of rental guarantee or bond and it may even mean that the guarantee needs to be reissued at the time of sale and settlement to a new property owner. Solicitors for the new property owner(s) will normally check this and offer methods of solution at the time of sale. Importantly, rental guarantee and bonds must be legally collectable by the new property owner under the terms of any existing lease documentation.
  4. Understanding the type of rental charged across the property is essential to property performance. In a single property with multiple tenants it is common for a variety of rentals to be charged across the different leases. This means that net and gross leases can be evident in the same property and have different impact on the outgoings position for the landlord. The only way to fully appreciate and analyse the complete rental situation is to read all leases in detail.
  5. Looking for outstanding charges over the property should be the next part of your analysis. These charges would normally stem from the local council and their rating processes. It could be that special charges have been raised on the property as a Special Levy for the precinct.
  6. Understanding the outgoings charges for the properties in the local area is critical to your own property analysis. What you should do here is compare the outgoings averages for similar properties locally to the subject property in Propertywhich you are involved. There needs to be parity or similarity between the particular properties in the same category. If any property has significantly higher outgoings for any reason, then that reason has to be identified before any sale process or a property adjustment is considered. Property buyers do not want to purchase something that is a financial burden above the industry outgoings averages.
  7. The depreciation schedule for the property should be maintained annually so that its advantage can be integrated into any property sales strategy when the time comes. The depreciation that is available for the property allows the income to be reduced and hence less tax paid by the landlord. It is normal for the accountant for the property owner to compile the depreciation schedule annually at tax time.
  8. The rates and taxes paid on the property need to be identified and understood. They are closely geared to the property valuation undertaken by the local council. The timing of the council valuation is usually every two or three years and will have significant impact on the rates and taxes that are paid in that valuation year. Property owners should expect reasonable rating escalations in the years where a property valuation is to be undertaken. It pays to check when the next property valuation in the region is to be undertaken by the local council.
  9. The survey assessment of the site and tenancy areas in the property should be checked or undertaken. It is common for discrepancies to be found in this process. You should also be looking for surplus space in the building common area which can be reverted to tenancy space in any new tenancy initiative. This surplus space becomes a strategic advantage when you refurbish or expand the property.
  10. In analysing the historic cash flow, you should look for any impact that arises from rental reduction incentives, and vacancies. It is quite common for rental reduction to occur at the start of the tenancy lease as a rental incentive. When you find this, the documentation that supports the incentive should be sourced and reviewed for accuracy and ongoing impact to the cash flow. You do not want to purchase a property only to find your cash flow reduces annually due to an existing incentive agreement. If these incentive agreements exist, it is desirable to get the existing property owner to discharge or adjust the impact of the incentive at the time of property settlement. In other words, existing property owner should compensate the new property owner for the discomfort that the incentive creates in the future of the property.
  11. The current rentals in the property should be compared to the market rentals in the area. It can be that the property rent is out of balance to the market rentals in the region. If this is the case it pays to understand what impact this will create in leasing any new vacant areas that arise, and also in negotiating new leases with existing tenants.
  12. The threat of market rental falling at time of rent review can be a real problem in this slower market. If the property has upcoming market rent review provisions, then the leases need to be checked to identify if the rental can fall at that market review time. Sometimes the lease has special terms that can prevent the rent going down even if the surrounding rent has done that. We call these clauses ‘ratchet clauses’, inferring that the ‘ratchet’ process stops lower market rents happening. Be careful here though in that some retail and other property legislation can prevent the use or implementation of the ‘ratchet clause’. If in doubt see a good property solicitor.

So these are some of the critical financial elements to look at when assessing a Commercial Investment Property. Take time to analyse both the income and expenditure in the property before you making any final choices regards property price or acquisition.

Mallorca Property Market Report

1. Underlying values to bottom out at current levels
2. The evolution of asking prices to vary dependent upon whether they have been set realistically / adjusted sufficiently to account for the significant falls in property values.
3. Future growth in values to be non existent in the short term and very limited and restricted to underlying inflation in the medium term ie no real growth in the next couple of years. Modest growth over above general inflation levels in the economy to follow thereafter at levels of 1-3%
4. Special properties with “unique” qualities – front line; very good sea views; restrictive planning conditions – rural fincas; high quality developments etc to perform better / out perform the market in the medium / long term.
5. Land values to hold down prices in the medium term as developers take advantage of cheaper land to sell at these new lower levels for the medium term. Long term shortage of supply, save for those in urban areas and for “mid range” apartments, like Palma, Inca and Manacor, should see values rise

Property

Alongside these conclusions I set out a few “tips” or recommendations for both owners and potential investors of Mallorca residential property:

1. If you are a lifestyle purchaser or investor with an income return bias start to look at the emerging buying opportunities BUT..
2. “BUYER BEWARE” it is all about value and ensuring that you buy at an appropriate level and don’t over pay on unrealistically priced properties.
3. Look at new build where good discounts are available (but beware of off plan unless your deposit(s) are backed with a bank guarantee)
4. Look at properties with “defensive” qualities, as set out in (4) above, for greater short term security
5. Look at land to hold as a long term investment / to build a home. Particularly rural plots, front line or with very good sea views etc

Market Update March 2010 – October 2010

So what has been the reality of the last 6 months? Have my conclusions been largely borne out or has hindsight led us to see that we should have reached alternative conclusions?

Lets start by reviewing the statistics and data that have emerged since the March 2010 report and what the so called specialists have been saying. But before that let’s enjoy the headline that greeted me this week that none other than the Spanish Prime Minister had just called the bottom of the property market in Spain! While I am immediately cynical when it comes to anything said by a politician, particularly when it is a Foreign PM talking to US investors in a desperate attempt to convince them to buy bundles of government bonds at the lowest possible yield, he did seem to be confirming what I said, namely that we are at the bottom and although it is true that I said it 6 months ago, if prices have largely remained unchanged over that period, then it could be said that it was the bottom then as well as now!

The problem for me is that Zapatero then proceeded to get over excited, quoting official statistics that appeared to indicate that in many areas of Spain prices were starting to rise ie we had touched bottom and wey hey we are on an upward trajectory again! So let’s look at the emerging data, starting with ZP’s own Housing Ministry.

National Institute of Statistics (INE) According to new figures from the INE, Spanish property prices rose (quarterly) for the first time in 3 years. More specifically these figures claim that average prices at the end of June were 1.6% higher than at the end of March although over 12 months prices are still down but by just 0.9%. For the Balearic Islands / Mallorca the statistics weren’t quite as rosy but still offered “some positive” news for those desperate to call the end of anything called recession / crisis / market crash etc! Here the overall figures put property values unchanged for the last quarter but down 2% for the year. For new build property it appears there is a “rebound” with prices up 1.4% even though for the last 12 months prices remain 2.5% down. Second hand property values were down 1% for the last quarter and 1.6% over 12 months.

Interestingly only Navarra in Northern Spain came out with worse data with a small fall of 0.1% in the last quarter. In other words what the INE is suggesting is that in all regions, bar Navarra and the Balearic Islands / Mallorca, property prices grew in the last quarter!

The trouble is it is very difficult to take seriously figures which tell us that overall Spanish house prices have only fallen 10-12% since their peak in 2007. The fact that the index suggests prices may have started to rise is not in itself that surprising had the index registered price falls of 30% or more. The problem is that we are expected to believe that, having barely fallen since the peak, prices are now rising again (at least on a quarterly basis) while we are still living out the consequences of the worst recession in living memory, a severe credit crunch, 20% plus unemployment, and a glut of 1 million new homes sitting there empty!

The same INE statistics, but this time for land values, paint on the surface of things a similar picture but equally show where future on going price weakness in the market may come from. According to these figures released earlier this month land prices in Spanish cities fell 14.9% over 12 months to the end of June, although the figures for the first quarter of this year indicate a small 3% rise. That said this 15% annualised fall in Q2 was the biggest fall on record since the Ministry of Housing started publishing this data in 2005. This put the average cost of building land in Spanish cities at 210.7 €/m2. With land values accounting for 30 – 50% of the final value of a property it is clear that while this trend continues the floor under the market for new build housing will remain weak something which effects the wider market as well. In other words with land values falling developers, when they decide to build again, will be able to do so much more cheaply and thus offer them for sale at much lower prices possibly even lower than what they can today for the existing stock! With the stock of available properties still so high and the prospect that new housing can come on stream profitably at lower levels it is easy to conclude that general growth in the market (ie values starting to rise), as we said in March, is still some way off. Obviously where the supply side is constrained because of the location eg front line properties, or type eg rural fincas where planning laws are getting much tighter, both of which are very relevant factors in Mallorca, then the outlook may be a little brighter.

Tinsa (Property Valuation Company): According to Tinsa average Spanish property prices fell 4.6% over 12 months to the end of August. Furthermore after 9 months of trending towards smaller price declines, this is now the second consecutive month in which the index shows price falls accelerating, from -4% in June, to -4.6% in August. For the Balearic / Mallorca and Canaries Islands the fall was a little larger and stood at minus 5.3% taking the overall fall in the index for the Islands down 16% since 2007 compared to 17% for Spain as a whole and nearly 22% % for the Mediterranean coastal areas. While the differences are what might be expected ie the mainland coastal areas, which bore the brunt of the speculative development boom, have suffered most, all the anecdotal evidence including actual sales prices would suggest that at best the market has fallen by 25%-30% and some what more in the worst effected areas. (important note: many properties were historically over inflated in terms of asking price at the height of the market, and remain so even as we speak today, so here an adjustment might even have to be be as high as 50% to get back to true underlying value. Obviously where a property was appropriately valued at the peak a 25% reduction might be perfectly reasonable to reflect true current value)

It is important to note that Tinsa’s figures are based on subjective valuations and in most cases these are calculated using asking prices of comparable properties in the region. By nature therefore these valuations are likely to lag the market, some say by anything between 12-24 months. In other words we could quite realistically assume that if Tinsa says the market is still falling and that the pace of fall has started to increase again, then in all likelihood this trend in falling values could well continue for a few months yet. Where I might differ is not with where the figures are going but the time it is taking for the likes of Tinsa to reflect what has really happened ie they are indeed probably at least 12 months behind the times. Since they base their valuations on asking prices it is hardly surprising! In other words the Tinsa figures may call the bottom of the market 12 or 24 months after we really have seen values touch bottom.

Idealista (Real Estate Portal): The latest data for the end of the 3rd quarter and released on 1st October, suggested that in Spain as a whole prices had accelerated their fall to a quarterly figure of 2.7% leaving the average value at 2,309€ m2. While this negative statistic was reflected in most regions of Spain, the Balearic Islands / Mallorca saw property price rises both generally and in the various towns (but not all) for which the web portal quote statistics. Here the overall figure stood at 2,371 €m2 in September 2010 compared to 2,286 €m2 at the end of the previous quarter and 2,228 €m2 in September 2009 ie an annual rise of 6.4% and last quarter increase of 3.7%.

Specifically they highlight statistics for the following towns / areas (First figure shows average value per m2 at September 2010, 2nd figure the change over last quarter and last the annualised change. Please note statistics are based on average of offer prices in each area and are not the values at which a willing seller and willing buyer might necessarily agree a sale):

Calvia 3,052€ m2; +11%; +12.5%

Palma de Mallorca 2,446€ m2; +4.8%; +10.7%

Marratxi 2,080€ m2; +2.4%; n/a

Inca 1,580€ m2; +2%; -0.5%

Santa Ponsa 2,568€ m2; -3.7%; n/a

Llucmajor 2,140€m2; +9.9%; +8.2%

Looking at these figures you might well assume that things are really beginning to take off and in many respects with a good sample size in each area one can not be fully dismissive of the findings. By way of comparison, although admittedly with a much smaller sample size, the web portal Facilisimo contrasts and quotes a fall in prices within the Baleraic Islands of 5.3% for the year to date.

Bankinter Spanish Real Estate Market Report: interestingly reported in September 2010 that what they expected was the market to bottom out but also future growth to be very limited, much along the lines of my March 2010 report and my continuing view. The bank feel that, taking the market as a whole, prices could still fall marginally further, circa 6%, over the next 9-12 months, with the market staying at that level until end 2013, beginning 2014, when some modest growth could return i.e. we are going to bump along the bottom, or as they put it be “walking through the desert”, for some time yet!

In line with my own opinion they also question the Ministry of Housing figures that tell us that prices have only fallen by 12% since the peak, while in reality the Bank feels this should be 20%+ (as you know I would go further than that in many circumstances!).

It is important to put this report in context as it covers the whole of Spain and thus is clearly dominated by the dynamics of the locally driven market, not by a mixture of local and international, like in Mallorca or many parts of the Mediterranean coast. Clearly in Mallorca if there is, for example, a return of consumer confidence in countries like Germany, the UK, Scandinavia etc this may encourage buyers from those destinations to bring forward buying decisions even if in Mallorca itself the local consumer remains weighed down by the fear of unemployment, the impending loss of mortgage tax breaks and the simple lack of household income / savings to meet the demands for larger deposits as banks reduce their loan to value ratios. Generally if buyers from outside Mallorca see the property markets improving in their own countries they are more likely to consider that the time is right to purchase here or at least that the Mallorca market will quickly follow suit. In many respects they are right. We live in a globalised economy and just like I always maintained in the boom years that Mallorca is “on planet earth” when told repeatedly that “prices don’t drop in Mallorca things are different here”, the flip side now is that when the global economic climate improves so will the situation in Spain and Mallorca even though most of us expect it to lag other parts of Europe. What this means in practice is that buyers, in my opinion, have a little more time to look at the options, do market research, identify good buying opportunities etc before there is any risk of the market running away ahead of them! There is always the risk that a buyer may loose out on that one “perfect” property, because another buyer has come in before hand, but in general buyers can afford to be patient.

Inversion magazine September 2010: If you want to read an article full of caution regarding the Spanish property market as a whole then read this article. Like I was pointing out above, this article emphasis the real underlying weakness of the domestic property market dragged down by huge unemployment number (over 20% and with even the most optimistic predictions setting it at no less than 18% for 2 further years); a financial sector either unwilling or unable to release liquidity into the market and at risk to reductions / removal of the ECB existing liquidity support measures; a mammoth supply over hang (unlike for example the markets in the United States or UK); and a financial sector holding a very large portfolio of repossessed properties which although not currently being flooded on to the market, could be if some smaller entities run into liquidity problems when the ECB cuts the current support measures. All in all the article concludes that not only do they foresee prices continuing to fall they concur that the future upside is a long way off. Patience and market research is their recommendation!

Although regular readers will know I am not a born optimist when it comes to my views on the Mallorca property market I have equally always maintained that it does have some important defensive qualities that should see it suffer less on the downside and recover a little better /quicker when the overall economic environment improves. The supply side is some what better than many other areas of the mainland, having suffered less of a speculative development boom; planning regulations and land zoning are stricter, further restricting the supply side; demand is more widely based (it includes a large number of international buyers in addition to the main local market); and economic improvements in Northern Europe should bolster tourism in the Island and thus put a floor under the unemployment figures. The Mallorca “brand” is also strong amongst the wealthy and there are always new buyers wanting to taste!

Other Press Reports: In the press there have been a steady trickle of agents, developers and industry representatives that are all supporting (understandably!) the thesis that prices have stopped falling and buyer interest is up within the second home market in particular. Interestingly most concur that prices have fallen by 15-35% depending on the area and the type of property, while others talk of prices going back to the levels of 6-7 years ago, in other words back to the levels before the very largest year on year price increases were delivered. If I had to comment I would argue that while they may be correct in relation to asking prices when they quote 15-35% I think they are much nearer the truth when they talk of values returning to 2003-2004 levels which in most cases would need to see falls of 25%- 40%.

I also caution against taking too seriously comments about asking prices and the need to buy now before prices rise. Many “warn” clients not to sit out waiting for more price falls and owners now prepared to sit out for the right buyer to come along rather than reduce prices further. While I would not disagree that underlying values are at or near the bottom, as I maintained in March, my experience is that few if any buyers are purchasing at asking prices and that many deals are being done well below asking prices. Only recently I asked a reputable agent what he thought various properties would sell for (all had been on the market for some time) and I was given figures between 20% and 35% less than the prices that were being quoted. I am not suggesting this is “proof” of anything in particular but I would say it supports my belief that “buyer beware” is the name of the day and not because you need to buy quickly before the market takes off but because asking prices can be very misleading!

What I am saying is that values are at or near the bottom of the cycle, that pressures for prices to grow are still some way off, with time is on the buyer’s side, but that if you are interested in buying I would definitely be in the market now looking and negotiating. Much better to negotiate now while there are still gloomy economic clouds offering uncertainty yet, sentiment is stabilising, than when everything is looking much rosier in say 12 or 24 months time. It is not that prices will rise during that time but simply that vendors may hold out a little more at or near there asking prices while today most if not all will want to do a deal rather than wait for another buyer that might not come around for many months or more!

At a regional and individual town level in Mallorca here are the views of what one major agent is saying has happened to prices, since the top of the market, along with my own comments:

Palma City / Old Town & Portixol: prime prices down by around -25% (Note: Supply is by nature limited and long term there must therefore be a firm floor under this market. Proposed improvements to the Playa de Palma area, tram infrastructure etc should all help but be patient for anything requiring public investment!)

Palma outskirts and Paseo Maritimo: Apartments down by -25-30% although villas with sea views in Genova, Bonanova etc have seen values fall some what less.

Son Vida: it is claimed that prices have held up and fallen only by 10-15% although they then “admit” deals have been done at levels that are up to 35% down (Note: what does that tell you? Asking prices are unrealistic and out of line with underlying values. The real market is about the value of done deals not asking prices! That said Son Vida will remain a prime address so again there is a floor under the market)

Puigpunyent, Esporlas etc: prices down circa -25%

Santa Ponsa: Prices down by around -15% (Note: With a lot of supply deals are being done some what lower than this figure suggests and with the Port Adriano super Yacht marina development taking shape it is not a bad time to be looking at this area and taking advantage of the weak market to get in to what long term looks an interesting area – luxury marina, 4 golf courses etc)

Andratx, Port Andratx: Prices down by -20%. (Note: This remains a sought after area despite much of the over development allowed by the previous, corrupt, Town Hall administration. Despite the poor quality of some infrastructure and public spaces in the Ports urbanisations demand is likely to remain long term and should be supported by promises, and hopefully the reality, of improvements agreed by the new Administration).

Dei, Valldemossa, Sller & Puerto de Sller: It is claimed that prices have held up here simply because owners have been less willing to negotiate ie there have been few transactions / an illiquid market. (Note: Another area with supply very restricted, a quite spectacular natural environment and a “brand name” with an international reputation all of which support the market and make it a good long term investment. The Jumeirah 7* hotel opening in Puerto Soller next year is the sort of investment to further add to the areas “cache”)

Central Mallorca: Prices are said to be down circa 10-15%. (Note: this is a large area and thus it is difficult to generalise but even in the historically stronger areas, on the Tramontana mountain fringe, eg Alaro, Santa Maria, Binissalem, Campanet, Buger etc deals can be done at up to 25% below asking prices)

Pollensa & Puerto Pollensa: Prices down by up to 30%. (Note: Anecdotally this area was hit as hard as any in terms of the demand tap simply drying up at the height of the crisis while in reality this has always been one of Mallorca’s strongest niche markets. The draw amongst “Pollensa devotees” remains and when demand returns, as it is starting to do, it should return in the long term as a top destination. With this in mind it could well be a place to start looking while prices remain under pressure and “deals” can be done.)

Property

Alcudia & Puerto Alcudia: Prices down by circa 25%

North East (Arta, Canyamel, Costa de los Pinos, Cala Bona etc): Prices down circa -10% (Note: While historically a lower price area, due to it’s relative remoteness from Palma, the new motorway from Palma transformed the area just before the recession got to grips with the market and thus the “re-rating” that some, including myself expected, never took place. This explains in part why values have not fallen as much. The market remains weak however, there are deals to be done and this may well be a good time to get into the area before prices move more in line with other areas of the Island. Costa de los Pinos and Canyamel offer a lot for the discerning buyer looking for quality property, sea views and a tranquil environment)

South East: similar to the North East with prices historically lower and thus having less far to fall!

Conclusions and Recommendations

As can be seen we have reports saying prices are falling, reports that they are stable and some that they are rising! That all said, and talking of Mallorca specifically, I remain of the opinion that underlying values have bottomed out and that we are now in the low activity / no price change period prior to growth returning.

In effect my conclusions are fairly similar if not identical to what I said in March! For completeness:

1. Underlying values should continue to bottom out at current levels. There are downside risks but in Mallorca I see these fairly much under control and unlikely to exceed 10%. Buyers should be aware of this at the time of negotiating the final purchase price and in that way can “manage out” some if not all this risk.
2. Whether asking prices continue falling will all depend upon whether they have been set realistically / adjusted sufficiently to account for the significant falls in underlying property values. In other words do research and know whether the property you want to buy is realistically priced or not. In that way you will know whether you are talking about negotiating a “bit” or are looking to take off a “wholesale chunk” to arrive at the final agreed purchase price.
3. Don’t expect a sharp rebound in property prices! Future growth in values is likely to be non existent in the short term and very limited and restricted to underlying inflation in the medium term ie no real growth through 2011 and 2012 at least and only modest growth over above general inflation levels in the economy to follow thereafter at levels of 1-3%. If I was to change my view at all it is that perhaps real growth is some 12 months further off than I suggested in March.
4. Special properties with “unique” qualities – front line; very good sea views; restrictive planning conditions – rural fincas; high quality developments etc to perform better / out perform the market in the medium / long term. I strongly believe there is a floor under this market but equally I do not believe that is the same as saying that the prices of these properties should not have been adjusted downwards, just that the extent of the adjustment may have been less and the downside risk of further falls much less likely. That said all depends on whether they were correctly priced at the outset. Some of these properties were ridiculously priced at the height of the boom so need severe price reductions to account for the initial over pricing and now the falling market. It is all property specific and be aware of over generalizing and then over paying for a property however “prime” and unique it is!
5. Land prices have come down significantly and will stay low in line with the wider market. Land values will hold down prices in the medium term as developers take advantage of cheaper land to sell at these new lower levels. Long term shortage of supply, save for those in urban areas and for “mid range” apartments, like Palma, Inca and Manacor, should see values rise. It could well be a good time to get in now buy a well priced plot and build your dream home rather than search endlessly for the finished article which is never “quite right”!

And in terms of where I would be looking to buy, and what I would be doing, again not much has changed over the last 6 months but to reiterate I would refer to the following “tips” and recommendations:

1. If I were a buyer I would start to be actively in the market now particularly if you area a lifestyle purchaser or investor with an income return bias. By “in the market” I mean starting to look, getting a feel of what is available, seeing what you like and starting to understand what is available and at what price. Make sure you either do your own research or use a Property Finder / Buyers Representative that can impartially help advise and guide you (don’t expect an estate agent to!) They want a sale of one of their properties while a Property Finder wants a sale but doesn’t mind which one so are impartial at the time of choosing and advising. As I said 6 months ago…
2. “BUYER BEWARE” it is all about value and ensuring that you buy at an appropriate level and don’t over pay on unrealistically priced properties. Understand who is selling, why and how motivated they are. Understand what the property is really worth and whether there can be a “meeting of minds” in this regards. If not walk away and find another property. If the owner is unrealistic all the best valuation advice in the world won’t get you the property at a realistic price!
3. Look at new build where good discounts are available (but beware of off plan unless your deposit(s) are backed with a bank guarantee)
4. Look at the properties with “defensive” qualities, identified in (4) above, for greater short term security and long term capital growth
5. Land could well be a good buy now. Look at it either as a long term investment or to build a home. Particularly rural plots, front line or with very good sea views etc but most good plots are worthy of serious consideration, if of course the price is right.

5 Reasons Why Investing in Property in Hull Will Create Wealth

This article aims to educate the reader on the 5 fundamentals of professional property investing specifically focused on the city of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire

Property

The topics covered

  1. Leverage
  2. Return on Investment
  3. Rental Demand
  4. Stress Testing
  5. Exit Strategy

Leverage

When investing in property you can benefit by borrowing from the bank using the power of leverage. Typically, a buy to let mortgage requires you to put a 25% deposit down and the bank will provide the remaining 75% of the purchase price of the property. Where else can you get them to do that? Banks will lend you money to buy property. They are less likely to lend you money to grow your business and they definitely will not lend you money to buy stocks and shares. They understand that property is still a safe secure asset despite what the media says. To show you the power of leverage lets show you an illustration. You have 100,000 to spend on an investment property. The following scenarios show how you can spend that money

Scenario 1 – Buying 1 property worth 100K with all your cash

Buying 1 house without a mortgage. Put down 100K and buy the property outright. The following year inflation raises the price of that property by 5%. The property is now worth 105K. You now have a property worth 105K and an equity of 5K in that property.

Scenario 2 – Buying 4 properties each worth 100K with a mortgage on each

You put a 25K deposit down on each property and a mortgage for the remaining 75K, spending all your 100K across 4 properties not just 1 property this time. The following year inflation raises the prices of that property by 5%, the same as scenario 1. Each property is now worth 105K. However, now you have 4 of them so benefit from the 5K equity in each one. So you now have 20K equity instead of the 5K in scenario 1. You have still spent the same amount of money but have benefited from leverage of money from the Bank.

2-3 bedroom properties in Hull can be bought for between 40-100K. They offer a superb opportunity to leverage your cash

Return on Investment

The return on investment is defined below

Return on investment = Gain of Investment – Cost of Investment / Cost of Investment

In basic terms, how hard is your money working for you. You can choose to invest in a new business venture, shares on the stock market or property. Each wealth creation channel has its own return on investment together with its associated risk. As a professional investor you have to weigh up your appetite for risk and potential return on your investment. Lets revisit the 2 leverage scenarios and examine the return on investment

Scenario 1 – Buying 1 property worth 100K with all your cash

Return on investment (ROI) is 5% e.g. 5K/100K

Scenario 2 – Buying 4 properties each worth 100K with a mortgage

Return on investment (ROI) is 20% e.g. 20K/100K Hull is a great place to start your professional property investing career because of the great return on investment. The reason is that property prices in Hull are among some of the cheapest in the UK. So, the cost of your investment is lower. This means not only can your money go further ie. you could buy more properties but each of those properties will go up in price and if you’ve leveraged your investments with mortgages your return on investment will be even greater.

Hull gives a better return on investment than more expensive cities in the UK because property prices are lower

Rental Demand

Of course, an investment property only becomes an asset if you are able to rent it out. If you can’t, that asset very quickly becomes a liability. A quick reminder on the definition of an asset and liability

Asset = Puts money in your pocket

Liability = Takes money out of your pocket

So, to ensure your investment property remains an asset you need to be confident that it is in an area of high rental demand. Hull is a hidden gem of a city. It is the gateway to Europe via ABP ports and P&O Ferries and therefore has a thriving export/import industry. Siemens are going to locate a large wind turbine manufacturing plant there cementing it’s status as a centre of excellence for Renewable energy technology. It is well connected by the M62 and has a broad manufacturing base. The Deep, the UKs only submarium has established itself as a tourist destination too. The University of Hull continues to grow and has a healthy student population around 25,000. However, due to the relatively low salaries in the region, affordability to buy a house is low. This consequently has led to a high demand for rental property.

The following post codes in Hull are great rental areas. HU5 is close to the University for students. HU7 and HU9 are great for families.

Financing Deals

If your aim is to own 10, 20 or 30 properties and supply the deposits for each one you would soon run out of your own cash so how do the Professionals do it? Well, the answer is Other Peoples Money (OPM). They buy their properties at the right price. Money in property is made when you buy the property NOT when you sell it. Buying at the right price i.e. below market value or BMV as it’s called enables you to refinance with the mortgage lender at the Open Market Value and pull out most of your deposit cash. This enables you to recycle your pot of cash to purchase another property. However, in this market, the Council of Mortgage Lenders have imposed a 6 month rule that prevents you remortgaging unless the property has been held for at least 6 months. If you can demonstrate added value then you have a better chance of achieving the valuation you desire. On average Property Prices double every 11 years. This means a 100K property is worth 200K in 11 years time. When you sell this property you pay off the original 100K mortgage and then have approximately 100K profit. This means if you bought 2 properties you can sell one and pay off the mortgage on the other and still have 1 cash flowing property with no mortgage on it. Using this principle it can be scaled up to any number of properties you wish to buy. Getting a mortgage can be difficult in this current economic climate but not impossible. The money hasn’t disappeared. It is just in different places. The trick is to find the people with the cash.

Buy for cash

Some properties in need of refurbishment in Hull can be bought for as little as 20K. This means you need to buy them with cash as mortgage providers generally do not lend below 40K. It also means you can move quickly and not have to involve Mortgage Lenders and Valuers in the purchase. Once you have refurbished the property you can then get a surveyor to value the property with a view to placing a mortgage on it and get most if not all of your cash returned.

Deposit Finance

You can help people with cash earn more than they are getting in the bank by offering them a higher interest rate for borrowing their money to fund a deposit. You can then return their money after refinancing.

Mortgage Host

If you can’t get a mortgage then find someone else who can and offer to share the cash flow from a property. Get a lawyer to draw up an agreement between you and the host. Because property prices are relatively low in Hull, there is more chance of finding investors who are willing to lend you 10-15K for a deposit. Risks are reduced as the amounts on loan are less. Once you’ve done 1 deal with an investor and made them more money they will be happy to do another deal with you.

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Hull property prices are low which leads to lower risk for Cash Investors when funding a deal.

Stress Testing

With any of your investments we advise stress testing your investments at higher interest rates. Whilst we enjoy historically low interest rates it’s tempting to buy lots of property deals. However, interest rates have only 1 way to go and that is up. Test that your investment still produces cash flows at higher interest rates so it remains an asset and not a liability.

Test your investments at higher interest rates. Hull investment properties still positively cash flow at 8-9% interest rates at current rental values.

Exit Strategy

With any investment it is vital you know your exit strategies. With an aeroplane knowing where the exits are is vital in case of an emergency. Similarly, with investing you need to know where your exits are for getting out of the investment deal in an emergency.

Selling your investment

If for any reason you need to come out of an investment you can sell a property. The properties that will be easiest to sell will be the most popular type in that area. If you own an expensive, executive detached house in a desirable area the number of buyers is reduced and constrained to residential buyers. However, if you have a cheaper, investment property you can sell to both investors or residential buyers. This is important when considering your investment.

Yours, Mine and Ours: How Spouses Share and Transfer Property

For most married couples, the cornerstone of estate planning is the transfer of their biggest asset: their home. So it’s important that couples be aware of the many roads this process can take.

Property

Married couples who own real property together have many options when deciding how to share the asset. Traditional approaches include joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety and community property. All have advantages and disadvantages.

Joint tenancy is a form of concurrent ownership where each owner has an equal interest in the property. It is available to unmarried couples as well, though I will focus on married couples in this article.

Arguably, the most useful feature of a joint tenancy arrangement is the “right of survivorship.” When the first spouse dies, his or her stake in the property passes directly to the surviving spouse, without the need for probate administration. During probate, a court determines the validity of the decedent’s estate documents and helps to settle any claims against the estate before the property is distributed to the heirs. Avoiding this process can save the beneficiary of an estate substantial costs and time. By foregoing probate, the surviving spouse also gains additional privacy, since the probate process is a matter of public record.

Tenancy in common usually does not have the right of survivorship. However, it allows other customizations, and offers greater flexibility. As in joint tenancy, tenants in common do not have to be married; unlike in joint tenancy, tenants in common may hold unequal interests in the property. Tenancy in common is not dissolved when one of the tenants dies, either. If John and Jane are tenants in common, each with a 50 percent interest in their property, John can bequeath his 50 percent to their son John Jr., and Jane’s interest will remain unaffected.

Tenancy by the entirety is available only to married couples, though Hawaii and Vermont offer options for domestic partners and those in civil unions, respectively. For legal purposes, it is as if the property is owned by a single entity (the couple) instead of two parties. Neither party can dissolve the tenancy without the other’s consent, except in cases of divorce or annulment. Like joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety offers a right of survivorship, allowing the surviving spouse to avoid probate. It can also shield the property from creditors of one spouse only, though not from creditors to whom the couple is jointly in debt. Not all U.S. jurisdictions recognize tenancy by the entirety.

Community property laws exist in only nine states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. In Alaska, couples may enter into community property arrangements, but must do so by signing agreements or forming a trust. The validity of such arrangements is still untried on a federal level, though, and it is not clear whether the Internal Revenue Service will honor them for federal tax purposes.

Although the specifics of community property laws vary from state to state, the basic idea is the same. Like tenancy by the entirety, community property is an option only for married couples. Generally, any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage becomes community property, unless it is a gift or an inheritance. Property owned prior to the marriage is also excluded. Spouses may enter into agreements, such as prenuptial or postnuptial arrangements, that preclude otherwise eligible property from being subject to community property laws, or which convert separate property to community property.

Community property has no right of survivorship. Each owner can dispose of his or her interest individually. As a result, without additional estate planning, most transfers will be subject to probate, even if one spouse simply leaves the entirety of their interest to the other. Creditors can also generally reach the deceased spouse’s interest through normal estate administration rules. Community property offers the advantage of allowing a full step-up in basis upon the death of either spouse, which typically allows the survivor to pay taxes on a smaller capital gain should the property be sold.

This is illustrated in the example below, contrasting joint tenancy with community property:

John and Jane purchased a home for $1 million, and it is now worth $2.5 million. Jane has died and John inherited the home. If they owned the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, John’s basis in the property is $1.75 million. This is because only Jane’s half of the interest is stepped up to the current market value ($1.25 million). The cost basis of John’s half of the interest continues to be based on the $1 million purchase price ($500,000). In contrast, both John’s and Jane’s interests would be stepped up to the current market value of the home if they had owned it as community property, and John would inherit the home with a cost basis of $2.5 million. This could mean a significant reduction in taxable capital gains if John were to sell the property after Jane’s death, even allowing for a potential reduction due to the home-sale exclusion rule. This would also be the case for other property, such as investment assets, owned by the couple.

All of these arrangements offer benefits and drawbacks, which may weigh differently depending on a couple’s situation. Joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety allow the surviving spouse to avoid probate, but do not offer community property’s generous terms for a full step-up in basis in the property. Community property risks giving creditors access to the decedent’s portion of the property, but also allows more flexibility in the way that property is distributed. Tenancy in common offers the option of unequal interests in the property, but does not have a right of survivorship.

In certain states, couples have yet another option that is relatively new: community property with right of survivorship. In several states, the law has been on the books for less than 15 years. California – the state that has arguably received the most attention on the topic – first implemented these ownership rights in 2001. Of the nine community property states, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin currently offer the right of survivorship option. Laws also vary by state regarding which property is eligible to be titled as community property with right of survivorship. For example, only real property may be titled this way in Idaho.

The states that offer community property with right of survivorship seek to make it easier for couples that have relatively simple estates to transfer property to a surviving spouse. Before the advent of community property with right of survivorship, married couples had to draft special agreements or use trusts to convert joint property into community property. Community property with right of survivorship allows married couples to take advantage of the full step-up in basis while avoiding probate administration, all without the need for more complex estate planning.

Property

Like any estate planning method, community property with right of survivorship is not a cure-all. For example, should bankruptcy be a concern, joint tenancy or (in some cases) tenancy by the entirety would leave the non-debtor’s property out of the bankruptcy proceedings, while property held as community property, with or without the right of survivorship, would move entirely to the bankruptcy trustee’s control until proceedings were complete. Couples should carefully examine their situations before deciding which arrangement is likely to carry the most benefits.

Though this option is not prevalent nationwide, financial advisors should be aware of both its benefits and its potential drawbacks. Even if a couple does not currently live in a community property state, they may have once lived in such a state, or they may move to one in the future. If a client lived and purchased real estate in a state that offered community property with right of survivorship, the property may continue to be characterized that way, even if the owners have since moved elsewhere.

22 Great Tips For Commercial Property Investment

When considering a commercial property investment it is wise to set some standard rules for the review so that you can 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 comment and lengthy review.

Property

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 in comparison to other properties of similar types in the same region. If the outgoings are out of balance to similar properties then you need to know why as any astute property buyer will ask about the outgoings. They know what are 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 on the tenant profile or interest in your property? This equation or consideration is called supply and demand. It will impact on buyer and tenant interest in the region in which your property is located.
  • 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? A 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 retail property is strongly geared to the sentiment of customers.
  • 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 with respect to 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 interaction of the property 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 have impact in an office property. Some landlords must be very careful as to the tenants that they select for a building. It is quite possible that a low profile and poorly selected tenant will 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 that are located near to each other affect each others business through 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 on 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 time. 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 the case of industrial property the 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 decision 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 to 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 tenants 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 regards 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 on other existing property in the area. The property investor or developer in the newer property has one goal only and that is 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 morePropertyattractive 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 longer 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 is in getting the finance from the banks when they need it. This movement between investment types says that you should monitor levels of return that are possible between shares and property.
  • Corporate Businesses: Major businesses like to off-load capital from balance sheets. This means a potential sale and lease back of property from time to time. This is also 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 a term of 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 property that the tenant may occupy.

 

What Constitutes Separate Property in Virginia?

Separately owned property does not automatically become marital upon marriage, even when it is placed into joint names. If one party invested separate funds into a marital asset, if they can trace out or prove that investment, they may be entitled to a return of the asset or the amount invested plus appreciation. This is a substantial issue in many cases.

Property

The goal of the tracing process is to link every asset to its primary source, which is either separate property or marital property. Harris v. Harris, 2004 Va. App. LEXIS 138 (2004). See also Mann v Mann, 22 VA. App 459; 470S.E. 2d 605, 1996, holding that the interest passively earned on the husband’s premarital assets are separate.

The Code of Virginia, §20-107.3(A)(1)(iv) defines “separate property” as “that part of any property classified as separate pursuant to subdivision A.3. Code of Virginia, §20-107.3(A)(3)(e) provides that “when marital property and separate property are commingled into newly acquired property resulting in the loss of identity of the contributing properties, the commingled property shall be deemed transmuted to marital property. However, to the extent the contributed property is retraceable by a preponderance of the evidence and was not a gift, the contributed property shall retain its original classification.” (emphasis added). Code of Virginia, §20-107.3(A)(3)(g) provides that section (e) of this section shall apply to jointly owned property. No presumption of gift shall arise under this section where (ii) newly acquired property is conveyed into joint ownership.

The increase in value of separate property during the marriage is separate property, unless marital property or the personal efforts of either party have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of the increases in value attributable to such contributions. The personal efforts of either party must be significant and result in substantial appreciation of the separate property if any increase in value attributable thereto is to be considered marital property. See Code of Virginia, §20-107.3(A)(3)(a). All of the increases of the real estate in this case are attributable to market fluctuations.

Tracing involves a two-prong, burden shifting test. First, a party has to prove he invested separate property into the real estate, which he did. It is undisputed that all of the money used to purchase the real estate was his traceable separate property. Then the burden shifts to the Complainant to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the transmutation was a gift. (See Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3(A)(3)(g)) and Turonis v Turonis, 2003 Va. App. LEXIS 130, (2003)). There is no presumption of a gift that arises from the fact that one party put the real estate in the parties’ joint names. There is no evidence of a gift in this case. (See also von Raab, 26 Va. App. at 248, 494 S.E.2d at 160 and Utsch v. Utsch, 38 Va. App. 450, 458, 565 S.E.2d 345, 349 (2002) (quoting Theismann, 22 Va. App. at 566, 471 S.E.2d at 813).If the party claiming a separate interest proves retraceability and the other party fails to prove transmutation of the property by gift, “the Code states that the contributed separate property ‘shall retain its original classification.'” (emphasis added) Hart v Hart, 27 Va. App. 46, 68, 497 S.E. 2d 496, 506 (1998). (quoting Code § 20-107.3(A)(3)(d), (e)) West v West, 2003 Va. App. LEXIS 512 (2030).

The second issue is the passive appreciation in the value of the jointly titled real estate. Pursuant both to Virginia Code Va. 20-107.3(A), and using the Brandenburg formula, which has never been held erroneous by the Virginia appellate courts, (See Turonis, Supra) All of the passive appreciation on a party’s separate investment in real estate is also separate property. ” This issue was addressed in Kelley v. Kelley, No. 0896-99-2, 2000 Va. App. LEXIS 576 (Ct. of Appeals Aug. 1, 2000) holding that the trial court erred in failing to recognize that passive appreciation on the husband’s separate investment to the real estate was also the husband’s separate property. (emphasis added0. This issue was also addressed in the case of Stark v. Rankins, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 375 (2001), holding that “in pertinent part, Code § 20-107.3(A)(1) provides that “the increase in value of separate property during the marriage is separate property, unless marital property or the personal efforts of either party have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of the increases in value attributable to such contributions.” Read as a whole, subsection (A) of the statute contains a “presumption that the increase in value of the separate property is separate.” (emphasis added) Martin v. Martin, 27 Va. App. 745, 753, 501 S.E.2d 450, 454 (1998). Moreover, we have held that the trial judge has a duty “to determine the extent to which [a spouse’s] separate property interest in the home increased in value during the… marriage.” Id. at 752, 501 S.E.2d at 453. There is a statutory presumption that the increase in value of the separate property is separate. Id.

By contrast, although the customary care, maintenance, and upkeep of a residential home may preserve the value of the property, it generally does not add value to the home or alter its character. Martin, Supra. The Court held that the Wife’s evidence that at some time during the twelve years of marriage she personally painted, wallpapered, and carpeted parts of the house does not prove a “significant” personal effort.” These activities constitute part of the customary maintenance and upkeep that homeowners typically perform in order to preserve the home’s value; they do not by their nature impart value to the home. (See also Biviano v. Kenny, 2002 Va. App. LEXIS 157 (2002)). The Code of Virginia, Section 20-107.3(A)(3)a) places the burden on the non-owning spouse to prove that “(i) contributions of marital property or personal effort were made and (ii) the separate property increased in value.” Hoffman v. Hoffman, 2004 Va. App. LEXIS 216 2004). In pertinent part, Code § 20-107.3(A)(1) provides that “the increase in value of separate property during the marriage is separate property, unless marital property or the personal efforts of either party have contributed to such increases and then only to the extent of the increases in value attributable to such contributions.” Read as a whole, subsection (A) of the statute contains a “presumption that the increase in value of the separate property is separate.”

Martin v Martin, 27 Va. App., 745, 753, 501 S.E. 2d 450, 454 (1998). Moreover, we have held that the trial judge has a duty “to determine the extent to which [a spouse’s] separate property interest in the home increased in value during the… marriage.” Id. at 752, 501 S.E.2d at 453. Stark v. Rankins, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 375 (2001).

In the case of Hargrave v. Wienckowski, 2000 Va. Cir. LEXIS 208, the Court states that “traceable separate property that is commingled with marital property, whether to acquire new property or otherwise, is subject to being restored to the contributing party.” The Court analyzes the issue and finds that “parties are under no requirement to contribute their separate property, whether acquired before or during the marriage, to the marriage. If a party does so, he or she does so voluntarily and should be reimbursed for it unless the party intended to make a gift of such property to his or her spouse.” This holding is consistent with the purpose of the Virginia legislature in enacting the equitable distribution law which was to give courts power to compensate a spouse for his or her contribution to the acquisition of property obtained during the marriage. See Sawyer v. Sawyer, 1 Va. App. 75, 335 S.E.2d 277 (1985). For example, in Beck v. Beck, 2000 Va. App. LEXIS 658 (2000), the Court held that since the wife contributed 71.3% from her separate funds to acquire the property, she was entitled to 71.3% of the equity in the real estate.

Holden v Holden, 31 VA. App 24; 520 S.E. 2d 842, 1999 involved the same issue. The husband sold comic books for $17,000 to raise the down payment on real estate acquired during the marriage. He deposited the money into a joint account. The Court held that the $17,000 was his separate money. “Separate property does not become untraceable merely because it is mixed with marital property in the same asset. As long as the respective marital and separate contribution to the new asset can be identified, the court can compute the ratio and trace both interests. The Husband is not required to segregate the $17,000 from all other marital funds in order to claim a separate interest. (Citing Rahbaran, 26 Va. App. At 207, 494 S.E. 2d at 141). See Whitehead v Whitehead, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 381, 2001, holding that the husband’s withdrawals from the parties’ joint account should have been viewed as his reclamation of separate property, to the extent of his contribution, rather than withdrawal of marital funds. The Husband had $9,100.00 in separate funds in the account. The Court held that to the extent the withdrawals equaled $9,100.00, they should have been viewed by the court as his reclamation of his separate property.

Property

If tracing separate property is an issue in a case, records proving the separate ownership are very important. Records include bank accounts, HUDs, deeds, mortgage and payments. Property acquired during the marriage or jointly titled is presumed to be marital without proof of a separate investment or ownership. Of course, the easiest way to resolve this issue is a prenuptial agreement.

Should Australians Still Invest Properties in the United States?

For several years now, people have been trying to call me to ask if it is still a good idea to invest in property in the United States? I have been buying properties in the United States for more than 20 years already.

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Buying a real estate in the United States started in the late 80s, when I got myself involved in the loan debacle and savings. This was when the banking system in the southern states was failing and we even had to make transactions of the property buying and selling without any banking system, since there were virtually no banks around.

Now it’s as if there are bank crisis every 20 years in America. Prices significantly dropped, sometimes 95 cents on the dollar, when I was buying properties. We can even buy properties 5 cents on the dollar! There were even home units that we could buy for as low as $600 and a couple of thousand dollars per house.

The fact that the Americans are currently going through a major bank crisis, a lot of Australians are apprehensive to take advantage of the US market. Perhaps you don’t have to worry about this issue if you are not going to live in the United States.

In the late 80s, I did spend a lot of time with some Australians who were trying to save what’s left from their capital, the capital that they have invested in the U.S. And after 20 years, I’m doing it again – helping Australians who lost a lot of money, to get out of the United States and will still be able to keep the remaining capital that they have invested.

The American and Australian Culture Differences

Why do you think this happened? Why do some Australians invest in the United States and end up being disappointed? Even if we read about 15% returns – 25% returns. I will examine that fact for you in a little while. But before that, I’d like to go back to analyzing the differences between the way Australians do business from the way the Americans do business. Most of this is outlined in the book, written in the 1970’s called, “American and Australian Cultural Differences”.

In the book that Donald Trump wrote, “The Art of the Deal”, he simply mentioned there is no such thing as a win-win in business. It has always been ‘I win and you lose’. Here’s the first major difference, in Australia, people come first, then the money comes second. While in the United States, it is the other way around, big business and the big bucks comes first before the people. This doesn’t mean that Americans are bad and we are good, we simply have a different culture. Also, our governing laws lean that way.

Our Australian culture and mentality is reflected in our legal system, a system that is shared with both legal and equitable law. Once a judge sees a contract that he doesn’t like, he can overturn the contract since under the equitable law, which means fair play law. Unfortunately, this is not how it works in the American playing field. The real deal is always on the piece of paper.

On the lighter side of playing in the US market is, we both can sit down and talk work out a contract. I can even trade a portion of a property in the US for only $7. As long as we both sign a one page General Warranty Deed or Warranty Deed, that property is bought for $7. And it costs that much because that is what cost me to record this at the local court house and make the purchase. That is the deal whether we had a creative lease option or an installment contract. Unfortunately, if you get into some bad terms, you have no government body to come in and looks after you. The deal is, the dollar comes first.

So, if ever you are in a country where the real estate has an “I win and you lose” kind of rule, be careful. They do have different set of rules.

Here are some interesting stories of what actually happened over the years. Perhaps by the end of this article, some people can instill in their heads that the US may not be the best place to invest, unless, you already live there.

US Property Management
A lot of Australians assume that the US Property Management is handled the same way as it is in Australia. Here, when you buy or sell a piece of real estate, it is managed by the real estate agent. In the US, the people who sold the property to you have nothing to do with the management. Here, it is difficult to find someone who shares the same moral code as in Australia. And if ever you find one, it is expensive, and it can drain you financially.

Here’s an example. Strangely, the American management companies can never bring your money to you in Australia. They seem to have a poor mail service since they lose a lot of cheques. What they do know is, your cheque sinks because Australia could be Atlantis. Bottom line is, it is about taking your money and not let you make a profit.

If you choose to go for a good management company, a light bulb may only cost 25 cents, but if you get it installed, it may cost you $88. This is because good management company in the US, only use licensed people, and licensed people are expensive. Since everybody is afraid of being sued in the US, the property manager doesn’t use anybody who doesn’t have a license, whether it is a plumbing license, or electrical license.

Although a light bulb in the US may last for 15 months, and it is indeed cheap to buy. However, since I have been an absent landlord, I have been charged several $88 to have my light bulb put in the house. And sadly, no Americans can change their own light bulbs.

In Australia, we do a lot of stuff using our hands. Americans have been used to being gifted to for so long that they do nothing. When I rent my properties

I noticed that my rented property in the US becomes un-rentable when:
• the carpet is more than 2 years old, and
• your property has been painted less than a year ago.

In Australia, even if my place has a 10, 20 or even 30 year old carpet, I can still have it rented, even if it hasn’t been painted in the last 5 years. This is the reason why vacancy in the US is much higher than in Australia.

How does this affect the management? We now know that a rented unit, apartment or a house in the US can’t be rented out unless it is in perfect condition, practically a new condition. This fact costs money. My apartment buildings in Dallas, Texas used to be vacant. I also had a building very close to SMU campus and the students had to move out at midnight. So, I had a crew go in to re-carpet and repaint. The next morning, I had new people coming in, at around 10 a.m. This is clearly an expense that you have, as a landlord.

You also have management companies who make sure that they take money out of your pocket. Being constantly charged for various systems like, hot water, heating, and air conditioning which was never in your property.

The Systems That Drains Your Pocket
How about air conditioning? Most (if not all) of the properties in the US have air-conditioning. And air-conditioning is simply expensive. It would be great if the US tenants clean the filters. Unfortunately, they don’t. If that happens, your air conditioning systems get burn out. It would take another $300-$400 to have your air conditioning coils cleaned and have new compressors put in. This obviously drives you nuts!
Another situation is the ice maker. American houses have an ice maker and every time you replace it, it costs $130 plus another $150 for the service call. That’s almost $300. Ice makers will last for 24 months.

If you have 2 to 3 tenants who constantly change the temperature of the air conditioned properties, this can fry your air conditioning unit. You adjust the air conditioning system since you have tenants and unfortunately, they don’t respect your equipment. You will end up spending a fortune just for your air conditioning and heating systems. What may be standard in the US is not the standard in Australia.

The management normally gets 10% of the gross income. A lot of American management companies get their kickbacks from the service tradesmen who are constantly sent out to the properties. Obviously, the landlord is not the priority of the US property management company, the tenants are. Whatever these tenants want, they get. No matter how careless these tenants are when using your equipments, no matter how constantly they burn up your cash flow or profits. These are just some of the things that never happens in Australia. Here in Australia, we serve people to live in is bottom of the range, Americans can’t be served this way.

Most Americans don’t pay their rent. Those tenants who do pay rents in the US have a lower percentage compared to the Australians who do pay their rent. They even have a book that’s called “500 Ways to Rip Off Your Landlord and Never Pay Rent”. This book costs $19.95. You are simply in the area of big business, I make money and you don’t. A lot of these Americans don’t pay their rent. That’s how the business is – Americans do not pay their rent!

A lot of Australians ran into these US properties with cash intending to refinance later and only to get their cash returned by creating more debt. The properties were cheap when bought because you can’t get financed. You will need to put all your cash in there and eventually bring out your cash out.

If ever the management has left you any money, they will get it back from you by charging you all sorts of jobs that were never even done, like a house that has never been painted. That’s how landlords are eaten alive.

Also, here’s something worth knowing, the American roof only lasts for 12 years. Ever wonder why the suburbs blow over in the storm? That’s because American houses do not have any steel nor cement in them, which are important. American houses are made of wood and bricks on the outside. The bricks aren’t even thick enough to hold up the house. They are only slate style brick which is an inch wide. Unlike Australian household brick, around 3-4 inches wide. This can actually hold up the house.

For the American houses, the wood behind the brick face holds up the house. So the brick is just a fascia plate. What happens when a big hurricane comes? It wipes out the entire suburbs of this American house, simply because there are no bricks and no cement.

What about the bathrooms? Here’s a revelation. They do not have any water nor sink hole for the water to go all the way down. The American bathroom floors are just made of plywood, standard of five ply. I change the bathroom floors every 4 years since it only costs $ 300 – $400…if you do it yourself. Yes, it is necessary to change the bathroom floors every four years, in case you didn’t know. As mentioned earlier, the American bathrooms do not have any drainage hole. So the water sits on the floor which is often carpeted. Eventually, it rots, that’s why it is a must to change your bathroom floors every four years.

Another thing you should know is that American sewer pipes are 2 inches, not 4 inches. Expect to be fixing blocked toilets every so often. In order to have it fixed, you would need to call the Rotor Router guy and pay $90. It is the standard way of fixing blocked toilets.

Your tenants will be blacks, whites or Hispanics. A lot of Australians do not realize that when they buy a cheap property, they do not understand where they are buying these properties. What kind of neighborhood it has and such. The Hispanics are great. They actually pay their rent even before they feed their children. But did you know that there is this expression called, ‘they’re hard on the machinery’, the Hispanics are really hard on a property. Perfect example is, they use lard when cooking. Lard is fat. They pour this lard down your sink, which causes the sink to get clogged. Which means, that you will need to call a Rotor Router guy every three to four months. Or perhaps, your managing agent will be the one to do this work for you. Making you spend more because they had to unplug all your pipes.

I knew this one gentlemen who lived in the Sydney suburb of Roseville. He bought 52 cheap units. What he didn’t understand was that it was 52 units of Hispanic residents. This man ended up financially crippled because of the operating expenses of the Hispanics.

The Hispanics, like to sit in the back of their pick up trucks and shoot their guns on a Friday or Saturday night, which is fine. They like to drink a lot, and in many of the States, there is no drunk driving laws. So I would often dig a pick up truck out of my swimming pool full of these drunk Hispanics who drove their pick up through my fence and straight into the swimming pool. What makes it harder is, majority of these Hispanics don’t speak English at all. And it is expensive to get tow trucks at 3 in the morning.

The sad thing is, when Australians buy a property in America, they think that it has the same system and set of standards as it is in Australia. You have to remember that America is a totally different market. They think, do and act things differently. The carpets do not last long, the paint does not last long either.
Although it is cheap to paint and you only need to spray the paint using spray gun. Nobody uses brush anymore because spray gun is a lot easier to use and you need to repaint after 2 years.

Currently, I am assisting a lady who has a property in New York. Her agent put the property for $1.3 million on the market. Even to this day, I do not think that her property is worth anywhere more than $900,000 in the present market condition of the US. This agent has produced a back pocket buyer who don’t really exist. He would actually report someone trying to buy the property, and then not buying the property. There would be reports that this house does not have tenants when in fact there has been tenants in there for 9 months already. The agent collects the money and puts it in their back pockets telling the owner, “I’m sorry, we can’t get any tenants”.

When you do find out that you actually have tenants in your properties, your management people will keep telling you there isn’t and they’ll just draw off the money and you’ll keep paying the cost.

The main idea here, intentionally or unintentionally, is to make you financially bleed. Until such time that you decide to sell the property back. Surprisingly the management company has a back seat buyer who will take pennies on the dollar. I have witnessed this incident so many times.

What about your lawns? What happens if they don’t get mowed? Your the management company does not take care of this. They do not organize anybody to mow lawns since the city is going to come in and mow the lawns for you. Simply because they have city codes and ordinances that you need to make your house look clean and tidy. If you do not make your house look clean, the city will come in and make it look clean and tidy, then you get charged for $400 for having them do that for you.

You are not allowed to park your car on the street, that’s the rule for most parts of America, because if you do, you will be charged any towing costs. And you now have a lien to the city. If you are in Australia, you may not find out about this because the notice is probably sent to your American mailbox or even to your American property manager, which is the usual case. Your American property manager does not pay it. He goes out of business or simply destroys it. Since you don’t know what’s going on, the city sells your property from under you. The city wants its money back for its $400 lien, and will take your property to foreclosure and even sell you out.

This is what you hear or watch on late night television, the city tax lien sales. This is where the city owed money on properties. Next thing you know, they will just sell your property up and you will just find out that they either sold your property or they have condemned it.

Your property has a burst pipe flooding problem which is why the city will condemn it. We had the same issue in Dallas, Texas. That is a hot State and it simply means that you will have to constantly run those taps. So during the winter, if I don’t get all my piping blown out, there’s a huge risk that my pipes will burst during the winter months. Then I have major flood damage. Another term used for having the pipes blown out is winterizing. This leaves me two options, to have it winterized and cost me, or make sure that my taps are dripping and make sure that the house is above 68 degrees- which will also cost me on air conditioning and heating system running 24/7.

Oftentimes, you get it wrong. Your pipes will burst while you are not around to fix and sort things out. So the city comes by, and condemns your property. They will condemn it by putting a huge tape across the front door. Worse is, the homeless people will move in and will destroy whatever’s left of it. They can even sue the city if they hurt themselves in a city condemned property which may lead to having to remove your house from the lot. They will leave you with what is called a PAD. This has happened a lot in the United States in the early 90’s. You will have nothing there but a cement pad. If you look at the bright side, the cement pad is clean and smooth for you to rebuild another house.

These are just some of the things we don’t do in Australia. Many Australians get lost and confused by this. They sell their properties for $19,000 without understanding that they have black tenants who sometimes do guns and drugs and don’t pay the rent. So, if I was an American and I wanted to sell you some properties in Australia, I will put phantom tenants in the properties, create a bunch of leases that will show how much they’re supposed to pay and for 2 or 3 months. I will also make sure that the money goes through the books to encourage some Aussie sucker to buy properties.

Aussies come in and their tenants don’t pay rent. All of these guys carry guns, unless you want to start learning how to use a.44 hand gun in order to collect rent, then you’ve to start getting these guys, who are doing drugs, out of your house. American properties can be bought for as low as $8,000 simply because nobody goes there. This neighborhood is the gang areas, the drug houses and the house of prostitutes. Australians are not used to this. There are a number of gun carrying States in America. People either strung out on drugs or get shot and these are the cheap properties that Aussies start buying.

The issue here is not because the Aussies are buying cheap properties. The point is, they do not understand why it is cheap. They need to know that the Americans won’t touch it for many reasons.
Most of the US mortgage companies do not lend money less than $50,000 and because of this, you cannot get your cash out. So even if there’s a buyer for your $40,000 or $45,000 property, an American cannot get this because of the loan size. Although it used to be $35,000, now they’ve increased it to $50,000-which is the minimum loan size.

If that’s the case, most of these Hispanics, blacks and the people who live in this neighborhood cannot buy it since they do not have the 50 grand to spend for this property. They cannot borrow it because the loans don’t exist. Only thing left for them to do is to cash out.

home

The investor will cash out the money, not the black person, nor the Hispanic person. This investor will take you out at $20,000 initially. Then he will walk in and string you out. He will do this because he’s the only one with the cash and you will find out that you are going to get about $20,000.

Whenever people talk about these gross yields in America, what they say is, this property is gross yielding 26%. But it is important to remember that is before an amount of your money is taken out from repairs, maintenance, vacancy and other unforeseen expenses. My property, where I used to live, is 17.4 % of every dollar in up keep. It is indeed cheap to get parts for US houses. If you are in the US doing everything yourself, it would have been great. But if you actually live abroad, and you have properties in the US, that’s when it’s a killer. What will drain you financially is the cost labor of having someone to do the job while you are not around.

Another burden foreign landlords need to keep in mind is the airfares, of flying back and forth to the US, not to mention the overseas phone calls and the time difference, when you have to get up at 5:00 am in Australia just to speak to somebody in the management office. Unfortunately, you don’t get to speak to anyone, because everybody has voice mail. The fact that you cannot speak to a live person drives you nuts. You will also notice that your cheques won’t arrive. That American banks won’t wire money to Australian banks unless you have filled out different legal documents.

You have a whole bunch of extra paperwork from the new Patriots Act that Bush brought in. This whole stack of paperwork will stress you out to the point that you would simply want to pull your money out of the US back to Australia.

Up to now, I do not know any Australian who made a profit from buying and holding a property in the US. But people still call me, people who bought properties in the US looking forward to getting a big profit. Fact is, that day may or may never come.

Here is another story for you. I bought a 22 home units property from the US government and I owned it for 2 years. Well, it took me 2 years to fix things in order to buy it from the government. My cash flow should have been $11,000 after all my expenses. I have hanged on for 2 years and I never got a check above $1,500. Like their system, it goes, and disappears.

You need to understand their structures, the LLCs, S Corps, companies, everything. You will need to do all these tax treaties and corporations with the US government. An average Aussie accountant will not be able to do your taxes any more. You’ll end up going to Coopers and Lybrand, the biggest companies in Australia to do your taxations, and because they understand the structure in the US. The LLCs, S Corps, C Corps, all these things that you have set up in the US.

For Starters, these guys will charge $300 per hour. Here, you will discover that your tax bill will come from $1,000 up to $15,000 a year just to acquire an Australian and US tax return done. That would surely kill you. This is what you call, the on cost of doing business.

However, if you do live in the United States, you will absolutely profit from it. You will earn a lot from buying and trading properties in the US, simply because Americans forget about equity. For them, real estate is not an investment vehicle but a consumer item, that as soon as they are finished with it, they can leave and move on. If you are in the US, you’ll witness this yourself. The Americans will know that Aussies have not left for Atlantis to live there, they will realize that you can show up the next day with a double barrel shotgun, demanding to get back your money, so you can make profits – BUT, that is only if you are physically there.

We can take advantage of a lot of situations when we are there in the US. I made a lot of money when I was buying, selling, trading properties. But we have to understand how real estate trading works in the US.
My objective of writing about this today is to recognize two essential things. We may speak the same language as the American, but our philosophy about business is totally different-which is, ‘they win and I lose’. Majority of Australians who invested in properties in the US do not go through this without legal battles.

In the US, people sue each other. This isn’t about just winning, it’s about making the other guy bleed and dry. Whoever gives up first will comply to what the opposite party wants. This is the painful reality of real estate business in the US. I’ve seen a lot of Australians go into that industry in the US market, and will eventually come back broke, drained and stressed. They do not get anything near their returns at all. And yes, your cheques will mysteriously get lost in the mail.

My ultimate message is, spare yourself from this painful experience. If you want to earn money, you can earn it here, in your own backyard, without having to buy any airline ticket, dealing with US corporations, learning and understanding a different country’s system and way of doing business-the hard way. Yes, we do speak the same language as them, but they do not do business the way we do. It may sound appealing and sexy to say that I’m off to see my house in Florida, but there are more negatives than positives in this experience. Find the same opportunities here in Australia.

Industrial Property Buying Tips and Tools

Industrial property is the entry point for many property investors to the commercial property industry. As a property type, industrial property is relatively straightforward with little complexity. The property owner just needs to target and strategise the following issues when looking for a property to buy:

Property

  • Stable tenants
  • Achievable rentals
  • Good property location
  • Industrial property precinct
  • Growth of the local community and business sector
  • Vibrant industrial community supplying services, products, and raw materials
  • Access to transport links, ports, airports, and railheads

So now let’s look at the industrial property needed today by tenants.

What do Industrial Tenants Need?

Traditional warehouses will include quality height, size, loading and unloading facilities, quality office space to support industrial operations, ample car parking for staff and customers, hardstand areas for operational flexibility, and high levels of security to protect the tenant’s goods and their operation.

Industrial tenants today are far more sophisticated and demanding when it comes to selecting a property to lease or buy. The investor should therefore select a property that has all the elements of property usage that tenants expect in the local market. Tenants know that the property will impact operational costs and eventually the bottom line of their business. Tenants will choose their property well as a consequence.

Taking the First Step to Investment in Industrial Property

Industrial warehouses are simple to construct and have a long economic life hence the investor sees it as an entry-level investment vehicle and popular. Providing they select a sound and strong tenant, and apply a good lease, the stable future of the property for investors is normally achievable.

There is very little management required on industrial property, and as direct result many private investors will manage industrial property themselves. Unfortunately this does have negative connotations, in that the first time investor sometimes has little awareness of the specialist terms and operational conditions that is supported by lease documentation on their property.

These first time investors can then overlook critical matters and make mistakes. To the experienced commercial property specialist and commercial real estate agent, it is easy to see these ‘first time’ landlord managed properties as you drive through a town or city. The errors of ownership are visually obvious. These errors can even reflect in the ultimate levels of rent and price on the property.

Invariably and importantly this self management problem will surface at final sale or rent review time when the investor has overlooked something or transacted it incorrectly. The buyers of property today will conduct a due diligence period and investigation of any property prior to settlement.

Those property owners that manage their own investments should only do so only when and if they completely understand the complexity of the task at hand. If the investors have only a basic understanding of property performance and function, then they should not self manage the property. The matter is plain and simple.

Critical property knowledge will involve key functional elements such as:

  • Types of rental
  • The lease clauses and provisions
  • Property maintenance strategies
  • Property operational costs
  • Contractor management
  • Vacancy resolution and strategy
  • Incentive use and strategy
  • Tenant negotiation skills

A good property solicitor is invaluable when it comes to Investment Property. The same should be said for a property experienced accountant. Even the most basic industrial property needs carefully prepared lease documentation and financial guidance. It is interesting to note that many first time property investors will sometimes choose cheaper lease documentation that is ‘generic’ and available off the shelf. Cheap is not a good option when it comes to documentation in investment property. You get what you pay for and so why would you take this risk?

Given that you are endeavouring to protect and stabilize cash flow, a few dollars saved on lease documentation preparation at the start of any occupancy can eventually lead to property instability or downfall, loss of tenant, higher property operational costs, and uncertainty when it comes to exercising the critical terms and conditions of the document of lease.

A good property solicitor will understand the occupancy needs of the particular property and reflect that into the document used by the landlord to protect occupancy and cash flow. The same solicitor can create a standard lease document and strategy that targets the landlord’s cash flow plans and investment targets. You will not get this advantage from ‘generic’ leases.

Industrial Properties Outgoings Advantage

Many Investors seek to purchase and to lease industrial property to major industrial businesses under long term net leases. In long term net leases, these larger tenants would normally control and pay the property outgoings direct.

The property outgoings in an industrial property are normally simple although there is an essential checking process needed here to see that the tenant is correctly paying the outgoings in a timely fashion. In many circumstances and in this market, we have seen some tenants avoid the payment of outgoings without the full awareness of the landlord. This then creates unnecessary fines and legal disputes for outstanding outgoings accounts. The landlord must not assume that the tenant has discharged or paid the outgoings; the landlord can later find that the matter is still outstanding and about to go to court for non-payment. Rates and taxes (statutory charges) are usually a charge on the land and will ultimately fall on the landlord for payment.

So whilst this process of tenant paying outgoings direct is convenient and simple for the landlord, such leases have little substantial increase in rental return which may not necessarily support the investor’s growth plans. Investors of this ‘basic’ nature typically hold a number of properties of this type over the long term to allow them to achieve portfolio growth.

With industrial property it pays to recognise that the property may be uniquely and specially suited to a particular tenant. This means that the vacancy threat in industrial property must be carefully monitored as any lease reaches the end of term. It is not unusual for industrial property to remain vacant for a lengthy period in the current market.

Mortgage Lenders and Industrial Property

find Property

Mortgage lenders for fully leased warehouses occupied on the long leases see them as being good collateral for loans. Long-term financing is typically available for industrial investors at competitive interest rates. The investors of industrial probably find it easy to refinance an expanding portfolio on the back of their established industrial and well leased property.

The secret to success in industrial property investment is to have:

  • Good leases
  • Good tenants
  • Good vacancy awareness and minimisation strategies
  • Sound recovery of property operational costs
  • Good maintenance controls
  • Good insurance strategies
  • Minimal exposure to risk from the property
  • Well established permitted use and compliances
  • Good income and expenditure budgets

Industrial property is the market segment that is normally suffering early in an economic downturn. That is due to the close integration between the industrial business community and the consumer. Fortunately, it is the industrial property market that responds quickly when the economy moves towards growth and stability. Landlords should respect this fact and monitor their way through the downtimes as they will always come and go.