Selling a Property Quickly With Commercial Property Agents

Selling commercial property is completely different to selling residential buildings. It’s important that you hire skilled commercial property agents to market and assist with the sale of your building. There are certain things that you can do to assist the agent.

Should I sell it Myself?

Some people will try to sell commercial properties personally without having to involve an agent. This seems like a brilliant idea because they will save money in commission fees. However, this may also mean that you won’t be able to sell the property for as much money as you will with an agent.

Selling a property yourself might appear to be a very good way of saving some money. The trouble is that it will actually take you much longer to sell. You will need to carefully advertise, promote and show people around the building. All of this is time consuming and can be difficult.

Selling Quicker with an Agent

If you find commercial property agents then you should be able to sell your property quicker. A commercial agent will also have a very good understanding of the market and how much your building is worth. This will mean that you can get the most money for your commercial unit.

The speed at which your property sells will depend on its condition. If the industrial unit is in poor cosmetic condition then it might be affecting your ability to sell it. Consider spending a few hundred dollars painting and renovating quickly. This will make it much simpler to sell.

Finding Commercial Agents

Residential real estate agents aren’t really suitable to sell commercial properties. You should find a specialist commercial estate agent as they will offer you a much better service. They will also have many more business contacts who might be interested in purchasing the property.

Finding commercial property agents is very simple. You can look on the internet, or browse through newspapers. When comparing the different agents available, you must ensure they will sell your property as quickly as possible. Take a look at their website to gauge how professional they are.

Most commercial properties are sold using websites these days. This only works well if the websites are professional and easy to use.

Cost

When you are choosing commercial property agents, it is very easy to only consider the cost. You might want to choose the cheapest agent available as this will save you money. However, the problem with choosing the cheapest is that it isn’t always the right move.

You need to find the best value commercial property agents for you and your property. Choosing a national agent will suit most business properties as then they can be sold to anyone out of the area.

By choosing the right industrial property agent, you will be able to sell your building as quickly as possible, at a price that pleases you. What’s more, the commission you have to pay won’t even be that high thanks to the higher selling price you will normally achieve.

How to Quickly Determine the Value of Commercial Property for Sale

The value of a commercial property for sale is determined by using some simple formulas that are based upon the amount of net operating income that the property produces each year. So when you are looking at a commercial property for sale, one of the first things that you’ll want to ask the broker for is the profit and loss statement.

Some brokers who have listed a commercial property for sale may refer to this profit and loss statement as an IPOD, or income property operating data sheet. Once you get the IPOD, or profit and loss statement, you can then compare the information provided by the broker or seller to your other sources to help determine what the real numbers are. The challenge when looking at any commercial property for sale is that the broker and/or owner will often tend to exaggerate the amount of income that the commercial property for sale produces while also trying to minimize the amount of operating expenses that are reported.

How to Determine the Value of a Property for Sale

The reason for this is simple. The value of any commercial real estate is based on the amount of net operating income the property creates each year. In fact, each additional dollar of annual income increases the value of the property by roughly ten dollars, depending on where the property is located, and how old it is. Note that this extra net income can come from either getting additional revenue in rents, or from reducing expenses by managing the property more efficiently.

Once you understand that owners of commercial real estate will tend to present unrealistic numbers in an attempt to get a higher price for their property you’ll understand better why it’s necessary when looking at any commercial property for sale to get to know the market you are investing in. When you know what the rental rates in an area tend to be or what the typical expense ratios are for a twenty-five year old apartment building then it’s much harder for the broker or owner of a commercial property for sale to attempt to pull the wool over your eyes.

Verifying the Income and Expenses

The first step in verifying the income of a commercial property for sale is to ask for the rent roll. The rent roll is a list of what each apartment, self storage unit, mobile home lot, or office space rents for. Make sure that you get the actual rent roll because the owner or broker of a commercial property for sale may try to give you a Pro-forma rent roll instead of the actual rent roll. Pro-forma means that there is an expectation, realistic or not, of getting higher rents than the property is currently getting. My response to this has always been, “If you raise the rents up to match the pro-forma, then we’ll use the higher income amounts, otherwise we’re going to base our valuation on what the property is currently producing in income.

When looking at the expenses from a commercial property for sale, remember that you’re trying to come up with the actual amount that it will cost you to operate the property rather than what the seller’s expenses have been. So while it’s helpful to know exactly what the seller’s costs have been, I’ve learned NOT to rely on the information provided by the seller when looking at a commercial property for sale because this information is almost always inaccurate.

A Simple Formula to Use for Expenses

The expenses will vary depending on the type and age of the commercial property for sale. For example, if you are looking at buying a Class C apartment building which is at least twenty-five years old, then the expenses will run between 45 to 50 percent of the collected income each month. The collected income, known as the Effective Gross Income, is what’s left after the cost of vacancies are subtracted from the total amount of rents on the rent roll from the commercial property for sale.

The final step in determining the value of a commercial property for sale is to divide the net operating income by the capitalization rate, which varies from about 6 to 12 percent depending on the type of property, the age, and the location of the commercial property for sale. The fastest way to get an idea of what capitalization rate you should be using when looking at a commercial property for sale is to ask another broker who is not involved in the transaction.

Using Escape Clauses to Limit Your Risk

Another way of protecting yourself when looking at any property for sale is to make sure that your purchase contract allows you a period of time to get out of the deal if you are not comfortable with anything that you find. Done properly, you can often tie up a property for 60 to 90 days so that you have time to accurately determine the real value. This makes it easier to look at commercial real estate, because you can get out if you have the right escape clauses.

Understanding Commercial Property Investments

Do you ever feel that you should be looking more at investments in commercial property in the saturated residential property market? If this is in your mind, you are joining the new wave of investors who wants to diversify their investment portfolio with the unstable economy.

How big exactly is the commercial property market? Generally speaking, commercial property investment is not as straightforward as residential market. In Malaysia, it is almost sure that any piece of residential property will be lapped up the moment it is launched, and everyone at some point of their life will be looking for a house of their own. Some may buy a piece of residential property and rent it out instead. For commercial properties, there are a lot of other considerations.

1. Location

Location is a very important factor when it comes to investment in commercial properties. It may be true that a lot of people are looking into creating their own business, and it will not be too hard to find someone to rent your property start their business, but if the location is not right, the chances for renting out is slim.

When you wish to invest in a commercial property, look around to see whether there are other residential properties which will support the business. You may want to take a good look at the whole development project, and check residential population surrounding the commercial lot that you are aiming for.

Also, do check if the area is a flooding area, or are there any other disadvantages. Parking space is a very important factor of consideration for any business to thrive in this modern world, and you ought to make sure that there are parking spaces near the property you wish to invest in.

2. Features

Sometimes, the success of commercial properties also comes with the features included in the project itself. For example, some properties may be managed by the developer, with facilities such as wi-fi zone, making the commercial blocks into event venues or even being selective about the types of business and brand name to qualify as tenants. Some commercial properties with such strict criteria about tenants include BM Utama in the mainland Bukit Mertajam, and Straits Quay in Penang island.

Both are project examples of two contrasting backdrop. Straits Quay is a high-end sea facing project by E&O, with very high traffic coming from its branded tenants and expensive condominiums and landed property support. Meanwhile, BM Utama is a 7-unit exclusive commercial lot owned by BM Utama’s property developer, DNP Land, and is meant to become part of the lifestyle support for the almost sold-out BM Utama. The 7 units are called The Gallery, which is available for leasing only, to ensure the quality of retailers.

3. Price

Although people are talking about market price, as an investor, you should take into consideration the price and the size of the property. It is important to note that your property lease are usually based on long term contracts, and for some cases may span for 10 years instead of the normal renewable 1 or 2 years for residential properties. Also, you need to remember that returns from residential property comes from the capital value increase, but for commercial properties, it comes from income. Although commercial properties generally will cost more than residential properties, you will still need to sieve through to see if the investment can really bring you back a good return. Is the rental price of that property able to cover the loan that you took for the purchase?

If you are buying the property for the sake of making it into a hub for your own business, then it is up to you to ensure that the business that you are going to do will bring in enough sales and income to cover for the loan repayment of the property.

Commercial property leases provides an average contracted income stream of about 7 years.

4. Ownership

When you buy any property, you need to be very clear about the type of ownership that you have. Is it a freehold or a leasehold property?

Although leasehold properties are usually released with a certain amount of payment when the expiration term arrives, there may also be conditions where the land is taken back for new development. When the lease-land period is almost reached, property prices will drop significantly.

You also will want to check on the previous ownership of the property. Most properties may have more than one owner sharing the ownership of the property, so you should get a background check about this with a trusted lawyer, also to find out if there are any underlying problems to why the property is up for sale. Make sure the property sale gets consent from all legal owners.

A Quick Commercial Property Investment Guide

As the residential investment property market becomes fierce, many investors are starting to recognise commercial property as a viable investment option. So, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and consider diversifying your investment portfolio by investing in commercial property.

What is Commercial Property?

The term commercial property (also referred to as commercial real estate, investment or income property) refers to building or land intended to generate a profit, either from capital gain or rental income.

What Type of Property is included in Commercial Real Estate?

Commercial real estate is classified as property assets that are primarily used for business purposes. Commercial real estate is commonly divided into the following categories:

1. Office buildings

2. Industrial property

3. Retail/Restaurant

4. Multifamily housing buildings and

5. Farm/Rural land.

In addition to the above, commercial real estate can include any other non-residential properties, such as:

>> Medical centres

>> Hotels

>> Warehouses

>> Malls and

>> Self-storage developments.

What are the differences between Commercial Property and Residential Property Investments?

When you invest in commercial real estate, you still expect to rent out your property and receive rental income from a tenant as you do when you purchase a residential property investment. However, the major difference between investing in commercial real estate compared to residential property is the Rental Agreement. With commercial real estate, the property is usually leased to a business under a detailed contract for a much longer period (e.g. three, five or ten years).

There are some other important differences such as:

>> The Tenant is usually called a Lessee;

>> Vacancies between tenancies can be longer;

>> Goods and Services Tax applies to commercial real estate (i.e. to the purchase price, rent received and any expenses in relation to the property); and

>> Maintenance costs are usually paid for by the Lessee, which means net rental income tends to be higher.

What is an Annual Return on Investment?

The “annual return on investment” is the amount earned on the investment property. The amount earned, is expressed as a percentage, and it is called the property’s “yield”.

So, if you are considering investing in commercial real estate. You should always ask yourself the following questions:

1. What return on investment will you get?

2. What is the property’s yield?

How is the Yield calculated?

Yield calculations are worked out by dividing the annual rental income on the property by how much the property costs to buy. For example:

Gross Yield = annual rental income (weekly rental income x 52) / property value x 100

This is best illustrated by using the following example:

>> Assuming you buy a property for $950,000; and

>> Rent the property out for $2,000 per week ($104,000 annually).

Your Gross Yield will be 10.9%. It will be calculated in the following way:

($104,000/ $950,000) x 100

If you want to invest in a commercial property, you need to keep in mind all the information mentioned here. You can seek help and guidance from a professionally qualified and expert finance broker, who specialises in obtaining the right funding for your investments.

Truly, having an independent and expert finance broker on your behalf can secure your eligibility for a commercial property loan, not to mention get you the best loan deal that suits your individual needs and objectives.

Things You Should Be Aware of in Commercial Property Purchases

With the host of cooling measures rolled out in the residential market by the Singapore’s government to avert a property price bubble, investors are gleaning more investment potential in commercial properties. This segment of properties is exempted from Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) and restrictions on foreigners’ ownership – all of which affect the residential market.

In Singapore, there are two ways to buy a commercial property:

As an individual or;
As a corporation [via private limited or limited liability partnership (LLP)]

The subsequent sections proceed to highlight key points a budding investor in the commercial property landscape should take note of.

No utilisation of Central Provident Fund (CPF)

If you are making the purchase as an individual, do bear in mind that you cannot dip into the savings in your Ordinary Account of the Central Provident Fund to settle the downpayment or monthly loan instalment for the commercial property.

This means the downpayment has to be wholly funded by cash.

For the loan repayment, you will have to be prepared to incur cash outlay if the rental yields are inadequate (assuming that you are planning to lease out the property).

Property tax

Same as for a second residential property, or an only residential property that is wholly rented out or left vacant, the tax is a flat 10% of the annual value of the property.

But if you fail to lease out the commercial space, you may apply for a vacancy refund of the property tax. This vacancy refund also applies to a residential property.

Goods and services tax (GST)

Unlike for residential properties, the buying of commercial spaces from a GST-registered company is subjected to a 7% GST. An individual making the purchase will have to bear the GST himself.

However, if you are a GST-registered company – all companies with a turnover exceeding S$1million have to register for GST – you can make claims for the GST incurred on your purchases. Thus shrewd individual investors may set up companies expressly for a financial transaction, termed as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), to circumvent the GST payment.

For companies with turnovers below S$1million, GST-registration is on a voluntary basis, subjected to certain requirements. Do note that being GST-registered comes with responsibilities. Check out what these are at IRAS.

Notably, the GST cannot be financed by the property loan. Buyers will have to stump up cash for this.

Rental yield and capital gains opportunities

It is estimated by Colliers Internationals that the yearly average gross yield of commercial spaces approximates 5%, compared to 2-3% for residential property. However, this higher gains can be offset by the steeper maintenance cost and renovation works generally required by tenants. Generally, the maintenance charge for a commercial unit is expected to be higher than for a residential property. Also, more may need to be splurged on basic setup, particularly for shop units leased out for business.

An exception are HDB shops with their lower maintenance fees of S$170 to S$250. But these properties tend to come with more restrictions such as the type of businesses permitted. Applications must also be made for renovation.

Still, small supply and strong demand can drive up the asset value of strata commercial property, making them worthwhile buys.

In land-scarce Singapore, strata-titled shops/offices are in limited quantity because most of the commercial spaces are owned by real estate investment trusts (REITs), and many of these REITs are in turn owned by the Government through proxies. As of 4Q2011, the supply of strata-titled offices in Singapore is estimated to be of 11.05 million sq ft, making up 14.2% of the total office stock (Bright Spot in Singapore Property Market: Strata-titled Office, Colliers International, pg 2). The stock of strata-titled shops also faces a similar small supply.

In addition, the slew of regulations in the residential market has diverted investors’ attention to the commercial sector. Together with today’s low interest rate environment, the two have fuelled demand.

Thus investors can make capital gains through direct sales.

Some investors are also looking toward en-bloc sales to make profit. In April 2012, in collective sales, strata office units at Parkway Centre and Burlington Square sold for $1,043 per sq ft and $1,318 per sq ft, respectively.

Besides capital gains, investors maybe hoping to profit from rental yields. However, official statistics on the occupancy rates for strata-titled shops and offices are not available. This makes reliable estimation of rental demand in the past, present and future difficult. Hence investors should be cautious if they are looking to profit from this avenue.

All in all, with more supplies coming on-board – either from strata or non strata developments – downward pressure on property values and rental is possible. Hence, only selective buys are recommended.

Tenure

Commercial/shop spaces in Singapore usually comes with 30-, 60-, 99-, or 999-year lease. Some may be freehold. For 99-year and shorter leasehold units, buyers should be mindful that financing institutions may quote a lower loan quantum for units running low on their lease.

Loans

Borrowers for commercial properties are allowed to take a loan-to-value ratio (LTV) of up to 80%, even with outstanding residential mortgages. The maximum loan tenor typically stands at 30 years. However, loans for commercial property tend to command a higher interest rate relative to residential property loans. Like the latter, these loans come in:

Fixed Rate Package
Variable (Floating) Rate Package

The requirements for a commercial loan, however, are more stringent. For example, the LTV ratio is contingent on whether the property is for owner-occupation or investment, with the latter subjected to stricter criteria by some banks. The next section explains the approval conditions in greater detail.

Credit worthiness and approval for commercial loans in Singapore

For purchases made under your name only your income, outstanding debts and credit history will be assessed. The maximum LTV ratio for a commercial mortgage is set at 80%, even with existing housing mortgages. But financing institutions will take a holistic approach in deciding whether to grant you a 80% loan.

For purchases made under a private limited or LLP company, the financiers will evaluate if the company has a cash flow record over the past few years that is sufficient to fund this investment. For instance, a company earning a monthly profit of S$15,000 deposits it into the company’s account in a timely manner, the lenders can, thus, lend up to 60 to 80% (typically) of this S$15,000. In other words, you can obtain a loan up to 60 to 80% of the debt servicing ratio (DSR). This is much higher than the DSR for residential property bought by an individual.

Conversely, buying under a private limited or LLP company without adequate cash flow or profit (or if the companies are special purpose vehicles), may result in the banks requiring that the directors guarantee any loans taken by the company under their individual capacity. The directors may also need to be Permanent Residents or Singaporeans. In many cases, these directors will need to furnish documentary proof that most of their incomes are derived from that company. If they earn their income from elsewhere, some banks will not grant the loan even with them as guarantors. While others may.

From time to time, credit officers of the financiers will impose new rules and conduct additional documentation checks. Often, credit officers may ask for more supporting documents if they want to do tighter cross checks.