Real estate niche analysis

real estate niche

If you’re a new agent or investor, focusing on a single real estate niche will help jump start your business. Or maybe you’ve been in the business for a while but feel like your real estate business plan needs a reboot.

Concentrating your efforts on a single real estate niche will help separate the good clients from the bad ones, and help choose the real estate investments that are right for you.

A real estate niche can be an asset class

One way of thinking about real estate niches is to look at the different types of real estate available. Real estate asset classes can be divided into four categories:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Land
  • Special use

There are a lot of different types of real estate that go into each of these four asset classes. To fine-tune your real estate business plan and avoid real estate burnout, you’ll want to break down these big real estate niche asset classes into something smaller.

Small real estate niches make up bigger asset classes

The next steps is to break down the four big asset classes above into sub-classes or smaller real estate niches. Let’s use the commercial real estate asset class avoid as an example.

Some of the types of real estate and activities that fall into the commercial category are:

  • Retail
  • Office
  • Warehouse
  • Industrial
  • Single tenant or NNN
  • Apartment buildings
  • Leasing
  • Buying
  • Selling
  • Property management

You can probably think of more, but you get the idea. Now, let’s take the office real estate niche and break it down a little more.

Office real estate niches

The office real estate niche can be divided up a number of different ways:

  • Size of property – single or two levels, midsize, or high rise office building
  • By class of property – typical office building classes are A+, A, B, and C
  • By how the office building is used – medical, professional services, consumer-related services (such as banking, collections agencies, or telemarketing), and general office use
  • Location of property – central business district, suburban office markets, or mixed-use office/residential

Choosing the real estate niche that’s right for you

The types of tenants and the types of owners for each of these office niches are different.

For example, a Class A office building in a central business district will likely be owned by an institutional investor. The types of tenants in this type of building will be white collar and professional service businesses.

The demands and expectations of these property owners and tenants will be much different from the mom-and-pop bookkeeping firm renting space in a smaller office building in the suburbs.

Successfully choosing the real estate niche that’s right for you means understanding your own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses and selecting the best match that will lead to your real estate success.

How Do Real Estate Leasebacks Work?

real estate leasebacks

Real estate leasebacks can be a great arrangement for both buyers and sellers.  They also work well with both residential and commercial real estate transactions.

What Are Real Estate Leasebacks?

There are three main elements to a real estate leaseback that work with any real estate  niche:

  1. Seller finds a buyer who wants an income property
  2. Buyer buys the property, and the seller remains as a tenant
  3. Buyer gets consistent rental income, seller frees up equity for other uses

How To Structure Real Estate Leasebacks

Real estate leasebacks aren’t seller financing and they aren’t like a lease purchase.  That’s because the real estate has already changed hands.

The buyer needs to do its due diligence on the seller, who is going to become the tenant.  Just because the seller owns real estate doesn’t mean they will have the money to pay the rent after the sale closes.

That’s what’s known in the real estate business as being property rich and cash poor.

Before closing escrow both the buyer/landlord and seller/tenant should have a written lease agreement in place, credit reports and background checks done, with monies from the sale forwarded to the buyer to cover any deposits and upfront rents.

Potential Problems With Real Estate Leasebacks

Real estate leasebacks can be a win-win situation for both the buyer and the seller.  At least for the time when the seller is leasing back.

But what happens when the lease is up and the seller vacates?  Buyers can suddenly find themselves holding a property that is difficult to rent to a new tenant.

Problems can occur with real estate leasebacks when the property is unique or has special deed restrictions placed on the property by the seller.

For example, convenience store operators often do sale-leasebacks as part of their normal business strategy.

But they will also put restrictions on the deed to prohibit the property being used as another convenience store for several years after the lease expires.  The result is that the buyer will be unable to lease to another convenience store and may have difficulty finding another good tenant.

Secrets Of Running A Real Estate Business

running a real estate business

Running a real estate business that’s successful isn’t as easy as it might seem to be at first glance.

Here are a few secrets to running a real estate business.

Have A Real Estate Business Plan

It’s surprising how many businesses – both in and out of the real estate industry – don’t actually have a business plan.  Owners of business start-ups oftentimes take the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ approach and make things up as they go along.

Running a real estate business without a detailed, long-term plan is a recipe for disaster.

Business planning pros always suggest that after putting together the profit-and-loss statement for your real estate business, you should decrease your projected revenues by 50% and double your expenses.

If you’re still cash-flow positive after this exercise, your real estate business is very likely to succeed.

Strong Administrative Support

Most people that think about running a real estate business do so because they’re good at sales.

And in real estate, the more you sell the more money you make for yourself and your new real estate brokerage.  If you’re the rain maker – the person that’s great at attracting new business and closing deals and working with lenders – that’s fantastic.

But running a real estate business also requires strong back office people and administrative support to assist with your time management.  Tasks such as answering the phone and distributing leads, making sure bills get paid on time, and paying agent sales commissions are just a few of the countless items that fall into this category.

Choose Your Real Estate Niche

Businesses they try to be all things to all people end up failing sooner rather than later.

One of the keys to running a real estate business that’s successful is to pick a niche and stick to it.

Examples of real estate business niches include residential or commercial, buying & selling or leasing, property management, and vacation rentals.

Are Traditional Real Estate Companies Bound To Fail?

traditional real estate companies

To answer this question allow us to change gears for a moment and consider what Steve Jobs had to say about Apple Computer back in 1995.

Specifically, he talked about how Apple will eventually fail.

Granted, this thought is near-blasphemy for a countless number of retail stock market investors, mutual funds, and investment gurus.

After all, the price of Apple stock recently hit an all-time high.  Warren Buffett owns nearly $45 billion of the company, and Apple accounted for an incredible 23% of the entire S&P 500’s gains in May.

How in the world could Apple possibly fail?

According to Steve Jobs, companies with a monopoly market share forget about what it means to build a great product.  There’s no difference between a good and a bad product, and no feeling in the hearts of the people who run the company about wanting to help their customers.

Other than perhaps the size of the display screen, what’s the big difference between the last several generations of iPhones . . . except for a rising price?

Eventually companies decline because of the lack of quality products and failure to adapt to the new realities of the marketplace.  Steve Job’s belief that companies must adapt or eventually die is also applicable to the real estate industry today.

Traditional real estate companies

Media as diverse as the Pew Research Center and USA Today claim that the decline in home ownership and the rise of the ‘renter class’ is due to rapidly growing home prices and an inventory shortage.  Would-be homeowners are forced to rent because they can’t find anything to buy.

But perhaps a more likely explanation for more people renting homes than buying is that consumer demand is simply changing.

As more Baby Boomers retire and sell their family homes, they are intentionally choosing to rent, or moving into assisted living or senior housing.

At the same time, the younger generation prefers to rent a home rather than own.  Factors such as the growing gig economy and 1099 employment, the lack of mobility that home ownership brings, and the rapidly growing ways to invest in real estate other than owning a home, all make home ownership much less attractive than it once was.

The traditional real estate industry still operates under a business model of new home construction and a resale market that focuses primarily on home buyers that are owner occupants.

This is in stark contrast to the changing wants and desires of the real estate consumer, and a perfect example of Steve Job’s warning to companies who focus on their own needs rather than wanting to help their customers.

Relationship Between REITs and Rising Interest Rates

reits and rising interest rates

In today’s rising interest rate environment, many real estate investors are wondering what the relationship is between REITs and rising interest rates.

Here are three factors to consider.

Asset Quality of the REIT

Experienced real estate investors understand that not all real estate assets are created equal.  That’s why a time-tested truism is that real estate is all about location, location, location.

But in a hot market with real estate prices rapidly rising year after year, it’s easy to forget about quality and focus solely on quantity.  Sometimes traditional real estate companies do this all too often.

As interest rates continue to rise, REIT managers may have a hard time refinancing if they made the mistake of buying a low-quality asset at too high of a price.

Property Loan Refinancing Timelines

Loans on commercial investment real estate and larger multi-family property are usually made for only a few years at a time.  That’s because lenders know that volatility in the real estate market can appear at any time.

Another reason for short-term real estate loans is that lenders what to ensure that the asset is being maintained and that the real estate property management is top notch.

It’s important for both residential and commercial REIT investors to understand when each individual loan becomes due and what the prospects are for refinancing.

Real Estate Assets of the REIT

Investors concerned about REITS and rising interest rates should also investigate the quality of each individual asset that the REIT owns.  This will help to identify potential problems when the time comes to refinance.

Some items to research include:

  • Uniqueness of property
  • Competitive environment
  • Occupancy and tenant types
  • Asset class – retail, office, industrial, multi-family residential
  • Economic drivers of the market area

REITs and Rising Interest Rate – The Crowdfunding Alternative

Investors who are worried about specific REITs and rising interest rates often find that crowdfunding can be a good alternative to buying a publicly-held REIT.

That’s because crowdfunding organizations such as RealtyMogul and Fundrise raise capital for one specific asset purchase at a time.  This makes it much easier for the individual real estate investors to determine whether the real estate investment makes sense for their portfolio.

 

How To Buy A Multifamily Property

buy a multifamily property

Many real estate investors decide to buy a multifamily property after owning one or two single family rental houses.

While the asset classes are similar, there are some distinct differences between owning single family rentals and buying a multifamily property.

Before You Buy A Multifamily Property

Here are some general things to consider before you buy a multifamily property.

These are general comments.  They will vary depending on what market and what country your real estate investments are:

Exit StrategyBefore you buy, think about selling

When you invest in a single family home as a rental, selling it is easy.

That’s because you have a bigger buyer pool.  You can sell a rental house to another real estate investor, to the tenant, or to an owner-occupier who is buying the house to live in.

Selling a multifamily property is different.  Yes, you could ‘go condo’ by turning each rental unit into a property for sale.  But often times that’s easier said than done.

When the time comes to sell your multifamily real estate investment, your pool of prospective buyers is going to be other income property investors.

Unit TurnsHow quickly can a vacant unit be made rental ready?

We all know that time is money.  This is especially true when it comes to property managing and leasing multifamily property.

The term ‘unit turn’ refers to how quickly any needed repairs and updating can be done when an old tenant moves out and a new one moves in.

Some of the keys to turning a unit quickly include having the same fixtures, appliances, paint and flooring in each unit of your multifamily property.

Tenant TypesUnderstand who you are renting to and why

Knowing the type of tenant you will be renting to is key to successfully investing in multifamily property.

You will also want to have a firm understanding of the unique characteristics of your specific tenants.

For example, young professionals in an urban area will expect more amenities and stylish decor.  Other renters are just looking for a simple place to live.

Land Loans And Real Estate Financing

land loans

Land loans is a term that frequently comes up when selling real estate.

Despite the name, land loans aren’t just for selling land – although that’s how the term originated.

Other Names For Land Loans

Other names for land loans are deeds of trust, seller financing, or private equity loans.

The term ‘land loans’ comes from a type of seller financing – as opposed to traditional bank or lender financing.  A land loan is when the seller retains title to the ‘land’ until the loan is paid off.

Why Use Land Loans?

There are three ways that land loans are generally used to buy and sell real estate:

  1. An owner has a property that is difficult to sell.  Maybe it’s a buyers market or the seller doesn’t have the money to make repairs.
  2. A buyer can’t qualify for traditional bank or lender financing.  The buyer may have credit issues or wants to use the property for an unconventional use.
  3. A legal technique where a seller can defer payment of capital gains tax

Let’s Make A Deal

Land loans are a creative way to finance real estate.  There are no hard and fast rules to follow, so selling real estate using a land loan can be tailored to the specific needs of every buyer and a seller.

It’s always a good idea to have the sales contract in writing.  Many buyers and sellers using a land loan also like to have an independent third party handle all of the loan payments and disbursements as well.

Last but not least, a seller carrying a note with a land loan should always think of him or herself as a bank.  Especially if they decide they want to sell the deed of trust to an investor before the note becomes due.

Why Home Prices Keep Rising & More People Keep Renting

home prices keep rising

One reason that home prices keep rising can be found in a recent report by the Pew Research Center.  The report notes that more households are renting than anytime over the past 50 years.

Over the last 12 years the number of people who own a home has remained basically the same, while the number of people who rent where they live increased by over 25%.

Everybody Is Renting

This rise in renters is across all demographic groups:

  • All age groups have seen an increase in rental households, with 65% of people younger than 35 renting where they live
  • White, black, and Hispanic ethnic groups have all seen a rise in renters over the last 10 years
  • People of all education levels are renting more, with households holding a bachelor’s degree or higher having the largest increase in renters

The rise in home renters is a pattern that is going to continue for quite some time.  It is also a reason why the costs of condos and single family home prices keep rising.

Why Do Home Prices Keep Rising?

Since 2012 private equity has moved into the home rental market in force.  Large REITs and smaller crowdfunding groups now buy homes in quantity and rent to the people that were foreclosed on and forced into bankruptcy during the last housing crisis.  These mega-home rental organizations continue to buy both new and existing home inventory.

The shortage of skilled labor and zoning laws that constrain the supply of new construction are another reason why home prices will continue to rise.

In 2011 only 13% of the members of the National Association of Home Builders cited labor costs as a concern.  Now 82% of home builders say rising labor costs are their biggest concern.  Both immigration policy and the increase in natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey in Houston cause labor shortages in the construction sector.

Lumber futures have increased by more than 57% since President Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber.  While that’s good for people in the lumber business, it is a disaster for single- and multi-family home builders who use lumber for framing.

In Summary

An increasing amount of new home construction and existing inventory is being purchased in bulk and turned into rental property.

At the same time the supply of new housing is limited by rising labor and materials costs and well-intentioned NIMBY governmental zoning policies that cause a shortage of buildable land.

Should You Sell Real Estate Full Time?

sell real estate full time

Many people consider giving up their day job to sell real estate full time.

Getting that first or second sale isn’t that difficult.  But what is difficult is working in the real estate business full time.

Here are a few things that will help you decide if it’s a good idea for you to sell real estate full time.

Have A Real Estate Business Plan

Putting together a realistic real estate business plan will help you decide whether or not selling real estate full time is right for you.

When putting your business plan together for your new real estate career, remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Be overly pessimistic about your projected income and expenses for the first several years.  Many business planning experts suggest that after you have what you think is a conservative business plan you should cut the revenues in half and double the expenses!

If You Sell Real Estate Full Time, Treat It Like A Business

Realize that business – just like nature – does not move in a straight line.

One very successful quarter or year doesn’t mean that the trend is your friend.  Smart real estate entrepreneurs know that there are always peaks & valleys . . . and some valleys can be deep for a very long time.

Consider Having A Real Estate Business Partner

Some people like having a business partner while others prefer to go it alone.  Having a partner or a mentor is one way to achieve a good work/life balance in real estate.

Advantages to having a business partner are the sharing of risk and having access to extra start-up capital.

If you have a real estate business partner, just be sure to clearly define the responsibilities of each person involved.  This will help to avoid conflict down the line.

How To Make Your Real Estate Business Plan Better

real estate business plan

Having a real estate business plan – or a property management business plan  is crucial if you want to succeed in the business of real estate.

That’s because real estate is about much more than just buying & selling, leasing & managing.

Here are the top two ways to make your real estate business plan better.

Rainmakers Should Make Rain Not Train

Some real estate brokers are rainmakers.  They’re the ones who bring in the majority of the business and are great in dealing with clients.

If that’s the case, bring in a partner or key employee to recruit, train and manage the newly-hired real estate agents.

New agents will be attracted by the broker-rainmaker’s outstanding success stories.  But new real estate agents usually lack experience, skill or motivation.

They won’t be able to perform  and produce without having a lot of hands-on guidance – at least to begin with.  The broker-rainmaker won’t be able to give new agents the attention they deserve because they’re out there making rain and bringing in new business.

A Great Real Estate Business Plan Is Niche Specific

Focusing on a specific asset class for your real estate business is much easier than trying to be all things to all people.

A real estate asset class isn’t just commercial or residential real estate.  A asset class is a specific category – or niche – within those sectors.

If you have a residential real estate brokerage, concentrating on specific zip codes or neighborhoods is one example of a niche.  Another is focusing on a certain product type such as small multifamily or fix-n-flips.

Commercial real estate brokers could identify high-tech industrial property, medical office buildings, or STEM tenants as their niche.  Or they could concentrate on finding replacement property for 1031 tax deferred exchanges.