Tips To Get The Perfect Tenant Mix for Your Retail Property

The ultimate goal for any landlord is to achieve maximum income from their retail property. However, that does not imply that they must lose focus on the bigger picture and let their space to any retailer who is interested in the property. Maintaining the perfect tenant mix in the property leads to increased foot traffic, greater spend, delighted tenants and ultimately more demand and better rates for the property.

Read on to find out the five ways to create the ultimate blend of tenants for a retail center.

Study the demographics of the environment

The demographics of the nearby locations play a vital role in determining what kind of retailers will best tick among the shoppers. Conduct surveys and collect information pertaining to what your target customers would like to see in the area around them. For instance, pharmacy stores may be a valuable addition for an aging population.

Talk to your existing tenants

Existing retail tenants may be a good source of providing insight into what brands and products can add more value to their own store and ultimately to the landlord. Analyze the performance of the stores and take a deeper look into their strengths and weakness and build ways to overcome or enhance them.

Mix brands and categories

A retail center that draws a balance between the big and the small brands and has a wider collection of product categories than simply focusing on part of the demographics enjoy better foot traffic. Choose tenants from various product categories and be sure to include local retailers who always have something new and fresh to offer. Look beyond the retail line up and set up service facilities like ATMs to optimize the time and effort spent on creating the perfect tenant mix.

Make market assessment a part of the responsibility

Tenants come and may go at the end of the lease. This may interrupt the existing interconnections within the retail space. For instance, men visiting your retail center to buy baby diapers in one outlet tend to grab a few drinks at the next one. Retail centers must continually invest time and effort to assess the market and ensure that their tenant mix is optimizing the overall performance.

Hire a good commercial real estate property company

Commercial real estate property management services have mastered the art of using several proven techniques in finding the right mix for any kind of retail property. They study the area around the property, analyze the geographical pros and cons of the place and have seasoned real estate experts to work on the tenant mix. They perform competitor analysis to check what products and services are missing in the area and also work towards acquiring high quality tenants for the property.

Landlords and real estate companies can use real estate property management services to manage tenant relationships from the start till the end while they focus on other core activities.

Property Management For Northern Virginia Real Estate – 10 Tips

Below are ten critical tips garnered from a property management company with over 15 years of experience in the Northern Virginia apartment leasing market. Of course, entire books have been written on the subject of property management, so think of the below as the start of your education as a property manager.

1) Research comparable rent prices. It is very important to do your due diligence when it comes to what price you’re going to advertise your property for. Price it too low and you’re going to lose out on extra rental income, too high and you might never schedule a showing of the property. Rent price is dependent on a number of factors including, the economy, whether people are buying versus renting, if local companies are hiring and moving people to the area, what current comparable listings you are competing with, and what prices have been obtained recently. For a list of comparable rent prices and average days on market it’s best to consult a local Realtor. In Northern Virginia be sure to research comps from NVAR’s metropolitan regional information system.

2) Clean and prep your rental property. First impressions can mean everything. If your rental property does not show well this can be devastating. You can be in the best area, across from a metro station, and with tons of companies hiring just around the corner, but if the walls are marked with crayon and you can’t pinpoint that certain smell (the not good one) then you’re likely not going to find a tenant. A reliable cleaning company in Northern Virginia is Maid Perfect.

3) List the property on the local MLS. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in many areas is going to be a solid source of leads for potential tenants. Real estate agents can list your property on the MLS and then the property is exposed to thousands of other agents who can show the property and find tenants for your unit. In Northern Virginia make sure your property is listed on MRIS.

4) Post your property on free listing websites. 70% or more potential tenants start their search for a rental on the internet. That being said, you want your listing to be posted on as many sites as possible. There are too many to list in this article, but a few Google searches will lead you to a ton of websites willing to host your listing and contact information free of charge. Use these sites to actively market your rental property. In Northern Virginia one of the key sites to be listed on is the Washington DC section of Craigslist.

5) Market your rental unit to local companies. One of the main reasons that people move is for a new job. Companies that are actively hiring are typically the largest source of new tenants in a given metropolitan area. Make best efforts to get in touch with the relocation departments of local companies so that they can actively source new hires to you. These new hires NEED to find a place to live and will be the best source for tenants that are ready to make a decision. In Northern VA, you can find a list of the largest businesses in your area by visiting Fairfax County’s government website.

6) Shoot a short video of the rental property. Pictures are nice, but video is better, especially when dealing with potential tenants that are relocating and can not see the property in person. You can use the video to qualify potential tenants for showings. Simply host the video on your favorite free video sharing site (YouTube, alo video, etc… ) and then point the potential tenant to the video to make sure they are interested in your unit. If they have further interest after the video showing, it might be worth setting up a showing in person. The average tenant looks at over 6 properties before they make a decision, so shooting this video can save you quite a bit of time when dealing with potential tenants that just want to take a look, but are not ready to make a decision. In Northern Virginia you will want to post your video to Fairfax TV.

7) Run a thorough credit check on the tenant. If we lived in a perfect world, everyone would pay their rent on time and there would be no evictions. The problem is we don’t live in a utopia. Have you tenant fill out a rental application which gives you permission to run a credit check on them. Make sure that you follow the latest FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) rules and regulations and get a FICO score for the potential tenant. This score will give you a good idea of whether the tenant is going to pay the rent on time, late, or not at all. A bad score usually means a tenant that will give you problems. It’s better to leave the place vacant than take the risk. In Northern Virginia the you should provide the tenant with the FCRA rules and regulations after running their credit. Legalities are often state specific. Please consult your state’s landlord tenant act before running credit or other background checks on potential tenants.

8) Obtain a rock solid lease agreement. The lease dictates the relationship between the landlord and tenant. You want to obtain a fair lease agreement that protects you as the landlord. If things go well with the tenant, then you will probably never look at the lease again, however, at the first sign of trouble, this piece of paper is all you have to get you out of a bad situation. It may be worth having a leasing specialist or Realtor draft the lease for you, a lawyer might be too expensive, unless you have multiple properties and can reuse the same agreement. In Northern Virginia you’ll want to contact NVAR to obtain a rock solid lease.

9) Find a good contractor. When the plumbing goes out, or the HVAC does not work, who are you going to call? If you’re an expert in these areas then you have nothing to worry about… most of us aren’t. It’s a good idea to get to know an honest, reliable and timely plumber, electrician and general contractor. Timeliness is of supreme importance. Make sure to develop a good enough relationship with your contractor such that they take care of your tenants in a timely and professional manner. If the contractor isn’t contentious, it will hurt the relationship with your tenant. In Northern VA you can obtain a good list of contractors by going to the Washington DC section of ServiceMagic.

10) Consider using a Realtor, property manager or leasing specialist. Hiring the right help can make your life a lot easier. These folks will do all of the above and more for you. However, be sure to do your research. Not all property managers are created equal. Use someone local who has expertise in your community.

Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of “right of ways” to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a “must have” trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for “family friendly” or “residential friendly” commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for “mover upper” homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with “urban renovations”.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the “far end” of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find “sleeper” raw land properties. These “sleeper” properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.

Choosing a Property Manager – Practical Tips For Real Estate Investors

Selecting a property management firm is one of the most important decisions a real estate investor can make. The following are critical factors we think you should look at when making your decision.

Customer Service

You really want to select a firm that will deliver great customer service – to you and tenants alike. If you experience any responsiveness issues when inquiring about their service, the odds are that you will experience the same on an ongoing basis if you select the firm. Ask pertinent questions such as:

  • Are they available after regular working hours?
  • How do they handle emergencies?
  • Who can you speak to if there are problems, and where are they located?
  • Do they offer any guarantees on their service?

Knowledge of Building Construction & Maintenance

Experience and knowledge of building construction and maintenance is key for your property management firm to have. We would expect a coffee company like Starbucks to have excellent knowledge about the coffee equipment in use at their stores. We should expect a property management company to have excellent knowledge about the building technology in use at their properties. Key questions are:

  • Do they have skills on staff to be able to diagnose building issues quickly & effectively?
  • Are formal and documented maintenance and capital upgrade plans created for each property?
  • Can they manage subtrade work over and above minor maintenance?

Tenant Screening Process

You will want to select a firm that takes tenant selection seriously and does more than just the standard background checks. Tenant selection requires time, solid inter-personal skills and good judgment. Ask questions such as:

  • How much time will they spend with a prospective tenant?
  • What kind of questions will be asked of the tenant?
  • Will references be checked even if a reference letter is provided?

Local Market Knowledge

The most important influence to real estate investment value is the local market influence – and local market knowledge is key. Your property manager should have excellent knowledge of the local real estate market. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What local staff presence exists?

· How does the firm keep up with local market trends?

· Will you be dealing with any remotely located staff to get service?

· Will tenants or prospective tenants be dealing with local or remote staff?

Fee Structure

You will want to select a firm with reasonable fees and also a structure whereby fees on top of fees are avoided. For example, for a renovation you will want to avoid paying a % fee to the construction contractor, and then a % fee to the property manager on top of that. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What fees are charged for renovation and construction projects?

· Do they use general contractors for renovation and construction? If so, what fees are charged?

· Do they have the capability to manage subtrades directly?

Information Systems

Technology helps businesses run. Your property management company should have a clear information systems management strategy and operational. As the owner of the property, in the end you are responsible for the information so you will want to make sure your property manager has a good handle on it. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· How is information maintained?

· Are IT industry best-practices followed?

· How is privacy legislation compliance achieved?

· Does a backup strategy exist?

· What is the company’s IT disaster recovery plan

Accounting

And finally, you will want your books in order. This will keep your tax accountant happy and your accounting fees low. Find out if the property management firm has a solid grounding in accounting practices. Key questions include:

· What financial and transaction records are kept?

· What is the accounting cycle for the property?

· Which reports will be provided?

· Is someone available to answer your accountant’s questions should any arise?

Understanding the above areas and getting to know a property management firm’s management approach to managing these key aspects of real estate management will lead you to making a well-informed decision.

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