Prospecting For Commercial Real Estate Listings

When you prospect in commercial real estate sales or leasing situations, you will meet with and will talk to many people on a daily basis. The more people you do this with the better. Prospecting is critical to your business growth and listing processes in any market.

It is interesting to consider what prospecting situation you find yourself most often in. The answer is different for everyone as each person has communication preferences and methods of approach that works for them over other standard approaches. It is therefore most important to prospect in the way that suits your character and business style.

Your daily prospecting method should be the thing that works for you and gives you the best results and could be any or all of:

Telephone
Door to door
Networking events
Referrals
Face to face contact
In all respects the prospecting and meeting process will be enhanced if you refine it and use a small number of statements that gain the attention of the prospect. We call these statements ‘Prospect Value Statements’ (PVS) and they must relate to you and your commercial or investment real estate market.

Prospect Value Statements

The ‘Prospect Value Statement’ is one of a kind and should match you, your business, and your focus. It should clearly declare and communicate the fundamental reason why your organisation exists and why you’re selling or leasing commercial investment property from the prospects perspective. It is the most important thing that you can learn and use in commercial real estate. That being said, it is amazing how many salespeople in commercial real estate do not master the concept and some never even know about it. The PVS is such an important statement to your conversion process that we will spend time now on it in helping you design your own.

So why is the PVS so important? It succinctly, clearly, and precisely defines what you do and how you do it in commercial real estate. Better still, it does so in a way that your clients and prospects can see and know why they should do business with you. The PVS will tell them that you are better than the competition agents in the market.

The PVS plays a role in just about every business opportunity and prospecting situation that you come across.

Sample of a Commercial PVS

‘We assist our commercial investor clients in the industrial market at Salisbury to find new tenants that match their investment plan or cash flow expectations, and therefore enjoy a more stable occupancy. We do this by canvassing all tenant changes in the region for the coming 3 years and directing deals to the desirable tenants at the right time for our clients.’

Sample Structure of a PVS

‘We assist our commercial clients (companies, tenants, or investors) in the … industry (or business, or market segment, or location) to … and enjoy … We do this by …’

To make this work, it’s important for you to know and really understand what end result benefit you actually deliver to your commercial real estate prospects, customers and clients (be they landlords, tenants or investors). You also need to know exactly what benefit your prospects or clients actually want to gain, enjoy, achieve, or have in this market. Your PVS is matched to the end user of your services at all times.

‘Your PVS will also change over time as it will have relevance to the current market conditions and the pressures that your prospects need resolved.’

So What Results and Benefits do Prospects Need?

Before you start to create a PVS or a series of them for you and your business, let’s define some of the results and benefits that are typical desired outcomes for a client or prospect in a commercial real estate sale or lease situation. Consider your market. What are the priorities of the prospects that you deal with today?

Commercial Real Estate Lease situations:

Stable tenant
Good rent
Long lease
Major tenants
Quality tenants
Ability to refurbish
Make good obligations
Growth of rent
Stability of rent
Sound lease document
Resolving vacancies faster
Commercial Real Estate Sales situations:

Quick sale
Higher price
Confidential sale
Method of sale
Faster settlement
Good enquiry
Good promotion and marketing
Comprehensive market coverage
Sale to investors
Sale to owner occupiers
Given these benefits and your market trends now in your location, you should be able to easily construct a series of PVS models that suit the prospects that you deal with. Ideally you should be able to quickly call on 2 or 3 of these statements in any prospecting conversation to match the needs or interest of the prospect you are talking to.

Need More Help?

John Highman is a prominent investment real estate speaker and coach that helps real estate agents and real estate brokers globally to improve their commercial real estate market share and close more sales and leasing deals. He himself is a successful real estate agent that has specialised in commercial, industrial, and retail real estate of all types for over 30+ years.

Whether you specialise in real estate sales, leasing, or investment, John has the tools that can help you and your office succeed in your market.

Today John Highman gives workshops and keynotes to real estate agents and brokers globally on how to be professionally better than your competition in any market and drive more of the right listings and commissions.

Commercial Real Estate Investing Vs Residential

Is commercial real estate investing a better investment than investing in residential properties? Now, we all know that real estate in general is a great investment vehicle and both residential and commercial properties can be good investments. Either avenue can have a tremendous effect on your net worth, but most people think only of residential property when they think about investing in real estate. While this is certainly the most viable route for most people, commercial property can offer additional benefits the residential model can not offer.

Three Reasons Commercial Investments are better than Residential Deals:

1.) Commercial Real Estate Gives You More Access to More Capital

It has been my experience that it is somewhat easier to raise larger amounts of capital (under $3M) for a commercial deal than it is to raise $150,000 for a residential deal. As a residential investor your access to capital is limited primarily to traditional financing, hard money lenders, and private money from individual investors. If you are unable to raise capital from one of these three avenues, then you are forced to acquire property in more of a creative manner with owner financing, subject to strategies, lease options, etc. This in itself is not a bad thing, but unfortunately you will have to walk away from some good deals that can’t be acquired with creative financing techniques.

In commercial real estate it is more common for investors to pool their capital together and syndicate deals, you will also find that smaller private equity firms and finance companies are more inclined to do joint venture projects and provide the needed capital to complete the deal if the deal makes sense. So as a commercial investor you have the potential to raise capital for a deal from the same sources as residential projects such as: Traditional Financing and Hard Money, but additionally you could access capital through smaller private equity firms, hedge funds, private REITs, investment groups, and the list goes on.

There also seems to be a sense of intrigue and prestige when it comes to investing in commercial deals. Perhaps, due to the state of the current commercial market, it appears investors are trending more toward investing in commercial projects.

2.) Commercial Real Estate is Less Competitive

When you think about it from a marketing perspective, most investors target residential property owners, thus making the residential market more competitive. In many arenas, from industry news sources, the World Wide Web, all the “We Buy Houses” signs virtually on every street corner, there are a lot of marketing tactics targeting residential property owners. If you take the same marketing strategies discussed and apply them to commercial real estate, you will probably find you are the ONLY person contacting these commercial property owners in regards to selling their property. Most commercial properties under $5 million tend to be too large for most residential investors, yet too small for most institutional investors.

3.) Commercial Real Estate allows for “Forced” Appreciation

Residential properties are typically valued based on other comparable properties that have sold in the area and are similar in features. If the “comps” for a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house in a particular neighborhood is roughly $100,000, then your property is probably going to be worth $100,000. It doesn’t matter too much if your target property has additional features, or if your house is getting $900 a month in rent as opposed to the house down the street that is only renting for $700 a month. All things considered, your property will still be valued pretty close to the “comps” of the area.

However, in commercial real estate, the valuation of a property is based on the revenue that the property generates. Now, commercial properties are still subject to the “comps” of the area as it pertains to “How” that revenue is valued in terms of capitalization rates. But, the overall premise is that, the more revenue a property generates, the more that property is worth.

So, in order to “force” the appreciation of your commercial property, you need to find additional ways to increase the revenue that the property generates. A small increase in revenue can increase the value of a property significantly depending on the “Cap Rates” in the area for that type of commercial real estate. Unfortunately, with residential real estate this isn’t an option as you really can’t force appreciation. Your property will be valued in the general range of the market comps.

So, as you can now see, commercial real estate offers many benefits over residential investments in addition to higher returns on your investment.

Now of course there are disadvantages with any investment vehicle, commercial real estate included. However, consider the following when choosing between residential or commercial investing to create your passive income stream;

1) The building qualifies for the loan; Not the borrower

2) The building pays back the loan; Not the borrower

3) Others are expected to manage the building; Not the borrower

4) Income determines the value of the property; Not the comps

5) Cap Rate measures demand for the property; Not the comps.

To sum it up: a commercial property’s value is eternally tied to the income the property produces and overall demand for the property’s services. Therefore, based on the property’s location and the highest and best utilization, commercial real estate investments can certainly create a larger return on your investment over time verses residential investments. Perhaps, this is even more true in our current market cycle.

Sam Ally is a resourceful Real Estate Investor, and V.P. of Business Development for the HIS Capital Group. He is passionate about empowering others with the knowledge, resources & opportunities to excel & promotes financial literacy training nationally.

Uncommon View – Commercial Real Estate Development

This is a story I heard growing up:
When my grandfather was 10 years old he found a penny. With that penny he bought a pencil. He sharpened that pencil then sold it for two cents. He took that two cents and bought two more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for four cents. He reinvested his four cents in four more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for eight cents. Then, again, he bought eight more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for sixteen cents. This went on until my grandfather had amassed $10.24. That’s when my great Aunt Sophie died and left us her portfolio of shopping centers, office buildings and rental homes. Our family has been in the real estate business ever since.

The story isn’t true, but it taught four valuable lessons:

1) Sweat equity is a powerful tool;

2) If you reinvest your earnings, wealth can grow geometrically;

3) The BIG money is in real estate; and

4) It would be nice to have a rich Aunt Sophie.

Like most families, we didn’t have a rich Aunt Sophie, so my parents focused on lessons 1, 2 and 3. I mention this story as a backdrop. My life growing up was always about real estate.

In my article “Keys to Closing Commercial Real Estate Transactions”, I mentioned my father because he was, and is, a wiz when it comes to commercial real estate. It was through him that I came to represent commercial real estate developers.

What I didn’t mention was that my mother was active in the family real estate business as well. While my father focused on commercial land development, my mother focused on residential real estate. I should have known better than to mention one but not the other. This article could be sub-titled “Keys To Maintaining Harmony”.

What does maintaining harmony have to do with commercial real estate development? Stick with me on this, then decide.

My mother cared about “quality of life” issues. Comfortable homes. Neighborhood parks. Safe streets. Good schools. Museums and other cultural enhancements.

I remember watching my mother lay out walking paths around detention ponds in residential developments and looking through catalogs evaluating park benches and playground equipment for neighborhood parks. As a residential real estate investor, developer and broker, my mother focused on “living environments”. If families were going to live in her neighborhoods then the neighborhoods had to be “family friendly”.

As you might imagine, with my father focused on commercial development and my mother focused on residential quality of life issues, conversations around the dinner table were always interesting, and sometimes dicey.

On one side of the table, my father envisioned expansive commercial development for retail shopping centers, office buildings, restaurants, hotels, theaters, warehouse superstores, entertainment centers, nightclubs and more.

On the other side was my mother insisting upon neighborhoods with comfortable homes, safe streets, parks and other open areas, dry basements, clean air, clean water, and minimal noise and light pollution.

According to conventional wisdom – derived from public zoning board and plan commission hearings and community planning group meetings when commercial development is proposed near existing homes and neighborhoods – one might expect a clash of ideas turning into heated challenges and demands to forego development. Fortunately, our dinner table was nothing like most public hearings.

My mother and father each respected the vision of the other and understood the natural symbiotic relationship between residential and commercial development. Instead of complaining that one was trying to destroy the vision of the other, they anticipated each other’s legitimate development and environmental needs and sought reasonable accommodation when possible. Sometimes they couldn’t agree, but there was always a meaningful attempt to understand the viewpoint of the other, exchange ideas and come to a mutually respectful and workable plan.

My mother was a resourceful advocate. She made my father think about how commercial development would impact residential neighbors and plan ways to mitigate adverse consequences on families. Long before coming into their current vogue, I learned at our family dinner table the concept of “lifestyle commercial centers” and complementary residential/commercial mixed use developments.

The point for commercial developers and residential advocates is that they should each turn down the volume of their development debate and respectfully listen to what the other is saying. When the other has presented legitimate concerns or needs, those concerns and needs should be reasonably accommodated where possible. An idealistic dream? Perhaps. But I grew up watching it work.

To be sure, not all expressed concerns are legitimate and not all proposed accommodations are possible. In those cases, resolution must necessarily be left up to public plan commissions, zoning boards, and municipal trustees or aldermen to arbitrate and decide the debate. As guardians of the public welfare entrusted with promoting the best interests of the community at large, they must decide. In a fair and evenhanded political environment, your best bet for prevailing is to demonstrate that you have listened with respect and have made reasonable and conscientious efforts to promote public harmony rather than discord.

POINT: If you are a commercial real estate developer proposing a commercial development near existing residential neighborhoods, don’t pretend they don’t exist. Think about how they will be impacted and include in your development plan ways to mitigate any adverse consequences created by your development. Talk to your residential neighbors. Listen to what they have to say. They are not ALL crazy. Sometimes (often, actually) they have legitimate concerns about real problems. If you can include in your development plan a way to economically fix a problem they already have (such as flooding, blight, inadequate parking, lack of sufficient parks or playgrounds, poor traffic circulation, etc.), your chances of favorable governmental action to approve your development plan goes up.

Whether you are a commercial real estate developer or a neighborhood advocate, understand that, whether you like it or not, conditions change. Nothing stays the same. Obsolescence and blight are natural products of time. Redevelopment is coming. If not today, then someday.

Which brings me back to my point of promoting family harmony by making amends to my mother. You don’t necessarily have to read what follows. This is primarily for her.

My mother retired last year but says she still enjoys reading my newsletters and articles. Perhaps a mother’s love, but she always likes to read what I write about real estate and real estate development. She says her favorite is a poem I wrote about “real estate development” called The Great Pyramids Of Egypt Are In Disrepair. She thinks I should share it.

The poem was written in 1992. I have to admit, it never occurred to me that the poem was about “real estate development”. I can assure you, I was not consciously thinking about real estate development at the time I wrote it.

But my mother is a smart woman and I have learned my lesson. I am not going to lightly cross her again. So, in the interest of family harmony, here it is. I leave it to you to decide if it is about real estate development. If you don’t think so, please don’t tell my mother.

THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT ARE IN DISREPAIR

We looked deep into each other’s eyes and said:
“Our Love will last forever”.

When I was two my parents built a new house
next door to the one we rented from my grandfather.
It was “ultra modern” with all the latest conveniences
A garbage disposer – dishwasher – central air –
central vac – wall-to-wall carpet – a private den –
We had a bird bath – and two hundred newly planted Scottish pines.

It’s a parking lot now –
The church next door needed it.
Business was good.

The church doors were padlocked last year.
God moved down the street to nicer quarters.

I saw a news clip recently.
The Great Pyramids of Egypt are in disrepair.
They may not last unless work starts soon.
Sometimes the damage can be too great.
Even mummies get so wrapped up in what
they are doing they can begin to unravel.

Yesterday a friend asked: “Whatever happened to that girl?”

The POINT (according to my mother):

Change happens.
What seems new and permanent today
Will be gone tomorrow.

No time stands still.
Real Estate projects are no exception.
Redevelopment is coming.