Which Alternative Property Sectors Hold the Most Promise for Investors?

In the first quarter of 2018, the manufactured housing, self-storage and industrial sectors were the stars of the REIT show, as real estate investment firm PGIM Real Estate noted in a market review.

NREI: Like manufactured housing, self-storage is a NIMBY sector. What’s your assessment of the self-storage sector?

Marc Halle: Storage has evolved in terms of the type of product that’s out there. It’s become a much more retail product. It’s no longer the “German shepherd,” as we used to call it, where it’s in some industrial lot with a chain-link fence and two dogs running around. They’re now in more retail locations; the properties are much more consumer-friendly and access-friendly. And it’s easier to build a self-storage facility, in that it requires a lot less capital than a manufactured home community, so the barrier to entry in manufactured homes is much higher than self-storage.

But in the self-storage sector, you really have to be careful of the supply dynamic because some markets tend to get overbuilt quickly. Having said that, you’re looking at excellent same-store growth and at stocks that are very fairly valued in the market….

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Buying a self-storage facility is a lot harder than you think, particularly if you want to make money with it. Over the years, there are some basic traits that separate winning facilities from losers. And that genetic code is hard to break.

There are many people who will tell you all about how to buy a self-storage facility, in order to sell you a book, course or boot camp. But they really have either limited or no experience. The concepts we’re going to tell you here are based on real-life information and plenty of it from operating one of the largest websites devoted to the industry. And it may be a lot different from what you’ve heard before.  Continue reading

Self Storage or Mini Storage Financing Options

Self Storage facilities are a hot commodity in the investment property market. The demand for financing this property type is high. Buyers and investors have been purchasing these properties under 6% cap rate in some markets. The appeal of a self storage or mini storage asset is that maintenance expenses can be low and cash-on-cash return can be extremely profitable. Many owners are refinancing at this time to lock in a lower rate or get cash out of their properties during this low rate environment.

Finding the right lender to provide financing for self storage loans can be challenging. To get the very best loan that fits your investment needs, it’s important to work with an experienced group that has done financing for self storage facilities and understands the idiosyncrasies of underwriting. Our expertise with self storage financing will help you navigate the system and get you loan terms to meet your financial goals. Here are some examples of the many lending programs available for self storage facilities:

Local Bank or Credit Unions Loans:

Banks are often limited geographically to the footprint of the bank’s retail network. Many banks prefer to lend only to local borrowers to whom they can provide additional banking services. General loan terms: 3-5 year fixed pricing at a 4-5% interest rate with a loan to value of 70% and is available with a 20-30 year amortization.

Pros: Some local lenders are willing to work with the property having a higher loan to value (LTV). Banks and credit unions offer low prepayment penalties, however you also get a shorter fixed rate in return. A personal guarantee is almost always required. Some banks can offer a partial guarantee depending on LTV. Loan fees tend to be generally lower than nonrecourse loans.

Cons: Banks usually prefer to write a 15 to 20 year amortization for self-storage loans which can really restrict projected pro forma on your cash-on-cash return on the property. Rates may only be fixed for a period of 3, 5, or at the most, a 7 year period.

Small Business Association (SBA) Loans

SBA changed the rules for “passive income” properties back in 2010 making self storage businesses eligible for SBA financing. This is good news for those looking to refinance, acquire, or build a self or mini storage facility because SBA financing offers especially high leverage. (RV and boat facilities are also eligible and in some cases). Current self-storage owners need to have good credit and a proven track record. Eighty five percent LTV financing is available for those who do not have storage investing experience but have enough relevant business experience and other personal strengths like the proven ability to successfully manage a property.
• Longer loan terms are available (up to 25 years plus the construction period).
• SBA Loans have lower equity and down payment requirements – typically 10% for self-storage, but 95% financing is technically possible – for refinances, purchases and construction – if you have other stable cash flowing facilities.
• SBA financing can be used to make improvements or to expand mini warehouse properties and there is a streamlined program available for those with good credit for loans under $350,000.
• Working capital and business debt consolidation are financeable for self-storage businesses.
• All closing costs are financeable.
• Little to no financial covenants.

Personal guarantees may be required. SBA loan applications can seem cumbersome to borrowers.

USDA Rural Loans

A USDA Rural Development Loan is offered to rural property owners by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Pros: It is possible to get self-storage loans in a smaller city where most lenders aren’t otherwise willing to lend. The loan does not have a call or balloon payment. The rate is usually fixed for smaller interim periods of 1, 3, or even 5 years, and then it will reprice over an index. A 30-year amortization is available for self-storage facilities.

Fees – There is generally a government fee of 2-3% of the loan amount attached to the loan . This fee is due up front (similar to an SBA loan for a business) which helps cover government costs.
Availability – The quantity of these loans vary state-by-state and some state USDA offices are not always willing to lend to self-storage facilities. Availability can also depend on what funds are allocated to their offices.
Time – These loans generally take 75-90 days to fully underwrite, get approved by the state offices, and close. If you are planning to get a self-storage property under contract in a smaller town, plan on making sure your seller is aware of extended closing deadlines.

CMBS or Conduit Loans

If a non-recourse loan is what you need, then this type of loan may be the best option for you. After a nonrecourse loan funds it is then sold and traded on the investor market (secondary market as a security). Non-recourse financing is available with very low rates. Properties need to be stabilized with good historical financials. General loan terms: Nonrecourse loans with a 10-year fixed rate and 30-year amortization are offered at rates around 4.5% depending on the market.

Pros: Nonrecourse loans are available with a longer fixed term and a 30 year amortization. These loans are assumable. They are made directly to the LLC entity structure, with a “warm body carve-out signer”. The loans are assumable to a qualified buyer, so if you lock in a low interest rate now and the rates go up, your loan can be assumed by a new qualified buyer in the future at today’s low rates. Loan deliverability is very high on these transactions once the offer to finance is made.


Deposits and Fees – Once your loan offer is made, the lender generally requires an $8,000-$15,000 deposit for appraisal, site visit, and environmental survey. Also, a deposit is required for lender legal fees and can range from $10,000-$15,000 depending on the size of the loan being securitized.

Defeasance – Since these loans are being sold as securities in the investor market, the lender doesn’t want their money back early. If you choose a 10-year fixed, low interest rate loan, plan on being in that loan for 9 years and 9 months.

Seller Financing:

Some self-storage facilities currently on the market have a seller financing option. General loan terms are 50-60% LTV with a 7-8% interest rate and the seller is willing to take your payment for a period of 3-10 years before they want to be paid in full.

Pros: Buyers do not have to qualify through a bank, which can help if your credit was damaged as an investor during the market downturn. Sellers may want to receive a monthly check for a stretched out period of time instead of one lump cash sum, especially in situations where the occupancy is low.

Cons: Interest rates tend to be higher: usually 6-8% for seller financing. These loans generally require a large cash injection or down payment of 30-40% of the purchase price

How to determine the best financing to meet my loan needs:

There are an abundance of lenders in the marketplace for self-storage facilities, but how do you determine who is the best fit for your unique situation? It can take extensive research and calls to find out who to contact. By working with an experienced commercial loan broker, you can have access to many institutions and their programs. Your commercial loan broker works with the best lenders and already has a relationship with those representatives on the inside. In addition, the broker can help you assemble your loan documents to make sure you present the best possible loan package. This complete package will provide the best options for the optimal loan terms. You are not only hiring a finance expert, but a whole team of associates that will work in your best interest.

The broker submits your package to obtain offers to finance your property. He will consult with you to determine which scenario works best for your financial goals. He will also help you negotiate with the lender, if needed, for prepayment penalties options, origination fees, amortizations, and an assortment of other loan terms.

The broker and his team will partner with you every step along the way until the loan is funded. They work with the third party reports, and underwriting conditions, to ensure you have a successful closing. Often, unknown conditions pop up, and the team is invaluable to eliminate these potential deal breakers.

The Madison Group has a proven approach to self storage financing:
• We give fast, straight forward answers to your lending questions.
• We have a team of dedicated professionals to handle your file from start to finish.
• We will eliminate the entanglement of paperwork.
• We place our loans with direct lenders.
If you need financing for your self storage property purchase or refinance, consider hiring an experienced commercial loan broker like The Madison Group.

10 Ways to Increase Revenue at Your Self-Storage Facility

You built or bought a self-storage facility run a business and make money, right? And like any business, increased revenue is always welcome. We would like to provide 10 ways you can increase revenue from your self-storage business. Some are well-known, but others may have escaped your attention.

Increase Your Curb Appeal

Drive by your facility and try to see it with objective eyes. Or ask friends and associates to tell you what they think when they see your business. Is it eye-catching in a good way? Or does it blend into the background or possibly even look a little shabby?

First of all, a clean, well-kept facility will always draw the eye and more tenants. If it appears well-kept, that implies it is a friendly and secure business.

• Pick up trash and trim the bushes.
• Paint using a custom color scheme.
• Add new lighting and signage.
• Make the front office spic and span.

For some prospective tenants, your facility will be a home away from home. Make it a comfortable place to be and customers will come running.

Cut Expenses

Take a look at your Profit-and-Loss statement and identify some areas where you can save money without damaging the business. Some areas could use a second look.

• Check your insurance rates annually to ensure you are getting the best coverage at the best price.
• Shop around for a lower cost energy provider at least once a year.
• Monitor landscaping and snow removal invoices so you don’t get double-billed.

Your total operating expenses should be no more than 25% to 35% of your total revenue.

Raise the Rent

Check your occupancy. If it’s too low, increasing the rent might not make sense. However, if it’s high, like at 90% or more, raising the rent is absolutely OK.

If you have a particular unit size that is always in demand, raising the rent may make a few tenants move out, but you can soon replace them with tenants who will pay more per month.

To keep the rent increases transparent, make it part of your policy to increase rent at the six-month mark of a tenant’s stay and then raise it a certain percentage annually.

Reduce Delinquencies

Collection calls are no fun, but they must be done if the rent is late. Tacking on a late fee should cover the extra administrative costs of chasing delinquent payments and discourage a few who don’t want to pay extra.

Keep you delinquency rate below %5 as a rule of thumb and best business practice.

Appeal Your Real Estate Taxes

The local tax appraiser isn’t always right. Check your tax records to make sure you are only paying for the property you have. If the economy is down, you can also request a decrease based on the reduced value of your property.

Ask your attorney to help you appeal your real estate taxes after learning the process from the local tax office.

Evaluate Your Marketing Efforts

Take a look at your marketing.

• Could your website use repairs or an update?
• Is it optimized for mobile?
• Have you kept up your social media pages?
• Are you getting an acceptable return on your marketing dollar from each of your ads?

If your website has broken links or outdated information, it will reflect poorly on your business. Just as you need to keep the grass cut, you need to keep your website and social media pages fresh, and your ads should be pulling in more revenue than they cost.

Reduce Credit Card Processing Rates

Did you know you might be able to find a credit card processor that charges a lower rate? If you aren’t accepting credit cards, you could be leaving money on the table.

Credit cards allow you to set up an auto-pay option, which will eliminate delinquencies. You can get a better merchant processor rate than a retailer because you have a ready source of secured debt – your customer’s stuff.

Improve Site Security

Security is typically the number one concern of a prospective tenant. You can increase rentals and charge more with certain security components.

• Provide gated access with control keypads.
• Install surveillance cameras.
• Implement an alarm system for each unit.

You will make your facility appear formidable to tenants and those who are thinking of stealing from them.

Train Your Employees

Customer service has never gone out of style. Having a manager that knows what he or she is doing and can be courteous and pleasant while doing it will not only bring in new tenants, it will help you keep them.

Expand Your Business

Is business so good you don’t have room to add one more tenant? It may be time to think about expanding your business. Find a lender who can help you finance the expansion through purchasing another facility or enlarging your current one.

Are you ready to kick up your revenue a few notches?



The U.S. economy is in anarchy. The stock market is plunging, oil is collapsing, and world markets are in jeopardy. So where can you invest in a troubled world? The answer is self-storage. It’s one of the few niches that actually performs as well in times of turmoil as it does in times of economic vibrancy.

Performs well in times of crisis

When you lose your job and have to move, you put your belongings and furniture in a self-storage locker. When you get evicted from your house, you put your material goods in self-storage. In times of crisis, all roads lead to the self-storage facility. As a result, the demand for self-storage is always high during recessions and depressions.

Considered a necessity, not a luxury

Although self-storage began as a tool for wealthy people to store their abundance of goods, it has changed over the years from a luxury to a necessity. Most Americans have a self-storage unit to keep the things that they can’t get rid of, yet don’t fit in their homes. Christmas decorations, family antiques, there are a thousand uses that can’t be avoided.

Great revenue diversity

Self-storage facilities are made up of tens and hundreds of individual income units. Unlike a shopping center, which only has a handful of tenants and go bankrupt if even one leaves, self-storage facilities have a huge diversity of tenants, so that you can lose several and still be on budget. And the power of volume also works when you raise rent. If you have a 100 unit facility and raise the rent $10 per month, you have an extra $1,000 per month in your pocket. If you owned that shopping center and raised the rent $10 per month, you’d have an extra $50.

Low operating costs

Nobody lives in a self-storage facility (except maybe the manager) so there is very little utility cost. The typical facility is made of durable metal and there are no expensive amenities to maintain. Other than road repair, paint, replacing roll-up doors occasionally and a small amount of electricity, the operating costs on a self-storagehttp://www.selfstorages.com/articles/wp-admin/plugin-install.php facility is relatively low, and this gives the owner much greater profit margins.

Can be purchased at reasonable rates of return

You can buy self-storage facilities at attractive cap rate levels – around 8% or so. This gives the buyer a healthy margin of profitability that protects the owner from interest rate increases or reductions in occupancy. Unlike apartment complexes that sell for around 5% cap rates, self-storage facilities have good rates of return that provide a protective barrier to unexpected bumps in the road.


Self-storage facilities are an excellent hedge to recession, yet also the correct choice for periods of economic prosperity. It’s like real estate with shock-absorbers against economic declines, yet a strong engine to take advantage of economic opportunities. The world can fall to pieces, but self-storage facilities stay solid performers as income properties. At times like these, that’s a very important quality.

By Frank Rolfe
Frank Rolfe has been an active self-storage investor for around two decades, with self-storage units in many states throughout the U.S. His nuts and bolts knowledge of what makes for a successful self-storage facility has led to a three-decade career without a single failed property. For more information on investing in self storage facilities go to www.SelfStoragesUniversity.com.

How To Make Money In The Self-Storage Industry

There is a ton of bad information out there on the self-storage or mini-storage industry. Contrary to what you may read, there is virtually no money in building new facilities or buying them at a 7% cap rate. If you really want to make money in self-storage, you have to put in significantly more work, and follow a different game plan entirely. Buying an established facility with good occupancy at market rents will not lead to great riches only endless concern over making the note payment. The way to success is much more basic. Continue reading


Self Shortage Units are attractive to both buyers and lenders. Operating and maintenance costs are low and the ROI (return on investment) is comparable or higher than multi-family units and mobile home parks, which we also finance. The initial investment is 1/4 to 1/3 of other investments, and ongoing improvements are minimal. With our economy constantly evolving and the job market constantly changing due to jobs being eliminated, Self Storage Units are in demand because people are having to relocate in order to seek new opportunities. Continue reading

Why You Can’t Manage A Self-Storage Facility From Just A Kiosk

There is urban legend going around, created by some gurus trying to sell their books, that you can manage an entire self-storage facility from a kiosk basically a walk-up automated teller like an ATM machine. Although the concept of having a robot manage a self-storage facility is attractive from a cost-savings and low management perspective, it is, unfortunately, a fantasy with about as much practicality as the photon torpedo out of Star Trek.

The reasons you cannot manage a self-storage facility from a kiosk are numerous: Continue reading

Money Talks What Is The NOI On The Property

One of the first things I ask a client during our initial conversation is how much is the loan amount and what is the NOI on the property?

Most of the time this separates the first time buyers from the seasoned pros by whether or not they know what I am referring to. When they hesitate, hem and haw with crickets resounding in the distance, I know they have no idea of what I’m talking about but 9 out of 10 will chirp up.

Well, it grossed $300,000.00 last year! Continue reading

Is Self Storage Beneficial for Businesses and Offices?

Self Storage companies provide storage space to home users where they can store personal items like furniture and other belongings to make space at home. Self storage facilities can also be used for commercial purposes by businesses and offices to store extra equipment, machinery and furniture lying around the office. Storing stock on your commercial premises can make your office look more like a warehouse instead of business premises. This is when you need to contact a storage company that can take care of your storage needs. Continue reading