Commercial Real Estate – Valuing The Cash Flow

Many investors don’t understand the power of commercial real estate. I too had reservations until I understood the power and safety commercial real estate can provide. Commercial real estate is similar to trucks. Trucks come in all sizes and all shapes – a Ford Ranger to an 18 wheeler. Commercial properties come in all sizes and shapes – a standalone building that houses a small restaurant to the Empire State Building. People read in the newspapers that commercial property prices are crashing. People notice the strip malls have a lot of vacancies and it scares them away. Let’s take a look at the power of commercial real estate and a quick note about market cycles. Commercial real estate is a business and is priced based on current cash flows. For simplicity sake, commercial property pricing is based on 10 x annual cash flow, not including debt service (loan). So a property that yields $10,000 in cash flow is worth $100,000. Regardless of the type of property, if you increase rents by 1% ($100) the value goes up a $1000. Decrease expenses by $100 and the value goes up $1000. So what? Let’s look at a simple apartment example.A small apartment complex (10 units) has an annual cash flow of $50,000 and is for sale for $500,000. It has a lot of long-term tenants paying below market rents. You put down 20% or $100,000 (there are ways to make it someone else’s money). We’ll assume it is a positive cash flow property even with the debt service (loan payments). First a storage area is made into a laundry facility that provides $5000 on annual basis. You just increased the value $50,000. Next rents are raised the first year to market rents. Raising rents $50 per unit increases cash flow $6000. You just increased the value $60,000. That means you have doubled your original $100,000 in the first year and you get to keep the $11,000 cash flow. There are many more ways to increase the cash flow including: separate utilities and have tenants pay utilities, decrease vacancy, work out a deal with dish network and get paid, reduce maintenance costs, and more. Just by raising the rent $10 a year increases cash flow $1200 a year and increases the value $12,000. In three to five years you’ll have cash flows of $70,000 to $100,000 (less debt service which remains constant) and you can sell the property for $700,000 to $1,000,000. Now you see the power of commercial real estate.Just like single family homes, not every property is a good deal. First you look for commercial properties in areas that have improving rents, increasing employment, and areas where the entire area is going through gentrification. Next you look for properties that have a value proposition – rents too low, poor management, ability to install laundry or some other measure to increase cash flow. You would be surprised how many buildings are poorly managed or have below market rents.I’ve used an apartment as the example; however this same model works for office buildings, mobile home parks, strip malls and more. All types of real estate (all types of investment) go through cycles. When the economy is booming for example, the vacancy in office buildings goes down significantly (prices go up). Of course the opposite is true during an economic downturn. During economic downturns more people move to apartments, mobile homes and need storage facilities. By observing these cycles one can move in and out of various positions to minimize risk and increase portfolio value.
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What to Watch Out For If You Decide to Finance at a Dealership

I am going to make this a simple article to read. I want you to be able to read this whole article and understand it before you make your next vehicle purchase.

Yeah, the economy isn’t the greatest right now. Yeah, nearly all industries are down on sales.

You see commercials on TV all the time talking about how now is the best time to buy a car. It is, BUT…..

You see, the auto industry is struggling. So of course, to get people to come in and purchase a car they need to advertise these “great” deals and show you how you can get their employee pricing! Sounds exciting, eh? Well if you walk in there with cash, maybe you are going to get a great deal. Actually, you probably are assuming you can negotiate a good deal.

But what if you are going in there without cash? Or without your own financing? Are you really going to get such a great deal? Well you may receive your dream car at employee pricing and they may promise you that its the best they can do on price.

Lets take a close look at their financing techniques.

Did you know that dealers really do shop for the best rate for you? Yeah, they do! However, they won’t give you that best rate! They shop for the best rate then give you a higher one. How? They are allowed to mark up your interest rate up to 2% higher than what they were quoted. That means that they are making profit off of the financing too. That can lead to you paying hundred to thousands more for your new car.

So think about this:

The car you are looking at costs $20,000.00 after manufacturer’s rebates. The dealership said they would take off an additional $1000.00 to get you to employee pricing. Sounds good, right? It is good. Now, you go to the financing office, they finance you at an 8% rate when you could have actually had a 6% rate. That will end up making you pay more, a lot more. They could have you paying a couple thousand dollars more in just interest! It makes that $1,000.00 discount look weak, doesn’t it?

The whole point here is to tell you that you need to be cautious when using dealer financing as if you know they aren’t making much from the car due to the incredible deal they gave you, they are going to make it up on the financing end of it.

Always negotiate interest rates. You wouldn’t ever take them up on their first offer on the price of the car would you? Nope. So treat the first offer on the interest rates the same too. A lot of dealers won’t even tell you what the rate is. Be sure to ask.

They have their own special programs through the car manufacturers to make up for lost profit. Don’t let them fool you. It is called dealer hold back. It is tough to negotiate into that.

Universal Life Insurances Can Be Popular – But Is It For You?

Of all the different types of policies, the universal life insurance seems to be the most favorite among today’s policyholders. It is a much later innovation, conceived to meet a modern need. However, it does not mean that the earlier policies have all become redundant. No, even term life, the original life insurance policy, has quite a big following even today and so have the whole life policies. Nonetheless, people seem to prefer universal life because it combines the low cost protection of the term life with the saving elements of a whole life to provide a perfect solution to modern insurance need.I am sure you are aware that the term life is the original type of insurance policy. Indeed, life insurance may have actually started in the form of burial clubs and artisans’ guilds in the Middle Ages, but the term insurance that we know of today is a much refined version. It is a pure life insurance policy valid a temporary period only. You can buy one for a period of 1/5/10/15/20/25/30 years. Since these policies do not accrue any cash value, you can have a large coverage at a very reasonable rate.However, on the con side, unless you die within the valid period, the term insurance policies offer no return. The whole life policies were next conceived as its antidote. They had saving element incorporated in them. However, such policies were little too expensive and premium payment mode was little too rigid. The universal policies came next. It became instant hit because it offered more flexibility when it comes to cost and coverage.Indeed, if you want to take advantage of the market without loosing the security of the life policy, there can be nothing better than a universal life. Following are some of its salient points:• It is a permanent policy valid for the life of the insured and so whenever the insured dies, his beneficiary is sure to get the benefit.
• These policies are slightly overpriced and amount paid above the cost of insurance is credited to a cash value account.
• Interest too is credited to the account. It may either be determined by the insurer or pegged to financial indexes such as stock, bond etc.
• If you fail to pay the premium, the amount will be debited from this account, thus keeping policy in force in spite of occasional lapses.Today we also have variable universal insurance, which allows the cash value to be directed to a number of separate accounts that operate like a mutual fund. However, since these policies are equity based, they can offer higher return, but if the market goes down, they offer greater risk too. If you are buying the policy solely for insurance purpose, such a policy may not be a very good idea because the death benefit will be paid as long as you have enough cash value to pay the costs of insurance in the policy.However, it is not for me to tell you what type of policy to buy. Receive different categories of life insurance quote on line and then decide. All said and done, I cannot stop myself from adding that, for life insurance purpose, you will do well if you buy only a term life insurance. It is true that a term life does not offer cash value, but its rates are so low that only a financial fool will expect it from the policy. Instead, the financial advisers say that one should buy a low cost term life for insurance purpose and then invest the difference in separate fund.However, not every type of term insurance is cheap. The term life insurance no medical exam policy for example is so expensive that the concept of investing the difference cannot be applicable here; in fact, the price structure of such a policy does not leave any difference to invest. Sometimes they are as expensive as a universal life policy is. Yet, such policies are no less popular because they too have some unique advantages.No medical policies provide instant coverage. You apply today and if you qualify, your family will start being covered by the policy from tomorrow and that too for the full amount. Of course, just as every other case, suicide within first two years is always excluder from its purview; otherwise, every other type of death in included under this policy. You may wonder why this policy is so expensive. Actually, without the medical test, the carriers can never work out the exact cost of insurance and so they charge more. Remember, they are here to do business, not for charity.