Making More Money per Square Foot

Paul’s Secret for Making More Money per Square Foot than Apartments, Homes, Medical Office Space, Strip Malls and Hotel Rooms

Dear Entrepreneur:

I just returned from the largest meeting of real estate “junkies” in the world. I don’t mean “junkies” in a bad sense.  The real estate industry looks on these guys as a bunch of kooks, lowlifes and “hacks”.

The problem is…these guys are making money. It seems everyone else in real estate is leveraged to the hilt.  I’ll show you how these guys are making a ton of money.

Six people on the Forbes 400 Richest List have ties to this market, so not everyone is a kook.  On top of that, the market is growing.

You Don’t Need to Be Rich to GET RICH in this Market

You don’t have to be a billionaire or even a millionaire to make money in this market.  You can also get involved as a passive investor, and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.

No Special Training – But TONS of Common Sense

You don’t need any special training, a college degree, or a real estate license.  The market is “self-storage” real estate.  I wrote a book about the opportunities – but I’ll give you the essence of it right now.

Here’s the best part of this business…

You can start out small and build this business in a way which suits your lifestyle.

My good friend Paul K. in Henderson NV started a small venture about fifteen years ago and now controls four self-storage investments.  If you like the idea of residual income (without the headaches of typical real estate investments) this could be the perfect opportunity for you.

Another friend Phil S. from Santa Monica CA developed a unique twist to this market. It’s called a self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT).  You’ll like this…

Little-Known “Investment Trust” Angel

A self-storage real estate investment trust or REIT is similar to conventional REITs. And it can be an incredible tool for generating substantial wealth, and in many cases it can reduce tax burdens.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, I’ll break it down for you.  A REIT is a tax designation for a corporation investing in real estate. A REIT can reduce or eliminate corporate income taxes.

On the flip side, REITs are required to distribute 90 percent of the income to shareholders. This income may be taxable in the hands of the investors.

The REIT structure was designed to provide a similar structure for investment in real estate as mutual funds provide for investment in stocks.  Like other corporations, REITs can be publicly or privately held.  Public REITs may be listed on public stock exchanges like shares of common stock in other firms.

How Self-Storage Became a Hot Rising Trend

The modern self-storage business in the U.S. began in Texas in the late 1960’s.  But self-storage can be traced back to the United Kingdom more than 800 years ago!  People are still buying “stuff” and running out of room in their houses, apartments and businesses so they need somewhere to put it.

Today, you can find thousands of self-storage buildings along major highways throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, the U.K., and Australia.  However, the neat thing is this business is not limited to prime locations along major highways.  You can find self-storage properties in almost every town, village and rural area around the world.

Here’s the deal…

The average self-storage facility consists of about 100 storage units.   In larger metropolitan areas you can find facilities with 500 units or more.  I toured a facility in Orlando, Florida recently with more than 2,500 units!

The dimensions of the storage rental units vary. But the most common sizes are 5’ x 10’, 8’ x 10’ and 10’ x 10’.  Customers can rent a self-storage unit for 30 days or as long as 5 years or more.  The average rent for a 10’ x 10’ storage unit in the U.S. is about $118 per month.

The rent in larger cities can be much higher (in Manhattan it’s off the charts).

But get this…another surprising source of revenue in this business is late fees.

Late rental fees –typically run $5 to $25 per month.  Another source of revenue is the auctioning off of storage-unit contents when renters don’t pay within the certain period of time.  I’m sure you remember the hit show Storage Wars on A&E. It details the self-storage auction business…if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. Believe me….you’ll like it!

Anyway, an auction occurs when the owners have forfeited their stored items by failing to pay their rent. As an owner or manager you have to clear out the contents anyway to make room for a new tenant.  So selling the contents could help you make up for at least some of the money the renters owe.

Portable self-storage is taking off too, although it’s not as big.  The largest player in the portable self-storage business is PODS (Portable On Demand Storage). Home Depot and other large retailers are also involved in the game.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, self-storage owners were buying low budget properties often hidden from view by other buildings and structures.  This is not the best formula according to 35-year self-storage veteran Paul King of Las Vegas.

Here’s what Paul told me:

“In my experience the most profitable self-storage operations are those located on the way to a grocery store, Wal-Mart, gas station, or home improvement store. It doesn’t hurt if your self-storage facility is located on a major road with super-easy access.”

Current trends back up Paul’s opinion.  Today, mega-franchisees are buying prime frontage as well as retail lots, and paying big bucks for them.

Sovran Self Storage Inc. a New York based company has nearly 32 million square feet of self-storage in 470 facilities.  There are hundreds of companies which serve to the self-storage industry, too.  You’ll find mini-storage consultancies, brokerages, and financing companies that specialize in this market.

What’s the Big Deal with Self Storage?

The self-storage market is considered by some real estate entrepreneurs to be a true “cash cow” venture.  This simply means operating expenses are relatively low and the owners often realize more revenue per square foot than other real estate investments.  The self-storage market is practically recession proof.

Most of the self-storage operations in larger cities with first class management (and an eye for direct marketing) always do well.

Why does the self-storage market flourish when so many others are going under?

One reason is when families are forced to move out of their homes due to financial difficulties they need someplace to store their goods – enter self-storage!  There are other reasons too.

What’s more, self-storage rent is a relatively small monthly charge.

Therefore people typically group self-storage bills together with utility bills, phone, Internet, cable, and water.  The delinquency rate in self-storage is typically much lower than home or apartment rentals.

The Numbers Don’t Lie! Comparing Other Real Estate Ventures with Self Storage

Here’s an example of an entrepreneur in Atlanta.

T.R. purchased an older, three-story building in a rundown section of Atlanta for $550,000 (owner-financed) and converted it to a mini-warehouse consisting of 110 units. The mini-warehouse is currently 85 percent full.

The monthly rent for a 10’ x 10’ unit is $100.

The math is simple: 93 units x $100 = $9,300 per month in revenue. T.R’s mortgage payment is about $1,100 per month. There are a few additional costs because of his location. These expenses include a security system, drive by security and a full-time, on site manager.

Still, this is an example of how an older building can be converted to a profitable self-storage business.

Can you see why self-storage facilities are so attractive?

Not only is the potential profit per square foot of self-storage mind boggling – especially as compared to most residential and commercial properties – but get this: self-storage does not have most of the headaches typically associated with real estate – like plumbing, live tenants, and wear and tear. On top of that, the cost of utilities for each unit is a bare minimum. Can you say overhead light?

But before you get into this business you’ll need to perform some due diligence and homework:

1. Locate and identify every self-storage facility in your area or state.

2. Physically inspect all the locations – and take notes. Walk around the property. Rent a traffic meter and stick it on a tree or utility pole (check local regulations to make sure it’s okay). Observe the condition of the buildings, fences, and traffic to and from the facility.

3. Talk to the managers of the facilities if you want to, but only as if you are a customer looking to rent a unit.

4. Spend 30 minutes per day educating yourself on the industry. Most people don’t do this, but that’s how you become an expert.

5. Subscribe to the industry’s main trade publications (listed below).

6. Do the math!

Self-storage is a viable business opportunity! The profit margins can be as high as 70 percent.  And one of the most attractive aspects of this business is that there are no people in the units! If you’ve ever been landlord, you know what I’m talking about.

There are ways to really leverage your profit in this industry; too, including my friend’s concept of self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs).

There are also investment partnerships that acquire only the most profitable facilities.

Resistant to Downturns

As I said at the beginning of this issue, my friend was instrumental in developing the self-storage REIT market.  He would always tell me, “People will always store stuff. And they often have to store even more of it when times are bad or their real estate investments go south.”  Take this advice to heart.

People will always store stuff. And when real estate investments go south, people have a lot more stuff to store.

Determine which approach works best for your situation: starting from scratch, buying an established mom-and-pop or prime location facility, or investing in rehabbing a rundown building.

This market is huge! This opportunity is yours for the taking.

Your humble host…..

Marc Charles

(Ed Note:  Marc Charles is referred to as “The King of Business Opportunities” ….and for good reason. He should be known as “The King of Legitimate Business Opportunities”…because he’s launched, bought, sold reviewed and advised on hundreds of businesses and money making opportunities. He understands legitimate opportunities.)

Action Strategy

Self-Storage Fast Start Tips

  1. One way to get started in self-storage is by developing your own facility from the ground up.  This approach requires capital, location and a myriad of other tasks. But like Paul says, the payoff is substantial.
  2. Acquire an established self-storage business. Operators often sell at a discount because it’s been unsuccessful for them. But with an in-depth understanding of the business and direct marketing you can turn these businesses around.

Three simple questions you can ask self-storage business sellers:

  • How many units does the business have?
  • What is the current occupancy rate?
  • What is the actual drive by auto traffic number?

If a self-storage business has 100 (10’ x10’) units… and the current occupancy is 40 to 50 percent… it could be considered a “prime target” by self-storage “insiders.”

But it must have at least moderate levels of drive-by traffic (2,000-5,000 cars per day).

Self-storage owners can’t lie about how many units they have, but they might try to “cook the books” regarding occupancy.  But if you do your homework, you’ll know if you can make a particular location profitable.

  1. You could acquire a self-storage facility in a prime location – one where the traffic (and cash flow) is much stronger. These locations are pricey – in the $1 million to $2 million range.

But when you start digging you’ll see why investors gladly shell out the big bucks for these cash cows!

If starting from scratch or buying an existing mini-warehouse business doesn’t work for you, there is a fourth option.  In years past, the success of self-storage was dependent on prime real-estate exposure.  But today, there are rundown, older buildings in many downtown areas which can be converted to a self-storage operation.

Granted, some of these areas aren’t the best place in the world to do business…including self-storage.  But hundreds of areas across the U.S. and Canada have seen a resurgence of revitalization. The one advantage of centrally located self-storage in major metro areas with easy access is people – lots and lots of people!

It’s fairly easy to do. And this redevelopment is often welcomed by local civic leaders.  In some cases, you can acquire old buildings at deep discounts.

By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to older buildings right in the center of town.  There’s another growing trend too. It’s converting empty barns and steel buildings in rural areas and retrofitting them for self-storage facilities.

Check out this self-storage facility in Koloa, Hawaii


Koloa Self Storage

Valuable Resources

MiniCo Inc.

Modern Trade Communications (Self Storage Building News)

SelfStorage.com (find self-storage businesses)

Self-Storage Association

Mini Storage Messenger

Extra Space Storage (franchise and REIT)

Public Storage (franchise and Public REIT)

Global Portable Buildings, Inc. (a leading manufacturer of mobile storage units)

 
 
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