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Self-Storage Acquisition Financing

When purchasing an existing self-storage facility, it is important to partner with a bank that understands the market, cash flows, and optimal occupancy factors of your target property. As the future operator, your energy is best spent on property due diligence, not working through mountains of paperwork. We can help!

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Self-Storage Construction/Conversion

Constructions loans, unlike standard term loans, have two components: The construction phase and the permanent financing phase. Both components are critical in the short and long-term success of your property. Our advisers have sat in the lenders seat - let them guide you through the process.

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The Pros and Cons of Small Business Administration (SBA) Business Loans

Pros:

  • Lends comfort to lenders who otherwise wouldn't do the loan
  • Longer terms and less money down than conventional loans
  • No balloon payments
  • Loan payments can typically be lower

Cons:

  • Higher rates and fees than traditional bank loans
  • More paperwork and time invested by the applicant
  • Typically requires a personal guarantee
  • Prepayment penalty
  • You still have to have good credit

Click here to visit SBA.gov for more information

Industry assistance: Georgia Self Storage Association (GASSA)

What are lenders looking for?

The self storage loan world can be fluid. Our advisers keep track of banking appetites and who's "open for business".

  • Property quality
  • Borrower experience, equity and liquidity
  • Loan-to-value (LTV)
  • Financial and occupancy trends of the property
  • Infrastructure quality, such as asphalt, utilities, roofs, etc.
  • Property owner's personal credit history
  • Size and structure of the deal
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Let's Talk Georgia Self-Storage Loans

Self Storage Acquisition Financing –
Buying a facility. Use Financing to Leverage your asking price. Call us for a courtesy consultation on both self-storage acquisition concerns and best programs available.

Self-Storage Facility Debt Consolidation
Consolidate your debt and increase your cash flow, save money, lower your monthly payments. Add additional equipment or working capital

Self-Storage Facility Expansions, Relocations & Conversions
We will help make your vision a reality – expand, move or remodel we can offer you financing for your project

Self-Storage Equipment Financing / Leasing
Quick, Great Rates, Terms, Flexible, Equipment Financing or Leasing including security cameras, golf carts, and roll up doors.

 

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AN INTRODUCTION TO SELF STORAGE


COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT

Looking at the state-of-the-art facilities across the country, it is hard to believe that less than 50 years ago our industry was a “Mom and Pop” operation. The lack of information on building and operating storage properties in the ’60’s and ’ 70’s forced owners/operators to rely on their own business intuition and knowledge of community needs. However, these early entrepreneurs had a signifi cant advantage, because there was virtually no competition in the marketplace! In almost ever y instance, the customers’ demands for self storage space were far in excess of supply. Today’s storage investor operates in a very di fferent environment, facing a highly competitive marketplace, and keeping abreast of the competitiv e edge requires a new level of sophistication in choosing your location and developing your project for maximum profits.

POWER OF A PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION

The Self Storage Association has compiled information with the “third generation” owner/operator in mind. Self storage, like other fo rms of real estate, is a fixed investment with relatively little fluidity. However, knowledge is power and the SSA is providing a variety of tools for the self storage professional to maxi mize profitability, reduce liability, and prepare for an ever changing business environment. As with all real estate ventures, the adage “location, location, location” is the key when choosing your site, thus stressing the importance of “doing your homework” by obtaining a feasibility study from a reputable company. Therefore, it is no longer advisable to build out your “5 acres” without knowing the storage saturation level in your market area. And, the Self Storage Association can provide access to self storage vendors, education products, certification programs, trad e show and conferences that are providing valuable information to new developers as well as seasoned storage owners and managers.

WHAT IS SELF STORAGE

Self storage is the term applied to facilities offering rental on a month-to-month basis where the tenant applies his lock, hopefully one that you have sold hi m from your retail sales inventory , and has sole access to his unit. Basically, we do not want to create a bailment by taking the care, custody or control of the customer’s goods. While many types of structures have been 2 converted from warehouses, car dealerships, and other prior-use buildings, the most common types of facilities were designed specifically for the purpose of storing a customer’s goods. A typical storage facility might be on approximately 2.5 to 5 acres with five to seven one-story drive up buildings, possibly one to two story buildings, with a good unit size mix of (forty to eighty-thousand square feet of rentable space) , large roll-up doors and direct drive-up access to conventional outside units. It may also offer outside parking for boats and motor vehicles. Some storage properties offer climate controlled units, whether newly constructed or renovated buildings, usually offer access from interior hallways. Multi story construction, popular for climate control, also provides access through interior hallways and elevators. Usually, dollies and furniture carts for moving customer goods are provided as a customer service tool. Facilities vary in size, quality, construction, mate rials, and surveillance measures, and added services may include:

• 10,000 square feet to an excess of 100,000 square feet.

• Wide range of standard sizes - 5' x 5' to 10' x 30' or larger with the average unit size being about 100 square feet (10x10).

• Outside parking for RV’s, boats, etc.

• Single and/or multi level facilities.

• Resident Manager apartment on-site.

• Converted buildings (old supermarkets, big box retail warehouses, etc.).

• Units divided by corrugated steel panels (most widely used), chain-link fencing, plywood upon stud and drywall or stud and particle board.

• Movable module units (storage containers).

• Automatic gates with keypad computerized access.

• Surveillance cameras and monitoring stations.

• Individual door alarms.

• Well lighted.

• Completely fenced.

• Paved or concrete driveways.

• Retail merchandise available.

• Ancillary income sources (e.g. cell towers, US Postal service, private mailboxes, EBay, overnight shipping, business centers, utility payments, etc.).

REAL ESTATE CHARACTERISTICS

The following is a list of the distinctiveness you will find in the self storage business which includes:

1. Simplified building structures.

2. A short construction period enabling rapid initial rentals.

3. Low operating expenses and non-energy intensive.

4. Month to month leases, highly responsive.

5. Adjustable unit mix due to movable partitions.

6. Not labor or maintenance intensive.

7. High building rentability (near 100% for single story, 75% for multi story).

8. Many tenancies, spreading vacancy risk factor.

9. Basic function resistant to economic shifts.

10. Cash flow oriented real estate investment.

Historically, the storage industry is marked by past success. As a real estate investment, storage compares favorably with other real estate inve stments which benefited fr om inflation during the 1970's. In the past, the formula, simply stated, was to build inexpensively and expect big dollar returns. With increasing land costs, escalating city and county building requirements, developers are getting more creative at finding and developing self storage sites.

SELF STORAGE HISTORY

We believe that personal storage first began in England when British banking institutions were asked to safeguard valuables for clients embarking on extended voyages. Overcrowded vaults quickly forced bankers to seek storage in lofts from drayage (moving) companies. In the 1850’s, the first warehouse specifically constructed for household and personal items was built. This two story structure was built with packing on the lower floor and private storage rooms on the second. For the next sixty years, the storage industry stayed relatively unchanged. Warehouses began increasing in size to as much as ten stories utilizing freight elevators to reach the storage rooms. During the 1950’s, the storage industry was faced with rising cost of warehouses and land. As a result, palletized warehousing was developed. Tenants' goods were crated and stacked three high in wooden boxes moved around with a forklift. While the concept worked well, it was inconvenient and costly to the customer. In the mid 1960’s, Texas saw the first generation “self storage” facilities as we know them today. Becoming immediately successful, development of facilities spread quickly to the west coast and then throughout the United States and Canada. Then, the concept of “self storage” was being constructed in Australia, Europe and around the world . The majority of facilities operating today may be classified as "second generation" self storage. These include: typical row buildings, some multi story facilities and conversion of older buildings. The "third generation" of self storage is characterized by the following: retail locations, light commercial or even multi family residential neighborhoods (rather than the traditional industrial corridor or location in heavier commercial areas). These newer facilities emphasize aesthetics in construction, designed to blend in with the "retail" nature of the neighborhoods they serve. 4 Landscaping has also become a prime consideration, as well as development of storage in conjunction with a planned tract of offices, re tail stores, or business park development, combining “incubator” office space with storage or “super centers” (retail strip mall with storage complex ). All this with the goal of creating a stab le, secure, upscale image that develops a strong perception of trust among local consumers.

RENTAL RATES

The first projects which, in 1969, were renting for .15 cents per square foot per month in 1985, were renting for .60 cents per square foot per month, in the late 90’s averaging $1 per square foot, and the 20th century has seen average rents of $1.50 up to $4 per square foot per month in high population markets. Investors were attracted to storage early on because of the return on investments and the perceived ability to increase that return with a "small dollar" rent increase which yields a considerably larger percentage of return. Will this ability to raise rents continue? The past few years have witnessed the first signs of strong competition in specific local markets. In some areas the supply of storage units has begun to outstrip the demand. Older projects (at least t hose which were poorly or cheaply built) have suffered, with an increasing share of the market dollar going to the more sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing facilities that meet the market's demand for upscale, high tech product. These newer facilities will be considerably more e xpensive to construct than the facility of the past. The value of the land in a favored location can now be as much as 50 percent of the project, with debt service a significant factor in the cost . All these factors must be considered by the prospective investor or lender prior to entering the mini storage market as it exists today. Self storage has matured as a viable real estate form and is now prevalent throughout the United States and several foreign countries. While still viewed by many in the real estate industry as an "ugly duckling", self storage has proven its value as a basic real estate product with many unique, high performance characteristics. Self storage has spread, survived good and bad economic conditions, and developed as an industry with its own association and specialized suppliers. It has also demonstrated great popularity as an investment, and begun to attract substantial new interest in the real estate comm unity with the evolution of "third generation" properties which maximize both the business and real estate aspects of the industry. The upheavals in the real estate industry the past few years have left self storage in a much more favorable position in comparison with other real estate types. As self storage has spread, the market has become familiar with it, in so me places to a greater extent than in others. This familiarity has br ought higher tenant awareness, affording them the ability to compare and choose among today’s available storage facilities. Some older facilities, while faced with heavy competition from modern facilities, if well managed, maintained and marketed, still achieve a high financial performance.

5 GROWTH PATTERNS

Initial development of self storage facilities occurred primarily in the western United States and the Sunbelt states. Contributing factors were: a transient population moving to new jobs and better climate, retirement condominiums, apartment and townhouse residences, slab construction, etc. Many facilities were developed prior to 1979, w ith 1978 generally acknowledged as one of the greatest growth years in the industry. As the decade of the 1980's began, increased self storage construction activity occurred along the eastern coast of the United States , with increased interest in Canada, Europe, Australia and ot her counties of the free world. The early 90’s recession saw many foreclosed facilities purchased at “fire sale” prices by savvy local or national operators, now enjoying substantial cash flow. Estimates of the overall number of self storage facilities operating in the United States vary greatly. Most industry veterans estimate th at there are over 50,000 self storage properties currently in operation. Validity of these figures depends upon what types of operations are included in the facility count. Including boat storage, records storage, security vault operations, resort and outdoor storage, postal boxes and very small storage facilities located in rural areas will yield figures on the higher side. As the population became more familiar with self storage, the demand for off site storage expanded to accommodate the growing needs of the business community (e.g., storing files, medical records, excess inventory, equipment, et c). In some areas business storage accounts for 30 percent or more of the total tenancy of the facility. Easy access, convenient office hours, short term rental agreements and no long term commitment to pay for space which may not be needed in the future, make the self storage facility extremely attractive to the retail customer, contractor, home based businesses, manufacturers and pharmaceutical representatives, etc.

COST AND OPERATING EXPENSES

As with all types of real estate, building and ope rating costs vary widely with self storage. The following cost are based upon results from many self storage facilities and are obtained from operators in the industry, articles from various real estate and financial publications, and from numerous offering proposals on public record. Averaged nationally, operating costs range from a low of 25% to a high of 40% (plus or minus) of actual stabilized income. Expenses include:

• Maintenance This includes supplies, pest control, contract services, equipment, building, doors, gates, elevator, and landscaping.

• Taxes Property taxes. 6

• Utilities Includes electric, gas, water, sewer, and garbage fees.

• Insurance Includes fire, property, liability, sales and disposal, customer goods, employee dishonesty, legal liability and general business insurance.

• Administrative Includes legal and accounting fees, office supplies, printing, computer supplies, and postage.

• Advertising Includes Yellow Page advertising, promotional items, marketing and direct mail.

• Operational Includes tenant auctioning, telephone, security services, computer software, mileage, truck operations, equipment rental.

• Capital improvements Improvements such as new roof, asphalt repairs, major expense items.

LAND PRICE

The "proper" price for land has long been debated in the self storage industry as it is in any real estate scenario. At $1.25 per gross square foot and assuming 40 percent coverage, net cost for land is $3.13 per rentable foot of building. This used to be the "upper limit" rule of thumb in the self storage industry. However, this cost ha s been exceeded successfully many, many times. The current general rule of thumb for land cost is 25-30 percent of total development cost. It should be mentioned that two-story, or higher, self storage facilities are no longer uncommon (even in northern states), and numerous three and four-story facilities do exist. Ultimately, the rental rates in the market drive the cost that a developer can pay for land. The most common cost/operating description of self storage is the comparison with apartments. As a general rule, self storage projects will generate the same per square foot income as medium priced apartment properties in a market area. They can achieve this performance at roughly one- half the construction cost and at one-half the operating expenses. The most common "state of the art" facility will be about 60,000 - 80,000 net rentable square feet, cost $45-65 per square foot, outside of existing land costs, to construct and have break even operating expenses in the 40-60 percent range (not including debt service) of total stabilized income. A well designed and located facility will successfully operate in the 83-93 percent occupancy range, with many projects having been successful at occupancies as low as 70 percent, depending upon cost, rental rates and the method of financing applied and age of project. As a general rule, the investor should open his facility in the spring of the year and allow at least 18- 7 24 months for it to realize its potential in a competitive market, 36+ months for “Jumbo” 100,000 square foot size facilities to reach stabilization.

SITE SELECTION CONSIDERATION

Location of a self storage facility is measured by several factors: visibility, ease of access, proximity and density of customers, expect ed growth, current storage saturation level (competition), availability of land, appropriate zoning and commuter traffic patterns. A growth area, for example, generally will produce a much faster rent up, and high ratios of multi family residences will create a demand for smaller units, and smaller units generally pay a higher return on the dollar invested. A location n ear the center of a dense urban area, preferably on a major artery, is ideal. A freeway location is somewhat less desirable than a major artery that passes through the neighborhood the facility is intended to serve.

MARKET SURVEY

How does one conduct a realistic market survey? Begin with a demographic study which uses census material to obtain information about a one, three and five mile radius surrounding the proposed facility site. This information should include current population, anticipated growth, the population mix (renter/owner, multi/single family) and average income. Several industry vendors provide these types of demographic packages called feasibility studies. Competitors (both existing and planned) should be plotted on the map of the area. An on-site visit should be made to all existing competitors. This visit should include conversation with managers to determine unit mix, rental rate, occupancy level to calculate average rent rates and income of area facilities. Most of the aforementioned information can be found in the local planning department. Following on-site visits, total number of square footage of storage in the market area should be tabulated, as well as the number of individual units. Previously, saturation was thought to occur somewhere between two-four square feet of rentable space per person and depending upon the population, housing and commercial mix in the neighborhood. There is no real definition of market saturation as some sub markets now have eight-ten square feet per capita or the point at which over building occurs; it definitely varies from one market area to another. In particular, communities which absorb larger amounts of storage space are found in the Sunbelt area, where people have more opportunity to be outdoors and to own more recreational equipment. The type of housing (e.g. basement, enclosed garages, large homes with closets or no frills housing, military bases, condominiums and apartments, and the density of older housing which may not have adequate storage space) also has an impact on how much storage space the market will accommodate. Age of population, mobility rate, employment status and income are other important measures. 13 have used the broadcast media very successfully in particular market areas. The Self Storage Association offers a "DECLUTTERFY ™" Radio Advertising Campaign; print ads are also available. 4 . Newspaper, Penny Savers, and Local Publications: These can be utilized for display or classified advertising that can be very effective. Also, feature articles about storage can sometimes be encouraged. 5. Banners, Pennants, and Flags : All of these attract a person’s attention to the storage property. They also assist in selling ancillary products and services such as, boxes, climate controlled spaces, free move-in truck, truck rental, FedEx, UPS, etc. Banners are also effective for announcing specials. 6. Referrals: Storage operators can increase their market presence through word of mouth and referrals. Current customers, moving companies, relocation services, real estate brokers, truck rental agencies, and apartment managers are among contacts that encourage customer referrals. Best of all are storage competitors who are full, and have prior tenants returning. 7. Web Site & Internet : Web site and internet exposure is becoming an increasingly important element of the business marketing plan.

LEGAL AND LEGISLATIVE CONSIDERATIONS

Self storage was born without a legal status. Because individual storage units are rented or leased and the facility operator does not assume "care, custody or control" of the goods stored, self storage is not classified as a warehouse operation. On the other hand, the traditional landlord/tenant relationship between an apartment house owner and his tenant, is not workable in most jurisdictions because of the expensive eviction procedure and time consuming court process which must be used in dealing with delinquent tenants. Years ago, the Self Storage Association began sponsoring state level legislation which accomplished two basic objectives:

(1) it specifically defined the self storage facility and clarified that such a facility is not a warehouse and

(2) it provided a specific procedure for dealing with the delinquent tenant's property, lending protection to tenant and facility operator alike. Today, most states have enacted some version of the Self Storage Association’s model lien law legislation. The association, through its legal counsel and its headquarters office, keeps abreast of legislative and judiciary developments. Many sources of information as well as the Self Storage Association’s subscription to State Net (an “on-line” method of tracking) are utilized to identify legislative proposals, both favorable and unfavorable to association members. Legal guidance is essential in developing the language of a self storage Rental Agreement and in setting out procedures which must be used in dealing with delinquent tenants. The " Rental Agreement Handbook " is a detailed reference/resource tool for use in putting together your own 14 lease. Publications, as well as zoning and statistical data on our industry, are available from SSA Headquarters or at www.selfstorage.org.

STORAGE IN REVIEW

The rewards of the self storage industry traditionally have been high returns, low maintenance and the ease with which rental rates can be increased. Similarly, the ability to raise rental rates at will has been adversely affected by competition, particularly as customers have begun to demand a more sophisticated and creative product from self storage operators. In such a climate, the capacity of the market to absorb additional square feet of storage becomes questionable. There are no longer any hard and fast rules which will guarantee success. Today's storage investment must be approached with caution by an experienced developer (or by one who is willing to do the necessary homework). Primary qualifications for a successful project also include acceptable location, the ability to manage effectively, and the financial strength needed to wait for growth and development of an area while carrying the debt and operation cost of the project. Proper concept, planning, and management are all essential in the self storage marketplace.

SELF STORAGE ASSOCIATION LEADERSHIP & EDUCATION

Self storage has evolved and matured as an industry largely due to the formation of the Self Storage Association in 1975. As in the case of most associations, the SSA brought people together and created a forum for the sharing of experiences, observation of trends, and the aggregation of a market which encouraged the development of many products and services tailored to self storage operations. In 1981, the SSA engaged its own full time management staff and has now grown to almost 6,000 direct and indirect company members. The association has undertaken successful legislation to improve collection procedures, to improve communication within the industry, to provide leadership and educational and training opportunities, and to serve as a forum in which the trends for the industry take shape. Much of the rapid rate of growth has occurred in the SSA because of the "third generation" development of self storage now in progress. It has caused present developers to be competitive and to be bring their properties up-to-date in order to expand market share. Many older projects will soon be comparatively obsolete and unable to compete, among educated clientele with the "state of the art" business-oriented self storage facilities, without updating. "State of the art" means a positive identity which sets a facility apart from its competitors. It means physical plant design to convey security to tenants through such means as "tenants only" site access, secure perimeter appearance, video surveillance system, ancillary products and services, etc. There is also a scramble for effective marketing tools to enable a facility to expand and protect its market. There is intense interest in products and services which may be added to boost property income and tenant convenience. To assist its members in these efforts, the Self Storage Association has been rapidly building its resources for the benefit of its members in the industry, and towards the encouragement of orderly and continued services in the growth and maturation of this basic and popular real estate form.

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