Industrial Property Buying Tips and Tools

Industrial property is the entry point for many property investors to the commercial property industry. As a property type, industrial property is relatively straightforward with little complexity. The property owner just needs to target and strategise the following issues when looking for a property to buy:

  • Stable tenants
  • Achievable rentals
  • Good property location
  • Industrial property precinct
  • Growth of the local community and business sector
  • Vibrant industrial community supplying services, products, and raw materials
  • Access to transport links, ports, airports, and railheads

So now let’s look at the industrial property needed today by tenants.

What do Industrial Tenants Need?

Traditional warehouses will include quality height, size, loading and unloading facilities, quality office space to support industrial operations, ample car parking for staff and customers, hardstand areas for operational flexibility, and high levels of security to protect the tenant’s goods and their operation.

Industrial tenants today are far more sophisticated and demanding when it comes to selecting a property to lease or buy. The investor should therefore select a property that has all the elements of property usage that tenants expect in the local market. Tenants know that the property will impact operational costs and eventually the bottom line of their business. Tenants will choose their property well as a consequence.

Industrial Properties Outgoings Advantage

Many Investors seek to purchase and to lease industrial property to major industrial businesses under long term net leases. In long term net leases, these larger tenants would normally control and pay the property outgoings direct.

The property outgoings in an industrial property are normally simple although there is an essential checking process needed here to see that the tenant is correctly paying the outgoings in a timely fashion. In many circumstances and in this market, we have seen some tenants avoid the payment of outgoings without the full awareness of the landlord. This then creates unnecessary fines and legal disputes for outstanding outgoings accounts. The landlord must not assume that the tenant has discharged or paid the outgoings; the landlord can later find that the matter is still outstanding and about to go to court for non-payment. Rates and taxes (statutory charges) are usually a charge on the land and will ultimately fall on the landlord for payment.

So whilst this process of tenant paying outgoings direct is convenient and simple for the landlord, such leases have little substantial increase in rental return which may not necessarily support the investor’s growth plans. Investors of this ‘basic’ nature typically hold a number of properties of this type over the long term to allow them to achieve portfolio growth.

With industrial property it pays to recognise that the property may be uniquely and specially suited to a particular tenant. This means that the vacancy threat in industrial property must be carefully monitored as any lease reaches the end of term. It is not unusual for industrial property to remain vacant for a lengthy period in the current market.

Mortgage Lenders and Industrial Property

Mortgage lenders for fully leased warehouses occupied on the long leases see them as being good collateral for loans. Long-term financing is typically available for industrial investors at competitive interest rates. The investors of industrial probably find it easy to refinance an expanding portfolio on the back of their established industrial and well leased property.

The secret to success in industrial property investment is to have:

  • Good leases
  • Good tenants
  • Good vacancy awareness and minimisation strategies
  • Sound recovery of property operational costs
  • Good maintenance controls
  • Good insurance strategies
  • Minimal exposure to risk from the property
  • Well established permitted use and compliances
  • Good income and expenditure budgets

Industrial property is the market segment that is normally suffering early in an economic downturn. That is due to the close integration between the industrial business community and the consumer. Fortunately, it is the industrial property market that responds quickly when the economy moves towards growth and stability. Landlords should respect this fact and monitor their way through the downtimes as they will always come and go.

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