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Title Insurance in the Due Diligence Process

The Role of Title Insurance in the Due Diligence Process – Part 3 in a Series Protecting Ownership Rights What kind of protection is available to the buyer or lender at the end of a real estate transaction, complex or simple? The answer: commercial title insurance, designed to shield the insured against losses resulting from title issues and defects. Important: the Right Title Insurance Company You’ve got be on the lookout for any special exceptions to title, as they can interfere with your real estate investment goals. A good title insurance company can help you with this (BTW, such a company, usually for a fee, will perform due diligence services of its own). Such a company offers what is called an owner’s policy, the purpose of which is to ensure that the property purchased by the buyer isn’t saddled with defects, liens and encumbrances.   What Title Insurance Offers the Lender Lenders, for their part, desire a policy that protects and facilitates the sale of mortgages to the secondary market – Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, as well as to private institutions. Available to them for that purpose are the forms provided by The American Land Title Association (ALTA), in which the basic elements of insurance designed to address problems involving title to a property to be mortgaged can be found. Among these problems When the property to be mortgaged is subject to defects, liens or encumbrances; or is simply unmarketable When the lien created by the mortgage is invalid or unenforceable; is not prior to any other lien existing on the property on the date the policy was written; or, under certain circumstances, is subject to mechanic’s liens When the insured faces legal challenges Title Insurance Policies Covering Construction Loans There are also title insurance policies covering construction loans. These usually require a Date Down endorsement affirming that the insured amount for the property has, due to construction funds that have been vested in the property, gone...

Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence: Leases

The Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence Process – Part 2 in a Series Leases are Supremely Important In the course of conducting due diligence, a buyer of a new commercial property must be sure that the lease(s) in place have key elements intended to protect his/her real estate investment. Elements an Existing Lease Must Include These are, first, escalations of rent, designed to serve as ballast against inflation and to increase revenue. Market value of property will be dependent on market rents, and a lease with locked-in rates from 10 years ago, without any provision for escalation for the next 15 to 20 years, is detrimental to a property’s marketable value. The second element, established guidelines for the use of the property, should fit your projected concept of use (both retail and office) and restriction of subleases. And the third: a comprehensive review of your tenant demographic. Read Every Word of Every Lease (Followed by Another Set of Professional Eyes)! Either a ‘stand-alone’ tenant lease, or the sum of the tenants’ leases, represents the future value of your investment. Take notes on things you don’t understand and then ask a seasoned mentor, or hire a real estate attorney, to carefully read over the leases. This part of the process is so important that I refuse to completely delegate it, but work on it with a team. If you wish to draft a new commercial lease, I highly recommend turning over the task to your legal counsel, or use as a model the professional lease agreement readily available at web sites like kossresource.com To be discussed in following blog posts: the importance of insurance and title policies in conducting due...

The Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence Process – Part 1

If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing. – W. Edwards Deming The Function of Due Diligence is to Discover and Verify! The purpose of a thorough due diligence process is that when the time comes to present your deal to investors and lenders, you will be armed with the level of information and knowledge regarding the property required to determine the foundation of a good investment. Due diligence has many aspects, encompassing both the relatively tangible and the completely intangible. Let’s begin with the following. Environmental Due Diligence As applied to commercial real estate transactions, this typically includes Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments. In the US, these are often undertaken to avoid liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly referred to as the “Superfund law.” The purpose of an Environmental Phase One Assessment: to determine the environmental status of a property or facility as it relates to a real estate property transaction. This kind project follows standards which include those published by ASTM. Regarding Environmental Phase Two Assessments/Subsurface Investigations: these projects include, but are not limited to, sampling and subsurface drilling , asbestos and lead sampling., ground penetrating radar, and monitoring well installation and sampling. Technical Due Diligence Caveat emptor is in important legal principle underlying all property transactions: the party acquiring the property is legally obliged to discover and verify as much about it as possible. This means is that the most comprehensive and painstaking technical due diligence is indispensable. Similar in terms of process to a building survey, the term technical ‘due diligence’ has become increasingly common in describing the process of gathering information regarding the physical characteristic of a property risk assessment tool. The process involves research, analysis and discovery. An engineering or property condition assessment (PCA) typically includes a review of building systems in order to evaluate deferred maintenance items that can materially affect the operation and value of a property. In the course of such an assessment, micro-cameras, scopes or other devices may be required to scrutinize (behind the walls or underground) the condition of HVAC ducts, plumbing, vertical transportation, electricity, windows and walls. The...

Why Go Green? As Apartment Owner

For one thing, because it’s something that you as a good citizen should do. And because Going Green is smart business for you, as apartment owner or property manager. Next time that you, in your capacity as landlord or property manager, have to arrange for the replacement of a light bulb, it might be a good idea to opt for the slightly more expensive, but higher quality and enhanced performance, LED bulb. Why pay such a high price for green tech? Please read on. Property Value = NOI / Cap Rate The facts are these: LED lighting products enjoy vastly greater longevity and save up to 75% on energy. The resulting lower utility bills will raise your net operating income, while improving the quality of the building, and thus increasing its market value. The Best Part is the Free Lunch Be sure to take a look at the local, city and state incentives, which often offer huge rebates to owners opting to install sustainable green technology. Other Benefits The good news doesn’t stop there. In addition to the other goodies: Less use of water and utilities by your tenants means that that they will pay less –and so will you. Less worry for you about vacancies. Tenants will save on utilities and will thus have a strong incentive to stay put. You will save on labor costs. Longer light bulb life (not to mention that of other green products) = less labor needed to...

What to look for as a multifamily investor?

Why Multifamily? People often ask us, “What are the advantages of being a multifamily investor?” The answer is simple: by bringing rents up to market value and making some small improvements, you can build up a significant amount of equity in multifamily buildings. What to look for as a multifamily investor? Here at Abel Real Estate Investments we always consider the following. Location, Location, Location (Of Course)! The cost of homeownership is very steep now, so many people prefer to rent. The multifamily investor should consider locations where economic factors (e.g. land constraint) are pushing up rents. At the same time, the investor should always consider areas where there is substantially high job growth, so that the occupants will be in a position to afford high rents. Finally, the location must provide an attractive atmosphere to live, work and play. A Key Social Demographic One social demographic that we believe especially deserving of your attention: Gen Y, With a population, all still under 30, estimated at roughly 72 million strong, they are the most educated, diverse, tech-proficient, and soon-to-be largest American generation, and, because of the state of the economy and their distinctive culture, are most attracted to the idea of multifamily living. Gen Y and Life in the City For one thing, many members of Gen Y are experiencing weak job security and the likelihood of having to change jobs, so they are reluctant to be burdened with a 30-year mortgage. Furthermore, people of the Gen Y generation tend to think less about buying the “American Dream” and more about experiencing it. For them, this means the advantages of urban life: proximity to friends, to trendy restaurants and cafes, to all the amenities of city life. Utilizing apps and social media enable Gen Y to maximize their living experience in the city. The startup mindset is yet another factor luring them to the city. And about the high rents: “there is an app for that.” Gen Y is dedicated to getting more with less – they can do without cars, relying on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, and are savvy consumers, relying on word-of-mouth or “buzz” advertising. If you own or represent...