This is my first post on The BiggerPockets Blog and I just want to state that in my opinion, investing in commercial real estate is a better investment than investing in residential real estate. Now, we all know that real estate in general is a great investment vehicle and both residential and commercial properties can be good investments. Either avenue can have a tremendous effect on your net worth, but most people think only of residential property when they think about investing in real estate. While this is certainly the most viable route for most people, commercial property can offer additional benefits that residential real estate can not.
3 Reasons Commercial Real Estate is Better than Residential Real Estate
1.) Commercial Real Estate Gives You More Access to More Capital
It has been my experience that it is somewhat easier to raise larger amounts of capital (under $3M) for a commercial deal than it is to raise $150,000 for a residential deal. As a residential investor your access to capital is limited primarily to traditional financing, hard money lenders, and private money from individual investors. If you are unable to raise capital from one of these three avenues, then you are forced to acquire property in more of a creative manner with owner financing, subject to strategies, lease options, etc. This in itself is not a bad thing, but unfortunately you will have to walk away from some good deals that can’t be acquired with creative financing techniques.
In commercial real estate it is more common for investors to pool their capital together and syndicate deals, you will also find that smaller private equity firms and finance companies are more inclined to do joint venture projects and provide the needed capital to complete the deal if the deal makes sense. So as a commercial real estate investor you have the potential to raise capital for a deal from the same traditional sources as residential real estate i.e. Traditional Financing and Hard Money, but in addition to that you can have access to capital through smaller private equity firms, hedge funds, private REITs, investment groups, etc.
There also seems to be a sense of intrigue and prestige when it comes to investing in commercial real estate. I have found that individual investors tend to be more impressed with the possibility of investing in a commercial project more so than a residential deal. Definitely not a fact, just something that I have noticed….
2. ) Commercial Real Estate is Less Competitive
Now in all honesty I can’t quantify this claim with hard-core stats, however, in my experience, for every real estate investor I meet, REIA meeting I attend, or real estate website I visit, the overwhelming trend is toward residential real estate. You always see “We Buy Houses” signs, every once in a while I see a “We Buy Apartments” sign, but you never really see any “We Buy Retail Shopping Centers” signs. I’m sure they probably exist though.
When you think about it from a marketing perspective, most investors target residential property owners, thus making the residential market more competitive. Just take a look at the “Investor Marketing Forum” here on BiggerPockets, most threads discuss marketing tactics targeting residential property owners. If you take the same marketing strategies discussed and apply them to commercial real estate, you will probably find that you are the ONLY person contacting these commercial property owners in regards to selling their property. Most commercial properties under $5 million tend to be too large for most residential investors, yet too small for most institutional investors.
3.) Commercial Real Estate allows for “Forced” Appreciation
Residential real estate is typically valued based on other comparable properties that have sold in the area that are similar in features. If the “comps” for a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house in a particular neighborhood is roughly $100,000, then your property is probably going to be worth $100,000. It doesn’t matter too much that you have additional features, or that your house is getting $900 a month in rent as opposed to the house down the street that is only renting for $700 a month. All things considered, you property will still be valued pretty close to the “comps” of the area.
However, in commercial real estate, the valuation of a property is based on the revenue that the property generates. Now, commercial real estate is still subject to the “comps” of the area as it pertains to “How” that revenue is valued in terms of capitalization rates. But, the overall premise is that, the more revenue a property generated, the more that property is worth.
So, in order to “force” the appreciation of your commercial property, you need to find additional ways to increase the revenue that the property generates. A small increase in revenue can increase the value of a property significantly depending on the “Cap Rates” in the area for that type of commercial real estate. Unfortunately, with residential real estate this isn’t an option as you really can’t force appreciation, your property will be valued in the general range of the market comps.
As you can see, commercial real estate offers many benefits over residential real estate in addition to higher returns on your investment.
Now of course there are disadvantages with any investment vehicle, and commercial real estate definitely has its disadvantages. However, there is not enough time to delve into them with great detail in this post, but we can always carry the conversation over into the comments below so please let me know your thoughts and comment below.
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Photo: Pedro Kwezi