Real Estate Investing Basics

Due Diligence: What Every Asset Requires Prior to Purchase

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real estate-investing

All investments require a certain amount of due diligence on the part of the investor before signing on the dotted line. It’s smart to know as much as possible about the investment and where one’s money is going before taking the plunge, and private real estate is no exception.

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Private real estate investment is different from stocks and bonds in that one is investing in a real physical asset versus a share of a company or an abstract financial concept. As a result, those investors who are new to private real estate may wonder which questions to ask and the proper way to go about due diligence for these assets.

Related: Unlock the Potential of Private Real Estate Investing

Below is a primer on what to ask and how to assess the results.

Private Real Estate Due Diligence

What to Ask

The type of due diligence required for a private real estate transaction can vary according to the property’s asset class: multifamily, office, industrial, retail, hospitality, land, etc. How a property is used, or planned to be used, affects its value and what an investor needs to know before investing in it.

However, there are some forms of due diligence that are recommended for every asset class.

One of the first questions investors should ask is why the property is on the market. This will steer the direction of the rest of their due diligence efforts. If the property is being sold by the developer, due diligence related to the age of the property is probably unnecessary.

However, if the property was constructed several years or decades ago, that leads to other questions including its method of construction, material makeup, maintenance schedule, seismicity issues, ADA compliance, and environmental assessment history.

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Further, they should request property condition reports that address structural aspects and building systems, such as HVAC and plumbing. They should also complete legal due diligence on the title and ownership via a trusted attorney.

Owners may be motivated to sell an older property for a variety of reasons, including irreconcilable differences among the owners, a quest for liquidity, maturing loans, impending tenant lease expirations, or even market fundamentals. Investors should find out if any of these reasons apply to the sale of that property and if there are any other reasons why it is being sold.

Other questions potential investors should ask regarding older properties include who the tenants are, what their businesses are, and their creditworthiness. They should also look at current leases and determine when leases expire to seek out opportunities to increase the property’s rental revenue.

In addition, investors should look into how the property was managed, the potential or necessity for upcoming renovations, and other opportunities to increase the asset’s profitability.

Related: Private Real Estate Investing: When Does It Make Sense?

How to Use the Results

The answers to the above questions, as well as the assessments and evaluations performed previously or at the request of the investor, will yield a more complete picture of the asset—its pros and cons.

Proper due diligence will help investors determine if the investment is worth the risk and what the potential costs might be to either bring the property into compliance with required codes and standards or to increase its ROI.

While it may not prevent all future concerns an investor might encounter with an asset, the due diligence process will do much to assist investors in understanding what they are really buying before making a commitment and can help them avoid undue risk in private real estate investments.

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Questions about anything above? 

Ask me in the comment section below. 

Since founding Trion Properties, a private equity investment company that specializes primarily in value-add multifamily real estate investments and ground-up developments, Max Sharkansky has led the acquisition, renovation, and disposition of over $300 million in mismanaged and distressed assets. Max, along with partner Mitch Paskover, formed Trion in 2006 and successfully formulated a strategy of acquiring "diamond-in-the-rough" multifamily properties and creating value through renovations, creative rebrands, hands-on management, and the improvement of operating efficiencies. Max’s expertise of the marketplace has been instrumental in the firm’s success. Find out more about investing with Trion at Trion-Properties.com.

    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied 24 days ago
    Always glad to see more discussion of what I think it is a sorely under-discussed topic. Good article!
    Jedd Lucas Rental Property Investor from Pennsylvania
    Replied 6 days ago
    Great article, Max! I'm just getting started, and this is good info to build a checklist. Thanks!
    Max Sharkansky Rental Property Investor from Los Angeles
    Replied 5 days ago
    Thank you! As Ben Franklin said "Diligence is the mother of good luck."