National Operating Performance Reports

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National Operating Performance Reports Data contributed by Charles Ray Wilson

Performance Précis is a new quarterly column based on the detailed findings of Self Storage Data Services Inc. and its newly developed National Operating Performance Reports. The complete reports, available via paid subscription, give account of how self-storage is performing in the nation’s top 50 MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas). These findings are unprecedented, and Inside Self-Storage is pleased to be the exclusive host of quarterly previews.

The operating performance for most types of real estate is measured by studying the revenue generated per square foot. Hotel real estate analysts coined the phase “RevPar,” which stands for “revenue per available room.” Regardless of the type of real estate, the goal is the same: to measure operating performance over time.

The technique used to measure performance in self-storage facilities is simply to multiply the asking rental rate by the facility’s physical occupancy. The result is an index called “rent per occupied unit,” and it is used to judge performance in the current quarter vs. the same quarter in the prior year, thus accounting for seasonality. For instance, if the asking rent for a 100-square-foot unit is $75 per month and the physical occupancy is 90 percent, the rent per occupied unit would be $67.50.

This number is used to compare performance to prior periods and is referred to as the “rental rate impact” as shown below. While concessions and rental discounts have a direct impact on revenue, they vary in amount depending on the unit size; and they are offered infrequently depending on occupancy, thus they are difficult to measure.

Performance Reports Published

Using the data available, Self Storage Data Services Inc. (SSDS) started measuring the performance of the 100-square-foot units in the nation’s top 50 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) during the fourth quarter of 2003. The company is now publishing the results on a quarterly basis.

The table below reflects the operating performance of facilities nationwide. Detailed reports are also available for each individual MSA, which allow the analysis of market conditions down to the county level. It also allows comparison of the relative performance of one metropolitan area to another.

The following table illustrates how the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Miami Beach, Fla., MSA performed. Note the premium for upper-level, climate-controlled units vs. non-climate-controlled units: 54 percent. However, note the continued downward trend in rental rates for those units. In the Orlando, Fla., MSA, the trend is just of opposite, but the premium is lower.

Sample Size

All too often, articles that report trends in rental rates and occupancy use results based on statistically insignificant sample sizes. SSDS has made every effort to use a substantial sampling technique. The margin of error is estimated to be within plus or minus 2.7 percent.

The company’s quarterly findings are based on an approximately 25 percent sample of the 17,000 facilities in the top 50 markets. To gain a better understanding of the physical characteristics of the marketplace, it collected data from 6,902 facilities during the second quarter of this year, which represented about 41 percent of the facilities in the top 50 MSAs. (See chart below.)

The new operating performance reports are a first for the self-storage industry. Their real benefit lies in their ability to follow market trends over time. To developers, they offer current data on performance trends to assist in the development decision. They provide construction lenders an unbiased source of information. To owners and investors, they offer a benchmark by which to judge performance.

Self-storage will continue to be built. Now, however, owners, developers, lenders and investors have a source of data on which to base their investment decisions.

Self Storage Data Services Inc. (SSDS) is a market-research company specializing in the publication of site-specific and market-performance reports for the self-storage industry. SSDS maintains the nation’s largest database of self-storage operating statistics. For more information, visit www.ssdata.net.

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