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Self-Storage in the Northeast 2010: Real Estate Snapshot

Michael L. McCune Comments

I recently assembled a roundtable of real estate experts to discuss the state of self-storage in the Northeast. To help quantify the trends they’re seeing in today’s market, I asked them to rate their markets on a scale from one to five (rating specifics differ for each topic). I’ve also added my comments on their average response. Joining us in the discussion are: 

  • Guy Blake, Pyramid Brokerage Co., Kingston, N.Y.
  • Linda Cinelli, LC Realty, North Branch, N.J.
  • Joe Mendola, NAI Norwood Group, Bedford, N.H.
  • Chuck Shields, Beacon Commercial Real Estate, Philadelphia 

How has self-storage revenue held up in your market over the past 12 months?
[Scale: 1 = down dramatically, 3 = down moderately, 5 = no change/steady]
Blake: Four. In Upstate New York, revenue is down only slightly, but delinquencies are up.

Cinelli: Three. In New York City and northern New Jersey, revenue hasn’t dropped drastically, but it has dropped. Owners are cleaning up their expenses, cutting costs and just hanging in there.

Mendola: One. I define dramatically as 7 percent to 10 percent from a high occupancy of about 87 percent on average. I can only think of one facility in my New England market that’s maintained its physical and economic occupancy with less than a 5 percent reduction. The resulting revenue for these facilities is down as well.

Shields: Four. My sense is the overall market may be slightly down and, in some cases, no change. Many owners will make allowances/discounts on their current rates to maintain occupancies with tenant retention as their primary goal, as well as securing new tenants. For these reasons revenue has declined.
Average response: Three. Overall, we’re seeing revenue has been affected by the recent economic downturn, but self-storage has fared better than other types of real estate in this market and will likely be able to recover more quickly once the economy turns around.
What’s the availability of financing for new buyers in your market?
[Scale: 1 = very difficult to obtain, 3 = difficult, but still available, 5 = readily available]
Blake: Four. Local and regional banks and credit unions are still lending at reasonable terms, i.e., 70 percent to 75 percent loan-to-value, 10-year fixed at 6.5 percent interest, and 20 to 25-year amortization.

Cinelli: Two. Inexperienced buyers won’t be able to get financing in this market unless they have real money in the deal. Buyers with a track record can get financing, but the deal has to make sense. We’re seeing capitalization rates around 8.5 percent for a class-A product and up to 11.5 percent for other products.

Mendola: Five. Community banks in New England are ready to lend up to about $2 million. The credit rating and outside income for the buyers have to be good, but the financing is available to those who meet the requirements.

Shields: Three. Almost all new developments and those with significant vacancies and build-out risks are not finding financing. Existing facilities with some stabilization are finding it more difficult to finance than in the past. Financing outlets (banks, lending institutions, etc.) are much more conservative in their lending requirements. They want stable incomes with a minimum of 12 months financial history, not pro forma. In addition, they’re requiring buyers to have more equity in the property than before.
Average response: Three and a half.  There are still some opportunities out there for financing, but buyers must be very realistic about their own position and be prepared to meet many more lending requirements than in the past.

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