An Overview of Finance for Canada Self-Storage: Deals, Rates and More

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Completing a Deal

A common question by those new to the industry, stemming from wanting a quick and easy transaction, is how long does it take to complete a deal? Whether buying, selling, expanding, acquiring or investing in a self-storage facility, it’s rarely a speedy process.  From the bank side, deals are definitely taking significantly longer than in the past—as long as 90 days or longer depending on the deal. If it’s a refinancing deal with higher leverage, it can take up to 6 months to complete.

Cap Rates

Capitalization rates have and continue to be relatively good. As the Canadian market has matured, a distinction has grown between the various products. Purchasers and vendors are now recognizing assets as either class-A, -B or -C.  This classification as well as the quality of the market is reflected in cap rates.  During the peak of the market in 2007 almost all the facilities, regardless of market or class, were purchased at a substantially similar cap rate.

Rental Rates

Monthly rental rates in Canada vary regionally from an average of $138 to $212 for a standard 10-by-10 unit, based on numbers from a March study comparing the average cost of a 10-by-10 unit at high-end facilities in major cities. Surprisingly, Edmonton is second only to Vancouver as the most expensive place to store belongings. Naturally, monthly rates are lowest in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, and Montreal rounds out the bottom three with an average cost of $149. The rest of the major Canadian cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Halifax sit at a common price around approximately $179 a month.  

Despite concerns of rising costs, heavy inflation and new competition, it appears owners have been able to keep rates fairly consistent over the past few years. The rise of concessions, however, has been prominent in those areas with heavy competition. 

As with most real estate assets, self-storage has seen return on investment harder to obtain and refinancing become more expensive. But that’s the nature of speculation. Overall, self-storage in Canada remains a fairly safe investment. 

Jacqueline Blackwood is the research and communication coordinator for Foy & Co. Investment Real Estate Services, a full-service company that specializes in equity raising and brokerage services for the Canadian self-storage market. Established in 2002, the company publishes the “National Self-Storage Review," an industry newsletter. For more information, visit www.foyco.ca.

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