If you own one or more self-storage facilities, you’ve probably thought about selling at one point or another. In fact, if you’ve owned a property for an extended period, you’ve likely received calls from buyers looking to make an offer and brokers wanting to help you list. Even if you aren’t in the market to sell, it’s smart to think ahead and understand your options.
When the time does come, the central question is whether to sell directly to an interested buyer or use a broker. The answer will depend largely on your goals. Though it’s common to have multiple objectives, there’s usually one that sticks out as the seller’s primary driver. Let’s examine three common ones and how a broker can help ensure you make the best decision for you and your business.
Goal 1: Speedy Sale
Life can come fast, and sometimes you need sell an investment quickly. Though price and terms are always important, circumstances can make them secondary to transaction speed.
Accepting a direct offer can seem like the swiftest exit. You and the buyer can work toward an agreeable price and pursue the transaction without the intervention of a third party. While there are benefits to this approach, there can also be significant drawbacks, especially when speed is important.
First, as the seller, you should understand that buyers are almost always sophisticated. Their goal is to maximize return on investment, and if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Typically, a buyer will have a good idea of your property’s value before they even approach you. Without broker representation, you can fall victim to buyers who offer one thing to start, then renegotiate terms and pricing in their favor. This can quickly put you at a disadvantage. It can also significantly elongate the process.
If speed of sale is the priority, a broker experienced in self-storage can be your best advocate to help retain leverage and exit the asset promptly, even if you choose the buyer. A broker-run transaction can also make it to the finish line more expeditiously and hassle-free.
Goal 2: Best Price
If your goal in selling your self-storage facility is to achieve the highest price, an off-market transaction almost certainly won’t yield this result. By limiting yourself to one or more direct offers, you significantly reduce visibility and your ability to generate solid competition among buyers with a deeper understanding of the deal.
A broker, backed by a viable team, can provide an entire network of vetted buyers known for closing deals with success, ushering a sales opportunity from letter of intent to close. With strong personnel to market your property and a stable of potential investors, your property can be showcased to the entire market to realize its best value. A broker’s marketing plan may include a call for offers as well as a process for best and final offers to generate the highest price.
An intent to sell directly to an interested party forgoes the opportunity to be backed by a tried-and-true brokerage marketing plan that would provide strong exposure and subsequent offer deadlines circulated across multiple venues. To yield the best offer, your facility’s story should be told through numbers and upside potential.
The ease of accepting an off-market offer may seem attractive, but when your property isn’t presented on a broad platform to national, regional and local investors, you’re limiting yourself to only a single buyer’s valuation rather than a competitive marketplace. Showcasing your facility to a comprehensive market and allowing interested parties to compete will help you achieve full value. Exposure to only a handful of individuals can result in pigeonholing yourself into a commitment that may backfire, which certainly won’t provide the highest return.
Goal 3: Best Terms
Terms are an essential part of any real estate deal and should never be overlooked. In this regard, the speed of an off-market transaction can be detrimental. Quick sales have the potential to push deal components into litigation until the transaction spirals out of control. Not all opportunities erode from a poor terms negotiation, but the last thing you want is to settle for terms that are less than desirable.
When it comes time to negotiate, the expertise of a knowledgeable brokerage firm with a well-managed transaction team can make all the difference. Their expertise becomes yours, and they’ll ensure the buyer offers—and executes on—acceptable market terms.
At the end of the day, a deal garners the most traction when it’s exposed to the wide market. Having multiple offers is a critical component to ensuring the buyer performs on the terms of the deal. The terms also link to the speed of the due-diligence period and closing. Without agreeable terms, a deal can be lost in contract negotiations.
Self-storage has proven to be a lucrative asset class, drawing the interest of individual and institutional investors. Once an enigma in the commercial real estate sector, it has emerged behind its steadfastness and resilience in a downward economy. This has put sellers in an advantageous position, so consider your exit strategy carefully.
With any of the goals outlined above, going it alone brings inherent risk. In contrast, working with an experienced broker or firm with a proven track record in self-storage can help you navigate the extensive complexities of managing a deal, protect your interests and ensure a winning outcome.
Ryan Clark is director of investment sales for SkyView Advisors, where he helps self-storage buyers and sellers through a range of advisory services, including acquisition, disposition and recapitalization, asset valuation, and joint-venture structures. He prides himself on taking a client-centric approach, with a focus on building long-term relationships and developing a strategy to best serve each customer’s unique needs. For more information, call 813.579.6363.