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Pre-Registration Rates End Friday for the ISS Expo in D.C.

The discount pre-registration rates for the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Washington, D.C., expire on Oct. 2. The event will take place at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center during Oct. 5-8. By registering before Friday, attendees will save $70 on the Education Package and $15 on the Expo-Hall Package. They’ll also save between $45 and $70 on each of four add-on intensive workshops: 

  • Sales and Marketing Boot Camp, presented by Tom Litton
  • Legal Learning Live, presented by Jeffrey Greenberger
  • Developers Seminar, presented by RK Kliebenstein
  • Management Workshop, presented by Joe Niemczyk

The Education Package includes access to 27 educational seminars, the exhibit hall, and five networking events. The show’s exhibit hall will feature more than 70 of the self-storage industry’s top suppliers representing a highly diverse range of products and services.
Created for self-storage owners, managers, developers, investors and suppliers, the ISS Expo comprises four days of educational seminars, product and service exhibits, and networking opportunities. With a theme of “Today’s Challenges Are Tomorrow’s Profit,” the event focuses on strategies for generating revenue and perfecting business branding in a demanding economic environment. 
To learn more and take advantage of early-bird registration rates, visit

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The Quest for Self-Storage Financing: Who Has It? How Do You Get It?

In today's world, what used to be a civilized search for a construction or permanent lender has turned into a frantic nightmare of trying to figure out who's got the money and how to get your project financed. 

Owners of good projects with solid sponsors must come to grips with the new reality of underwriting: Lenders no longer underwrite high-leverage loan-to-value or loan-to-cost transactions. The new rule of the day is greater equity, better sponsorship and a lot more skin in the game.

To request financing today, borrowers must be better prepared than ever before. If you’re seeking new construction financing, you’re well advised to hire a professional company to provide you with a feasibility study for your project. Lenders are not only interested in the existing product in the market place, but the potential for other players who may come into the market and have an adverse impact on your proposed site.

Economic Climate and the Federal Reserve

One of the major issues we’re facing in the current economic climate is the capital ratios being required of lenders by regulators. The FDIC wants all lenders to boost their ratios, and there’s a direct correlation between increasing ratios and reducing assets (loans). Banks are being told to raise capital. This will be achieved by selling new shares of stock or selling loans in the open market.

When you look at assistance from the federal government, consider the position of the Federal Reserve Board and its actions. We have the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), through which we have seen hundreds of billions of dollars handed out to Wall Street and the major U.S. banks, ostensibly for the purpose of stabilizing the banks’ financial footing. The banks that have received TARP capital have written off billions of dollars of loans and stabilized balance sheets, but have not funded the loan request for borrowers on Main Street.

In addition, we have the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), which was intended to spur lending to small businesses and consumers at lower rates. To date, there has been very little use of TALF. The program has a capacity of $1 trillion, and was extended until June 30, 2010, to support newly issued commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) lending. The Federal Reserve believes TALF will have a positive impact on the lending market. However, due to the time it takes to assemble a CMBS package, this will only work for large players with portfolios that can be refinanced through major banks or on Wall Street. 

Who Has the Money?

So, who has the money, and how do you get your project financed? Banks have severely cut back on their new construction lending because of problems with their residential-loan portfolios. Banks that were heavily involved in residential lending will probably be out of the real estate construction-lending market until 2010 or 2011. These lenders will need to rebuild their balance sheets before they can take on new loans.

There’s concern in the commercial real estate market about overbuilt properties in the office and retail sectors, as well as multi-family properties that have increased vacancies and deteriorated rental rates. These issues cause the regulators a great deal of concern about the stability of the banking industry’s loan portfolio. This consequently affects the percentage of real estate assets banks will have to write off, which reduces their capital and ability to make loans.

Nationally and state chartered banks have different capital ratios they can lend against for secured real estate properties. If your bank doesn’t have the ability to lend you all the money for your property, it can participate your loan with another bank. The problem with loan participations is they essentially ask another lender to approve your transaction, which is difficult at best and impossible at worst.

Regardless of whether you seek a construction or permanent loan, ask your proposed lender if it has the ability to approve and fund your loan without participation with another lender. If it can, submit your request. If not, keep looking.

The ideal lender is a mid-size or regional bank that is familiar with your market and did not suffer extensive exposure to high-leverage construction loans or subprime mortgage lending. 

Construction Lending

Construction financing is difficult to obtain and requires equity of approximately 30 percent to 35 percent of the total project cost. Depending on the market, project cash flow, and the vacancy rates of competing projects, you may encounter a greater equity requirement for new projects.

The lenders in today's market are looking for debt-coverage ratios of at least 1.25:1. Capitalization rates, which are being dictated by the banks and life-insurance companies, are sometimes as much as 1 percent higher than similar projects that have been used in your appraisal.

The appraisal is old news. Lenders don’t care about last quarter's cap rates. They’re looking at the future and have serious concerns about property value in today's market. Lenders call this revised underwriting the “Stress Test,” at which point they use higher vacancy factors, cap rates and interest rates to determine the probability of a project being successful.

All of this goes into determining how much money you can actually borrow. The construction lender is principally concerned with how it will get its money back, and will underwrite your loan to fit its comfort level. Lenders want to know you can obtain a permanent mortgage or a mini-perm for your project when the loan comes due. In the words of one lender, “I will not make a construction loan larger than what I would write the permanent loan for any borrower.”

Permanent Lending

Permanent lending for new projects provides its own set of challenges. Permanent lenders include life-insurance companies, large banks, regional and small banks, credit companies, credit unions, conduit lenders, and even hard-money lenders.

In some cases, the permanent loan will not provide enough money for the borrower to pay off the construction loan, given today's underwriting requirements and reduced property value. The alternative is to pay down the construction loan to the amount offered by the proposed permanent lender, or to obtain a second trust-deed loan or mezzanine financing to get enough money to pay off the construction lender.

Underwriting standards are extremely fluid due to the market’s inefficiency. The best deal in today's market for a well-located prime property is a 5.5 percent, 10-year, fixed-rate loan from a life-insurance company, which means the loan is non-recourse. The underwriting on this loan will be a subjective analysis by the lender using a cap rate probably in the 8 percent to 9 percent range, with a stress test at 150 to 200 basis points over the cap rate to determine the viability of your project and, consequently, the loan amount. With $400 billion of refinance opportunities available in the market annually, you’ll find the best deals being cherry-picked by lenders that have money.

The regional banks and credit unions are probably the best bet for permanent loans. If your project is new, all the lenders are looking for some period of stabilized occupancy. Typically, six months at 90 percent occupancy will be the minimum requirement to qualify a project for a permanent loan.

The regional banks and credit unions typically underwrite at fair market cap rates determined by appraisers. While they might apply some stress test, they’re usually not as severe as the major lenders and life-insurance companies. Banks will look for “relationships.” They want your deposit dollars, which, in today's market, are very valuable. These dollars include not only your project accounts, but other commercial accounts and personal accounts in which you have control.

In many cases, credit unions will be represented by a central company, which will underwrite their transactions to a set of standard guidelines. Once the underwriting is complete, all the credit unions and their group will have an opportunity to buy a participation in your loan. To you, the borrower, this participation is invisible. You only make one payment to the lender who closed your loan, and that payment will then be distributed to the various institutions who’ve participated in it.

These are challenging times in the lending market for any type of transaction. The best professional advice you can get is from those in the arena—loan consultants, CPAs, attorneys and other professional support staff. You can hire better qualified talent in five minutes then you can become in the next five years. Good luck in your quest for capital.

Richard Hill Adams is the chairman and CEO of Laguna Hills, Calif.-based American Realty Capital Advisors Inc., which focuses on self-storage and income-producing properties. He has an extensive history spanning more than 30 years of providing construction loans and equity for real estate projects. To reach him, call 949.455.4100; visit

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AP Reports on Document About Storage and Terrorist Activity

This week the Associated Press reported on a document distributed to police officers regarding self-storage facilities and potential terrorist activities. Distributed by the FBI and Homeland Security Department, the document advises police to visit self-storage facilities and encourage employees to report suspicious behavior that may be related to bomb-making.
The notice was distributed in relation to the recent investigation of a possible al-Qaida bomb plot in Denver and New York. It was not intended for public distribution but to educate police about potential threats. The notice states that storage facilities have been used by terrorists to build bombs in the past.
Source: KHQ Spokane, Feds tell police to contact self-storage sites

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Lexington U-Store-It Facility Robbed at Gunpoint

Two masked men robbed a U-Store-It self-storage facility on E. Seventh Avenue in Lexington, Ky., yesterday. Police said two men wearing masks and hoods and carrying a gun ran into the facility’s management office, ordering the manager and a customer to get on the ground. The criminals grabbed the cash box and left. No one was hurt, and police are investigating.
Source: LEX 18 Lexington, Police Investigate Lexington Storage Facility Robbery

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Budget Self Storage Opens in Richmond, VA

Budget Self Storage will open a new self-storage facility in Richmond, Va., Oct. 1. The facility will have 750 storage units, 118 of which will be drive-up units. Budget Self Storage has locations in Canada, Florida and North and South Carolina.

Source:  NBC,  Budget Self Storage Moves Into Richmond

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New Metal-Roofing Products

BETCO's Trapezoidal Roof Panel

Statesville, N.C.-based BETCO Inc., a manufacturer of metal self-storage buildings, is offering three new metal-roofing components.
The company’s trapezoidal roof panel has three secondary stiffening ribs. The 324, self-locking, standing-seam panel is 3 inches high and available in 18- and 24-inch widths. It is constructed of 24-gauge Galvalume steel, and lengths can be custom-made to customer specifications. There are two finish choices: smooth Galvalume with a 25-year warranty or pre-painted with a 40-year warranty. 

Customized Re-Roofing Sub-Framing

BETCO’s customized re-roofing sub-framing allows sub-frames to be placed over existing roof panels. The sub-framing comes available in 10-foot lengths of structural steel. It will maintain original design loads, requires only standard tools and fasteners, and creates thermal air space between the old and new roof panels.

The company also offers drip stop, a special material adhered to the underside of 316 and 324 panels during the manufacturing process that creates a vapor barrier to prevent condensation.

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ISS Blog

Community Outreach: How-To, Part One

A few weeks ago, I challenged you to give some thought to your holiday-giving plans. At the end of the blog, there were links to several projects your peers have undertaken.

If you’ve determined your cause and are ready to invest yourself, now is the time to take action. First, contact the charity of your choice, presuming, of course, ownership approves of your plans and how the facility will be portrayed. Determine your budget for any monetary donations, and get ready to jump in head first. Once you make contact, you’ll be in the door for the season, and just maybe a lifetime.

Recently, JustB posted this question on Self Storage Talk: “How do you go about community outreach to begin with? I can understand volunteering—if you have time. But when your work day ends at 6 p.m., what can you volunteer for?”

To begin, the easiest thing to do is donate space to help an organization with their holiday efforts. One note: Speak with your attorney first. If people are working on your site and don’t rent from you, they have not signed a release of liability or indemnity clause. At my facility, we ask each volunteer to sign a release before they come on to the property. Most have signed a similar document for the organization for which they’re volunteering so they're familiar with the process. We’ve never had a problem or injury, but you need to protect the company assets—even while doing a good thing.

Here’s the next phase. Volunteers are showing up, and you’re directing them to the assigned unit considered their base camp. Is that all you’re doing? I’m not speaking of running them out on your golf cart, either. Are you marketing to the volunteers? Do you have goodies to share in your office? We have the standard cookies, chocolates, coffee and water, but during November and December we put out a crock pot of the most wonderful spiced cider anyone’s ever had.  As we ladle up piping-hot cups, it gives us a chance to graciously accept their compliments and tell them (soft sell) a little bit about our facility.

If you have a marketing trinket, such as a key chain or magnet, pass it along. A referral coupon is a great thing to pass out at this time, too.  They may be looking for storage for themselves soon. The holidays are approaching, company is coming to town, or they need a place to hide hubby’s gift. Let them know you’re there and you have a special rate through December. If you don’t have one, make up one fast and sign them up. Regardless, don’t let anyone walk away empty-handed from your office.

We're just beginning to answer JustB's question. At this point, we’re still working within the constraints of our normal work day. What owner would complain about increased traffic to your store for the donation of an empty unit for four to six weeks?

The number of people experiencing your hospitality and goodwill will translate into word-of-mouth advertising as they tell their friends, family and co-workers how nice you are, they didn’t even know there was a storage facility there, etc. And all for the simple out-of-pocket cost of cider and cookies.

In next week’s blog, we’ll jump from the frying pan into the fire with personal volunteerism, and how to juggle it all. Until then, pick your group now if you haven’t already, and ask how you and your store may be of service.

Denver Storage Facilities Visited in Connection With Terrorist Concerns

Earlier this week, federal agents visited at least one Denver-area self-storage facility in an effort to determine if two men and two women that may be connected with a terrorist plot have recently rented a self-storage unit. On Monday, they visited Southland Self Storage in Aurora, Colo., showing pictures of the four people.
According to facility manager Harvey Boardman, one of the photos was of Najibulluh Zazi, who has undergone several days of interviews with agents after anonymous reports that he admitted to some level of contact with al-Qaeda. His attorney said Zazi has not admitted to having ties with any terrorist group. Zazi has not been arrested or charged.
According to news reports, federal officials are focused on individuals with possible links to al-Qaeda and a potential plot involving peroxide-based bombs concealed in backpacks.
Source: The Denver Post, Link to al-Qaeda reported Auroran admits to some contact, news sources say

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EBS Renegotiates Construction Loan for AZ Self-Storage Facility

Equity Based Services Inc. (EBS) renegotiated an extension on an existing construction loan for a two-story expansion to EZ Store self-storage in Peoria, Ariz. The three-year loan, which came due this month with Imperial Capital Bank, was extended for an additional year. The refinancing will have the same interest rate of prime plus 50 basis points and be amortized over 25 years.

EZ Store opened in February 2008 and is 79 percent occupied.

EBS is a private real estate company specializing in the acquisition and management of self-storage properties. The company owns and operates 63 self-storage properties in 11 states.

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Inside Self-Storage Announces Marketing-Contest Winners

Inside Self-Storage has announced the winners of its “Best in Self-Storage Marketing” Contest, which recognizes the promotional efforts of self-storage operations in a competitive industry market. Open to facility owners, operators and managers nationwide, the contest ran in August and offered three cash prizes.
Contest participants were asked to complete an application form and submit examples of their best marketing pieces or campaigns. Accepted formats included TV commercials, radio spots, billboards, print ads, direct-mail pieces, fliers, printed promotional items, and YouTube or other video. The winners are:
First Place
Prize: $1,000
Winner: Terri Gavins, senior manager of Storage Center of Southwood in Tallahassee, Fla.
Marketing Piece: Multi-faceted campaign with overlapping newsletter, e-mail marketing, YouTube video (facility tour) and a grand-opening community event
Second Place
Prize: $300
Winner: Andrew Emory, operations analyst for Self Storage Management Co. of California
Marketing Piece: YouTube video
Third Place
Prize: $200
Winners: Stephanie and Joe Tharpe, managers of Lock Box Self Storage in Mount Juliet, Tenn.
Marketing Piece: Eight-piece print-ad campaign published in a local newspaper
Details about the winning submissions will be revealed during a special opening session at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Washington, D.C., and in the January 2010 issue of ISS magazine. On Oct. 6, expo attendees will enjoy a presentation titled “The Best Self-Storage Marketing: Campaigns That Will Rock You,” in which they will see some of the industry’s most inventive and effective marketing efforts.

The contest was sponsored by Tucson, Ariz.-based Professional Self Storage Management, which provides third-party management and consulting services for self-storage operations, including due diligence, feasibility studies and development.
For more information about the ISS Expo, visit

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