Different Types of Commercial Real Estate Investments - dummies

Different Types of Commercial Real Estate Investments

By Peter Conti, Peter Harris

Most people think commercial real estate is all about apartment rentals. Even though residential properties are a big part of commercial real estate investing, other types of properties make for excellent investment opportunities.

Commercial real estate is defined as any real estate that’s bigger than one house on one lot. So even if people live in the property, it’s still commercial as long as it’s bigger than one house. The following sections show the different types of commercial property.

Apartment buildings (also known as residential properties)

Residential properties include everything from small apartments (five or more units) to huge multi-story apartment buildings. What’s great about investing in apartments is that they’re easy to find, banks love to lend on them, and they’re great cash-flow generators.

Offices and warehouses

Offices and warehouses are great for investing because they have triple net leases, in which the tenants pay you rent plus

  • All maintenance and repairs
  • The insurance on the property
  • The real estate taxes

Typical triple net leases are 5 to 20 years long with rent increases every couple of years. That can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage, and here’s why: Say the lease is for 10 years. If your neighborhood experiences explosive growth over the next five years, you won’t be able to capitalize on what’s happening because you’re locked into a 10-year lease agreement. But overall, triple net lease investments are great for investors.

Retail centers

Most investors like retail centers — shopping centers and malls — because, like office and warehouse properties, they’re leased out on a long-term triple net lease basis. As an investor, your rates of return won’t go down over time as the taxes and expenses go up. In fact, as rents go up over time, your returns just keep getting better and better. And as in most triple net lease agreements, rent increases are built into the agreement with the tenant.

Hotels and resorts

This asset type isn’t the best place to get started, but many experienced investors find it to be a fun and profitable area. Of course, other investors have also lost their shirts, so make sure that you know what you’re doing before jumping in.

One way to get started in this niche is to invest in the property and then lease it out to another company that will operate the hotel or resort. Why? Running a hotel is a business, not an investment, and running a business brings with it a whole new set of rules, regulations, and headaches.

Land development

Land development is one of the most exciting types of commercial real estate. However, it can also teach you to some quick and painful lessons if you jump in without knowing what you’re doing.

By taking land that isn’t yet fit for building through the approval process, you can dramatically increase its value. Commercial real estate investors call this “taking it to the map.” Remember that it also makes sense to start small and work your way up with land development. Starting off small allows you to get comfortable with the land development process before going out to raise millions of dollars.