Behind stocks, bonds and cash, commercial real estate has emerged as the fourth largest asset class in the U.S. over the last few decades. Among institutional investors, investments in commercial properties represent nearly 10% of their holdings.
When you look at the typical individual investor’s portfolio, however, there’s often a big hole where commercial real estate is concerned. In fact, for many investors, this particular asset class is a relative unknown. Previously, stiff barriers to entry meant that direct commercial real estate investments were only available to a select group. Fortunately, real estate crowdfunding is making it possible for a broader base of investors to gain access to this valuable segment of the real estate market.
Commercial Real Estate Explained
In the simplest sense, commercial real estate is any property that’s designed to produce income. That covers everything from apartment complexes and office buildings to shopping malls and industrial complexes. Commercial properties generate income in the form of rent paid by tenants and/or appreciation when the property is sold. Investors realize returns based on the property’s income, less any operating, financing and maintenance costs.
Where Does Crowdfunding Come In?
Historically, commercial real estate investments were the exclusive domain of private investors who had the right connections and could afford a five- or six-figure minimum buy-in. Some of the largest institutional investors in the world (including the Harvard and Yale Endowments) have sizable portions of their portfolio allocated to real estate and this has been a major factor in their superior investment performance. Unfortunately, individual investors have historically been excluded from this potentially profitable asset class.
With the cost of the priciest colleges now over $65,000 a year, and room and board costs increasing faster than tuition at many colleges, buying a rental property for your child and a couple of good roommates to live in can be a savvy college funding, tax and retirement move.
You can pick up all of the traditional tax deductions from owning a rental property, hire your child to manage the place and use his net income to pay for tuition with little or no tax, while the rent the roommates pay can help pay the mortgage. When your child graduates in four years, and he will, right? Then you can either hang onto the rental and use it as a retirement home once its paid off, or you can do a 1031 exchange, deferring the tax on the capital gain so long as you buy another “like-kind” property, possibly in a location you prefer to retire to.
Gene Rivers of Tallahassee, Florida, home to Florida State University and a handful of other nearby smaller colleges, is one of the truly outstanding real estate professionals in this country. Gene knows real estate and he knows the real estate business. So it’s no surprise that he is approached by 25-30 parents a year with kids going to one of the nearby universities who want to buy a rental property for their children to live in and rent a couple to some roommates. After all, Gene helped his own son buy a house that his son then lived in with roommates while going to college.
First, Gene says, the young college person has to be responsible enough to screen potential tenants or roommates, do a credit check if need be, sign agreements, collect the rent and not let the place fall apart. “Parents cannot be absentee landlords, Gene says. If your child is not the manager type that’s fine.” You just need to know that going into arrangement to avoid stress for your studying student and yourself. Know who the landlord is and what the responsibilities are.
Landlords, it is helpful to know the current trends among renters. Here is an interesting analysis of how today’s rental market is changing this year and beyond.
J Turner Research examines the top 10 emerging trends in the apartment rental process for 2016. Washington, D.C. —As you prep for an even more profitable 2016, J Turner Research presents the top 10 emerging trends in the apartment rental process that can empower you to increase your closing ratios. […]