Monday, September 28, 2009

Commercial Property Inspections

Before purchasing a commercial property, you will need to have it inspected, just like you would a new home.

A proper inspection of a commercial property should include a walk-through survey, document review, and interviews with owners/occupants to determine the property’s condition. You should have this done by a professional commercial property inspector located in you area, who is familiar with the type of property you are looking to purchase, as well as common challenges with similar buildings in similar locations.

The commercial property inspection report should include the inspectors findings, good and bad, and the often the probable cost for suggested repairs. The report will tell you what needs to be fixed before a sale takes place to be compliant with any local or federal regulations. The inspection will also give the owner and buyer the opportunity to discuss changes that may not be necessary, but are requested by the buyer before a sale can be completed as well as help the buyer better understand the maintenance costs associated with a particular property.

The scope of the inspection needed and the specific areas to be inspected are based on the age of the property, occupancy, and the type of construction. Inspections can range from just a visual examination of the property, to a comprehensive inspection of all the building’s technical aspects. As a buyer, you can request that the inspection include the baseline items, plus the more comprehensive components, but remember, the cost of the inspection, is probably yours. That said, we wouldn't recommend making a commercial property purchase without one! The inspection will be a investment worth making.

A commercial property inspection includes:
Site Characteristics (driveway and parking lot, landscaping, and utilities)
Structural Frame and Building Envelope
Mechanical and Electrical Systems
Plumbing Systems
Heating, Air Conditioning and Ventilation Systems
Vertical Transportation (elevators, escalators)
Life Safety/Fire Protection/ CO2 detectors
Interior Elements
Document Review (maintenance records, purchases)

--and probably costs associates with repairs, and recommendations, or notations on required maintenance

Additional services:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Assessments
Elevator Inspections
Fenestration Inspections (windows, doors, skylights, etc.)
Fire Safety Inspections
Lead-Based Paint Inspections
Termite Inspections
Sewage Systems Inspections
Asbestos Inspections
Indoor Air Quality Assessments
Radon Inspections

Depending on the type of property, and your specific needs, you may want to include many of these additional services. Buying a commercial property is an investment worth protecting, and knowing exactly what a property has to offer, AND what kinds of maintenance will need to get done (general and emergency), can make a huge effect on whether you are making a good term decision!

Property Manager
Kuester Properties, North and South Carolina

Friday, September 25, 2009

Are HOA Neighborhoods Worth It?

Dear Property Manager:

IT Seems like suburbs in many parts of the country, including the Charlotte suburbs are full of developments with HOAs. What are the benefits and pitfalls of living in HOA development communities vs. just buying a house in a "regular" neighborhood?

Is it getting harder to find "regular" non HOA neighborhoods to live in in the suburbs of Charlotte? What is the appeal?

Ken - Fort Mill

Dear Ken:

It is possible to find houses not in a regulated HOA community in and around Charlotte, and you may find that they are less expensive than similar HOA homes, however there are pitfalls.

When a person moves into an HOA neighborhood they agree to the covenants of the neighborhood. They agree not to have more than say 5 animals in the home, or not to have a horse in the back-yard, or not to paint their front door purple. The rules of each neighborhood differ but they are designed to protect the homeowner, the value of the property and the neighborhood.

As a homeowner in an HOA neighborhood, you are given the opportunity to vote for changes in the rules and regulations, as well as participate on the committees that determine how much of the budget goes to things like common area maintenance or special projects, and what the covenants are. But majority rules, and you have to live with what the majority votes for--that is what you agree to when you move into the neighborhood.

The benefit to an HOA is that things are kept at a known norm. If the neighbor puts up a 12 foot fence all around his property, he will be fined and made to remove it. If he parks 3 rusted out Buicks in the back-yard he will be asked to move them, fined if he doesn't and potentially sued by the HOA if there is further non-compliance.

The down-side for you is if you are the kind of person who doesn't think they need any one's permission before digging a moat around their home, you will be the one who suffers the consequences with the Property Management company and the HOA. But for the most part, an HOA is a good thing, for most people they make sense, and that is why they are worth it, and that is why HOA neighborhoods are so popular!

I hope this answers your question!

Property Manager
Kuester Companies
HOA Property Management Company

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Choosing an Office Space

Charlotte and the surrounding area offers an amazing variety of office space. Big, small, Uptown, or up by the lake... your choices are nearly limitless. Yet, as you think about your business, and how you want to work, you can begin to narrow down the possibilities.

You certainly need to have a good, clean environment for your office. But beyond that, you should ask yourself the following questions:

1.) If there is only "office work" being done, (and no manufacturing or retail)?
2.) Do you need a "reception" area where clients would enter and wait for you?
3.) How much space will you need? (Remember, you may want to grow before the lease term is up).
4.) Will you need bathrooms, or can you share bathrooms with other offices in the same building?
5.) How much parking will you need?
6.) How far will you need/do you want to travel? (And how about your employees?)
7.) Do you need a room for computer servers, a conference room, kitchen, or other space?
8.) Do you want an open floor-plan, cubicles, or offices with doors?
9.) Will you frequently have clients in the space?
10.) What technology needs do you have, (i.e. Internet connections, phone service)
11.) What if any build-out will the property owner/management company do to make the space work for you.
12.) How far is the space from main roads, town, the airport, restaurants and other points of interest?
13.) What are the terms of the lease?
14.) Who are the other tenants? (Are they competitors, or partner-businesses?)
15.) How is the common area, landscaping, and parking lot managed?

Choosing the best space for your new office is important for your ability to do your work and succeed as a business. If you would like assistance finding the best office space in Charlotte, Boone, Concord, Myrtle Beach, or Fort Mill, SC, please contact Kuester Companies at 704.973.9019.

Property Manager
Kuester Companies, North and South Carolina

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leasing Commercial Property

The Charlotte area has some amazing options for businesses seeking to lease commercial property. Yet, there are plenty of challenges to navigate as you look for the perfect location for your business.

A commercial property real estate agent will guide you through the process of finding and securing your new location, however you will be working as a partner with the agent, so you will need to work equally hard, if not harder to make the process move smoothly. Determining what you want from your property is important, but where your property is may be the most critical factor for the success of your business.

Location (Location, Location!)
If your business is a retail one, then location should be a strong factor in your decision-making process. Your time and effort should be focused on determining the best part of town and the types of customers you wish to draw. You want your building and store-front to be attractive to passers-by. Even if you are not a retail store, you should consider things like the size of and access to the parking lot, the proximity to other businesses, main roads, the airport or housing--things that your customers may appreciate, or may make it easier for them to find you, or make your business a favorite. Also, consider what else is happening in the neighborhood: Are the roads under construction? Do the surrounding buildings look like they have been kept up? Is the building itself in need of significant repairs. These are things that can have a serious affect on your business!

Put together a list of the things that are important to you as you set out to find the best property. Then, as you see more possible locations with your agent, be sure to add to the "wants" and "don't wants" list. The more you see, the more you realize there are very specific requirements for your property to make it work best for you and if you are able to communicate this to your agent, they will better be able to assist you in narrowing down the search and getting you into your new business location soon!

Property Manager
Charlotte, NC

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Property Management for Condo Building Owners

If you have taken advantage of the buyer's market and the great prices on property by buying a condo building, you are probably trying to figure out what your next step is!

You have made a huge investment, and in order to get the most of that investment, you need to maintain, (and where possible improve) the condominium's condition. Managing an investment property and dealing with the maintenance aspects of buildings can be a daunting task--one that often requires the assistance of a full-time property manager or firm. The management company will charge a fee that you may feel is a substantial amount, but when you look at the services offered, you will see that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Collecting Rent
Collecting rent can a very difficult and time consuming task--unfortunately, you sometimes have to chase tenants down, or handle situations when they are behind on their payments. For a non-professional, this can be very frustrating, (alas, even for the professional, it is frustrating!) but property management companies have developed processes and other mechanisms to be able to make this as pain-free and efficient as possible. They will make sure that rent is paid on time--and that you get your money!

A professional property management company will also be able to assist you in determining the fair market value of the condos and how much you should expect based on your competition, location and building. This will help you keep maximum occupancy!

Tenant Screening
You don't want just anyone occupying your condo. After all, you have an investment to protect!Tenant screening is one of the most difficult duties of any rental property owner. Luckily, the company responsible for the management of your properties will do for you. They will have each prospective tenant fill out an application, and they will call references, employment, credit and other factors before making the decision to allow them to become a resident.

Property management companies have the experience marketing property in your area. They know what works, and what doesn't. By utilizing an established property management firm, you are protecting yourself from the expense of trial-and-error marketing--and getting the most of your investment.

An experienced condo property management company will have knowledge of the legal issues and regulation associated with your condominiums. Staying in compliance with your federal, state, and local rules and regulations will be important and a good property management company can advise you on these matters and connect you with a real estate attorney when appropriate.

If you need anymore information on condo property management, or if you have a property in the Charlotte area, Fort Mill, SC, Boone, Myrtle Beach, or Concord and would like to know more about our property management services please contact Kuester at 1-704-321-8199.

Property Manager

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finding an Affordable Property Management Firm

Dear Property Manager:

I own a commercial plaza area in South Charlotte and I currently do/manage all the property management duties myself, from my office at the complex, however, I would like to find an affordable property management company to take over--I just don't have the time any more!

Is there a list, or place that I can go to compare prices and services? How do I find a good firm and know I am getting my money's worth?

Charlotte, NC

Dear Mike:

In the Charlotte area, you have plenty of property management companies to choose from. However, I will preface my answer to your question with "you get what you pay for..." Now, that is not to say that your can't find an affordable property manager in Charlotte... because you certainly can, but you should not be making your decision solely on price!

The first thing you can do to find an affordable property management firm is to attend a Charlotte area landlord association meeting and discuss property managers with other landlords. Attending a Charlotte real estate investor association REIA meeting may also be a good idea -- just to get feedback and advice from other investors.

My best suggestion is always to to go by referrals. Get a couple referrals from other property owners and then interview each of the property management firms. When you meet, bring a list of the services that you think you will need, and a list of questions that have for the property management firm.

The thing to remember, is that property management services are designed to make and save you time and money. So, the cost should be measured against return on investment--"affordability" is a factor that is relative!

Best of luck,
Property Manager

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Property Management Services for the Builder or Developer

Dear Property Manager:

I am a custom home builder with a development just outside Charlotte, NC. We had to stall our building process because of the recession, but things seem to picking up and we have several houses currently under contract.

In this whole process, we have decided to change vendors and are looking for strong Charlotte-based firms with whom to partner. Can you tell me a little about the services that you specifically offer for builder or developer.

Thank you,

Curtis - Charlotte, NC

Dear Curtis,

We have see a significent turn-around in just the last couple month and I am glad that you are experiencing an upturn in your business as well.

For the developer or builder, the Kuester Companies does offer specific services, and most importantly, we provide consulting that can benefit the neighborhood Association long before it comes into existence!

Pre-contractual management services include:

-->Preliminary and build-out budget preparation
-->Annual assessment, capital contribution and builder dues recommendations
-->CC&R modifications and recommendations
-->Legal consultation through a third party specialist
-->Obtaining quotes for insurance and other contractual expenses
-->Master Planned Community and Sub-Association set-up and planning

And then Kuester can take over the homeowners association management responsibilities, assuring a smooth transition.

For more information about our builder and developer services, go to the association page of our website.

Property Manager
Kuester Companies