When looking at a commercial property of any type you need to spend time on the financial aspects of the property before you form an opinion about the price that you think that you can achieve. The financial aspects of the property can have a major impact on the price and or the interest of purchasers. The financial aspects of a building or a property can impact the asset for many years and for this reason must be analysed and identified.
We have detailed some of the major aspects of financial concern in a property purchase or sale scenario. Whilst these are not the only categories of activity and concern, they are the major ones in most circumstances.
We recommend that you create a checklist from these items so that your property review and inspection process is suitably enhanced and professional.
- The Asset Schedules: The property will contain many fixed and moveable assets. These will normally be detailed on the asset register. A well maintained commercial property will have an up to date asset register for your review. Obtaining the asset register at the early stage of sale consideration is productive as it will tell you in detail what you are selling and later become part of the due diligence process.
- Bank and Personal Guarantees: An investment Property Consultant comprises leases and other documents which support tenant occupancy. A normal leasing process would involve and create some form of guarantee to be provided by the tenant to the landlord for the duration of the lease. It is important that this guarantee has both strength and substance to reimburse the landlord in situations where the tenant defaults under the terms of the lease. At the time of property sale, these guarantee documents should have some form of ability to be transferred or re-issued to the incoming purchaser. This process is called an assignment of the guarantees. You should consult with the landlord’s solicitor to identify the types of guarantees involved and the ease in which this can be achieved at time of sale.
- Capital Expenditure: Major items of plant and equipment which are replaced in a commercial property are usually regarded as capital expenditure and are separately itemised for the purposes of taxation and depreciation over a period of time. Taxation laws in your location will stipulate the depreciation terms as they apply to different types of capital expenditure. For example, a computer that is purchased for the building control system will depreciate far quicker than the air handling unit which was purchased for the air conditioning plant. Well maintained property records will include a detailed capital expenditure register and the date at which the capital item was purchased. Purchasers to the property will be interested in the depreciation that this register provides against the cash flow in coming years.
- Taxation and GST: Every country and property location has its own unique taxation laws and requirements relating to property and particularly investment property. In the sale process, it is important to understand that these matters have been correctly handled and are up to date. It is sometimes necessary to view the net returns for the property for the last few years that were applied to the taxation statements and lodgement process. You can also seek written confirmation from the owner of the property that all taxation matters are up to date.
- Income and Rent Analysis: The income for the property is a reflection of the leases and occupancy licences therein. It is essential to understand that the rent has been collected in accordance with the leases or licences and that all rental matters are up to date. Part of this process will also involve the checking of the rent review profile and the expiry profile of all leases. A property with a volatile leases or leases that are soon to expire is likely to impact the price or the buyer interest. When reviewing tenant occupancy against leases, you should review the original documents and cross reference this to the tenancy schedule and any discussions or information provided by the landlord.
- Independent Valuation: Many property owners will obtain a valuation regularly in support of their property financing package. It is not unusual for such valuations to occur annually. Importantly they are done by a qualified and registered valuer. If you view this documentation and take it into account in the pricing process for the property, it is wise to consider the true independence of the valuation when it was done and its relevance to the current market. Some valuations for financing purposes may not be in parity with the existing market conditions. It pays to sometimes seek a true independent valuation at the time of sale or in preparation for sale.
- Land tax issues: Property land tax has a direct impact on the investment aspects of commercial real estate. In different locations, the recovery and payment of land tax is impacted uniquely by local legislation. In some circumstances the land tax can or cannot be recovered from the tenants within the property. This will have immediate impact on the bottom line and net return from the property; this then impacts the price. Consulting with the financial adviser for the owner of the property, or the taxation office, will achieve clarity in this taxation impact. Given that most agents and brokers are not taxation experts, you should involve other professional taxation people as appropriate.
- Lease disputes: Rarely is there a property that does not have an existing lease dispute or has been impacted by a previous lease dispute. For this reason it pays to question the matters of lease dispute and resolution. If in doubt, seek a copy of correspondence and any subsequent agreement between the appropriate parties. Unresolved lease disputes can jeopardise or slow the process of property sale.
- Mortgaged interests: Most commercial real estate properties will have a mortgage of some type to a financier. When a mortgage exists, it is necessary to understand how it will be handled or discharged in the process of sale. The client should consult with the mortgagee to clarify these matters for you. In a situation of distressed properties, the sale of the property may need to realise a particular price before clear title can be achieved.