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Paul’s Secret for Making More Money per Square Foot than Apartments, Homes, Medical Office Space, Strip Malls and Hotel Rooms

6:22 AM

Dear Entrepreneur:

I just returned from the largest meeting of real estate “junkies” in the world.

I don’t mean “junkies” in a bad sense.  The real estate industry looks on these guys as a bunch of kooks, lowlifes and “hacks”.

The problem is…these guys are making money. It seems everyone else in real estate is bankrupt, underwater, or leveraged to the hilt.  I’ll show you how these guys are making money in a depression.


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Six people on the Forbes 400 Richest List have ties to this market, so not everyone is a kook.  On top of that, the market is growing despite the economy.

You Don’t Need to Be Rich to GET RICH in this Market

You don’t have to be a billionaire or even a millionaire to make money in this market.  You can also get involved as a passive investor, and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.

No Special Training – But TONS of Common Sense

You don’t need any special training, a college degree, or a real estate license.  The market is “self-storage” real estate.  I wrote a book about the opportunities – but I’ll give you the essence of it right now.

Here’s the best part of this business…

You can start out small and build this business in a way which suits your lifestyle.

My good friend Paul K. in Henderson NV started a small venture about fifteen years ago and now controls four self-storage investments.  If you like the idea of residual income (without the headaches of typical real estate investments) this could be the perfect opportunity for you.

Another friend Phil S. from Santa Monica CA developed a unique twist to this market. It’s called a self-storage real estate investment trust (REIT).  You’ll like this…

Little-Known “Investment Trust” Angel

A self-storage real estate investment trust or REIT is similar to conventional REITs. And it can be an incredible tool for generating substantial wealth, and in many cases it can reduce tax burdens.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, I’ll break it down for you.  A REIT is a tax designation for a corporation investing in real estate. A REIT can reduce or eliminate corporate income taxes.

On the flip side, REITs are required to distribute 90 percent of the income to shareholders. This income may be taxable in the hands of the investors.

The REIT structure was designed to provide a similar structure for investment in real estate as mutual funds provide for investment in stocks.  Like other corporations, REITs can be publicly or privately held.  Public REITs may be listed on public stock exchanges like shares of common stock in other firms.

How Self-Storage Became a Hot Rising Trend

The modern self-storage business in the U.S. began in Texas in the late 1960’s.  But self-storage can be traced back to the United Kingdom more than 800 years ago!  People are still buying “stuff” and running out of room in their houses, apartments and businesses so they need somewhere to put it.

Today, you can find thousands of self-storage buildings along major highways throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, the U.K., and Australia.  However, the neat thing is this business is not limited to prime locations along major highways.  You can find self-storage properties in almost every town, village and rural area around the world.

Here’s the deal…

The average self-storage facility consists of about 100 storage units.   In larger metropolitan areas you can find facilities with 500 units or more.  I toured a facility in Orlando, Florida recently with more than 2,500 units!

The dimensions of the storage rental units vary. But the most common sizes are 5′ x 10′, 8′ x 10′ and 10′ x 10′.  Customers can rent a self-storage unit for 30 days or as long as 5 years or more.  The average rent for a 10′ x 10′ storage unit in the U.S. in 2011 was $79 per month, according to Inside Self Storage magazine.

The rent in larger cities can be as high as $300 a month (in Manhattan it’s off the charts).

But get this…another surprising source of revenue in this business is late fees.

Late rental fees -typically run $5 to $25 per month.  Another source of revenue is the auctioning off of storage-unit contents when renters don’t pay within the certain period of time.  One of the hottest shows of the year is Storage Wars on A&E. It details the self-storage auction business…if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. Believe me….you’ll like it!

Anyway, an auction occurs when the owners have forfeited their stored items by failing to pay their rent. As an owner or manager you have to clear out the contents anyway to make room for a new tenant.  So selling the contents could help you make up for at least some of the money the renters owe.

Portable self-storage is taking off too, although it’s not as big.  The largest player in the portable self-storage business is PODS (Portable On Demand Storage). Home Depot and other large retailers are getting into the game now too.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, self-storage owners were buying low budget properties often hidden from view by other buildings and structures.  This is not the best formula according to 35-year self-storage veteran Paul King of Las Vegas.

Here’s what Paul told me:


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“In my experience the most profitable self-storage operations are those located on the way to a grocery store, Wal-Mart, gas station, or home improvement store. It doesn’t hurt if your self-storage facility is located on a major road with super-easy access.”

Current trends back up Paul’s opinion.  Today, mega-franchisees are buying prime frontage as well as retail lots, and paying big bucks for them.

Sovran Self Storage Inc. a New York based company has nearly 25 million square feet of self-storage in 381 facilities.  There are hundreds of companies which serve to the self-storage industry, too.  You’ll find mini-storage consultancies, brokerages, and financing companies that specialize in this market. I’ll cover some income opportunities’ in these markets in future issues.

Self-storage development seminars are selling out nationwide.  If you think that’s great, then listen to this…

What’s the Big Deal with Self Storage?

The self-storage market is considered by some real estate entrepreneurs to be a true “cash cow” venture.  This simply means operating expenses are relatively low and the owners often realize more revenue per square foot than other real estate investments.  The self-storage market is practically recession proof.

I know everyone says his or her market is “recession proof”!  I get tired of hearing this.  But think about it.  The economy is hurting.   Real estate foreclosures, bankruptcies, and subprime mortgage meltdowns are at historical highs.  But have you seen any self-storage businesses or REITs (in this market) go bankrupt recently?

Most of the self-storage operations in larger cities with first class management (and an eye for direct marketing) are doing fine.

Why does the self-storage market flourish when so many others are going under?

One reason is when families are forced to move out of their homes due to financial difficulties they need someplace to store their goods – enter self-storage!  There are other reasons too.

What’s more, self-storage rent is a relatively small monthly charge.

Therefore people typically group self-storage bills together with utility bills, phone, Internet, cable, and water.  The delinquency rate in self-storage is typically much lower than home or apartment rentals.

Business owners have found self-storage useful in a downturn too. They can rent smaller office space and supplement the lack of space with self-storage.

The Numbers Don’t Lie! Comparing Other Real Estate Ventures with Self Storage

Here’s an example of an entrepreneur in Atlanta.

T.R. purchased an older, three-story building in a rundown section of Atlanta for $550,000 (owner-financed) and converted it to a mini-warehouse consisting of 110 units. The mini-warehouse is currently 85 percent full.

The monthly rent for a 10′ x 10′ unit is $100.

The math is simple: 93 units x $100 = $9,300 per month in revenue. T.R’s mortgage payment is about $1,100 per month. There are a few additional costs because of his location. These expenses include a security system, drive by security and a full-time, on site manager.

Still, this is an example of how an older building can be converted to a profitable self-storage business.

Here’s another example:

R.G. is an entrepreneur in North Chicago. She has 75 10′ x 10′ units, for a total of 7,500 square feet. (Actually, there’s a bit more – but we’ll simplify it for this example.)

R.G’s potential revenue (with 75 units rented at $225 per month) is $16,875 per month. $16,875 divided by 7,500 gives her $2.25 per square foot.

Meanwhile, a typical 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom home in the same area rents for about $1,500 per month. $1,500 divided by 2,500 equals only $0.60 per square foot! Can you see why self-storage facilities are so attractive?

Take a look at a medical office building…

There’s a new 100,000-square-foot medical building in Las Vegas which offers office space from 1,485 to 7,200 square feet in size.  I’ll use a 2,500-square-foot space (which is the average) for this example.

The rent for this space goes for about $1.50 per square foot, or $3,750 per month.

This particular building is 40 percent occupied. With that occupancy rate, let’s say five 2,500-square-foot office units are each generating $3,750 per month for total monthly revenue of $18,750.

And $18,750 divided by 100,000 square feet equals almost $0.19 cents per square foot in actual revenue.

If the building was 80 percent occupied and the revenue was $120,000 per month, the actual revenue would still come out to only about $1.20 per square foot.

What about strip mall rentals?

Let’s take a look at a typical strip mall near a nice area in Austin, Texas. A 4,000-square-foot space was recently available for $4,500 per month.  There are 10 units in this particular mall. Three of them were empty.  Four 4,000-square-foot units were currently occupied at $4,500 per month each.  Three 2,500-square-foot units were currently rented at $2,750 per month each.

Four units x $4,500 = $18,000.

Three units x $2,750 = $8,250.

Total revenue: $26,250

The total retail space in this strip mall is approximately 36,000 square feet. With the parking lot, the actual total is about 50,000 square feet.

Here’s the math: $26,250 divided by 50,000 square feet equals only $0.52 cents per square foot!

Not only is the potential profit per square foot of self-storage mind boggling – especially as compared to most residential and commercial properties – but get this: self-storage does not have most of the headaches typically associated with real estate – like plumbing, live tenants, and wear and tear. On top of that, the cost of utilities for each unit is a bare minimum. Can you say overhead light?

But before you get into this business you’ll need to perform some due diligence and homework:

1. Locate and identify every self-storage facility in your area or state.

2. Physically inspect all the locations – and take notes. Walk around the property. Rent a traffic meter and stick it on a tree or utility pole (check local regulations to make sure it’s okay). Observe the condition of the buildings, fences, and traffic to and from the facility.

3. Talk to the managers of the facilities if you want to, but only as if you are a customer looking to rent a unit.

4. Spend 30 minutes per day educating yourself on the industry. Most people don’t do this, but that’s how you become an expert.

5. Subscribe to the industry’s main trade publications (listed below).

6. Do the math!

Self-storage is a viable business opportunity! The profit margins can be as high as 70 percent.  And one of the most attractive aspects of this business is that there are no people in the units! If you’ve ever been landlord, you know what I’m talking about.

There are ways to really leverage your profit in this industry; too, including my friend’s concept of self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs).

There are also investment partnerships that acquire only the most profitable facilities.

Real Estate Collapse Helps This Business Grow

As I said at the beginning of this issue, my friend was instrumental in developing the self-storage REIT market.  He would always tell me, “People will always store stuff. And they often have to store even more of it when times are bad or their real estate investments go south.”  Take this advice to heart.

People will always store stuff. And when real estate investments go sour, people have a lot more stuff to store.

In Detroit, for example…real estate sales have been plunging for two years in this city, with no end in sight. There are no buyers. In many ways Detroit is like a war zone today.  But the self-storage business in Detroit is actually pretty healthy.  I was unable to find any self-storage businesses for sale there. This tells me Detroit’s self-storage entrepreneurs may be doing well.

Determine which approach works best for your situation: starting from scratch, buying an established mom-and-pop or prime location facility, or investing in rehabbing a rundown building.

This market is huge and growing! This opportunity is yours for the taking.


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Your humble host…..

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(Ed Note:  Marc Charles is referred to as “The King of Business Opportunities” ….and for good reason. He should be known as “The King of Legitimate Business Opportunities”…because he’s launched, bought, sold reviewed and advised on hundreds of businesses and money making opportunities. He understands legitimate opportunities. Marc has agreed supply League of Power members with crucial updates regarding legitimate business and money making opportunities.)

Action Strategy

Self-Storage Fast Start Tips

1)    One way to get started in self-storage is by developing your own facility from the ground up.  This approach requires capital, location and a myriad of other tasks. But like Paul says, the payoff is substantial.

2)    Acquire an established self-storage business. Operators often sell at a discount because it’s been unsuccessful for them. But with an in-depth understanding of the business and direct marketing you can turn these businesses around.

Three simple questions you can ask self-storage business sellers:

*    How many units does the business have?

*    What is the current occupancy rate?

*    What is the actual drive by auto traffic number?

If a self-storage business has 100 (10′ x10′) units… and the current occupancy is 40 to 50 percent… it could be considered a “prime target” by self-storage “insiders.”

But it must have at least moderate levels of drive-by traffic (2,000-5,000 cars per day).

Self-storage owners can’t lie about how many units they have, but they might try to “cook the books” regarding occupancy.  But if you do your homework, you’ll know if you can make a particular location profitable.

3)    You could acquire a self-storage facility in a prime location – one where the traffic (and cash flow) is much stronger. These locations are pricey – in the $1 million to $2 million range.

But when you start digging you’ll see why investors gladly shell out the big bucks for these cash cows!

Here are some self-storage businesses that were being offered for sale in prime areas on major highway intersections recently:

Western New York, Texas, and Mississippi (12 self-storage centers) – $35 million

Southwest Florida (39,000 sq ft/16 acres) – $1.5 million

Loudon, New Hampshire (27,200 sq ft) – $1.2 million

San Clemente, California (22,760 sq ft) – $3 million

Augusta, Georgia (29,900 sq ft) – $545,000

Bow, New Hampshire (16,900 sq ft) – $550,000

Las Vegas, Nevada (74,800 sq ft) – $3.7 million

Coos Bay, Oregon (13,500 sq ft) $650,000

Lubbock, Texas (54,445 sq ft) – $1.2 million

South Chicago Heights, Illinois (49,600 sq ft) – $1 million

Hickory, North Carolina (21,240 sq ft) – $285,000

Paris, Tennessee (7,800 sq ft) – $229,000

Prescott Valley, Arizona (40,300 sq ft) – $2.1 million

Gainesville, Georgia (14+ acres) – $1 million

Ankeny, Iowa (10 acres) – $850,000

Kissimmee, Florida (35,200 sq ft) – $3 million

If starting from scratch or buying an existing mini-warehouse business doesn’t work for you, there is a fourth option.  In years past, the success of self-storage was dependent on prime real-estate exposure.  But today, there are rundown, older buildings in many downtown areas which can be converted to a self-storage operation.

Granted, some of these areas aren’t the best place in the world to do business…including self-storage.  But hundreds of areas across the U.S. and Canada have seen a resurgence of revitalization. The one advantage of centrally located self-storage in major metro areas with easy access is people – lots and lots of people!

It’s fairly easy to do. And this redevelopment is often welcomed by local civic leaders because they’ve lost a good chunk of their population as a result of the exodus to the suburbs (and exurbs).   In some cases, you can acquire old buildings at deep discounts.

By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to older buildings right in the center of town.  There’s another growing trend too. It’s converting empty barns and steel buildings in rural areas and retrofitting them for self-storage facilities.

Check out this self-storage facility in Koloa, Hawaii

Koloa Self Storage

Valuable Resources

MiniCo Inc.

Modern Trade Communications (Self Storage Building News) (find self-storage businesses)

Self-Storage Association

Mini Storage Messenger

Extra Space Storage (franchise and REIT)

Public Storage (franchise and Public REIT)

U Store It Trust (franchise and REIT)

Global Portable Buildings, Inc. (a leading manufacturer of mobile storage units)

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