The answer to how to prospect for commercial real estate in order to find a real estate investing opportunity can be as easy as turning on your computer or driving around town or picking up your cell phone. The best sources for locating properties are:
Local brokers can be found by driving around or through commercial areas and taking down the information on the “For Sale”, “For Lease” or “Space Available” signs. You can then call the broker directly or visit the website if it was listed on the sign. Another way is to enter “Commercial Real Estate Brokers” in your search engine and check out the websites you come up with to find someone in your local area.
Although in most areas of the country there is not an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for commercial properties like there is for residential properties, commercial brokers have their own listings of properties for sale, as well as a database of properties that other brokers have for sale. They will have properties locally as well as nationally. Utilizing a broker usually does not cost you anything as a buyer because the brokers will typically be compensated by the seller. In cases where the buyer does pay all or part of the commission, it is worth the cost if the broker has found you a great deal and probably saved you more than the cost of the commission.
A number of good websites can lead you to potential commercial property deals. The most well known are Loopnet and Costar, which are similar to a multiple listing service for commercial properties. To find other sites such as CIMLS is to google “Commercial Real Estate For Sale”. Please note that most of the sites will ask you for a city or state. You can usually narrow your search once you are onto the site.
You can also go directly to the websites of national commercial brokerage firms where you can see their listings and get valuable market reports. The beauty is that if the property you’re looking for is no longer available, you can sign up for property availability alerts or contact one of the brokers directly. By talking with a broker, you may find that the property you were checking on is no longer available, but that they are getting ready to list another property that may meet your criteria.
Real Estate Investment Clubs
Most of the larger cities in the U.S. have a number of local real estate investment clubs. These groups provide great opportunities to network and meet with other investors who have a similar interest in commercial property. The members typically include just about everyone: beginning as well as seasoned investors, brokers, attorneys, title company officers, appraisers and others who make their living from the various real estate investing professions. Most of these associations meet once a month to discuss current events, share information and have an expert speak to the group.
To find clubs in your city, enter “real estate investment club” in your search engine or try going onto the National Real Estate Investor Association website and then search for the nearest club in your area.
Newspaper Ads and Publications
You can often find owners of commercial properties who want to sell by looking at newspaper classified ads and real estate publications ads. Magazines that are good are Real Estate Forum and publications by France Publications. Newspapers can include your local paper, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Others who may be able to assist you in your search include your own personal network of contacts, a local realtor or the realtor you bought your house from, your banker, your attorney or your accountant, any of whom can possibly assist you in your search.
Whatever you do, have fun learning how to prospect for commercial property. Talking with others increases your knowledge and expands your network.
As I say throughout my blogs, if I may be of assistance with your real estate questions please contact me, I truly want to help. My way of giving back is to give away my knowledge. Thank you for reviewing this blog.