Anatomy of a Commercial RE Investment – Part 2

OK – close your eyes (actually, keep them open so you can keep reading!) and imagine the complexity of analyzing cashflows and proformas for a real-estate deal north of $2.5 million

Daunting, huh?

Well, that may be how OTHERS analyze a deal, but not me … all of my deals are done on the backs of envelopes … well one clean sheet of paper. I have this one right in front of me, in my own scrawly handwriting.

On the strength of it, I have authorized my Realtor to make a written offer, with a $200k ‘earnest money’ deposit on the $2.7 Mill. office/warehouse. Sure, the proformas will come later, but I’ll get him to prepare those for the bank … while I’m at the beach or off skiing someplace!

Here’s what the piece of paper says:

Purchase Costs

$2.7 Million (incl. $100k broker commission)

$5k Building / Environmental inspections

$15k Closing Costs (legals, bank fees, appraisals, etc.)

Of these, the $5k for the inspections is my only financial risk, as I need to undertake these during ‘due diligence’ (we’ll talk about this in a future post if the deal gets that far).


$2.7 Million Purchase Price (incl. broker’s commission)

$ 2 Million to be financed

Note: this is approx. 75% of purchase price to be financed; this is high for commercial which can be as low as 60% being the maximum that the bank will fund.

$700k – so this leaves me 25% of the purchase price, or $700k, to find as a deposit.

Note: I’m sure that the owner’s won’t ‘carry back’ a note on this one, as the whole purpose of the sale is to raise cash to keep their business afloat or growing.

So, that’s the purchase / financing side of the equation, now let’s see if it can make me any money …


$175k – Rent for Tenant 1 @ $8 / sq. foot

Note: the current owners will lease 2/3 of the property for the above fee (probably 5 years, with a 3% yearly increase)

$80k – Rent for Tenant 2 @ $8 / sq. foot (we need to find this smaller tenant)

Note: the property is street front with car park, so we feel is should be easy to find a second tenant in the $6 – $10 / sq. foot price range



Note: the GREAT thing about commercial properties is that most expenses (and in a ‘triple net property, all expenses – unfortunately, this is NOT one of those) are handled by the tenant, leaving me just …

$45k Taxes

$7k Building Insurance

$10k Management Fees

Note: Rental management fees can vary from 4% – 6% of the rent if you don’t want to deal with the tenants yourself; keep in mind that commercial property is very different to residential and you won’t have as many issues dealing directly with commercial tenants – they are responsible for all repairs & maintenance … but, if the roof springs a leak, you’ll be expected to act quick! I will use an agent ( my friend).

$130k – Bank Interest @ 6.5%

Note: this is the ‘biggie’ and I haven’t spoken to any banks, yet; obviously, that’s my next port of call but my Realtor friend tells me that I shouldn’t have any problem getting funding fixed for 7 years (or a 25 year P&I loan with a 7 year balloon) around these rates. Variable can be as low as 4%, but I prefer to ‘fix my costs’.


In the final part [AJC: when I return from my ‘winter break’ on Jan 5], I’ll summarize this all for you and explain why I like the deal so much …

Anatomy of a Commercial RE Investment – Part 1

I just answered a question on commercial real-estate investing and thought that there’s no better way to explain the process than by showing …

… coincidentally, I have been working on a commercial RE deal in the $2.5 mill. price range, so I thought that I should simply share.

Warning: like most deals, this deal could simply fall through at the first hurdle. Let me explain by sharing the story so far:

All good real-estate transactions, in my opinion, start with finding a good broker who is working for you.

As it happens, I have a close friend who is a commercial real-estate broker who meets the ‘trifecta’ that I mentioned in that last post: (a) I like/trust him, (b) he works with commercial RE in the area/s that I am interested in, and (c) he invests heavily in commercial RE himself (buy/hold).

I have been pestering him for the last 4 years to find me a deal … interestingly, and this is something that you should take mental note of, he says that he is asked by most people he meets to ‘find them a deal’ but almost none ‘pull the trigger’ …

… so, forgive your broker if they don’t fall all over themselves with excitement until you actually close on your first deal with them 😉

Anyhow, finally a deal came up that seemed to fit my criteria. I didn’t even request financials at that stage or see the property: on the strength of my friend’s recommendation (it was a deal he wanted, but the $700k deposit was a bit too steep for him) I authorized him to put in a written offer.

I don’t recommend that you do this, you will pick up where this post leaves off …

Anyhow, the current owners occupy the premises (they were planning a sale/leaseback i.e. they sell the property to me, then lease 2/3 of it from me on a 5 year lease) and decided to first see if they could simply refinance their loan and take some cash out.

Naturally, in the current market this has proved difficult, so they have put the property back on the market … my friend is the listing broker, so I have first ‘dibs’ on the deal.

So, I am now at Stage 1: I have a deal in front of me; presumably, motivated sellers (we’ll find out, if they accept the new offer); and, I need to decide whether and how to proceed.

In Part 2 I’ll step you through exactly how I decided this was the ‘deal for me’ …

Rich Rat, Poor Rat

This video is essentially an ad for Robert Kiyosaki’s (Rich Dad, Poor Dad author) board game … a game that I own but have NEVER played. But, the video is also a snapshot of how you can use assets to buy consumer goods. Watch the (visually OK, but aurally uninspiring) video, then read on as I have some comments …

[AJC: Finished watching? Good …. now read on ….]

1. The assumption is that you are smart enough NOT to finance a depreciating ‘asset’ (actually, liability) and save up enough money to pay CASH for your boat: GOOD

2. Can you see how Robert Kiyosaki then suggests that you buy a cashflow positive property, using the cash that you saved for the boat as a deposit on the property instead? Robert implies that the property produces enough cash to then pay for the loan repayments on the boat: BETTER

But, Robert is suggesting that we BREAK a key making Money 101 Rule: that we should borrow to by a consumer item (this is BAD debt); Robert also suggests that ‘delayed gratifiction’ is good. So, let’s make use of this to see if we can come up with a better outcome.

Using a very simple loan calculator, I find that the $16,000 boat will actually cost us $21,600 over 4 years (assuming 10.5% interest, and $343 / month payments) …

… but, if we instead SAVE the full $750 / month that the property spins off as money in our pocket (after mortgage, etc.), we will have SAVED up enough to pay CASH for the boat in just under 2 years (21 months)! What’s more, over the four years that we have NOT been paying the boat loan, our money has been earning us approx. an extra $100 – $400 in bank interest.

OK, so the $100 – $400 extra interest we earn (if the money just sits in CD’s) is not exciting, but also SAVING $5,600 … a total of nearly $6k … surely is? So waiting less than 2 years, then paying cash for the boat, thus saving ourselves nearly $6,000: BEST

There is an exception: where the expense is a business expense it may be OK to finance … Robert gives the example in one of his books about how he was going to buy a Ferrari, but his wife (who’s obviously smarter – as well as better looking – than him) told him to buy a self-storage business instead, and use that to fund the payments on the Ferrari.

Smart … but, I’m sure the IRS would have some words about the deductibility of a Ferrari as ‘company car’ for a self-storage business 😉

The allure of diversification …

There is a certain appeal to diversification, particularly when seen as a risk-minimization strategy.

Rick sums this ‘certain something’ up nicely in this recommended twist to how he would set up his own Perpetual Money Machine:

Nothing in life is without risk- but you can minimize risks by diversifying- use multiple types of wealth capacitors some properties, some stocks, even some bonds. You can further diversify with a mixture of commercial and residential properties, properties in different locations, etc.

Similarly you can diversify stocks through buying small cap, large cap, mid cap, and foreign stocks.

If you diversify you can be fairly sure that one bad event doesn’t ruin everything. Of course if the sun goes supernova all bets are off but barring that you should do fine.

And, this is certainly appealing …

… don’t forget that I have been well diversified in almost every area that Rick mentions: multiple businesses; multiple RE investments in different classes (residential; commercial; single condos / houses; multifamily; retail; office; etc.); stocks (but, no mutual funds of any kind … and, I intend to keep it that way!) … but, I don’t recommend it!


I see two problems with this:

1. You spread yourself pretty thinly – you risk becoming a Jack of All Investments But Master of None … this lack of specialized expertise (which you can, of course, try and ‘buy in’) and focus can actually INCREASE your investment risk, hence DECREASE your investment returns, and

2. You automatically consign your returns to the mean/average – not all of your investments can perform as well as your best investment …. if you are comfortable with this ‘best’ investment (or, at least one of your ‘above average’ ones) surely you would put more effort into doing more of those?

The usually arguments FOR diversification then say things like “well, look at the sub-prime and what that’s done to [Investment Class A], therefore you should also do [Investment Class B]” …

… but, they conveniently forget that [Investment Class B] tanked 5 years ago, and will probably tank even worse 5 years hence, whilst [Investment Class A] recovers.

If you diversify you run the risk of averaging your returns down.

In other words, if you can choose your investments wisely your best hedge against risk are a combination of:

a. Time: make sure you can hold the damn thing for 10 to 30 years … if you have a short investment horizon, no amount of diversification will protect you.

b. Higher Returns: if you can hold long enough, every investment worth its salt will recover – and, then some; and, isn’t a ton of cashflow a great ‘insurance’ against risk?

Of course, if you can’t choose your investments wisely, then a ‘regression to the mean’ becomes a GOOD thing … just don’t expect to get rich if you can’t develop any special expertise 🙂

Nope, Rick, my Perpetual Money Machine – which asks me to generate my active income one way (e.g. my job or business), and then create passive income in another way (e.g. stocks or real-estate)  gives me all the diversification that I need!

Accumulating 7 million dollars worth of property in 7 years?

I wrote a series of posts about how to build a Perpetual Money Machine, and Caprica asks:

I thought the title of this blog was called 7 million in 7 years, not 1 million in 20 years?

How do you go about accumulating 7 million dollars worth of property in 7 years and be in a net cash flow positive position by the end of 7 years?

Here’s how I made it to $7million net worth in just 7 years, Caprica:

But that’s not the question that you actually asked; you asked how to build up $7 Million dollars worth of PROPERTY (i.e. real-estate) in 7 years, and that’s another matter entirely.

For example, you will notice that I didn’t reach my 7m7y from real-estate alone (and, you’re not likely to be able to, either): my ‘energy source’ was a business (actually, more than one), but my ‘capacitor’ was (largely) real-estate.

If you are asking if you could build a $7 Million real-estate portfolio in 7 years, using just your income from a job (even a pretty high paying job) I would have to say “not bloody likely, mate” …

… your income just can’t ‘fuel’ enough real-estate deals to produce the annual compound growth rate that’s required!

To see what energy source and compound growth rate combination that YOU need, FIRST you must start with knowing your Number / Date:

If you need, say, “1 million in 20 years’ (and, let’s assume that you’re starting from, say, $10,000 in the bank instead of my $30k in the hole), a job (as your ‘energy source’) + real-estate together with stocks (as your ‘capacitor’) should do the trick.

But, if it’s “7 million in 7 years” you want (starting with the same $10k), then you’ll be needing a more aggressive set of ‘energy sources’ and ‘capacitors’ for your perpetual Money Machine, i.e.:

Your own business (excess cashflow) + real-estate.

It’s all in your required annual compound growth ratefind yours, and work backwards from there …

… but, Caprica – as I suspect do many of my readers, after all of this time – already understands this:

I realized after I posted my response I already knew the answer …, which was to start one or more businesses to help you generate enough money to buy your passive income source.

Increase your return per unit of risk?

Why bother?

I wrote a post about an insidiously appealing – yet flawed – approach to investing promoted by the financial services industry (I wonder if high turnover helps them or hinders them?) called ‘re-balancing’ …

… even if it were sensible (it’s not), it requires an even more flawed base to sit upon: a diversified portfolio. Now that is something that the financial services industry makes money from! 🙂

That post inspired a discussion with Jeff, who provides some useful number-crunching to support his ultimate argument for rebalancing:

Consider two cases in the first you rebalance in the second you don’t:


Stocks Bonds Total Comment
50K 50K 100K Initial conditions
25K 50K 75K right after market crash
37.5K 37.5K 75K After rebalancing
75K 37.5K 112.5K Right after market recovery
56.25K 56.25K 112.5K After rebalancing

No Rebalancing:

Stocks Bonds Total Comment
50K 50K 100K Initial conditions
25K 50K 75K right after market crash
50K 50K 100K Right after market recovery

Note rebalancing earned an extra $12.5K over doing nothing, it doesn’t compare to perfect market timing but there was no crystal ball required! Jeff pointed out rebalancing maintains the risk level. Was it less risky to hold half stocks half bonds? Yes, in the 50% market crash there was only 25K in losses rather than a 50K loss.

What if the order was different?

Stocks Bonds Total Comment
50K 50K 100K Initial conditions
75K 50K 125K Market rises 50%
62.5K 62.5K 125K Rebalance
31.25K 62.5K 93.75K Market drops 50%
46.9K 46.9K 125K Rebalance

No Rebalancing:
Stocks Bonds Total Comment
50K 50K 100K Initial conditions
75K 50K 125K Market rises 50%
37.5K 50K 87.5K Market drops 50%

Again rebalancing helps prevent losses over doing nothing. If you are invested in more than one asset class you should rebalance.

So, it seems that rebalancing is inexorably tied to diversification: do one and you should do the other, but what of the reverse?

Let’s turn again to Jeff [AJC: I cut/pasted a couple of Jeff’s comments … you can read the entire thread in its original form here] , who says:

If you have elected to diversify your portfolio I would argue that you should rebalance to maintain your initial asset class mix.

You add bonds to your portfolio to reduce risk. Failing to rebalance increases the your risk as time goes on…which is typically the opposite of what most investors desire. The reason you do this is not to maximize return, but to maintain the same risk that you had when you started.

The real reason people diversify into higher risk asset classes is to increase their return per unit of risk. Even when a higher risk asset class increases the overall risk of your portfolio, the excess return is disproportionately large when compared to the excess risk. Thus, overall the return per unit of risk increases, helping you to maximize the amount of return you receive for the risk that you take on.

Rather than focusing on return per unit of risk, shouldn’t we look at risk per unit of required return?

Surely we should:

1. FIRST look at what RETURN we need in order to achieve a required financial goal, and

2. THEN compare the risk-profile of the various choices that can produce the desired return or better (hence, required annual compound growth rate) NEEDED to get us there, and

3. USE THAT menu of qualifying investments to make our investment selection from?

If your financial goal – e.g. Your Number – is sufficiently large and/or your desired timeline – e.g Your Date – sufficiently soon, diversifying/rebalancing may be among the highest risk options available, along with any other investment strategy that fails to meet your required annual compound growth rate!

Diversification/Rebalancing simply may not return a high enough amount to fuel the annual compound growth rate required to get you there!

In which case, you only have some combination of the following three choices:

i) Reduce your Number, and/or

ii) Extend your Date, and/or

iii) Accept a higher level of technical risk in your investment choice/s

But, is there a point in life when it makes sense to switch to a risk-above-return strategy?


As Jeff says:

As I get older I will be increasing the % of bonds that I hold and will be rebalancing.

But, I would not (first) look at my age … again, I would first tie this to my financial goal i.e. my Number:

When I reach my Number (or, if I fail and am within 7 years of my latest retirement age), I would shift to a Making Money 301 Wealth Preservation Strategy, such as:

1. That promoted by Prof. Zvi Bodie (Worry Free Investing) – putting 95% – 100% of my Investment Net Worth into Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) and the remainder (0% – 5%) into call Options over the S&P 500, or

2. That promoted by Paul Grangaard (The Grangaard Strategy) – putting 70% of my Investment Net Worth into a low cost S&P 500 Stock Index Fund and 30% into a bond-laddering strategy to cover my anticipated spending for the next 5 years (then ‘repeat’ every 5 years), or

3. Putting 80% of my Investment Net Worth into positive cashflow (before tax) real-estate (I would ‘jiggle’ my deposit amount to ensure at least a 6.5% return p.a.) and keeping 20% in cash and CD’s as a buffer against vacancies, repairs and maintenance, taxes, etc.

4. If all else failed, or as a ‘last ditch’ effort to avoid leaving too much in cash/bonds, a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds … possibly to be rebalanced each year.

But, the last word goes to Jeff:

This, of course, doesn’t mean anything unless the new return is something that you desire.

Indeed 😉

The New Money Pyramid

Let’s see … what are your health objectives?:

– Lose weight?

– Get fit?

– Be healthy?

– Live long?

– Look ‘buff’

– and, the list goes on …

You see, if you want to work on your ‘physical well-being‘ you have to define what that means …

… for you.

It will be different for everybody: for my wife it means eating strangely and exercising a lot. For me, it means, being totally sedentary, eating reasonably little/basic (except when I go out) and relying on good family ‘longevity genes’ (on my Mother’s side … hopefully, not my Father’s side of the family!) to keep me alive.

Yet, the government has managed to come up with (and, recently updated) a Food Pyramid that neatly sets out a plan for eating and staying healthy. Each ‘slice’ of the pyramid represents the relative proportion of each different food group that everybody should eat, every day.

But, the government soon found that this is enough to stop people from getting obesity-related sicknesses (cancer; cholesterol-related heart disease, etc.), but really wasn’t enough to make people, well, healthy.

So, they were forced to come up with this new version of the Food Pyramid

What’s new about this, latest version of the pyramid is the stick figure climbing the stairs on the left hand side, like some Inca priest about to climb the pyramid at Machu Picchu for his monthly sacrifice of the young virgin (naturally, by ripping her still-beating heart right out of her chest … but, I digress).

This signifies that you can eat the right foods all you like, but won’t achieve true health unless you also exercise your body, in moderation.

One size does indeed fit all … at the most basic level.

Similarly with your ‘financial well-being‘ – while still a long way off being the Unified Theory of Personal Finance – we can at least lay out a basic Money Pyramid that will serve one and all reasonably well … enough to at least get you started; the bonus being that it might win me some friends back from the mainstream Personal Finance blogosphere.

Take another look at the Pyramid at the top of the post, and we can imagine the various segments as being common financial wisdom like:

1. Save 15%+ of your gross income

2. Pay down (and avoid all future) ‘consumer debt’

3. Increase your rate of savings by also allocating to your savings plan at least 50% of all future pay increases and ‘found money’ (inheritances; IRS refund checks; loose change from your pockets; money saved from quitting [insert vice of choice]; etc.

4. Buy instead of renting [AJC: which Financial Pyramid are you reading?!]

5. Invest for the long-term

6. You can fill in the other slices from your choice of any/all: live frugally; diversify; create an emergency fund; and so on …

And, this is certainly the Money Pyramid being promoted by most Personal Finance writers (other than the “Make Millions with No Money Down” and other ‘financial crackpot systems’, that I liken to the totally unbalanced “No [insert unhealthy sacrifice of choice: carbs; proteins; calories; glucose; food; etc.] Diet” diets).

The problem is, it might stop you from being poor (the financial equivalent, to not being obese) but will it be enough to make you Financially Healthy … a.k.a. Wealthy (however you choose to measure that)?

Probably not, which is why I have created the New Money Pyramid simply by adding the man climbing the stairs on the side:

This signifies that you can save money all you like, but won’t achieve true wealth unless you also exercise your money, in moderation.

How do you exercise your money?

Simple: you move it around! You aim high … setting a goal that has meaning to you, then:

– You invest at greater velocity (higher return),

– You leverage (the financial equivalent to exercising with weights),

… but only to the extent that your ‘heart’ (actually, your guts) can handle – start slow, get help, build up the velocity and the leverage as you get over a period of time – and, check with your ‘doctor’ before trying this at home 😉

A journey with George …

Perhaps I just like this video because the ‘talking head’ is a fellow Aussie – although, I don’t know who he is or what his credentials are (I do know that if you watch all three of the videos listed on his blog you’ll end up with an ad for a new ‘personal finance’ educational board-game) …

… but, I do like his neat little whiteboard summary of the problem of ‘investing’ to chase capital appreciation. This was the sort of ‘wrong thinking’ that fueled the property market booms, both here and in Australia.

And, after every boom comes the bust 🙂

Looking for the Perfect Retirement Formula?


Conventional wisdom says that you can safely withdraw 5% of your Net Worth each year following ‘retirement’ (hence, the Rule of 20), but conventional wisdom is aimed at people who conventionally retire … which, I trust, is none of us 😉

However, there are essentially two conventional ways of deciding your retirement ‘income’:

There’s the percentage of portfolio method (where you always withdraw the same % of your portfolio each year) and the dollar adjusted method (where you always withdraw the same fixed $ amount, only adjusted each year for inflation).

Colleen Jaconetti, from Vanguard Investment Counseling & Research says:

The percentage-of-portfolio method can give your money a greater chance of lasting throughout your lifetime, while dollar-adjusted gives you a more predictable, inflation-adjusted withdrawal amount each year. If you’re more concerned about someday running out of money, the percentage method may be appropriate, but you’ll need to have some flexibility in your spending.

The percentage of portfolio method tends to last longer, making it more suitable for those of us who intend to retire young … and isn’t that all of us?! Colleen agrees:

If you’re retiring early, such as in your 50s, you may want to start out withdrawing closer to 4% to help reduce the risk of a long-term shortfall.

But, the problem isn’t with the method – in fact, in the first year of your retirement, they produce the same result (it’s only in subsequent years that they vary according to your then-current Net Worth OR according to inflation, depending upon which method that you choose) – it’s with the factor that you choose.

You see, 5% (or even 4%) may be too much!

These ‘common wisdom’ percentages assume average rates of return, but the market doesn’t operate in a line that simply tracks the averages … it moves around the average return randomly

… and, if it randomly moves the wrong way too early and for too long (pity those who are recently retired) you could easily run out of money in years, not decades!

So, you could instead plug your numbers into a Monte Carlo Simulation (this is a really good one) which tend to produce much more conservative withdrawal rates – more like 2.5% (hence my Rule of 40).

Or, you can go the other way and set up a Bond Laddering strategy that Paul Grangaard claims can support a ‘safe withdrawal rate’ as high as 6.6%.

Do you see our dilemma? A doubling or tripling of life-style (or a similar scale reduction, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty) depending upon whom you believe.

This is the dilemma that you face when your retirement assets are held in bonds, Index Funds, cash or CD’s … which is why I am trying (actually, failing miserably right now) to live a $250,000 lifestyle on an income and asset-base that actually supports way more than that (I think: I’ll have to wait for the post-meltdown; post-house-purchase; post house-renovation; post-move countries fallout to clear sometime during 2009 to be REALLY sure I’m still living within my means … I think – more likely hope – I am).

So, when I find the Perfect Retirement Formula, I’ll be sure to let you know … Lord knows, if it exists, I need to find it 😉

In the meantime, I have a third method – one that makes the concept of Safe Withdrawal rates virtually irrelevant:

You invest your money in income-producing assets …

… such as, dividend-producing stocks or income-producing real-estate.

You buy the asset with little or no borrowings (which is entirely different to the Making Money 201 strategies that I recommend, but we are now in Making Money 301 – ‘post-retirement’ wealth protection mode – so things change dramatically) and gain the following two huge advantages:

1. You can live off the entire after-tax rent/dividend – with a buffer for holding costs (in the case of real-estate, this could be things like vacancies, taxes, and repairs and maintenance), if required – which is pretty much automatically inflation-adjusted, and

2. Your capital (hence estate) or Net Worth also increases pretty much at least with inflation, as long as you choose your investment/s reasonably well!

No worries about outlasting your income … and, you get to leave your heirs (and/or your favorite charity/s) the bulk of your ‘fortune’ 🙂

PS What does the image of a man running on the beach have to do with a ‘safe retirement’? I have no idea … I just googled images with the keywords ‘safe’ and ‘retirement’ and pictures of beaches and horses (lots of horses!) came up … go figure …

Commercial RE … first steps!


I am working on my first US commercial real-estate deal right now and by coincidence received the following question from MoneyMonk:

I plan to buy commercial Real Estate (strip mall) in the near future within the next 4 yrs. I want your advice on some things.

I want a property between 350-400k, I plan to put down $80K <- which will take me 4 yrs to save/invest

I want a commercial re agent to search for me, Im think Im looking at 8-10% commission to give the broker;
I want to form an LLC for my company, apply for a federal id, get a good CPA, a lawyer to form the LLC, umbrella insurance for about 1 million (u never know, The U.S. like to sue).

For as cap rate I want something above 7%. Am I’m missing something???

I also want to visit a banker and ask about financing. Is commercial re different from personal RE? for as terms?
I know any decent bank want you to show a good income, credit and some cash in the bank. What are good questions to ask a banker?

First I would like to congratulate MoneyMonk on being so forward thinking; it doesn’t hurt to talk to a Banker upfront, but my suggestion as to the very first place to start is with the following four steps:

1. Identify the type / location / price ranges of properties that you want to buy – MoneyMonk is targeting “strip malls … between 350-400k”.

2. Start researching the types of properties in the areas that you are interested – with 4 years to go before MoneyMonk has saved sufficient deposit, nothing else matters right now other than the research: LoopNet and RealtyTrac are great places to do this research.

That’s it for now; when the deposit has been saved:

3. Find a real-estate broker – you’re looking for the trifecta: (a) a broker that you like/trust, (b) one who works with commercial RE in the area/s that you are interested in, and (c) somebody who invests in commercial RE herself.

Keep in mind that the best deals are NOT usually on Loopnet /Realtytrac – they are what the brokers haven’t been able to offload, so are probably NOT the best deals around – the best deals are still probably with the brokers. It’s still an “old boy’s club”, so don’t expect your broker to bring you these deals first time around … your first acquisition is unlikely to be your best!

4. Find a property that you like / can afford / that meets your criteria and put a refundable deposit down (subject to: finance, partner’s approval even if you don’t have a partner, and due diligence).

then approach the banks for funding.