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  • Writer's pictureMike Wagner

A Case Study in Self Storage

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Real Estate Investing can be an incredibly lucrative endeavor.  It, like any type of investing, can also go horribly wrong.  Sometimes the results achieved by a particular investment seem to be determined by luck.  In these rare instances, the investor either gets really lucky or really unlucky and, regardless of (or despite) what they do, the investment seems destined to either succeed or fail beyond their wildest dreams/nightmares.  

More often than not though, the success of an investment is determined by one's ability to perform the requisite tasks in a cost effective way. In short, the success of any real estate deal hinges on one's ability to locate under-valued assets, negotiate favorable purchase terms, fervently execute proper due diligence to mitigate risks and execute a plan to restore the asset to its maximal value. Put another way, real estate investing takes work.  Its a business, not a hobby and, above all else, it is not a get rich quick scheme.

I cringe when I hear folks talk about wanting to invest in real estate because they love the idea of passive income.  And I know that I am liable to get some push back on this but bear with me for a minute.  Simply put, passive income conveys the idea that you get paid for doing nothing.  Now unless I'm missing something, there's not an investment in the Real Estate World that requires no work.  Even the so-called "passive" investments that we talk about in real estate require work up front and varying degrees of tending to thereafter. Owning any rental property is most certainly a business regardless of how hands on the owner is.  Even silent equity partners and folks who operate solely in the triple net world do proper due diligence before cutting checks and they monitor their investments along the way. To me, "Residual" is a much better word than "Passive". I realize this is semantics but I think folks, especially new investors, would be well served to eliminate the concept of "Passive" from their vocabulary.

So what's all this have to do with self storage? 

Storage is very similar to any other real estate investing that requires leasing space. Boiled down to the basics, it is nothing more than renting out square footage at a rate that exceeds the ownership and operating costs of that square footage.  Back before the big self storage boom, anyone could throw together some garages along the side of the road and start milking their new cash cow in no time.  As more folks saw this happen, they jumped on the bandwagon and sought to create their own stream of mailbox money. Needless to say, storage money (for the reasons mentioned in previous paragraphs is no longer mailbox money; it takes work).  As a result, their are a lot of owners out there today who have failed to take their facility to its highest potential despite record levels of demand for storage.  It is this fact that brings the OPPORTUNITY! The case study below is just one example of how replacing a neglectful owner can result in enormous gains in equity.

Many folks (myself formerly included) tend to shy away from storage because of the fact that it is perceived as a "business" in the more traditional sense of the word.  I've since learned that this is the reason we should be pursuing storage as an investment.  There are countless undervalued storage properties out there simply because the owners don't have an understanding of the fundamentals of real estate investing like we do.  Whether you know it or not, your knowledge of real estate investing carries over very well into the storage industry and with a little up front effort, Residual Income can be had at great margins.

The purpose of this post (and I'm sorry for taking so long to get to this point) is to pique some interest in storage and prove that it, despite being a "business" can be every bit as residual as other more mainstream investments.  The link below is case study of a self storage project that I have been working on for the past 18 months.  It is now valued at $1.05 Million and I have a manager who will handle all of the day to day operations starting in May.  It will kick off between $50-60K in net cash flow this year.

I hope that someone finds this either interesting or informative or both and I welcome any and all comments or questions.

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