Friday, December 2, 2011

Parking Lots Offer Safe Haven for Real-Estate Investors

Published: Thursday, 1 Dec 2011
By: Rob Reuteman,
Special to

If you’re scouting the ravaged commercial real estate sector for a safe haven, parking lots may be worth a look.
Courtesy: International Parking Institute

If you can find one to bid on before it’s snatched up, that is. And if the price isn’t already well out of your range.
“A surface parking lot offers a good rate of return and its rewards are as close to being recession-proof as you’re going to get,” says Ross Moore, chief economist for Boston commercial real estate firm, Colliers International.
“The older ones are nice little cash cows with relatively little maintenance,” adds Moore, who has authored an annual North American Parking Rates Survey for the past ten years.
Says the Alternative Asset Alliance newsletter, “Investors are beginning to realize that a well-located urban parking facility offers stable, long-term revenue growth and that this asset class is becoming an important part of any diversified realestate portfolio.”
The numbers overwhelmingly favor the US parking industry, which grosses some $25–30 billion annually, according to the International Parking Institute.There are nearly a quarter-billion registered U.S. passenger vehicles, which remain parked 96 percent of the time, IPI says.
But two problems loom for the average investor wanting to get into the parking business, says John Roy, co-author of The Ultimate Parking Business Buyer’s Guide.
“Not many show up in real estate listings, and the ones that do are very expensive and usually out of reach for smaller investors," says Roy.
But with the recession pummeling the price of almost all real-estate assets, “This is the best time to get into parking market," he says.
Alternative Investing - A CNBC Special Report

Roy’s online newsletter offers a simple starting point: Do an online search for the term “parking lot for sale,” and maybe add the city you’re eyeing.
A recent search offered slim pickings. There’s a corner, paved lot in downtown Memphis “next to a famous bar/grill” and “near many amenities.” Price: $13,000.
A half-acre paved lot in Cook County, Ill., is selling for $724,000. The much-higher asking price may be why it’s been online for more than three months.
Commercial Brokers
Another, more traditional approach is to find commercial brokers who specialize in parking lots.
Wade Fletcher and Steve Roesinger do just that in Denver for the Newmark Knight Frank Frederick Ross Capital Group. Roesinger has been buying and selling parking lots for nearly 40 years.
He says he’s on a first-name basis with local lot owners he’s been calling on all that time.
“There are a limited number of surface lots out there, but as with any real estate, sometimes people don’t know they want to sell until you present them with an offer,” says Roesinger. “Other times, an illness, a pending move or a financial reversal may trigger a sale. “
While $100,000 ...

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