Approaches to Analyzing a Real Estate Investment

Since every investor has a different cost of capital and different short and long-term goals it is important to select the approach that makes sense for your situation.

 

Here are a few approaches used to understand the value of your real estate investments. Since every investor has a different cost of capital and different short and long-term goals, it is important to select the approach that makes sense for your unique situation.

Sales Comparison Approach: Compares the subject property to similar properties recently sold and calculates an average price per unit or square foot to determine value.

Gross Rent Multiplier: A rough estimate of value. Generally used by investors that repeatedly buy the same types of property. Take your Sale Price and divide by Monthly Potential Gross Rental Income. This method determines the value of a property based solely on potential rental income for the first year. Limitations: It reflects a one-year snapshot in time. It only helps to compare properties that have very similar operating expenses and have similar occupancy/vacancy rates.

Direct Capitalization (Cap Rate): Take Net Operating Income (NOI) and divide by Sales Price. It is expressed as a percentage of the sales price offered, or a percentage of the price you are willing to pay. It accounts for operating expenses, gross rents, non rental income, vacancy and credit losses. Limitations: It is a one-year snapshot. It does not account for the present versus the future value of the dollar (time value of money), nor does it account for owner financing, tax implications, property depreciation and appreciation.

Cash on Cash: Looks at cash invested up front (not borrowed dollars), as related to the first-year cash flow before taxes. Divide Before Tax Cash Flow (NOI less debt service and reserves) by the amount of cash invested for your down payment. This method accounts for the impact of owner financing (investing with borrowed money). It also accounts for operating expenses, gross rents, non rental income, vacancy and credit losses. It is helpful since many investors do not use their own cash to buy property. Therefore, cash invested is a fraction of the full purchase price. Limitations: It is a one-year snapshot. It does not account for TVM, nor does it consider owner tax implications, or property depreciation and appreciation. When comparing properties in different areas, a property with a lower cash on cash return might be a better investment if the potential for appreciation is more predictable.

Demographic/Trends Analysis: Projects potential appreciation and potential obsolescence by closely examining economic indicators, building and demographic trends (profiles of current and future buyers). Property appreciation will be driven by overall demand and scarcity in the market and impacted by obsolete property or community features. It is important to know how rare a property is in the market and how likely demand for this property is to increase or decrease due to competing existing properties and planned new construction. The Economic Trends Report is a valuable resource for this approach. This approach answers the question: Does this property have or can it have what buyers will be looking for in the future? Limitations: You must have reliable first-hand experience in a given market.

The following approaches consider the time value of money (TVM) and the investor’s tax situation.

IRR or Internal Rate of Return: Measures the average annual yield (percentage earned) on each dollar for as long as it remains in the real estate investment (entire holding period). It uses the initial amount invested, projected after tax cash flows, and projected after tax sales proceeds. Limitations: Reflects the return as long as the dollars stay in the investment and does not take into account reinvested returns. It measures an average annual return over time, so across multiple years it may exaggerate the impact of a single year with a very high return. This method can’t account for negative cash flows in future years nor can it account for the initial investment being phased in over time. It also does not account for returned dollars being reinvested as they are returned. You must make assumptions about future sales proceeds.

Net Present Value of Discounted Cash Flows (NPV): Determines the dollar value of an initial investment by taking the sum of the present value of all future cash flows, netted against (or compared to) the initial cash investment. If NPV is high the investment exceeds investor expectations for a desired annual return. This approach uses after tax annual cash flow and after-tax sales proceeds. Often used to compare different types of investments. Limitations: Does not account for money reinvested during a given holding period.

Capital Accumulation: Considers return of and on investment in the circumstance where money returned is reinvested during the property’s entire holding period. Compares two or more investment alternatives in terms of accumulated dollars rather than rate of return. Accounts for dollars that remain in investment and those that are returned from the investment and reinvested. Limitations: You must make assumptions about the potential sales price, as well as the potential returns of competing investments over time.

Need more information about buying, selling or leasing? Call or email 203-570-2096 or prattray@wpsir.com

5 Fairfield County, CT Real Estate Myths That Won’t Go Away

Real Estate can be many things. It can be a home, an investment, a status symbol, a legacy and more. It can only work for you if you are clear about your objectives.

 

Here are a few myths that have been lingering around Fairfield County for years. Feel free to share your myths with me. I am happy to address them in a future blog.

Myth 1: Market and interest rate fluctuations directly impact your home’s value in the short-term
Fact: Market trends and buyer costs can have an influence on your home’s value in the long-term, but this influence is never greater than the features of your home such as size, materials, condition, location, floor plan, scarcity, style, etc. If you buy a style of home that is generally undesirable or you neglect to maintain or update your home on a regular basis, your potential for appreciation will be limited, regardless of what the market is doing.

Myth 2: A Realtor sets the list price of the house for the seller.
Fact: Recently closed transactions determine the fair market value of your home. This is what we think buyers are willing to pay in the current market. In Fairfield County, agents generally recommend a list price that is about 3% – 5% higher than market value, but sellers make the final decision. A seller can choose to list for less to create quick multiple offer situations. There is no evidence that either strategy is guaranteed to create a higher sales price. Many buyers refuse to take part in multiple offer situations and many sellers don’t necessarily want a quick sale. There is data that suggests that pricing excessively high (6% – 10% above market value) can lead to a lower sale price. Once a listing becomes stale, buyers tend to offer less and less over time.

Myth 3: Market conditions should determine when and what you should rent, buy or sell.
Fact: Your lifestyle and financial objectives should determine when and what you should rent, buy or sell. If you are buying a home as an investment, your approach, choice and timing should be completely different than if you are buying a home for lifestyle reasons.

Myth 4: There is an advantage to using more than one Realtor at a time.
Fact: In CT, all Realtors have access to all listed properties from all brokerages, so there are only disadvantages to using more than one realtor. These include lengthening the time it takes for a Realtor to understand your needs and increasing the risk that you will be late to the offer table. When you are represented by one Realtor, he or she becomes responsible for the significant due diligence and research required for finding and securing your new home.

Myth 5: There is one real estate market.
Fact: An experienced Realtor knows that you can’t characterize the entire real estate market in the country or even in a town. Investors, condo buyers, house buyers and sellers all have different needs and a good market for one group can be a terrible market for another. Similarly, if you plan to build or flip, market trends matter less than your specific financial model and the current demand for what you are building. The same is true if you plan to buy and hold a group of investment properties. You can find good long-term investments in any type of market. Just make sure you know how to make proper improvement, return, rent and vacancy projections.

Need more information about buying, selling or leasing? Call or email 203-570-2096 or prattray@wpsir.com

Are You Planning to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency? These 10 Questions Will Help

One size never fits all when it comes to marketing. Your strategies and tactics must be unique to your organization.

 

1. Do you understand the skill gaps on your own team? You might need a full-service agency or freelancers could be enough.

 

2. Do you know what will define success? Before you start speaking with any agency or freelancers, have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and create key performance indicators (KPI’s) for each intended outcome. Monitoring and reporting is as important as implementing your plans.

 

3. Do you understand your customer personas? Funds spent delivering the right messages to the wrong people will go wasted and also create confusion about the effectiveness of the marketing strategies and tactics you choose.

 

4. Do you have separate strategies for lead generation v. nurturing and sales? Messages that effectively nurture a lead are dissimilar to those that nurture a client. In addition, the development of marketing content, which must establish trust and communicate expertise, requires a completely different approach than the development of sales content that is focused on conversion, adoption and long-term client goals.

 

5. Who will do the work? Agencies will have several account managers and and teams that will implement. Make sure the people on your team are continuous learners that understand your type of industry and your operations. Marketing tactics and platforms are constantly changing and everyone must keep up on the latest research and technology changes to be successful.

 

6. Do they have references and reviews? Look for references from businesses in your type of industry.

 

7. Do you have an exit plan? Make sure you have a clean and clear way out if things don’t go as expected. Don’t be afraid to pivot if you can’t see results in 6 months and refrain from signing long-term contracts until you are comfortable with the services provided.

 

8. Are you looking outside your area? Especially if you are in CT or NY, service providers in other areas can be more reasonably priced and offer a fresh, unique perspective. This can help you stand out among the competition.

 

9. Have you seen various aspects of their marketing? Check if best practices are reflected in their marketing activities.

 

10. Are they thought leaders? Thought leaders ensure their teams embrace continuous learning and professional growth. They are also more likely to refer you to new customers because of an extensive sphere of influence.

 

Need more help? Call or email us at 203-570-2096 or patricia@newrevenueconsulting.com

4 Ways Consultants Help Build Your Business

Your industry, customers and marketing landscape are constantly changing and you must keep up.

We Help You Keep Up

Your industry, customers and marketing landscape are constantly changing and you must keep up. If your competitors jump ahead of you in terms of branding, marketing and product development, your profits will fall behind. The only thing constant is change and we will help you manage it to your advantage.

We Fill in the Gaps

Your business, at its core, is a reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of a small team. Owners and employees often take on many roles across departments. As your business grows, consultants can fill in skill and knowledge gaps to help accomplish critical projects while you determine how your long-term employment needs should be structured.

We Expand Knowledge

We apply intellectual capital and experience from other businesses and industries to save you time and money. The resources required to implement best practices throughout your organization are minimized when we apply the lessons we have learned from the successes and failures of others.

We Innovate

Innovation is a result of applying diverse perspectives to clarify issues, brainstorm and explore solutions. As a business owner or manager, you are often too close to the problems you face to see them clearly. You are also too subjective about your own management style to easily assess areas for improvement. We offer informed, objective and creative perspectives while exposing you to potential partnerships, technology and assets that you might not otherwise encounter.

Contact us to learn more.

12 Critical Email Marketing Tips

Communicate in your own voice. What does your brand stand for? Your communications program should support your branding platform.

 

  1. Be Authentic

Communicate in your own voice. Think about what your brand stands for and develop a tone that corresponds.

 

  1. Be Brief

One or two short paragraphs (2-3 sentences each) should be enough to get your point across.

 

  1. Variety is Key

Brainstorm emotional and rational reasons for your audiences to act as you craft your messages. Emotional appeals highlight the results and feelings that your customers will get by doing business with you. Rational reasons include things like product features, competitive comparisons, research and statistics. Rotate through various categories of information that can resonate with your target audiences.

  • Providing Added Value (knowledge, whitepapers, guides, etc.)
  • Establishing Trust (reviews, sharing experience or history, describing partnerships, awards)
  • Presenting Product Information (promotions, financing, competitive comparisons, features)
  • Creating Pleasure or Avoiding Pain (Identify unique consumer experiences and challenges).

 

  1. Showcase Your Expertise

Your customers should learn something they don’t know when they hear from you, aside from your product information. Try communicating industry news to pique their interest.

Share personal experiences. Customers appreciate knowing about your skills and achievements in addition to how your business, products and services stand out in the market.

Don’t forget to include information about partners and vendors (and links to their websites) when you are communicating what you know. Ask vendors to share insights that you can pass on to your customers.

 

  1. Customize Messaging

Don’t send the same message to all types of audiences. Each customer persona at each stage in the sales cycle might require different messaging. Learn your target customer’s challenges at different points in time and speak specifically to them.

 

  1. Give More Than You Request

Figure out consistent ways to help your leads and customers beyond asking them to buy, respond to promotions or write reviews. Include downloads to videos, checklists, guides and whitepapers. You can also give appreciation, recommendations, free consultations and guarantees. Give twice as often as you request.

 

  1. Value Visuals

Great design, images, graphs and charts can compel users to engage with your business. Survey your team to brainstorm images that can work for your business, and feel free to re-use the ones that really hit the mark by editing them in different ways.

 

  1. Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Know exactly what you want prospects and customers to do when they get your email and incorporate a CTA to facilitate that. One CTA is best. Two can be okay. More than that creates confusion.

 

  1. Use Specific Taglines

Help your audience save time with specific taglines. If you can’t sum up the reason for the email in a short tagline, then your email might have too much content. If your taglines seem repetitive it is because your content is repetitive. Also, specific taglines mean your emails are more likely to be found in a future email folder search.

 

  1. Provide Examples

It is always better to show rather than tell. When possible, provide video, data, graphs, case studies, stories and interviews to demonstrate what you want to convey.

 

  1. Try Video

Even though a lot of business owners are starting to create video, I see few examples of effective video produced by small businesses. Video mistakes are rampant particularly when businesses don’t use a professional videographer. The most common mistakes I see include: excessive length, inadequate focus, lackluster content or poor audio. Calls to action (CTA’s) are also often missing in video.

 

  1. Track Performance

Know how your emails perform based on open, click and conversion rates. Do A/B testing and track everything. You should also enable and track email address capture rates across your communications platforms including in-store capture, trade shows and phone calls.

This is the Most Important Year of Your Life

This feeling that now is not your most important moment is your elephant in the room.

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming made a comment from the Senate floor on January 9th 2018. He shared that his 96-year-old mother watches CSPAN each morning making sure to catch the pledge of allegiance and the opening prayer by Reverend Black. This gives her confidence that the nation is moving forward. She also told him every year since he was a boy that this is the most important year of your life.

Is this statement true? Is this the most important year of your life? Will everything you do this year set you in the right direction for each year thereafter?

You might not think this year is your most important. Maybe last year or 5 years from now will be. This is because you are still thinking about last year or anticipating a year in your future when goals are met and dreams have come true.

This feeling that now is not your most important moment is your elephant in the room. It is a feeling that is false and distracting you from doing important things today.

Today you can identify one thing that is important to you or your business that you have been ignoring. Take five minutes to break it down into small tasks, and complete the first task on the list. Maybe tomorrow you will complete the second.

Think of goals as the result of a series of tasks and behaviors as opposed to a challenge to achieve or accomplish. Goals are the outcomes of small focused moments and actions. Of course, they take effort and time, but they can be enjoyable. When you need help with a task, seek help with that task alone, not necessarily the broader goal. That’s an easier approach.

So, what does this mean for a small business owner and working professionals? I invite you to stop thinking so much about the big picture and focus more on what you can learn and do today. We have all convinced ourselves that we are striving for an accomplished life or successful business, represented by titles, possessions and bank accounts accumulated by some future date. While we do this, we miss the importance of and the inherent surprises in daily activity that define a well-lived life.

Every work environment is a unique expression of dynamic human beings interacting to create moments of satisfaction – arising from productivity, appreciation, learning, teaching, giving and receiving.  This is your life absolutely, the sum of these moments. Recognize them with the confidence that this is the most important year of your life.

Our team simplifies business management with a focus on critical and satisfying tasks. For more information, contact us.

Why Is Authentic Brand Development So Difficult?

Branding your business requires thoughtful planning and a bold commitment to authenticity.

By Julie Avellino, Consulting Partner

In business and in life the phrase, “Start before you’re ready” is one that many entrepreneurs live by. By moving your concept forward before knowing exactly how you will execute, you are able to learn as you grow, remain agile and stay close to your ever-changing customer base to gain valuable insight.

But in one critical area working on-the-fly is not your friend: Branding. Branding your business requires thoughtful planning and a bold commitment to authenticity.  While you may be able to move forward with your concept without knowing exactly how you are going to execute you cannot move forward successfully without knowing exactly what you are going to execute. Without clarity about the business you are creating, you will work very hard to end up nowhere or in an unrecognizable place where you never aimed to be.

You might be thinking, “Why do you need so much planning for something that is supposed to be authentic? Shouldn’t it just come naturally?”

It would be great if authenticity came easily.  However, in reality, we rarely understand our own authentic values, motivations and fears.  Most people think and behave in a manner that we believe we should instead of in a manner that reflects our core identities. As a result, when we bring a company to life, we put a lot of what we think it should be into its voice and persona and fail to spend enough time allowing it to be what we genuinely want it to be for ourselves and our customers.

So, how can a business prepare to be authentic from the get-go and still allow for growth and scalability? The answer lies within the development of a critical and immutable foundation that will support and guide you. From these concepts the rest of your business traits can grow. Developing this foundation can’t be done in a vacuum. It is an interactive process with you, your team, sometimes customers and an expert facilitator. At the end of the process you will have clarity about who you are now, the business you’d like to create, the values and areas of focus you will embrace to get there and how you are differentiated from the competition.

If you’d like to learn more about branding, please sign up for our free introduction to branding workshop.

You Might Not Need a Small Business Consultant

You might not be ready for for the consulting process. It takes a commitment to working smarter and choosing concrete goals.

Business Consulting is a growing industry throughout the globe. However, not every company needs one or is ready for the process. You might not benefit from a small business consultant if…

  • …your business net income and resale value are exactly what you desire and what you intend to leave as a legacy to family, partners, potential buyers or investors.
  • …your operations, systems and processes are tech-enabled and efficient to the degree that you have adequate work life balance, and the joy you feel from productivity and value creation far outweighs your daily frustrations and disappointments.
  • …you are confident that your social impact, internally and externally is in line with your brand values and vision.
  • …you or your leadership is resistant to change and growth; or nothing can be done to remove or influence an intractable or toxic business partner.

If you can say yes to points one through three, CONGRATULATIONS! We would love to hear your story. Feel free to call us to be featured as a model local business on our website.

If your circumstance is summed up by bullet point four, you might not be ready for new strategic projects at this time.

If you are not quite sure if you need a small business consultant, please contact us.

Every Business Has A Social Impact. What is Yours?

Doing good is not just about supporting an external cause. You must adopt internal systems and practices that can have a more far-reaching impact on your community

Consumers have shifted their shopping preferences based on what they perceive a brand stands for across a wide range of areas, from avoiding harsh labor practices, to sourcing non-toxic materials, to paying employees fairly. While big companies spend large amount of PR dollars on communicating their socially conscious practices, small companies find it more difficult to meet this challenge. They often take the approach of choosing a charitable cause or two, writing an annual check and posting gala photos on Facebook.

This approach to having a social mission is a good first step but its impact can be limited. It suggests that doing good means supporting an external cause rather than adopting internal systems and practices that can have a more far-reaching impact on your community. This approach also suggests a clear distinction between “doing good” and building a profitable business, an idea which many sustainable companies have challenged.

A net promoter score (NPS) is a widely used tool to measure one type of impact you are having among current customers. Through these scores, you can monitor your reputation by learning the percentage of customers that are fans, versus those who have a neutral or negative attitude about your business. A high NPS and fan count should help you generate new leads by merely letting people know the likelihood that they will have a positive experience with your company.

While the net promoter score is an important tool to gauge the reputation of a business by closely listening to its existing customers, a different approach is needed to evaluate your social impact on a broader scale and in your community. This is because, whether you are aware of it or not, your business has a social impact on customers and potential customers that can impact revenue.

You are currently succeeding or failing at addressing local social conditions just by your company’s mere existence in the following ways:

  • Delivering a convenient, reliable and quality product or service to meet a consumer need or want
  • Providing a fair income to employees and revenue for local service providers and sourcing partners
  • Developing resident skills and intellectual capital
  • Creating a context for human productivity, which is the foundation for emotional health
  • Providing an atmosphere for fostering teamwork and friendship
  • Offering a healthy physical environment free from toxicity, physical insecurity or danger
  • Establishing a visible part of a community’s composition, which impacts community attractiveness, likability, convenience, branding and physical design

Several community needs are addressed by the existence of well-functioning small businesses. When you communicate your social impact along these lines, you increase the perceived value of your business and every transaction becomes more meaningful to your customers. If you miss the mark on this, you are leaving dollars on the table, merely by making the consumer decision and purchase process more difficult and less rewarding.

So, how do you assess and leverage your social impact? First you must apply qualitative and not a quantitative approach to measuring your impact. Then you must identify the areas where you are doing well and communicate how you achieved this to target audiences. Finally, become creative about addressing areas of weakness that allow you to demonstrate progress and make this clear to your target audience as well.

Gaining clarity about your social impact is something that should drive customer growth and loyalty, and you should be able to see this reflected in better NPS scores and increased revenue.  It will also help you view your business in new and inspiring ways.

Get control over your social impact. Call us anytime at 203-570-2096.

 

3 Gig Economy Pitfalls

The ease of the Gig economy can make it too easy to fail to plan for real growth.

by Julie Avellino, Consulting Partner

When the term “gig economy” was coined in 2009 it was in reference to the large number of people freelancing to make ends meet during the financial crisis.  A decade later, the gig economy is here to stay. It has changed the way people work and the way small business owners run their organizations.

To the small business owner, the gig economy may seem like a godsend. Access to talent that may previously have been too expensive or unavailable is now just a few clicks away. Some small businesses use freelancers to avoid hiring additional staff while others build their businesses using independent contractors as white-label extension of their own brands.

Regardless of how a business uses freelancers, small businesses can be especially vulnerable to a few pitfalls of the gig economy.

Lack of continuity

One of the greatest assets for a small business is its reputation. Reputation is built by the consistent delivery of outstanding work that meets or exceeds client expectations. Every day, small businesses feel the effects of positive or negative reviews on social media, which is why now more than ever it’s important to consider continuity of quality when deciding to use a freelancer. Small businesses should ask themselves the following questions to help determine if a freelancer is the right choice for a job:

1) Will we need this resource again throughout the next 2 quarters?
2) Is the freelancer we are considering significantly cheaper than their competition? (In other words: if we couldn’t get this same person again for a similar job, would it dramatically affect our costs and services?)
3) Would we be able to hire an in-house employee on a part-time basis who could do this task as well as other tasks we need to accomplish in the next 6-12 months?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may want to take a deeper look at whether hiring a freelancer will help or hinder your business in the long run. Ideally, freelancers should be used for one-off projects or in areas where internal expertise is not necessary long-term, such as implementing an ERP or installing and coding new machines for production.

Lack of a strong culture

One of the greatest strengths of a small business is its culture. While it might seem cost effective to outsource several projects or skills to freelancers, having ad hoc staff can have a dramatic impact on corporate culture, which may ultimately impact the experience of valued employees. The vibe clients get when they walk through your doors, the creative energy in the break room and the communication dynamic in meetings all help support the growth of a small business. Relying heavily on freelancers who are not available to participate in team calls, project planning and ideation can have a significant impact on the overall culture of the company. Small businesses should take this into consideration when deciding whether it’s time hire an employee or bring in another freelancer.

False sense of financial health

When small businesses rely on freelancers for routine tasks or project work rather than hiring full-time employees, the typical costs of doing business are avoided. This may seem like a benefit to the business. However, over time as small businesses grow into larger organizations, this will create a false sense of financial health. Eventually, full-time positions  will need to be filled, which will result in an increase in overhead due to higher salaries and benefits programs, increased office space and a formal human resources department. While planning for growth, small businesses should make sure their financial projections take into account that real growth will require sustainable hiring practices that include the cost of full-time employees and employee development and training programs.

Think strategically when leveraging freelancers. The ease of the Gig economy can make it too easy for businesses to fail to plan for real growth, deliver inconsistent services and miss out on the benefits of a powerful culture of committed employees.

If your business is facing a critical growth phase and you think you can benefit from thoughtful guidance and planning, contact us.