Commercial Real Estate Investment – Basics

Commercial real estate investment is the natural progression from residential property investment. Experienced property investors tend to move into commercial real estate sooner than later – and for very good reasons.Once your portfolio grows you will find it very difficult to manage your investments if a large portion of them is tied in residential properties. Imagine if you have $15 million worth of residential properties. That will be a lot of homes and tenants to take care of.On the other hand $15 million will buy only a very small number of commercial properties that will be comparatively easy to manage with much lesser overheads.Commercial properties include offices, industrial sheds, free standing retail shop, bulk retail, block of shops, medical centers, service stations, motels, hotels, back packers, health clubs, churches, funeral parlors, child care centers, car yards, convenience stores, shopping malls, to name just a few. Each type of commercial real estate investment has its own peculiarities, strengths, problems, rewards and risks.The return on investment in commercial real estate is much higher than residential property.The income is net and not gross because the tenant pays all the out going expenses. The income is also more stable because of the long leases.It is typical to have returns of around 10% net for a commercial real estate investment and any where from 7% to 9% net return for a prime property.The value of a commercial real estate to a great extent is determined by the quality of the lease. In general the value is determined by taking net contractual rental being paid and use of a capitalization rate to arrive at a value. The value is also determined by the quality of the tenant and length of the lease.The value of a commercial property can drop substantially if it becomes vacant. I have seen commercial properties being sold at less than half their value if they are difficult to lease.Commercial property management is also much simpler because tenants have a strong vested interest to maintain the property to a high standard. Tenants usually derive their income from the property. They have to keep the property looking good and maintain functionality to impress their clients.I have seen tenants spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make improvements to the property. Most of these improvements stay with the property long after the tenant has left the property.Real estate law is more flexible towards commercial lease contracts. You can virtually word and add any clause that is agreeable to the contracted parties. It is common to charge penalty interest on the out standing rent or lock the premises on continued default of rent.By far the biggest risk in commercial real estate investment is finding a new tenant in case of a vacancy. In commercial real estate the requirement of each tenant in terms of size, location, use and rent payment capacity is so different that it is very difficult to get the right tenant for the right property.For the reasons mentioned above it is also difficult to sell a commercial property investment. Higher the value of property there are lesser number of investors to buy the property. A commercial property investment is less liquid than other investments because there are very few players in the market. For a residential house there will be hundreds of potential buyers which is not the case with commercial properties.Commercial real estate investments are generally sold on capitalization rates and rarely on replacement value. It is therefore possible to purchase a poorly rented commercial property well below its market value. You can also increase the value of your commercial real estate simply by raising the rents during rent reviews or re-negotiating the lease terms when it come up for renewal.The funding for commercial property investments is harder to get as banks look at the quality of tenants, length and terms of lease. They will typically fund a maximum of 50 % to 66% of the market value of the property. The lending rates are also marginally higher. You will therefore need more equity to buy. This reduces your leveraging power to buy more property.Commercial real estate is where professional investors put their energy because of the higher returns and ease of managing them. For these investors commercial property is their ‘bread and butter’ and they drive their speculative income by trading in residential properties.Some commercial investors focus their attention to improve and add value to their commercial portfolio. Whilst others use their rental returns to fund development projects that show much higher returns but need different and more advanced skill sets.Commercial property investing is very rewarding but requires more knowledge, experience and capital out lay. It is advisable not to jump into commercial real estate from the very out set until and unless you have the knowledge, very deep pockets and risk taking ability. It is advisable to start with residential real estate investment to build your equity and cash flow.You should buy at least 8 to 10 residential investment properties before venturing into the world of commercial real estate.

What You Need to Know to Locate the PERFECT Web Host!

IntroductionA recent Google search for the term “website hosting” returned back 36,100,000 websites. Although we’re living in the information age, there is such a thing as information overload! Once you have collected your hosting referrals or selected a handful to pick from, how can you compare all the different plans, their features and pricing to decide who the best match for your business is? The task may sound daunting, but I will provide you with the information you’ll need to make an informed decision and select the best hosting plan for your budgeted dollar.Assess Your NeedsShopping for a web hosting provider without understanding what you need is like shopping for a new car with no idea of the features it needs to have: Do you need to haul with it? Does it need to seat more than two people? Does it need to have power windows, doors, locks? Etc.The first thing you need to do is asses your needs. Here is a small set of questions to ask which will help you brainstorm:1. How much disk space do I need? A 5 page website may only require 50mb, but a 200 page site may require 500mb to store all the pages.2. How much bandwidth will I need?3. Will I need access to utilities such as databases, chat rooms, forums, blogs or other medium where information can be stored and clients can connect with me?4. Will I need to install and run special scripts? For example, opt-in mailing lists, calendars or help desk software? If so, are they operating system specific (Windows or Linux)?5. What am I comfortable paying each month for service?Once you have answered these questions you are ready to begin your assessment of different web hosting providers. If you are unable to answer some of the questions above, or would like additional assistance determining your needs, please contact Krista Garren for a complimentary consultation.Assessing the Web HostThe next step is to begin to examine the different key areas of website hosting which will affect your decision:o Disk spaceo Bandwidtho Scripts and utilitieso Dedicated/Shared serverso Customers service/Supporto Uptime/Reliabilityo Priceo Free Hosting Providers1. Disk SpaceThis is the amount of storage space the provider is allotting you to store your website. Hosting plans will range anywhere from 25MB to Gigabytes in order to accommodate all range of needs. If your site is already constructed you can generally determine how much storage space is needed by totaling the file sizes of your pages and images. This is the minimum amount of space you will need for your website. A general rule of thumb is to purchase a plan which may have more resources than you currently need, but that provides you the ability to grow; after all, the overall goal is growth right?2. BandwidthWhat is that anyway? Bandwidth is a measurement of how much information (data) can be transferred from your website and is calculated over a set period of time, usually a month. Each time someone requests content on your website (pages or images) from their web browser, this counts as bandwidth usage. Highly trafficked websites that have large pages or large images that have not been properly optimized will exhaust bandwidth resources much quicker than websites who optimize and control page and image file sizes. Prior to uploading your website, optimize your content and images to get the most bandwidth value for your dollar. Research the amount of traffic you anticipate having initially. For example, will you launch your marketing campaigns immediately after your site launches or will you wait a few months? If you have created a following for a new product whose launch is eagerly awaited, then it may be wise to select a larger plan up front to prepare for the upcoming traffic demands.Be sure to inquire with the host about bandwidth limitations. Some providers will simply bill you for an overage, whereas others will automatically suspend your account (meaning no one can see your content) until the next billing cycle when your bandwidth is renewed. It would be devastating to try and pull up your website only to find that it has virtually vanished due to a bandwidth overage.3. Scripts & UtilitiesWill you need to store dynamic information online about your products, services or clients? If so you’ll want to be sure your plan provides a database tool. Databases are extremely versatile and will vary in flavor depending on the operating system you select for your hosting server. For example, the main freeware database tool in a Linux hosting environment is MySql. Most hosts will offer this tool to you at no additional charge. However, your hosting plan may limit the number of databases you can create, so carefully review each offered hosting plan and take notes for decision making later on.Other popular scripts which are generally included with your plan (or are available free of charge) include chat rooms, forums (phpBB/Invision Board etc), blogs, calendar programs and help desk software. These scripts included in your hosting plan are pre-configured by the provider to work on their server.Many hosts may even offer the Fantastico script package which is a collection of 36 different free scripts which can be installed on your website with the click of your mouse.Some of these scripts and programs will require a database to function. For example, if your selected plan allowed only two MySql databases, and you needed to install a Chat Room, a Forum and a Calendar, all requiring one database each, you would be unable to do so; you wouldn’t have enough database resources to accomplish this task. Carefully consider which utilities you will need, and take notes as to whether they will require a database to function. This will help you determine how many databases your plan needs to allow you to create.One additional note is to carefully consider which 3rd party scripts you will want to install and what environment they require to run properly. 3rd party scripts are those which can be found on the Internet available for purchase or as freeware which can be installed on your website. Be aware however, that some scripts can run in both a Windows and Linux environment while others may be specific to only one operating system.4. Dedicated/Shared ServersThe basic difference between a dedicated and shared server is that shared servers host many sites, whereas a dedicated server generally hosts one website.One of the big advantages of a shared server is the cost savings. Shared hosting simply costs less. Spamming and how to avoid having your website blacklisted from different search engines has been a recent concern with shared hosting environments however. How does this impact me you might ask? If you are sharing a server with an adult website that sends out spam and is eventually dropped from the search engines because of it, your site (once listed) could inadvertently be dropped if you share the same IP address. This is because shared hosting environments usually assign many sites to one IP address. Ask the provider whether a unique IP address can be assigned to your website (generally for an additional small monthly fee) to guard against this should you elect a shared hosting server.Dedicated servers are best for big, highly trafficked websites which will require large amounts of server resources to run. One of the downsides to shared hosting is that the server’s resources are divided across all the sites it’s hosting and answering page requests for. If you are in a dedicated environment you can better monitor your server resources. The downside is that dedicated servers will run you generally $50 per month or more. Shared hosting can be purchased for as little as 5$ a month. Most small or medium sized businesses will have neither the website size or bandwidth requirements to make dedicated servers cost effective.5. Customer Service/SupportPre-SalesWhat is your preference on customer service? Do you prefer to call in and speak to someone live, or are you satisfied with using email to have your questions answered? Many providers will have a toll-free number you can call to address pre-sales questions while others may provide a pre-sales FAQ document, live chat option or a member’s forum where you can scan posts and find answers to commonly asked questions. As a consumer, you want to make sure that you have some options to choose from.SupportMany providers will offer support through online Help Desk software. Rather than tying up phone lines with live help, they use their Help Desk to facilitate support request from users. Some providers may have Forums where you can post questions and receive assistance from other hosting customers. If you feel you are not Internet savvy, inquire whether you can receive live phone support. Be aware though that you may be required to pay an additional fee for this privilege.You should be able to contact your hosting provider by more than one method. Be careful of any provider who does not provide adequate methods of communication and limits you solely to email contact for both pre-sales questions and support. Customer friendly hosts generally provide you a contact telephone for questions and most likely it will be toll-free. Should you elect a hosting provider that does not provide any telephone contact, do your research! Do they have testimonials? Do they have a forum where you can openly connect with other hosting customers and ask questions or request help? Has feedback about their service been positive? In this instance you’ll have to rely on any posted question/answer responses and your intuition.6. Uptime/ReliabilityUptime is an important factor to selecting your provider. Does the provider offer a performance guarantee? Specifically, will they rebate you some (or all) of your monthly fees if you experience prolonged periods of downtime? Do they offer a money back guarantee? Most hosts will refund all or part of your monthly fees (provided you weren’t spamming or doing anything illegal) if you are not satisfied with their services after a period of time and choose to cancel your service.You can also search for a testimonials page to see what their own customers are saying about them. Ask friends and colleagues whom they host their site with, and research the provider to determine if they would be a good fit for your website.7. PriceHosting normally will cost you somewhere between $5.00 – $10.00 dollars per month depending on the plan’s features. Anything below $5.00 per month, although it may sound like a great deal up front, may have to cut corners to offer such rates. Ever heard the saying “you get what you pay for?”. Do some research on lower cost providers to determine how they are using your dollar and what you are receiving for it. Likewise anything above $12.00 per month should be packed with features, or possibly include a complimentary domain name* and something other providers do not offer.* Free domain names can be tricky! ALWAYS check with the provider and ask if the name will be registered in your name with you as the legal owner, or if it’s to be registered with the hosting company and leased to you. Often times if registered to the host, you will be unable to take this name with you if you change service providers. Efforts in marketing and search engine optimization and branding can be lost in these situations and result in major headaches and increased spending.8. Free Hosting ProvidersWebsite hosting has become so affordable in today’s market that it’s not worth the aggravation a *free* service will put you through to utilize their resources. I tagged the word free because there’s really no such thing as free web hosting providers.Most free services are offered in exchange for placing ads or other annoying features automatically onto your website. Displaying ads on websites is a process that requires careful consideration – even when you are personally selling ad space on your own site. Placement of the ad, layout and content are all key factors in ensuring your ads do not drive away your target audience. When working with a free hosting service, most likely you do not have control over these items, and could not ensure that their ads would compliment your products and services. Far better to pay the $5 per month and secure reliable hosting that places no demands on your website than to select a *free* host and take your chances.ClosingThe main idea behind selecting a good web hosting provider is to think ahead. Always purchase as much bandwidth and disk space you can at the most affordable price. Your website will need to have room to grow with your changing business needs without having to continuously switch hosting providers.

Best Computer Gadgets To Improve Your Life

It is fair to say that the modern computer is a fantastic machine that can make life much easier. But there are certain things which can still be made even easier, and using the desktop gadgets that are available, you can make a number of things which you use your computer for easier and quicker.When you think about all the things that you can use your computer for, many of these involve steps such as having to open up a browser, or opening up a program just to be able to look at the updates on your social networking sites, or to check on the weather or the travel news before you go to an appointment.
This is where the importance of desktop gadgets comes in.If there are certain things that you do on your computer regularly, or if you are looking for something to divert you from the everyday work, then these desktop gadgets will have something for you. Here are a few of these desktop gadgets which you might be interested in:Traffic With Bing MapsThis is one of those simple little desktop gadgets that you are going to want to have saved on both your home and work computers if you have to commute by car to work every day. What you get with this gadget is a tool which you can use to set your location, and then will give you traffic updates which can help you to plan or alter your route depending on where you are driving to.Personally I tend to run the bigger version as it displays the information better. But this is purely a matter for taste, and is a fantastic tool which doesn’t require the opening of a browser and navigating to the right page. It just has the necessary information right there on your desktop.Outlook Upcoming AppointmentsAnother of the desktop gadgets that I have installed is the Outlook Upcoming Appointments tool. This is a simple little tool which is synchronized with my outlook diary, and does exactly what the description suggests it does.Without having to go in to the program, it simply shows what I have coming up and what time it’s scheduled for. It might not be a groundbreaking bit of tech, but it is very good and saves having to open up outlook when I’m just checking my diary.HangmanThere are a large number of desktop gadgets which are specifically designed to pass a little bit of time, and I was close to including the sidebar version of Tetris which has amused me plenty, but I’ve ended up going for hangman.Exactly the same as the game you played with friends as a child, you get presented with a word or phrase and have to choose the letters until you’ve been able to guess what it is, or the hangman is completed.ConclusionThese are only a small amount of the desktop gadgets which are available, and I’ve only covered a few of the desktop gadgets that I actually use myself.While some of these are great for saving a bit of time, and having information ready on my desktop rather than having to use an internet window to navigate and find that information, it doesn’t necessarily have to be useful though, there are plenty like the HAL 9000 gadget, which is simply a button you push, and plays quotes from the 2001 film.