A Commercial real estate site visit is based on three pre-plan assumptions:
1. Conduct site research both online and on the phone prior to your visit. This leads to meetings that are more focused on working towards making investments rather than just getting acquainted.
2. Observe potential Team members in action.
3. Cover as much ground as quickly as possible. Time the visit to coincide with the monthly local real estate club’s main meeting.
Research & Networking Prior to your visit
Online research should have produced at minimum the following results:
-Identified list of key potential Team members
-Specific sub-markets where your chosen strategy will be most effective
-Examples of active or previous deals that resemble the type deals you want to do going forward.
-Market conditions, major local issues, and the key areas where you need more information to make a decision.
Validate above data by telephone
Use powerful questions often phrased with ‘what else?’ or ‘why is that?’
Each conversation has a dual purpose: to gain information and to evaluate this person for your Team.
Rely on your intuitive sense- if someone seems hard for you to work with, keep that call brief and move on to a better Team member for you.
Planning The Visit
Set your overall objectives for the visit
-What are my key questions about this market & investment strategy?
-Who are the people I need to meet to get solid answers to my questions?
-How many potential Team members do I need to meet with in each key category?
-How many potential properties do I want to see on this visit?
Prioritize the importance of each objective
Set appointments with people based on your objectives and priorities.
Send a confirmation email to each appointment within 24 hours of scheduling it.
Use your favorite route planning tool to get the approximate time between meeting locations and allow some extra room for traffic and the occasional wrong turn.
Get the numbers on the deals you might visit in advance and screen each in or out based on your financial analysis.
There is value in seeing on strategy deals that may not be available (proof of concept)
Property visit appointments should be set in advance where necessary
Things to Pack for your Trip:
Laptop Computer – Current versions of ALL your research files for this market should be on this laptop. Suggest doing a sync the night before you leave to make sure you don’t have the ‘missing file’ surprise while in the field.
Digital Camera – take LOTS of pictures. You’ll need them to refresh your memory later and it’s better to discard extras than miss something you need. Bring your cable to connect to laptop as well so you can unload photos as needed.
When visiting a lot of properties in a row, take a pic of the listing address page or just write the address on paper and capture it. Makes it easy to identify which property is which as the address shots break the string of pictures into easily identified groups in your editing software.
Extra batteries and/or a charger. All the extra shooting will drain the batteries faster than what you’re used to seeing.
Shoot at high resolution and download to your laptop each night to create space on camera.
Agenda Folder – contains printed copy of your Agenda & Team tabs, printed driving directions from place to place, and copies of your flight, hotel, & car RSVP’s.
Appropriate Shoes – you’ll probably need shoes that are comfortable for walking, business casual, and possibly for mud if doing development or preconstruction.
Sunglasses, reading glasses, eye glasses, etc. Even if you wear contact lenses, have the backup glasses with you in case there’s a problem with the contacts. (I learned this one the hard way).
Your mobile phone charger, including a car attachment if you have one.
Business Cards – If you don’t have them, get some printed before you go. Key tool for networking and they help show you’re serious about your investments. Avoid the temptation to hand them out to every single person you meet. Strike a balance between quantity and quality in this aspect of networking.
When You Get Back
Make sure you’ve planned in advance for some recovery time from your trip.
Make sure you’ve planned in some hours for Fast Follow-Up from your trip (see below)
Executing The Visit
-Stay focused on your objectives and stick to your agenda
-Manage schedule changes based on your priorities
-Only squeeze in ‘new opportunities’ if they are in direct service of achieving your objectives (there’s always another new opportunity coming soon).
-Do whatever you need to do to keep your energy level high. You’re better served with less items on your agenda than running yourself down and not being sharp for the last day(s).
Job #1 – Is it a Go, a No Go, or do you need more information?
Do a Post-Trip Evaluation as soon as possible after your trip.
Also make a separate list of new questions and information needs you have to deepen your understanding of the market.
Every action item created during your visit goes on the Action Plan tab of the template. You should enter them each night during your trip while they’re fresh in your mind. This also keeps the physical task of entering them from becoming a major project by itself.
Send a Thank You email (and/or make a call) to each appointment contact and anyone who you spent some time with from a networking perspective.
Clearly summarize the next steps from your meeting (what action, by who, by when)
If you’re not interested in working with them going forward, let them know now rather than leaving them in the dark.
Finally, Take Action. We don’t make any money just by deciding we like a market. Either get into action in this one or go find another one you like better.
Learn more about commercial real estate site visit plans from a proven Investor Education Resource:
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The PPA Group has holdings of over $40 million in commercial real estate with a projected target of over $100 million in commercial real estate acquisitions by the close of 2007. Receive a special report on why you should own commercial investment property go to : http://www.theppagroup.comShare on Facebook