As with home-buying, the closing of any commercial real estate transaction brings with it an inch-thick pile of paper, even in this digital age. Pen in hand, we all must wade in and find our way out the other side.
I’m here to tell you that it can be done, that you can keep your sanity intact as you sign here … and there … and once more, right there.
In the appendices to my book, Purchase, Rehab and Reposition Commercial Investment Property, I include samples of no fewer than 17 documents. Some you must generate yourself. Some come from the lawyers. All have their place.
First you have persuasive letters — those to targeted property owners; to condominium owners ceding management to a condo association; to a homeowner in foreclosure, from whom you are seeking to buy that home.
As with all letters of this type, you must be concise, repetitive, and authoritative. You must cut to the chase, and you must simplify and amplify.
Take, for example, the sample letter in my book asking the condominium owner to turn over management to a condo association. The very first paragraph reads as follows:
Turnover of Records and Operations to Unit Owners
I’ve been in touch with Sam who has agreed to host all of you at his condominium (unit 15-B for the organizational meeting of the Condominium Association. The meeting will take place at Sam’s condominium unit on Monday, August 30th at 7:00 p.m. You can reach Sam around the building or via email at SamTheCondoResident@server.com.
Right away — in the very first line, in fact — the letter gets to the heart of the matter: The condo association is going to take charge. And this is when that transfer is going to occur. There is no beating around the bush. There is no room for confusion.
A similar approach should be taken with the other persuasive letters listed in the book. Again: Be concise, repetitive, and authoritative. Works every time.
The next step on the paper trail involves letters of intent. In my book, I include two samples, for an apartment building or income-inducing commercial property, and for a net-leased commercial property.
All letters of intent form a bridge from discussions to a binding contract. They signal the start of a business deal, and identify the key understandings between the parties involved.
Again, an example from the book, from the LOI for an apartment building or income-inducing property:
This letter of intent will evidence the intent of a to-be-formed LLC affiliated with our company, or its assignee or designee (the “Purchaser”) to enter into a contract of purchase with the Onwer of Record (the “Seller”) for the purchase by the Purchaser of the real estate proper commonly known as “Insert Property Address Here” with a total of “Insert number of Units Here” apartment units (the “Property”).
Then there is the organizational paperwork, of which there are many examples in the book: the profit-and-loss comparison sheet; the due diligence checklist for student housing; the net profit projection for a condominium conversion, rehab and repositioning project; the list of typical physical enhancement improvements for a gut rehab condominium conversion; the income and expense projection for income-producing investment rental property; the return analysis for the potential purchase of a hotel condominium unit; and the single-family home construction renovation plan; single-family home rehab project pro forma profit statement.
These things are largely self-explanatory. Each is an itemized list of tasks or cash flow. The gut-rehab checklist, for example, shows all the things that have been done in each condominium unit — the installation of central heat and air conditioning, red oak hardwood floors, etc. The sample income/expense projection for a rental property lists income from rent and laundry, expenses such as taxes, insurance, advertising and the like and, of course, the bottom line.
Next in our pile of paperwork is that which is related to marketing. Listed in my book are the cover letter for a resale marketing package for a repositioned apartment building and the marketing page for a single-tenant, net-leased office building.
Again, pretty self-explanatory: The attributes of each property are played up (“Chicagoland Apartment Association Vintage Property of the Year Award Winner,” etc.) and the specifics listed (“One-of-a-kind 34-unit restored vintage brick courtyard building”). It’s also worth noting that in the digital age, this represents the tip of the marketing iceberg. Far more will be done online, via websites, blogs, newsletters, and social media.
Finally, there is the heart of the matter — the purchase agreement. The sample I have included in my book consumes 33 pages and includes various whys, whereases and wherefores, not the least of which involve the conveyance of title and financing.
This caveat: The forms in the book are a general guide. Your advisor or attorney should review any legal paperwork before you use them in a transaction.
They are, in other words, a compass of sorts, something to help you find your way down the paper trail.