There are seven basic land factors that can kill a self storage land deal instantly that need to be researched in the first couple of hours of reviewing a parcel of land. Too many people are on day 3 or 4 with a dozen plus hours of research when a methodical 2 hours can eliminate many properties and save you time. One of the biggest mistakes that developers make is not determining if there is a wetlands problem on a property early on.
Here is a site that was located by a franchise owner and sent to me to review,
The Franchise owner was excited because the location and demand numbers were excellent. But when I highlighted the wetland ( in red above) and an easement and only half of the land was usable the smile turned to a frown. We could not get the 80,000 net rent-able square feet on the site without going multiple story.
One of the first things is to closely look at all the available mapping and read every notation. In this case the wetlands was noted on the plan and also an easement that affected the site was observed on the map.
On the first call always ask every seller or agent is there any mapping of the site and are there are any wetland on the site. Unfortunately if you don't ask they often will not offer. When the seller does not provide any info on wetlands you will need to do some investigations on your own. Here are a couple of Ideas:
1) Some communities have mapping with estimated wetland limits. It is worth giving them a call.
2) Sometimes the seller or the town will have topography of the site. Depressions and very flat areas can be indication of wetlands.
3) Some (not all) wetlands and water courses and other areas of concern are easy to observe on a site walk.
4) When you enlarge the aerial google view you can see ponds, swamps, brooks which are all considered wetlands.
In the end you will typically hire a soil scientist to delineate the wetlands or hopefully write a letter stating that there are no wetlands as part of you due diligence period in your Purchase Contract.
Here is a case where the wetlands were shown on existing mapping but when additional wetlands were found during the due diligence period a price reduction was requested and agreed upon by the seller.
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Marc Goodin is President of Storage Authority Franchising. He owns 3 self storages he designed, built and manages. He has been helping others in the self storage industry for over 25 years. He can be reached at marc@StorageAuthority.com or directly at 860-830-6764 to answer your franchising, development, marketing, sales and operations questions. His best selling self storage books are available at amazon.