It’s important for each of us to find our niche in the real estate investing space. Maybe you’re confident that commercial real estate is where you want to be, but multi-family just doesn’t feel like the right fit. There are other asset classes to consider, and one of the most recession-resistant is that of self-storage.

Hunter Thompson is the Managing Principal of Cash Flow Connections, a private equity group out of Los Angeles that connects passive real estate investors with opportunities in the commercial space, with a specific focus on mobile home parks and self-storage properties. Hunter has done 100-plus deals valued in excess of $350M.

Hunter got his start investing in stocks, but the lack of predictability in the market led him to focus on simpler investments with mitigated risk. After connecting with a network of like-minded individuals, he began investing in mortgage notes before branching out into other real estate asset classes. Today he shares what inspired him to invest in self-storage, explaining what makes the opportunity truly recession-proof. Hunter discusses self-storage value-add strategies, the benefits of self-storage as an investment, and how to find the best markets in the space. Listen in to understand what Hunter looks for in a sponsor, his approach to management, and his advice around next steps for aspiring self-storage investors.

Key Takeaways

[1:45] Hunter’s shift to real estate investing

  • Grandfather was successful businessman
  • Initial interest in stocks, too much volatility
  • European debt crisis inspired shift
  • Real estate more predictable, simple

[4:20] Hunter’s first real estate deal

  • Attended 3-5 networking events/week
  • Found small group of likeminded individuals
  • Invested in mortgage note

[5:43] How Hunter got into self-storage

  • By 2013, good deals hard to find in traditional asset classes
  • Data analysis inspired focus on recession-resistant assets
  • Self-storage used during times of economic change

[7:28] The benefits of investing in self-storage

  • Many ways to add value to property without taking on additional risk
  • Can add $1M of value with U-Haul, tenant insurance and merch
  • Sticky tenant base allows for 6% rental increase annually

[10:13] The best markets for self-storage investment

  • Identify undersupplied markets (i.e.: southeast US)
  • Utilize data from CoStar, LoopNet or Yelp

[12:06] What Hunter looks for in terms of underwriting

  • Expense ratio of 40% (or even below)
  • Price per unit of $12-14K
  • Price per ft2 of $65-110
  • Climate-control as upsell

[13:26] Hunter’s approach to management

  • Onsite management important component of A-class property
  • Sponsor hires either entrepreneurial property manager or retired couple

[15:28] What Hunter looks for in a sponsor

  • Done $100M-worth of deals
  • 10 years of experience
  • Look at pro forma
  • Background check, references

[17:06] A case study of Hunter’s ideal investment

  • A-class property in Woodstock, GA
  • No value-add strategies in place
  • Previous owner just expanded by 222 climate-controlled units
  • Market 90% occupied, property 60% occupied
  • Adding ancillary income items = additional $4K/month

[19:44] Hunter’s take on trends in self-storage

  • On-demand services
  • Automation
  • Increase in demand as affluent baby boomers downsize

[21:36] Hunter’s advice around next steps for aspiring investors

  • Leverage experience of someone in game for 10+ years
  • Passive investing affords freedom to do what you love

[23:03] What Hunter is excited about

  • Construction boom
  • Unique opportunities to buy from sophisticated groups

Connect with Hunter Thompson

Cash Flow Connections

Cash Flow Connections Real Estate Podcast

Free eBook: Little Boxes, Big Profits

Resources

CoStar

LoopNet

Invest with Michael

Free eBook: The Secret to Raising Money to Buy Your First Apartment Building

Review the Podcast on iTunes

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