Delayed Gratification and Money (or, Marshmallows and Your Financial Health)

Between 1968 and 1974, researcher Walter Mischel conducted what would later become known as the famous Stanford marshmallow test. Mischel studied children between the ages of four and five. He left each child in a room with a marshmallow, telling them that he would return in 15-20 minutes; he explained that if they hadn’t eaten the marshmallow by the time he returned, he would reward them. Fourteen years later, Mischel followed up on the children: those who had not eaten the marshmallow were more self-motivated, educationally successful, and emotionally intelligent. This study proved that the ability to wait for delayed gratification has as positive impact on where you end up in life.

What can we learn from Mischel’s study?

1. Avoid Temptation.

Mischel found that when the marshmallow was out of sight, it was easier for the child to wait the duration of 15-20 minutes. Take this to heart: if you have things in your life that are calling to you to buy them, remove them from your surroundings. This might mean unsubscribing from eBay, or changing your walk to work so you don’t always pass the magazine shop.

Distracting yourself from a purchase that you are considering is always a good idea. What might seem like an important purchase to you now could end up being useless to you in the future. There is a saying in marketing: “a purchase delayed is a purchase not made.” Take this wisdom to heart and delay your purchases. This way you can decide if these items are truly what you want.

2. Make a Plan.

With some children, Mischel discussed tactics on how to not eat the marshmallow. These children fared better in the test: they were more apt to wait until the researcher retuned without eating the marshmallow.

This demonstrates that if you want to watch what you spend, you need to have a plan. Make a budget, so that you are aware of your expenses. Use your friends and family as a support network to help you achieve your financial goals. Sometimes just talking over your plans with a friend (or even your banker, credit counsellor, or investor) clarifies the plans for you so that it is even easier for you to stay on the path you want.

3. Investments Multiply.

Mischel varied the rewards that he gave the children who waited the 15-20 minutes. Sometimes the reward would be a second marshmallow.

Although Mischel’s experiment is a controlled situation, it mirrors real life. Investing your money will lead to returns of more money. Can you give up eating that one marshmallow now so that you will have more marshmallows later? Putting away $20 a month in an RRSP or a special retirement savings account will be a huge benefit to you later in life.

Remember: Mischel’s study had many kinds of rewards. Although investing money is important, you might also invest in other things. Investing in a new kitchen will have the rewards of comfort, convenience, and perhaps sociability when you have people over. Whether your investment is strictly financial, or if it only relates to money peripherally, your gain from a long-term investment will be more than if you focus only on short-term goals.

4. Keep your Eyes on the Prize.

This lesson combines two of the other lessons: avoid temptation and investments multiply. One of the best ways to avoid temptation is to think about the reward that you will have in the future. That reward is sure to be better than a small reward in the present.

You can use visualization to help you focus on your ultimate goals: how will you feel when you achieve them? Where will you be? How will you act? What will you say? Keeping your focus on your long-term financial goals is best for your financial health.

5. Teach your Children about Money.

Mischel studied four- and five-year olds. Even at such a young age, the children’s willpower was an indicator for their life skills and how they would perform fourteen years later. Give your children the skills they need early on to learn about money.

The good news is that delayed gratification can be taught. Help your children learn to make wise choices.

When you go to spend your money, think about the Stanford Marshmallow Test. Then think about how many marshmallows you could buy if you delayed your gratification.

Buying Property That Has Building and Safety Problems

One of the best ways we have found to purchase real estate is to buy property that has issues with The Building and Safety Department (BSD). These are properties that BSD has flagged as either unsafe or in need of repairs. The property that is vacant is the best of the best in this category. The most efficient way to locate these properties is to contact the BSD in your local area, drive by the properties, find those that are vacant and research the property. Sometimes the list is online or the BSD may have other procedures to acquire the list. Also, these properties rarely are listed with a real estate agent, so they are less well known, which is always good for the investor.

The key here is to find the owner and see if you can arrive at an agreement with the owner (title holder) to sell the property to you. There are many ways to find the owner. We will review these below:

1. Contact the local property tax office and ask if you can research the address with them. You are looking for the address where the property tax bill is mailed.

2. Visit the neighbors and ask if they have a contact number for the owner. Many neighbors will help you, especially if the property is vacant and in need of repairs, as it is to the benefit of the neighbor to have the property near them (or next to them) in repaired condition.

3. If the property is vacant (and only if it is vacant), walk the property to see if there are any abandoned cars on the property. If there are, write down the license plate number. Then, contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles in your area and ask how to acquire the address of the car owner. If the DMV asks you why you want the information, merely tell them you want to buy the car and it appears abandoned.

4. Create an arrangement with a skip tracing firm to find the owner. I have seen this work in the past, although it could be a more costly option.

5. Send the owner a letter expressing your interest in the property. You might also include pictures and the Building and Safety notice.

6. Attempt to locate the telephone number of the owner. Sometimes a person with same last name is related.

The bottom here is THINK LIKE A DETECTIVE!!!

If you cannot find the owner after you have tried all of the above,
(this may be very hard to do), try again in a few weeks. If you keep at it, you will find owners that hold title to these properties.

When you do find an owner, I suggest you mention to them that you can buy all cash, with a quick close and that you need very few contingencies. All you are seeking is a short time period for inspection, as well as any other approvals you and the owner can agree on that you feel you require to purchase and close on the property.

We are always willing to assist you if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Kind regards,

Ken Sheppard
Please Note: All investment information contained in this electronic mail has been secured from sources First Class Investments believes are reliable, but we make no representations or warranties, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy of the information. The views, opinions, conclusions, and other information expressed in this electronic mail are not the responsibility of First Class Investments in any manner. First Class Investments accepts no liability for the content of this email, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. First Class Investments recommends that you consult with a Financial Advisor, Attorney, Accountant, and any other professional that can help you to understand and assess the risks associated with any investment opportunity.

22 Great Tips For Commercial Property Investment

When considering a commercial property investment it is wise to set some standard rules for the review so that you can compare opportunities that the various properties bring you.

Investment properties typically exist in the retail, office, and industrial property markets. We will not go into the other property types of tourism and leisure here in this article as they themselves take more comment and lengthy review.

Here is a useful list to consider with investment property.

Some Key Property Concerns

  • Rent: The levels of the existing rent are important to the investor or landlord but more important are the levels of rent in the future. It is a matter of what rent escalation the lease allows for and in what time frame. A good lease with a good rent review profile in a sound and well managed property will always attract property investors.
  • Outgoings: These are the property running costs. Importantly they should be in balance and in comparison to other properties of similar types in the same region. If the outgoings are out of balance to similar properties then you need to know why as any astute property buyer will ask about the outgoings. They know what are the averages of outgoings in the area and will not want to pay above the average unless there is a solid and sound reason to do so.
  • Supply and Demand: How much other property is coming into the market in the next few years? Will that property affect the property that you are looking at? Could this impact on the tenant profile or interest in your property? This equation or consideration is called supply and demand. It will impact on buyer and tenant interest in the region in which your property is located.
  • Location: Does the property give good exposure to passing traffic or customers and does it have good access for people and motor vehicles? Add to this the consideration and availability of car parking.
  • Design: Is the property user friendly and attractive? A good property investment usually looks good and is well maintained. This is to maintain interest in the property from the tenant and the customer perspective. If these people feel good about the property when they visit it or use it, then you are well on the way to good property performance. As part of this process you can conduct interviews with people as they use the property to see and identify any latent concerns. In the case of retail property this is highly recommended as retail property is strongly geared to the sentiment of customers.
  • Amenities: Are you providing everything that a modern business, tenant, or customer needs? Amenities are many things and it really depends on what the property is doing or serving. Most people that use the property expect ease of use and access to the amenities including toilets, car parks, common areas, etc. Retail property has a higher level of consideration in this category.
  • Services: Are your property services modern and performing well? This would include water, gas, roads, electricity, lighting, telephones etc.
  • Parking: Are customers and tenants well served with respect to the parking of vehicles? Ease of access to the property is critical and at a premium today. Motor vehicles are part of business and life for all people. If parking is not well catered for on the property then the interaction of the property with public transport is critical.
  • Tenant Covenants: This relates strongly to the leases and documents of occupation on the property. The word covenant relates to the clauses or lease terms. Every lease can be different so it pays to read all occupancy papers or leases. Are the leases and tenant profiles strong and attractive to future occupancy?
  • Tenancy Mix: Perhaps this is more critical in a retail property however it can have impact in an office property. Some landlords must be very careful as to the tenants that they select for a building. It is quite possible that a low profile and poorly selected tenant will detract from the customers that visit the building. Other tenants will also then become concerned and potentially have little interest in ongoing occupancy. This then says that not all tenants are good tenants for the property. Add to this another question of proximity and placement of tenants to each other. Are the tenancies well balanced to satisfy the customer demands? Can tenants that are located near to each other affect each others business through impact of customers, product, service, hours of trade, or staff?
  • Management: The strength and processes of a property management team will make or break a property. The property management processes will impact on so many things including rent, operating costs, tenant sentiment, and lease stability. For this reason ask the tenants about the property management experiences that they have seen over recent time. Any negative comments should be explored for hidden problems.
  • Lease Agreements: Are they landlord favorable and do they provide long term attractive and stable occupancy? What is the length of tenure or terms of all the leases and do they expire at the same time? Does this present an issue to the landlord as to property stability and exposure?
  • Transport Routes: All modes of transport to the property should be looked at. Make your assessment as to whether they are convenient and modern. Do they serve the tenants and the customers to the property and how is that done?
  • Source raw materials: In the case of industrial property the access to raw materials can be an issue for the tenant. What raw materials are needed by the business or tenant and can they get to them easily?
  • Power Supply: Industrial property will usually need a serious amount of power for machinery on the property. Access to that power is a decision factor for the tenant that occupies the premises. Ask the local power authority if 3 phase or high tension power is nearby or available.
  • Labor Availability: Business tenants need a labor source as part of their operation. This labor supply needs to be stable and convenient. This is why businesses are located near to transport corridors on the radial road points to a city or town. Is the labor market nearby and active? Can that labor supply reach the property easily? Public transport will enhance this situation.
  • Goods end market: If your tenant is to manufacture anything, they will need to move it to their customers. How close is the product buying market for that tenant and how will they get to it? Is the market for the tenants goods or services growing and strong?
  • Rent and Vacancies: These are always a concern in investment property and need monitoring. Shifts in population and zoning regulations regards property can quickly shift the attractiveness to occupy a property.
  • Pre-lease market: These are the newer properties that are coming on the market soon. They are usually keenly priced or rented and will impact on other existing property in the area. The property investor or developer in the newer property has one goal only and that is to fully lease the finished property as quickly as possible. Expect them to chase the tenants in your building.
  • Owner Occupiers: Investment property moves in cycles between renting and ownership. Many businesses will do either depending on what is more attractive to them in the economic conditions prevailing.
  • Investors demand: The balance between the property market and the share market is interesting to monitor. Investors move into property when they need longer term investment stability. If the share market is volatile and unpredictable, then property investment moves to the front of the line and becomes the investment of choice. The only problem investors can have is in getting the finance from the banks when they need it. This movement between investment types says that you should monitor levels of return that are possible between shares and property.
  • Corporate Businesses: Major businesses like to off-load capital from balance sheets. This means a potential sale and lease back of property from time to time. This is also usually done when the property is in the last stages of use or need for the tenant. They may sell the property and take a lease for a term of years whilst they create the next level of property strategy. Always look for tenants and businesses that are in the stages of change or flux. Mergers, acquisitions, expansions, contractions, etc. all create pressures on the property that the tenant may occupy.