Where can you find commercial real estate deals in today's market? I will give you several ideas of how to find deals both online and offline. It's not magic, it's just work!
Loopnet.com is a good place to start looking for commercial properties, but the most popular and more modern website is called crexi.com. Some brokers post their listings on both websites, but you can find different properties on both. On Loopnet, you may be able to find listings from brokers that have been in commercial real estate for a long time. On Crexi, you may find more properties for sale from more technologically savvy brokers. On both websites, you can search by whatever asset class that is of interest to you, and by location; you can see the Google map for that location, and save searches that will be delivered to your inbox as often as you’d like. I have saved searches for self-storage properties across the country, and some specific searches for properties in California, and I get those delivered in my inbox daily. I also have some weekly email alerts for specific markets like Huntsville, Alabama.
People You Know
Depending on how experienced you are, you will be able to get deals from people that you know. As your network grows their deal sizes, they will be selling their smaller properties so they can get into bigger properties. Sometimes they will offer these properties to you and you can negotiate. I know many people that have bought properties from people that they knew because the seller knew that their friends would close the deal, they did not involve any brokers and the buyer got a discount, these happen all the time. It does take time, you have to build a relationship with people. I went to the Real Estate Guys Summit at Sea, it cost me $6,000, it now has been three years now since I went for the first time and I have a relationship with most of the people there. I can probably call any of the 200 people who went there and they would return my calls. You can do this locally as well, there are many groups out there that meet in person via meetup, for example. At some point, you will have access to deals from these people, you just have to build these relationships over time.
Brokers Mailing Lists
Put yourself on mailing lists for your targeted asset class, from brokers that specialize in your asset class. How do you get access to these mailing lists? For example, you can search for Car Wash brokers, and you will see a few of them that only specialize in car washes, sign up for their mailing list. Type whatever asset class you want, and start putting yourself on their mailing lists on their websites. I get so many emails every single day from brokers that I signed up with a while ago who sell properties in the asset classes that I'm interested in. Eventually, somebody signed me up for multifamily deals (which I never signed up to), and now I'm getting multifamily deals in my inbox. The point here is that the more you do, the more you're going to start seeing all kinds of deals coming from different people. Soon you will be able to see what kind of broker has good properties. I know a couple of brokers that specialize in self-storage that always overprice their properties for sale, so I will never look at a deal from them again. On the other hand, I might sell my properties with them. Just like anything else in life, it takes time and effort to learn all of these things.
I have interviewed people before that have purchased deals by cold calling property owners, they build a relationship with these people over time. Sometimes it takes one to two years of cold calling the same people every six months or so, you do have to take good notes on what each owner tells you, for example, if they have a family, or if they tell you to call back in six months, follow up in six months. By the time you reach out to them, you know how to start a conversation with whatever info they have told you before. They will appreciate that because nobody else is doing that. Following up with these people is incredibly important. There are ways to get these lists, but I am not going to review them here. Personally I don't think cold calling or paying people to cold call is worth the time. But some people do have strategies in cold calling, and it works for them.
Work as a Commercial Broker
You will get first-hand access to deals, you can even put your commission in the deal and the seller will not have to pay the other half of the commission for the entire five or 6%. They will just pay your side of it, and you can even negotiate it and say that you won't charge them any commission if they will give you a deal. As a commercial broker, you're going to find and get access to a lot of deals, not just the deals that you are farming, but also the deals from other agents in the brokerage firm. You can also partner up with other brokers on a deal, the possibilities here are endless.
Follow Up on Deals That Did Not Close
I have a document that is titled “Revisit in Q3”, it has a list of properties that I think are potentially decent deals if they stay in the market for a long time. They're good properties but, in my opinion, overpriced, so I don't think they will sell, and I want to see if they will still be available in three quarters, or two, so I can make an offer then. I just checked on some of these properties on my list and most of them are still for sale (they're all in California). That was the point of thus list, to save properties in certain markets that I think are not going to be selling soon since they are a bit overpriced, and maybe because of the mess that has been happening over the last two years. Some sellers will want or need to sell them even more in 3 quarters, if they don't sell it right away.
You can also go to crexi.com and do an advanced search for whatever type of property you're looking for that has been for sale for 90 days or longer. There is a reason why that property hasn’t sold, maybe they were overpriced, others can have some deferred maintenance, and now, the sellers may be more open to negotiating. Also, not everybody is taking a look at them right now. You'll be one of the few people that reach out for these properties that have been listed for sale for a while.
You can also save property information, or emails, that you get from brokers that may have been taken out of the market a few months ago, and that the seller is open to selling, but nobody knows that it is for sale because it was taken out of the market. A few months ago, I did not have time to look at some self storage properties that were for sale, so I followed up with some of the brokers about three or four months after I received that first email message. Two of them were out of the market but the broker said that the seller is still open to selling it to a potentially serious buyer.
Build AI Models
Artificial intelligence models can analyze properties that are a good fit for you. I met somebody that built a model for one of these companies that flip homes. What the flipping company did is, they gave all of their data on all of the best deals that they ever had so that the AI model now knows what property is available for sale today that will be a very good fit with the previous properties that sold successfully. And now, the software is feeding them these properties that are a good deal and will flip for whatever percentage they're looking for. This is saving these investors thousands of hours, and also making them hundreds of thousands of dollars. How? By the time that a person was analyzing if a particular property was going to be a good fit for them, that property might have been sold by the time that they figured that out. With an AI model, it will tell them right away that this is the property to buy, as soon as it hits the market.
You can hire engineers to build something like this through upwork.com. You can also find companies that are building AI models by design for other companies, depending on what your budget is. There are many ways to approach that.
This is something that people who are taking their investments very seriously would do. This is for investors who want to differentiate themselves from the masses because not everybody is doing this. The ones that start doing it soon and adopting technology to do their jobs better will come ahead of the pack. At the same time, in real estate, you can still be successful by not doing things like this and doing one deal at a time with people that you know and that is also perfectly fine. These are options for different personalities and goals. Do you want to be a billionaire and raise money from very wealthy people and have to deal with all these investors, or do you want to be a multimillionaire and just be fine with two or three properties that give you a very comfortable living? Different games for different people.
Other Non-Conventional Ways of Finding Deals:
Bizbuysell.com: you can search for whatever kind of business you're looking for, like self storage or car washes.
Facebook Marketplace: it doesn't happen regularly, but it's another non-conventional way of looking for properties at whatever market you're interested in.
Craigslist and eBay: I still use it to this day, and there are many people who use it to list their things.
Now you have several different ways of finding deals! It just takes an investment of your time and/or money. You don't have to find the absolute perfect deal out there before buying something. And you can still find properties that you're able to negotiate on that are available for sale online or offline, it's just a matter of how you can add value. We all know that you can learn about all of these things by going to industry-specific conferences, like retail conferences, self-storage, car washes, or anything that you can dream of. There, you can learn many other ways to add value to your asset class, you can build relationships, you will meet people that will be able to help you, and hopefully, you will be able to help others as well. The possibilities are truly endless.