To Have and to Hold
Three questions corporate sellers should ask themselves before choosing a long-term partner
By: Jason Patterson | Investments
The net lease market is firing on all cylinders with record capital raising, persistent demand for reliable cash flows and the emergence of new players seeking low-maintenance assets offering predictable income and long-term leases. Aggressive market dynamics are driving cap rates to historic lows, making now an opportune time for sellers and private equity owners to unlock a lower cost of capital through a sale-leaseback of corporate real estate vs. traditional financing.
However, with new sources of capital entering the market, it’s more difficult for sellers to navigate the expanding buyer pool and choose a capital partner that’s truly “the one.” In addition to more traditional net lease investors like public REITs, private and institutional investors have continued to grow their share of the net lease market. According to CBRE, institutional and equity funds accounted for $6.3 billion in volume in the second quarter of 2021, a 99% increase from the prior year. The steady performance of the sector coupled with attractive market dynamics position these funds well for an easy flip of their investments a few years down the line. However, this does not always leave sellers well positioned to take advantage of the full suite of benefits a sale-leaseback can offer if done so with the right partner.
In order to choose the right buyer, sellers should ask themselves these three questions before settling down:
1. Does my company need flexibility over the long term?
Unlike a fund, a long-term holder isn’t looking to hit a short-dated return hurdle and flip the asset 4-6 years down the line. Whether it’s a potential merger or subleasing underutilized space, a long-term landlord focused on deploying additional capital to support the evolving needs of its tenants may be a better fit than a short-term holder focused on disposition opportunities.
2. Is my company growing?
While many tenants prefer quiet enjoyment of their space, having a landlord aligned with growth can be key. If a tenant wants to expand their existing facility to add space or make sustainability enhancements, a landlord aligned with long-term growth is happy to continue investing in the facility in a way that’s going to support the needs of its tenants and improve the long-term value of the property.
3. Do I understand the buyer's underwriting process?
Most long-term investors will spend the time to get to know a business and its unique structure rather than relying solely on credit ratings or focusing on the real estate alone. This is particularly important for sub-investment grade or non-rated companies to ensure they are being valued appropriately during the underwriting process and able to maximize sale-leaseback proceeds.
Whether you’re a company looking to sell one asset or a portfolio of assets, it’s a big decision. Before jumping into that commitment, it’s important to remember that at the core of any relationship should be a true partnership. This means choosing a partner that will recognize the full value of your real estate from the start and support your evolving needs.
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