We can sit comfortably at home in our pyjamas, poring over the delights of the various commercial property web portals. And if we register our details and set up a few searches, then every new property hitting the market that meets our selected criteria will automatically hit our inbox. How good is that? Maybe this deal-finding malarkey is a lot easier than you thought it was.
But, as you might expect, this logic has a flaw. Yes, it’s possible to find some cracking deals using the online portals. But the problem is that this is where lots of other new would-be developers will also be looking for deals. There’s currently an army of pyjama-clad sofa-surfers trawling Rightmove Commercial looking for their first development deal. And if you’re one of them, it means you’ll have a lot of competition. But here’s a fact that many of your competitors won’t know; the best deals never make it onto the internet. They stay resolutely ‘off-market’, and if you stay glued to your laptop screen, you’re not going to get a whiff of any of them.
Now, in this context, when I say off-market, I don’t mean that these properties aren’t for sale, nor that commercial agents aren’t involved – quite the opposite. Commercial estate agents are hands-down the best source of opportunities for developers, but you’ll need to intercept these opportunities after the agent has secured them but before they advertise them to all and sundry. But hold on, though, surely those same agents will be putting their properties on the internet, so won’t I get an alert in my inbox? In many instances, the answer will be ‘no’. Let me explain why.