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What Is a CAM in Commercial Real Estate?

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What does CAM in CRE mean?

CAM stands for Common Area Maintenance, which are fees paid by the tenants to landlords every month to cover the costs of various maintenance needs for the building. The maintenance costs are solely for managing and maintaining the property. That being said, the landlord does not profit from any of the fees claimed by him/her. The costs that are included in CAM fees vary from one property type to another, and even locally from one landlord to another.

In Commercial Real Estate (CRE), the term CAM’s is often used simultaneously with the term Triple Nets (NNN). Interesting enough the CAM’s are just one (1) of the three (3) main components that make up the ‘nets’ or operating expenses. However, if you hear someone asking “what are the CAM’s?”, they’re probably referring to the total nets. The three (3) components are insurance, property taxes, and CAM charges. Hence, this article will focus just on the CAM charges. These CAM charges are an important part of a commercial real estate lease as it directly impacts the net operating income (NOI) of the commercial property.

 

When you lease a commercial building, typically you are paying for two (2) separate areas. These are the usable area and the common area.

  • Usable area is the space you are occupying. That means the actual square footage in a building that is specific for your use—personal or business use. Areas included are restrooms within the leased space, storage or closets, rooms, individual offices, or other facilities you need in order to do business.
  • Common area is the space that is available to you but shared with other tenants. It is outside of your leased space and it includes all areas of the building that you benefit from and shares with other tenants. The commercial property’s common areas include the lobby, common restrooms, elevator, public corridors, gyms, shared boardrooms, electrical rooms, stairwells, walkways, parking lot, etc.

 

 

Where can CAM fees be found? What is included in CAM?

There is a lot of information that is included and specified in a commercial lease contract and verifying through all of it is a good practice to avoid any misunderstandings and problems after you have signed it.

CAM charges are usually indicated in your lease contract. If it does not, clarify with your landlord as the CAM fees may be already included in your monthly rent. As I said, it is in your best interest to know the CAM charges before signing the lease contract.

The exact costs included in the CAM charges are completely dependent on the specific lease that a tenant and landlord agree on. It also varies from one market to another and the specific items that the CAM charges cover on the property.

Here are some common CAM charges:

  • Property maintenance
  • Roof & Exterior Building Repairs
  • Insurance, permits, taxes, or any legal fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Pest control services
  • Security systems and services
  • Other operating expenses – landscaping, parking lot cleaning, lighting, advertising, signage, snow removal, etc.
  • Any other expense a landlord may need to include

Please take note that the CAM charges mentioned above may vary from one property to another as these are not set in stone. CAM fees are typically common to retail, industrial, and office property types. Thus, always refer to what is indicated in your lease terms to know about the CAM expenses that you should be expecting.

 

 

How are CAM charges calculated?

CAM charges are calculated on a per square footage (PSF) pro-rata basis. This means that your CAM expenses will depend on the square footage you lease in a property—the more space you take up, the more CAM charges you will be paying. The charges correspond with the percentage of the total property size your space takes up.

Here is a sample of how you may calculate CAM charges:

First, gather all the necessary information—the gross leasable area of the building (total square footage of the property) and the tenant’s leased space (square footage of the rented area). Once you determine all the necessary information, take the tenant’s leased space and divide it by the gross leasable area. Then, multiply it by 100 to get the percentage.

For example:

  • 15,000 SF – tenant’s leased space
  • 60,000 SF – gross leasable area of the building

 

15,000 / 60,000 = 0.25

0.25 x 100 = 25%

 

This means that if you are leasing 15,000 SF of the building that has a total leasable area of 60,000 SF, you are responsible for 25% of the CAM charges for the property. If the monthly expenses for the upkeep of the property cost $2,000, you are responsible to pay 25% or ¼ of the total amount. Therefore, you will be paying $500 per month in CAM fees. Also, typically the Triple Nets, including the CAM charges are reevaluated on an annual basis, so these fees will be locked for a year and not fluctuate monthly.

 

Summary

CAM’s is just one term you may have heard when dealing with investing in or leasing commercial real estate. CAM charges cover a lot of areas in a commercial property and it is a must that you review and verify it on your lease terms before signing.

Having a clear understanding of what CAM charges are and how to calculate them will help you assess your monthly expenses.


Even after outlining all the information above, investing in CRE can still seem daunting. That’s why the Leveraged CRE Investment Team at Commercial Properties, Inc. is here to help you achieve your investment goals. Contact us at (480) 330-8897 or send us an email at request@leveragedcre.com.

 

Need help on how to get started investing in commercial real estate? We got you covered! We prepared a free e-book that will serve as your guide to achieve your long-term business goals or obtain that property you’ve always been dreaming of!

 

Phill Tomlinson is a commercial real estate broker with Commercial Properties, Inc. (CPI) in Scottsdale, Arizona, and owner of the Leveraged CRE Investment Team specializing in investment sales and tenant/landlord representation in the Phoenix and Scottsdale submarkets. Phill applies over 21 years of experience in the Real Estate industry helping investors and owners maximize their returns.

 

Bookmark www.leveragedcre.com to learn more about the Commercial Real Estate market and keep informed of relevant real estate strategies designed to maximize your income property investment results. Connect and follow Phill on Social Media at sm.leveragedcre.com/smplatform. #LeveragedCRE

 

 

 

 

Six (6) Essential Factors You Should Know When Getting Started Investing in Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate (CRE) has a long history of being an appealing financial play during both up and down market cycles, and it plays an important role in a diversification strategy for investors. It requires more money, skill, and time than most investors have available. It continues to be one of the most sought-after investment options. Market reports and industry analysts everywhere are drawing attention to this investing niche, leading many to ask: why commercial real estate?

The answer is simple: commercial real estate has repeatedly shown to be a profitable investment vehicle. The only difference now is that the advantages of commercial investing, as well as the way to getting started, are more obvious than ever. Continue reading to find out why commercial real estate, in particular, could be the right investment path for you.

Real estate investing is a straightforward process, so don’t panic. All you have to do is be patient, as it takes time to learn the various strategies of commercial real estate.

 

 

Real Estate

Six (6) Essential Factors You Should Know When Getting Started Investing in Commercial Real Estate

 

One of the reasons why commercial real estate appeals to a lot of investors is because of its broad nature.

 

  1. The most important factor to be considered is the location of the property.

According to studies, the correct location can increase sales by more than 50%. As a result, when purchasing a commercial property for business reasons, make sure that the property is handy, visible, and accessible to customers. This is why most business owners seek high-traffic commercial properties. Commercial real estate in such a favorable location will save a lot of money on advertising. A simple sign placed on the building, for example, will serve as a free billboard advertisement for the company.

 

 

  1. Real estate investments often generate consistent cash flow, with income given monthly, quarterly, or annually to investors. However, unlike stock dividends, the return is usually higher. For example, stocks can provide an annual return of 8–9% compounded annually, whereas CRE can provide up to 15% cash flow over the same time period.

There are two options for investors:       

    • Equity Investment. This means buying minority ownership in a tangible asset, such as an apartment community or office building. Rent increases give the consistent cash flow that investors seek.
    • Debt Investment. This is when you put money into a real estate loan and use an asset (land or a structure) as collateral. One of the most appealing aspects of this type of investment is that it is usually constructed to provide a predictable return.

 

 

  1. Leverage refers to the use of debt financing in deal structuring for commercial real estate. This is when a tiny initial cash commitment is used to generate a large return on investment. The notion is that any money that isn't put into an investment can be spread out and used to buy multiple additional commercial properties instead. It will result in a larger portfolio and a higher overall return for the investor. When debt is placed on a property, the rate of return increases, which is referred to as positive leverage.

Losses are mitigated by diversification. Investors may still benefit from investments in other classes if one investment class underperforms. CRE should be an element of any portfolio that is truly diverse. Alternative investments, such as commercial real estate, should make up between 10 and 30 percent of a high-net-worth investor's portfolio. In addition to stocks and bonds, including commercial real estate in your portfolio can assist diversify your overall investment plan.

 

 

  1. Real estate is an asset class that investors can literally touch and feel. While some building occupants may come and go, and building assessments may fluctuate throughout the course of its existence, the property itself will not vanish. For these and other reasons, savvy investors keep a good mix of tangible and intangible assets in their portfolios. In the case of intangibles, the investor is completely reliant on the actions of others to increase asset value. The beauty of real estate is that the owner is in charge of everything. If you own an office facility, you or your authorized asset/property manager are in charge of all spending and income decisions.

 

 

  1. There are tax advantages to owning CRE. When it comes to stocks and bonds, investors must set aside a portion of their earnings to pay capital gains taxes. These taxes must be paid unless the investment is part of their retirement account or a "qualified" plan. Capital gains, on the other hand, may be decreased or avoided entirely using CRE.

Because depreciation is a non-cash expense, it may provide the biggest tax benefit in commercial real estate. This means you obtain a significant tax deduction each year without having to spend any money.

The amount of taxes paid on the property's cash flow is lowered year after year because depreciation is written off against ordinary income. When a loan is used to buy a commercial property, the investor can deduct the amount of mortgage interest paid each year from their taxable income.

Depreciation and interest expenditure deductions reduce income taxes, but they cannot be used to offset capital gains. Real estate investors, on the other hand, can delay capital gains when they sell a commercial property and reinvest the proceeds in another. Of course, a 1031 exchange only allows you to defer your capital gains tax, not completely avoid it. This means that once you finally sell a property, your tax will be calculated using the original property's cost basis.

 

 

  1. Be Sure About Your Goals

Goals range from one real estate investor to the next, so set yours with a realistic timeframe in mind. Setting excessively lofty or unrealistic goals is a common blunder that you should avoid. Here are some tips to achieve those goals:

    • If you plan on developing vacant property, confirm that zoning will allow you to use the property as intended.
    • Check to determine how many additional units a market can support if you wish to extend an existing building or construct a new one.
    • Research the permitting procedures and expenses with the city or municipality where the property is located.
    • Speak with other participants who have already invested in real estate and seek for referrals.
    • To gain a sense of their track record, look at previous offerings and actual returns on closed investments. 
    • Inquire about their due diligence procedure. Examine how they evaluate each investment opportunity or choose which REIT or investment to make.
    • Do a background check if it's your first time working with someone in the private sector, even if it's not necessary with a huge investment firm. While this may appear harsh, it is not unusual in larger CRE transactions. 
    • Continue to learn and try new tactics; you will undoubtedly succeed.

 

 

In Summary

For many investors, commercial real estate has and is becoming increasingly attractive. The JOBS Act of 2012, which permits investors to crowdfund — making CRE more accessible and safer for a broader range of people – adds to the appeal for certain investors. Henceforth, CRE is an investment vehicle that will continue to be lucrative as long as there is land and room for improvement.


Even after outlining all the information above, investing in CRE can still seem daunting. That’s why the Leveraged CRE Investment Team at Commercial Properties, Inc. is here to help you achieve your investment goals. Contact us at (480) 330-8897 or send us an email at request@leveragedcre.com.

 

Need help on how to get started investing in commercial real estate? We got you covered! We prepared a free e-book that will serve as your guide to achieve your long-term business goals or obtain that property you’ve always been dreaming of!

 

Phill Tomlinson is a commercial real estate broker with Commercial Properties, Inc. (CPI) in Scottsdale, Arizona, and owner of the Leveraged CRE Investment Team specializing in investment sales and tenant/landlord representation in the Phoenix and Scottsdale submarkets. Phill applies over 21 years of experience in the Real Estate industry helping investors and owners maximize their returns.

 

Bookmark www.leveragedcre.com to learn more about the Commercial Real Estate market and keep informed of relevant real estate strategies designed to maximize your income property investment results. Connect and follow Phill on Social Media at sm.leveragedcre.com/smplatform. #LeveragedCRE

 

 

 

 

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