4 Things Self-Storage Investors Should Know in 2021

Self-storage had a strong start from 2010 to 2015. Limited supply and high demand drove development to record highs in 2018, which ultimately tipped the scale, causing an imbalance of supply and demand in many markets. The onset of the global pandemic in 2020 only created a new set of challenges for self-storage investors to navigate. Mindful Workspaces and Storage wants the show you the four things self-storage investors should know in 2021.

Whether you own and manage your own facility or invest in self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs), here are four things self-storage investors should know in 2021.


1. An Increase in Existing Facilities For Sale

Self-storage giants, like Public StorageExtra Space Storage, CubeSmart, Life Storage, and National Storage Affiliates make up roughly 20% of the self-storage market share. This means the remaining 80% of facilities across the nation are owned and operated by individual investors, including mom-and-pop owners.

These small-scale investors typically sell the property during life events, such as retirement, divorce, or other circumstantial events. With an increase in financial challenges as a result of the ongoing pandemic, there could be an increase in property owners bringing their property to market in 2021 and beyond. This is something to pay close attention to as these properties are hot and will not last.

2. Expect Flat or Decreasing Rental Rates

Rental rates were already going down due to oversupply in many markets, but the coronavirus pandemic has only perpetuated that problem, as low lease rates have driven rental rates down even further.

The third quarter of 2020 found a -2.6% decrease in rental rates on a national average, with some markets, like Southeast Florida, seeing as much as a -6.7% rent change. As of the third quarter of 2020, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, and Phoenix were the only major metro markets to see no rental change quarter over quarter.


3. Demands Increase as Moratoriums Expire

Self-storage is in the business of change. When people move, downsize, relocate, or get divorced, among other life events, the need for storage goes up. Surprisingly, these occupancy rates have remained around normal levels based on national averages for 2020. This holds true although move-ins and move-outs have decreased.

This means rental rate compression is still largely thanks to oversupply. Right now, tenants and homeowners at risk of foreclosure or eviction are protected through national or state moratoriums, meaning the need to move, downsize, or relocate isn’t there. But as these moratoriums expire, there will likely be an increase in the need for self-storage, which could push rental rates back to normal levels.

4. Secondary and Tertiary Markets to Lead the Way in 2021

As tenants and businesses flee primary markets across the nation, it appears secondary and tertiary markets will hold the biggest opportunities for investors in 2021. According to reports, investors expect cap rates to remain elevated at roughly 5% for Class A facilities, 6% for Class B facilities, and 7% for Class C facilities. Properties in suburban and secondary markets typically go for less, meaning investors who want to purchase or develop existing facilities may want to look outside major markets for better pricing and less competition.

There is still a large appetite for storage facilities, despite current downward pressure on rental rates. Thankfully, the self-storage sector has fared far better than others in the commercial space.

While it’s not the most profitable moment to be in self-storage, there is still a lot of opportunity and resilience in this asset class. I expect to see continued expansion among self-storage REITs and individual investors in 2021. Investors should be cautious when evaluating opportunities, particularly in markets that are oversupplied.

If you are looking for a cost-effective storage option, don’t overlook a storage unit from Mindful Workspaces & Storage. They provide key solutions to many business issues such as extra office space. And remember that storage containers do not require much to set up and are a great temporary alternative for businesses that require storage.

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