What to Consider When Deciding to Buy a Strip Mall Property

Retail property is a special market segment when it comes to property performance. Investors and Real Estate Agents alike should respect and gain the knowledge about this property type before they embark on entering this retail property market. Retail property is complex as an investment type.

Rents are generally higher in retail property given the way the property operates, however the operating costs are also higher. The property needs to perform more intensely for tenants, customers, retailers, and the community. This intense level of property performance pushes operating costs up in things like energy, cleaning, janitorial, lighting, and amenities.

Any retail property owner that is seeking to save money on operating costs and hence tries to reduce levels of maintenance and presentation is on the fast track to failure. Tenants and customers to a retail property soon see the shortcuts that a property owner may be taking to save money. They feel that the property is just not up to scratch, and then will move their focus and trade to the other properties in the area.

This then says that the property owner in any retail property must respect and support not just the tenants in the property, but also the customers and the local community. Without this care and balance, the property will decline locally. Lower rents will be the outcome and the vacancy factor will rise.

When looking at a retail property for assessing its potential and its future, there are some critical points that should be looked at first before any further investigation occurs. Consider these:

  • Location of the property is highest on the agenda of investigation. Without a good location a retail property will fail. Given the current property location, are there any changes being considered locally that will impact property access or customer visitation. Most particularly you should look for changes to roads, highways, and the local community. Is the local community expanding or contracting and in what way?
  • Parking in a shopping centre is a key element to its success. The car park must firstly be large enough for the existing and future trade, and then it has to be easy to access. When customers access the shopping centre, they should feel good about the visit and not frustrated by getting to and from their car. In many locations, undercover car parking will be a priority in property design. Some older shopping centres where car parks are in the open should consider placing awnings in the car park to improve the customer experience.
  • Design of the property is a physical thing. It starts at the property entry points and then extends into the common areas and the tenant areas. Simply the customer wants to move through and in the property with the greatest of ease. This movement when efficiently handled will create the ‘ant track’ of customers, from which you can then design the tenancy mix and build higher points of rental. Most of the entry points and the corners in the common areas and mall of the property should be reserved for smaller tenancies of broad customer interest. This will get you better rentals and also encourage more shoppers to move around the property. A retail property must also give a modern, clean, and functional appearance. The customer wants to feel good when they visit your property. You want them to come back. Quite a simple target really but it does take continual care and attention.
  • The tenancy mix should always be matched to the needs and wants of the customer and not the rental that the landlord desires. It should be said here that the landlord when negotiating leases with tenants should not randomly give away the right to an option on the lease. Certainly tenants will ask for it in many situations, but it does restrict the landlord’s options as the years pass. In retail property investment the landlord needs to preserve the right to move tenants around, remove the poorly performing tenants from the property, and renovate the property at the right time. It is of note that in many of the larger retail properties, the landlord will not normally or easily give an option for further occupancy, for this very reason.

So there you have some of the key elements of assessment in retail property. These key elements should be assessed first before you move on into a deeper level of property analysis.

The Drawbacks of Lifestyle Funds or ETFS

Lifestyle funds or ETFs offer advantages for many people, but they also can have unwanted repercussions or even leave you short of money in your retirement.

The concept of letting a manger handle your retirement account and allocate your investments based on your age sounds like a terrific idea… kind of like a one-stop, one-item market that fits all your needs. But does it?

The concept behind Lifestyle funds is simple: diversify your money into different stocks so your risk is spread out and then allocate it further based upon growth, stability and income producing stocks or bonds.

In this manner a young person would see his money going primarily into stocks or ETFs with substantial growth potential and a minor amount into income producing bonds.

A middle age investor investing in a Lifestyle fund would have his money spread out between growth, dividend producing stocks and bonds on an almost equal level.

A retiree would have her money primarily in bonds or other very secure stocks with high dividends levels so her balance remains stable while producing some, not a lot, but some income that at least comes close to or matches inflation. Of course, the actual balance of this account will now diminish as money is withdrawn to fund his or her life.

The danger with a lifestyle fund, in my opinion, is that you can actually end up short of money in retirement. Perhaps not at first, but as time goes by the Lifestyle ETF or fund is not growing, it is diminishing as you withdraw money while earning, hopefully an amount equal to inflation. But as we tend to live longer and longer, into our 80′s and 90′s, perhaps over a 100, a Lifestyle account that stopped growing, stopped holding growth stocks or ETFs when you first hit retirement age may run out of cash before we die.

Years ago, life expectancy after retirement was only 10 maybe 15 years, now we are seeing a retirement life that is approaching almost as many years as our “working life” span.

In order to be sure you have enough funds to support you in retirement an investment strategy needs to remain fairly aggressive for many, many years after you retire.

Obviously there are a number of ways to grow your retirement account and to keep it growing and viable throughout your life:

  • Use investment software to manage your account, even Lifestyle funds
  • Use Lifestyle Funds or ETFs
  • Retain an Investment Advisor

Using Investment software and self-directing your retirement account for safe profitable investing is something everyone is capable of doing as long as you have the desire.

Using Lifestyle Funds or ETFs can be the answer as long as you realize that you may have to pick funds that expire further out in years than when you plan to retire so your money continues to grow during your retirement years.

The other pitfall of locking into a Lifestyle Fund is that when the market declines the allocation and diversification may not protect you from major losses as the fund is ‘locked into its allocation’. In other words these funds rarely incorporate a Market Exit signal for when the market dives. This type of feature is something a good investment software program offers.

The choice of using Lifestyle Funds or ETFs is tempting as long as you understand the drawbacks. Monitoring them with an investment software program or a brokers evaluation system to compare one against another and against the market trends can help make these a viable choice for those with limited time to manage their future.

Travel Planning & Immunization

For some countries no immunizations are necessary, but the further off the beaten track you go the more necessary it is to take precautions. Be aware that there is often a greater risk of disease with children and in pregnancy.

Leave plenty of time to get your vaccinations before you set off: some of them require an initial shot followed by a booster, and some vaccinations should not be given together. It is recommended you seek medical advice at least six weeks prior to travel.

Record all vaccinations on a International Health Certificate, which is available from your physician or government health department.

Discuss your requirements with your doctor, vaccinations which may be required include:


Despite its poor protection, in some situations it may be wise to have the cholera vaccine eg for the trans-Africa traveler. Very occasionally travelers are asked by immigration officials to present a certificate, even though all countries and the WHO have dropped a cholera immunisation as a health requirement. You might be able to get a certificate without having the injection from a doctor or health centre sympathetic to the vagaries of travel in Africa.

Hepatitis A:

The most common travel-acquired illness after diarrhea which can put you out of action for weeks. Havrix is a vaccination which provides long term immunity (possibly more than 10 years) after an initial injection and a booster at six to 12 months. Gamma globulin is not a vaccination but is ready-made antibody collected from blood donations. It should be given close to departure because, depending on the dose, it only protects for two to six months.

Hepatitis B:

This disease is spread by blood or by sexual activity. Travelers who should consider a hepatitis B vaccination include those visiting countries where there are known to be many carriers, where blood transfusions may not be adequately screened or where sexual contact is a possibility. It involves three injections, the quickest course being over three weeks with a booster at 12 months.

Japanese B Encephalitis:

This mosquito-borne disease is not of great risk to travelers. It occurs in Asia. Consider the vaccination if spending a month or longer in a high risk area, making repeated trips to a risk area or visiting during an epidemic. It involves three injections over 30 days. The vaccine is expensive and has been associated with serious allergic reactions so the decision to have it should be balanced against the risk of contracting the illness.

Meningococcal Meningitis – Healthy people carry this disease; it is transmitted like a cold and you can die from it within a few hours. There are many carriers and vaccination is recommended for travelers to certain parts of Asia, India, Africa and South America. It is also required of all Haj pilgrims entering Saudi Arabia. A single injection will give good protection for three years. The vaccine is not recommended for children under two years because they do not develop satisfactory immunity from it.


Polio is a serious, easily transmitted disease, still prevalent in many developing countries. Everyone should keep up to date with this vaccination. A booster every 10 years maintains immunity.


Vaccination should be considered by those who will spend a month or longer in a country where rabies is common, especially if they are cycling, handling animals, caving, traveling to remote areas, or for children (who may not report a bite). Pre-travel rabies vaccination involves having three injections over 21 to 28 days. If someone who has been vaccinated is bitten or scratched by an animal they will require two booster injections of vaccine, those not vaccinated require more.

Tetanus & Diphtheria:

Tetanus can be a fatal wound infection and diphtheria can be a fatal throat infection Everyone should have these vaccinations. After an initial course of three injections, boosters are necessary every 10 years.


TB risk to travelers is usually very low. For those who will be living with or closely associated with local people in high risk areas such as Asia, Africa and some parts of the Americas and Pacific, there may be some risk. As most healthy adults do not develop symptoms, a skin test before and after travel to determine whether exposure has occurred may be considered. A vaccination is recommended for children living in these areas for three months or more.


This is an important vaccination to have where hygiene is a problem. Available either as an injection or oral capsules.

Yellow Fever:

Yellow fever is now the only vaccine which is a legal requirement for entry into many countries, usually only enforced when coming from an infected area. Protection lasts 10 years and is recommended where the disease is endemic, eg Africa and South America. You usually have to go to a special yellow fever vaccination centre. Vaccination poses some risk during pregnancy but if you must travel to a high-risk area it is advisable; note that people allergic to eggs may not be able to have this vaccine.

Before you travel discuss immunizatio with your doctor.