SASSI Expands in a big way - Info Gauteng

South African Self Storage Investments (SASSI) announced this week that they have broken ground for, and are going ahead with, a fifth new facility (with 450 plus self storage units), this time on the West Rand of Johannesburg alongside the busy N14 highway. The store will be nestled within the Cradle City precinct and only minutes away from Lanseria Airport and will form part of the Stor-Age brand of self storage facilities.

The total cost will be in the region of R25m for Phase I & II. A Phase III will follow.

The site, says Steven Horton, a director of SASSI, is once again in an area characterised by self storage high demand drivers, such as high-density townhouses and apartments and busy commercial and retail nodes. Experience, he said, has shown that this type of environment is particularly favourable to self storage.

The first phase will come on stream from November this year (with transfers anticipated in February/March 2010), with units selling at R5 500 per m². These prices, said Horton, will rise by ±R1 000 per m² by the time Phase III starts selling.

As on their previous projects, SASSI are making some 50% of the units available to buyers on a sectional title basis. To date, investors have spent some R102 million on SASSI units countrywide and today own about 50% of the company’s total 28,000m² of stock either currently operational or under development. This is valued at approximately R200 million. These figures, said Horton, will rise by 20% before the end of 2010.

Since the group’s formation in 2004, its investors have on average been paid a 13%+ annual return and have seen the value of their units rise by over 20% per annum. The storage industry, added Horton, is far less affected by up and downswings than many others.

One of the big advantages of the SASSI offerings, he said, is that they are suited to both large and small investors. Units on the West Rand project will vary in size from 3m² to 24m².

“We can partner with an investor with only R50 000 or one with R10 million plus.”

The majority of those who have bought into a SASSI project, he said, have acquired the underlying asset purely as an investment alternative but a significant minority have bought their units for their own use.

All buyers are given their title deeds which guarantee their ownership in perpetuity or until they sell.

Distributions paid to owners are boosted by the net profits, shared on a pro rata basis, from Stor-Age’s on site retail stores, which sell ancillary packaging products such as locks, boxes, packing material (such as bubble wrap and polystyrene), mattress covers, rope etc. The distributions are calculated based on the total earnings of the store and not the performance of the individual units. All investors, therefore, receive the same yielded distribution based on a given occupancy level and on each unit’s square metre participation over the total gross lettable area of the store.)

“The rental pool system,” says Horton, “spreads the risks and returns to every investor in the store.

“Investors can take comfort from the fact that, as SASSI is always the largest single investor in its projects, their interests are closely aligned with those of their co-investors – whose units are always in the same rental pool.”

SASSI, says Horton, take great care to select strategic sites, ensure good construction and put good management in place – through their subsidiary, Stor-Age.

The group, he says, has spent “vast” resources on research and development and evidence of this will be seen by any visitor inspecting the systems and operating platforms that they have put in place.

“Stor-Age, in my view, is up there with the best on the international self-storage scene,” said Horton. “We do not have a serious rival in the domestic market.”

The company staff, he affirms, have established themselves as storage consultants, not just renters and sellers of storage space.

“This is a big step up on the frequently encountered approach to self storage which, all too often, results in a single person being appointed to “babysit” rows of unsightly garages on an inadequately protected site in an unsafe industrial area.”

Those renting SASSI units, he added, fall into two categories: residential/domestic users and commercial users, the former hiring units for an average of eight to ten months and the latter for 15 to 18 months.

Horton said that SASSI see Gauteng as the area in which they will expand the fastest “for obvious demographic reasons” but their goal is to be a national brand.

“We have,” he said, “already identified four further possible sites, one in the Free State.”

In the year ahead the company will also seek to “educate” the investing public about what it can offer.

“Giving, as we do, above-average returns, we are an obviously good asset class – a good investment vehicle. This is acknowledged, gratefully, by those who have invested in SASSI’s stores – but there are still many potential investors who have never heard of us but who, given a run-through of what we offer, would almost certainly get onto our wagon.”

Article by: www.saselfstorageinvestments.com