Friday, June 23, 2017

5 Reasons NOT to Sell your Commercial Real Estate

Image Attribution: www.1800bizbroker.com
So often, folks in my profession are focused upon the reasons TO do something - like sell your commercial real estate. After all, we make our living selling and leasing buildings.

However, sometimes there are compelling reasons to NOT sell your commercial real estate. Today, I would enjoy sharing a few of those reasons with you.

No transition. As we recently discussed, a sale decision is generally preceded by a transition of some sort - such as selling the business that occupies your commercial real estate. If you no longer own the "tenant", the occupying business, you may prefer to not be a landlord - thus your motivation to sell. However, in the absence of a transition, why sell?

Tax consequences. The sale of your commercial real estate will create punitive taxes that must be paid or deferred. In some cases, the tax man will claim 35-45% of your sale proceeds. Some sellers analyze the after tax proceeds of a sale and determine selling is not a viable option.

No place to move. Southern California has the lowest vacancy of available industrial buildings ever! 98 of every 100 buildings are occupied with very little turnover. If you sell the building that houses your business, where will you move the business?

A very low basis. Remember the tax consequences we examined above? The taxes are generated by the difference in the current selling price and the price you paid - know as your gain. If you purchased your commercial real estate many years ago, chances are your basis is low. If you're fortunate to own your building with no debt - even better! The resulting occupancy costs for a tenant are also low. In the halcyon days, you reap the rewards. When things are a bit tougher, you can afford to lease your building for less because you have no mortgage payments.

An irreplaceable location. Akin to an ocean front cottage, certain commercial properties enjoy locations that cannot be replaced. This could be a main boulevard frontage, proximity to amenities  - hotels, restaurants, or entertainment, favorable zoning, special purpose improvements for your business - ISO 9001 certifications, certain use permits, or an abundance of electricity.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What DON'T You Like? TUESDAY Traffic Tips





Recently, a vendor cold called me. I took the call. Nice enough. When I explained I was pleased with my current provider, an opportunity was missed. I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO tip for commercial real estate professionals.



What DON'T You Like? TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Friday, June 9, 2017

PRIOR to Selling Commercial Real Estate - DO These 5 Things

Image Attribution: www.entrepreneur.com
You've made a decision to sell your commercial real estate. Congratulations!

Reasons vary from seller to seller but generally involve a transition – a change in the market, the sale of a business that occupies the building, business growth that out strips the capacity, a loan that is due, an ownership squabble, or gravitation toward another investment. 

Regardless of your selling motivation, most sellers focus on the commercial real estate’s value as the central motivation. OK. I get it. However, before exposing your building to the market, I would recommend you consider the five things below.

Title search. A title company such as First American or Fidelity will typically open a title order for you – preliminary commitment or “prelim’ - for free in the hopes of insuring the title upon sale. Contained within the multi page document are exceptions or conditions to be met prior to a change in ownership. Easements, loans, tax liens, mechanics liens, leases, and the nature of the building’s ownership – LLC, individuals, family trust, etc. - are all detailed. You're interested in understanding any issue that could prevent a sale – such as a suspended LLC or an unsatisfied tax lien.

Building Inspection. Some sellers allow a buyer to become more acquainted with the physical issues of their commercial real estate - such as the condition of the roof, remaining life of the air conditioning and heating, un-permitted improvements, or parking lot paving. I believe a seller should invest in a pre-sale inspection, take a look at the recommendations and price accordingly.

Environmental survey. If your buyer borrows money, most lenders will require a phase I environmental assessment as standard loan processing. Why, you may ask, should you invest money in a similar report? Fair question. The easy answer is to know, with certainty, your property is environmentally clean and will pass lender scrutiny. You might also save a bit of time if the buyer’s lender can “rely’ upon the report and avoid duplication.

Evaluate loans. Back to the Title Report. Are any loans recorded against your property that have been paid in full? If so, they shouldn't appear on your report. Typically, this means the satisfied loan has not be reconveyed correctly. If the loans on title are in fact still active, carefully evaluate any pre-payment penalties that must be incurred if you sell the property.


Tax consequences. The time to understand how big a tax bite a sale will create is prior to placing the building on the market. Remember, several taxing agencies are standing in line, hands outstretched waiting to be fed. Included are the IRS – capital gains and depreciation recapture, Franchise Tax Board, and the Affordable Care Act. Your situation may vary and there are ways to defer your tax bill, however, please spend some time with your CPA and know how much will be left if you choose to pay the taxes.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Do YOU Have a Back Channel? TUESDAY Traffic Tips





Back channels have been demonized lately in the media as aides and advisors to our President allegedly sought ways to contact foreign governments through secret means. Today, I discuss back channels Ana why they are CRITICAL to our success as commercial real estate professionals. This and more on this week's VIDEO.



Do YOU Have a Back Channel? TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Friday, May 26, 2017

6 Random Commercial Real Estate Thoughts on TODAY'S Market

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Today, I thought it would be fun to dissect my current workload and discuss a few random thoughts on commercial real estate that have dominated my psyche for the past few days.

Maybe, in the process of reading this, you, my faithful readers, may learn something and alter your direction to avoid a costly mistake.

Lease rates continue to astonish! Historically, an increase in lease rates trails the increase in sales prices during a market recovery. Our plunge from the peak of 2007 was swift and deep. We lost 40-50% of our values in a period of six months to a year. Many of us wondered if the commercial real estate market would EVER recover. We started to see a real pop in selling prices after the tax law changes of 2012. 2013-2015 were monster years for selling price appreciation. We all knew lease rates would soon follow. But, WOW! If you told me class A industrial lease rates would approach $1.00 per square foot by 2017, I would have questioned your sanity. Surprise. We have not lost our marbles. We are there!

Will these sale prices ever plateau? After the dramatic selling price increases in 2013-2015, many in our industry predicted a leveling in 2016. However, selling prices have pushed past 2007 highs and now are eclipsing 2016. When will the end come? My guess is once money becomes less affordable or we experience a dramatic global black swan event, selling prices will plateau and even soften. Exacerbating the problem, however, is a frighteningly low vacancy of available buildings for sale or lease.

Can you ask too much? I used to believe so. Not anymore. Recently, we performed a broker opinion of value for a fifty year old manufacturing building whose best days were during the Nixon administration. Our estimate was X. The seller insisted upon X plus 50%. We settled on X plus 40%. As we drove away with the signed engagement, I wondered how on earth we would justify the asking price. Twenty inquiries, three tours in three hours, two full price all cash offers with exceptionally quick closes later, I'm a believer. You cannot ask too much.

Demand for old, obsolete buildings. Old, obsolete industrial buildings once were shunned in favor of their newer more glamorous contemporaries. With the shortage of available buildings, these ugly ducklings are becoming white swans. Demand is back and historic prices are being achieved!

Good housekeeping is a must! Make sure your paperwork is in order. Your leases should be up-to-date. All entity tax returns and filing fees should be paid. Sprinkler certifications, and maintenance of the roof and air conditioning needs to be accomplished. If you have added square footage to your building or new offices, make sure your building permits are easily accessible. Please don't wait until you're under contract to sell your building to discover something crucial is missing.

A burning question. How will cities and counties in California handle the execution of proposition 64 which legalized recreational cannabis? Cities and counties have until January 2018 to decide and we will have to wait and see, but many operators are ignoring the illegality of the growing and sale of recreational cannabis. See "demand for old, obsolete buildings".

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seller STILL Unrealstic? Try This. TUESDAY Traffic Tips





Last week we discussed UN-REALISTIC sellers and allowing the market to be the bad guy. You've now done that and the seller REMAINS unrealistic. So, what should you do? Really, it boils down to one of a couple of options. I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO for commercial real estate professionals.



Seller STILL Unrealistic? Try This. TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

5 Hidden Land Mines in Commercial Real Estate Deals

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Land mines are generally buried beneath the surface so that the unwary happens upon them and before they can react, BOOM! A significant amount of damage is inflicted upon the unsuspecting.

Similar "land mines" can exist within a commercial real estate deal. Although bodily injury may be avoided, the fall out created is nonetheless painful. Its important to recognize where these land mines might be hiding.

So, let's discuss the most common land mines you will encounter when buying or selling a building.

Environmental. Generally, buying a building includes borrowing money. An environmental assessment will be a part of your loan approval. Unseen, but lurking under the soli may be environmental contamination. An examination of current and previous uses of the building along with a review of local and regional conditions is undertaken to determine if any sub surface testing is recommended. If there is cause for concern, soil borings are collected, tested and a course of action pursued. Based upon the findings, your deal may be delayed or completely derailed. 

Entity status. Typically, ownership of commercial real estate is vested in an entity other than an individual. Most common among ownership entities is the limited liability company, or LLC. In order for the LLC to conduct business - i.e. sell real estate - the entity must be active in the state in which the entity operates. All tax returns must be current, and taxes - if any - paid. The entity must pay its annual filing fees. And, a statement of information must be on record with the state. If any of these boxes are unchecked, the entity may be suspended. A laborious process to revive the LLC must be undertaken. Searching in Corporation Wiki or the Secretary of State should tell you the status of your entity. 

Loan re-conveyance. When a loan is paid in full, a re-conveyance is necessary. Otherwise, the loan balance will still be recorded against the property. Owners incorrectly assume once the loan is paid, they are done. Wrong. Re-conveyances are easy to accomplish at the time the loan is satisfied. Not so easy if attempted years later. 

Clouds on Title. Mechanics liens, tax liens, Lis pendens - nasty little critters that prevent a seller from deeding property. Frequently, sellers of commercial real estate are clueless about matters affecting the title of their property. Before considering selling a building, its best to order a preliminary title report and have your title officer review it with you. 


Insurance. Your purchase will require insurance. Get your insurance professionals working on binding a policy early in your escrow. If you wait until you're at the closing table, the process will screech to a halt until this condition is fulfilled.