Friday, December 16, 2016

An Improvement Allowance - A Primer

I recently authored a piece entitled "The Commercial Real Estate is ALMOST Perfect - Now what?". If you missed the missive, no major misstep - you can click the link and get up to speed. One of the excerpts I want to explore today is:

"Once the true cost of the new offices is determined, we now must negotiate who pays - you, the owner, or some combination of you and the owner. Generally, an owner will be reluctant to pay for an improvement that adds value today but may need to be ripped out in the future."

There are circumstances in which an owner will in fact write a check, as a concession, for improvements to a space - in the case of a building in shell condition, or if the building is in need of some updating and the owner prefers to throw a wad of cash at the problem vs. doing it himself.

What follows are some issues to understand before you negotiate changes to the space.

What is it. By definition, an improvement allowance is a sum of money the owner of a building will invest in improvements to his building. These improvements could be new offices, new flooring, paint for the offices or warehouse area, expanded electrical circuitry, or truck door enhancements such as load levelers.

Turn Key vs an allowance. In a turn-key situation, you are requesting your new layout be entirely created by the owner of the building without a cost to you, the occupant. An allowance conversely, is a fixed amount of money the owner will spend on your layout with no guarantee the sum will cover the entire cost. If an allowance is all you can muster, make sure you understand the true cost of your improvement with adequate wiggle room in case of a surprise.

Not all deals. Understand that not all transactions will offer an allowance for improvements. We frequently see this in industrial deals. An owner will possibly freshen the offices with a coat of paint and some new flooring but will be unwilling to do much more.

What an owner will pay. Generally, an owner will pay for "general purpose" improvements - those that will be re-usable by future tenants.

Ways an allowance is paid, when and how. The best for you, the occupant is to have the owner provide a turn-key allowance as a concession. He produces your layout with no cost to you other than your timely rent payments throughout the term of your lease. The worst for you, the occupant, would be a complete repayment, with interest, of the improvement dollars the owner invests in the building.

SNDA. If a substantial investment is needed to shape your space into habitable form, make sure the lease you sign includes a Subordination, Non-Disturbance, and Attornment provision. Simply put, this clause will protect your investment and tenancy if your owner loses his building - your business home - through  foreclosure.

Management fee. One of the "gotchas" that exist within an allowance is the owner's right to charge you a fee for managing the process of building your improvements. Let's say the owner will invest $100,000 to mold your arrangement. Your construction costs $100,000. You're golden! Oops, the owner is charging you $5000 to oversee the construction. Now, your new arrangement is tipping the scales at $105,000 - guess who pays the $5000? Yep! The one reading this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Go #cre OLD SCHOOL! TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Little things matter a lot! Today, I explain a few ways to go "old school" and boost your relationships with clients and your fellow brokers. Thanks to Mike Wolfe, Steve Deverian, and Michael Fine of our Ontario office for the inspiration of today's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The SEASONS of #CRE. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Whether your experiencing the BEST year of your career or the worst, think of your deal flow in terms of seasons. This thought process will put bad years in perspective and allow you to temper the good years. This and so much more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Friday, November 18, 2016

You Own, you're Moving - Now What?

Recently, I authored a post wherein I discussed making the ends meet in a commercial real estate deal. You can read the post here if you missed it.

During my discussion, I grazed a topic which today will receive a larger nudge - if you own your building and have elected to relocate, should you lease or sell the vacant building you leave behind?

A move generally is bittersweet - a cause for celebration because an increase in business created the need for more space. Good for you! But, the additional sales spawned another problem - you will create a vacancy. Now what?

In short, the direction you choose in dealing with the excess space and filling the vacancy depends upon several factors. Indulge me while I dissect a few of them.

The structure of your new deal. Are you buying the new building, leasing the new building or leasing the new building with an option to buy the new building at a later date? Chances are, if you desire to own the new spot and don't have a pile of cash lying around, you will need to sell the building you're vacating. Conversely, if your next space will be leased, you may be able to hold on to the old address.

Your desire to be a landlord. Owning and managing a leased building occupied by a company - not your own - comes with a set of headaches - and not necessarily a bottle of aspirin. Some of the painful biggies - who will vet the credit of the new occupant, what if the new guy fails to pay, can you float a lack of rent while you scour the market for a suitable occupant?

Can you afford to lease the existing building? Here is what I mean and how I counsel companies facing this dilemma. The market is the market. Prospective tenants will only pay you a rent figure for your building based upon what has leased recently and what other buildings are demanding in rent. So now you must roll up your sleeves, compute your costs to own the building (mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, maintenance), add a reasonable return for the equity you have in the building and see where that squares with the market rent. You may believe yours is worth more. Maybe, but are you willing to wait? Remember, waiting is expensive. Lost rent for all the months you wait can never be re-cooped.

Do you require the vacant building's equity to fund the new location? This one is easy. I recently represented a group based in Whittier. So far past the building's capacity was their operation, we practically had to meet in the parking lot. I advised the company to move out, lease a new location with an option to buy, sell the original building and once sold, trade the equity into the new building. Had this company not wanted to own the new location - thus the equity wasn't needed - the advice might have varied and a lease of the relinquished building considered.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MOST Overlooked in a #CRE Deal. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

If you're like I am, you frequently overlook this VERY important aspect of a deal. You can't close a sale without it - well you can, but it's risky, you can't affect a lease or give possession to a tenant, a lender won't loan. So what is it? It's insurance! Some changes are occurring in the industry causing premiums to rise. Are you prepared? I discuss this and much more in this week's VIDEO tip.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make TIME your Friend. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Make TIME your Friend. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. You've heard me opine before, we have two things to sell as commercial real estate brokers - time and information. Today, I discuss TIME and a way to make time your #CRE deal's best friend. This and more in this week's VIDEO tip.

Managing an INFLUENCER. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

We've all dealt with them throughout our careers - the INFLUENCER. Not the decision maker, but close, these people can be your staunchest advocate or the largest impediment to making a commercial real estate transaction. Today, I discuss a three step way to make sure the INFLUENCER is your deal's best friend. This and more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Three #cre Questions. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

With respect to my social media and content marketing, I get asked THREE questions, frequently. Have you made any money with that stuff? How much time do you spend? How do I get started. Today, I discuss three EASY ways to get started in your own content marketing. This and much more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Using FaceTime - Not what you Think. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Using FaceTime - Not what you Think. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Yesterday, I used FaceTime two different ways. In the morning, to tour a space with an out of area client. In the afternoon to deliver a lease to a cooperating broker friend of mine. Today, I discuss ways to use "face time" to build relationships. This and more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Exercise you #CRE Constitutional Right. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Exercise your #CRE Constitutional Right. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. TODAY is Election Day 2016. Regardless of your politics, which are none of my business, get out and VOTE today! Politicians can affect commercial real estate laws more so than ever - SBA financing, tax deferred exchange laws, eminent domain, capital gains and many others. I discuss this and much more on the week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Are you a #cre Sales Person or Advisor. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Are you a #cre Sales Person or Advisor. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Today, I discuss a change in thinking. Are you selling or advising? The way in which you describe your service will help you gain control of those difficult clients. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WHEN to Deliver Bad #cre News. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Recently, I discussed HOW to deliver bad commercial real estate news. If you missed the tip, you can see it here. Today, I discuss an equally important topic, the WHEN to deliver the news. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Tip of the #CRE Iceberg. TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

The Tip of the #CRE Iceberg. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Today I discuss a disconnect that occurs with occupants of commercial real estate. Ever been on a tour, found the perfect space (or so you believe) only to have the deal fail to materialize? This is what I refer to as the tip of the iceberg. This and much more on this week's VIDEO tip for commercial real estate brokers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Avoid #cre Misunderstandings. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Avoid #cre Misunderstandings. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. In today's VIDEO tip, I discuss a foolproof way to avoid misunderstandings in a commercial real estate transaction. This and a THREE YEAR birthday celebration for the TIPS!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Are You VITAL to Your #CRE Clients. TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

Today, I relay a story about this situation that happened to me recently. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Are YOU Invisible? TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Are YOU Invisible? TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Over 75% of commercial real estate searches begin on-line. Can you afford to be INVISIBLE? Today, I discuss two easy ways to make sure you can be found on-line. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Should you Lower Your Asking Price?

Sellers of commercial real estate in Southern California have benefited greatly from an imbalance of supply and demand.

Too little supply coupled with a healthy demand. Only one way for sales prices and lease rates to go - straight up!

Fueled by declining available buildings and record low interest rates, sale pricing's steady upward march started in January of 2013 and, in my opinion, peaked in the first quarter of 2016. Lease pricing started the race to the top about a year later and probably has some track to run before reaching a checkered flag.

If you want to sell your building, you should consider a pricing strategy that reflects today's market. All those crazy numbers buyers paid a year ago, don't occur as much today - unless your offering checks all the boxes - and still probably not. Buyers are savvy. Their advisors are well informed. Everyone knows we are at the top and are proceeding gingerly - lest they make a costly misstep.

We recently sold a building in North Orange County. A competitor acquisition by the owner of the business and building created the desire to sell the building. Better suited for the combined operation was the competitor's location. The building we sold became the odd man out and therefore was slated for disposition.

Carefully analyzed were the market comparables, the currently available inventory, the building's amenities, and work that was necessary pre-sale. Our pricing recommendations were two fold - higher price with the seller paying for clean up and lower price without seller paying for the clean up. Opting to sell without spending the dollars to re-condition the real estate, was our client's decision.

We priced accordingly and sold the building in two weeks. Fortunately, our seller listened to us. Too often, a seller will take the high end of the range - in our case the recommended price if clean up dollars were spent by the seller - and not accomplish the refurbishment. All while rationalizing, "let's see what we get". A dangerous approach in today's market. Buyers will pay top dollar but the building better be perfect.

You may be wondering, hmmm, if we priced higher and deducted the clean up costs, wouldn't we have sold for more? Fair question. The answer was no, in this case. Had we priced at the top, conducted buyer tours, explained the property was being sold in its present condition, and fielded offers - the requested refurbishment discount would have far outstripped our "discounted" asking price. A buyer's perception of refurbishment costs always exceeds reality and they offer accordingly.

Ok, you might say, "I can always lower my price, I can't raise it." True to a point. What sellers frequently underestimate is the message pricing sends to the market. Priced too high - man, that building must have solid gold toilets. Or, that guy must be smoking the good stuff. Priced too low, a frenzy is created, multiple offers are generated, and asking price surpassed - in some cases.

Pricing an offering correctly - possibly a bit low - is so much easier than coming out with a super high un-achievable price and later reducing the asking price. When you commence the retreat in pricing, the market crosses its arms, waits, and says - "see, I told you that building was overpriced!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In #CRE, It ain't over 'till it's OVER. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

How many times have you lost track of a requirement that passed on a listing only to find out they are still in the market? On the occupant side, if your guy likes a building that is in play, do you follow through until the building leases or sells? I discuss these items and much more on this week's VIDEO TIP.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

BIGGEST #cre Time Wasters? TUESDAY Traffic Tips

I'm a BIG believer in face to face meetings. I tend to meet whenever a client or prospect will agree to see me...and sometimes when they won't. Are face to face meetings a waste of time, however? I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip for commercial real estate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#CRE Transparency TUESDAY Traffic Tips

How transparent should you be with your clients and fellow brokers? Today, I give you my take on transparency. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

#CRE Professional Designations...worth it? TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

#CRE Professional Designations...worth it? Congratulations to our colleague Andrew Cheney for achieving the CRE, Counselor of Real Estate...only one of forty five in the WORLD with the CCIM, SIOR, and CRE designations. So, are these designations important? Or just a string of letters next to your name? I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO TIP.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

#CRE Problem? Try This. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Today, I discuss a method for solving problems. This method is practiced widely by our younger counterparts. Why? Because it works! Try it. You won't be disappointed. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Unrealistic #CRE OWNER Expectations. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Happy Birthday to my friend David Newton! Today, I discuss a way to get your commercial real estate owner's expectations in line with the market. This and so much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The OFFICE is NOT your Friend. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

Today, I discuss how much of your day should be spent in the office. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

SEARCHING for NEW #cre Business

How much of your day should be spent in pursuit of NEW commercial real estate business? I discuss this and much more in this week's VIDEO Tip

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Is the #CRE market CHANGING?

We have all benefited from a very robust commercial real estate market. But, how can you know if your market is changing? I discuss this and more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A #CRE Price Reduction. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

A #CRE Price Reduction. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. When should a price reduction be considered as a way to generate activity on your commercial real estate listings. This and more on this week's edition of TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

CRE Tech Intersect. A MUST Attend Event!

My #CRE Passion. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. I am passionate about commercial real estate technology and the myriad advances that have occurred in my years in the business. So what's next? If you are in or around the Los Angeles area, plan to attend CRE Tech Intersect. Link and information below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Yin and Yang of BACKUP Offers. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

The Yin and Yang of BACKUP Offers. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Today, I discuss backup position from a seller and buyer perspective. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The KEY to #CRE Success. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

The KEY to #CRE Success. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Today I discuss the ONE thing you can do to insure your success in commercial real estate brokerage. The message is geared toward those new in the business, but, I believe the principle applies to all. This and much more on this week's VIDEO Tip.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Using your #CRE Network effectively. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

We all use our networks to help us close deals...lenders, contractors, space planners, escrow and title. But, do we utilize our commercial real estate networks to SOURCE deals? I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It takes a #CRE VIllage. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

It takes a #CRE VIllage. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. Today I discuss the importance of ALL the parties involved in closing a commercial real estate transaction. This and more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

COLLABORATE with your #CRE Contacts. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

COLLABORATE with your #CRE Contacts. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. This week I discuss collaboration and ways it can benefit your commercial real estate transactions. This and more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Be PATIENT with your Commercial Real Estate Deals

Patient. A word that rarely describes a commercial real estate broker.

We are doers! Delays bug us. Bureaucracy drives us crazy. Please don't tell us "no that can't be done today".

I believe we lack patience because time is our most valuable commodity. After all, time and knowledge are all we have to sell.

However, a couple of recent transactions have forced me to wait. In both cases, we represented the owners of buildings in their pursuit of a tenant or a buyer. After an exhaustive search, I believe we will conclude both deals next week.

So, why will these deals conclude successfully? Patience! Curiously, we are entrenched in a market where owners have their pick of occupants - unless, there are issues with the building. If the building lacks amenities, is indebted with more than the building is worth, has an unrealistic owner, or a combination of the above - the marketing cycle is exponentially extended. We are forced to be patient. What follows are two stories of patience and the way it benefited both deals.

Case #1. We were engaged to sell a building one year ago Monday. I remember the date because we met with the owner on President's Day last year - a holiday for our office. Since we didn't have staff in the office, my associate and I had to scramble to attend the meeting with some semblance of a marketing package. We got the assignment and scurried back to the office to wordsmith an agreement - once again without staff. The owner is a delightful chap. His need to sell was not terribly delightful, however. A business mishap had forced the liquidation of his real estate. We struggled through environmental concerns, three failed escrows, many low ball offers, a building that was constructed in two phases and showed poorly, the building's lack of a couple of key features and a touring protocol that required discretion. We could not use the building's prominent location for marketing signage because the employees were un-aware of the building's disposition. Patience and determination prevailed as we secured a buyer that checked all the boxes for our seller - a good price, quick close, and a leaseback of some of the building.

Case #2. I wrote recently about the difficulty in leasing research and development buildings. You can read the post here if you wish. Typically, these buildings come equipped with too much office, too few parking spaces, and an industrial shop with inadequate power, loading, or warehouse clearance. If you combine these intrinsic difficulties with an occupant pool that is shrinking and an unrealistic owner, you have defined the situation contained in Case #2. We conducted over 40 tours in the past year and have generated fifteen offers - none seemed to gel. Last week an occupant divinely appeared, offered to lease the building with no tenant improvements, pay close to our asking rate, and move in immediately! Yes, miracles do happen. We are expecting to sign leases next week.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Let's PLAY the #CRE Game, shall we? TUESDAY Traffic Tips.

Let's PLAY the #CRE Game, shall we? TUESDAY Traffic Tips. How many times in your commercial real estate career has an outcome surprised you? Exactly. That's why we play the game. I discuss this and so much more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Weaning" your #CRE Clients. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

"Weaning" your #CRE Clients. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. At what point during a commercial real estate transaction should you allow the owner and the occupant to deal directly? I discuss this and much more on this week's VIDEO tip.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How STRONG is Your #CRE Network?

How STRONG is Your #CRE Network? I'm sure if your client asked you for a referral to a roofer or general contractor, you could comply. What if your client needed a referral to a CPA or a wealth advisor? Would your Rolodex include names in this space? Today, I discuss a source of referrals you may be overlooking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Get your #CRE offer ACCEPTED! TUESDAY Traffic Tip

In these days of limited inventory, it is important to have a strategy to get your client's offers accepted. Today, I discuss a three step process to insure your commercial real estate offers get accepted.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The DOWNSIDE of a #CRE Holiday. TUESDAY Traffic Tips

The DOWNSIDE of a #CRE Holiday. TUESDAY Traffic Tips. You had a great year. You enjoyed a bountiful holiday with friends and family. You are fired up to get back to the grind. However, you're staring at a blank slate. Now what? Here is a suggestion to get that new year off to a GREAT start. I discuss this and much more on this week's TUESDAY video tip.