Friday, November 15, 2019

Baseball and Commercial Real Estate - 5 Similarities

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Well, another World Series is in the books but not without some history. At no time since the Fall Classic was begun with matinees has a team not won a game at home - EVER! Don’t count on a repeat. Teams wearing white uniforms have such an advantage - especially if the previous series was clinched early. Pitching rotations are front loaded, local crowds are rapid, and the final AB belongs to the home sluggers. Anyway, congrats to the Nats for a remarkable season! To face elimination five times yet hoist the Commissioner’s trophy is one for the ages. Reminds me a bit of 2002 when our Angels emerged from the Wild Card spot to clinch. I had the privilege that year to attend game six and seven - Epic! But more on that later.

So what’s any of this to do with commercial real estate? Indulge me while I recount a few similarities.

It’s a LONG season. Commencing in early April or late March - the big league regular season spans six months and 162 games. If a team advances to the playoffs - tack on another thirty days and potentially twenty more games. Consumed is the end of winter, all of spring and summer, and part of fall. It’s common for a commercial real estate sale to languish as well. Several of my deals this year originated with a contact over ten years ago. No need yet - but a commitment to keep in touch. Plus, once a requirement is identified - plan on another few months to execute. Literally - babies are born and learn to walk quicker than the gestation of some transactions.

Hours of mundanity are sprinkled with moments of ecstasy. Baseball games can be akin to a large dose of Sominex! Wake me up when something happens. Runner on base - no outs? Just how many times is the pitcher going to look him back? Endless foul balls, throws to first, and strikeouts cause even the most die-hard fan to yawn. But just when you least expect it - Howie Kendrick goes yard and folks - we have a game. You can be cruising along with a commercial real estate deal and WHAM! Problem! I’ll never forget this time of year in 2008. We were rolling toward our best year ever when the financial world ended. Values plummeted in a matter of days, lenders froze, and a cacophony of commercial real estate carnage convened. However, few things are sweeter than a closing. If touching ‘em all is similar - put me in coach! I’m ready to play.

Fundamentals are critical. “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” Never, was this saying - credited to George W. Loomis - more prescient. Big league pros in both baseball and CRE rehearse ad nauseam.

Plays at the plate are common. Few plays in the bigs are more exciting than a call at the plate! With a runner rounding third, barreling toward home and the right fielder firing in the rock - all manner of chaos ensues. Vision is blurred and time stands still as “blue” considers the outcome. Safe! Or Out! Verdict delivered. No appeal - well not always - will be rendered. Just last week we had a sale approaching the closing table. Buyer, seller, and lender were poised. Ooops. Title glitch. Is our deal going to be safe or out? Fortunately, we had a friendly umpire - who saw things our way. Deal done.

It ain’t over til it’s OVER. A moment in the 2002 series - Angels v Giants - occurred in game six. The game was a must win for the Halos as they were down three games to two and facing elimination. Late, with a five run lead, Dusty Baker - manager of the Giants and former Dodger player - lifted his starter in favor of his closer. Problem was - he gave the game ball to the starter as if to say - congrats! Break out the bubbly. Hmmm. That inning - an inspired Angel squad propelled by the Rally Monkey and legions of Spirit Sticks - forged a miraculous comeback and we were headed to a game seven! Yep - wasn’t quite over. Too many in our trade place sales in the “win” column before they actually close. A mentor of mine told me long ago - “ the deal isn’t done until the broker gets paid!” Contrary to Dusty’s premature celebration - keep the champagne on ice until closing is confirmed.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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