Friday, May 29, 2020

Things we Took for Granted - Pre-Virus

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Plying my commercial real estate craft remotely certainly has its advantages! My commute is now fifteen seconds - even when I encounter a traffic jam of our grandkid’s play things. Never is there a line at the coffee maker. I’ve three potties from which to choose - with only two residents. Food is always available - which can lead to the spread of Dunlap - as in my belly dun lapped over my belt.

But with this extra time on my hands - I’ve reflected upon things we took for granted pre-Covid 19. Indulge me, while I share a few.

Personal interaction. I am very social! My wife and kids - and now grandkids - understand it takes Dad/Papa fifteen minutes to leave any social gathering - and they plan accordingly. Missed are the jaunts to Disneyland, Thursday night movies, church, impromptu gatherings, and chance encounters with friends and neighbors while out and about. The “dial tone” of our days has disappeared.

Face-to-face meetings. I must say, I’m a big fan of ZOOM and employ it frequently. Nothing, however, replaces a handshake, walk to a boardroom, “would you like coffee or water?” and the ensuing exchange. My goal - pre-Covid - was at least three of these prospect meetings weekly. It’s a bit trickier to gain traction with an owner only to ask - “mind if we jump on a ZOOM?”

Networking events. SIOR, NAIOP, IREM, and countless smaller commercial real estate related gatherings stopped dead in mid-March. Ironically, my pre-virus schedule was flooded with such events - maybe triple normal. Attended in the first 75 days of 2020 were more than a typical full year. Looking back - I’m glad I did. Who knows when these will resume.

The BUZZ of our office. Phones ringing, mourning a cratered deal, celebrating a closing, package assembly for a big tour, award lunches with a full conference room, rehearsing for a major pitch, staff drama - have nothing on The Office! Steve Carell as Michael Scott would be envious.

Transactional flow. Deals! Sure. There is some activity - and I’m grateful to those clients who are braving the new normal to transact. But our trajectory pre-lockdown was nothing short of an Apollo moonshot. Houston - we have a problem! I knew the music would stop - actually wrote about it here. Warned against was that Black Swan event that would rankle our status quo. Welcome to 2020 and the microscopic economic assassin.

Open houses. These were just fun! Gather a group of middle-aged professionals in a newly constructed project, mix in a food truck and some cash giveaways and voila! Let the games begin. Although less frequent than the go-go days of the construction fueled 1990’s - open houses provided a respite from the grind and allowed us to greet our fellow warriors on neutral ground. Logoed masks will soon replace cash as giveaways - when open houses return.

Building tours without restriction. Yesterday, I requested a tour of an under construction project in an inland city. The response I received was akin to a PPP loan application. Wow! Hard hats, masks, reflective vests, gloves, 24 hour notice, only two people at a time on site, closed toed shoes, next of kin, date of birth, any prior arrests - you get the idea. Gone are the days where you could stroll by the super’s trailer and take a look.

HAIRCUTS! I’m envious our governor is so neatly coiffed. I’ll leave it there. 

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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