Friday, July 17, 2020

How to AVOID the Re-Trade in Deals

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Last week week we covered four things that can occur once a commercial real estate deal reaches the end of its contingency period - that time frame whereby a buyer can determine - in its sole discretion - whether the proceed to close. As you recall - the four outcomes are - move forward, cancel, seek additional contingency time or ask for a price reduction - AKA re-trade.

 Promised last week was a discussion of how to avoid a re-trade. But first, let’s spend a moment and dissect this request a bit more. Once a buyer spends time and money understanding a commercial real estate purchase - in many cases they know the building better than the owner. After all, they’ve poked, prodded, reviewed, surveyed, and analyzed every aspect of the structure, title, roof, HVAC, mechanical systems, zoning, tenancy if any, and operating history. Therefore, it should come as no surprise if something untoward is discovered. Hopefully, what’s uncovered is a minor fix and the deal can proceed smoothly. However, if the issue requires a price reduction, your options as a seller are:

 Agreement. If the request is well reasoned and thoughtful you might simply agree.

 Cancellation. I’ve seen sellers get very defensive and cancel. Certainly, this is your right. You entered a contract to sell for a certain price. Your buyer agreed to buy the property in its “as-is” condition. Now they’ll proceed - but at a lesser amount. Sure. Something is cheesy about a buyer that operates this way. A deal’s a deal. But, if you walk away, the next buyer may ask for more. You’ll certainly have to disclose what you encountered. Plus, you’ll now start over with another buyer and reset the shot clock with another contingency period.

 Compromise. We just completed a lengthy due diligence. The buyer discovered three things that gave them heartburn. We successfully whittled the three down to one and the seller agreed to a slight price reduction to remedy the remaining problem. Had the buyer sought recompense for all three - the conversation would have been short. Fortunately, the seller was prepared and the buyer’s ask was reasonable. Game on!

 But, in my experience the best way to avoid a re-trade is to anticipate them and prepare. You know your buyer will require a water-tight roof. How about conducting a preemptive inspection? You’ll then know if there is a problem. Take it a step further and get bids from contractors to repair the leaks. I’ve found some buyers will inflate the cost to remedy what they find. Imagine that! It’s your option whether you bear the expense pre-marketing or wait. You’ll then be armed to address any request for a price reduction - because you know the extent of the issue and what it costs to fix it. I also enjoy putting a seller into a great offensive position - with back-up buyers who’ll step in and perform in case buyer number one hiccups.

 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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