Want to Break into Commercial Real Estate?

Posted: July 5, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director with contributions from Eli Randel


WANT TO BREAK INTO COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE?

HERE’S SOME ADVICE

It must be that time of year. We’ve had three calls from acquaintances asking what’s the best way for their child, who just obtained their degree in Greek Mythology (or some other similar study), to get into Commercial Real Estate (“CRE”). Perhaps it’s a sign of “market heat” and CRE’s continued visibility as an industry, but there is no shortage of interested applicants for commercial real estate opportunities. It’s a competitive landscape, so what can applicants do to more effectively break in?

My first suggestion to future graduates who think they want a career in CRE is: “Don’t get a degree in Greek Mythology,” but hindsight is 20-20 and interestingly, when you go through the BIOs of successful CRE professionals, you’ll find a diverse list of backgrounds which is one of the many things we like about the industry (9 Reasons We Love CRE). Anyway, who am I to judge? I got a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I used to tell clients it was the perfect major for selling warehouses by the airport.

Here is some more advice for “young Sammy” who wants to break into the world of CRE:

Nothing is easy. If you want to become a part of the CRE industry because you think it’s an easy way to get rich or because you think you’ll impress people with your fancy business card – don’t waste your time. In CRE you will work hard. You will face rejection. You will not get rich in your 20s (most likely) and if in a sales role, you may go extended periods of time without income. If you aren’t tough, find another field. Throw out your get rich quick books. Most of the authors got rich selling their books to you, not in the field they profess to be masters in.

It’s all relative. Most CRE brokers don’t get hired from a wanted ad. It’s generally a function of who you know and often that person is a relative or is a friend with a relative willing to help. If your approach is only to submit resumes online, you will have fewer options. Maybe you don’t know the person personally but, if you can get an introduction to a top professional at a national firm; it will open doors. LinkedIn is a good way to figure out who you know and who knows who. If you’re not connected to anyone in CRE then start with me: Paul Cohen.

Clean up your act. Your resume should be clear and concise and visually appealing. I personally believe in keeping a resume to one page – even for seasoned professionals. If longer, it should be for good reason. CLEAN UP your resume. It should look like it was created after 1997 not just in content, but in visual quality (I’m talking to you Times New Roman users). Take more than one copy to an interview. Customize your resume for different opportunities. Your resume is often your first impression. Make a good one.

Prepare for the interview. Research the company you are meeting with and write down some thoughtful questions. We recently had an applicant who confessed he knew nothing about CREXi and asked if there was somewhere he could get more information: “Have you looked online?” was our response. Sadly the answer was “no.” You will also be asked to introduce yourself. If you just read your resume as your introduction, you will lose your audience who will read along with you and will finish while you’re still talking. Prepare a customized “elevator” pitch that will tell your story: Where are you from? What drives you? WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE YOU? (hint: it’s probably not because of one course you took, your 3.1 GPA, or an internship you did at your uncle’s company). If you are doing significantly more talking than the other person, you might lose them. Ask questions. And last: READ BOOKS. I often hear applicants get asked: “what was the last book you read?” If you have a good answer or it’s a book they also read, you just connected. Don’t have any answer? That loud noise is dead air. Read these two recent posts for book suggestions:  Book Suggestions 1 and Book Suggestions 2.

Start with the best. The best firms usually have the best employee development. Research the best firms and brokers in your market. This will help you assess the variety of firms and will also be helpful in finding the best personal fit. One firm might be more entrepreneurial than others for the person who seeks a “jack-of-all-trades” role. Some are more specialized and structured. Fit is crucial. If you are an introverted analytical type who gets an offer for an extroverted cold-calling position it could be a waste of your time and theirs. Some people are talented enough to learn and master skill sets, but if it goes against your basic wiring, it is less likely to be sustainable.

Give good phone. Here’s the reality, to get in the door and to land that first job (or to get started in any sales career) you must be able to make calls – even if it’s only for a probationary period. There are several books and recordings: Cold Calling Techniques by Shiffman is a good start. There is a generation of people who grew up without widespread use of the telephone. Get comfortable using one or the generation that did grow up with phones, will have a hard time connecting with you.

Get skills. If you want to join an investment sales team then proficiency in Argus will give you a head start. The more you know, the more value you’ll be to the team. Excel masters – like pivot tables and macros – are valuable (Pryor). Being a social media guru can open doors. If you can help your broker trend on LinkedIn they might make you a partner. This is a unique skill set a young professional can bring to the table. Did you get a sales associate license before needing one? Are you LEED certified? Have you taken a CCIM 101? Show that you want the opportunity and are committed to a career in CRE.

Follow Up. Once you’ve interviewed, be sure to follow up. I have colleagues who won’t even consider hiring the best candidate they ever met if there is no professional follow up. For many of us who are conducting an interview, we are testing your ability to interact with a potential client. If you don’t follow up with the person who would hire you, will you follow up with the client who may someday potentially hire us?

Good luck and happy hunting!


Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul

New to Commercial Real Estate?

Posted: June 29, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


New to Commercial Real Estate?

Read these 10 books and accelerate your career

It started in the 1990’s and is becoming more and more pervasive.  I’m talking about the new wave of brokers and their shocking lack of reading.

 

I noticed it first when junior brokers in my firm would start using basic phrases that every salesperson from the pre-nineties era, who had studied the likes of Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn, would never say. Like “You wouldn’t want to make an offer on this property, would you?” I’d cringe and then take them aside, thrusting a copy of Tom Hopkins “How to Master the Art of Selling” into their hands. Months later it was clear they hadn’t read it. I once wrote on the second chapter of “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar, “When you read this, come and see me and I’ll give you $100.” They never asked for the money but did tell me they enjoyed the book.

 

I have given this some thought over the years. Why do these gen-Xrs think they can just wing it? I’ve watched these brokers “grow up” in the business and they make money based upon sheer determination, smiles and their ability to instinctively connect with some clients. However, because they don’t know why they do what they do, they sometimes don’t get the business and have no idea why. Generally, they blame the client, the market or a competitor but the fact is, it’s them. I explain that sales in commercial real estate is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced. Just willing something to happen doesn’t make it so. Learning to build rapport, ask questions, growing a business over time are fundamentals that seem to be missing from the “instant gratification” generation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the optimism and over confidence but a little nuance goes a along way.

 

If you don’t like to read, you can download an audio book as I like to do. Check out our blog debating the reading vs listening to books. Without further ado here are the ten books I recommend every aspiring commercial real estate broker should read:

 

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. Warren Buffet took the course and said it was the best thing he could have done for himself when he started out.
  2.  

  3. The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason. Time tested principals for gaining wealth.
  4.  

  5. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill. Time tested wisdom from a man who studied the likes of Andrew Carnegie.
  6.  

  7. How to Master the Art of Selling and Listing Real Estate, Tom Hopkins. It’s a little dated but you’ll learn some good basic techniques.
  8.  

  9. The Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar. In my opinion, this is best as an audio book.  Zig’s enthusiasm will get you pumped.
  10.  

  11. The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy. More sales stuff. You’ve got to absorb this stuff as Brian Tracy breaks down the mind game.
  12.  

  13. Seven Habits of Highly effective People, Steven Covey.  Probably the best overview of how you set yourself up to be successful in life
  14.  

  15. Influence, Robert Caldini. Important if you want to understand why people decide to buy.
  16.  

  17. Spin Selling, Neil Rackham. It seems that every major sales organization rebrands the principals of this book for their own purposes. Get the original.
  18.  

  19. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Napoleon Hill & W. Clement Stone. This was quoted in the Ray Kroc movie (Founder). As the words were recited it reminded me of when I started in the business. This stuff stays with you.

 

“Hey new broker. Yes I am talking to you.”

 

I know you think that because you are well liked and you work hard, you don’t need to read these books. Trust me, I’ve worked with hundreds of brokers over the years, and they all make money. However, the ones that learned these principals make much more.  Even if you make just 10% more each year, that’s almost a million dollars over a career. (That’s a Brian Tracy thing. You’ll see.) Now this is just the start, there are hundreds of books you should read. Some haven’t even been written yet. I personally recommend biographies – Sam Zell has a new one out now. Enjoy!

 

What book do you recommend for new brokers? Send me your recommendations.

 


Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul

  

Side Street vs Main Street

Posted: May 17, 2017  by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development and Paul Cohen, Regional Director of Business Development


SIDE STREET vs MAIN STREET

Who will win the battle for retailers?

 

Traditionally in retail, traffic counts and signalized corners are the most coveted locations for retailers and therefore generally the most expensive. While I don’t expect this to change for some uses like gas stations which are dependent on ingress and egress, the theory has been posed by my Colleague, Paul Cohen, that with the advent of mobile apps such as Yelp and virtual signage via-digital word of mouth, retailers will shift from Main Street to the Side-street to incur lower occupancy costs and increase their margins?

 

The argument for “yes” (by Paul Cohen): Of course they will! Most people under the age of forty (and me) use apps like Yelp to determine where to find many “retail tenants.” No longer is it a function of simply driving down the street and looking for a “name yo know” but rather a selection based upon peer review in search of that special experience. For example, I was in a small town called Sylva in Western North Carolina last month and wanted to get a coffee and check my emails. I found this great bookstore in a converted house two blocks off the main drag. I would have ended up at a Waffle House otherwise. People instinctively know that the best restaurants, coffee shops, barbers, and massage parlors (don’t judge me) are not on Main Street anymore. The reason why brand stores exist is primarily so that the customer knows they are getting a good quality of service wherever they happen to be. Especially when traveling; you are more likely to visit the Panera Bread off the Interstate rather than risk Big AL’s BBQ. It could be great or it could be a short cut to the urgent care (which doesn’t need to be on main street either). Now armed with a mobile phone, the weary traveler can quickly find that awesome BBQ joint (or food truck) that was previously hidden down some side alley only know to a few locals.

 

The argument for “no” (by Eli Randel): Yes, the basic concept makes sense and will apply for some retailers, but not in a significant way. Retail remains dependent on foot and vehicle traffic counts and even though word of mouth can be spread more efficiently with the internet, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION is still a driving force in retail and real estate in general. Perhaps naively, I assume the smartest retailers have contemplated this strategy yet they still are choosing main corridors for their brick-and-mortar locations. The reason? Visibility, convenience, and access. The side street has become more viable for certain uses, but those are limited. Retailers which brand on main corridors and provide the best customer access will outperform less visible outlets and will continue to outsell sell-side street locations and while net profits might be slightly lower given higher occupancy costs, revenue will remain higher at main locations and any difference can be absorbed as a pseudo-marketing and branding expense. As online sales continue to erode brick-and-mortar sales, retailers may reduce store footprints, but will increasingly view stores as branding and marketing vehicles maintaining the need for visibility. Stores will change by becoming exchange centers and showrooms for online inventory and brands, but will still want to be in the best and most visible locations. In terms of digital signage, nothing replicates the real thing and a hungry driver on a main road is still a valuable entity that is harder to capture in an off-the-beaten-path location.       

 

Paul Cohen: Ahh, I can see where you went wrong. You’re looking at this from the point of view of the national retailer who needs visibility because they are selling brand as a way to suggest consistent experience. Walgreens and Starbucks and fast food franchises will always be on Main. I conceded that point already. I am coming at this from the local tenant perspective. These “Mum & Pop” retailers who have built a strong customer base will happily move to the side street for a fifty percent reduction in rent and will still outperform the main street counterparts as long as they have a high customer rating. Yelp is free while Main Street is expensive. Anyway, there doesn’t have to be a significant shift to the side street to have an impact. There is approximately 5 Billion square feet of traditional retail (excluding regional mall and power centers) in the US and if 20% of the tenants are local and if 20% of them moved to the side street that’s 200 Million SF of new retail. The opportunity is for the developer who can find lower cost real estate on the side street and repurpose it for these local retail tenants. For example, a warehouse or an office building a block or two off main could be redesigned and marketed to attract the local retailers. I’ll agree that they lose visibility but in many cases the location can be more convenient and accessible. There is a significant arbitrage between main street and side street and, in many of the top MSA’s across the country, it’s being overlooked.

 

Eli Randel: Well what are we talking about here? We’re talking about ICSC RECON; a destination event that usually attracts more national tenants. You raise a valid point that in small towns across the nation, Al’s BBQ might represent half the restaurant landscape, but as that town eventually grows and traffic counts and/or incomes increase, the nationals will penetrate the market and will roll out their Main Street strategies. Anecdotally you can name a couple concepts that work on the side street but for every great hidden gem in town, there seem to be dozens struggling to get by because no one knows they exist. Perhaps they aren’t utilizing digital signage properly, but maybe that is part of the argument. Can digital signage replicate the real thing? Perhaps I’m mistaking the familiar for the universal (one of my father’s favorite sayings: “don’t mistake the familiar with the universal”), but I personally don’t see it (yet?). Do I go to some side street stores and restaurants? Yes and I enjoy it. But do I see many of them or their neighbors go out of business? It sure feels that way. The extraordinary can become a destination and thrive on the side street, but the extraordinary are just that: outside of the ordinary. Last, I would argue that the different between main roads and side-streets in rural markets can be minor and parking, traffic, and access are not major issues.  

 

Paul Cohen: The reason why these stores go out of business is that they do not provide excellence.  We all know that the off the beaten path store is the gem and it’s what people want.  Particularly in “Hipster” districts which tend to be all side street and no main street.  I don’t think that anyone is saying that all retailers will move to the side street. That would be very Yogi Berra (“nobody rents on main street anymore because it too expensive”).  ICSC attracts National Tenants because they benefit from the efficiency of meeting hundreds of owners and operators over a couple of days. I agree that most Nationals will stick to Main Street but some will develop side street strategies.  I don’t think this will happen in rural markets where the town has one strip and vacancy but as towns grow and rents increase on Main Street then, obviously, tenants start looking for options. Investors should snap up those secondary locations with a view to reposition them as Main Street booms.  A percentage of local tenants have and will continue to move to the side street so retail developers should look to take advantage of this trend. In years past it was suicide to move your business away from foot traffic. Now it could almost be a positive.  Not only are you paying less rent with improved access but you’re sending the message that you’re a hidden gem. Will it move the needle drastically on the traditional retail market? Maybe only five percent but locally an enterprising developer could relocate 30K SF of tenants from the main strip into a side street center by offering lower rents and free parking. I would not be surprised if national retailers have not already developed a strategy to take advantage of this trend.  Maybe they already have, we just can’t seen them! 


Pre ICSC Retail Forecast and Predictions II

Posted: April 26, 2017  by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


ICSC TREND PREDICTION II

Urbanization Will Dominate Suburbia In Population Movement Next Cycle

In preparation for ICSC, we are putting together several prediction pieces starting with last week’s opener Pre ICSC Retail Forecast – Part I.

 

Based on anecdotal data, interviews with institutional capital investors, and my personal belief, I predict next cycle will be one in which urbanization pulls many from the suburbs inward. This does not mean suburban real estate will drastically suffer, in fact, the result will create new opportunities and like many trends, when activity flows disproportionately in one direction, space becomes crowded eventually pulling the pendulum back to the less crowded market.

 

Here’s are some reasons why urbanization will occur:

    • Population-growth and tired infrastructure have lengthened commutes. In a survey of thousands of renters, “Proximity to Work” was their #1 locational decision (more than “School Zone” the expected #1). People will need to move closer to job-centers to maintain their proximity to work preferences.

    • Automation will hit suburban markets first forcing job-seekers inward. Corporations don’t intend to pay CBD rents for automated work. Those pseudo-outsourcing activities will be outside of cities forcing skilled workers and job-seekers inward to CBDs.

    • Oversupply in some city-centers will create strong buy and rent opportunities. Thousands of condos and apartments need to be bought or rented and many of those opportunities will emerge in overbuilt downtowns while many suburban markets are still unaffordable for most.

    • At first glance, baby-boomer retirees (of which there will be many) appear to favor more urban lifestyles than traditionally. Life expectancy is longer than ever and retirees – many of whom spent much of their lives in suburbs – like amenity rich cities with stuff to do. Suburban markets will still see retiree inflow, but cities may see unprecedented migration bringing ancillary jobs with them.

    • Generation Y, like their recent predecessor generations, gravitates toward cities. Our nation’s Walden values of the past have faded and the tech generation likes the activity and buzz of the city. It’s also likely Ys will wait as long or longer than millennials to marry and have children. When they do, raising kids in cities will become increasingly common (at least during infancy).

    • Living in cities is easier than ever before: ride-sharing platforms and (slowly) improving public transportation have somewhat eliminated the need for a car; delivery and e-commerce have lightened the need for proximity to grocers and other retailers; work-live-play developments have emerged across the nation keeping people’s lives within a tight radius; and many cities once considered to have “daytime-population-only” downtowns, now have vibrant city centers with social scenes and increased options for living.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CRE

Pent up institutional and foreign capital, more familiar and comfortable with the stability of major markets, will continue to flow to cities pricing out most entrepreneurial capital investors. Following a corrective period, infill land will trade at astronomical prices and bite sizes exceeding friends-and-family equity buckets. Given overall demographic growth and limited supply resulting from moderate development last cycle, most suburbs will remain healthy from a real estate standpoint with some softening in occupancy and rate growth during a corrective period. If the economy hits a road-bump, suburban office vacancies may spike, as small independent businesses rising with the tide sometimes go back to working from home-offices when their business softens. Cities will eventually sprawl and begin to bleed into nearby suburbs offering buy opportunities for those who can predict and shape the path of movement. Suburban yields may increase as a result of less competition and tough underwriting translating to higher costs of capital, offering premiums for financeable entrepreneurial investors willing to stomach some volatility and actively manage assets.

 

Next week we’ll discuss which cities stand to gain the most, and which may suffer.

 

Comments and feedback are always welcome. Email Eli

 

Schedule a CREXi Demo at ICSC RECon 2017


Eli Randel

Eli Randel, ICSC Forecast

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

 

 

Sell Properties Like Stephen Gostkowski

Posted: April 12, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


SELL PROPERTIES LIKE STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI

CREXi BlogI know what you’re thinking. Have I lost my mind? Why is the kicker for the New England Patriots selling real estate? Did he just get fired by Belichick and get picked up by the local Remax affiliate on the waiver wire? Not even close. Stephen Gostkowski is still alive and kicking (punt intended (that was intended too)) and getting ready for another 87.1% season.

 

One challenge with sellers is they want to believe the broker who forecasts the highest price not the broker who tells them the most realistic outcome. It’s all too easy to start a bidding war with other brokers and before you know it you have just landed a listing for 20% above your original valuation.

 

As a former broker, I liked to use the field goal analogy when speaking with sellers about their properties. I would put the price that even the most conservative investor would pay at the 1 yd line – about the equivalent of an extra point – and the highest price imaginable at the 45 yd. line (meaning a 62 yard field goal which has an approximate success rate of say 10%) and explain to the seller that the higher the price, the lower the success probability, but also explain that I was the best field goal kicker in town.

 

CREXi BlogIn fact, commercial real estate has different values depending upon who’s buying it. Take a suburban office property for example. To an investor, it will have a value based upon a cap rate range. An owner/occupier may be willing to pay slightly more if they view it as their office and have different economics, emotions, and maybe even different financing. A developer may value the property even higher if there are potential zoning changes and increased time to get said rezoning.

 

Selling to an investor at a market or slightly above market cap rate is like an extra point. Most brokers should be able to kick that. Only a bad snap or hold will stop you making a sale.

 

Selling at a premium cap rate or to an owner-user is a little tougher and requires wider reach. Most competent brokers can get the equivalent of a 25 yard field goal utilizing their broker and investor network but you need to have a more targeted approach if you want to hit from further out.  The success rate dramatically drops off unless you have Gostkowski accuracy.

 

Getting maximum pricing relies not only on accuracy but range. Only the top brokers have this.

 

A top Broker has deep relationships in the market, knows how to approach investors, owner users, and developers to structure a deal that makes sense and then strike at the right moment. They will use the best tools to help them reach the right buyer and then run a tight process to get the deal closed.  Many of them have made CREXi part of their team for it’s ability to enhance their range and accuracy!

 

Are you the Gostkowski in your market?  How do you drive pricing and help get that extra point or three?


Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul

CREXi’s Top Ten Sam Zell Quotes

Though sometimes gruff, foul-mouthed, contrarian, and a political instigator, Sam Zell is known for his prowess in timing market-cycles, is credited with having helped create the modern CRE industry, and has been dubbed “the Grave Dancer” for his ability to “dance on the skeletons of other people’s mistakes” and profit off of distressed deals. At the LA Tribune, a newspaper he owned, a memo was sent following his profanity laden visit: “the fundamental rules of decorum and decency apply… Sam is a force of a nature; the rest of us are bound by the normal conventions of society.”

Zell’s career essentially began when he managed a 15-unit apartment building at University of Michigan in exchange for free rent. His ability to work with and attract tenants, would win him the management of 4,000 units by the time he graduated Law School in 1966. Zell and his best friend and business partner , Robert Lurie, owned about 150 of those units. In 1969 they would form Equity Group Investments. Lurie would eventually pass in 1990 but is still listed on the company’s team page with Zell’s tribute: “Bob was a business partner, a brother and a best friend. There have been many times over the years that I’ve wished I could talk to him. I’d want to show him what we’ve created here. I know he’d be proud.”

Like him or not, in many ways Zell embodies the American real estate entrepreneur and the greatness of the industry. Born in Chicago to two polish immigrants, Zell utilized his hard work-ethic, street smarts (and book smarts), entrepreneurial spirit, and toughness to build a real estate empire and an estimated net worth of nearly $5B. 

Our Ten Favorite Sam Zell Quotes: 

10) The definition of a true partner is someone who shares your level of risk.

9)  I think it was Confucius who said that ‘money talks and bulls*t walks.’ 

8)  (on hiring) I look for people who in no way, shape, or form can be intimidated. My greatest fear is somebody telling me what they think I might want to hear.  

7)  When it’s all said and done, the petroleum of the real estate industry has always been capital.  

6)  A tie cuts off the blood supply to the brain.

5)  Sentimentality about an investment leads to lack of discipline.

4)  Whatever goals you set, you need to constantly readjust them so that at no time do you reach your goals before your time is up. 

3)  (on whether opportunities are disappearing) The world always looks nigh on impossible from the perspective of a desk. But once you get out into the world and if you have what I would call the entrepreneurial characteristics, I just think this country still provides a very unique opportunity.

2)  Liquidity = value.

1)  Every day you’re not selling an asset that’s in your portfolio, you’re choosing to buy it.

Short & Sweet With No Fluff

Posted: January 4, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development

SHORT & SWEET WITH NO FLUFF

No, that is not my order at Starbuck’s or my match.com header, this week’s blog is meant to be short, sweet, and sans any company fluff about why you should visit us at CREXi.com (although you should).

Having grown up and spent my whole career in the commercial real estate industry, I wanted to share some concise thoughts on why I love the industry and asset class:

  1. Low individual barriers to entry. Real estate investing requires no formal education or licensing requirements and while some areas of the business can be incredibly sophisticated, many concepts are very simplistic and intuitive. The result is a colorful and entrepreneurial culture full of unique personalities and personal stories.
  1. Diverse skill sets. Within one day you can exercise your finance chops and underwrite a complicated deal, exercise your marketing muscle and promote your newest project, or put your salesman hat on to win a new tenant. There are a broad set of skills which drive the industry;
  1. Instinct and intuition. While there are many sophisticated nuances, many of the concepts in CRE are intuitive. We all live somewhere. We all shop somewhere. These are not foreign concepts. Recognize that there aren’t enough apartments for rent in your area? Buy or develop an apartment building to capitalize.
  1. Control. Some of us don’t like the idea that unless we are an activist investor we can’t control the value of our equities investments (stocks). Further, the value is at the mercy of someone else’s control. What if the CEO gets caught in a scandal or retires sooner than thought? Most CRE professionals can still directly (attempt to) add-value to their investment or business.
  1. Real estate is a hard asset. Some people (myself included) don’t have the wiring to blindly trust an investment that can only be seen as numbers on a computer screen. Real estate is a real tangible asset you can drive by and touch.
  1. They aren’t making any more of it. I hesitated to include this as I believe this idea can sometimes be a trap. This notion does not mean values always rise and I think it’s underestimated how much untouched land there is. Additionally, technology has blurred the lines of physical and virtual space. However, the fact remains, the population continues to grow while land availability continues to decrease.
  1. Use of debt. Real estate is financeable whereas financing bonds or equities investments is a tricky business. Debt allows investors to lever returns, do more with less, and creates other industry opportunities (lender, servicer, appraiser).
  1. Other people’s money. The use of other people’s money (OPM) is an important component of the industry. Friends and family or institutional capital investors are always looking for avenues where they can find returns and are willing to pay fees and promoted interests to those who can access those investments. This allows investors to further lever returns and/or play in a greater arena than they otherwise could.
  1. It’s fun. For the restless like myself, it’s an industry that often revolves around meetings, looking at properties, driving, or getting a drink with other professionals. It’s a people industry that often puts you on the move as opposed to chained to your desk.

Tell me what I missed or share your thoughts @ eli@crexi.com or 305.331.2881.

Eli Randel

Eli Randel, CREXi Director of Business Development

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

How Long Should It Take To Receive An OM?

Posted: December 21, 2016 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director

HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO RECEIVE AN OFFERING MEMORANDUM?

Back in 2002, I was at a conference for a select group of CBRE brokers who were invited to be part of a new division called the Private Client Group. It was an exciting time. Led by a maverick named Glen Esnard, we had one mandate: to design and build a platform within the CBRE network to work with the thousands of private real estate owners across the country. Previously, the company had a more institutional focus, but now recognized the opportunity to service a wider entrepreneurial client-base.

One of our first breakout sessions was led by a forward thinker named Jim Crupi; a consultant to many Fortune 500 companies and a former Army Ranger commander. I was pumped. His first question to us was: “how long should it take to get an offering memorandum?”.  I looked around the room, thought about how long it typically took; figured he was looking for a short answer and suggested one I thought was low but not crazy: “less than 24 hours.” Many of my colleagues could tell by his reaction that he was looking for a shorter time and offered their newly revised responses with the lowest being “one hour.” Of course, an hour was doable but in my experience, was not the norm. By the time a buyer gets a broker on the phone, the broker e-mails an NDA, the NDA is received, printed, executed, and then faxed (yes faxed) back, the executed NDA is then received by the broker and finally the offering memorandum is sent, at least a day if not several has usually elapsed. Crupi then challenged us to a group exercise. Our task was to pass a tennis ball around a circle of 20 people in the shortest time possible. Now we were a very competitive bunch so after three attempts we got it down to under 5 seconds. Crupi commended us but encouraged us to do it quicker. After some brainstorming, strong teamwork, and logistical coordination we finally touched the ball simultaneously. That was Crupi’s point: “Don’t accept the norm but challenge yourself to find new ways to do it better.” He invited us to do the same with Offering Memorandums. My mind was blown. What if we improve on and change the norm in other areas of the business?

Fast forward to 2016, I find myself with the same level of excitement as I did in the early days of the PCG: a member of a band of free thinkers with the goal of disrupting traditional norms. Providing tools to brokers to make them more effective with client reporting, email marketing, due diligence vaults, offer submission, and analytics. Oh, and you can download an OM instantaneously. Check out www.crexi.com and take the OM Challenge.

Paul Cohen – Guest Contributor

Paul Cohen, Regional DirectorPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.

 

Data-Less 2017 Market Outlooks (Analysis Without Paralysis) Part 2

Posted: December 14, 2016 by Eli Randel

DATA-LESS 2017 MARKET OUTLOOKS (ANALYSIS WITHOUT PARALYSIS) Part 2

Read Part 1 Data-Less 2017 Market Outlooks

Despite the moving market pieces and political volatility which could affect the US capital markets, I muted the noise and “what-if” scenarios, spoke to several trusted advisors, and put my thumb in the air to paint a picture of what I think the 2017 CRE capital markets will look like:

Following a flurry of sometimes fruitless activity (lots of squeezing, minimal juice) in Q4 to close investment sales and refinance debt before year end, I expect a brief pause and “holding of the breath” entering 2017 as Trump takes office and investors shake off their added holiday weight. Eventually, the ambitious deployment targets and billions of dollars in unplaced capital will resume the deal chase and direct or LP equity will be plentiful albeit more risk averse. Despite the domestic perception of political risk, foreign economies still view the US as a safe-haven for capital and will continue to gravitate towards the US CRE market to escape their own struggling economies, political risks, and low (and even negative) interest rate environments. Large supplies of domestic and foreign capital competing for deals coupled with strong growth assumptions will mostly offset softening values resulting from upward pressure on cap rates caused by rising interest rates and costs of capital.

The debt markets will become tricky to navigate as interest rates rise and a new regulatory environment mostly for banks and conduits emerges (although Trump has discussed reversing many of the new regulations), but good deals with good sponsors will have no shortages of financing options from debt-funds, conduits, agencies, life companies, and banks. Ultimately lenders will be eager to get to work and to begin deploying their aggressive 2017 targets with balance sheet products from banks and debt-funds continuing to find an opportunity for larger market share. Borrowers will learn to settle for lower leverage or more creative capital structures as rising costs of capital will make debt harder to service and while younger investors will be unsettled by rising costs of debt, more seasoned investors will remember a time when interest rates were well into the teens and will conclude that rates are still relatively low and opportunistic for borrowers.

The last two quarters of the “Wall of Maturities” resulting from the many 10 year loans originated in 2005-2007 will pass mostly as a continued non-event as most maturing loans have successfully paid-off following a sale or recapitalization. Despite some value softening, most asset values remain above their 2007 value or at least above their unpaid loan balances. However, some market softening and the new financing environment may cause a handful of notable maturity defaults, but competition for any deals that emerge will pull returns below opportunistic levels. Distress investors will mostly continue to wait on the sidelines into extra innings. Assets that do default will take a year or two to make it to investors (unless sold as notes) and competition for the deals will push pricing above opportunistic levels.

Transaction velocity will be about even or slightly below 2016 as buyers may increase their yield requirements and sellers are slow to (or choose not to) adjust their expectations and the bid-ask gap – always existent but easier to bridge in a bull market – widens for many deals. However, as repeatedly stated, competition to place capital may offset and shake-off what would seem like a rationale cooling. Pent up capital supply, investors with long time horizons, expiring equity funds, and baby-boomer retirees rightsizing their income, will contribute to transactional movement and deals will still get done at a good pace.

Overall I believe 2017 will mostly mirror 2016 with some signs of softening and plateauing seen in certain product types and markets. I believe a tale of two bifurcated markets may emerge where good product in good markets will remain sought after and yields will remain low and asset values high. In most respects, basic value-add, low-risk profile deals, and core assets will feel similar in pricing to 2016 as institutional capital remains mostly bullish on long-term fundamentals and will look to keep the lights on by continuing to place capital. However, secondary and tertiary markets may initially slow in deal velocity in 2017 as private capital can be less cerebral to value changes (largely because capital is proprietary and not OPM) and sellers will have a hard time dropping their value expectations while buyers have a harder time navigating debt markets causing the bid-ask gap to widen and deals to become harder to execute. However, I think as the year progresses and sellers slightly loosen their expectations while entrepreneurial capital floods secondary markets chasing greater yields than core markets offer, volume in secondary and tertiary markets for sub-institutional product will increase – especially if job creation as promised by the incoming president occurs and infrastructure investment creates new occupiers and tenants armed with government contracts.

To find deals that fit your criteria, please visit www.crexi.com where you will find an aggregated marketplace of over 6,500 commercial real estate investments (and rapidly growing). One-click NDAs, due diligence vaults, and a user-friendly email marketing portal ensures you can immediately begin underwriting deals.

Eli Randel

Eli Randel, CREXi Business Development ManagerEli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.