CREXi Product Q&A with Co-Founder Luke Morris

Q:  How are new features developed?

A:  We have a good pulse on what the industry is lacking and always stay on top of trending technology.  Once an idea forms we outline it in great detail, provide designs, bounce the idea off our customers (usually 5-10), and then place it into a development sprint.

 

Q:  What’s your favorite feature?

A:  The marketing portal for sure. In a past life I would’ve loved the ability to blast my properties to thousands of investors with just a couple clicks of the mouse. On top of that, I can analyze the effectiveness of each campaign. Previously, I had to send e-mail marketing campaigns via Outlook and would have to wait around and hope someone would call me for more information.

 

Q:  What product do you look to for inspiration?

A:  I love the simplicity of sites like AirBnB® and Amazon® but commercial real estate is so unique it can be difficult to apply features from those sites and have them be applicable to real estate. However, they exemplify how technology can revolutionize trillion dollar industries and that is inspiring.

 

Q:  What was your favorite project in 2016?

A:  I had fun building most of the features but my favorite project was working on the property dashboard.  It is such a game changer and really helps brokers track every action a buyer makes on their listing from web hits and visitors all the way to LOI’s.

Historic Bath Club in Miami Beach Brought to Market

HISTORIC BATH CLUB IN MIAMI BEACH BROUGHT TO MARKET – FEATURED ON CREXI

The Historic Bath Club, located at 5937 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, Florida, has hit the market and is featured on CREXi (Click Here).

 

The Bath Club (“the Property”) which resides on over 5 acres of oceanfront land, has been brought to market by Gerard Yetming – Executive Vice President at the Urban Core Division of Colliers International, and Irving Padron – Managing Broker and President of Engel & Volkers Miami. 

 

The Bath Club, originally built in 1927 with a long heyday as a famous social club, underwent a partial development in 2006 with the construction of 118 luxury condominium residences. Currently the Property is mainly used as an event venue.  However, in April of 2017 legacy memberships will expire allowing new owner to reset pricing or expand on the use with potential sources of income including: club membership plans, restaurant or lounge operations, cabana sales, and private event usage. It boasts 538 feet of beach frontage and over 15,000 square feet of historic buildings.

 

With the activity of South Beach trending north to Mid-Beach in recent years – evidenced by the success of the Fontainebleau, Eden Roc, Faena, and the Edition – the Bath Club is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a unique and historic oceanfront property in one of the hottest markets in the world. The property is unpriced, but press reports have indicated that the asset may fetch $25MM or above. “This is a truly special asset. We already have tremendous international interest reflecting the global appeal of this trophy property.” notes listing broker Gerard Yetming. 

Profile of a Legend – The Hometown Hero – Dan Gilbert

Posted: March 17, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


PROFILE OF A LEGEND – THE HOMETOWN HERO – DAN GILBERT

Dan Gilbert is oft-known as the founder of Quicken Loans and sometimes associated with the city of Cleveland given his ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, Gilbert is a Detroit native and no one individual has done more to revitalize downtown Detroit and bring the city back to prominence. Gilbert, through his firm Rock Ventures and other partnerships, has invested millions into Detroit and turned the blighted downtown into a tech-hub with scores of young professionals, a vibrant social scene, and a high-quality of life. And he’s only getting started.

 

Gilbert was born in Detroit suburb, Southfield, and would eventually obtain his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. Following his undergraduate degree, Gilbert would obtain his JD from Wayne State in Detroit. While at Wayne State, he worked for his parents at their Century 21 franchise where he likely got his first deep look into the real estate business. It was there that Gilbert concluded the real money wasn’t in selling homes but was in financing them and would form Rock Financial which would eventually become one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the nation before being purchased by Intuit in 2000 and renamed Quicken Loans. In 2002, he would form a syndicate and purchase back Quicken from Intuit.

 

In 2010, Gilbert moved Quicken headquarters and its 1,700 employees to downtown Detroit and would move 3,600 more employees before the end of that year. Today, the firm has 14,200 team members based in the city. In addition to creating a population surge and a new demographic base with disposable income, ancillary companies formed and Gilbert would seed many of them through his VC: Detroit Venture Partners. Detroit has also reemerged as a destination for graduates from UM, MSU, and beyond who would previously migrate to cities like Chicago or other markets because they lacked a hometown option.      

 

With a newfound pulse and a resurgence in demographics to the once vibrant but struggling city, Gilbert acquired several buildings, renovate the historical structures, and place tenants – often firms he was involved with – in the buildings. The newfound downtown day-population with disposable income a need for housing would eventually lead to more multi-family and retail demand and development. Given the city’s struggles and lack of institutional attention resulting in suppressed asset pricing and limited competition, Gilbert has been able to shape the city as he pleases like a child with a real-life model town.  It appears as if Gilbert is only getting started and it’s possible no one individual has shaped a major city more than him.

 

Gilbert’s success can be attributed to hometown dedication and loyalty, a support network of childhood friends who he continues to work with, a nostalgia for loyalty and old-school values perhaps evidenced by his famous open letter to Lebron James, and lots of guts. When everyone was zigging away from Detroit, Gilbert zagged back recognizing the bones of the historic properties, proximity to universities and talent, and a buy opportunity with his power to shape the city through his business ventures. By moving his thousands of employees from Quicken Loans into vacant or mostly vacant buildings he could also buy, Gilbert provided a reminder of the relationship between jobs and real estate and created a new city on the infrastructure of a tired one. Now he is building Detroit into a major market like the iconic industrialists had done generations before him. 


To Price or Not To Price?

Posted: March 15, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


TO PRICE OR NOT TO PRICE?

10+ years-ago, when I was a Sr Analyst at CBRE, there was an ongoing debate among several of our investment sales teams: is it best to price sale offerings or bring them to market unpriced? There were different opinions from a spectrum of very successful brokers. Now, 10+ years later, our listing marketplace, CREXi, has 15,000+ assets valued at over $100B so I’ve received the opportunity to see significant deal velocity and think about the discussion once again.

THE ARGUMENT FOR PRICING AN OFFERING

Buyers sometimes need guidance and benefit from knowing the motivation level of the seller. When brokers price an asset, even though the buyer will come to their own value conclusions, they get an idea regarding seller expectations and how close they are in pricing indicating where (or whether at all) they should submit their offer. Further, most negotiation experts will tell you the person who makes the first offer (ultimately pricing an asset is an offer) gets to anchor their position and will usually “win” the negotiation. And while there is risk in asking too little, a broker running a strong process can recover and push pricing in the infrequent event when that occurs.   

THE ARGUMENT FOR GOING TO THE MARKET UNPRICED

Make a market. Let that market determine value. When there are value dislocations, a wide range of assumptions, different costs of capital, and different uses for properties, one homogenous price doesn’t always make sense and may bias some buyers. Or sometimes a seller may not have a value expectation or has a lofty one and needs a “market appraisal” to make the most informed sell-decision. Failing to engage buyers by asking for a price that doesn’t excite them, may limit seller’s ability to make an informed decision. In most instances, even without an ask, good brokers should be able to tell the deal story and engage with and coach buyers to obtain participation.  

MY CONCLUSION

Depends.

In a hot or frothy market, we tend to see more unpriced assets so as not to miss any outlier offers. Certain property types also warrant being unpriced. Infill land for instance might have a wide range of uses and values. Institutional deals, where seller is often committed to a sale, may not need an ask to show motivation. The buyer community tends to know that the seller makes more cerebral decisions and is motivated by other emotionless factors. Unpriced sellers can be extremely motivated, but often need to see offers to make an informed decision. Say a seller bought a small building for very-little 30 years-ago in what is now the center of town. Perhaps circumstances are forcing them to sell and they really want $20MM. Broker explains that it isn’t a realistic expectation. If left unpriced, they might get 10 offers all around $12MM (a good indication of value and still a huge profit) vs. asking $20MM and receiving no offers because buyers don’t want to insult the seller or become attached to a deal that doesn’t make sense (at the asking price).   

We tend to see more stated pricing in smaller assets where the buyer community might need some guidance and assurances that the entrepreneurial seller is a true seller and not just testing the market with lofty expectations. Sometimes in cooler or changing markets when the bid-ask gap expands, we see more stated pricing as buyers get fatigued from underwriting unpriced deals with unreal expectations. Pricing a deal well may let the buyer community know: “Spend time on this deal. We are real sellers.” Also, more commoditized asset types like net-lease or stabilized properties may trade within a narrow bandwidth. By asking a price within (or only slightly above) that bandwidth, seller indicates to the buyer community that they are real sellers and understand market value.

Regardless, the best brokers (who can be found listing their 15,000+ assets on CREXi) will coach buyers and guide them to tradeable pricing whether priced or unpriced. Buyers on CREXi are quickly able to access and sort through due diligence to underwrite properties. Engagement is immediate (How Long Should it Take to Access an OM?) and brokers can be contacted in real-time to provide more color.


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.

 

Profile of a CRE Marketing Executive – DJ Sandler

Posted: March 14, 2017 by Doug Shankman – Regional Director, West Coast CREXi


PROFILE OF A CRE MARKETING EXECUTIVE – DJ SANDLER, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, JLL

DJ Sandler joined commercial real estate powerhouse JLL in 2015 after a very successful four-year tenure at Raytheon Company as the Deputy Director of Communications (#117 on the Fortune 500 in 2016). Now as Vice President of Marketing for the West Coast at JLL, the Seattle native has brought his data-driven, multi-channel marketing approach to another Fortune 500 company (#436 in 2016). Based in Downtown LA, I had the opportunity to catch-up with my old friend and colleague and learn more about him, JLL, and his views on the commercial real estate market and more.

 

DS: In the constantly changing brokerage landscape, JLL has stayed relatively consistent and focused on their core business. What do you see changing – if anything – during the next chapter of your storied company?

DJS: In my opinion, the next chapter at JLL will be defined by the digital and data revolution. Real estate has been slower than most sectors to feel the full transformational effects of digitalization – think of banking, retailing, and travel and how they’ve been dramatically altered by smartphones and online businesses. You really don’t have to look farther than CREXi to see all of the potential. The real digital opportunities for real estate are still to come. JLL is investing significant time and money with the goal of becoming the clear digital leader in real estate services.

 

DS: What role do you see tech playing in the commercial real estate landscape over the next ten years?

DJS: In ten years, I don’t think tech will be playing a role in the CRE landscape, it will be the landscape. Even in a built environment such as ours, we cannot ignore the trends and changing needs of B2B. After all, B2B is still driven by the people that make up those businesses. As a result, businesses will demand the same benefits from technology as the consumer: convenience, accountability, expertise, end-to-end solutions and transparency – any time of the day, all at their fingertips.

 

DS: You came to JLL following a very successful career at Raytheon. What similarities have you found within the commercial real estate and defense contractor industries? What glaring differences?

DJS: Both industries are driven by a core set of big players, which means sometimes you go up against them head-to-head on a pursuit and sometimes you might end up partnering on a deal. Reputation and integrity matter because you never know who you might be on the phone with a week from now.

 

DS: You have a data-driven approach to your craft. What piece of data or information about how marketing materials are disseminated and received do you think would surprise most people?

DJS: Data driven marketing is all about business development and revenue producing solutions. Many marketing organizations broadly circulate material, cross their fingers and wait to see who comes back – almost like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. That strategy is expensive, unpredictable and hard to prove value. Through data-driven marketing, I know who my prospects are. This allows my team to develop targeted, relevant and engaging materials for a core set of decision makers. When marketing plays a role in converting prospects into customers it’s incredibly rewarding and allows us to justify our extended value in an organization.

 

DS: Without the blinders of a deep background in Commercial Real Estate, what inefficiencies do you see in the industry that sometimes surprise you?

DJS: Perhaps there’s a trend in my responses here, however I was surprised at the dependence on traditional quarterly reporting, which is valuable but is also less forward looking. With the incredible amount of data currently available, I’d like to see a shift towards more real-time reporting. What’s the narrative today? How can we help our customers make good decisions based on the latest market information right now? The speed of economy is increasing and our customers will eventually demand us to keep pace.

 

DS: Most of our early interviews have been with east-coasters so your west coast markets have been underrepresented. What is your favorite food city?

DJS: If you’re a foodie, pick a weekend and book a flight to Portland, Oregon. Hit the food carts for lunch, Pearl District for dinner, and the microbreweries in between.

 

DS: What piece of advice do you carry with you (or first that comes to mind)?

DJS: I try to spend the majority of my day looking forward; it’s helped me and my team focus on the art of progress instead of trying to perfect the past.

 

DS: If money was of no concern and you were proficient at any skill you chose, what career would you have chosen if you could start over and do anything?

DJS: I’ve never parted with my childhood rock and mineral collection and often think I could have been a famous Geologist, if there is such a thing.

 

DS: What trend or fundamental do you think the market-herd is overlooking when analyzing the commercial real estate market?

DJS: In my experience, the ‘herd’ has embraced and successfully leveraged financial and real estate indicators very well. However, we partner with JLL Research very closely to study broader economic and industry sectors to identify up and coming trends in the market, specifically on the west coast. By doing so, we can get out front and meet the needs of both occupiers and investors in a new or developing vertical.

 


Profile of a Legend – The Tech Geek, Paul Allen

Posted: March 10, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


 

PROFILE OF A LEGEND – THE TECH GEEK, PAUL ALLEN

Paul Allen, the famed co-founder of Microsoft has slowly built a real estate empire through Vulcan Real Estate, a name chosen as a homage to the extraterrestrial humanoid species from Star Trek.

  

  

Though lesser known nationally, Vulcan has been a major player in the Seattle real estate scene, one of the hottest markets in the nation. Vulcan is known for the development of South Lake Union, a neighborhood immediately north of downtown Seattle where they have developed 6.3MM SF of residential, retail, biotech, and mixed-use space at a site which can house up to 10MM SF. The Wall St. Journal called the development, “unexpectedly lucrative” which can in part be attributed to the sale of a 1.8MM SF office building to Amazon for $1.16B, marking one of the largest deals ever in the state of Washington. “It’s exceeded my expectations,” Allen said of South Lake Union.

  

  

Born in Seattle in 1953, Allen befriended Bill Gates, three years his junior, when he discovered the two had a shared passion for computers. Allen went to Washington State University, but soon dropped out to work as a programmer for Honeywell in Boston where his friend and business partner Bill Gates was attending Harvard University. It was Allen who convinced Gates to quit Harvard and start Microsoft.

  

  

The rest, as they say, is history and Paul Allen is now worth an approximate $19.9B. Vulcan Capital and Vulcan Inc. have become a family office of sorts where Allen manages his fortune and philanthropic activities. However, his involvement has not been passive. The computer whiz has shown a passion for property, both commercial and residential, with vast commercial holdings across Seattle and a sizeable residential portfolio of unique homes and land around the world.

  

  

Though speculation, as not much is known about the reclusive Allen’s investment style, it’s assumed the Allen has benefited from an engineer’s mind when orchestrating and building the amazing neighborhoods he has been a part of. Additionally, a life-long loyalty and knowledge of Seattle has likely helped the native understand his market more than any outsider could. Market loyalty can be powerful and Steve Allen has shown it in spades.

  

  

CREXi Teams up with Habitat LA

CREXi is committed to giving back to the community and our first philanthropic mission in 2017 was teaming up with @HabitatLA on March 3 to build a house in our local community.

We share the belief that the best way to make a positive impact on the world is to start with our local communities

Profile of a Legend – The Gambler, Steve Wynn

Posted: March 3, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development

 

PROFILE OF A LEGEND – THE GAMBLER, STEVE WYNN

 

“Money doesn’t make people happy. People make people happy.”

 

Steve Wynn has built an empire worth an estimated $2.6B with serendipity and entrepreneurial grit.

 

Born in New Haven, CT in 1942, Wynn would eventually graduate from University of Pennsylvania with plans to attend Yale Law. However, Steve’s father passed away before his UPenn graduation leaving him with $350,000 in gambling debt which forced him to take over and operate the family’s many Bingo Parlors mostly surrounding Wayson’s Corner, Maryland. Wynn would expand the business before moving his family to Las Vegas in 1967.

 

It was in Las Vegas that Wynn entered the casino business by buying a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino with the profits he eventually made in the family business. By 1971, Wynn had managed to profit enough from the Frontier and several well-orchestrated land deals to gain a controlling interest in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas. Through a series of renovations, he would attract high-end clientele to the Golden Nugget and would increase his stake to become the majority owner by 1973. In 1977 Wynn opened the casino’s first hotel tower which would be followed later by several more hotels. Around that time, Steve built a lasting friendship with the Sinatra family before focusing east towards Atlantic City where he developed the Atlantic City Golden Nugget which he would later sell for $440MM.

 

Wynn would go on to build the Mirage, the Bellagio and several other well-known hotels and casinos before selling his company, Mirage Resorts, to MGM Grand for $6.6B in 2000. He would then form Wynn Resorts Limited which he would take public in 2002 becoming a billionaire two years later. Most of Wynn’s empire was built with his ex-wife, Elaine, who he would marry twice and who sat on the board of directors for 13 years. Today Wynn is remarried, an active art collector, and was also the inspiration for Andy Garcia’s character in Ocean’s Trilogy.

 

Wynn’s rise to prominence can be attributed to his smarts, honesty, big vision, guts, a strong support network, and of course some luck.

 

SOME SELECT STEVE WYNN QUOTES:

“Keep it simple. Tell the truth. People can smell the truth.”

“This office is smaller than the last one I had. I’m not trying to impress people. I want to be close to them.”

“Other people’s successes are good news – for them and for you. Good for you because they show you a way to go.”

“If I complain about a traffic jam, I have no one to blame but myself.”

“Change is not threatening.”

“I am a self-made brat.”

Size Does and Doesn’t Matter

Posted: March 2, 2017 by Erek Benz, Co-Founder

 

SIZE DOES and DOESN’T MATTER

 

While some of our peers boast of having hundreds or thousands of employees, we believe a large head count needs to be managed (which can create cultural divides), but more importantly size brings large overheard costs which must be passed on to the consumer in the form of high fees to maintain margins. Philosophically we believe technology should make marketplaces more efficient and affordable and not add layers of heavy fee loads. Democratization isn’t only about access, but is also about limiting friction, barriers-to-entry, and cost.

 

Emphasis on Congruence

 

A smaller team forces us to thoughtfully approach process. Process is like eating your vegetables: it isn’t always tasty but can be needed to grow. By creating a tight process (still loose enough for individuality and improvisation) we’ve created a scalable business model capable of handling large expected increases in deal activity. Ultimately, we are a tech company designed for commercial real estate brokers. We are not building a human intensive real estate company that uses a little tech.

 

In terms of hiring, we generally hire for needs instead of having generalists or “floaters” who don’t quite know where they fit. While we are obsessed with finding new talent, we are not enamored by adding layers of management whose backgrounds fit an IPO prospectus more than a winning team. Resumes are what you have done (which is important), but character is what you will do next and is focused on more in interviews. We are all more than a piece of paper.

 

What began as a 3-person team has become 32 (and growing) which is significant growth, but modest considering we are servicing 2,000 times more deals than the day we opened. As opposed to building an army of employees, we’re focused on building a special forces unit (“Deal Team Six”) which forces us to use technology and design process to augment our team and handle our exponential growth. While we are excited to grow our team, managing team size allows us to do three things:

 

  • Preserve our culture which is crucial to our success
  • Allow users to customize their own process limiting unnecessary human friction
  • Utilize the most modern technology to scale and manage growth

 

Erek Benz

Erek Benz CREXi Co-Founder

Erek Benz is Co-Founder of CREXi based in the Venice, CA office.  As a founding partner at CREXi, his responsibilities have ranged from establishing business infrastructure to driving customer growth though integrated marketing tactics.  A serial entrepreneur and change-maker, Erek is also the founder of Position-Tech, an athletic technology company used by top NFL teams.  Erek graduated with a B.A. in Marketing from Northern Illinois University College of Business and remains active at NIU serving on the Executive Leadership Forum Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee.

Cushman and Wakefield Closes $8.5MM Deal, CREXi Gets The Assist

Posted: February 28, 2017


CUSHMAN and WAKEFIELD CLOSES $8.5MM DEAL, CREXi GETS THE ASSIST

 

The South Florida commercial team of Cushman and Wakefield led by Scott O’Donnell, Dominic Montazemi, and Miguel Alcivar located an out-of-market buyer in the $8.5MM sale of 1111 Park Centre Boulevard, a 57,105 SF office building in North Miami-Dade County. Online marketplace CREXi, helps find the buyer.  Park Centre is a four-story mid-rise office building developed in 1987 on a 2.9-acre site. The building was 92 percent occupied at the time of sale and was owned by NR Park Center, LLC (Nir Shoshani) who was represented by the Cushman Team.

 

The sale exemplifies the power of the CREXi platform as the buyer’s broker found the deal on CREXi and ultimately entered a market they were not previously active in. Typically, new market entrants have a steep learning curve in new markets and require significant time before becoming exposed to all available opportunities. By creating an online marketplace CREXi gives buyers immediate exposure to out-of-market opportunities. “Brokers would almost always like to reach every qualified buyer to drive pricing and optionality on behalf of their client, and buyers always want to see all the deals that fit their criteria. Historically the two sides have always wanted connect, but often have had a hard time finding each other. We created a conduit or marketplace to bring the two sides together,” notes Paul Cohen, Southeast Regional Director for the firm. “It always helps when you work with best-in-class brokers like Miguel’s team.”

 

The Cushman team has deep relationships in the South Florida CRE market with 29 closings totaling $529MM in sales and financing in 2016. It’s safe to say that they know all the active buyers on a first name basis so sourcing a new motivated buyer was a real boon for the team. The Cushman team had been in discussions with several buyers when Lowden reached out to them. The building was the right asset for the new-to-market buyer, 1111 PCB Holdings LLC, who acquired the asset for $8.5 million ($149 per square foot). According to Alcivar, “It’s exciting for us to use a marketing platform that sources buyers that we don’t know about. The CREXI platform is a powerful tool in our arsenal that allows us to maximize exposure, pricing, and value for our clients in the sale of their assets.”

 

Check out this property on CREXI: Park Centre