Posts Tagged 'Corporate Real Estate'

Selling Corporate Real Estate to Speculative Investors – A Risky Game

When seeking to sell their companies’ commercial real estate, CFOs can find themselves in very risky positions when they enter into sale agreements with speculative investors. Some speculative investors don’t seek to simply purchase real estate. Instead, they use purchase agreements as leverage and opportunities to achieve other results.  This scenario may seem extreme, but it is a very common practice in how some investors acquire real estate.  Now, after such a long period of lingering economic stagnation, itchy investors eager to capture opportunity are beginning to tap into the desires of equally frustrated property owners, and are making speculative plays with their properties, often with those property owners unaware of the increased risk they bear. As chief guardian of their companies’ assets and financial interests, it is imperative that CFOs be aware of the very real risks to value erosion that can occur when dealing with speculative investors.

When selling real estate to speculative investors, landlords, or developers, it is imperative for CFOs to understand, before entering into any type of purchase agreement, option, or otherwise, the specific events that will occur between the execution of a purchase agreement and the intended closing date.  In a strong purchase agreement, the optimal transaction structure would include only a few clearly defined and achievable events intended to take place prior to closing. More importantly, the purchase agreement should contain very few contingencies that would permit the purchaser to terminate the agreement.  One of the keys to protecting the seller from the perils of doing business with a speculative investor is the payment by the purchaser at the execution of the purchase agreement of a substantial at-risk down payment. In many cases, it is unfortunate that the way many speculative investors seek to control properties often places sellers at great risk even after the purchase agreement is executed.

Very often speculative investors seek to “lock-up” a seller’s property, so that the speculative investor has beneficial control of the property for a period of months. During this time the seller usually cannot sell the property to anyone else, nor enter into a contract with another purchaser.  After speculative investors secure a purchase agreement, they often use due diligence periods to determine if their intended transaction will prove viable.  It is during this time when they should be actively pursuing municipal approvals, based on a logical and thought-out plan for the property.  Instead, during due diligence, many speculative investors often expend substantial effort to secure financial and other arrangements with development partners, investors, lenders, tenants, downstream buyers, or others.  They basically use the property and the purchase agreement as currency to uncover even greater opportunities for themselves beyond the mere purchase of the property, often extending due diligence periods when they need more time. In many cases, lock-up provisions in purchase agreements often restrict sellers from doing much anything with their properties other than maintain them and await the results achieved by the purchaser during due diligence.

When speculative investors are not successful in achieving the opportunities they seek, they often use contingencies contained in purchase agreements, or they deploy other means, including legal action, to avoid closing on the purchase. As a result, at this juncture, many speculative investors will move to terminate the purchase agreement, expect return of their down payments, and will walk away from the transaction. In such cases, speculative investors experience little, if any, financial or other loss.  By contrast, the impact on the seller can be devastating.

When a purchaser terminates a purchase agreement after many months, the seller is often left in a very challenging position, especially because the typical speculative investor will not provide the seller with a large at-risk down payment as part of the purchase agreement.  Moreover, when the above occurs, the seller will have lost valuable time, might have foregone other more favorable sale opportunities, might have missed a market peak, may be saddled with future challenges resulting from local municipal authorities who feel that their time was wasted by an unrealistic speculator and a seller who was not careful in its selection of an appropriate purchaser, and the property could take on a white elephant status in the eyes of other acquirers. This series of events then often draws bottom fisher buyers, who seek to acquire seemingly distressed properties and those owned by frustrated sellers at low prices.  This, in turn, further contributes to price erosion and creates additional challenges for the CFO seeking to dispose of the property in a reasonable time, with low cost and risk, and at a reasonable price.  In the extreme, even if the seller does not return the speculative investor’s down payment, almost any amount of security, even if forfeited, would not likely provide adequate compensation to the seller for the damages it could receive.

As in any well thought-out business endeavor, for the CFO seeking to sell his or her company’s commercial real estate, beginning with the end in mind is the prudent approach. In this type of transaction, the means of the speculative investor will dictate the end, and much more.

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

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Commercial Real Estate Brokers: Shhh! Don’t Tell Your Tenants How Much Commission You’ll Make!

An Open Letter to Commercial Real Estate Brokers

Hey, commercial real estate brokers?  Keep your compensation a secret, even from your own clients. They don’t know how much you make, they’re too dumb to figure it out, and if you don’t bring it up they won’t think about it.  NOW, REALLY!

In most commercial real estate leasing transactions, commercial brokers representing tenants receive their compensation in the form of commissions paid by landlords.  Yep, that sure sounds like a conflict-of-interest to me!  But, unfortunately, that’s the way the industry works.

Guess what?

  • Your clients can figure out your compensation…and, they will!
  • Why withhold information from you own client?
  • When your role is to protect your client’s interests, withholding information that they can easily figure out on their own makes you look stupid and dishonest
  • Are you obligated to disclose your compensation to your clients? While you may not have any legal obligation to do so, from a moral and ethical perspective, I’m pretty sure the answer is “Yes!”

Whether or not you should disclose your compensation to your clients also begs other questions:

  • Why would you want to be transparent?
  • Are you concerned that someone might view your situation as your being over compensated somehow?
  • Did compensation discussions take place that may have negatively affected your client?
  • Is something negative going on?
  • Did you have to do any favors or compromise your position (or that of your client) to secure your compensation?
  • Were those favors at the expense of your client?  Did you disclose them to your client?
  • What might your client have lost in exchange for the compensation you secured?
  • Have you compromised your client in any way?
  • Do any conflicts-of-interest now exist or did they previously exist?

If all you’re doing is getting paid, fairly and adequately, why wouldn’t you disclose your compensation to your client…the one who is the very reason for which you’re able to generate compensation?

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com.   Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News

Biographies

Articles

Properties

What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Hire Us to Represent Your Property Because We Represent So Many Other Buildings!

“Hire us to represent your property, because we represent so many other buildings…and, we can tell about all of the leads at those buildings…to help you lease or sell your building quicker!”

In this day and age, when transparency and conflict avoidance are top of mind of almost every corporate executive, I am amazed that some commercial real estate brokers still use this tired and lame approach when soliciting property representation engagements.  What is truly amazing is, that given the above, some property owners still buy this line of trash!

Some brokers actually tell property owners that they should hire those brokers because the brokers represent a lot of other buildings and will share with them the leads that the receive on those other buildings.  That is a very common pitch!  Those brokers make claims like:

  • You’ll have our complete attention (How is that possible?)
  • Because we represent so many buildings in the local market, we see every tenant (Will you share my leads with other landlords?)
  • We’ll tell you everything that’s going on in the market (Will your other clients mind?)
  • Sign with us, and you’ll have a greater chance of making more deals (More or fewer deals?)

So, let me understand this:  Some property owners are actually comfortable not receiving true representation, the kind of aggressive and objective expertise designed to protect their interests, beat their competition, and help them succeed…the kind of service to which the broker representation agreements the sign actually entitle them?

Instead, they’re ok with their buildings being thrown into a large pool, so when a tenant jumps into that pool, if the property owners’ lucky number just happens to pop up, or if the broker overseeing that pool decides it’s that property owner’s turn, only then would they get a shot at that deal?  Is that really what they’re signing up for?

Do these property owners recognize that while they’re enjoying the supposed benefits of so many more leads that come from throwing their buildings into that very large pool, that some buildings or property owners will drown?  Do they think that brokers offering this service will favor them, and that all of the other property owners who were promised the same access to “all of the leads” won’t be clamoring for the same tenants?

Have these property owners considered that while they’re feeding on all of those supposed leads generated for them by all of those other buildings, that leads for tenants or buyers who may be sincerely interested in their buildings, will also be thrown into that pool, thereby possibly diminishing their likelihood of success?  Do they see that those tenants and buyers may be pulled from that pool and rescued by some other property owner at another building?

Is this true representation?  Isn’t this approach a blatant conflict of interest?  Do many property owners actually accept this approach?  Do the best brokers offer something better?

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation

Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to financial and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew B. Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America. By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com.

Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say
AndrewZezas.com

For additional profiles, pictures, and more click here or go to http://realstratnews.wordpress.com/media-information/.

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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Exactly, How Transparent Are You?

As a commercial real estate broker, you probably consider yourself to be professional, fair, open, and honest.  Are you also transparent? Completely?  Follow these questions and comments and decide for yourself just how transparent you are and whether your clients view you the same way.

  • Can you describe the basic principles behind Sarbanes-Oxley?
  • Do you tell clients and prospects that you will be transparent in your dealings with them and on their behalf?
  • Are you really transparent in your dealings, or is that just marketing hype?
  • Do you keep your tenants and buyers informed about your dealings on their behalf and about the compensation to which you may be entitled when they complete their transaction?
  • Do you only mention compensation to your tenant clients when a landlord offers you a discount, an unacceptable rate, or payment schedule that takes too long or puts you at risk?
  • Do you also inform your clients when landlords offer you compensation bonuses or incentives?
  • Do you disclose relationships to your clients that THEY may see as being in conflict with your ability to properly serve their interests, even if you don’t see the same conflicts?
  • Are you really completely transparent?
  • Are your company’s relationships so vast and geographically dispersed that it is often difficult to understand the many possible conflicts-of-interest that may exist, let alone identify and report them to your clients?
  • Are you transparent with your transactional opponents and competitors?  Should you be?

Being transparent is not a buzz word, it’s an absolute, a must in business. You cannot be transparent on some issues, and not on others, and then claim to be transparent.  That’s being partially transparent, which means you’re not really transparent.  Either you’re transparent or you’re not!

Being transparent in your dealings is not that tough.  What are you afraid of?  Do you think your clients will figure out that maybe you’re not as good as you said you were?  Are you afraid that if you are transparent about your compensation that your clients may want some of it?  If you are truly concerned about this, then perhaps you should ask yourself if you really are worth what you expect to receive in compensation…if you deliver sufficient value to your clients, so that they will recognize your worth and entitlement to fair compensation.

Are you afraid to disclose that a landlord offered you a compensation bonus? Why? Do you deserve it?  Will accepting it have a negative impact on your client?  Would your client think so? Would your client be concerned that you didn’t disclose it?  If, for some silly reason, you chose not to disclose an offer of a bonus, what a tremendous opportunity you missed to build a stronger relationship with your client

If you don’t create a lot of value for your clients, if you’re merely an old-fashioned real estate space jockey, doing little more than driving your clients around the market, dropping them on a landlord’s doorstep and expecting to pick-up a check when the landlord completes your client’s deal, then you SHOULD be nervous!  While you’re still providing a service and are entitled to be paid, you’re probably not entitled to the same compensation as a true professional real estate broker or advisor who helps his/her clients plan and negotiate complex transactions and provides superior service to them.  Like in any other business, if you’re in it for a quick hit and provide minimal service and value, you should expect to be compensated in a similar fashion, and frankly, in a lesser amount than your competitors who really deliver!

Wouldn’t it be great if your clients backed you up when it came time for you to be paid?  Yours won’t?  Why not?  Could it be that you haven’t been transparent, that they don’t trust you or don’t believe that you are worth the amount of compensation you seek?  Your relationship with your clients, and how your compensation is treated, can’t be one way.  If you choose not to accept discounts, then don’t accept bonuses.  State your compensation requirements to your clients at the outset of your engagement. Inform them that you don’t accept bonuses, and neither will you accept discounts. When a landlord or seller offers you a bonus, tell them you must inform your client (that tells the opposition you can’t be bought), then tell your client!  $10 bucks says that, so long as you provide your clients with stellar service, every once in a while, your clients will let you keep those bonuses. If not, then by your transparent disclosure, it will be the best investment in your relationship with that client that you could ever make! You’ll also likely find that your clients will support you when a transactional opponent attempts to under-pay you or tries to put your compensation at an unfair risk.

If a rogue landlord attempts to force you to accept a compensation amount or structure that is less than you would ordinarily accept, advise the your client, and let the landlord know you intend to do jus that.. Many tenants won’t feel comfortable with a landlord who attempts to under-pay their real estate advisor, as they often see that as a sign that the landlord will be unfair to them, and will likely under-fund or under-deliver for them, too.  Ask your client to support your efforts to secure fair compensation.  If your client recognizes the value you’ve created for it, they’ll back you up almost every time!

Heck! Even if you don’t get to keep a landlord offered bonus, think of all the incredible goodwill you’ll create with your client, your ability to deflate the opposition’s intent on swaying your negotiating strength by “buying you off”, how much stronger you’ll be in negotiating on your client’s behalf, the additional concessions you’ll likely secure on your client’s behalf, the strengthening of your reputation, and the future credibility and additional business opportunities you’ll likely get from the client who knows he can trust you…even with cash!

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to financial and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew B. Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com.   Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say
AndrewZezas.com

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Always Cut Your Commission!

Yeah, that’s right!   “Always Cut Your Commission!”  And, why not?  If the only value you can offer your clients is your price, then you probably will have to cut your commissions to stay in business!

Actually, let’s clarify what is often referred to as “Commission Cutting.”  It simply means that one broker is willing to sell his or her services at a lower rate than he or she would for other projects, or perhaps in comparison to his or her competitors.  So what?  Does that mean every one in the local market must sell their services at the same price?  If you buy shoes from one store at a low price, does that mean that all of the other shoe stores will lose all of their customers and go out of business, just because you got a good deal?

Just like in other industries, there exist many common practices in commercial real estate, including those surrounding broker compensation.  But, no “standard” compensation or commission structure exists.  In fact, in most states, setting commission standards is considered price-fixing, and is illegal!

So, what’s all this noise about brokers who cut their commissions and how that supposedly affects the compensation of other brokers?  The response I often hear is that if one broker offers low-priced services then every landlord, tenant, buyer, and seller in that market will make the same demands.  Really?  Well, guess what?  They already want your services at the lowest possible price.  Shouldn’t they?  Don’t you want to buy those shoes as inexpensively as possible?  Don’t you negotiate for a lower price when you buy or lease a car?  Didn’t you negotiate when you bought your home?  Did everyone else get their home for the same price you did?  Of course not!  Seeking a lower price is the American way, and there isn’t a darned thing wrong with it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a low-cost service provider?
  • Is low-cost always the winner?

NO!  If that were true, there would not exist high-priced hotels, restaurants, resorts, clothes, homes, cars, etc., etc., etc., or anything of better quality.  If low price always won, consumers and businesses would never buy the best quality or engage the best of any service provider.  Instead, they would only hire the cheapest.  And, in those instances, they’d get what they paid for.

Forget what other brokers do.  There is plenty of room in every industry for low-cost service providers, because some clients do make purchasing and hiring decisions purely on cost.  Low cost, almost always means low quality, and those who hire only on a low-cost basis typically receive services commensurate with what they pay.  And, if that’s their preference, so be it!

The answer here is very simple:  If you are a low-cost service provider, be the best one in your market.  If, on the other hand, you wish to be something other than low-cost, make sure that like Mercedes, BMW, Nobu, Gucci, and other fine products and service providers, you provide your clients with such incredibly valuable services, experiences, and outcomes, that your other-than-low-price will be warranted and you will be in demand!

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation

Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to financial and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew B. Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America. By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com.

Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say
AndrewZezas.com

For additional profiles, pictures, and more click here or go to http://realstratnews.wordpress.com/media-information/.

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011. All Rights Reserved.

###

Do Corporate Tenant Real Estate Advisors Go Too Far?

Do corporate tenant real estate advisors go too far?  Some landlords think that those real estate professionals who advise corporate tenants, often over-negotiate lease transactions on behalf of their tenants.

Is this just sour grapes? Is it  because landlords don’t like negotiating with tenant advisors who understand the commercial real estate game and put money back into the pockets of their corporate tenant clients?  Is this because landlords don’t like the idea of paying commissions to tenant advisors who negotiate against them? Or, is there truth to this…that corporate tenant real estate advisors really do go too far when negotiating leases for their clients?

What is going too far, really?  Is it too far when a tenant seeks more than a landlord would prefer to give…more free rent, rent discounts, construction allowances, flexibility, options and rights, favorable terms, or otherwise?  Is it too far when a tenant directs its advisor to negotiate certain terms the landlord may not like?  Is it too far when a tenant advisor does all he / she can to achieve the best terms for his / her client?

When landlords feel that tenant advisors go too far, could this really be more a matter of market conditions?  If a landlord’s competitors will not support the terms a tenant seeks, can that tenant realistically expect to achieve such goals? Not likely.

I’ve heard some landlords complain that tenant advisors unfairly fill the heads of executives with the idea that corporate tenants are entitled to all kinds of goodies when negotiating leases.  They often say that this practice is unreasonable, as it makes negotiations difficult for landlords.

Note to commercial landlords: The role of tenant advisors is not to make transactions easy for landlords…nor, is it to make transactions difficult for landlords.  In fact, the tenant advisor’s role is to enhance and protect the interests of its corporate tenant clients by understanding their business objectives and to recommend transaction strategies and structures that would support them.  The tenant advisor’s role is also to negotiate aggressively to secure as much for the tenant as possible.  Seasoned tenant advisors understand the limits after which they might put their transactional opponent landlords in danger or even jeopardize a transaction.

Just like how the role of landlord advisors is to work to benefit landlords, the job of the tenant advisor is clearly defined.  When a tenant advisor makes demands that a landlord finds too great, perhaps it simply means that the particular transaction just isn’t right for that landlord.

At times when supply is low and demand is high…in markets that are favorable to landlords, do tenant advisors still go too far?  In those markets, I rarely hear such complaints.  When the odds are stacked in favor of landlords, how far would be too far for “landlord” brokers to go?

Do some corporate tenant advisors go too far? I’ll answer that question this way:  Is this really an indictment of all tenant advisors?  Do some landlords and landlord brokers go too far?

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation

Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to financial and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew B. Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America. By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com.

Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say
AndrewZezas.com

For additional profiles, pictures, and more click here or go to http://realstratnews.wordpress.com/media-information/.

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011. All Rights Reserved.

###

9 Defensive Strategies When Your Building is in Serious Financial Trouble

So, what happens if you uncover bad news and find out that your company’s landlord isn’t just managing cash flow but, may truly be in danger of losing its building…..the building YOUR COMPANY OCCUPIES?!

Here are 9 Defensive Strategies When Your Landlord May Lose The Building Your Company Leases, that might stave off catastrophe:

1. Buy the building from the landlord (This one may be challenging if your company is a small tenant in a large building)

2. Buy the building’s mortgage from the lender

3. Sublease your space (This strategy may be least effective if the building is experiencing financial hardship, especially in markets with little demand for space)

4. Restructure your lease (Can your company create enough of a financial benefit for itself and its landlord to save the building? What would be the quid pro quo?)

5. Seek self-help (Which services, on which the landlord may default, can your company perform or have performed by other service providers, without placing itself into default of its lease?)

6. Check with your real estate professional (What’s the word on the street?)

7. Check with your attorney (What legal remedies might be available to your company?)

8. If your lease is scheduled to expire, move now….move early (The double rent that your company might pay for a short time period, if it moves to other quarters before its lease expires, may be cheap in comparison to the expenses, lost productivity, and other challenges it might experience if the landlord loses its building)

9. Have a conversation with your landlord to determine what you might work out together
In tumultuous economic times such as these, prudence demands that executives be proactive in understanding the stability and risk associated with the real estate their companies occupy.  Advanced planning and a little investigative work, coupled with creative solutions can go a long way to protecting your company’s flank.

 

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

33 Signs That the Building Your Company Leases May Be In Serious Financial Trouble

As your company seeks to reduce costs and preserve its cash, it is important to keep a careful eye on those other companies that provide services to you that can have a material affect on your ability to conduct business productively, safely, and profitably. Specifically, your company’s landlord could be experiencing financial or other challenges that, if unresolved appropriately, could hinder your company’s ability to enjoy a productive business environment, irrespective of your continued rental payments.

Watch for a number of issues that could signal your landlord is having difficulties, or may be headed for them. They could be signs that your landlord may be in danger of losing its building. While this list is not intended to be complete, some indicators may include:

1. Significant increases in vacancy in your building

2. Increases in vacancy in other buildings where your landlord has an ownership interest

3. Increases in vacancy in neighboring competitive buildings

4. Construction projects that start at your building but, languish unfinished for extended time periods (typically a sign that contractors are not being paid on time or at all)

5. Decline in response time and / or communications for service, maintenance, or repairs (a sign that staff has been cut or is stretched too thin)

6. Increase in equipment and system breakdowns, such as elevators, HVAC systems, etc. (indicates a decline in preventative maintenance, staff cuts, or more)

7. Fewer landlord or management company employees visible on site

8. Decline in security, life and property safety services

9. Consistent lack of consumable items in restrooms and other areas

10. Interior office, common area, or window cleaning occurs less often

11. Trash not disposed of in a timely manner or is stored in basements and other areas

12. Snow not removed from parking lots in a timely manner

13. Landscaping not updated or maintained and / or grass is cut less often

14. General deterioration of the appearance of the building, parking lots, and grounds

15. Reduction of tenant events

16. Deferred capital improvements

17. Preventative maintenance announced or planned but, not implemented

18. Floors, glass, and metal and other interior components not polished or maintained

19. Band-aid repairs being made in place of needed capital replacements

20. Unresolved mechanics liens from contractors and other service providers

21. Real estate taxes delayed or not paid

22. Mortgage payments delayed or not paid

23. Water, utility, or other payments delayed or not paid

24. Increase in unresolved or unpaid fines from the municipality and / or other governmental authorities

25. Substantial and / or unexplained increases in operating expenses and costs of landlord or management company provided services passed on to tenants

26. Landlord making multiple requests for you to sign estoppel certificates or lease summaries (suggests that the landlord may be scrambling for financing or attempting to sell the building)

27. Real estate brokers unwilling to show your building to prospective tenants (suggests that landlord is unable or unwilling to pay commissions – typically a sign of a cash crunch)

28. Contractors seeking payment from you instead of landlord (indicates a lack of confidence on the part of contractors in their ability to be paid on time, in full, or at all)

29. Contractors unwilling to work in your building (see above)

30. Multiple switching of leasing and / or managing agents, building managers, cleaning companies, security services, vendors, service providers

31. Landlord selling other assets

32. Landlord’s inability to sell or refinance your building

33. Change in landlord’s leasing program – agreeing to many short term leases to small, transient, and / or undesirable companies

What can you do to protect your company and assure that your environment remains productive, safe, and profitable, and that your company receives the services to which it is entitled?

Imagine planning and executing a well designed defensive operational and financial strategy, only to find out that the real estate your company leases may not be under your control and that the space may be pulled out from under you!  That’s right!  Your landlord may not be as good at pruning expenses and could lose your building, throwing into question your company’s rights to remain in its space.

“But, we have a lease with many years remaining;  We pay rent and have never been late!  They can’t take our space away from us….can they?”

The answer to that question is a resounding…..”That depends!”  It depends on a number of factors, from whether or not your landlord will really lose its building, to who will end up with it, to what the process will be if the landlord does lose the building, to how thorough your company’s lease was negotiated in the first place and what protections that document affords you.

The first step is to read your company’s lease. Check all of the clauses that might impact your occupancy, including those pertaining to non-disturbance, landlord default, self-help, sublease, early termination, and others. Since your lease constitutes the rules of engagement, be certain to understand your company’s rights, privileges, and obligations, in the event of a serious landlord problem.

Make it your business to understand all lease components that could affect your company’s ability to remain in the building if the landlord were unable to support it financially. Specifically, does your lease provide for self-help (the ability to secure services that the landlord fails to provide) in the event that the landlord defaults in providing services to you? Can you contract for temporary cleaning and other services? Can you secure utilities directly from the utility provider? Can you do the above without putting your company into default of its lease?

What if the landlord actually goes bankrupt and ownership of the building reverts to the lender? Can the lender terminate your lease? Maybe! Does your lease require the landlord to secure a non-disturbance agreement for you from the lender? Has the landlord provided you with that document? A non-disturbance agreement, if written properly, will most often prevent a successor, like a lender, from terminating your lease.

By now, you’re likely asking: “Why would a lender terminate our lease? Wouldn’t they prefer to retain rent paying tenants?”

That, too, depends! It is possible that your building could have a greater value or a greater likelihood of being sold if it were vacant. Perhaps a larger tenant, or one that for some reason is more desirable, may want your space. Or, maybe your company’s use of its space is not conducive to the lender’s future plans for the building. Without a non-disturbance agreement, your company could receive notice to vacate and have little choice.

When commercial landlords experience financial difficulties, the tell tale signs may be easy to spot. In many cases, payments to vendors, service providers, taxing authorities, and others become delayed or are sometimes not paid at all. In others, the building shows signs of neglect.

If you believe you have reason to be concerned, do a little detective work. Check with the local property tax dept, utility companies, and other building services providers to confirm that bills are being paid in-full and on-time. Ask around, too. Are vendors, commercial real estate brokers, contractors, and others being paid in-full and on-time? But, be careful here. You wouldn’t want to spook anyone and create concern about your landlord if problems don’t exist.

Above, we discussed 33 Signs That the Building Your Company Leases May Be In Serious Financial Trouble.  Guess what?  There are more than 33 signs!  Take a look around your building and ask yourself some of these questions:

34. Has building management or maintenance staff been cut?

35. Is the landlord any less responsive?

36. Are capital projects being delayed?

37. Is construction languishing in an incomplete state for extended periods?

38. Are repairs taking too long to complete?

39. Does the building look as good as it did?

40. Are the interior and exterior common areas being well maintained?

41. Is the landscaping being properly maintained, trash being removed and parking areas being plowed of snow promptly?

42. Are vacancies growing?

43. Are smaller, less desirable, and / or transient tenants taking space?

44. Has the landlord tried unsuccessfully to sell or refinance the building?

These are common indicators that a building and / or its landlord may be in serious financial trouble.  So, how bad could it get? What could happen if your landlord DOES lose your building to its lender…..or, to the sheriff for non-payment of property taxes?  It could get ugly…very ugly, with your company’s productive becoming the victim.

Do your homework…early and thoroughly!

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com. Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Brokers Compensation is Performance Based…But, Who Must Perform?

I love it when some commercial landlords claim that the commissions they pay to commercial real estate brokers should be conditioned on whether a tenant performs or defaults under a lease.  Some landlords insist that they should not be required to make future commission payments if tenants default.  Some go so far as to demand reimbursement of commissions by real estate brokers when tenants default.

Many commercial landlords argue that commissions should be paid based on the value landlords derive when tenants pay rent.  Those landlords claim that if a tenant defaults in paying rent, then the landlord’s value is diminished, and the commercial real estate broker should somehow be responsible for that default and should not be entitled to its full compensation.

This is simply an issue where commercial landlords attempt to pass on their risk to real estate brokers, as a result of landlords not performing the due diligence necessary to protect their own interests.  Do landlords really believe that real estate brokers are capable of analyzing the financial abilities of commercial tenants?  Do landlords really expect brokers to act as credit analysts and insurers of tenant creditworthiness?

Sure, the compensation of commercial real estate brokers is performance based.  But, to who’s performance does that relate?  Not the tenant’s performance!  Real estate brokers are not compensated based on the performance of their tenants. That’s why most courts of law have found that a real estate broker’s commission is due when the lease is executed by landlord and tenant, not at the end of the lease after the tenant has performed its obligations. So, from a landlord’s perspective, a commercial real estate broker should be paid for its own performance, for “delivering” a tenant, not for what that tenant does or doesn’t do after the landlord has accepted the tenant and after the landlord has freely elected to enter into a transaction with that tenant.

In fact, a commercial real estate broker working on behalf of a tenant may receive payment from the landlord, who is, in turn reimbursed by the tenant for the cost of the broker’s compensation along with other costs through payment of rent.  So, because tenants reimburse landlords for real estate broker compensation, some courts of law have held that, in fact, it is the tenant that actually pays the broker’s commission.

The world has changed and business, especially commercial real estate, has become a riskier industry.  Companies that appear to be healthy may not be, or may become unhealthy and default on their obligations at a later date.  This puts more burden on commercial landlords, and the necessity for them to take greater steps to protect their interests has become even more important.  For the record, it is not only tenants that can become unhealthy….

The issue of whether landlords should place the burden of tenant default on the backs of commercial real estate brokers has been an on-going source of debate, both in this blog, in LinkedIn, and in the commercial real estate industry.  And, so long as some commercial landlords, not the best or strongest landlords, mind you, unfairly attempt to shift their obligations and risks onto commercial real estate brokers, unfortunately this discussion will continue.

However, as the commercial landlord industry consolidates and becomes more sophisticated, that out-dated mentality of “stick-it-to the-real-estate-brokers” appears to be fading away, as greater numbers of commercial landlords recognize the benefits they derive from commercial real estate brokers representing tenants and the commissions to which those brokers are rightfully entitled.

 

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to finance and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing of, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com.   Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

###

Keeping a Relationship with Someone Who Already Screwed You

And, I Thought Screws Were Just Hardware!

In a recent conversation I had with a fellow commercial real estate professional, he asked me what I thought he should do about a recent business encounter.  Someone, who had an obligation to pay him a commission, utilized a technicality to pay him a lot less, in fact a fraction of what he owed. Then, to add insult to injury, that person elected to make minimal payments over an extended time period, without interest, despite having no contractual right to do so. After understanding more details of the circumstance, it appeared that the real estate professional’s interpretation was balanced and realistic. It was plain to me that he had been screwed by this person, and that, while the real estate professional may not have perceived the payor as a bad guy, the payor obviously was not interested in doing right by the real estate professional.  In my book, someone who avoids doing the right thing when the opportunity to do right exists IS a bad guy!

I didn’t find this question, nor the answer, to be overly complicated. My response was simple and obvious: I advised the real estate professional to pursue whatever business and / or legal remedies that were available to him, collect his money, and never ever do business with that person again…PERIOD!

To me, and to most people, there would be no other answer.  When someone has demonstrated that, while they didn’t necessarily do anything bad, if they have an opportunity to do the right thing, but don’t, for whatever they claim are their justifiable reasons or extenuating circumstances, in my book they move into the Bad Guy column.

Guess how this real estate professional responded to my recommendation? He said that he was really only seeking to understand how he might collect his compensation quicker. He went on to tell me about the importance of keeping relationships, and how he thought it was important to maintain his relationship with the person about whom he asked…the person who used a written document as justification not to honor his word, his commitment, nor his obligation to pay this real estate professional fairly based on the agreement between them, irrespective of the many months of hard work this professional expended, at risk, and despite the substantial value this person derived from those efforts.

I had to place my right hand under my chin and thrust upward to close my mouth, as my jaw dropped to my chest when I heard this.

I only had one question for the real estate professional: “Why?

Why would he want to maintain a relationship with someone who obviously does not care for him, apparently sees no value in their relationship, truly put his money where his mouth was in this case, and already damaged the real estate professional?

The real estate professional’s response was: “Because I might get other business from him.”

That sound you just heard was my jaw falling off!

 

About Real Estate Strategies Corporation
Real Estate Strategies Corporation is a respected corporate advisory and transaction services firm that provides thought-leadership, decision-making, planning, project management, and transaction execution services to financial and senior executives at management team-led public, private, and portfolio companies, and not-for-profit organizations.  Under the leadership of its award-winning CEO, Andrew B. Zezas, RealStrat’s clients engage the firm when acquiring, disposing, renegotiating, or enhancing occupied leased or owned real estate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and throughout North America.  By creating and executing Business DRIVEN Real Estate Solutions and identifying hidden Opportunities, RealStrat drives greater operational and financial performance in support of its clients’ stakeholder objectives, M&A requirements, and exit strategies.

In the current economic environment, RealStrat’s efforts are focused on uncovering, capturing, and re-purposing hidden liquidity and minimizing risk in its clients’ leased and owned real estate.  The firm provides counsel as to competitive advantage strategies in preparation for the eventual economic recovery.  Visit www.RealStrat.com. Read about timely commercial real estate issues at RealStrat’s blog at www.CorporateAdvisor.wordpress.com.   Follow RealStrat at http://www.Twitter.com/RealStrat.

LINKS:

RealStrat News
Biographies
Articles
Properties
What Our Clients Say
AndrewZezas.com

Copyright Real Estate Strategies Corporation 2010.  All Rights Reserved.

###


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THIS WORK IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE PRACTICAL AND USEFUL INFORMATION ON THE SUBJECT MATTER COVERED AND REPRESENTS THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR. HOWEVER, IT IS PROVIDED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE AUTHOR IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE TO THE READER. IF LEGAL, FINANCIAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL SHOULD BE SOUGHT. THE AUTHOR SPECIFICALLY AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY THAT MAY BE INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OR APPLICATION OF THE INFORMATION THAT IS CONTAINED IN THIS WORK.