April 2019 Monthly Letter

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“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” – Will Rogers

april 2019 monthly letterApril Fool’s Day also called All Fool’s Day, dates back to 1582 when France changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to adapt or get the news that the new year had moved to January 1st were celebrating the last week of March through April 1st became the butt of jokes and hoaxes.

However, the original “fake news” started in 1973 when Joseph Stalin created the first Disinformation Office. The idea was to provide false information with the intent to deceive public opinion. Stalin would say, “Flood the people with false info so they won’t know or believe the truth.”

True to the Will Rogers quote above, our state legislature has been hard at work. The sheer volume of new laws is staggering! In total, 1016 new laws will take effect in California in 2019. Amongst those, only milk and water will be published as beverage options on kid’s menus in sit down restaurants. Obesity is an epidemic, but I am not sure this solves the problem. Similarly, restaurants will no longer automatically offer you plastic straws when you order a drink. We’ll save the environment but sicken society by putting our mouths on questionably clean glasses.

I can’t say that I have reviewed the over 1000 new laws but the folks at Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP have, and I have culled their list for laws affecting commercial real estate that are worthy of your review and understanding;

AB 2173 Commercial Property: Abandoned Personal Property: This bill increased the threshold amount for personal property abandoned in a commercial property to the great of (1) $2,500 or (2) one month’s rent. This bill does not change existing law with regard to the valuation of residential abandoned property. An article with information about the abandoned personal property in commercial property is available at https://www.kts-law.com/abandoned-personal-property-left-by-a-former-commercial-tenant/.

AB 2343 Calculations of 3-Day Notices and Summons: This bill amends Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1161 and 1167 to extend the waiting period for summons and some notices, effective September 1, 2019.

California Landlord/Tenant Law previously allowed weekends and holidays to count towards the three (3) day notice period but prohibited a notice from expiring on a weekend or holiday. Code of Civil Procedure §1167 has been amended to specifically exclude “Saturdays and Sundays and other judicial holidays” when calculating the notice period for notices to pay rent or quit or notices to perform covenant or quit. It does not exclude these days when calculating expiration periods for 30, and 60-day termination notices and notices to quit based on unauthorized assignment, subletting, nuisance, and waste.

AB 2847 Abandoned Commercial Property: creates new law regarding abandoned commercial property. Previously, the law specified that rent had to be unpaid for 14 days before a Notice of Belief of Abandonment could be served on the tenant. Effective July 16, 2018, new California Civil Code §1951.35 changes the 14-day period to the time period specified in the lease for the landlord to declare a rent default (if the lease is silent, it is a 3-day period. Leases sometimes provide for other time periods, such as 3 business days, 5 days or 10 days). AB 2847 also slightly modified the residential Notice of Belief of Abandonment form.

SB 745 Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixture Replacement (2014): Originally passed in 2014, and codified in Civil Code §1101.5, it requires water-conserving plumbing fixtures to be installed in property constructed before January 1, 1994. To be compliant, plumbing fixtures may not use more than the following amounts of water:

  • Toilets – 1.6 gallons per flush
  • Urinals – 1 gallon per flush
  • Shower heads – 2.5 gallons per minute
  • Interior faucets -2.2 gallons per minute

Beginning on January 1, 2014, noncompliant plumbing in multifamily and commercial property were required to be replaced in certain situations.

By January 1, 2019, multifamily and commercial properties must be in full compliance. An article with information about water-conserving plumbing fixtures required in California is available at https://www.kts-law.com/water-conserving-plumbing-fixtures-required-in-california/.

SB 1397 Automated External Defibrillators: Health and Safety Code §19300 previously required automated external defibrillators (AED) be installed in properties constructed on or after January 1, 2017. The law will now require that specific residential and commercial properties built before January 1, 2017, to install automated external defibrillators if the structure is modified, renovated or tenant improved, as specified, on or after January 1, 2020. An article about AEDs in commercial properties is available at https://www.kts-law.com/aed-devices-in-commercial-properties/.

Proposition 65: Proposition 65 requires businesses with 10 or more employees to provide warnings when they cause significant exposure to specific chemicals. Proposition 65 requires disclosures by employers who have 10 or more employees and who may expose their employees or the public to specific listed chemicals. There are more than 850 chemicals listed. Some of the environmental hazards are contained in items common in commercial, such as building materials, cleaning materials, car exhaust, and tobacco smoke.

For some time, landlords have been uncertain about how to comply with their Proposition 65 obligations. “Clear and reasonable” warnings must be given. Generally, in an effort to comply with Proposition 65, landlords have posted signage on their properties. Some also have also included Proposition 65 warnings in their leases. For more information about the new Proposition 65 warnings, see https://www.p65warnings.ca.gov/new-proposition-65-warnings .

I told you there were a lot of laws!

Well, we are at the stage of having a lot of good news and a lot of bad news going on. The good news is we had a great year and made money last year, the bad news is we paid a lot of taxes. The good news is we paid less than we would have under the previous year’s rates.

In February, the economy added a meager 20,000 jobs, well below the 180,000 expected. But the number of employed Americans – 156,959,000 has never been higher. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8 percent from January’s 4.0 percent.

The Fannie Mae Home Purchasing Sentiment Index (a measure of the current mood of the market) was 83.5 – a 3 year low and well below the May 2018 reading of 92.3 – a seven-year high. This is typically a sign of a reversal in the housing market.

In the leasing market, we are having a tough time finding the space tenants are looking for and at the same time we are finding some tenants getting conservative/cautious about their plans (shortening lease term, etc.). We have also seen multiple mortgage and escrow companies close or downsize.

I will say I am very concerned about the inversion of the yield curve. This is a pretty strong predictor of a recession. However, waiting for a recession is not a good investment strategy.

I still hold that we are in a lull window with some things tearing forward and some pulling back. At this point, it might be a soft landing or better yet a touch and go.

Finally, with the Mueller report out and election season kicking off, expect more talk and less action out of Washington.

Well, with all the information already disseminated I thought you would just like a little more as your story…


How Can You Possibly Live Without Knowing These Things?
  • In general, men can read smaller print than women can, but women can hear much better than men.
  • Coca-Cola was originally colored green.
  • It is impossible to lick your elbows.
  • The percentage of Africa that is wilderness:28% (now get this…) The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%.
  • Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades-King David, Hearts – Charlemagne, Clubs – Alexander the Great, Diamonds – Julius Caesar.
  • If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, that person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air that person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, that person died of natural causes.
  • Hershey’s Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.
  • What day are there more collect calls made than any other day of the year? Father’s Day.
  • What is the most ironic trivia fact about Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny)? He was allergic to carrots.
  • What is an activity performed by 40% of all people at a party? Snooping in your medicine cabinet.
  • In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase “goodnight, sleep tight”.
  • It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month we know today as the honeymoon.
  • In English pubs, the ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in old England, when customers got unruly, the innkeeper would yell at them mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase “mind your P’s and Q’s”
  • Many years ago, in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. “Wet your whistle” is the phrase inspired by this practice.
AND FINALLY,……………………………………
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow! —April Fools!
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march 2019 monthly letterA Scot, a Muslim, a German and a Jew play golf and go to the bar afterward. They play, they talk, they laugh, they drink and become good friends… It’s not a joke. It’s what happens when you play golf!

I say this because I recently received an email from my golf club telling us that they would stop showing news on the TV’s and to refrain from political conversations on the course. I know this is just part and parcel of the times and that because of social media, one person in Podunk can do one thing weird or wrong and the rest of us assume that is the norm. I worry about our “social fabric.”

When I was growing up you were taught to get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard and avoid illness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. Be civil.

Lest you think there is no hope for the future, I have to tell you that I was walking with our neighbor who has adopted kids from China and Africa. She told me that a question on her recent job application asked how she handled diversity? She replied, “she kicks them out of bed in the morning just like her other two kids!”

Well San Diego closed out 2018 with the lowest unemployment levels since 2000 (don’t expect your commute to be any easier any time in the near future!). San Diego remains attractive because of its high quality of life and broad pool of talented workers. I know this is hard to believe but it is a lower cost of living compared to other tech markets for most tech talent. The story of San Diego’s real estate market will continue to be about low unemployment and where the tech jobs in the nation are going.

With baseball season upon us, I will tell you I get asked all the time, “what inning are we in – when will this cycle be over?” I will tell you that I think we are in the 7th inning (yes you can take a little stretch). However, having coached a lot of baseball, it is not a 9-inning game like many presuppose. In fact, the longest major league game went 25 innings in 1984 with the White Sox beating the Brewers after 8 hours and 6 minutes! So, although we may be in the 7th inning, I think there are a lot of extra innings in our future.

I tried to figure out how to string all these thoughts together but finally decided that in our ADD society, I would just serve them up to you as bullet points for thought prompts;

  • There are 7.3 billion toothbrushes in the world. There are 7.5 billion cell phones. The real cyber security threat in the world is in the palm of your hand.
  • In 1995, we had 100% tariffs on Japanese cars.
  • The Tech Disturbance and low oil prices are both anti-inflationary.
  • We used to worry about people “photoshopping” pictures (you know – your head on someone else’s body). The new thing is “Dark Fake” and it is making fake video and fake voice of you. This is a frightening trend!
  • New trend – having a building masseuse.
  • Chinese home buyers in the US last year (2018) spent $30 billion on houses.
  • There are 130 million books in publication. There are 7.5 million books on Amazon and 500 a day being added.
  • 24 million passengers passed through Lindbergh Field last year which is the fifth straight record year. Passenger traffic is directly related to a local economies’ health.

I hope that in our highly conflicted social fabric that you always remember that people aren’t stupid – life is hard. And we’re here at CDC Commercial to help make it easier for you!

I hope you have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope that in the spirit of that, you enjoy the bagpipe story.


As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Irish backcountry.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

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February 2019 Monthly Letter Al CaponeIn 1929 in Chicago, gun men in the suspected employment of organized crime boss Al Capone murdered seven members of George “Bugs” Morin’s North Siders gang in a garage on North Clark Street. The so-called St. Valentines Day Massacre stirred a media storm centered on Capone and his illegal prohibition era activities and motivated Federal authorities to redouble their efforts to find evidence incriminating enough to take him off the streets. With that nugget in mind, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Back in the day the cops used to complain about the crooks getting away before they could get to the scene of the crime. Of course, that was when the cops were still on horseback and the crooks had the modern technology of a car. Thus, was born the get-away car and later, the cop car.

What about today’s electric cars. What impact will they have on our commercial real estate landscape? Gas stations? Auto repair shops? Charging stations? Hot Roders, tuners and Hobbyists? (Do you expect a dual electric distributed battery system with stick shift Corvette in your garage?) Will gas cars go the way of steam and horses? Do you still have doubts? Volvo has announced that it is going to electrify all of its cars by the end of 2019.

Besides electric cars, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also getting a lot of hype. How will this impact our commercial real estate landscape? After the hype dies down, I see AI becoming a part of our lives just like combustion, electricity and the internet. Will we have an Alexa in the lobby to help people find a tenant’s suite instead of a directory. It could also be used to check the weather, order your lunch and call your Uber. What was once a lobby valet and only in the most luxurious of buildings can be had by all. The great concern about AI of course, is that it will lead to human unemployment and social strife. For now, AI appears to be creating more jobs than it is displacing. Manufacturing is expected to take the biggest hit – 1.8 million jobs (great we’ll bring home all of these manufacturing jobs and then automate them all and put everyone out of work!) The 2.3 million jobs expected to be created by AI are in the education, healthcare and public sector. We have seen robotic automation affecting banking (ATM and bank by phone), retail cashiers and warehouse workers but the next step is “augmenting” where technology works alongside human professionals assisting them with repetitive tasks while leaving them with the “final say.” Think Doctors, Lawyers, hmm… Real Estate Brokers (“Siri, write my monthly letter…”).

The other real estate product heading for major transition is the drug store. The new healthcare model is to become the “healthcare destination”. CVS recently acquired Aetna Insurance, Walgreens has partnered with Humana and Amazon has a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet) and JP Morgan Chase. What can we expect? Amazon store in front and minute clinic in back? Alexa detecting that you have a cold or cough and delivering a pill pack? Will it be drug store as a C-Store or as your Doctor office? Or both? Healthcare is a $3.5 trillion industry. We must figure out how to corral the costs or our nation will go bankrupt. I am starting to see the green shoots of this now; automated blood pressure machines at the mall, Apple watches telling you that you have Afib, your dental hygienist checking your mouth and neck for early cancer signs, blood labs giving your results along with dietary guidelines to increase or decrease a particular blood count.

Agility is key to winning in the digital era. New business models and competition, extensive use of technology, and changing tenant and investor expectations are redefining the commercial real estate (CRE) industry. As investors increasingly favor newer business models and the tech-enabled ecosystem, companies in the commercial real estate industry will have to realign business priorities and adapt to new demands. The most agile will be the winners! (That would be us at CDC Commercial!)

San Diego’s economy remains solid. When the government finally figures out how to  stay open. San Diego will be one of the markets that benefit most from the latest spending bill. Two of San Diego’s key economic engines (Defense and Health Care/Biotech) look to be even stronger in 2019. San Diego was a little slow/late getting into the current recovery so hopefully we have a little more runway left than other markets.

Speaking of runways, I hope you enjoy the story.


A story of two men:

STORY NUMBER ONE

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends.

For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.

Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; that he couldn’t pass on a good name and a good example. One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.

STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. Butch O’Hare demonstrated in real life, and when it counted most, the fighting skills he had mastered. The carrier Lexington had been assigned the dangerous task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. From there her planes were to make a strike at Japanese shipping in the harbor at Rabaul. Nine Japanese bombers were reported on the way to the Lexington. Six Wildcats, one of them piloted by Butch O’Hare, roared off the Lexington’s deck to stop them. O’Hare and his wingman spotted the V formation of bombers first and dived to try to head them off. The other F4F pilots were too far away to reach most of the enemy planes before they released their bombs. As if this weren’t bad enough, O’Hare’s wingman discovered his guns were jammed. He was forced to turn away. Butch O’Hare stood alone between the Lexington and the bombers. O’Hare didn’t hesitate. Full throttle, he roared into the enemy formation. While tracers from the concentrated fire of the nine bombers streaked around him, he took careful aim at the starboard engine of the last plane in the V and squeezed his trigger. Slugs from the Wildcats six .50-caliber guns ripped into the Japanese bomber’s wing and the engine literally jumped out of its mountings. The bomber spun crazily toward the sea as O’Hare’s guns tore up another enemy plane. Then he ducked to the other side of the formation and smashed the port engine of the last Japanese plane there. One by one he attacked the oncoming bombers until five had been downed. Commander Thach later reported that at one point he saw three of the bombers falling in flames at the same time. By now Thach and the other pilots had joined the fight. This was lucky because O’Hare was out of ammunition. The Wildcats took care of several more bombers and Lexington managed to evade the few bombs that were released. It was an amazing example of daring and shooting skill. Afterward Thach figured out that Butch O’Hare had used only sixty rounds of ammunition for each plane he destroyed. He had probably saved his ship.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.

SO, WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

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january 2019 monthly letterWow! What a year? Hang on to your hat because 2019 is going to continue the wild ride! People ask me all the time, “what about the interest rate increase?” For the most part, I tell them commercial real estate doesn’t get affected the same way as residential. That is true, but the hidden lie is that it is still an impact. We’ve seen a 15% increase in rates in a year – that’s a lot! It affects people’s sentiments – makes them pause.

The other cocktail conversation is of course, “What about the stock market? – Ouch”.  To which I also reply, “I’m in commercial real estate – it really doesn’t affect me.” Again, a bit of a white lie. Besides affecting people’s 401Ks and sentiment it often affects the money people were holding to put down on a commercial property purchase or to start or expand their business. This is true trickle down economics.

I will say that I am less concerned about rates then I am about the Fed running the debt off the balance sheet. If interest rates are rising because of stronger economic growth (which is what the Fed chief tells us), then real estate demand will also likely grow. But, if the stock market tumbles like it has recently, when we take 6 billion off the balance sheet, what happens when we take the remaining 3 trillion off? In the meantime, we have 9 trillion of corporate debt which is double that of a decade ago – as rates rise the squeeze is on.

So, where are we? I will tell you that we are in the battle between “stag” and “flation”. You see the recent rise in rates causing the stock market dip also took care of the fear of “flation” and now we have to wait and see if the fear of unwinding of QE (Quantitative Easing i.e., Debt) causes “stag”.

With the economy seemingly running on all cylinders and companies struggling to hire enough workers, it might be difficult to find time to take stock and examine your new year strategies and efficiencies. Yet now, as we move through the late stages of the business cycle, it’s more important than ever to do so. Here are 3 things to consider at this stage in the cycle;

  • If you are thinking of selling your property or business in the next 5 to 7 years, consider selling sooner. Now is an opportune time to maximize value.
  • In your business, your personal life and your property – streamline your cash flow. Invest now in the tech and time to digitize your life and your assets.
  • Reduce risk on your balance sheet. Just like the Fed is doing (take some chips off the table).

As many of you will remember, for years we produced The Gold Report which was our look and advice for the year ahead. As in recent years, we have found it more efficient to give you links to a couple of the best reports in the industry;

PWC Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report

Deloitte 2019 Commercial Real Estate Outlook

I also strongly encourage you to attend a presentation of The Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2019 by Mitch Roschelle. It will be at USD on February 6 from 7 AM to 10 AM. I’ve attended many of Mitch’s presentations and find him to be entertaining and massively educational. Here is a link to register.

The Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2019 by Mitch Roschelle

So, they teach you in sales school to always have a “call to action”. So here it is, “If you or someone you know is thinking of selling (buying is OK too) and/or would like to know the value of their property, have them call or email me.”

In the meantime, I am going to try to be like a duck (or a frog) and stay calm on the surface but paddle like crazy underneath. Hope you enjoy the story …


In the Pail

Two frogs left the safety of their swamp one day and ventured into a nearby farm to explore. Soon they found themselves in a dairy, where they found a large milk pail. Hopping into the pail, they found it was half filled with fresh cream.

The two little frogs were absolutely thrilled. They had never tasted anything so delicious! Soon their bellies were full. Feeling sleepy, they decided it was time to leave – and that’s when they realized they were in trouble.

They’d had no trouble hopping in. but how were they going to get out? The inside of the pail was too slippery to climb. And because they couldn’t reach the bottom and there was nothing for them to step on for traction, hopping to safety was out of the question, too. They were trapped.

Frantic, they began thrashing about, their feet scrabbling for a foothold on the elusive, slippery curve of the pail’s side.

Finally, one frog cried out, “it’s no use. We’re doomed!”

“No,” the other frog gasped, “we can’t give up. When we were tadpoles, could we have dreamed that some day we would emerge from the water and hop about on land? Swim on, brother, and pray for a miracle!”

But the first frog only eyed his brother sadly. “There are no miracles in the life of a frog,” he groaned. “Farewell.” And he sank slowly out of sight.

The second frog refused to give up. He continued paddling in the same tiny circle, over and over, hoping against hope for a miracle. An hour later, he was still paddling in his futile little circle. He no longer even knew why. His brother’s dying words clutched at his thoughts as fatigue tugged at his tiny muscles. “Was my brother, right?” he thought desperately. “Are there no miracles in the life of a frog? Finally, he could swim no more. With a whimper of anguish, he stopped paddling and let go, ready to face his fate…

Yet to his surprise, unlike his brother, the second frog did not sink. In fact, he stayed right where he was, as if suspended in midair. He stretched out a foot tentatively-and felt it touch something solid. He heaved a big sigh, said a silent farewell to his poor departed brother frog, then scrambled up onto the top of the big lump of butter he had just churned, hopped out of the pail and off toward his home in the swamp.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

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Happy Holidays from CDC CommercialHappy Holidays! In today’s fast-paced, tech driven world it is often hard to get our nose out of a screen and just plain be thankful for all that’s around us. I was thinking back to the early days of caller ID and why we would “op out” because we didn’t want people to know who was calling, now we won’t answer unless we know who is calling. When I was a kid, our parents worried about all the cheap stuff that was being sold that said, “Made in Japan” now we worry about “Made in China.” Will our kids worry when it says, “Made in Space?”

With our economy running on all cylinders and companies struggling to hire enough workers, it might be difficult to find time to both be thankful and to examine financial strategies and efficiencies. Yet now as we move through the late stages of the business cycle, it’s more important than ever to do so. Remember that if companies do not have access to enough labor than they must invest in capital (which in this case is productivity tools or technology).

Dec 2018 ML cartoonIn the meantime, interest rates continue to rise and put a damper on the stock market and the whole economy. The tight labor market has also caused wage growth but not enough to offset the rising rates. Rising household income contributed $11,000 to consumer house-buying power. Alas, the rise of rates from 3.99% to 4.6% over the last year reduced that house-buying power by nearly $30,000.

However, all these strong economic reports belie a potential shift of the pendulum. In the San Diego area, the rate of job growth has slowed. Employment in July rose 1.5% over the previous 12 months, however that is down from a 3.6% increase in July of 2015.

With a growing number of employees working from home and 96% of people shopping online, protecting your commercial property is more important today than ever before. Keeping commercial tenants is becoming increasingly difficult, as more and more move to an online profile. What can you do? Two things that seem particularly relevant during this Holiday season are:

  • Create an experience: shopping online is purely transactional. There is no experience other than graphics and clicks. People will leave their homes for the purpose of a memorable experience that gives them value beyond the price of the transaction.
  • Create community and belonging: provide a meaningful community experience and a sense of belonging. In the future, a building will garner a greater price if it has a brand around a shared local experience with deepening connections with neighbors all done with enabling technology (signs, tweets and texts, Instagram, etc.).

At this time of year, we would like to thank our community of clients, vendors, fellow brokers and associates. We know it takes a village to be successful in this market and we thank you for being in ours.

We know we are only here for a short time, but we don’t act like we know that. You will not have unlimited opportunities to do your work so do it now. There will come a time when you can no longer express your love, so express it now. There will come a time when all of your possessions are just stuff, and when all of your plans and excuses are just air. Your moment is now.

God bless and Happy Holidays…I hope you enjoy the story.


Isn’t it amazing how God works through technology in our lives! On a Saturday night just before Christmas, this pastor was working late, and decided to call his wife before he left for home.

It was about 10:00 pm, but his wife didn’t answer the phone. The pastor let the phone ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes.

When he tried again, she answered right away! He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that t hadn’t run at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.

The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night.

The pastor couldn’t figure out what the man was talking about. Then the man said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.” The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife.

The man said, “That’s OK. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’ At that point my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God.’ I was afraid to answer!”

The reason it showed on the man’s caller ID that the call came from “Almighty God” is because the church that the pastor attended is called Almighty God Tabernacle!!

May the Blessing of the Holidays be yours!
CDC Commercial Inc.
Don, Candy, Nick, Matt & Cheryl

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“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Ben Franklin

November 2018 Monthly LetterI think it’s funny that we live in a time where our President has never had a beer and our newest Justice “loves beer” and we live in a region where craft beer adds over a billion to our economy (we even nickname Highway 78 “the Hop Highway.”).  I also think it’s funny that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our National Bird (Happy Thanksgiving BTW). Could you imagine 50 years ago if they had announced “Houston, The Turkey has landed” instead of “Houston, The Eagle has landed.” I am just glad we kept the turkey as our sacrificial bird.

I think we have a lot in common with our forefathers (and founding fathers). We may have landed on the moon 50 years ago, but the space race is back on and in the next 50 years we are likely to see colonists appear again in our vocabulary. The early colonists wanted less government and lower taxes. In a few days, we will all have the opportunity to benefit from the fruits of their labors as we head to the ballot box. Even though I understand Facebook has created a “war room” to cut down on the fake news, might I suggest that you source your education from more reliable sources. Never fear, however, separating fact from fiction (or gossip) has been with us from the beginning of time.

I try to stay apolitical but as far as real estate goes all I can tell you is that rent control (prop 10) is a slippery slope and never good for real estate. I can also forewarn you that split roll tax (lifting prop 13 exemption for commercial property) is coming to the ballot in 2019. This will be a real property and business killer and a cost increase to all consumers as the increase in property taxes is passed from owner to tenant to consumer.

It is nowhere on the ballot yet, but I have heard rumblings of the idea of a “vacancy tax.” Somehow residents and local governments think owners (and their brokers) will fill empty spaces faster if they are being taxed on the vacant space (as if loss of rent is not enough!).

While still on taxes, one thing we all need to understand better is QBI (Qualified Business Income). The IRS and the Accountants are still scrambling on the details. I can guarantee we all need to understand this section and maximize it to your benefit for lower taxes.

I know I have discussed this before, but I attended an ADA Seminar and the reality is that although you are not required by law to have a CASp report you really, really need one for your property and/or your business. To put it another way, you are going to get sued and when you do it will cost you 10X as much if you don’t have the report and a plan. Here is a link to the slide deck from my class. I also highly recommend the presentor Greg Izor (email: greg@izorarch.com phone: 760.489.5892) if you need a report. When you do the report, please let us know and give us a copy (we are required to disclose to tenants and buyers). You also need to give to tenants when they renew their leases (if you are a tenant, this is the time to negotiate conformance).

Has anyone noticed that rates are rising? The stock and bond markets sure have. Here are some of my observations:

  1. Why does the Fed only work in quarter points? When rates are at 1% and you go up a quarter point, it is a much bigger impact than when they are at 5% so their tool gets blunter the more, they need it. I vote for 1/8 and 1/16 cuts and bumps to send gentler messages.
  2. As interest rates go up the cost to service the deficit (pay back loan thru treasuries) costs us more (our Nation’s debt is on a variable rate loan!). This means we either cut expenses or we get inflation.
  3. Positive leverage (where cap rates are higher than borrowing rates) is disappearing. This means cap rates must rise or inflation is rising so fast you will pay more for your loan because the rents and property are going up faster than the extra payment.
  4. In the field, we are starting to see the impact. Mortgage companies are laying off, subleasing or consolidating. Escrow companies are doing the same. Home builder futures are down a bit. Lenders are slowing down development loans. The good news in this low unemployment rate market, workers are finding other work.

Well I hope that you all remain blessed and thankful as you enjoy your turkey and beer this year. And I hope that you exercise your right to vote and don’t fall for all the fake news and gossip and most of all I hope you enjoy the story…


The Original Facebook

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important.

Since there were no telephones, TV’s or radios (or Facebook), the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs and bars.

They were told to ‘go sip some Ale and listen to people’s conversations and political concerns.

Many assistants were dispatched at different times. ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’

The two words ‘go sip’ were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and thus we have the term ‘gossip.’

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october 2018 monthly letterAt the end of the year, my youngest son will be completing his MBA. Of course, I was quick to remind him what B.S. stands for (you know…bull stuff) and that an M.S. is more of the same and of course a P.H.D is piled higher and deeper. Whether students are finishing their post graduate work or beginning middle school, back to school season is here. Although they may grimace when they hear “back to school” they won’t regret pursuing a higher education as they compete for well-paying jobs in the future. Today’s millennials are the most educated generation in American history. Student debt though can be a burden but the cost of not going is higher. An average 50-year-old with a college degree will earn about $46,500 more annually than an average person with just a high school degree according to Brookings Institute. In short, higher education leads to higher income, leading to higher likelihood of home ownership which in turn drives our overall economy.

As an aside, while still on the topic of education, you have heard of “helicopter parents” (those that hover about doing everything for their children). My wife (who does college counseling) tells me that now we have “lawn mower parents.” These are the parents who mow down anything in their child’s way that would be uncomfortable for them to experience.

First, let me tell you that things are doing well, business is good (no I am not tired of winning yet). But, I do always worry about what will cause things to change and when will it happen. When real estate outperforms for too long – when appreciation returns far exceed net income (rent) growth and when short-term returns are far better than long-term returns it usually means that the market is overpriced, and it will correct.

While I can’t tell you how happy I am to see unemployment at all-time lows and GDP growing and inflation low and consumer confidence high, I am trying to look for cracks in the foundation. As mentioned above I worry about student debt, but I am far more concerned about automotive debt and pension obligations.

First, new car sales are flattening because of rising prices. However, used car sales have risen. Overall sales are down 6%. But why are sub-prime auto loan delinquencies at a 22-year high? There is over 1.1 trillion in auto debt outstanding. In 2007/2008 Greenspan started raising rates after years of low rates. Soon after, subprime loans started blowing up and it trickled over into chaos.

Problem #2 – There are big unfunded pension obligations because of the way that the Federal pension laws were written. When pensions were first started, employers balked at having to make mandatory payments to a pension fund, because they might have a bad year or years and wouldn’t be able to make the payment. So that’s when it was written into law that payments didn’t have to be made, with the UNREALISTIC expectation that employers would then make up any shortfall when times were good. There was no limit on how big the shortfall could be, there was no repercussions for it, AND it didn’t have to be posted to a balance sheet as a recorded liability. So…guess what happened. About 99% of all pensions in the U.S. have big unfunded obligations. There is a big push to have those unfunded liabilities recorded on the balance sheet, but it’s going to have a huge impact on financial statements and could even force some corporations and municipalities in BK.

On that subject, you have legacy retailers like Sears who have more retirees in their pension plan (+/- 100,000) than they do employees (+/-85,000). When you see Sears sell off it’s crown jewels like Craftsman and Stanley Black & Decker for 900 million you have to realize they must contribute about $250 million of that to its pension plans.

So back to education for a minute. More specifically, Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR). We often hear what kind of loan to value (LTV) can I get or what percentage down do I need down? When in fact most all lenders are looking at DSCR.

DSCR = Net Operating Income/Debt Service (full loan payment that may be interest-only or amortizing). Basically, it is the amount of income (plus cushion) you have to pay the loan.

Of course, the obvious use of this ratio is monitoring the risk of potential default. A low DSCR (close to 1.0x) means the property’s net income is barley sufficient to cover loan payments.

But it’s important to note that DSCR isn’t purely a performance monitoring metric. It’s a measure that will affect the underwriting of your loan and can determine how well a borrower is able to finance their asset.

When acquiring a property, a low cap rate and a high DSCR requirement can shrink your loan proceeds. I think this is best shown in examples. Loan quotes shown here are for illustrative purposes only.

Example

You’re buying a stabilized retail asset in San Diego, where such properties trade at very low cap rates.

If Purchase Price $10,000,000 and NOI = $425,000 then Cap Rate = 4.25

You’re able to get two competitive loan quotes for the deal, and you’re most concerned about maximizing leverage. At first thought, you’re excited about a loan from Big Bank #1, because you know they can go up to 80% LTV while staying non-recourse.

But in San Diego, that’s not the case.

Lender Rate Term Min DSCR Amortization
Goliath National Bank 4.5% fixed 7 years 1.1x 30 years
Big Bank #1 4.5% fixed 7 years 1.2x 30 years

 

In order to cover a 1.2x DSCR with Big Bank #1, the max proceeds they can reach would be around $4\5.6 million, an LTV of 56%, a far cry from the max 80% you hear about. Given the $425K NOI, the property would need to trade at a much higher cap rate to reach 80% leverage.

The other lender, Goliath National Bank, would be higher leverage (up to ~62.5% LTV), purely based on their lower standard for debt service coverage.

There are a few strategies for managing your DSCR risk.

  • Buy value-add – if you can “increase the cap rate” on a property you own, and then refinance, the equity you’ve built up on the property should help you reach higher loan proceeds.
  • Buy at higher cap rates – this may mean hunting for properties in markets that are more advantageous for buyers’ Higher risk, higher reward, higher cap rates.
  • Use lower leverage- more equity is required, but you’re building in a larger margin of safety from a default.
  • Find the right lender – in San Diego County, to achieve higher leverage you need to use a bank or credit union that understands the local market, and tailors their lending programs appropriately.

Hopefully, this month’s letter was very educational and not to full of B.S. I hope you enjoy the story…and continue your education…


Manure: An interesting fact

In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything for export had to be transported by ship. It was also before the invention of commercial fertilizers, so large shipments of manure were quite common.

It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less than when wet, but once water (at sea) hit it, not only did it become heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by-product is methane gas. As the stuff was stored below decks in bundles you can see what could (and did) happen. Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern, BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening.

After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the instruction, “Stow high in transit” on them, which meant for the sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this “volatile” cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus, evolved the term…the acronym for “Stow High In Transit.” (You can figure it out.) It was stamped on all the bundles. So, it’s really not a swear word which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.

I did not know the true history of this word.

I always thought it was a golfing term.

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truthWell, my birthday came and went again, and I still can’t figure out how I got over the hill without getting to the top! But I have found a way to increase my fitness quotient without working any harder yet still impressing all my friends and family. I have officially renamed “the John” to “the Jim”. It sounds so much better when I tell people I go to the Jim every morning!

I am very concerned that our society is grappling with what is truth and what is not. It has infected our politics, our media, the stock market and I am afraid maybe the real estate market as well. If you don’t understand what the market is saying, then you are not listening closely enough.

Ten years ago, the Fed was pushing on the string trying to get rates down low enough to kick start the economy – no luck. Now, with the economy humming the Fed is again walking the tight rope pushing rates up to slow down but not stop the growth. I guess you call it Quantitative Tightening (or QT vs QE). Remember when we were saying that there was cap rate “compression” because interest rates were so low that cap rates were pushed lower. Well with rates on the rise shall we call it “decompression”? In scuba diving when you rise from lows you stop along the way to equalize the inert gases in your blood stream (otherwise your blood literally boils). Same thing happens as the economy and rates rise and we get rid of the FEDS “inert gas” also known as QE or liquidity. However, as in scuba diving if you go up to quickly, you get decompression sickness also known as “the bends.” In our economy, the bends are called a recession.

In the commercial real estate market, we have a similar problem. As rates rise, cap rates do too. This is because investors can now get higher and safer returns from CD’s, Bonds, and stocks so there becomes less demand causing cap rates to rise (you know – supply and demand). Cap rates rise, and price goes down. So, this is what it looks like as the economy gets better, but you lose value. The only way you can make up for this is increased rents (or lower expenses).

So, is it time to sell? Yes. No. Maybe. Yes, if you bought low and want to sell high, pay your taxes and do something else with your money. Yes, if you have a lot of debt and a drop-in value of 10% – 20% would wipe out most of or all of your equity. No, if you have long term stable tenants with room to raise rent over time and fixed rate financing in place. Maybe? – well there are lots of maybe reasons and that is why you need to call us to discuss.

Similarly, the housing market must see wage growth to keep up with the accelerated housing prices that have been occurring over recent years. Hourly earnings are up 2.7% but still behind the pre-2008 pace in the low 3’s. Wage pressure will come from low unemployment (down to 3.7% in San Diego from 6% in 2008) but just as importantly from the labor participation rate. We are at 82.1% but need to get over the pre-recession high at 83.2%.

In the meantime, Southern California home sales hit the brakes in June falling to the lowest reading in four years. Furthermore, pending home sales stepped back in July and have been falling for seven straight months. The biggest part of the problem is lack of availability of “affordable” housing. Sales below $500K dropped 21%, while deals over $500K only dropped 3%. This was due to lack of supply not demand. Higher rates will not make this problem any better (I’m starting to feel my blood boil).

So, this leads to my biggest worry, more people moving out than moving in – that is a recipe for commercial real estate value decreases. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 42,000 San Diego residents left the area for the Inland Empire from 2000-2015, 9000 left for Phoenix.

San Diego only grew by 0.6 percent last year which is below the national average of 0.7 percent and lower than San Diego’s historic average of 1 percent. Almost all the growth was births over death. The strongest in-migration was people making over $100K (duh—they’re the only ones who can afford to live here). So, will San Diego be a castle on the hill with its work force commuting in from Riverside County and or across the Mexican border?

Another negative cloud on the horizon…the foreclosure rate rose for the first time in 36 months. On the positive front that 3.7% unemployment rate was highlighted by strength across all sectors since 10 years ago – Happy Labor Day!

  • Healthcare up 34,900 jobs
  • Tourism/Hospitality up 29,100 jobs
  • Government up 25,800 jobs
  • Science & Technology up 17,500 jobs
  • Management up 5,800 jobs

One other thing that is up in San Diego is telecommuting. Up almost 200% in the last 10 years. Carlsbad based, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 65,000 San Diegans now work at least half of their hours from home.

I was out driving the market the other day and I couldn’t help but notice the number of church’s that have changed their names to things like, The Well, The Place, The Sanctuary, etc… I give them an “A+” for rebranding but the product is still the same as it has been for 2000+ years (which I think is a good thing). However, I look at McDonalds, Starbucks or In-N-Out and you see them adjust and refreshen but as in my opening paragraph, changing the name does not change the truth. Just look at IHOP…I mean IHOB.

At CDC Commercial, we aren’t planning on changing our name, we plan to keep telling you the truth and we try to remember that the market is ever changing, and the truth often seems illusive…hope you enjoy the story


The Cookie Thief 
by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So, she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

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Don Zech MarathonTwo years ago, I celebrated my 55th birthday, had a heart attack from an injury caused blood clot followed by complete cardiac arrest 10 days later while trying to recover (a one in a thousand event). I guess it wasn’t my time. Since then I’ve run five half marathons and a sprint triathlon. I’ll be running a duathlon for my birthday this year and a marathon on my fourth continent (back on track to run one on all 7) next summer.

I have come to realize that both our bodies and our properties are aging and sometimes a meaningful disruption comes along and we need to be smart and flexible to stay in the game. While on the subject of medical, talk about a niche that is undergoing a dramatic change. This change is also flowing through to real estate. Instead of the old model of one large delivery point – a hospital – the new model is “healthcare everywhere.” Technology enabled care will increase efficiencies and drive changes in the design of space – be it retail, clinic, acute care or for the home. It ranges from Amazon delivering your prescription to Uber delivering you to the hospital (ambulance traffic has plummeted in most cities). Big data access and Artificial Intelligence is making diagnosis easier (symptoms can be compared to millions of other cases) and now medicine is getting predictive. Soon you will get an email telling you to come in because you have a 90% chance of having a problem within 90 days. Or now at Heal.com, you can just schedule the doctor to come to you (I remember as a kid, doctors used to make house-calls. It seems to be coming full circle). In the medical office world, I am now seeing executive suites starting to popup, so Doctors can have offices in multiple cities or states for several days a week.

In the last 10 years we have seen the rise of open office plans. These are large open offices with table tops and sofa’s strewn throughout. The idea is everyone working on their laptops and collaborating as if they are in their living room or kitchen table. This concept was born out of companies like Facebook renting old warehouses and throwing up banquet tables and couches as an affordable office option. I don’t know if it was cool to be in an open office or working for Facebook. However, now everyone is looking to open their office plan and put more people in less square feet. This is all well and good but there are some pitfalls.

First of all, when you get more employees in the same space (I call it expansion in place), it results in a lot of hidden costs (parking, HVAC load, wear and tear). As this trend grows you will start seeing more control exercised over parking spaces and fees for parking. We will also see caps on the number of employees and overage charges for excess employees. Jeff Eales, Senior VP of Asset Management at Bircher Anderson Realty Management (and reader of my monthly letter) wrote a great article on this subject for Commercial Investment Real Estate and created a great spreadsheet to assess the cost of extra occupants in the building.

Just when you think you are ready to make the adjustment to open office (you know get a laptop and a hoodie and some earbuds and work on the couch), a new study from Harvard has found that open offices don’t live up to all the hype. Open office took off because of the idea of increased interactions and collaboration. When in fact, the Harvard study has found that employees spend 73% less time in face-to-face interactions. However, email and messaging shot up by over 67% (so you text the guy on the couch next to you). Open office tries to drive collaboration, but it often comes at the expense of focus and concentration. When it is hard to focus, stress and errors increase. As in personal health, getting the balance right “is paramount.”

When you are on fire you are taught to “stop, drop and roll.” Well when you own your property in an LLC or Partnership and want to do a 1031 exchange, you need to learn to do a “drop & swap.”

When a partnership is selling property and some, but not all, of the partners want to do an exchange, it creates complications for the exchange. A basic rule of exchanges is that the taxpayer who disposes of the relinquished property must be the same taxpayer that acquired the replacement property. If the partnership sells the relinquished property, then the partnership, and not an individual partner, must buy the replacement property. In addition, Section 1031 does not apply to an exchange of partnership interests, so a partner cannot dispose of his partnership interest as relinquished property in an exchange.

If the partners don’t want to keep the partnership intact, one solution to this problem is the drop and swap, where the partnership is dissolved, the property is deeded down to the individual partners as tenants-in-common, and then each individual partner can choose to either cash out and pay the taxes or trade into a replacement property.

The benefits of a drop and swap are that the individual owners now each own a real estate interest that can be traded into other real estate. In addition, because of partnership tax rules, the transfer of the partnership property down to the partners should be a tax-free transfer (be sure to speak with your tax advisers.

In celebration of my 57th year on this planet and keeping with the theme of how great modern medicine can be, I am departing from my normal monthly written story and giving you a link to my story that Palomar Hospital thought was significant enough to make a video about…hope you enjoy it.

 

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“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” – Pablo Picasso

july 2018 monthly letter 1Happy 4th of July to all! Boy when our founders signed the constitution do you think they could have imagined where we are at now? Of course, life changes and evolves. Who would have thought that the mechanical pencil company, “Sharp” would now be a giant electronic and TV manufacturer? Who would have thought that an online book seller (Amazon) would become the dominant retailer they are? What can we expect in the future from the like of Uber, Google, and Facebook. A few clues to ponder – Walmart Stores has dropped “stores” from it name. Microsoft has added AI (artificial intelligence) to its name and Google has dropped “don’t be evil” from its long-time motto (and the first thing they did is lie and say the didn’t change it. – Gizmodo 5/18/18).

The heck with “Fake News,” it looks like we might be moving forward in a “post truth” world. According to the infamously secretive Bilderberg elite (about 120-150 of the worlds political elite, industry, finance, academia and media), the most pressing issues in global affairs are:

  1. Populism in Europe
  2. The inequality challenge
  3. The future of work
  4. Artificial intelligence
  5. The U.S. before midterms
  6. Free trade
  7. S. world leadership
  8. Russia
  9. Quantum computing
  10. Saudi Arabia and Iran
  11. The “post-truth” world
  12. Current events

Well since I said I was going to write about it last month and seeing the Bilderberg elite list has it at #4, I guess it is important to address Artificial Intelligence (AI). Most of us grew up hearing that jobs will be replaced by robots. Well that time is here, and it is going to affect our jobs, our real estate and our bank accounts. Forty-seven percent of U.S. jobs could be automated in the next two decades. There is an 83% chance that workers earning less than $20/hour will have their jobs replaced in the next 5 years. Those in the $40/hour range face a 31% chance of having their jobs taken over by machine. Clearly, robots are coming!

Imagine what it might look like to a commercial real estate broker. You go to a website and type in your size, space requirements and financial and location parameters. Moments later a recommendation list and map are produced along with a virtual tour of each site. Market intelligence tells you what terms and incentives to expect (free rent, cpi, cap, etc.), you put in your bid along with an upload of your financial info, credit check and an intelligent assistant checks out your Linkedin and Facebook profile, Uber ride history and determines you have only a 2% chance of not fulfilling your obligation. It also determines that your business should grow to need more space in 3 years, but the space next door will be expiring then. It asks if you would like to pay now for an option or “buy it now” to lock in the space. You are asked if you need insurance, utilities transferred to your name, movers arranged. With all of the boxes checked, you summon your driverless Uber to take you to the golf course for some exercise.

Adapting to change is going to require us to understand how man-machine partnerships are going to evolve. HUMAN + MACHINE = FUSION SKILLS (or in Star Trek – Cyborg!). I like the quote, “AI – use it or be used by it.” If you would like an in-depth dive into the effects AI will have on commercial real estate, I highly recommend the following YouTube video.

July 2018 Monthly Letter

If you don’t have time, here are the 17 real estate work flows in the crosshairs of AI;

  • Investment strategy
  • Customer segmentation
  • Portfolio construction
  • Customer chum prediction
  • Risk management
  • Content personalization
  • Client services
  • Customer experience
  • Asset Monitoring
  • Price optimization
  • Discovery & due diligence
  • Infrastructure optimization
  • Compliance
  • Demand optimization
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Security
·         Asset performance

On average, it costs about $60,000 to replace a departing employee. Furthermore, it takes 3-6 months to get a new employee up to speed. Knowledge transfer of a departing employee is a difficult and typically not well documented process. How do you transfer experience, context and interpersonal relationships? I used to say, “I wish I could clone myself” so I could get twice as much done. Businesses are now looking at ways to use AI to clone you so as to retain a departing employee’s knowledge and experience and allow a new employee to come up to speed almost instantly (or completely replace said employee!). If you don’t think that’s realistic (and if you need an AI friend), check out Replika in the app store. You can upload text messages, social media posts and create you own chat bot who will text with you any time and not judge – plus your chat bot can stay around after you die and text with your friends and family…hmmm…

On the National front, I continue to worry a bit about the yield curve and the message it is sending (It is about where it was in 2007). Locally, inventory is continuing to absorb, new buyers are upgrading old buildings, rents are rising. I also notice more construction cranes in the sky (usually a sign of prosperity).

Well as real estate values rise, and you enjoy family pictures around the barbeque this 4th, just remember some things change, some things evolve but if you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg we’re here to help you with your real estate needs. Hope you enjoy the story…

 


In George Washington’s days, there were not cameras. One’s image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are “limbs,” therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, ‘Okay, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.’ (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint).

 

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