02 Mar / 2016
“Lord give me caffeine to change the things I can and wine to accept the things I can’t.”
Eight years after the financial crisis, the world is still coming to grips with an unpleasant realization: serious weakness still plagues the global economy, the stock market and even our local economy. However, before we get to settled in on the “Woe is me economy.” I thought I would share this chart of just how big our economy is compared to the world and why we are the greatest nation.
You have heard the quote “If the U.S. economy sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.” Well there was concern that our economy was getting the sniffles and was slowing to a crawl in Late 2015. However, consumer spending returned in January and is hopefully a sign of good things to come.
Closer to home, San Diego’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in December with 37,500 jobs gained in 2015. A quarter of those were in health services and education. We would affirm this given an increase in deals ourselves within those sectors. Vacancy in industrial real estate has hit historic lows, dropping to 5% countywide. San Diego home prices rose 7.2% in 2015 according to the Case-Shiller Index. So with this kind of good news locally should we be worried about the “Global Rout,” the whip sawing stock market or that the bond king, Bill Gross says that we have already entered a recession? What we have are dueling indicators: the economy vs. markets. Market based recession indicators such as stock prices and junk bond spreads are raising alarms, but so-called macroeconomic indicators such as inflation-adjusted incomes, energy prices and loan delinquency rates point to a more reassuring picture. I liken it to what we are experiencing and many of the tenants we work with; they are busier and making more money but to scared to hire more help.
I also continually question the “low inflation” environment that is reported. I get that oil has dropped (but California gas hasn’t dropped proportionately) and that technology has pushed down pricing. But if you go to the grocery store, look how things have skyrocketed from 2002 to 2012;
|Eggs: 73%||Coffee: 90%||Peanut Butter: 40%|
|Milk: 26%||A Loaf of White Bread: 39%||Spaghetti and Macaroni: 44%|
|Orange Juice: 46%||Red Delicious Apples: 43%||Beer: 25%|
|Wine: 60%||Electricity: 42%||Margarine: 143%|
|Tomatoes: 22%||Turkey: 56%||Ground Beef: 61%|
|Chocolate Chip Cookies: 39%|
(Divide any of those by 10 to see the real inflation rate.)
As I mentioned, technology has put downward pressure on prices and wages. Watch for the next step that is coming faster than you might think. It’s the “uberization” of everything. If you are not familiar, Uber is the private driver that you can summon from your phone. It is not a taxi in that it is a private party with their car providing you a ride. I have recently read of doctors going to this system. You want a doctor now, you can “Uber” an appointment and find an available opening or find the nearest “mobile doctor or nurse.” The 9 to 5 job has been out of popularity for several years with workers wanting flexibility. Well as an “Uber worker” you can opt in and opt out as you wish. Flex-time meant working 40 hours a week but when you choose. “Uber hours” means you can opt in for 20 hours this week and 80 hours next week. Lastly, what about the uberization of money? You will soon have a financial profile that includes everything from your balance sheet, payment history, credit score future earnings potential and Facebook habits and with a few key strokes you are connected with a range of lenders from banks to pools of individuals who negotiate a rate and duration that you agree on. You can shop around or combine different financing sources. You think this is futuristic? Well each of these components are happening now in their own niche’s and it won’t be long until they combine up (maybe even as CDC Capital Markets!).
As many of you remember, we would produce our annual report along with data and forecasts. As mentioned above, things have changed with technology. Now it is easier for me to give you a link to a couple of the best reports generated – happy reading!
If there is one thing that is constant, it is change. I wonder what they’ll be saying about us in 100 years….
The year is 1915 “One hundred years ago” what a difference a Century makes!
- Life expectancy for men was 47 years.
- Fuel for cars was sold in drug stores only.
- Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
- Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
- The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
- The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
- The average US wage in 1910 was 22 cents per hour.
- The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
- A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year.
- A dentist $2,500 per year.
- A veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year.
- And, a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
- More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
- Ninety percent of all Doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
- Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND
- the government as “substandard.”
- Sugar cost four cents a pound.
- Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
- Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
- Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
- Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
- Pneumonia and influenza
- Heart disease
- The American flag had 45 stars.
- The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.
- Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.
- There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.
- Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
- And, only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
- Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local corner drugstores.
- Back then pharmacists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” (Shocking?)
- Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help …
- There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.!
02 Feb / 2016
Happy early Valentine’s Day! You know, Valentine’s Day is big business. Consumers will spend an average of $80 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year. E-Commerce retailers expect to rack up over 800 million in sales of food, candy, flowers and other Valentine’s Day gifts. This year, February also brings us a leap year – on an election year – great an extra day of campaigning! Well, while the sweet sounds of politicians debating climate change or climate of change, we need to tighten our seat belt as U.S. and world economic markets seem to be melting down.
The Fed is in a horrible quandary as it tries to extract itself from all of its quantitative easing (QE). We are in a debt trap. If they raise rates it’s bad. If they don’t raise rates, it makes matters worse. The problem is a solvency one (spending and saving) and the Federal Reserve is there to tackle liquidity problems. We need our government to govern. What no one seems to realize is that QE is simply bringing spending forward from the future. However, like spending on your credit cards, the future catches up with you. By definition, you cannot spend the money tomorrow if you spent it today and tomorrow is here and we spent it yesterday. Liquidity is an illusion. It is always there when you don’t need it and never there when you do.
So while the world worries about sinking I am questioning if you are syncing. The convergence of high tech and biotech is creating an explosion of opportunities in digital health here in San Diego. And now smartphones, big data and technology are set to revolutionize and democratize healthcare. From Googling your symptoms to your doctor wirelessly monitoring your heartbeat and glucose levels, it’s happening in San Diego. So if all that health monitoring pays off and you eat less beef jerky and ring dings, don’t worry about 7-11 going out of business. they have already adjusted shelf space and are introducing e-commerce lockers for customers to pick up packages from Walmart, Amazon and UPS.
In other changing fronts, the office of The Office is fading and shrinking in the process. We continue to see demand for “open office” and “creative office”. Workers mill about rooms without walls. Small cubicles (dog bone shaped) are places to park personal items but work is done from couches, shared tables or the coffee shop down the street. Ear buds not partitions act as sound barriers. People are more concerned about people who do cool things than how big their desks are. This “desk-less society” is even creeping into the Hotel Industry. Marriott has recently announced that it is going to be removing desks from most of its rooms in a chain wide redesign.
Meanwhile on the labor front, unemployment continues to trend downward putting pressure on wages. In the construction field, we are finding TI bids rising 15-50% because of Title 24 and subcontractors selectively bidding jobs. Also lack of contractors, subcontractors and labor pool are increasing the length of time to get jobs bid and completed.
Pressure on the labor market also has brought about political pressure to raise minimum wage rates. Wherever you stand on this issue, trends are developing. First businesses are cutting back, slower to hire and keeping more employees part time. Second the food industry is moving toward a no-tipping policy (which is actually much like Europe). Crab Shack has moved to a $14-15 per hour – no tip wage. Food prices have gone up but are averaging less than the 15-20% average tip. It will be interesting how this plays out – will workers get less hours? work less hard (not being tipped)? Will workers take more ownership and promote business and sales since they will only get more hours if there is more business. Lastly, will technology replace more workers? Do you buy a $150,000 dish-washing machine? That’s 6-8 people at $10-11 per hour with a break-even in less than a year. Are we going to see more tabletop tablets and check out kiosks. What about more mechanized farming?
It isn’t easy being a commercial real estate executive these days. Modern brokers must mix frontier passion with corporate savvy, while traveling in rarefied philanthropic and social circles.
As the stock market tosses and turns, election season rhetoric inundates us, labor markets roil and race relations and terrorism keeps us on pins and needles, it is important to note that random acts of kindness tend to take the air out of the balloon before it bursts. In recent months, it was sad to see Natalie Cole along with many other great singers passing away.
I hope you enjoy the story.
One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American Woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-riddled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his Address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached.
“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway The other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s’ bedside just before he passed away… God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”
Mrs. Nat King Cole
04 Jan / 2016
- Have a strategy – this will make you feel more in control (call us to discuss yours regarding your real estate).
- What do you have to do to get from here to there?
- Talk about your worries and concerns (like to your CDC Commercial Broker).
- Know all the facts (ask us to fill you in on market data). Don’t let your imagination run wild.
- List your worries on paper (or in an email to us). Listing them can help you realize that some may never come to fruition.
- Another piece of advice that doctors say is that you should never worry about the past.
- While San Diego has been busy worrying about losing the Chargers, a mentally ill man filed a simple Quit Claim Deed and transferred the ownership of Petro Park to himself. Unfortunately, he has been declared not mentally competent so the fraud case was dismissed. They’ll probably file a “quiet title action” but in the meantime what a mess.
- Speaking of losing the Chargers to LA and the Billionaire Boys Club of the NFL, did you know that the majority of people who were billionaires in 1995 are no longer billionaires. How hard is it to remain a billionaire? If in 1995, they had invested the billion 60% in a stock fund and 40% in a bond fund (the world’s simplest portfolio that can be constructed without the help of a high priced money manager) and left it untouched, it would be worth 5.5 billion today. Yet somehow over half managed to lose money in the past 20 years.
- Getting, having or keeping a job is a constant worry for most and if not your own job, the health of the economy is based on job creation and low unemployment. In November, the San Diego region produced a net of 5400 jobs. To put that in perspective, the entire state of California only created a net of 5500 jobs – so we had almost the entire state’s growth in job! Wow!
- Do Billionaires worry? Well real estate billionaire Sam Zell does and he was recently quoted as saying there is a high probability that we are looking at a recession in the next 12 months. Is he right? How do you recession proof your real estate or is it time to sell? On October 26th Zell sold 72 properties for 5.31 billion. The last time Zell sold big was early 2007 hmmmm….
- On Black Friday consumers spent $4.5 billion online. That’s a 14% increase over last year. However, consumers spent $12.1 billion in brick and mortar stores, That is a decline from last year – that is a potential for downward pressure on retail rents. The online assault on the shopping mall continues.
- Citi reports a 65% chance of recession based on China’s slow recovery and rate slash to zero and the length of the U.S. recovery. Watch for short term (1-2 year treasuries) rates to be higher than long term rates (10-30 year). This is the yield curve inversion and has happened before the last five U.S. recessions since the mid 1970s.
- Closer to home, at CDC Commercial we are pleased that our sales and lease volume were at their highest level ever in 2015 – just a tad over 2007 the previous best year. And looking at our call volume (future indicator), despite the strongest August on record, September, October and November were all at all-time lows. Perplexing? Worrisome?
Regards and Happy New Year,
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
02 Dec / 2015
What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your sox?
In my 30 years as an agent, manager, and trainer of commercial agents, I’ve found that there are 9 areas that come together to have an agent perform his or her best. These 9 areas are prospecting, mailing, scheduling appointments, obtaining exclusive agreements, closing transactions, having great people skills, building relationships, obtaining referrals, and pursuing one’s own continuing education and training.
While all 9 of these components are continually interacting with each other, some of them are activities that an agent does, while others are milestones that validate one’s own success along the way. Along with these 9 components, the most important element that any agent can bring to the table is their incredible passion and love for the real estate business, along with their unyielding drive to be hugely successful at it. This is the engine that completely drives an agent’s success in our industry.
As the year draws to an end and we look to a new year ahead we would like to thank all of you for the relationships we have and those that we will grow in the future. Since this is the season for prognostications, we’ll see, hear and read everything under the sun that can be sent to us on our three screens. However, I am going to tell you that although you will hear about the end of the bull market, rising interest rates, e-commerce, crowd funding and such, everything simplifies to three simple things for every craftsman, carpenter or builder;
At the core of most every trend (and every piece of real estate in San Diego) is the fact that they are refining something that exists or refinishing or repurposing it going forward. I challenge all of us to finish up the year and the Holiday Season and look at our own lives and business and see how we can use these three “Rs” to re-energize and re-invigorate both our lives and our businesses. On the subject of building, (and another “R”), we understand that trust and relationships are the cornerstone of the brokerage and commercial real estate business. Listening to clients and keeping an eye on trends can identify needs and processes that need to be changed to preserve owner trust. You can ignore all of these as just a passing fad, but look at how well that turned out for Kodak, Swiss watch manufacturers, Blockbuster, travel agents… Or you can spend time and money on lawsuits to fight off the competition. Just think if the taxi companies spent their money digitizing dispatch instead of fighting off Uber.
So even if you are not 100 percent ready to jump on the bandwagon to refine, refinish or repurpose , as you go through the holidays and turn the page into a new year, keep the following sentiment of Mother Teresa in mind; “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things”.
We hope you enjoy the Holidays and the story…
The Carpenters Glasses
On this particular December day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to orphanages in Middle Eastern refugee camps. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what had happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for the Middle East !
He had spent a lot of money for those glasses that very morning. He was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. It’s not fair, he told God as he drove home in frustration. I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.
Recently, , the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in the Middle East, so he came to speak one Sunday at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting him.
But most of all, he said, I must thank you for the glasses you sent last. You see, ISIS had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses.
I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top.
The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that.
The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items that they had sent overseas. But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.
Happy Holidays from the Team at CDC Commercial!
Don, Nick, Matt, Nancy, Cheryl and Candy
02 Nov / 2015
As you read this today I hope to be dragging my tired body across the finish line at the Great Barrier Reef Marathon in Australia. This will be Continent #3 on my quest to run a marathon on all 7 continents.
As part of my vacation reading, I will be absorbing the recently published “2016 Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report published by PWC and the Urban Land Institute. If you would like to get a jump on me you can download it here. One highlight I noted was that secondary markets and 18 hour cities and tertiary markets (like San Diego County) are the compelling investment story for 2016. These are markets that people love to live, work and play in.
Speaking of places to live, after the carnage of the “Great Recession”, who would have thought the home-building industry would recover from forecasts that there was a 20-year oversupply of housing? Well it seems that the forecasters were wrong again, as the housing market index climbed to a 10-year high in October, a sign of full recovery and momentum for one of the most important indicators for the health of the economy.
Unemployment in San Diego continues to work its way down to 4.6% (down from 6.1% last year at this time). Amongst this optimism , a few words of caution. Economic growth dipped due to a strong dollar that caused a drop in exports. In San Diego, the Chamber of Commerce measure of business optimism fell for the third consecutive month. Small business owner concerns were around the $10 minimum wage going into effect in January and upcoming ACA deadlines requiring business to insure full-time workers (95% of worker now up from 70%).
If you follow my rule of buying real estate where more people are moving in than moving out then you should sleep well owning in San Diego. SANDAG just released its 2050 plan and in it, they project the region will add ONE MILLION more people, half a million jobs and 300,000 more homes. The new plan dedicated 15% of its resources to add 160 miles of managed lanes to our existing freeways – read van pool, car pool, and fast passes. They are planning 275 miles of bike ways. I have to say it was pretty cool to run the bike lane all the way from my house to Solana Beach for a training run before my marathon.
For those of you selling a property and considering doing a 1031 exchange, it is important to remember that you have 180 days OR the filing of your tax return to complete the exchange. So if your exchange is not completed by the due date of your tax return – file an extension.
As we head into the Holidays, I thought I would put out this need for Interfaith and their Veterans Assistance program (this program keeps Vets from being homeless and gets them back into society). We have just dedicated a facility that will house 20 homeless Vets and they need a car of SUV or van that the program can use to shuttle Vets to the stores, doctor appointments and job interviews. So if you have a running vehicle and need a year-end tax write off, please contact the Program Director Dean Dauphinais at email@example.com or (760) 489-6380.
I recently saw this quote in the SIOR real estate magazine, “The value added a good broker brings to a deal includes, among other things, the ability to understand the market beyond the published statistics, the ability to deeply understand a client’s position relative to the competition, and the ability to know when to be (and when not to be) aggressive during a negotiation…this value added is greatest when the deal is large and complex, and technology cannot easily replicate these features because they are human in nature”. Sounds like a good consultant to me…
I hope you enjoy the story…
A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture of Australia when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the shepherd … “If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?”
The shepherd looked at the man, obviously a millennial, then looked at his peacefully grazing flock and calmly answered “sure”. The millennial parked his car, whipped out his Apple Mac Pro connected it to a cell phone, then he surfed to Google Earth where he called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, and then opened up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas. He sent an email on his iphone and, after a few minutes, received a response. Finally, he prints out a 130-page report on his miniaturized printer then turns to the shepherd and says, “You have exactly 1586 sheep. “That is correct; take one of the sheep.” said the shepherd. He watches the young man select one of the animals and bundle it into his car.
Then the shepherd says: “If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?”, “OK, why not.” answered the young man. “Clearly, you are a consultant.” said the shepherd. “That’s correct.” says the millennial,”but how did you guess that?” “No guessing required.” Answers the shepherd. “You turned up here although nobody called you. You want to
get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don’t know didly about my business …… Now give me back my dog.”
01 Oct / 2015
Every banana the Dole sells west of the Rockies, from Mexico to Canada, comes through the 10th Avenue marine terminal in San Diego. The terminal handles 185 million bananas a month.
My thoughts turned to bananas because I was thinking about baby food and I was thinking about baby food because we were just blessed with our first grand baby. A bouncing baby boy. He is already growing remarkably fast – amazing what nature does when left alone. If only or politicians and bureaucrats could take a lesson from this and let our economy do the same.
For the year as a whole GDP will expand at about 2.1 percent: not a bad number, but not great. That growth rate would also mark the tenth consecutive year of subpar performance in terms of growing at less than 3% a year, the historical average growth rate. Despite the sluggishness, the job market is strengthening.
The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.2 percent, the lowest level since 2008. Not all is right with the labor market though. Low oil prices are forcing layoffs. Sadly, more people have left the labor force and stopped looking for a job (can you believe that isn’t counted as unemployed!). Moreover 4% of workers are in part-time status involuntarily compared to 2% that would be considered normal.
In San Diego, meantime, unemployment has dropped to 5.1%, down from 6.6% last year. That’s a total of 42,400 added jobs and roughly requires a million square feet of commercial space absorption.
There is a school of thought that the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policies of the last ten years have caused asset price inflation, even a bubble. With Treasury yields a non-starter for investors for much of the past decade, they have fanned out in search of other categories, placing money in alternative assets including real estate.
It has been assumed that when Treasure yields increase many will return home to these securities. This widespread assumption is why, after all, REITs have been struggling for much of this year.
But with rates at near zero for so long, the Federal Reserve has no firepower at the ready should another crisis unfold. Sure, it could keep rates at their current level, but that would have at best a muted effect, many economists have said. This is the scenario investors should fear: The Fed keeps rates at zero but it isn’t helping. All of a sudden, the perception that the Fed will keep the economy safe and sound crumbles for investors. The crisis unfolding overseas worsens and starts to impact the U.S. economy and guess what? There are few buyers interested in these investors’ now overprices assets. The next liquidity crisis is likely not driven by a credit or funding scarcity but rather illiquid assets and collateral freezes.
As I sit and wonder why the economy is not doing better given low interest rates and relatively low employment, I heard Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of GE explain that it is quite simply over regulation.
I have to agree. As I look across the landscape of our deals, so many are held up or killed because of the time or money of regulation. A conditional use permit in the City of San Diego takes 12 months. Traffic impact studies take 6 months and then you pay traffic impact fees based on the traffic (read business) that you generate. ADA improvements (doors, bathrooms, ramps, etc) add 10% to 30% to the cost of TI’s. Waste water management adds more oversight and cost to deals (new drains, enclosures over dumpsters, keeping the water on your property). Most recently it is Title 24. If you aren’t already knowledgeable on this topic you need to be. Title 24 mostly focuses around your HVAC and electrical and lighting systems. Virtually any TI’s you do will trigger Title 24 and it will add 20% – 50% to the cost of your job (I recently had a $15 psf TI job and Title 24 added another $7.50 psf to the job!) Windows and HVAC need to be brought up to efficient current standards. Lights need to have switches (not switched at the circuit breaker). Lights need to be on motion sensors…
On a more positive note, for the last decade I have been telling retail owners to strive for food and service tenants, things that are hard to be beaten by the internet or by big boxes. Office owners have been advised to optimize parking and stick with as open a floor plan as possible. This advice has been spot on for owners. I am now going to add to that advice. Look at ways to optimize your space. Can you squeeze in more parking? Utilize technology to cut cost or repurpose space. Can you create a social area (bench, table, etc)? Talk with your tenants. Can they optimize their space to do more business? Can they sublease or co-brand with another tenant in their space? This may not make you money immediately but busy full buildings are what will be attractive to tenants, banks and building owners in the future. You must broaden your view of your property or your store. It is not a location, it is an experience. It may be time to bring back something that was popular 30 years – the merchant association. Get tenants on board as to the vision of what the experience at the property should be. When you can shop or work from home and everything you want can be delivered, why do you want to go out? The answer is simple, the experience of being entertained and to socialize.
I just got back from a vacation that included a visit to Pompeii which is the Italian village that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius. It was amazing to walk amongst the ruins and realize how little we have come. The block grid system of streets, running water, public drinking fountains with names so people knew where to meet up made you comfortable. The shop keeper units (house behind store) and restaurants amongst the houses along with public theater, parks and gym with pools and spas made me think I would move in today if they rebuilt. I am reminded that what’s old is new and what’s new was old.
As we enter the election cycle it becomes increasingly important that we unfetter our economy and motivate all of us to be creative and reinvent ourselves and our economy. More importantly it is important that we don’t let our politicians tell us what to think but instead tell us what to think about. Hope you enjoy the story.
The Banana Story
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.
Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.
After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with coldwater. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.
Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.
And that, my friends, is how we breed and train creativity and entrepreneurship out of the next generation.
03 Sep / 2015
Picture this scenario: You go to the refrigerator to get a jug of milk. Should be simple, right? What could go wrong? The refrigerator is packed. The milk is right there in front on the top shelf, wedged in between a pint of cottage cheese and some bottles of apple juice. You’re holding a glass in one hand and you reach up with the other to grab the milk. It’s wedged in tight. You jiggle it a little bit and realize that you really need to put down the glass and use both hands to unpack things.
You reach to put the glass down and … one of the juice bottles pops off the shelf. You make a mad grab for it. It slips away from you. You try again. It bounces off the vegetable bin. You try again. It smashes onto the tile floor. Glass and juice puddle all over the floor and now you’ve got a mess that must be cleaned up right away.
What went wrong here? You got careless. It’s probably appropriate to yell at yourself for being careless. But your carelessness mattered because you were trying to do a task with no margin for error. Had there been a little margin in the packing on the shelf, your small error wouldn’t have caused a major mess.
Margins matter. Books have a margin that makes them more readable and nice to look at. And the outer margin of a printed book helps protect against errors in cutting the paper. Another word for margins is whitespace. Your books need whitespace.
So does your life.
A little whitespace on the refrigerator shelf makes it much easier to take things out. It also makes it easier to find things in the back of the shelf. When you think about whitespace in your life, you can see all kinds of places where it’s crucial. Not just your physical space, but also your time, your money, and your energy.
When your schedule is so packed that you have absolutely no extra time in your life, an unplanned trip to the mechanic can have ripple effects that wreck your day, then your week, and then your month. Your schedule needs whitespace.
When your financial situation is so precarious that you’ve maxed out your credit cards, that unplanned trip to the mechanic can leave you without a car and without a way to pay for repairs. Your finances need whitespace. When you’re so exhausted that you can barely drag out of bed in the morning or do your duties, an unplanned bout with a cold virus can knock you out. Your energy level needs whitespace.
Your life needs whitespace. So does mine. So does everybody’s.
Knowing that you need whitespace won’t magically make it appear. There isn’t any whitespace
wand you can wave. The concept of whitespace is just a mirror you can use to help you see when you have a potential problem that could come crashing down on you. The first step in solving a problem is knowing it’s there.
Right now, my life needs some whitespace. The stack of stuff on my desk table and chairs keeps growing. It doesn’t keep me from closing the door. Not yet, anyway. But it’s a warning signal. By admitting to myself that my life needs whitespace, I have a real chance at solving the problem.
As you read this, I hope to be floating across the Mediterranean in search of white space in my life.
Korn Ferry recently published a survey of over 400 executives about their vacation plans and while the results were not startling, they were telling. 67% of the respondents indicated that they had either postponed or cancelled their vacations due to the demands at work and the majority (57%) did not expect to use all of their available vacation days. In today’s business environment, it is a badge of courage to announce that you are cancelling or deferring a planned vacation or day off for the sake of work.
Another not so surprising factlet was that 88% of the executives indicated that while on vacation, they maintain connectivity to their office either by email or text messaging. The bottom line is that American business is not unplugging sufficiently to recover and recharge. Alas, today’s executives are under immense pressure to drive performance and growth, however according to Kevin Cashman, a Senior Partner and organizational consultant with Korn Ferry, “Individuals who take time off are proven to be more productive, have higher morale, and are less likely to make critical mistakes.”
While I have no plans to cancel my vacation, I will be the first to admit that I will be monitoring voicemail and email while gone.
In an effort to create some white space before I leave, I am going to give you some charts to look at (to offset all those stock charts we have been seeing). After all, a picture is worth a thousand words so these charts make up for the words I didn’t have to write!
Housing starts are coming back. We aren’t back to 2006 but a nice steady incline;
This is equally reflected in existing home sales;
Just as housing continues to improve so does the job recovery. The number of jobs has finally caught up and continues to rise steadily, wages have not increased at the same pace.
The inverse of Employment is Unemployment and as you can see, it also continues to decline (the grey bars show the recessions).
GDP and personal consumption have recovered from 2009 but have just bumped along.
With recent events in the stock market, the Fed is in a box, not a coffin, but a box. They need to raise rates in September or December to prove our economy is strong but not hurt the emerging economies anymore than they are with a strong dollar Then we will enter an election year, where the Fed historically tries to be uninvolved.
Finally, I am both pleased and sad to announce that Nancy Murphy will be retiring over the next two months. I am so happy to see her and Brian find more white space in their life. At the same time it is like losing an arm because of our nearly 30 years working together and 20 years at CDC Commercial.
I hope you enjoy the story…
The Black Dot
One day, a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin.
The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.
To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions – just a black dot in the center of the sheet of paper.
The professor, seeing the expression on everyone’s faces, told them the following:
“I want you to write about what you see there”. The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams, and started reading each one of them out loud, in front of all the students.
All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the center of the sheet.
After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor started to explain:
“I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives.
We have a white piece of paper to observe and enjoy, but we always focus on the dark spots.
Our life is a gift given to us by God, and we always have reasons to celebrate – nature renewing itself every day, our friends around us, the job that provides our livelihood, the miracles we see every day…
However, we insist on focusing only on the dark spot – the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment with a friend.
The dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they’re the one that pollute our mind.
Take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!
04 Aug / 2015
As I flipped through the channels the other day I watched the debate as to whether interest rates should be tightened. On the next news channel, I saw business titan Donald Trump promising voters to make America great. It was at that “ah-ha” moment that I realized the current American conundrum – Tighten vs. Titan.
My day seems to be filled with contrary headlines; “Hagen Grocery to cut 700 workers” followed by “Discount Grocer Aldi to open 45 stores in Southland. “Net U.S. commercial space absorption up 39.3%”, “China’s stock market collapsing”.
So where are we? It is difficult to tell in today’s market where there is so much meddling and intervention. So let’s look top down. GDP – at its current anemic 2% growth rate you would think recession. Caterpillar’s CEO recently said at the current 2% U.S. growth rates you can’t hire. Interest rates are at historic lows indicating we should be booming. The Fed sits poised to tighten but can’t because the “Titans” have not given the economy the lift off we need to make America great again. Now surely the stock market would seem to be up but not really unless you own one of the titans of the “FANG Four” – Facebook, Apple, Netflix or Google. Banks which have historically been the stalworht of society are now touting bank closure plans as part of their business model. More transactions online, less branches, smaller branches and more in-retail locations like grocery stores will be the banking mantra for the decade ahead.
Unemployment is always my favorite gauge as to where we are at (though I worry as to how this number is manipulated). National unemployment is at 5.5% and San Diego at 5% would indicate a healthy economy. I saw an interesting statistic about North San Diego County this month. There are 27,183 businesses in North County and 419,754 workers. Eight percent of these businesses have only one location and 60% employee only 1-4 employees. Wow… Lots and lots of little titans!
Auto sales are usually a good indicator of future home sales and home sales are a sign of a strong economy. Because a car is less expensive than a house, auto sales volume tends to rise earlier and fall later than home sales. If that hypothesis is true and the chart below is accurate then we are overdue for a housing boom.
While on the subject of auto sales, titans and making America great, you might find this video of a Tesla factory at work. Automated factories making America great – robots increasing unemployment (the conundrum again).
Closer to home in our real estate market, the team at CDC has found ourselves busier than we have ever been. Interestingly, our inbound call volume has been flat, our sales and leasing volume has almost doubled but our margins have shrunk. At the end of the day we are ahead. Surprisingly, talking to other broker they are not all feeling the increased activity. What we are seeing right now is largely a domino effect. A sale leads to an exchange leads to another purchase. A tenant buys their building and kicks out the other tenants so they can expand. The other tenants fill an under occupied building which can now sell and do an exchange. Maybe it is not so much dominoes as it is us creative brokers putting together a jigsaw puzzle of transactions.
Well whether you are a titan of business, an entrepreneurial real estate broker or a hot dog stand operator trying to figure out the economy’s numbers, I hope you enjoy the story.
The Hot Dog Story
Once there was a man who had a stand on one of the busy streets downtown and he sold hot dogs. He sold good hot dogs and folks bought from him on a consistent basis. He put signs up advertising his hot dogs, he placed ads in the newspaper, and he told everyone in his community how good his hot dogs were. And he sold a lot of hot dogs!
So he increased his inventory. He bought more buns, more hot dogs, more wrappers, and more condiments. He built a new stand and made it larger, added signs advertising his good hot dogs, and he kept his sales area neat and clean. He made sure his hot dogs were always hot and that his customers always walked away with a smile. And his sales continued to increase!
He was so successful that he was able to send his son to Harvard University. After graduating with a Masters Degree in business, the son returned home to join his father in business. At the end of his first day on the job, the son said: “Dad, I know you’re not educated in Economics and you have not had the opportunity to read and study the latest journals on business and economic forecasts. But the overall economy is in terrible shape. The huge federal deficit, the trade deficit, oil prices, and the unemployment rates are undoubtedly going to plunge this nation into a horrible recession. I think you should consider these things for future planning.”
The man scratched his head and thought: “Well, my son has the finest university education from the most acclaimed business college in the country. He must know what he is talking about.”
So the man reduced his inventory by half. He stopped advertising in the newspapers and took down his signs to save money. He quit telling everyone in his community about how good his hot dogs were and he even went back to using the old cart from years ago. And his hot dog sales went down the tubes almost overnight!
“Son”, the man said to his Harvard-educated offspring, “You sure were right. Damnedest recession I’ve ever seen.”
The moral of the story: Keep on selling your products, your services, and yourself. No one can stop you from succeeding but yourself!!
01 Jul / 2015
On the 4th of July 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were once fellow Patriots and then adversaries both died within five hours of each other. Jefferson and Adams were the last surviving members of the original American Revolutionaries who stood up to the British Empire and forged a new political system in the former colonies. However, while they both believed in democracy and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their opinions on how to achieve these ideals diverged over time… My how some things never change!
As we gather around our barbecues this weekend and watch Greece melt down (note I said Greece and not grease). I think it is important to realize that our Founding Fathers fought for our Freedom not Freedumb – which is a society that thinks everything should be free – that is just dumb. I heard earlier this week that there are more people working for the Greek railways then ride on them!
Well I am happy to report that Capitalism it is alive and well… in India. What was even more humorous to me was that during the TV special about India’s economy I saw a TV commercial for Emirates Air (the largest airline in the Middle East) with the slogan; “Choice, it’s a wonderful thing”. It just seemed ironic to me given the current battles in the Middle East with ISIS.
Closer to home and our economy, we prepare for “lift off”. At no time in history has an economy raised rates off of zero. I read that for every one point down in rates there was a 12% increase in house prices. However, don’t forget that blade cuts both ways as we prepare for potential rate hikes. May’s unemployment report was good with 280,000 jobs added Nationally. The unemployment rate climbed from 5.4% to 5.5% percent but that is actually good as it is a sign of more people beginning to look for work. I think the big thing that is perplexing the Fed is wage growth versus wage inflation. A sudden jump in hourly wages suggest inflation-hence the need to pull the trigger on rates (wage inflation) and probably the start of a recession. Wage increases accompanied by productivity gains means a growing economy and sustainable increase in rates.
Speaking of sustainable growth, CONNECT reported that 446 ” innovative company” (read “tech”) startups were formed in San Diego in 2014. The report said 147,900 people were employed in an innovative economy company at an average of $109,600 – more than twice the average San Diego wage. That’s what I call wage growth!
I like to watch where the job growth is because that points to where the real estate occupancy will occur. For May 2014 to May 2015 we saw 42,400 jobs added. Here is the breakdown of the largest gains.
Agriculture – 700
Professional & Business – 11,000 (scientific + Tech – 8500)
Admin & Support – 1900
Leisure & Hospitality – 8500
Education & Heath Services – 6800
Construction – 4500
Trade, Transport, Utilities – 4100
As a side note, I was at a roundtable with some lenders and across the board their volume of making loans was up 10% plus over last year.
We live in a time of blurring lines. Are we worried about inflation or deflation? Where do I put my money to keep it safe and or provide a reasonable rate of return? Should Bruce Jenner be on a Wheaties box or on the cover of the Vanity Fair as Kaitlin? Wage growth? Wage inflation? Dreams or fears? Jefferson or Adams? One thing that is constant is cash flow. Keep your eye on the prize. Well located real estate with sustainable rent .
In any given group or industry, the highest paid and most highly recognized people are those that consistently outperform their peers. To those victors go the lion’s share of the reward. This phenomenon is known as the Law of the Vital Few or the Pareto principal. But what really makes these vital few so successful while the rest of the group can barely achieve mediocrity? The thing that truly separates these people from the crowd is an unwavering dedication to achieve the maximum results for the amount of time and effort invested into their endeavors. This is recognized as a commitment to excellence. This is the principal our great nation was founded upon and what those of us that CDC Commercial strives for every day. Happy 4th of July… Hope you enjoy the story…
Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.
- At 5, began studying under his cousin’s tutor.
- At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
- At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
- At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
- At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
- At 23, started his own law practice.
- At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
- At 31, wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America ” and retired from his law practice.
- At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
- At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence .
- At 33, took three years to revise Virginia’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
- At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.
- At 40, served in Congress for two years.
- At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
- At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
- At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
- At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.
- At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
- At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size.
- At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
- At 65, retired to Monticello.
- At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
- At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.
- At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
“When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.” — Thomas Jefferson
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” — Thomas Jefferson
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” — Thomas Jefferson
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” — Thomas Jefferson
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” — Thomas Jefferson
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” — Thomas Jefferson
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” — Thomas Jefferson
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” — Thomas Jefferson
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” — Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.“
17 Jun / 2015
“The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena. There are problems that need to be solved. Injustices that need to be ended. Diseases still in need of cure. No matter what you do next, the world needs your energy, your passion, your impatience for progress.”
– Tim Cook, CEO Apple to class of 2015 George Washington University
Well I have to tell you, if you haven’t made the move to the iPhone 6, it is worth it. I did the first of the year and it was worth every penny. The bigger screen helps my aging eyes, apps all work better and Siri is even smarter. By the way, hold the button down and say “set timer for 10 minutes” – done, the alarm goes off in 10 minutes. When texting or emailing tap the microphone or the keyboard and just dictate your message. I know many of you already are doing this but I am amazed to watch people endlessly taping out a paragraph.
Now the jury is still out on the iWatch. The technology is cool but I have enjoyed not wearing a watch for the last 15 years and don’t know if I want to start again. Besides in 25 years I am hoping I can give my Rolex to my Grandson (yes I will be a grandpa come September) and it will continue to be an heirloom. I am not sure we will be able to say that about a 25 year old iWatch!
No matter where you stand with technology, the “iconomy” has affected all of us. Whether it is the way you receive your news, keep in touch with the grandkids or track your health. It is amazing what $84.00’s worth of parts has done to change the world and our real estate market.
It appears that our “Obamanomics economy” is filled with makers and breakers. We appear to be on the threshold of some of the greatest innovations of all time and at the same time that ISIS, China, Russia and Korea threaten world peace and all the while social unrest tears at our own countries fabric.
What does all of this and impending rising rates portend for the real estate market? First real estate needs to be looked at for the long term when you invest. You want to buy based on the income and understand how the income can and will grow over time. This in short is job growth and job growth comes from innovation (see where my Apple theme came from?). If and when rates rise and or cap rates rise, your income must go up faster. This is a tough bill to fill but needs to be heeded.
The best news to our local economy is that the unemployment rate in San Diego County dropped to 4.8%. Professional and business services have had the greatest gain with scientific and technical services in a close 2nd.
So what are the biggest mistakes investors make when they buy commercial real estate?
- Incomplete due diligence
- Assuming that “new” means no problems
- Outside comfort zone without proper advisement
- Not focusing on rent sustainability or replacement rent
- Focus on short term noise not long term signals
- Not having proper contingencies
- Choosing a bad deal at all costs
- Stretching yield at the wrong part of the economic cycle
Locally we see continued market improvement as unemployment drops, space continues to absorb and there is little if any new construction. This all bodes well for future rental rate increases. Unfortunately, for now we are trapped in what Bank of America calls “The Twilight Zone” – the transition period between the end of QE and the first rate hike by the Fed. The economy has to be robust enough to allow for the hike otherwise the exit from zero rates will be potentially cause a shock like it did in 1936-37.
If you are still confused, don’t forget the value a good broker brings to a deal. Among other things, the ability to understand a client’s position relative to the competition, the ability to know when to be and when not to be aggressive during a negotiation. This value added is greatest when the deal is large and complex, and technology cannot easily replicate these features because they are human in nature. So I don’t see Siri becoming a commercial real estate broker any time soon but maybe Apple could run the U.S. Government….?
PRESS RELEASE FROM APPLE – June 1, 2015
In direct response to accusations made by the department of justice, Apple Inc, announced today that it will be acquiring the Federal government of the United States of America for an undisclosed sum. “It’s actually a logical extension of our planned growth”, said Apple Inc chairman Tim Cook. “It really is going to be a positive arrangement for everyone.”
Apple Inc representatives held a briefing in the oval Office of the White House with U.S. President Barak Obama, and assured members of the press that changes will be minimal. The United States will be managed as a wholly owned division of Apple Inc. An initial public offering is planned for July of next year, and the Federal government is expected to be profitable by “Q4 2016 at the latest,” according to apple CEO Tim Cook.
In a related announcement, Barak Obama stated that he had “willingly and enthusiastically” accepted a position as a vice president of Apple Inc and will continue to manage the United States government, reporting directly to Tim Cook. When he asked how it felt to give up the mantle of executive authority to Cook , Obama smiled and refer to it as “a relief.” He went on to say that Cook has a ” proven track record” and that U.S. citizens should offer Apple their “full support and confidence,” Obama will reportedly be earning several times the $200,000 annually he has earned as U.S. president, in his new role at Apple Inc. Cook dismissed the suggestion that the U.S. Capitol will be moved to Cupertino, CA as “silly,” although he did say that he would make executive decisions for the U.S. Government from his existing office at Apple Inc headquarters. Cook went on to say that the House and Senate would “of course” be abolished. “Apple Inc is not a democracy,” he observed, “and look how well we’re doing.”
When asked if the rumored attendant acquisition of Canada was proceeding, Cook said, “We do not deny that discussions are taking place.” Apple Inc representatives close the conference by stating that United States citizens will be able to expect lower taxes, increases in government services and discounts on all Apple Inc products.
Founded in 1976, (NASDAQ: AAPL) is the world leader in software for personal computers, and democratic governments. The company offers a wide range of products and services for public, business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing and free society every day.
About the United States
Founded in 1789, the United States of America is the most successful nation in the history of the world, and has been a beacon of Democracy an opportunity for over 200 years. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the United States is a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Inc .