COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Resource Guide

Monthly Letter
COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Resource Guide

COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Resource Guide


A month ago, I thought that this month’s letter would start out with an April Fools’ joke and a few celebratory comments about me having survived 35 years in the commercial real estate business. Instead, a black swan event has taken us from a health crisis to a global pandemic to a financial crisis. These are unsettling times. The news is moving very fast and it is jarring to see schools, restaurants and stores closed or to stand in lines with six feet of spacing just to get into Costco. As I am writing this the government is stepping in with its patchwork of patches.

By now, I am sure you have been overloaded with news, talking heads, misinformation, and information bulletins. I will attempt to take a different tack. First, I will tell you that every economic shock leaves a legacy. The Coronavirus will be no different. Second, unlike previous disruptions, we know how this one will end. There are over 35 companies (many in San Diego) racing to develop a vaccine and treatment remedies according to The Guardian. Between us slowing the spread of the virus and promise of a vaccine, the population will eventually develop herd immunity. But it will take time.

As mentioned above in April, I will be celebrating 35 years in the business. I thought a little outline of that history might give you some perspective on our current time.

I graduated college in 1983 to work for General Dynamics making nuclear-tipped cruise missiles at the height of the cold war. In 1987 Regan said, “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall by 1997 it had happened. In 1985, I bought a house and started into the 100% commissioned world of commercial real estate with John Burnham & Co (now Cushman & Wakefield). There I was told that times had been slow for the last seven years. I put my head down, was Rookie of the year, got married and had our first child (Nick who now works here). And I kept running (now with my wife at my side).

Two years into the business, we had the stock market crash of 1987, followed by the Savings and Loan crisis followed by a slumping recession. I kept working (finishing in the top three most years), buying some rental property and having three more children and oh yes, I kept running.

In 1996, I started CDC Commercial as we crawled out of the recession. In an era before iPhones and the cloud, I was working from home and had a private cloud server and had my phone forwarding to me wherever I was. In 2000, we all faced a different virus – the Millennial bug! That turned out to be a big nothing. However, 9-11-2001 brought buildings and our economy to its knees. Besides still running, I went out and sold apartments I owned (because they were in demand) and I bought a large custom home at a 30% discount (because they weren’t in demand at the time).

In 2007/2008, we got hit by the Great Recession. I had two kids in college and two still to go. What to do? Kept working and yes, kept running. And one more thing, in 2009 I hired Nick. I told him this would be the best time to learn the business.

As many of you know (if not google Don Zech Heart), in 2016 I had a heart attack followed ten days later by cardiac arrest. Each event had a 99% fatality rate. Me, I just keep on working and running.

Meanwhile, last month I was supposed to run a marathon in Hong Kong (to get my 5th of 7 continents) and then jump on a cruise ship to tour Asia. Needless to say, we didn’t go. Instead, we closed escrow on our big custom home, moved to a fully furnished townhouse at the beach where I continue to work every day and oh yes, keep running! I have entered the Singapore marathon in December and have reserved a cruise to Antarctica to run the Antarctica marathon in 2022.

So, as you know, I love my stories and the moral to this one is, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Real Estate is dependent upon gathering and social interaction. The United States is now largely a service economy (100 million employed). The Coronavirus is hitting the service economy hardest. The pundits are questioning if this will be a “V” shaped recession with a deep dive and steep recovery or a “U” shaped one where we dive down and stay mired for years before recovering. I believe it will be more of a “W” shape. We have had the dive, will get a little bounce, bump along the bottom a bit and then a steep recovery from there as confidence returns. I am going to speculate this will take about 18 months. What should you do? As in the story above, keep running and keep being productive (if you can’t work, clean the garage!)

Nick’s Numbers

This month in lieu of my Numbers, we have created a Covid-19 Resource Page for owners and tenants. Many of you have asked for or received requests for rent relief, are looking for government resources or financing or are simply looking to learn what others are doing. We have assembled this page and posted it to our Web Site and will continue to update it as we receive worthy information to pass on. Please feel free to share with others or give us your thoughts or resources that we can post for all.


Please give me a call or email me if you would like an analysis of your properties’ value or to discuss what you should be doing with regards to the Coronavirus pandemic and its impacts on your business, tenants, or property (Nick Zech, 858-232-2100,

In the months ahead, we at CDC are here to help you find what is safe and where there is an opportunity. Many of you will want to discuss what to do and how to handle no pay and slow pay tenants. It is important during times like these to realize that these are the times when generational wealth is created. It is also a time for all of us to pull together and not a bad time to have a little sense of humor…hope you enjoy the story…

Why Worry?

In life there are only two things to worry about:

Either you are well, or you are sick.


If you are well,

there is nothing to worry about.

If you are sick,

There are only two things to worry about:

Either you get well, or you will die.


If you are well,

there is nothing to worry about.

If you die,

There are only two things to worry about:

Either you will go to Heaven, or you will go to Hell.


If you go to Heaven,

there is nothing to worry about

If you go to Hell,

You’ll be so damn busy shaking hands with your friends,

That you won’t have time to worry!

CDC Commercial Inc
About the Author – Don Zech, President at CDC Commercial, Inc.
Vacancy Rate


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