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12 of My Most Favorite Books of 2016

December 8th, 2016|Book Reviews|0 Comments

This blog post is devoted to sharing twelve of my most favorite books I read in 2016.  You’ll see that I like to read a variety of books.  If you’re interested in learning more about a particular book, click on the book title and the link will take you to its Amazon page.  If you have a favorite book you’ve read recently I’d like to hear from you.

#12 – The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin

This book is historical fiction that takes place at the turn of the 20th century in rural central Washington.  It is a story about William Talmadge, a reclusive kind-hearted individual who lives alone on his property tending to his apple and apricot orchards.  One day, two runaway, pregnant teenage girls steal his fruit at the market.  This is the beginning of his relationship with these sexually abused young women.  The author, Amanda Coplin, does an excellent job of fleshing out the characters of her story.  She also gives the reader an understanding of a time and place in American history that is not well known.

#11 – Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean

Like most of us who grew up seeing Rin Tin Tin on television I thought the dog was only a fictional character.  Not true.  The real story of Rin Tin Tin begins on a World War I battlefield.  It is the story of an American soldier, Lee Duncan, who discovers the abandoned pup in France, nurses him to health and disobeys orders by shipping him back to the U.S.  In the early days of Hollywood, Duncan took the well-trained dog to several movie studios asking if Rin Tin Tin could be in a film.  The dog eventually gets his opportunity and so begins his movie career. (more…)

  • Donald Trump

3 Likely Outcomes of a Trump Administration on Commercial Real Estate

November 24th, 2016|Current Events, Economy, Federal Reserve|4 Comments

The Comfort of Opinion

John F. Kennedy once said, “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”  This quote rings true when you look at all the opinions circulating on the internet about a Trump Administration.  Opinions range from euphoric to apocalyptic depending on whose political views you like to read.  This article will not change your opinion one way or the other about Donald Trump.  It’s not meant to.  This article discusses the impact a Trump Administration will have on commercial real estate.  Before I take a stab at that topic, let’s look at Trump’s economic thinking.

A Shift in Economic Thinking

Assuming Donald Trump governs like he campaigned, his economic ideology will be a major sea change in thinking for the Republican Party.  It will no longer be the party of Ronald Reagan.  Instead it will be characterized by:

  • Decreasing globalization and free trade. NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) will be renegotiated.  Participation in the TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) will be withdrawn.
  • Fiscal policies that have the potential to greatly stimulate the economy but also have the potential for huge budget deficits.
  • The promotion of policies stimulating traditional domestic manufacturing above other sectors of the economy.

For the first time in our nation’s history we will have a real estate developer as president.  It stands to reason that his proposed policies should be very good for commercial real estate.

Trump Team Needs Capable Negotiators

As of this writing, President-Elect Trump has yet to name his economic team.  No one knows how much of his economic agenda he’ll be able to enact.  Because of Senate rules, Democrats still have considerable influence.  Consequently, how much legislation gets passed will require cooperating with the Democrats.  He’s president, not king.  So he cannot just decree that his policies be put into law.  To succeed Trump will need to have people on his economic team that are capable legislators.  They need to know how to negotiate well with the other side.  If not, very little will get through the Senate.  Let’s assume he is successful in getting his policies enacted.  Shown below are three likely outcomes that will affect commercial real estate: (more…)

  • Commercial Real Estate Investing

2 Important Truths About Commercial Real Estate Investing

November 12th, 2016|CRE Investing, CRE Market|4 Comments

Truth #1 about commercial real estate investing

A wise man once said, “The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.”  So how does this truth relate to commercial real estate investing?  When the real estate market is in its season of failure (think 2008-2009) is when you sow your seeds of success. Those who buy when everyone else is selling usually end up the big winners.  This is true of all types of investing but it’s especially true with commercial real estate.  We all know that those who bought CRE at the bottom of the market during the tough years from 2010-2012 made out like bandits.  As the saying goes, “You make your money when you buy, not when you sell.”

Truth #2 about commercial real estate investing

But the corollary of this truth is unfortunately also true.  It’s during the prosperous times that investors sow their own seeds of failure.  How you ask?  By acting like the good times will last forever they make foolish investment decisions.  They forget the tough times and the hard lessons that were learned.  They say during the bleak times, “Never again will I (fill in the blank)” only to have selective amnesia when the market turns around.

Potential seeds of failure

So as I was saying, it’s during the prosperous times (like now) that investors sow their seeds of failure.  Here are a few examples: (more…)

  • asset bubble

A Bubble in Search of a Pin – The Unintended Consequences of Low Interest Rates

October 25th, 2016|Federal Reserve, Interest Rates, Stock Market|6 Comments

World’s Central Banks Lowered Interest Rates

In response to the Great Recession of 2008, The Federal Reserve and other central banks of the world artificially lowered interest rates. Their thinking was that lower interest rates would spur economic growth.

So the Fed has left rates near zero for about eight years.  The Japanese and European central banks have gone even further by introducing negative interest rates as a means of stimulating their respective economies.  So how have they done?  Have they successfully promoted economic growth?  Unfortunately no.  After eight years of ultra-low interest rates the world economy is teetering on recession.

But the Fed believes its policies have worked, that without their strong intervention the Great Recession would have been far worse.  Other respected economists believe otherwise.  They believe The Federal Reserve policies of interest rate repression and quantitative easing have thwarted the normal recovery process.  I generally agree with their opinion but that’s not the point of this article.

Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong there are several unintended consequences.  So let me first begin by identifying the winners and losers resulting from the decisions made by the world’s central banks.  And then let’s look at potentially the most egregious unintended consequence of low interest rates which is still looming on the horizon. (more…)

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7 Traps on the Purchase & Sale Agreement You Need to Negotiate Away

October 14th, 2016|CRE Investing|2 Comments

Have you ever wondered when signing a boiler plate purchase and sale agreement what paragraphs on the PSA have the potential to come back and haunt you before the sale is complete?

I recently attended a Commercial Association of Brokers sponsored seminar on this subject.  The speaker was Daniel Drazan a real estate attorney for Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue, LLP.  Dan serves on the Board of Directors of the Commercial Association of Brokers. He also chairs the CAB Legal Forms Committee so he is well qualified to speak on this subject.

Here are four potential issues that buyers should do their best to negotiate away before they sign the purchase & sale agreement. (more…)

  • hidden-costs-can-cost-you-big-time

9 Hidden Costs Managing Apartments That Can Cost You Big Time!

September 27th, 2016|CRE Investing|6 Comments

There are several categories of operating expenses necessary to maintain and manage apartments.  We all know these expenses: property taxes, insurance, utility charges, maintenance and turnover costs, on-site and off-site management costs, etc.  But less well known are potential hidden costs of maintaining and managing an apartment that in large part can determine the profitability of your investment.  They are, in no particular order: (more…)

  • trust-is-everything-1

Do People Trust You? Learn the 13 Behaviors of High-Trust People

September 16th, 2016|Book Reviews, Principles of Success|1 Comment

EVER WORK FOR SOMEONE YOU DIDN’T TRUST?

Years ago I was employed as a loan officer by a small bank.  I enjoyed working for my immediate boss but the more I got to know the bank president, the more concerned I became.  You see, this man didn’t mind cutting ethical corners in small ways and he demonstrated a complete lack of integrity towards his employees.  Have you ever worked for someone you didn’t trust?

About three years with the bank I realized that I couldn’t continue working there because I didn’t respect the bank president.  Fortunately I was able to find employment elsewhere as the economy was still going strong.

On the way out the door I remember saying to my fellow employees that when the next recession occurs this man won’t think twice about laying you off.  When the economy collapsed into the Great Recession my premonition proved true.  It wasn’t just that he laid people off.  In all fairness to the bank president, lots of people in commercial real estate lending were being laid off.  No it wasn’t what he did, it was how he did it.  Without getting into the specifics, his behavior exhibited a lack of empathy and respect for those who lost their jobs.

THE SPEED OF TRUST

Fast forward to this summer.  While vacationing on the Oregon coast I read an insightful book on the topic of trust titled, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey (his father was the author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People).  As I was reading The Speed of Trust I couldn’t help thinking back about the bank president.  You see, he violated several of the principles outlined in the book for generating trust.

How about you?  Are you someone that people naturally trust?  Do you know the behaviors that high-trust people exhibit?  In this book, the author identifies 13 behaviors that builds trust between individuals.

THE 13 BEHAVIORS OF HIGH-TRUST PEOPLE

(more…)

  • love

Have you fallen in love with your property? Take the 4 question test.

August 31st, 2016|CRE Financing, CRE Investing|2 Comments

Over the many years I’ve been in the commercial real estate business I’ve come across all sorts of investors.  Occasionally, I encounter someone who has fallen in love with their commercial property.  You know the type.  Their approach to their property is based more on feelings than sound investment decisions.

Want to find out if you’ve fallen in love with your property?  Answer these four questions.  Do I do these things?  (more…)

  • thumb

Think Like a Lender: 7 Rules of Thumb Lenders Use to Size a Loan

August 20th, 2016|CRE Financing|0 Comments

Why Lender Rules of Thumb are Important

One of the more common mistakes of investing in commercial real estate is not fully understanding the importance the lender has on a property’s return on investment.  Now I know what you’re thinking.  “Doug, of course the lender is important to a property’s ROI.  The lower the interest rate the higher the ROI.  Duh.”  Yes, that’s true but that’s not what I’m referring to.

Maybe even more critical to a property’s return on investment is the size of the loan.  It’s the lender that ultimately determines the loan size.  Not the pro forma found in the marketing flyer, nor the buyer’s proposed budget.  It’s the lender.  And without having an accurate estimate of the loan amount, the buyer doesn’t know how much cash is required at closing.  And how much equity that’s required to purchase the property is a key factor in determining the property’s cash-on-cash return.

This is not an academic exercise.  As an investor the sizing of the loan is a critical component for calculating the property’s return on investment.  That’s why it’s important to understand that lenders have rules of thumb that they use in their underwriting guidelines.  It has the potential of significantly affecting the property’s cash-on-cash return.  Not all lenders have the same rules of thumb.  That would be too easy.  No, each lender sizes the loan differently but generally there are seven rules of thumb that most lenders will use to determine the loan amount.

As capitalization rates continue to decline, loan sizes are more and more being constrained by the lender’s debt coverage ratio instead of their loan to value ratio.  This puts additional importance on understanding these rules of thumb. (more…)

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My Take on Hillary Clinton’s Trust Issue

August 5th, 2016|Current Events|9 Comments

In March, I wrote a blog post titled, My Take on a Donald Trump Presidency in which I ended the article with, “He would be dangerous as President of the United States.  We deserve better.”  Being an equal opportunity offender, I now turn my attention to Hillary Clinton.

It has been reported in the press, that Hillary Clinton has a trust issue with the American people.  A New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this year found that 64% of voters answered “no” when asked if they felt Clinton was “honest and trustworthy.”

In his New York Times bestselling book, The Speed of Trust, Steven Covey identifies trust as a function of two things merging together: competence and character.  In order to trust someone that person must both be competent at what they do and have the character, i.e., the integrity and honesty that you know they will do what they say.  If either competence or character is not present in a person, trust is not possible.

Let’s take an objective look at these two qualities in Hillary Clinton.  (more…)