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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…)

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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…)

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

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


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.


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.



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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 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…)

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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…)

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4 Lessons Learned from Investing In My Loser Property

July 23rd, 2016|CRE Investing, CRE Market|4 Comments

I want to let you in on a little secret: Not every commercial real estate property I invest in turns out to be a “home run.”  Now that I got that confession off my chest, maybe some of you can relate.  In the summer of 2007, which turned out to be the absolute peak of the last real estate cycle, I, along with a like-minded group of investors, purchased a 32 unit apartment located in a small town.

Indicators of a Good Commercial Real Estate Investment

At the time it seemed to be a good investment:

  • Large unit sizes
  • One story buildings
  • Nice, quiet little town
  • The potential down the road to convert to condominiums

Hey, what could go wrong, I asked myself?  Well it turns out that plenty could go wrong, some of which could not have been predicted by even the most savvy of real estate investors.  Because of that I needed to extend mercy to myself instead of beating myself up over investing in this property, which I eventually did.  In 2015, with a sigh of relief, we sold this apartment.  For several weeks after the sale you could see me doing “back flips” celebrating the sale of this loser property.

A year has passed since we sold this property and from the vantage point of time I now realize that I learned some invaluable lessons: (more…)

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Brexit – How it Impacts U.S. Commercial Real Estate

In spite of everybody and their brother having written about the United Kingdom’s vote on June 23rd to leave the European Union I believe I can provide a bit of clarity for my readers with some well-chosen, pithy comments.  So here goes.

Make no mistake, Brexit will have enormous impact on the world economy and more importantly, from our point of view, on commercial real estate in the United States.  But before I explain how it will affect U.S. CRE, let’s review the impact it is already having on the world stage, in the short few weeks since the Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Four Major Impacts on World Economy

  1. The value of the Sterling pound in relation to the U.S. dollar has dropped precipitously, losing 14% of its value.
  2. U.S. Treasuries rates have plummeted. The 10 year treasury rate traded at 1.67% before the vote and as of July 8th, it closed at 1.36%.  This is the lowest rate on record!
  3. Bank stocks in the U.K., the E.U. and the U.S. have dropped about 36%, 25% and 8% respectively.
  4. The U.S. dollar in relation to a basket of other currencies continues to strengthen.

These are some of the unintended consequences of the Brexit vote.  It will take years to fully feel the impact of this historic decision resulting in a lot of uncertainty which the markets of the world absolutely hate.

Other possible Brexit related carnage: (more…)

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Why U.S. Treasury Rates Will Continue to Decline

Over the past couple of years I have gone out on a limb and stated unequivocally that U.S treasury rates will not rise any time soon.  While all the pundits keep predicting that The Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin will raise the federal funds rate, I’ve consistently said whatever action she takes is relatively unimportant to five and ten year treasury rates.

Past Comments

Shown below are a few examples of what I’ve said: (more…)

3 Life Lessons from Dad, my Role Model

June 9th, 2016|Principles of Success|2 Comments

Stan Marshall

Dad as a Role Model

Even though my father passed away ten years ago this August I’m surprised how often I think about him.  Something happens during the normal course of my day, and it triggers a flashback of him.  It wasn’t a conscious decision to think about him, but rather some random thing happens and instantaneously I’m transported back in time forty years hearing my dad say or do something.  It happens all the time.  Does that happen to you?  Dad in many ways was a good role model.  He also had his faults but as time passes the good memories of him are winning out and the not so pleasant memories are fading.  I hope that’s what happens with my two adult children when I’m dead and gone.

As I said my dad was a good role model, but he was a lousy teacher.  I don’t ever recall him ever trying to teach me an important life lesson.  He just lived what he believed.  At the time, I didn’t understand the importance or appreciate what I was witnessing.  It was just my dad saying or doing what he always said or did.  It was nothing special, or so it seemed.  It was just vintage Dad.  But the older I get the more I appreciate the values that he lived.

So what life lessons did I learn from my father?