Why so shy? The undisclosed buyer

Most commercial real estate transactions are negotiated between parties with full disclosure as to who each party is.

So why would do offers from buyers sometimes come in undisclosed?

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Why no one’s talking about Regina’s failed office development bylaw

I had the pleasure of moderating the office panel at the Saskatchewan Real Estate forum in April.

One of the topics that seemed to “gather legs” during our discussion was Regina’s current office development policy as it relates to Saskatoon’s proposed office development bylaw.

I discussed some of the issues surrounding this topic in an earlier post a year ago: Regina’s policy, implemented in July 2012 does not permit major office developments more than 43,000 square feet of floor space outside of the core area (except in limited and specific contexts; e.g. accessory to an institution).

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3 questions to ask yourself when leasing retail space

Leasing commercial retail space can vary by development but there are some fundamentals that most tenants in this sector should take into consideration while shopping around.

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What’s in a name?

Chrysler Building. Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center. What do these iconic New York City buildings have in common?

They are recognizable by name alone. They are examples of commercial real estate known throughout the world whether you’ve physically seen them or not.

How significant is a name when it comes to commercial buildings?

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3 questions to ask yourself when leasing industrial space

Even the most seasoned tenant can miss some pretty vital points when investigating new space. It’s certainly more challenging for new businesses that have never occupied commercial real estate before.

Here’s a few tips to look out for that can save you money and hassle down the road when searching industrial spaces.

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A solid case for going Green

Some holes are surfacing in the climate change stance as stated in this recent article. You may or may not believe the world is entering an irreversible period of global warming.

There is no question that air pollution within our world’s mega cities and the waste being deposited into our oceans are a result of increasing population density and our enormous human footprint. Can a business case be built for constructing and refurbishing buildings with environmentally friendly specifications that goes beyond supporting the global warming cause?

Let’s explore that question.

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A diligent dilemma

Regardless of whether you have entered into a commercial real estate lease or sale, there is a level of due diligence required by each party to complete the transaction.

Every deal is unique but I’ll provide a few examples that most commonly occur in the Saskatoon commercial real estate market.

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Four key benefits of contracting a Commercial Broker to find your space

Most businesspeople make it common practice to hire a broker to list their space for sale and/or lease.

There are also many compelling reasons to seek formal representation when looking for a new home for your business although this may not be the best solution in all circumstances. Don’t sign a contract unless you believe you will benefit from representation and save money.

Let’s explore the advantages of contracting one commercial real estate company to partner with to meet your goals and ensure the most favorable outcome.

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Former police headquarters gets new lease on life

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Saskatoon City Council has approved the sale of the former municipal police building on 4th Ave S and now the work will begin for us.

Originally built with a uniquely specific purpose, this property is going to get a new lease on life.

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How to leverage your commercial real estate investment options

1899585_origI was chatting with a client over dinner at a charity event last night. One of the topics he spoke passionately about was the benefits of forming partnerships to invest in real estate.

He has observed other cultures which have successfully embraced the partnership model more frequently than he sees in Canada.

Are Canadians simply more independent thinkers? Or does it speak to a lack of confidence in this form of ownership?

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Occupancy cost transparency

transparency-pig-620x413In commercial real estate leasing the landlord can fully recover the hard costs associated with operating the building from the tenants. These expenses are most commonly referred to as occupancy or operating costs.

Most leases will allow for tenants to ask for a breakdown of costs on a per annum basis. But is there a benefit in asking for the breakdown during lease negotiation?

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Hack: Exposing the games CRE buyers play

chess-boardLet’s assume you or the listing broker representing you has properly qualified the purchaser who has your commercial real estate under contract.

Let’s also assume you provided that purchaser a very comfortable six week conditional period to complete their due diligence and arrange financing so they don’t have to come back to you with a request for an extension.

I just experienced this exact situation as a listing broker working with a buyer’s agent from another brokerage.

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A frank discussion about the open office concept

ambus-desk-0111There has been much written about the benefits of the “new” open office concept. On the other hand it’s not difficult to find articles which state the open office concept has been proven to not be effective.

The truth is it depends upon the dynamics of a company and personal preferences of the individual. It is important to tell you that I have my own bias on this issue. I will nonetheless do my best to present the pros and cons objectively.

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ABC’s of Leasing: Pitfalls for first-timers

Leases are created by landlords to protect their investments. They identify the rights and responsibilities for both parties during the term of the relationship.

Because in most cases the lease comes from the Landlord, he or she is going to be more aware of the clauses and ultimate implications. No one is trying to pull the wool over a tenant’s eyes, but there are items that are important to understand prior to entering into an agreement.

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Three points to consider before choosing your next office

Research this topic and you’ll find many opinions and trending theories and on the most efficient and pleasing office environments. Contrary to what some of these theories may try and tell us, I don’t subscribe to the belief that one solution fits all.

There are some useful tips available that is worthwhile considering to help make informed business decisions.

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Hello, I am… Accountable

accountability-businessAccountability is defined as the fact or condition of being accountable; therefore, responsible. I think it’s a word that is thrown around without much consideration for the consequence of the potential expectation created.

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We’re on the hunt

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We field a number of questions regarding the type of sale or lease product that moves the quickest in our market. It’s hard to generalize because every commercial real estate property is different however there are certainly those that stand out from the rest.

We are always searching for new product to bring to our clients, so pay attention to our wish list:

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3 Future #CommercialRealEstateTrends to Watch

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There have been many advancements over the past 20 years in commercial real estate technology that have changed the way I work. We are able to provide our clients with relevant data which allows them to make better informed business decisions whether they are buying, selling or leasing. We are going to see over the next 5 years, a giant leap forward in the way we do business with the potential for all parties to benefit if we stay open and adapt to these new opportunities.

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5 ways to get your commercial property leased

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Location and demand stand out as the major leasing drivers of commercial real estate however they are not the only factors.

Here’s a few tips I share with landlords to help their properties shine above the competition.

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My Conflict of Interest – An inside story

There is an old saying: “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked in their shoes.” This certainly hit home for me when I unexpectedly found myself in a situation, taking an action as a real estate Broker that clearly placed me in a conflict of interest.

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Quality YXE commercial real estate investment assets scarce

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Many people I speak with are surprised to learn that we have such a high demand for investment product in this province. I am quite often asked the question (possibly due to the high vacancy rate in the industrial and office sectors) whether we believe prices have “bottomed out.”

I will first need to qualify my definition of “quality,” however in the last number of years there has been absolutely no downward movement in the price of these assets. As a matter of fact there has been some minor cap rate compression in the past year.

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3 Essential investigations before buying CRE

There are three important due diligence items that should be on your to-do list when purchasing commercial real estate in any asset class. I have just resolved that when applicable, my Business Manager and I will do everything reasonably possible to ensure Buyers that we represent will be provided these documents prior to removal of their purchase agreement conditions. Let me explain why!

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5 Key Benefits of Motel Investing

During my commercial real estate career I have had the opportunity to represent many different motel buyers and sellers throughout the province. I find these assignments rewarding in a number of different ways. The hospitality industry simply seems to attract good people! People who have a passion for providing comfortable accommodation for the weary traveller.

Let’s look at the reasons this can be an attractive asset class for you to consider.

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The challenges of a sublease

Sublease agreement with golden keyWe as agents often take for granted that Tenants and Landlords understand the terms that relate to leasing and selling commercial real estate. One such common clause is that of subleasing.

It’s important that both parties in the lease agreement understand the obligations and implications of executing a sublease.

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Exercising your option

TIMEMany commercial real estate leases will include an option to renew clause. Like all clauses in a lease, this one is bound by some pretty specific rules that have important consequences to both the landlord and tenant.

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My commercial property is worth what?!

Like so many material things in the world, the value of commercial real estate can often be in the eye of the beholder. There are two sides to this story; the hard truth is, the value to an owner user can outweigh what the market may be prepared to pay.

There are a number of items we look at when valuing a piece of commercial real estate. Here are just a few to consider.

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Strong Demand for Commercial Investment Real Estate

Grocery strip mall

In a couple of my earlier blog posts: “Five key benefits of commercial real estate investing” and “Mainstream media’s obsession with the equities market” I discussed why commercial real estate is a viable investment vehicle. It is surprising to some that in spite of the current tepid economy, our demand exceeds available product and is causing compression of some cap rates. There are a few reasons for this…let me explain.

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Does my site work?

IMG_4713When developers and investors are considering commercial real estate purchases, their broker is often called upon to render an opinion on site feasibility. As Barry and I would both tell you, we are not engineers or architects but we do have a pretty good idea of what is most commonly requested in our market.

Sharing some of our market insight can be important to the development of a site when it comes to tenants’ current expectations and achieving an expedient lease process on the property.
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A couple of things the Ministry of Environment does not like to talk about

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Last week @KellyMacsymic wrote an article: How do changes to Saskatchewan’s Enviro Act affect commercial sales? In that article Kelly provided a synopsis of recent amendments to the Environmental Management and Protection Act. What I am writing about here is not new and has not effectively changed with the new Act.

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How do changes to Saskatchewan’s Enviro Act affect commercial sales?

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In commercial real estate we wear many hats. It’s a neat career in that we get to learn every day about industries we might not otherwise be exposed to.

A significant factor in a commercial real estate sale can be determining environmental impact on a site through a qualified engineering firm.

There have been recent changes to the Environmental Management and Protection Act, 2010 (EMPA) which I think are worth pointing out. By no means am I an environmental engineer! When in doubt, contact the experts for a full interpretation. These are just my observations.

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Confidential: For CRE Landlord’s Eyes Only

confidentialIt is a simple fact the commercial real estate rental space will take longer on average to lease than a residential suite.  After a commercial rental unit (cru) has been on the market for a period of time a discussion should take place between the Broker and Vendor exploring potential reasons.

There are many factors that can contribute to a lack of success in locating a suitable Tenant.  Has the space been properly marketed, does it require updating, refreshing (You only get one chance to make a first impression) or demolition of obsolescent improvements, would rental incentives such as free rent or a Tenant improvement allowance be appropriate, etc.  One of the questions that needs to be a part of that discussion: is a price adjustment required? There isn’t necessarily a simple answer to that question however we’ll explore how that discussion might look.

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Psychology of employees to affect worth of CRE properties

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I came across an article entitled “Real estate value tied to human behavior” which takes an interesting view on the future values of commercial real estate properties, office in particular, when it comes to the psychology of the upcoming millennial workforce.

In commercial real estate the asset value is often attributed to lease rates. But it’s a unique concept to think employee wants and needs could be a contributing factor in achieving value to a space as well.

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The CRE Termination Clause

And why it may not work

 

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There are many terms and clauses in commercial real estate leases. Sifting through all the legalese can be quite daunting. Various responsibilities and rights exist for the benefit of both tenant and landlord.

One term that rarely makes it into the lease, but may be asked at the offer stage, is the termination clause. Landlords typically shy away from it. Let me tell you why.

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4 Reasons no listing should mean no expectations

chooseA client recently voiced disappointment that I had not introduced a particular party to his property. This party was made aware of the property by the previous occupant and approached the owner directly. We had represented to this owner that if I or one of my colleagues were working with someone whose needs aligned with the space we would present the property. I obviously had not properly communicated however what we would not do without an executed listing agreement in place.

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Four Powerful Negotiating Techniques

negotiations-in-project-managementI just returned from our CORFAC International conference in Minneapolis, MN. One of the session topics was “The Art of Negotiating.” In an earlier blog post, The Psychology of the Negotiation, I focused on just four strategies. Since I find this part of my business so fascinating I wanted to share a few more techniques that can be very effective.

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University land play

U of S landsThe University of Saskatchewan is the largest urban land owner in Saskatoon outside of the City of Saskatoon with almost 1,000 acres of land ready for development. And they are ready to start maximizing their investment.

The U of S set forth a plan in 2009 to start considering the re-use of their expansive land inventory to capitalize on its potential going forward. This plan was recently addressed in the news as it starts to take shape. The U of S has purchased land in Clavet to begin moving some of the agriculture programs out of the City limits.

So what happens next?

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Cost of doing business

Cost-squeezeBarry and I have both discussed the topic of tenant improvements within earlier blog posts. But what are the big ticket items that can make or break a deal? Let’s explore the things to look for when scouting out a place for your business.

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I’m in the zone

RezonigOne of the most interesting aspects to my job is learning new things every day. Daily situations come up which require quick thinking and the know-how to seek out the answers to a solution promptly.

For as much as I’ve learned about zoning across municipalities, there is always more to the picture than meets the eye. I’d like to share my latest discovery with you.

I will speak solely of the City of Saskatoon going forward though there are likely similarities to this process in other communities. The important thing to know is that zoning is specific to the municipality you’re researching and the town or city hall is your very best resource for allowable uses on commercial property.

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The good, the bad, and the ugly in CRE

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Over my seven years with ICR I’ve had a few deals that stick out in my mind. Much like a snowflake, every deal is unique but there are a few noteworthy examples of what I’d classify as the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

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Key benefits of elevated ceilings

High ceilingFor reasons that can be very different, there are some significant benefits to high ceilings in commercial real estate buildings. For the purpose of this article I am going to focus specifically on office and industrial commercial real estate.

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You only get one chance to make a first impression

cleaning-hallMost commercial real estate agents would agree that our tenants and buyers are less likely to show warm, fuzzy feelings about properties like a homebuyer might. Often functionality and cost win out as the primary decisions behind choosing a commercial space.

But presentation does matter to these clients and there is typically only one opportunity to wow them so why not make it count.

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Five key benefits of commercial real estate investing

Investment StrategyIn an earlier blog post: “Mainstream media’s obsession with the equities market” I made a general comparison between investing in stocks, mutual funds, ETF’s, GIC’s, bonds and commercial real estate. Let’s now take a look at specific advantages of placing some of your hard earned capital into income producing property. The examples I am using will be applicable only to investors who wish to place their money long term.

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Commercial Real Estate Slang

Tongue TiedLike most industries, there is specific commercial real estate lingo that we use every day that may not be immediately evident to clients. Here’s a few I use nearly every day that I’ve had clients look for clarification on.

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How we discreetly market commercial real estate without advertising or signage

Confidential StampWe are often engaged to lease or sell property by clients who wish to keep the information confidential from the general public.  There can be many reasons why discretion is required.  The client gets to choose what level of confidentiality is necessary.

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Why it was necessary to throw away 18 years of real estate knowledge

Real estate knowledgeYou may have sometime in the past chosen a new path believing that your life experience would be a great asset in your new endeavor?  Well that was certainly my thinking 18 years ago!

Previous to that, between the years 1978 and 2006 I sold new and then resale residential real estate. My last four years during that period I was a non-competing Branch Manager.

When the company I had been working for was sold I made a decision to make a move into the world of commercial real estate.

I knew the business would be different but was not prepared for just how different it was. I brokered a few transactions but mostly floundered for about six months, believing I would find my way by approaching the business using my old residential tools.

It was about the seventh month when I finally came out of denial, realized I had to throw everything I knew out the window, and start asking a lot more questions. So why are the two sectors of the business so different?  Here are three of many reasons:

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What happens when a tenant goes into default?

8923306_origLaws governing commercial real estate tenancies vary from province to province. In Saskatchewan, once a tenant has been determined to be in default (by definition of their lease agreement) there are several remedies available to the landlord.

Some of the information presented here is from an article prepared by the local firm of Robertson Stromberg. This should not be taken as legal advice, rather a discussion on some of the consequences that can be imposed on delinquent tenancies. Each tenancy must be dealt with on a case by case basis.

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Two Scary but true Commercial Real Estate Stories

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Scary commercial real estate stories to you could be finding out a deal has crashed on the day it’s supposed to close or going back to the days of 10% commercial mortgage rates!

Here are real life events that happened to me which I thought would be appropriate to share as we approach this spooky time of year. Two stories that sent chills down my spine!

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3 Mistakes I’ve Made in Commercial Real Estate

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We have clients requesting commercial real estate advice on a daily basis. It is also necessary to make personal investment decisions to achieve our own long term financial goals. Here are three examples that come to mind where I was found to be “off the mark!”

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Three important things to know if you wish to renew your lease

KGC103E-Detail-PropertyLet’s assume you are 75 per cent through your initial term of lease and the space you occupy is working well and business is good. What are some important considerations to keep in mind when approaching the lease renewal?

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Commercial real estate: What’s zoning got to do with it?

zoning-02When researching a commercial real estate lease or purchase, determining the zoning permitted by the municipality should be an important factor in the decision making process. Implications for a tenant or buyer vary slightly but they can both have significant impact down the road.

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Complications of dual agency & multiple offers

grupo-com-raivaWe find dual agency still very common in Saskatchewan commercial real estate transactions. I am not going to address the pros and cons of dual agency in detail within this article. That is a topic unto itself.

Let me just say that due to the confidentiality requested by many of our sellers, I believe it will continue to be a practical business solution within our industry for many years to come. Complications arise when I, as a listing agent have an offer on my own listing and at the same time one of my colleagues and/or a cooperating broker has an offer.

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Three areas that the most expensive building deficiencies can surface

AcrylicRoofingIf you are considering investing in commercial real estate it’s important to thoroughly inspect the property for deferred maintenance and any building systems that are nearing end of their life.

No one building is alike but there are generally three areas you should focus on when purchasing commercial real estate. Unlike buying a house, you will likely have to consult experts in these individual areas in order to properly assess the potential investment.

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Why a seller should prepare & pay for buyer’s due diligence

roof_inspection2I will preface my comments here by saying that it is important the Seller is serious about selling their property before considering this advice. In an earlier post the question was addressed: Should a Seller pay for a Phase I Environmental.  It was recommended that the Vendor contract an Environmental Engineer and begin the process before the property is placed on the market. That’s a good lead in to this article.

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Irrelevant what others think it’s worth

6a00d8341c58f653ef00e54f0ccf4b8833-800wiIn my earlier article: “The Psychology of the Negotiation.” we looked at four different strategies to achieve a targeted price. But how do you discern what that targeted price is?

It’s not hard to obtain opinions from experts within the commercial real estate industry. But are those opinions relevant?

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Where to watch for hair growth on CRE investments

Investment StrategyYou lift it up, look closely and if it starts to grow too much hair, drop it and walk away!  A buyer typically has only a portion of the relevant information before making an offer.  Discoveries often surface during due diligence which can quickly take the fun out of the deal.

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Parking/land ratios crucial to commercial developments

parkinglotThe parking allocation provided for in a development requires proper planning. A very useable site can be rendered dysfunctional if not properly considered. It is also important to understand what the applicable zoning bylaw states for the intended use.

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Deposits make or break deals

Deposit imageYour deposit forms an integral part to the successful completion of a commercial real estate transaction. I’ve compiled a list of common questions that I’ve come across from both buyers and tenants.

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4 reasons why now is the time to sell

Vacant Coverage

There has never been a better time to dispose of your Saskatchewan commercial real estate asset that was designed in a past decade.  There are many reasons why a building could be referred to in this manner.  As an example, if I am talking about retail or office, functional obsolescence could refer to lack of parking; industrial might be due to low ceiling height.

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4 points for a partnership to consider when purchasing an office building

Delivering-a-National-Care-Fund-How-would-a-public-private-partnership-work-1024x768Once the own vs lease decision has been made, what are the questions a partnership would be wise to consider? Each corporate structure can be unique. This article at the very least will help get you started on the journey.

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The great debate: Should I purchase or lease commercial real estate?

Lease-PurchaseThere is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the purchase vs. lease debate for commercial real estate property seekers. The decision lies in your philosophy or mandate when it comes to capital expenditures, business equity, and often, the bottom line in your bank account.

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The Psychology of the Negotiation

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From my perspective, often the most interesting part of an assignment is the negotiation. Believe me, we see all styles of approach in our Saskatchewan commercial real estate market.

For the purpose of this article we’ll focus on only four different strategies, although there are many more. I don’t agree with some of them, however we do need the tools to stick handle each one.

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A match made in real estate heaven

suitabilityHow a commercial real estate building may be used can vary significantly. I am referring to properties in our Saskatchewan market that may be used as office, retail or warehouse. There are unique examples where all three types can cohabit.

Our job as an agent is to paint the picture for our buyers and tenants. In cases where a property has been on the market for some time or developed an unfair reputation, that vision can be difficult to create. But I believe every building has a purpose and a user. We are assigned the task of matching the two parties. Our goal is to develop ways to promote the property in the best light possible.

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4 Reasons you need representation in your lease renewal negotiation

time-to-renewI have heard Landlords state: “I can renew this Tenant at the same rental rate that you’re able to negotiate.” Alternatively, Tenants often believe they can do a good job representing themselves in their renewal.  Whether you are a Landlord or a Tenant, I can make a very solid case why you should contract an experienced commercial real estate broker to represent you. I am not promoting dual agency but rather single agency; a broker representing either tenant or landlord.

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Does your space measure up

68539-giant-measuring-tapeIt can be difficult for tenants to estimate what size of space of they need. You are going to pay per square foot for what you lease, so you want to make sure you’re utilizing every inch of every corner.

Often times I will get the call for a specific size range only to take a client on location and find out is much larger or smaller than they actually need. It’s not a great use of their time or mine so I like to use a couple tools to help estimate what that need might be ahead of time, we are much more likely to hit close to their target.

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ABC’s of Leasing: Do I have to read all 40 pages of this lease?

Drowning In PaperworkYou’ve found the space and have come to terms with the Landlord. You’re nearly at the finishing gate to getting your business venture off the ground, and BAM! The landlord has presented you with a 30-40 page lease that you must review to finalize the deal. Should you read it or just sign off and get the moving party started?

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Should you “low-ball” a Landlord?

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We find Tenants have difficulty understanding why a sophisticated Landlord will not “drop their pants” negotiating lease rates with new and existing tenants, even when a property may appear to be in distress. Let me explain why this counter intuitive statement is, in most cases, true.

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Is there really a benefit to paying a commercial mortgage broker?

bigstock_Mortgage_Word_Cloud_5371754We have clients ask this question quite frequently. In many cases there is a benefit if you are seeking financing in excess of $1 Million. However, it can very much depend upon the borrower and subject property. Let me explain why!

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ABC’s of Leasing – How does a Net Lease work?

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As much as new tenants can use an education on the world of leasing, so too can existing tenants. For newbies, certainly there is a learning curve with the terminology and nuances of negotiation. But even for tenants in the Saskatoon real estate market that may have been leasing for years, there is some benefit in going back to Leasing 101 class.

In order for us to treat your interest as serious, you will need to know: the size (square footage) you require, the budget you have to spend and the term you’d be able to enter into. We can give you an idea very quickly if these expectations are realistic. Agents should ask questions regarding your business plan. We want to make sure that you will be a good fit for the long haul.

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Beware of Tenant Strategy: Obtain Possession without Signing Lease

c359d13933fc4df3811a0e2082424159Would a Tenant actually enter into a deal with this specific goal? I have seen it happen. The Agents and Landlord involved were blind to the Tenant’s motive until long after possession was granted. Information later surfaced that revealed the whole process was a very intentionally played game.

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The Landlord-Tenant Renewal Dance

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All lease and sale negotiations can be characterized as a dance of sorts. An offer is written, a counter is submitted. Both parties angle to achieve the best results for themselves. There is give, there is take. It’s not over till the music stops, proverbially speaking.

One of the more underestimated dances, however, is the renewal interaction. From our experience, both Landlords and Tenants can benefit from some advice in this category.

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How does an Offer work?

For many first time buyers and tenants the Offer process can seem a bit confusing. At what point am I committed past the point of no return? What are my obligations to this agreement? When is my money due and can I still get it back? Let me break down the process for you.

Paperwork

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Should a Seller pay for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

drumsYes. Let me tell you why.

I recommend this process start even before a property is placed on the market. The benefit is a Buyer will require less time to satisfy its’ due diligence conditions. The odds are better of obtaining an environmental report that works favorably towards the successful completion of the sale.

The process of confirming a commercial real estate site is free of contaminants can be one of the most onerous tasks within a Purchaser’s due diligence condition list. If the Seller is engaging the Engineer for this report he has the opportunity to choose a firm that has a solid reputation for providing accurate reports. Where a Phase I report recommends further action is required, it can result in several thousand dollars in cost as well as up to three months in additional time.

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