Saturday, November 1, 2008


This week's institutional real estate world phrases that are being heard most often are:
1. Valuation
2. Sale of Secondary Interests
3. Potential LP default
4. Denominator
5. Unfunded commitment
6. No new money will be put out until 2010

As far as the overall commercial real estate market, well, I guess for there to be a market there need to be transactions which, for the most part, have taken a sabbatical. But for flavor I'll give you the headlines from the October Capital Trends Monthly from RCA:

1. Industrial Slowdown not as Heavy—Yet. Early October weakness hits
ahead of global trade downturn
2. Retail: No Shopper’s Paradise. Retail investors and consumers alike are guarding
their money, spelling trouble for sellers
3. Office: Amid Banking Fiasco, Office Sales Worst in Years. One pressured seller makes up 30% of Q3 sales
4. Apartments: Is This Door Closing Too? Apartments have lost the least ground
this year, but that could be changing

So, we're really feeling the stress throughout our industry. But, as I've said before, these are also times for opportunity and those that have the capital, the savvy and the nerve are starting to see more and more distressed situations. And, unfortunately, as 2008 creeps to it's end, while there are great hopes for America with our President-elect energizing the population, 2009 is going to be a very, very tough one.

This week's photo is the view from my home office in Montreal, well, actually Ste. Dorothee which is just across the river from the island of Montreal. The leaves have almost all fallen now and the vista is more stark but I find it actually more beautiful than during the summer. There are no jet-ski's whining, no boaters, just the river flowing and some remaining ducks who are challenging the potential sudden slap of real winter. The first Halloween in our new neighborhood was really something. There were so many kids and their parents dressed up and walking the street; you would have thought it was an organized parade. We were going out for dinner but we left a big bowl of candy on a table at the foot of our driveway (marked by two candles) as we didn't want people ringing the doorbell and driving the dogs nuts. But I think, next year, we'll also get into costume and be there to greet the trick or treaters personally. It was reassuring to see the celebrating of Haloween still lives in the families on our block in particular. It's a sign to me that society has not lost it's way completely.

The exciting election of Barack Obama this week was living history. And his speech was both brilliantly written and inspirationally delivered. In watching John McCain speak that night I almost got the feeling that he was relieved that it was over and that he didn't have to take on the challenges facing the next president of the U.S. We have so many problems to tackle and they all demand simultaneous attention, energy and money. It's like a big workout deal, a very big one and I guess, until you get inside and see what's what, you can't wave a magic wand and, voila, everything will be better. But something special is happening in the U.S. Do you know what it is Mr. Jones? It's a movement, it's the taking of ownership of the future by people, no matter from what generation, to change things. Of course, if you ask ten people what they want to change, they may all have different things and that's okay. But Obama, in brining back, for the first time since JFK, the spirit of volunteerism and the belief that, "Yes We Can" he has injected a belief of hope that things can turn around and it's much, much deeper than the financial crisis: it's about the quality of people's lives. And what more can you hand off to the next generation than the opportunity that anyone can achieve anything if they know, "Yes I Can." The world is on our side. The world needs the U.S. to be strong. The world wants to respect the U.S. And we have shown the world that we respect ourselves. Now it's up to us, not to talk about things, but 'be the change we want to see in the world.' We won't get a second chance, this is it and I know that we as a nation and as a global society are up to the challenge as long as we are willing to participate.

"Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96" was a headline in last weekend's NY Times. I can't imagine that Studs would have liked to be called anything better than 'listener.'"Mr. Terkel succeeded as an interviewer in part because he believed most people had something to say worth hearing." So do I. Rather than 'talking or waiting to talk' how about we start spending some energy on listening. I have worked hard over the past 20 years to get myself to hold my tongue and let others talk. It's a challenge as I have so much to say that's important :-) but I can tell you that I have both gained a lot by keeping quiet at times and also, from what people tell me, developed a reputation for being a good listener. After all, we all like it when someone listens to what we're saying, right?

Where I'll be:

Nov. 10-14: New York where I'll moderate a panel at the PERE Forum (there's a special "FOS" (Friends of Steve) discount available. Please contact me for details (
Nov. 14-16: Ormond Beach, FL with my brother Jay to visit our Dad.
Nov. 18-21: The Netherlands
Nov. 19: Amsterdam for INREV's Investor Platform and Committee Meetings.
Nov. 26-12/1: Montreal
Dec. 1-5: New York
Dec. 8-12: London and to moderate a panel at the Reuters Real Estate Global Property Outlook 2009 on the 9th (Invitation only).
Dec. 15-19: New York
Dec. 22-Jan. 2, 2009: Montreal
Feb. 19-20, 2009: Chapel Hill, NC to attend the Kenan-Flagler Center for Real Estate Development’s Annual Conference and Real Estate Challenge Case Competition.

Thanks for reading my blog.
Many of you know that my life is built on people, on community, on collaboration and on sharing. This platform gives us all a chance to connect and reconnect. I am grateful for your support, suggestions and contributions. Thanks a lot.

Note: These are my personal views and not that of my employer.

No comments:

Blog Archive