While summer had historically been a slow time for business (it still is in Europe as they know how to live and take real vacations), this summer, like the summer of 2009, has been anything but slow. We've been seeing and hearing about pension funds making new commitments to real estate. Many of those are with managers with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. But a number of them are with, for lack of a better term, emerging managers. Some of these emerging managers are refugees from other, larger firms who have gone out on their own and who had built up excellent relationships with investors in their previous lives. More investors have been telling me that they are getting ready to start investing with new managers again but probably not until 2011 (which amazingly is not really that far off). European investors have really picked up the slack investing especially in opportunistic strategies (which has a more broad interpretation than ever before). But then there's the question of "are there good deals to be had?" Which takes us back to the overriding issue, in my mind, of managing the expectations of the buyer and the seller....the familiar 'bid/ask' spread. There's been some serious Canadian money flowing into the U.S. recently and that is a good indicator as Canadian pension funds have typically taken a more conservative approach to real estate investing (not unlike the overall Canadian culture). So, as we get closer to "Back to School" (actually where I live in CA schools start on Aug. 18th) we are optimistic about the future as the commercial real estate industry has never been one to let a little thing like a global recession get it down.
Given the amount of airplane travel I've done in my career I feel compelled to at least mention something about that Jetblue flight attendant who made the news last week. While there are always three sides to every story: your side, my side and what really happened only those people who were there know for sure. Flying is no fun anymore and hasn't been for some time. I don't know how some flight attendants stop themselves from really telling some passengers where to get off. I think that the Jetblue guy may have had a lot going on in his head personally and that this was just the straw that broke the camels' back so to say. But the fact is that there are a lot of passengers who have no consideration at all for anyone else and that in itself is very sad as it's just representative of how our society has deteriorated. But, I've seen some inconsiderate behavior on the part of the flight crew as well; so, it's like "F--k me? F--k you! But to me it all boils down to this: The experience of air travel is so not fun that from the get-go (i.e. getting to the airport, checking-in, waiting on security lines, going through security and then waiting for your flight) equal an exasperating experience and one which, for some people, manifests itself in an "I don't give a shit about anyone else" attitude. But, because I've loved (and tried my best to practice) Gandhi's quote, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world", I believe there is hope and it won't take much work. Just be conscious of what you're doing and your surroundings and treat others like you want them to treat you. You may have to grit your teeth as this is not going to change quickly but at least we can try. Taking some poetic license with Arlo Guthrie's masterpiece, "Alice's Restaurant" I propose this: If one person, just one person changes their ways it's a start. And if two people do it, well, it's an increase of 100%. And if 50 people, can you imagine 50 people doing it, well it then it's a movement. We can call it "The Be Kind To Your Fellow Passengers (and flight crew) Movement". And all you have to do to join the movement is be nice.
On the road....
Aug. 19: America's Comeback City
Aug. 20: The Steel City
Aug. 23-Sept. 3: The City That Never Sleeps
Sept. 8-10: IAmsterdam (INREV Meeting)
Oct. 4-7: The City By The Bay (PREA Conference)
Oct. 12-15: City of Magnificant Distances (ULI Fall Conference)
Oct. 19-21: Lost Wages (IREI's Dealmaker's Conference)
Photo: Amazing shot of the Schultz forest fire north of Flagstaff, AZ in late June. 22 Square Miles. Caused by careless campers.
These are my views and not that of my employer.
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