Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be The Change

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I attended the PERE Forum in NY on Wednesday and Thursday. There was a very strong turnout and interestingly not of the usual suspects. I don't know about you but when I attend an event, whether I'm moderating a panel or not, I hope only to come away with one good new contact and it may not even be someone who I can directly do business with. Well, when you keep your expectations low, you're quite frequently pleasantly surprised and that was the case this week. I've picked a few of the comments made to include in the column this week but I have some good notes which I'll be happy to send you; just email me and say PERE Notes in the subject box (

Here we go:

36. There is money getting funded to some things now:
a. Asia
b. Distressed Strategies
i. Debt
ii. Mezz
iii. U.S.
iv. Global
c. There’s a new focus on multi-family

37. It’s surprising how quickly the SWF’s (Sovereign Wealth Funds) have retreated.

34. Investors will ultimately reward hard working fund managers who remained transparent and held their organizations together to complete the task at hand.

31. I’m going back to core-plus: income, stable assets and low leverage. Back to the future!

29. Is there enough capital in the world to address all the secondaries that will trade?

26. For most vintage 05-07 funds LP’s should be happy to get their money back; hitting a pref will be heroic.

24. LP’s are going to start rereading their partnership agreements. The lack of uniformity is likely to give rise to more standardized documents in the future.

20. There’s no need to act quickly-this is a bottom you can afford to miss.

19. Fund managers have to resist the urge to throw good money after bad; injecting equity into deals that you’ll lose anyway is a slippery slope and will be much harder to figure.

14. DSC (Debt Service Coverage) ratios were always meant to be whole numbers greater than 1.0.

PERE used a new technology for audience reponse. The handheld device that everyone got not only allowed you to vote on certain questions posed to the audience but also allowed you to text message questions to a screen in front of the moderator of the panel. As a frequent moderator, this technology is fab. It eliminates the need for people to raise their hands (although some did that as well) and ask a question publicly. The group that provided the service is also the group that invented the technology. If you are going to run a conference and are thinking of something like this i encourage you to contact these guys (who happen to be HQ'd in the UK): iml. It is very, very cool-and effective.

I got a sneak peak of the enhancements to a portfolio managment and analysis software that I've been a fan of for many years. It was very cool. Anyway, it's good to see people in our industry are still pushing the technology envelope; it's always been a given that CRE is the slowest industry to adopt technology and doing things differently but we're getting there: Rissnet, Reuters Real Estate, Situs, CREOpoint, Resolve Technology, Realwired, REBackOffice, Real Capital Markets, RCA and others are all bringing us tools and services to make us more productive, more informed, more efficient and more successful. It seems to me that especially in challenging times like these we should be taking advantage or at least trying new tools. I know budgets are getting tightened but sometimes we can be penny-wise and pound foolish. Check out what these folks are doing, if only so you know.

The photo above is from last Friday night in Asbury Park, NJ. My old band-mate "Puggy" DeRosa has been doing a Neil Diamond tribute show in dinner-theatres across NJ. This was my first time seeing the show. He's great. He also did a couple of songs that we used to do as a band. At this show there were a good number of our friends from the old days. This is Tommy Bruno, the drummer from our old band "Everyone" (hey, it was the 60's!) and me joining Puggy for 'Brown Eyed Girl' (la la la la la la). Asbury Park had been a run down city for years and it's finally seeing the light of day. "The Circuit" where people used to cruise and the site of the "Hullabaloo" club which featured guys like Bobby Banidera (now a member of Bon Jovi), Bruce Springsteen and, yes, my first band "The Better Half" playing 55 minutes on and 5 minutes off every hour with a dancing drum beat between songs played is there but different. Tim McCloone's Supper Club ( where Puggy performed is a great place to enjoy some top entertainment (Tim himself is an accomplished keyboardist whose seasonal group, Holiday Express does some great charitable work via it's rocking performances.

The photo at the right is the Halloween costume of a good college friend whose name I will not mention for fear for his life. He has been a loyal reader of my stuff since the beginning and most week's he'll write me some wise-ass comment that makes me smile no matter where I am in the world. He and I used to play softball in Bayonne (NJ) Park and I'd eat over at his house on a regular basis. His mom and dad always made me feel part of the family-meaning they busted my chops just like they did with their own sons.

I don't know about you but since the election, notwithstanding that there are still a couple or three elections still up in the air, it feels different in America. I'm not talking about what I hear or see on TV, partially because I hardly watch TV. What I'm talking about is something that resembles a collective sigh, a sense of relief that, even with the serious financial stress we're all experiencing, we are going to get a chance to experience and participate in a dramatic change. We've all had a wake up call, like being doused with ice water while still in sleepy-time dreamland. It's not fun and for the first time in my lifetime, the problems are not limited to one segment of the population; correction, the world. And, as much as we might try, we cannot go back and change anything that's been done; we can only learn from it and do things differently going forward. The future is now; we can seize the moment and "be the change we wish to see in the world."

Where I'll be:

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.

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