Friday, February 4, 2011

VIP, Losing Touch & RCA's Good News

VIP Conference

For my money, there is no better facilitator in the industry than Geof Dohrmann of IREI. This was evident again this week at the VIP meeting which attracted a good-sized crowd of pension funds, endowments, foundations, fund of funds and people who want money from them (as well as various service people). Being an attendee for the past two years has been an interesting experience and I will admit that it was not nearly as much fun for me as when Geof and I shared the hosting duties. But, enough of a trip down memory lane.

VIP has some rules that attendees ‘swear’ to adhere to. And, at the risk of violating the “What is said/heard at VIP stays at VIP” oath, I wanted to share a few of my own observations:

• The plan sponsor community appears to be willing and able to reengage in the business of investing in real estate again. The question is: are they ready? And that varies from entity to entity.

• The mood was one of a realistic optimism but a clear recognition that we’re not ‘out of the woods.’

• While ‘concern’ may be too strong, there is an awareness of the possible three to five year ramifications of the mountain of money invested in and queued up for open-end core commingled funds.

• Things are not ‘business as usual’ whatever that will look like.

• While 95% of the managers surveyed believed that they communicated at least fairly well, the plan sponsor community, similarly and separately polled disagreed. However there was a real atmosphere of reasonableness from both camps-and maybe that is what the ‘next normal’ will look like-more like what we’ve been taught about deal-making in general-both parties have to walk away from the negotiating table feeling they have won. But, there needs to be an open, regular dialogue that includes formal reporting, throughout the relationship, and that type of communicating is a two-way street.

To finish up about VIP: While I knew a bunch of the attendees, I got to meet and talk with some folks I had never met before and as those of you who’ve been with me for a while know, that’s what makes things totally worthwhile for me.

Losing Touch

For the first time, this week, I lost my mobile phone. I won’t be getting a replacement until Monday so it’ll be four days. It’s been a funny sort of feeling, realizing what a lifeline, crutch, helpmate that device has become. But, as I think we may all admit, it’s also an umbilical cord of sorts which doesn’t let us get too far from, well, anywhere or anybody. And, there really aren’t many excuses for not being reachable. My computer still works but my magical USB connector to the Internet doesn’t; so it’s only when I can get a real connection (I’m noticing that more airports are offering free Wi-Fi…. is that like the coffee shops and other establishments? Airports feel you’ll use them more if they give you free Wi-Fi? (Just kidding, I think). Suffering from phonis-interruptus, I don’t think there’ll be any adverse impact on me, although having suspended the service the message installed by the provider is pretty abrupt:  this phone don't work no more.   But, after my first full cell-less day yesterday, I sort of liked it. It feels like I have a little more control over my existence and while no one likes to feel controlled by others, having some control over yourself, in today’s world, is, well, sort of priceless.

RCA:  U.S. Capital Trends/February 2011U.S. Markets Dominate Global Rankings

In it’s just released U.S. Capital Trends report, RCA states:

• US markets dominated the 2010 global rankings with 12
of the world’s top 30 markets by sales volume. 

• With $16.3 billion in sales, nearly triple the previous year’s total.

• New York was followed by Washington, DC (ranked six), Los Angeles (seven) and San Francisco (eight). 

• US markets not only dominated the top 30 rankings, but also registered the most observable year-over-year spikes in transaction volume.

And, as the legendary Sam Cooke sang, “Ain’t that good news, man, ain’t that news.”

Family idea. One of my good Forest Hills friend told me about something his daughter has launched. It’s called, Families in the Loop. While it’s Chicago-centric there are some very excellent ideas and resources that you can use wherever you are.

Hotel of the week: DaVinci Hotel, 56th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, New York. I am a little reluctant to share this one with you as it can only make this great little hotel more popular (and drive prices up). My wife found it for me online and I’ve already stayed there more than once. It’s 24 rooms. Very European. Not a place that many businessmen would choose to stay at (no gym, etc). But I like it very much. Nice people. Free wireless. An authentic Italian restaurant in the basement (also open to the public) called Joe G’s. Coffee and pastries in the morning. Great location. Clean. Interesting guests (many European). And, for Manhattan, truly an unbelievable bargain. 

Photo:  Daytona Beach, FL.  It was pretty darn cold for Florida that day and as we walked on the elevated boardwalk to an oceanfront restaurant I noticed these girls; they were the only ones on the entire beach.  They were huddled together against the cold and wind, committed to getting a tan (or at least telling their friends they were on the beach).  Funny, their bathing suits are almost the identical color. 

On the road....
Feb. 5-9: New York
Feb. 10-11: Chapel Hill, NC to be a judge in the University of North Carolina-Kenan Flagler Real Estate Challenge (Thanks to Dave Hartzell & Susan Drake, for the kind invite).
Feb. 12-15: West coast
Feb. 16-17: Des Moines, Iowa
Feb. 18-22: New York
Feb. 23-26: West coast
Feb. 27-Mar.1: Santa Monica, CA to attend NAREIM's Senior Executive Officer's Meeting (National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers).
Mar. 16-17: Washington, DC for the PREA Spring Conference
Mar. 30:  New York to attend IMN's inaugural Real Estate Investment & Search Consultants Congress
Apr. 13-15: Venice to attend the INREV Annual General Meeting
May 12-14: North Palm Beach, FL for the annual meeting of the Homer Hoyt Fellows.
June 9-10: London to moderate a panel at the PERE Forum-Europe.

These are my views and not that of my employer.

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