Friday, June 29, 2012

RCA Capital Trends / Real Estate Foresight / RetailMLS

RCA's U.S. Capital Trends for May 2012 was delivered to their subscribers this week.  Here are a few key stats:

Office: Sales volume $4.1Bn-down 31% vs. 2011
Industrial: Sales volume $2.5Bn-down 19% vs. 2011
Retail: Sales volume $3.3Bn-flat vs. 2011
Apartments: Sales volume $5.5Bn-up 15% over 2011
Hotel: Sales volume $1.8Bn-down 20% vs. 2011

Baseball/Softball Tip of the Week:  I've been watching a friend's son play 15-year old baseball.  I've also noticed this around softball fields.  When the ball is on the ground, either moving very, very slowly and especially when it's standing still, pick it up with your bare throwing hand, not your glove hand.  You lose valuable seconds if you pick it up with your glove and then have to transfer it to your throwing hand.  It could be the difference between letting a run score.

Anyway....this is a wonderful piece from the New York Times this past week that I just had to share with you:

The Old Neighborhood
If you’ve lived for long in New York City, chances are you’ve lived in several different places. On the map of where we dwell now is also where we used to dwell, just across the park, a borough away, a few subway stops farther north or south. That is one of the peculiarities of this city — the proximity of our geographical past. Some people move from Ohio to Oregon. We move from 93rd to 13th, from Alphabet City to Carroll Gardens, all over town.

And what becomes of the old neighborhood? In one sense, nothing. You were only a minor molecule in its chemistry. Go back a week after you’ve moved, and the same dogs are pulling their owners to the park, the same stoop-sitters sitting out. Let enough time pass, and things become a little ghostly. It begins to feel as though the neighborhood has forgotten you, instead of the other way around. When you lived there, nothing changed without your noticing it. Now the changes accumulate unperceived, and you begin to realize that a part of you has vanished into the past.

New York is a grand and public city. But it is also immensely personal and private. There is really no visiting someone else’s old neighborhood. You can walk past the shops and admire the brownstones. You can hear about the bodega or diner that used to be on that corner and what happened that one night. Try as you might to be a tourist in someone else’s past, you end up seeing only the present. That’s how the new neighborhood looks at first — the one you’ve just moved to. You settle into the present, and it ages around you until one day you end up with a new old neighborhood.

One of the cool new things of the week:  Recently launched,  Real Estate Foresight is the brain-child of my friend, Robert Ciemniak.  I met Robert a number of years ago when, while working for Thompson Reuters, he had just launched an intrepreneurial venture called Reuters Real Estate.  From their website, "Real Estate Foresight has been designed primarily for international institutional investors and fund managers active in private and public real estate markets, in their management, research, risk, business development and strategy functions." Through a number of services they help real estate investors assess strategic risks and develop new opportunities through foresight development, thematic research and analytics.  I encourage you to check it out.

Real Estate Foresight is just one of the next new things that I've been observing as they unfold.  It's great to see people thinking about what the industry needs and then building it.  Another one is RetailMLS.  When I was introduced to the service last week it reminded me of the Internet start-up that I was with in the mid-90's.  We were too far ahead of our time and undercapitalized.  Classic symptoms.  But RetailMLS has applied it's technology to a smaller niche than some of the other more generic 'listing' services.  If you're involved in retail real estate, or if you are curious as to what one of the relatively new entrants into commercial real estate technology have created, you should take a look.

Nora Ephron died this week.  While she was not a household name to everyone, many knew of her work:  Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail.  But those are a couple of the more mainstream pieces of work in her portfolio.  Not too many years ago (which means I can't remember exactly when), my wife and I and some good friends were in New York.  We wanted to go see a show but Broadway tickets were simply too expensive.  I did some checking around and got us four tickets to an off-Broadyway (perhaps off-off Broadway) show that got some great reviews:  Love, Loss and What I Wore.  It was a chick play written by Nora and her sister, Delia.  The women in the audience loved it but it was also very entertaining for any man who has accepted his feminine side.  Anyway, Nora was a very, very talented woman who left us too soon at 71.

When too much is simply too much.  Recently, I've seen several violations of 'information overload' and it's made me say to myself:  "What are these people thinking?"  I don't understand why some firms believe that the more information they push out the better as if they expect people (i.e. existing or prospective clients and the industry in general) to say, "Gee, these are smart people; look at how much they write."  I don't think so.  My belief that less is more (a phrase sometimes attributed to blues guitar great B.B. King) grows stronger every day.  So, please, when you think about publishing something, put yourself in the recipient's shoes.  What is really important for them to know?  If you are considerate of their time, they will appreciate it (and there's a better chance they'll remember you for it).

Webcasts galore!  Have you noticed that there seem to be more and more webcasts being promoted around the industry?  Many of them are sponsored (like advertising); others are offered by an individual company, usually with some type of research as the theme.  I wonder:  are you watching these things?  

I was going through my own archives recently and found this piece that I wrote somewhere in the early 2000's:

Standing Out:  Tips on Differentiating Your Business

Can people tell the difference between your company and your competitors?  Are you sure?  In the world of commercial real estate, with all due respect to data and technology, I believe the difference is people.

How do you decide which person you want cutting your hair?  Is it because that person uses the Roffler Model Z-28 scissors?  I don’t think so.  It’s because if a particular person cuts your hair, you will look better when you leave the salon than when you got there.  You trust your stylist, and you are loyal in return.

If I were looking to grow market share in the investment real estate transaction business I would:
  • Hire the best people.
  • Compensate them fairly.
  • Invest in training on an on-going basis.
  • Let my actions speak louder than words.
  • Be memorable.
Here’s what you can do to differentiate your company from others: 
  • Take stock of your assets and your liabilities.
  • Find out how the market perceives you.
  • Think about the future, not just today’s deal.
  • Be helpful.
  • Know what you’re talking about.
  • Be known as someone who is on top of what’s going on.
Then one day you’ll overhear someone talking about your company and they’ll say the magic words you’ve hoped for all along:  “Those guys know the business.  They did what they promised.  I’ll be doing business with them again.”  And all the work will have been worthwhile. Then you can go out the next day and keep working at it.  Why?  Because that’s what the other guys are doing.

Congratulations to Peter Steil who has been named CEO of NCREIF.

Interesting conference:  IMN is having their second annual Real Estate General Counsel Forum in New York on September 10-11.  There aren't too many events that I know of that bring together this practitioner group.  In my mind, one of the good outcomes from the dialogue amongst in-house counsel and outside counsel could be how fees can be reduced.  It looks like the kind of event where you can really get to have substantative conversations with people.  

"Is Core Over-valued."  I've had some question about all the money that's been and still being invested in core real estate.  My thought is that, while it has been considered a 'safe' investment there will be some surprises down the road.  Be that as it may, NCREIF has posted a thoughtful piece by Jeff Fisher here. But, more than 'core' the words that I am hearing people utter more than any others these days:  Student Housing.

My new favorite video

On the road....
July 11-13:  Lansdowne, VA to attend the NCREIF Summer Meeting
July 14-17:  Boston
July 18-26:  New York
Sept. 11-12:  Paris to attend the GRI Europe Summit
Sept. 18-19:  Chicago to attend the NAREIM H.R. Council Mtg.
Oct. 14-16:  Chicago to attend the NAREIM Fall Executive Mtg. 
Oct. 17-19:  Chicago including speaking with DePaul University students about careers in real estate.
Oct. 22-24:  Los Angeles to attend the PREA Plan Sponsor Conference 
Nov. 7:  Washington, DC to speak with Johns Hopkins University students about careers in real estate.
Nov. 8-9:  New York to attend the PERE Summit

If you are at a university or have a connection to one with a real estate program and you'd like me to visit to speak about "Careers in Real Estate" please reply to this email.  Thanks.

I hope you enjoy your Independence Day holiday.

Blog Archive