The smell of hot coffee and fresh-cut business cards greeted CCIM Live! attendees as they made their way into the Denver Sheraton’s South Convention Lobby on the first morning of CCIM’s 2013 annual conference. The first of two networking breakfasts was in full swing, and conference attendees were gearing up for two days of deal making and hearing presentations from industry experts. The aim was clear: Reach for new heights.
Of course, it’s impossible to capture the complete CCIM Live! experience on these pages. For that, you’ll have to join us next year in Los Angeles. But in an effort to encapsulate its spirit, CIRE magazine shares 10 lessons gleaned from some of the world’s top commercial real estate professionals during the conference.
1. Inbound investors will spur growth. Fresh from his company’s impressive initial public offering earlier in the month, keynote speaker Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of Re/Max, cited several factors that make him optimistic about the continued recovery in commercial real estate, including inbound international investment. Foreign investors see the U.S. as a safe haven with a prospect for long-term appreciation, he said, noting past instability in markets such as Brazil and Argentina. And he added: “CCIMs are ideally suited to deal with these investors.”
2. Commercial real estate? There’s an app — or 100 — for that. Commercial real estate professionals are looking for new ways to leverage technology in their business, so it’s no surprise that “The T’s in Technology” was one of the conference’s most popular sessions. CCIM Instructors Todd Clarke, CCIM, and Todd Kuhlmann, CCIM, provided a rapid-fire overview of more than 100 apps and other technology tools industry pros could use to do business more efficiently and effectively, whether in the office or out in the field. Some of their favorite apps included the 10Bii financial calculator, for running the numbers on the go; Dropbox, for sharing geocoded property photos; and Prezi, for listing presentations. There’s even an app to help you find more useful apps: Appsfire. Clarke also noted that as Web traffic from mobile devices increases, commercial real estate pros should ensure that their websites are “responsive,” or optimized for a variety of devices. And when asked about his most valuable accessory, Clarke didn’t hesitate: “My CCIM pin.”
3. It pays to know your lender. “A commercial real estate broker can add tremendous value by positioning the appropriate lender,” said Chris Christiansen, senior vice president for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Salt Lake City. He appeared on the “Evaluating Today’s Financing Options” panel alongside Brian Bailey, senior financial policy analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and moderator Maryann Mize, CCIM, senior vice president/credit officer for Charlotte State Bank in Port Charlotte, Fla. Christiansen explained that brokers need to find the lender’s sweet spot. “Lenders are looking at property type, strength of borrower, and deal size,” he said, adding that some lenders have specific concentrations, such as owner-occupied properties. Mize also noted that community banks’ loan-to-deposit ratios are tighter, which means they may have more money to lend for commercial real estate transactions.
4. We’re all waiting for the millennials. During University of Denver Professor Glenn Mueller’s discussion of market cycles, this statistic caused many in the crowd to gasp: The average age of a first-time home buyer in the U.S. is 36 years old. But keynote speaker Dave Liniger cautioned attendees about seeing this and other trends such as walkable downtown living as fundamentally disruptive. “[The millenials] will be the economic engine that drives the market for apartments and houses for the next 40 years,” he said. “As young people mature and have families, they will become owners.”
5. Be the real estate pro who can step up in times of need. “We have one goal as CCIMs: Add as much value for our clients as possible using all the tools we possess,” said Scott deLuise, CCIM, during the insurance policy panel discussion. President, director, and co-founder of Matrix Business Consulting, deLuise explained that insurance claims should be part of a CCIM’s toolbox to benefit existing clients and provide a resource for target clients. But he also noted that these sophisticated business transactions require the right team, including an architect/interior designer, engineer, process consultant, and contractor. They also require the right business
process. “It’s all about documentation,” he added. “All communications must be in writing.”
6. Computers don’t sell real estate. People do. “Trust is the key to selling anything,” said Steven R. Price, CCIM, president of Price Properties during his presentation on how to motivate clients to make decisions. “Use digital tools to enhance your presentation, not dominate it.” Price also encouraged the audience to avoid jargon, be brief, use visuals to get clients involved, and — perhaps most important — ask for the order.
7. “Almost all types of real estate are eligible for charitable giving.” W. Duncan Patterson, CCIM, president of Patterson-Woods & Associates LLC, discussed real estate gifting basics, including the crucial role of appraisals, and benefits for individual as well as corporate donors. The latter include reduced capital gains taxes, deduction for federal and state taxes, lower transfer expenses, and the elimination of management responsibility. “But the intent still has to be charitable,” Patterson added.
8. Aim for fairness in condemnation situations. The eminent domain panel, moderated by CCIM Instructor Mark Polon, CCIM, offered some “don’ts” for assisting property owners and asset managers faced with condemnation, including: Don’t negotiate a complex taking case without legal representation and valuation expertise; don’t hide data such as rent rolls, income, and vacancy; and don’t assume you can use a condemnation appraisal for a loan or tax appeal. In any condemnation situation, the goal should be fairness to both the property owner and taxpayers.
9. “Pigs don’t fly, but chickens come home to roost.” This was one of Tucker Hart Adams’ “economic rules,” which she shared during her CCIM Live! luncheon presentation on day two. A senior partner at Summit Economics LLC with more than 30 years of experience, Adams urged the audience to think again when they think “Things are different this time.” In addition to providing her own economic forecast — 65 percent chance of gradual improvement — she suggested that data revisions for statistics such as employment growth would be strong indicators.
10. Keep it in perspective. It was easy to get caught up in the buzz of career-building education and networking at the conference. But Corey Ciocchetti, associate professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies at the University of Denver, reminded attendees about the “real rabbits.” He encouraged the audience to pursue the truly important things in life such as a solid character, strong personal relationships, and a sense of contentment. “Have you thought about what your legacy will be?” he asked.