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Bob Robbins: New Year’s Resolutions I’d Like To See in CRE

Rather than discuss my own boring resolutions (exercise more, eat more kale and fewer cookies), I offer up suggestions for my fellow brethren in the commercial real estate industry. I submit these for your enjoyment, but maybe, just maybe, some will take notice and make life easier for all of us in 2016.
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Bob Robbins
Bob Robbins

The holidays are over, and you know what that means. It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, that time-honored tradition of picking the most depressing time of the year to decide that from here forward, we resolve to no longer be the same person we have always been. Health clubs will sell a ton of memberships, I’ll see more people out walking or running in the neighborhood, and grocery stores will sell more kale and fewer cookies … for about two weeks.

In that spirit, rather than discuss my own boring resolutions (exercise more, eat more kale and fewer cookies), I offer up suggestions for my fellow brethren in the commercial real estate industry. I submit these for your enjoyment, but maybe, just maybe, some will take notice and make life easier for all of us in the coming year.

Tenant Rep Brokers (including me): Resolve to stop whining and work harder. I can’t seem to go to a broker function without hearing, “No one returns my phone calls, I can’t get any meetings, deals take too long.” When the opportunity is there to make six figures or more, it should be hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. If you ever figure out how to make it easy, call me and I will come work for you.

Landlord Reps: Resolve to return phone calls in a timely manner. Some are great at this, others aren’t. Here’s a bit of advice: If you are difficult to work with, no one will want to work with you. I recently had the opportunity to represent a friend of a friend in his real estate search. After doing my research for suitable properties, I narrowed the search to 16 potential options and placed phone calls to the corresponding listing agents. Despite leaving multiple messages, six of the 16 agents never called back. I had no choice other than to advise my client that it would be extremely difficult to get a transaction done when I can’t even get a phone call returned, so they are better off focusing on a property with a proactive agent representing the landlord.

Property Owners: Resolve to know what is going on with your property. See the paragraph above and ask yourself why, in this red-hot market, does your property sit empty. As a follow-up to the scenario mentioned above, all six of the agents that never bothered to call back work for the same company. Coincidence? Hardly. In the future, I won’t waste my time calling them. Although my client is happily paying rent in a new facility, I would bet that these six properties still sit empty.

Contractors: Resolve to give reasonable bids or decline the opportunity to bid. I know you are swamped with work, and I know construction costs are way up, but some transactions require minimal finish-out, and those tenants should not have to pay scalper’s prices to get a few walls moved and some carpet and paint. If the job is too small to be worth your time, please just say so.

Construction Managers: Please see above and resolve to give every tenant the opportunity to have their job fairly bid. Continuing to insist that all jobs go to “your guys” does not create an efficient market. There are contractors out there that will bid aggressively on the smaller jobs.

Tenants: Resolve to brace yourself for life in this market. Some tenants coming out of long-term leases are seeing rents quoted at twice what they were paying. Take the time to develop a long-term strategy concerning your real estate requirements.

Multifamily Developers: I admit I know nothing about this sector other that what I read in the media, but maybe you should resolve to build some units that are affordable for someone making less than $100,000 a year. I know land and construction costs are skyrocketing, but it would seem to me that many of the recent college graduates flocking to Dallas would be willing to sacrifice floors made of wood recovered from Noah’s ark and granite countertops mined from King Tut’s tomb if it meant they no longer had to rotate with their six roommates who gets to sleep in the bed that night. Of course, I could be wrong.

Everyone: Resolve to enjoy the current market conditions while they last. This cycle won’t go on forever, but even when it ends, we’ll still be fortunate to operate in an industry where the opportunities are endless and the rewards for success are substantial.

My Fellow D Real Estate Daily Bloggers: Resolve to continue taking time from your busy schedules to occasionally throw a few words of wisdom out to the masses. Whether it be the wit and wisdom of Susan Arledge, the humorous musings of Riis Christensen, or the market insight of Mike Ablon, it seems that I learn something new with almost every post.

So there you have it. If every one of these resolutions is kept, my life will be much simpler. If not, that’s OK, because my one true resolution is to not let any of the above issues get to me this year.

Here’s to a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016 for all of us.

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