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Are We There Yet?

August 13, 2009 – 2:34 pm

In the past few weeks we have finally been reading positve news about the economy. No, things have not turned around but they seem to be “less” worse than they were.  Job losses, while still approximately 350,000 last month were no longer over 1/2 million a month.  Car sales were dramatically up although the cash for clunker program was the main driving force behind that.

Some industries have been showing smaller losses and some factory orders have increased.  In fact home sales are actually up from last year in many areas of the country.  So are things about to break wide open?  As kids might say, ” Are We There Yet”?  Is it time to break out the check book and take advantage of the market?

In my opinion, investing in commercial real estate is premature on a wholesale basis but can be selectively carried out.  Jumping into the market whole heartedly must wait until it has actually started to go up.  However, we are starting to see well thought out offers on properties, that would have once been quickly dismissed, now being accepted.

Well thought out offers does not mean to shoot from the hip and just discount every price by 50%.  Rather it means that one must pay attention to cost per square foot, cap rate, current and reasonably projected vacancies and current and reasonably projected attainable future rents. That is the case even with REO properties. The hold period should be projected to be at least 5 years which necessitates the real estate to be well located and well situated in its marketplace.

We often have to make multiple offers for clients seeking to buy smartly in this economic environment.  However, if there is a sound rationale behind the offer the seller will usually at least think about it.  I believe that in the case of motivated sellers, the offer will be kept and revisited after a period of time has passed.  That is true even by bank REO managers.

Therefore if I had small kids in the back seat of my car asking “Are We There Yet?” I would have to respond “perhaps”.



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