Wednesday, February 13, 2013

SMH ....

Shaking by my head this morning ....

1) Broker (hereafter referred to as Broker 1) at local residential agency that made a big deal when it opened its doors a couple years back, announces it is winding down. Too much growth too fast, and difficulty making it a profitable company while the economy is off. He doesn't like flagship's marketing plans looking forward. Complains that flagship company, hereafter referred to as The Mother Ship, with whom he is aligned isn't being helpful. His issues with the flagship, he claims, make it impossible for him to sell his brokerage, or transfer it.

2) My broker, Broker 2, informed by this author that our statewide residential sister company might be able to pick up new agents, reaches out to Broker 1.

3) Broker 2 helps Broker 1 resolve the issue with The Mother Ship.  An understanding is quickly agreed to that Broker 1 will recommend Broker 2's highly successful, statewide operation to his agents.

4) Broker 1, once unencumbered from his obligations to The Mother Ship, more or less ignores the gentleman's agreement, and recommends his agents transfer en masse, if they want, to a third brokerage that wants to enter the Central Ohio marketplace in a big way. 

No good deed goes unpunished.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Finance Propels CRE Recovery

U.S. commercial real estate markets continue to recover, with transaction volume building modestly into 2013, according to CRE news service

Pushing the recovery, somewhat, is the return of the lenders. The Fed has stated interest rates will remain low into 2014. Institutional funds will continue to be allocated for commercial real estate in the form of preferred equity and mezzanine loans. This, coupled with ample, low-cost debt, will drive increased transactional volume.

Read the full story here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When A Golf Course Isn't Always A Golf Course

A friend of mine, who also is a a long-time investor in commercial real estate, asked me the other day whether I might have any buyers for a golf course he owns in Indiana.

My reply was somthing along the lines of, "I'd really like to sell the fraternity house you own for you! I have people lined up who would love to own that kind of asset."

"I'll bet you do," was his reply, adding that it's not for sale. I swear, the man practically stands by the mailbox once a month waiting on the USPS driver to drop off THAT rent check, so strong is this particular property. But I'm getting away from the topic -- golf courses.

Pete told me there is a trend in the Midwest, and he has seen it in Indiana, that has high-priced golf courses -- many of which previously were farms -- being purchased by farmers and taken back into grain production. Specifically, in a down economy like we have today, not as many people are out hitting the little white ball. I knew this development had been proposed, but I hadn't followed it.

It's true. Over the objections of many, particularly homeowners who built half million dollar houses lining various fairways, golf courses in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana have been plowed under. The golf courses aren't making money, but there is demand for prime farmland (as Will Rogers famously stated, "they aren't making any more of it"), largely driven by spikes in corn futures as a world focused on ethanol from grain continues its juggernaut.

Of course, the moral issue (i.e. unintended consequences) is that the spike in corn prices worldwide has put affordable cornmeal for peoples in third world countries out of reach. Now, the raw materials for tortillas, et al are stupid expensive. But that's a post, a very long post, for another day.

Executive homes overlooking this green, or that fairway, now are worth often times half their earlier value. All because the highest and best use for the land along which they were built is -- a corn or soybean field.

Pete's golf course? It was built in the 1920s as a private country club. He took it public when he purchased it many years ago. Rolling hills, trees -- not the topography best suited for farming. So his golf course is likely to remain a golf course. Too bad. Not a lot of call for golf courses these days unless you can grow 122 bushels of corn an acre off it.