A Statement On Ukraine from Kevin Maggiacomo, SVN President and CEO

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Commercial Real Estate Retail Tenant Synergy

Tenant Synergy in Retail Commercial Real Estate

With ICSC’s annual RECon upon us, it’s about time to talk about retail tenant synergy. The original logic behind the large anchored mall was that people were unlikely to go out of their way to go to an in-line store, like a pretzel shop or a shoe store, but that they were willing to travel to go to a department store, like a Macy’s or a JC Penney. To take advantage of this, commercial real estate developers began building malls that had department store anchors at their corners and lots of little “in-line” shops in between. The department stores frequently got discounted rent, so it was a win for them, and the in-line stores benefited from having lots of “forced” traffic as people going between the department stores walked by. While the model of the mall has changed over the years, the concept of a synergistic relationship between tenants continues.

Retail Tenant SynergyLooking for more examples? Have you ever noticed that most neighborhood centers have a card store right near the supermarket? Or, for that matter, have you ever wondered why neighborhood centers typically have take-out focused restaurants like Chinese or pizza shops near the supermarket? It’s all about convenience.

What is going on here is that these commercial real estate owners have realized the benefit of synergy. Having tenants that fit well together is not only a way to keep their customers happy, but it is also a way to keep tenants happy. A dry cleaner located next to a supermarket, a card shop, a pizza parlor, a family haircut place and a day spa is very unlikely to leave. They benefit not only from their proximity to the supermarket but also from their proximity to other supportive businesses which make that center a one-stop shop. What could be a better place for them?

Retail Tenant Synergy Gone Wrong

On the other hand, commercial real estate landlords who get desperate can sometimes fail to achieve synergy. While this can be a way to keep occupancies high in the short term, it can generate greater vacancy down the line. Here’s a real world example of four tenants at a center in an overbuilt but demographically desirable eastern suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota:

  • High-end wine shop
  • Yoga studio
  • Gourmet food boutique focusing largely on cheese
  • Army recruiting center

I know of another center in an inner-ring northern suburb that has the area’s largest gun shop, a tobacco store, a rowdy drinking establishment and a large health clinic. It doesn’t have a pharmacy.

Over time, these centers will typically lose the tenant that doesn’t fit or will lose more tenants as their outlier tenant changes the nature of the entire center. While few commercial real estate marketing packages talk about this and many commercial real estate investment brokers are unaware of it, achieving tenant synergy is crucial for a retail center to be successful in the long term.

At SVN, creating synergy is a fundamental part of the principles that underlie our Shared Value Network℠. To learn more about how we help retail owners create markets for their properties, join us on our SVN | Live ℠ Open Sales Meeting.

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Finding the Perfect Apartment Building

Investing in Apartments Includes Some Benefits

Apartments are the hottest class of commercial real estate and are likely to continue being hot for a while. Independent of the unique demographic and economic drivers for their success in the current post-Great Recession economy, there are a few basic truths that make them attractive:

  • Housing costs usually move up and apartment rents can be adjusted on a regular basis.
  • Vacant units are easy to re-rent with little or no cost. In fact, tenant security deposits usually pay for cleaning and repairs.
  • Excellent financing with 80 percent leverage is readily available.
  • Relatively easy appreciation through making cosmetic upgrades to increase rents.

…But Apartments Also Include Some Downsides

For many investors, though, apartments have three key problems compared with other classes of commercial real estate. They have tenants that break things, complain and fail to pay rent. Apartments have kitchens that tend to start destructive fires. Finally, they have bathrooms that leak and cause damage to surrounding units. At the same time, many cities heavily regulate apartments and, in many cases, favor tenants over landlords. These problems make apartments challenging and time-consuming to own.

Imagine, for a moment, an apartment building without tenants, kitchens or bathrooms and with little or no government oversight. All that you would have are rooms with furniture, clothing and other items in them. If you have ever owned an apartment building, you know that a building like this one would be a dream to own!

The Solution: Self Storage Facilities

In fact, the perfect apartment building is a self-storage facility. Mini-storage facilities offer a similar ownership experience to apartments but without any of the drawbacks. Because they frequently serve apartment tenants, their performance tracks the apartment industry, as well. Furthermore, modern management systems make them much easier to own than many people realize.

Read more of Solomon Poretsky’s blog posts here.

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Five Traits of an Exemplary Property Manager

What Makes an Exemplary Property Manager

According to Rory Williams, Managing Partner at SVN/Demetree Real Estate Services

Owning a property designed to be leased or rented is a significant investment of time and money. These properties—including retail centers, office or industrial complexes, self-storage facilities and homes—also carry a number of inherent challenges. What if I can’t get a tenant? What if my tenant is behind in payments? How do I keep up with the maintenance demands of the property?

Enter, the property manager.

Just remember, you invested a great deal into your property. How can you ensure that you have the best property manager for the job? 

You can—and should—get references, check the person’s vacancy rate or ask the manager a battery of questions about tenant acquisition, maintenance, fee structure, etc. There are also personal traits you can discern by talking to a property manager. These are important markers that will help you make the right choice.

[bctt tweet=”How can you ensure that you have the best property manager for the job?”]

Look for these traits when hiring a property manager.

1. The property manager is an excellent communicator.

On the most basic level, this means he or she promptly follows up quickly on phone calls. If you leave a voicemail, and the property manager doesn’t get back to you, your tenant will probably be treated similarly. Additionally, if a property manager procrastinates, it could end up costing the property. You want a flowing pipeline of communication between all parties, so there are no misunderstandings – the root of so many conflicts with tenants. Being a strong communicator also means being transparent, upfront about everything that is going on in the working relationship.

2. The property manager is highly knowledgeable.

The industry is complex. There is much a property manager must know about the current market, screening tenants, legal considerations, preparing leases. Be sure the person you’re working with speaks with authority and conveys the clear impression of being an expert. A property manager should be able to answer questions easily about security deposits, tenant retention, rent—all facets of the business.

3. The property manager keeps the tenant relationship professional at all times.

The tenant/property agreement is a binding contract that needs to be maintained at a professional level. An exemplary property manager is trained to work with tenants on a professional, dispassionate level – as a business should operate. For this reason, the property manager is able to act as a wall of separation between property owner and tenant, relaying information and taking action as your official agent.

4. The property manager is good with numbers.

Must he or she be an accountant? Not necessarily. But again, you have a large investment hanging in the balance, so the more you reduce the margin of error, the better. A property manager should be math-savvy, able to quickly and accurately calculate your costs, extra fees, cash flows or whatever other numbers are involved in the transaction. Having additional accountant staff is an important hedge against any slips when punching out equations that affect your property. It’s also a big help at tax time. So be sure your property manager has this vital backup.

5. The property manager has appropriate resources.

A property manager should have the resources necessary to make your job easy and seamless. Accounting was already mentioned but you should also take a look at the accessibility to that accounting system and the reporting structure. If a property manager has a team of supporting individuals and the technology required for you to easily access that information, you are likely to maintain a more transparent relationship with him or her. Ask and be knowledgeable about the software capabilities to be sure you’re getting the most efficient and effective product.

To read more about property management, read our Sperry Van Ness Property Management Value Proposition here.

SVN PM Value Prop