Real Estate Investment & the Hypnotic Power of the “IF” Word

IF only God would give me a clear sign!  Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank – Woody Allen

From an investment perspective commercial real estate, securities, other assets and cash are really the same thing.  Some are more liquid than others, but as one considers the choices that life offers, over time in the end we leave it all behind anyway.

Whether it is over-ambition or naivety, often the dreams and goals that one becomes fixated upon turn out to be completely unrealistic.  In the back of his mind, he probably knew all along that his plans were not achievable without taking on a partner or exercising greater due diligence.  But now that he is in it up to his waist, he can only hope for the best … that is “IF” things break his way.

Maybe it is the concern over how a failure will look to his peers, or how the ramifications of a poor investment will impact the lives of his family members and/or employees, the hypnotic power of the “IF” word can often make one delusional.

IF one places too much focus on the past and/or the future and does not pay attention to the present, reality can be impossible to see. – Nobody Special

This is especially true for those who keep their poor investments going by living on “borrowed time” … depleting other assets such as using them as a credit source.  This is called DeNial, and it ain’t that river in Egypt … either way, the croc’s will get you.

It has been nearly 7 years now since the real estate market began to see the negative impact of what would be called the Great Recession, and while a slow and somewhat steady recovery is showing signs of sustainability, many investors are still dealing with real estate investments and/or businesses that are “financially challenged.”

Some have a well thought out strategy using a team of advisers to establish action steps including a healthy set of “If and Then” scenarios to provide alternative paths to follow.  They look at past decisions as educational experiences to make use of in current and future decisions.

IF you fool me once, then shame on you. IF you fool me twice, then shame on me – Chinese Proverb

On other hand some get lost in suffering from a bad case of counterfactual thinking (aspects of which can be referred to as lying to oneself), where one dwells on imagining alternatives to past decisions made, such as:

IF I had only sold that property at the peak of market in 2006; then I’d be set for life!  

This type of thinking can bring on feelings of regret and lack of confidence that can cause hesitation in making healthy investment and business decisions going forward.  Combine this with unrealistic expectations of values in the future … well, many have regretfully been fooled by their own thinking more than once!

IF you are using the “IF” word in this fashion, maybe it’s time to check your pride at the door and seek some assistance before it it’s too late.

Challenges are problems with solutions, IF only you are willing to face and overcome them. — moyo Adekoya

~~~

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few. 

MacRo Sells 1.43 Acre Lot at the Manor at Holly Hills

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the sale of lot 306 at the Manor at Holly Hills.  This 1.43 acre open lot is on one of the highest knolls within the Manor.   The property is located at 9743 Ormonds Terrace, Ijamsville, MD 21754.

The sale closed on August 26, 2014.

The Manor at Holly Hills is a one-of-kind community situated on 185 idyllic acres just east of Frederick City.  Careful planning went into preserving the beautiful organic features of the land, including rugged rock outcroppings, rolling hillsides, and mature forests.

Rocky Mackintosh, President of MacRo, Ltd., was the agent who coordinated the transaction.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or acquisition of land, and/or the sale or leasing of your commercial or industrial property, contact Rocky Mackintosh at 301-748-5655 or rocky@macroltd.com

Multifamily Deals Total $57,000,000 in Frederick during 2nd Quarter

Multifamily was the strongest segment during the second quarter, posting three of the top five deals and over 700,000 square feet sold.

Second quarter sales of Frederick County commercial real estate kept pace with the same time period last year, an encouraging sign that the local commercial market remains stable despite mixed economic signals nationwide.  Second quarter 2014 commercial real estate sales in Frederick  totaled $117.5 million, versus $119.5 for the second quarter last year and $19.5 million for the second quarter of 2012.

There were three large multifamily deals in Frederick during the quarter, as that segment continues to draw the most interest from REITs and national investment firms.  (MacRo Report will detail the top deals of the second quarter in a future post).

Industrial and warehouse properties placed a strong second, which reflects the activity we are seeing on the local level as small to medium-sized businesses are moving forward with long-postponed decisions regarding leasing and buying warehouse and flex space.  In reviewing second quarter transactions, it was interesting to note that there were several transactions in the municipalities of Brunswick and Thurmont, an indication that activity in the commercial market is increasing throughout the entire county.

It was a busy quarter for commercial land sales as well, with  double the number of transactions (but only 35 acres sold); the median price was $203,098 per acre.  That compares to 238 acres during the same quarter last year, at a median price of $90,000 per acre.

Note: Statistics provided for commercial property sales in this report are based on thorough research of every recorded commercial sales transaction listed in SDAT for the quarter reported, and are deemed reliable.  

The author:  Kathy Krach is a commercial sales and leasing agent with MacRo.

MacRo Sells 25 Acre Parcel in Boonsboro, MD

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the sale of a 25 acre parcel of land in Boonsboro, Maryland.

The property sold was zoned Environmental Conservative, creating the potential for subdivision into 2 lots.  This property was also fully wooded and included one proposed septic area which was percolation test approved for a conventional septic system.  The sale price was $150,000.

Dave Wilkinson represented the Seller, an estate, in this transaction and also provided the Seller with development management services.  Barbie Harshman of ReMax Achievers represented the buyer.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or leasing of your commercial or industrial property, contact David Wilkinson at 301-748-5670 or dave@macroltd.com.

Time Travel with the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce

Sometimes to see the political future, it is important to go back in time!

It was an exciting day for the Chamber on Tuesday, August 12, 2014, as Board Chairman Josh Bokee introduced the new President and CEO of the organization — Elizabeth Cromwell.   I must say that as a long time member of the organization and past board member (circa 1980’s), she was a surprising, yet very exciting choice.

Having watched the progression of the organization from back in the days of the two employee reign of the dedicated Kitty Reed to where the Chamber is today, Cromwell has a terrific foundation to build upon.  Her predecessor Ric Adams had transformed the look and feel of the organization from a small community voice of business to one that now garners strong respect as a bullhorn that makes an impact when it speaks on policy and political issues.

It was about four years this month the MacRo Report Blog posted two articles that echoed the opinions of a very frustrated business community in 2010.

Let’s set the scene and “Travel Back to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear” (for those of you who are old enough to remember, can you tell me what TV show this was the intro line for?).

Yes, it was an election year.  The primaries were set to take place in September with the general election that November.

There was an ideological battle being waged over which path county government should take in its relationships with business and the leadership the other incorporated jurisdictions within Frederick.

Jan Gardner, the Democratic candidate in the current race for County Executive, was about to complete her 12th year as a commissioner and President of the Board of County Commissioners during the last four.  While she chose not to run again, a recently appointed board member of the opposing party Blaine Young, a Republican, had entered the race for his first election to the board.

With the affects of the Great Recession beginning to show its negative impact on Frederick’s business community, things were not getting easier for sure.  To add to the pain, the Gardner administration had burned a number of bridges in its relationship with most of the 12 incorporated jurisdictions within the county (seven of which eventually filed suit against the county government).

The board consistently robbed special funds set aside for agricultural preservation programs and fire & rescue services in order to “creatively” balance its budget.  Fund balances for post employment benefit and pension obligations to former county employees were falling below acceptable standards.

Red tape, over regulation and innumerable fees weighed a very heavy burden on those who wished to take on new ventures or expand their operations.

Within and from outside the county lines Frederick became known as an unfriendly place to do business.

To top it all off, the Gardner board had placed the county under a growth moratorium and carried out a regressive rewrite of its comprehensive plan by down zoning and negativity reclassifying over 400 properties.

The cry for help from the Chamber membership to its president and board members pushed the organization to take action.  While it does not make a policy of endorsing candidates, the Chamber derived a method of ranking the wanna-be commissioners based upon how they met a list of business friendly qualification standards by releasing a Voters’ Guide.

They kicked the effort off by publishing six key questions for the primary political candidates to ponder:

1.  What specific steps would you take to make Frederick County more attractive to business investment, create jobs, expand our tax base, and ensure our future economic competitiveness?

2.  How would you improve Frederick County’s image as a business friendly jurisdiction?

3.  Do you believe some action should be taken by the Board of County Commissioners to address adverse consequences suffered by those whose properties have been down zoned in the Comprehensive Plan?

4.  Do you support the decision of this past Board of County Commissioners to impose a moratorium upon certain kinds of growth for a two year period?

5.  Frederick County currently operates under a Commission form of government, instead of a Charter form, in which there is an elected County Executive and County Council. Do you support changing our form of government to a Charter?

6.  In light of the current fiscal crisis the County is facing, do you believe our primary focus should be:

     a.  Creating more jobs and growing our tax base without raising tax rates;

     b.  Imposing more cuts to County programs and services and/or deeper reductions in employee compensation and benefits; or Increasing taxes on residents, businesses, or a combination of both? 

In October of that year, just weeks before the general election, Thomas E. Lynch, III, a well known local attorney and Chamber board member at the time offered MacRo, Ltd. an article to publish on our Blog entitled:  Not Just Another Frederick County Election.

This well respected member of the business community stated that the results of the September 2010 primary made “clear that this [would] be one of the most polarized elections in recent memory, which is reflective of the tensions that exist in Frederick County and throughout the country.”

Lynch emphasized the need to consider changing our form of government and stated that while a consensus had been building for many years, the Gardner board chose not to act.

He went on to say that:

“… for our own survival, this election must be about an honest evaluation of the cost of all government (especially legacy costs such as retirement and other benefits) and having our County government more ‘user friendly’ so as to allow businesses to succeed in the interest of preserving jobs in Frederick County.

 “Without a business community, we erode our tax base.  Many more of us could lose our jobs and we could very well have a financially destitute County government and municipalities.

 “Dealing effectively and honestly with these issues requires courageous and visionary leadership; leaders who recognize the value of business to support our economy, the lives of our employees, our non-profit community and equally, our governmental bodies.” 

As the 2014 general election quickly approaches, voters may find it very worthwhile to contemplate how much the Frederick County has progressed over the last four years toward those 2010 key concerns raised by our Chamber of Commerce.

Many believe that the above six questions have been all very favorably answered by the current board lead by Young.

It is said that change comes at a price, change is hard and yet, change brings hope.

Blaine Young is now the other candidate for County Executive.  Significant change has happened during his 44 months in office.  What the voters experienced was often not pretty nor perfect.  Mistakes, like in all administrations, were made and many things could have been handled better.  And maybe some things did not have to change, but despite all that, overall one must ask each member of Frederick County’s business community a famously simple question:

Are you better off today than you were four years ago?  

Contrary to the negative response that Ronald Reagan sought in October of 1980, when he asked the nation the same question, this time the answer may very likely be yes!

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few. 

MacRo Brokers Lease of Office Space on Aviation Way

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the lease of Suite 240, 411 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD to CMA Purchasing.

This Class A, contemporary office building has a modern glass/stone exterior, 2 story grand foyer, and abundant natural light.  Other amenities include elevator access, cafeteria service, and on-site building maintenance / engineering service.  Located minutes from major shopping, restaurants, and Historic Downtown Frederick with quick and easy access to I-270, I-70, and US-15.  In addition, it is located in the City of Frederick’s HUB Zone

Steve Cranford represented the landlord, AOPA, in the transaction.  Jim Coiner of Marsh Realty represented the tenant.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or leasing of your commercial or industrial property, contact Steve Cranford at 301-788-4373 or steve@macroltd.com.

Commercial Real Estate, Politics and Abraham Lincoln

Examine well that Pig in the Poke before you buy … or cast your ballot! 

This past week I was invited to have coffee with one of the candidates who is campaigning for a seat in Frederick County’s new charter Government in this November’s election. We enjoyed a pleasant conversation about the campaign and many hot button issues.

Along the way the topic of debate questions came up, and I found this person’s perspective quite interesting.

“There are questions regarding my political positions on some matters that I do not believe are relevant to voters in this campaign, so I wouldn’t want those in particular to be asked in a debate,” was in essence (paraphrased) the candidate’s statement.

Rather than offer a contrarian view and challenge that logic, I accepted those words at face value and moved on to another topic.

We ended our meeting with the typical pleasantries and well wishes just as the candidate was approached by an eager supporter who had some information to share.

Once I was back in my car ready to head off to my next appointment, I reflected a bit more on the issue of “relevant information” in politics and business.

Now, I have logged more hours than I would want to ever try to count in my career in land and commercial real estate sales. However there is one Latin phrase that I learned in my first real estate licensing class back in the early 1970’s that has remained embedded in the frontal lobes of my brain ever since.

“Caveat Emptor” is translated into many different phrases in the English language, but to us real estate types it means “Let the Buyer Beware.” Taking it a bit deeper, I found this legal definition on the web: A warning that notifies a buyer that the goods he or she is buying are ‘as is,’ or subject to all defects.

That stated, it means that the seller of the product and any agent who represents him/her in the transaction must not hide or misrepresent relevant facts about the product. So if the buyer asks certain questions about an item being sold, the seller or the agent should disclose the answer. Of course the seller can refuse to answer by essentially saying “I’m not answering that questions … find out for yourself.”

Such a response can often leave the potential buyer wondering if he may be buying the proverbial Pig in a Poke.” By the way, the word poke used here is actually derived from poque … of French origin, meaning sack or bag. So along the same line … the warning is to look at what is in that bag and examine it very thoroughly before you make the decision to purchase!

Over the years I have recruited, mentored and trained many real estate sales neophytes as they enter the profession. One could say that I have met all kinds.  But of those who have a passion to succeed, I can distinctly cull out two types of who often follow different paths to seek success in the business.

One group will often take a very mindful approach to understanding the goals of the parties on both sides of the transaction by recommending that the seller/client come clean so to speak on the front end of the process so as to provide any and all information that a buyer may feel is relevant, even if the seller does not.

Then there are those who follow the less personal path. They seek to generate as much volume as they can to get product in the door and move it out quickly so as to turn the next deal.

In taking the latter route, very often the agent and/or the seller will predetermine what they believe is just enough relevant information to share with potential buyers. This approach assumes that too much information could complicate a buyer’s decision making process in the transaction to the point that it could throw a wrench in the deal … or kill it all together.

I’ve never believed in the adage “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” My philosophy has always been to reveal all the information about the property as early as possible … Warts and All as they say.

Besides shouldn’t the buyer be the one who determines what is relevant or not relevant for their intended use of the property?

This brings me back to my conversation with my candidate friend.

When you think about it, political candidates are like commercial real estate sales people. Their goal is to sell a product to the public … in a non-monetary sense, of course! That product just happens to be themselves – the personal skills and reputation which they have developed from life experience.

Obviously when one is selling his/her services in politics (as in business), he or she wants to be seen by the public in what that person perceives as the best light. But offering oneself Warts and All in the full light of day is in most cases what the public seeks … and truly needs in order to make a fully informed decision.

It was Abraham Lincoln who once said: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”

Wise words from ol’ Abe, eh?

To that end, I really can’t understand why any voter’s question asked to a candidate is not relevant. Can you?

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few. 

Does your Commercial Real Estate Broker have a CCREB Degree?

For professional CRE brokers, many skill sets are not learned in college or real estate school, but a matter of practicing what their mothers always said!

It was about sixteen years ago that my younger daughter returned home for her Christmas break from her freshman year first semester at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.  She brought along one of her girlfriends who lived on her hall.

While we were all together, I couldn’t help but ask if either of them had decided upon a major to pursue.  In unison they rolled their eyes upward, looked at each other with big smiles and then turned back to me.  My daughter spoke with a chuckle and said, “Yep, we both want to get a CCM degree.”

Hmmmm … I wondered.  I know of the BA and BS college degrees, but at a college level, I had never heard of CCM. 

So, while they continued silently humored by my confusion, I asked, “OK, I give up. What is a CCM degree?” 

“County Club Mom” was the answer. 

Imagine: graduate from college, get married, have kids and lounge by the pool at the local club all day.

Well, three and a half years later in 2002, the girls did not achieve their CCM degrees.  However, my daughter did graduate with a BS degree, married and landed a terrific position in Richmond,Virginia … that is until the babies were born. 

Today she is a happy and proud stay-at-home-mom with no great desire to become a member of the country club set.

Now, what in the world does my daughter, who fantasized about a CCM college degree, have to do with Commercial Real Estate, you ask?

Well, to put it simply, I’m of the belief that there is often something that all commercial real estate brokers can learn from some traditional motherly wisdom. 

The one word that sums this up is Compassion.  Throw in the perfected arts of listening, mediating and leadership … Hey, you have a broker with a CCREB.

That would be a Compassionate Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Degree.

In the CRE world, many look at brokers and agents as people who Eat What They Kill!  … make a deal and move on to the next, you might say.

In the metropolitan and corporate business to business world, some of our kind use that approach and thrive. 

But in the real world of everyday commercial real estate, many clients seek out more than just brokerage services to find a buyer or tenant for the property they wish to market. Many bring with them not only real estate, but a suitcase of other challenges as part of the project. 

Just because one has a substantial investment in land or commercial real estate, does not mean that that property owner understands the complexities of the development and sales processes or even what the term “Change in Use” means in the local zoning code.

CRE clients come in all shapes and sizes and from all aspects of life.  They will often bring to the table financial, relationship and emotional issues.  While these are not necessarily recorded liens or judgments attached to the property in question, these issues are part of the package.

Business and investment partnerships don’t always end amicably.  Family members who share in ownership often bring significant differences of opinions to the table.

The challenge for many real estate brokers is often to get to know the client (or clients) and their personal challenges, needs, wants and desires before one “digs” into the physical real estate.  More often than not, the former consumes significantly more of the agent’s time than the latter.

There are times that I wonder if I should have majored in psychology in college and minored in business.  But over years, while I have pursued and received many real estate professional designations, never have I come across one called Commercial Real Estate Psychology. 

During those years I’ve probably logged in more hours listening to and consulting with my clients over their challenges, needs, wants and desires than I have in transacting some of their real estate.   It is, however, that upfront preparation that can often be the difference in facilitating quick and confident decisions on the part of the property which makes the deal.

Consider the elderly man dealing with the early stages of dementia who refuses to give up control, or the partner who walked out of a closely held business and refuses to cooperate in the sale of a property. 

While a commercial real estate professional typically does not have a license to practice medicine, law or accounting, it may not be unusual for him or her to recommend advisers with such skills be called upon for assistance.

One of my favorite experiences took place in 1994 when I was called upon to facilitate the development, marketing and the eventual sale of over 3,000 acres of land for 35 owners living in multiple states and comprised of three generations of heirs to a partnership (and their lawyers) that was established among 10 poker buddies in the 1950’s. 

With the exception of one individual, they all had one common goal: Maximize the value of the land and sell it

The “odd man out” happened to be one very elderly member who was the managing/general partner, but adamantly refused to cooperate with the majority.  After a lengthy partition suit and trial to have this curmudgeon relieved of his duties, I was called upon by a court appointed trustee to do my thing.

It took several months of compassionate and consultative mediation to bring about an understanding among many different personalities to elect three of the members to act as the decision makers for the group. It was a matter of building trusting relationships, understanding the concerns of each member to create the organizational foundation for an expeditious decision making process through the development, marketing and sales of the project to multiple purchasers.

It was my mother who used to interrupt me as I ranted on about things.  She would put her finger to my lips and remind me that while my Creator gave me only one mouth, the two ears on my the sides of my head mean that I should listen much more than I speak.

It is a simple lesson that, if mastered well, could earn you a worry-free poolside seat at the club. 

The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades.  He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few. 

MacRo Leases Warehouse Space on Yukon Court

MacRo, Ltd. is pleased to announce the lease of a 4,800 square feet space at 5415 Yukon Court, in Frederick.

The property leased is a warm, lit warehouse with 20 foot ceiling heights and excellent visibility from MD Route 180.  The building is located south of the City of Frederick, just off the US-15 /340 and Mount Zion Road interchange.  David Wilkinson represented the landlord, OK Properties, LLC in the transaction.  The tenant is STROSEC automotive, a firm specializing in the maintenance, leasing and sales of Ford, Chevrolet and GMC pick-up trucks and vans.

For more information on how MacRo, Ltd. Real Estate Brokerage Services may be able to assist you in the sale or leasing of your commercial or industrial property, contact David Wilkinson at 301-748-5670 or dave@macroltd.com.

Rocky’s Vacations – Summer Edition

In the spirit of summer vacations we present to you some of our favorite adventures courtesy of Rocky. 

I Left my Droid at Snoqualmie Falls

Did my smart phone out smart me, or was it not smart enough?

Saying FU to Land Conservation

Billed as one of the most beautiful rivers on the planet earth; will the powers to be actually say “Dam It”?

A Spring Training Phenomena that You Won’t Believe

It seems more often than not people return home from a vacation with a “You Won’t Believe What Happened” story.

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