Browse Month: April 2011

Homeownership Matters … to Commercial Real Estate

For more on this issue, listen to the latest podcast from Bill Armstrong!


The housing market remains troubled and as a homeowner myself, I’m especially glad there is an organization looking after my interests, a long-established and trusted group which exists, in part, to fight for my right to purchase and sell real property.  That group, of course, is the National Association of REALTORS®, a strong and ready consumer advocate for homeowners, business owners, and investors.

As REALTORS® from across the country travel to attend the Midyear/Legislative meetings in Washington, DC (May 10-14, 2011) a crucial component will be Hill visits.  NAR provides its members a rare opportunity to connect directly with their legislators to voice concerns.  The focus is well placed on Homeownership.  Lawmaker discussion and pending legislation continue to threaten housing access and sales.  Issues such as the elimination of the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID), affordable property insurance, access to affordable mortgage products, the stress of Short Sale transactions, and future of the GSEs are of great concern.   NAR’s Legislative Agenda addresses those issues and member talking points will be supplied.

Of immediate concern is H.Res.25, a bipartisan resolution offered by Rep. Gary Miller.  This resolution supports retaining MID, a consumer tax benefit that’s been in play for more than 100 years, and is important to a stable housing market.  NAR issued a Call for Action, and is urging all REALTORS® to lend support by responding.  As a homeowner who greatly appreciates and enjoys this benefit, I acted on the Call very quickly!

Just as vigorously, NAR addresses commercial real estate issues.  Never underestimate the power of the PAC!  It’s those RPAC contributions that have helped produce NAR’s recent wins:  the SBA is expanding its temporary 504 commercial real estate refinance program which helps small business owners struggling to refinance commercial loans;  the repeal of 1099 legislation which imposed burdensome requirements on small landlords and the real estate practitioners who work with them; and FASB’s decision to delay issuing a final ruling on expanding lease accounting rules which would force companies to capitalize commercial leases on their balance sheets, putting them in the red and limiting financing opportunities.

The housing issues up for debate have a direct impact on the health of the markets and a communities in which commercial real estate resides and vice versa.   Won’t you stand together with fellow REALTORS® to support all facets of the real estate industry?

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Best Insurance Membership Can Buy

What happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington.  In fact, the efforts of the National Association of REALTORS® in D.C. has ripple effects throughout the country by protecting your commercial real estate business.

Each May, REALTORS® visit their elected representatives on Capitol Hill while attending the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings and Hill Visits to communicate on the most pressing  legislative and regulatory issues impacting the real estate industry.  In addition to the Hill Visits, NAR volunteers will be working in committees such as the Commercial Committee, the Land Use, Environment and Property Rights Committee and the Appraisal Committee amongst many others to discuss and make recommendations on all of the issues impacting your business today and tomorrow.  Commercial practitioners are amongst these volunteer leaders and will be speaking to issues as vital to your business as improving capital market liquidity and license portability.

There are four things you can do today to help protect your business, just as you protect your family, home and automobiles:

1. Join the National Association of REALTORS®

2. Contribute to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee

3. Sign up at the REALTOR® Action Center

4. Read your ‘insurance’ policy – the NAR Commercial Advocacy Timeline

Getting involved at your local board and state board also allows for opportunities to educate candidates for office on those levels and advocate for the election of representatives who understand and will support the REALTOR® Party.




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Will Twitter’s Move to Market Street Bring New San Francisco Deals?

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Checking on the commercial RE market in San Francisco shows a primary market dealing with the ever-shifting realities of tech and traditional economics. Whole swathes of the near-downtown area have struggled with vacancies and neighborhood perception problems, in some cases reaching far beyond the downturn of ’07-’08.

But when a market is blessed with lots of technology companies, growth remains the watchword.  In Vauhini Vara’s April 14th WSJ piece titled Market Street Looks For Twitter Revival, expectations are high concerning the relocation of social media tech company Twitter’s headquarters into a Market Street property that has lain dormant for years.

Picking up the story from where the excellent Bay Area Commercial Real Estate Blog left it last month, WSJ noted the elements that went into the deal, including a six-year payroll tax exemption:

While local business owners await Twitter’s arrival, that hoped-for rebound has yet to materialize. With crime and homelessness still rampant and storefronts boarded up, pedestrians remain wary of venturing too far west of the downtown shopping hub around the Westfield San Francisco Centre, a mall on Market between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

Yet the news of Twitter’s planned move to an enormous, nearly vacant building between Ninth and 10th Streets, long known as the San Francisco Mart, has energized city officials and small businesses working to improve the stretch of Market Street between Fifth and 10th Streets. The organizer of the Burning Man Festival, Black Rock Arts Foundation, also recently announced it would move to this part of Market.

Mr. Stender, who co-founded Huckleberry Bicycles with two friends, said they “recognized the potential of mid-Market” but Twitter’s move “will help it along much more than we could.”

Coming at around the same time are a spate of San Francisco tech business commercial property deals that point to sunnier days ahead for the city by the bay:

Zynga revived a development that had long sat vacant in Showplace Square. The biggest deal in 5 years when they signed.

Salesforce put their stake in the ground in Mission Bay, set to build their global headquarters in the storied and somewhat troubled development in Mission Bay. Add 5,000 workers to stay in the city and a huge lift to the Mission Bay.

Now Twitter is one step closer to reviving a large development at 1355 Market Street, and an entire submarket may benefit in the process. The Civic Center now won’t just be home to lawyers, judges, city gov employees and a generous sampling of SF’s more eclectic denizens. Twitter and its ostensible followers (so wish all the building owners and city officials) may just be the catalyst to revive another run down SF market.

Cheers to the city for getting this done. Hopefully the tax breaks won’t end with the big guns. The city is thriving because of the huge number of startups setting up shop here, and the more loyalty these founding teams have for the city, the more likely they will want to revive a market when their time comes.

Boom times?  Maybe not exactly. But the signs are unmistakable that San Francisco’s commercial property market still has some treats left in the portfolio.

Your Next Sales Meeting

One of the most important components of the Member Services position in NAR Commercial is finding effective ways of communicating all of the benefits of REALTOR® membership to its 75,000+ commercial real estate professionals.  It requires creativity and I will admit, it is one of my favorite responsibilities.  What is even more fun is when a REALTOR® finds new and creative ways to use their benefits making them more productive and hopefully saving them some time.

Dan Sight, CCIM and Vice President of Reece Commercial in Kansas City (also 2011 Chair of the NAR Commercial Committee) recently mentioned to me that he uses the Commercial Intelligence Podcasts and the On-Demand Webinars produced by NAR Commercial for his weekly sales meetings.  Used as tools for teaching, updating on the latest trends, advising on threats to the commercial real estate business and promoting leadership skills, these free tools for REALTORS® are being used by Dan and his team in a way that we did not originally intend.  No matter, it’s brilliant and we wanted to pass this tip on to you in the hopes that you will find your next sales meeting easier to plan and highly productive.

How are you using these benefits and others in your business?  Have you found unique ways to implement benefits that have made your life easier or your business more successful?  Let us know!  Send us and email or post a comment – we’d love to feature your ideas here on the blog.

Access the latest podcast, “The 3 Keys to Building Relationships” featuring Ravit Lichtenberg of UStrategy who speaks to the hows of integrating marketing and communications with online activities to enhance your role as an industry leader.

There are many archived podcasts and on-demand webinars produced by NAR Commercial for your use – your sales and staff meetings just got a bit easier for the year!  NAR Commercial publishes new podcasts and webinars every month so we’ll always keep you up to date.

Ustrategy website:




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Good Neighbors Build Communities

REALTORS® Build Communities is a phrase that connotes much of the collective impact that housing and all types of commercial business properties have within communities.  That may seem altruistic, but just as applications for NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards are coming in, NAR Commercial learned of an organization that is doing well by doing good.

Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate Inc. in Chicago, has been a tenant rep for nearly 25 years. Over a decade ago, he and his wife, Sharon Porter, who handles the administration of their brokerage, embarked upon building their community.  They had three objectives at the time: develop their business, differentiate themselves and add a component that would make them feel really good about being in commercial real estate.

The keystone of what they’ve built was giving part of each of their commissions to a charitable organization of their client’s choice.  Beginning in 1995, that’s just what they started doing  and, from that simple idea, Investing In Communities® (IIC®) was born.  Today, IIC® is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization – a unique endeavor that turns business transactions of socially conscious people directly into philanthropic events.

Here’s how it works.  Real estate professionals who wish to grow their businesses, increase exposure and have a positive social impact can become IIC Real Estate Members and have their contact information added to the IIC® searchable database.  REALTORS® are joining the brand new social enterprise and, along with nonprofits, business professionals, and individuals, will help their communities and empower consumers to become philanthropists at no personal cost.  IIC® leverages resources from real estate transactions to generate unrestricted funding for nonprofits, and IIC Friends get involved when they have a real estate need and use IIC® Real Estate Members to handle the transactions.

Michael didn’t quite envision how personally rewarding it would be to be involved in this win-win-win scenario.  He’s enabled a law firm to give funds to help stop Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), knows how appreciative teachers were upon getting funds to support art in schools, through Art Resources in Teaching, and cheered as Dreams for Kids used funds to empower at-risk youth and those with disabilities.  These are just a few of more than a hundred initiatives that Investing In Communities has produced.  There will be many examples of how REALTORS® are helping their communities, and we wish all of you good luck as Good Neighbor Awards are conferred next month.