Browse Tag: Business

The Rules For Representing Your Local Business On Google Maps

English: Wordmark of Google Maps

It’s monumentally important for any business open to the public to make sure it appears on Google Maps. It’s such a big deal that property management and commercial leasing professionals are adding consulting and value-added services to help tenants get that critical chore accomplished. It’s not a fire-and-forget process, either: keeping your Google presence in presentable shape is tightly tied to maintaining a business’s general online presence.  It goes far beyond filling out forms and establishing accounts — online presence management is a holistic, ongoing maintenance process that touches everything your business does online and off. That is, if you’re doing it right.

What Are The Rules?

There are guidelines for online presence management in Google both published and unpublished. Let’s look at what Google’s published:

Guidelines For Representing Your Business On Google is the essential starting point for getting things right with “The Big G”.  A look at this set of steps will show an important concept in obtaining decent local Google ranking, a concept that you should carry with you for the entire lifecycle of your business. That concept is: assume nothing. Here’s what I mean:

Google is not an army of people reading web pages and making determinations about what’s on them.  That job falls to software that Google has developed for the purpose.  The software is built more for speed and handling huge volume of pages than it is for understanding the implications of your business. You should not assume that Google understands plain English and will display your search results the way you want: you have to tell it, using keywords and highly specific and accurate information, about your business.

Commercial Real Estate Practice

Consider the overwhelmingly common case of the tertiary-market or small town real estate agent whose business is mainly residential but also handles the commercial property transactions in her territory.  When the time comes to develop her website and reflect her practice in Google, should there be different pages for her residential practice and her commercial practice?  Generally, no.  Here’s what Google advises:

Individual practitioners (e.g. doctors, lawyers, real estate agents)

An individual practitioner is a public facing professional, typically with his or her own customer base. Doctors, dentists, lawyers, financial planners, and insurance or real estate agents all are individual practitioners. Pages for practitioners may include title or degree certification (e.g. Dr., MD, JD, Esq., CFA).

An individual practitioner should create his or her own dedicated page if:

  • He or she operates in a public-facing role. Support staff should not create their own page.
  • He or she is directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours.

A practitioner should not have multiple pages to cover all of his or her specializations.

Why Is This?

The exact specifics of why Google wants what it wants are known only to Google’s own software engineers and management: we users of Google are advised about best practices but only to a point. Which leaves plenty of questions unanswered: why shouldn’t a real estate pro with different practices represent those practices separately in Google?

The common consensus about this concerns the control of spam — unwanted communication, duplicated endlessly, clogging up systems. The Google Webspam team, led by Matt Cutts, is a major source of best practices on the web for best Google results, and I’ve noticed over the years that when duplication of information is the topic, even if it’s innocent duplication, the uniform response from the Google webspam team is a frown.

That means that Jane Realestate, REALTOR, should list her commercial practice in the context of a single page outlining her general real estate practice, rather than construct a second Jane Realestate page focused on her commercial work — in short because two Jane Realestates at 123 Main St. would be seen by Google as spam or potential spam, and will be correspondingly ranked lower.

Assume nothing.  And read the entire set of guidelines from Google on Representing Your Local Business here.

Refi Roundup: A National Look At The Summer’s Refinancing Deals

Percent Symbols - Best Percentage Growth or In...

In commercial property, the only constant is change.  Notes come due, loan interest rates float, property financial performance is uncertain, spreads narrow and widen, baseline assumptions go by the wayside.  Sometimes, it’s just time to go get some new capital and refinance.

Let’s take a look around the national refinancing market for some recent commercial loans:


(Photo credit: SalFalko)


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Investing in REITs: The What And The Why From NPR

The purpose and the process of investing in a real estate investment trust (REIT) is unclear to many, even though it’s the most cut-and-dried way to put capital into commercial real estate.  Some struggle with understanding the notions of portfolio management, and questions about what properties are being invested in and why keep an investor from making the leap.  Others wonder about returns: how do rents and other building cash flows become dividends or push the REIT share price in one direction or another?

The personal perspective on these aspects of REITs is not often explored by mainstream media, and when it happens, it’s worth checking out. National Public Radio’s Uri Berliner recently produced an excellent program on the REIT scene by letting us follow along with his journey as an investor.

At times both enlightening and worrying, Uri’s piece explores the basic financial plumbing behind the REIT concept and sets REITs up in comparison to other means of real estate investment in a compelling way.  The worrying part: the reappearance of the “B” word: bubble.

Josh Dorkin runs a real estate investment website called Bigger Pockets. I asked him what kind of real estate bet I can make for $1,000. His advice: Be careful.

“We’re kind of in a bubble once again,” he says. “We’ve got these low interest rates; we’ve got the big money funds coming into the market. And of course if you’re savvy and know what you’re doing, there’s always going to be an opportunity.”

Dorkin runs me through my options.

“You could go and flip a house. Of course, you’d need to go out and take out a high-risk loan more likely than not to do that and of course doing that is really kind of like running a job in itself.”

Scratch that.

“Other options include crowdsourcing or syndication.”

Too complicated.

“And I think the final option is really to go out and buy shares of a REIT — real estate investment trust.”

REITs are sold like stocks, and they’re held by many individuals and institutional investors. You might have a REIT in your retirement fund. REITs are trusts that own and develop property and earn rental income. Most of it gets passed on to investors.

“They are forced by law — a law created in 1960 — that provides that real estate investment trusts have to meet certain tests,” says Brad Thomas, editor of the Intelligent REIT Investor. “And if they do, they are forced to pay out 90 percent of their taxable income in the form of dividends.”

Those dividends are a regular stream of income, and they’re what make REITs attractive to investors. In a rising real estate market, they’re what clinch it for me.

I put down $513.94 on a REIT index fund. It’s basically a smorgasbord of many different REITs. It contains what you might expect — REITs that own apartment buildings and shopping centers. But Thomas says the range of REITs today goes far beyond that, “from billboards to prisons to cell towers, campus housing. Even solar is on the horizon potentially.”

With so many kinds of businesses seeking to become REITs, the Internal Revenue Service has begun reviewing some conversion applications to determine whether the companies truly qualify as real estate firms. In other words, are they really landlords? The REIT structure can allow companies to significantly reduce their tax bills. The fund I’ve bought only includes existing REITs, not firms hoping to convert to them.


To hear the entire NPR program How To Invest In Real Estate Without Being A Landlord, follow the link.


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May 2013 NAR Commercial Real Estate Market Survey Released

The REALTORS® Commercial Real Estate Market Survey measures quarterly activity in the commercial real estate markets. The survey collects data from REALTORS® who are commercial practitioners. The survey is designed to provide an overview of market performance, sales and rental transactions, along with current economic challenges and future expectations.

2013.Q1 Survey Highlights:

  • REALTOR® commercial markets recorded improved conditions for both sales and leasing.
  • Sixty-four percent of commercial REALTORS® closed a sales transaction during the quarter.
  • Sales volume rose 3.0 percent from a year ago.
  • Sales prices inched up 0.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • Leasing activity advanced 5.0 percent from the previous quarter.
  • Rental rates increased 1.0 percent compared with the previous quarter.
  • Concession levels declined 5.0 percent on a quarterly basis.
  • Financing remains at the top of the current challenges list, followed by pricing gap between buyers and sellers.
  • The estimated average transaction slid from $1.2 million to $1.1 million from the prior quarter.

Commercial Real Estate Market Survey May 2013

View the entire report on

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It’s All

It was likely an accident but I may have learned a thing or two on my most recent trip to Las Vegas.  Strolling along from the roulette table to the virtual roulette table, then the ATM, I stumbled upon the 2013 Prudential HIT PLAY Convention being held at Caesar’s Palace. Realizing this is why NAR sent me here it was time to get to work and maybe attend a session or two.

Fidgeting through the program I noticed Terry Watson was holding his session called: Avoiding Road kill – Top 10 Stupid Things That Really Smart REALTORS® Do To Mess Up Their Lives™.  An active speaker on the NAR circuit, Terry is also an instructor for many NAR courses so I made a point to check it out.

A few subjects came up which should not be overlooked by our members, so I decided to share them below.

As a REALTOR® you need to:

1)      Look at yourself as a BRAND-   License your name. Yup, license then protect it. REALTORS® need to realize that their name is a brand. Protect the brand – look up every single photo of yourself on Facebook, including those in which you have been “tagged”. Look into getting reputation management and start a Yelp account in your name before someone else does.

2)      Get some Klout – Many of you may know about Klout, but did you know they have recently partnered with Bing and will now show your Klout score next to your name?  Klout has been touted as an online credit report on how much influence you have in the social media world. As unfair as this may seem to some there are fairly easy ways to raise your score. Getting interactions on twitter and Facebook and posting things that will get forwarded are two of the tips offered to raise your score.  Think grumpy cat.


vitameatavegamin (Photo credit: Sara_Coffey)

3)      Take care of yourself- Are you sick, stressed or tired? No, I am not selling you on a cure all pill or the latest in exercise equipment with assembly required, but I did want to share some of Terry’s suggestions- look at what you take in and do not allowing food sensitivities to control how you feel day to day. If affected, look into the food sensitivity test Alcat, watch documentaries on food production such as fork over knives, and read books such as Wheat Belly.

4)      Create an account – What is provides free personalized pages on the web where you link all of your social media and contact information in one clean platform- an online business card.  Terry seems to have found out about this site the same way I did –from Nobu Hata, NAR’s Director of Digital Engagement, and checking out his page here.

If you want to learn more about Terry Watson’s programs check out his website at .


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Proposing A Commercial Overlay Board

Red Realtor RBecause commercial real estate practice needs its own support system, NAR Commercial Division encourages and supports existing associations to create of Commercial Overlay Boards devoted to such support. In 1992, The Board of Directors of NAR authorized the establishment of Commercial Overlay Boards of REALTORS®. A Commercial Overlay Board co-exists and shares (overlays) geographic jurisdiction with one or more  REALTOR® associations, in order to better serve members in a commercial market area.  At the same time, the territory currently assigned to existing associations remains intact as well as their right  and obligation to provide services to their members. COB jurisdictions may be local, multi-market, state-wide and inter-state.

How Do You Research The Market To Create A COB?

  • Identify Leadership: Identify a core group of respected, dedicated and committed commercial members to lead the effort to propose and create the COB.
  • Define the COB Jurisdiction Area: The market area in which the COB commercial members’ practice defines the targeted jurisdiction.
  • Founding Members (15) And Firms (10): List the founding members and firms of the COB.
  • Identify Potential Members And Firms: Identify the potential number of COB members and firms within the proposed jurisdiction.
  • Assess Market Conditions, Member Needs, Services And Allied Organizations:  Appraise the local market conditions and list the ways a  COB can assist commercial practitioners to increase their transactions. Only promise what the COB can deliver.
  • Develop A Strategic Plan:  Summarize the information gathered during the assessment stage and give the COB direction
  • Develop A Startup Action Plan:

Full details on the steps for COB creation are available here to NAR members with an NRDS login.

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Podcast: Avoiding Litigation In Leases

In the newest NAR Commercial Intelligence Briefing podcast, attorney Jim Hochman discusses the anatomy of a lease, avoiding litigation and more. As a partner at Coman & Anderson, Mr. Hochman represents many commercial real estate brokerage firms, receivers, landlords, tenants, and real estate investors by assisting in commercial and residential real estate transactions. He is also a member of the NAR Commercial Signature Series Speaker Bureau.

  • Covered in the podcast:
  • The anatomy of the exclusive listing agreement
  • Considerations of using agreements written for one state in another state
  • Things brokers should watch for — are you dealing with the property owner of record, or do you just think you are?
  • Anatomy of a purchase and sell agreement
  • Tips for brokers on how best to work with and seek lawyers
  • What mistakes lead to litigation again and again
  • Common misrepresentations
  • Broker lien rights
  • License portability and doing interstate business
  • Broker negotiation tips
  • And more!

Listen to Jim’s wisdom at the NAR Commercial Intelligence Briefing podcast.

Subscribe to the NAR Commercial Podcasts on iTunes

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Corporate Real Estate Veteran To Younger Brokers: Ditch The Spreadsheets

Picture of a legal padIt’s not possible to patrol the commercial RE beat online without finding Coy Davidson. A Senior VP at Colliers with twenty years in the business, Coy writes The Tenant Advisor, one of the better blogs dedicated to commercial property markets with a focus on corporate real estate and tenant representation and office solutions.

His recent post is titled Know Your Numbers.  And when he says “know”, he’s not kidding.  His advice to agents is to embrace the math in the financial analysis spreadsheets by learning it away from spreadsheets — old-school — to the benefit of everybody at the table. He writes:

Today, computer software makes it easy to crunch the numbers and produce impressive looking reports.  However, I am often surprised at how many agents even with a few years experience lack the financial expertise to speak the CFO’s language and effectively advise their clients. 

I learned the economics of a lease transaction with a financial calculator and a legal pad and I think young brokers should do the same.  If you are going to lay that impressive spreadsheet on your client’s desk, you should be able to explain what the numbers mean and more importantly “why they are what they are.”

Mr. Davidson’s not wrong.  In fact, in a financial era marked by disasters rooted in financial opacity, “innovation” and outright fudging as could only be enabled by Excel and its like, any call to get back to the math underpinnings in finance is a refreshing voice of sanity.

The good news about spreadsheets is they simplify presentation and provide incredible flexibility and customizability.  The bad news about spreadsheets is…they simplify presentation and provide incredible flexibility and customizability. What’s good for presentation is often no good for content.  It’s too easy to copy and paste blocks of cells from one deal template into another without ever considering the applicability of such terms to the specific client or to the investor. The ends might not even come close to justifying the means, but whether the user chooses a method either out of a shaky grasp on the fundamental math, or worse, out of a single-minded focus on the bottom line, the spreadsheet dutifully represents and enables.  Which is both a shame and a warning to not do all your work in a spreadsheet.

Opening up, as Coy suggests, a legal pad and a financial calculator before opening a spreadsheet brings real understanding to dealmaking by teaching principles of valuation, and more importantly, teaching how to arrive at valuation principles – not just taking them as a given as inherited from cells D26-36.

To help fight financial innumeracy, Coy laid out three of his earlier posts on financial analysis. Pick up one of these  and one of these and check them out


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Women In Commercial Real Estate: Profiles In Success

Picture of a businesswoman and businessman shaking hands

In a traditionally male-dominated industry, the presence of women can too easily be seen as a novelty or an aberration.  Mistreatment and lack of respect has historically been the reflex of most commission-driven business sectors when faced with professional women where few or none were expected before. Thankfully, there are indications that commercial real estate has gotten over any shock at the idea of women as esteemed colleagues and market competitors and is simply getting down to business with all of us seated at the table — like we need to do in the 21st century.

Professionals On The Project

What got me thinking about this is the piece I noticed in the Charlotte Oberver by Kelly Mae Ross profiling three women in commercial real estate.  One is a developer, one a officer space broker and a third a consultant.  What struck me about their stories was the depth of experience and focus on their projects in their entirety, from the perspective of several different skill-sets. If I have a bias about women in business, it’s that time and again I see professional women demonstrate themselves to be excellent multi-taskers – sometimes with an edge over guys in the keep-it-together department – and I thought it was interesting to see this come up in these profiles.

CREW: Commercial Real Estate Women

It’s one thing for the industry to have graduated from a state of shock at seeing women managing commercial property projects, but it’s something else to challenge corporate cultures.  Two things that jumped out at me in the profiles above were the advice by consultant Wendy Field and leasing agent Rhea Greene concerning mentoring.  “Network and find a mentor. “The key is having a good mentor just to get your name out, just to introduce you to new people so if there is a new opportunity, you’re aware of it,” says Greene.

“Bridging the C-Suite Gap” is a mentoring program by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) geared to take on the boardroom and have corporate culture catch up with the rest of the world.  Applications for this year are closed, which suggests something about the depth of demand for career development programs focused on women in CRE.

Uneven Progress

NAR’s own research reports the median age in the profession is 57. And men account for 76 percent of the trade group’s commercial members.  Addressing this is the Cleveland-based Real Estate Associate Program profiled here in the Plain Dealer.  The program, started in 1997 provides networking, education and sponsorship opportunities for minorities considering commercial real estate jobs.

Is the industry actively hostile to change or just a creature of habit?  I’d say the later.  But it’s true that there’s still a long way to go until commercial real estate more accurately represents and reflects the wider society it serves.



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NAR Commercial Practitioners: Call For Brief Survey

Logo of NAR's MVP participation rewards programAttention commercial REALTORS®: From July 16-31st 2012, NAR commercial members are called to participate in a brief survey by NAR’s Research Department.

As part of the NAR’s Member Value Plus (MVP) Program, where REALTORS® earn rewards for participation in actions geared to improve our industry, today’s call is for a brief survey of your business activity and what you see in your marketplace. This survey is an extension of the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey and annual Member Profile, meaning results will of course be shared with members and in other venues.

To participate, you must have a valid NRDS ID number and e-mail address.

The Reward

In exchange for participation, NAR is offering a reward of a free download of the 2012 NAR Member Profile.  What’s in it? Plenty of valuable intelligence and networking:

Who are REALTORS®? Economic, demographic, education, tenure, agency relationship and compensation of REALTORS® are broken down. In addition, this report takes an in-depth look at office affiliation, type of firm, as well as the use of the Internet and technology. This unique tool provides the answers in a user-friendly format, designed to allow easy comparisons with previous studies, using a mix of charts, graphs and tables.

You have until August 31st, 2012 to claim your Reward in the You will receive a promotional code to utilize in the Store to receive your reward via e-mail within 48 hours.n in-depth look at office affiliation, type of firm, as well as the use of the Internet and technology. This unique tool provides the answers in a user-friendly format, designed to allow easy comparisons with previous studies, using a mix of charts, graphs

The Survey
Got your NRDS number handy? Is it before July 31st 2012?  Ready to earn a reward?  Then begin filling out the survey here.
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