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6 steps for creating a strategic plan in corporate real estate.
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November 01, 2019
Contributor: Sharon George
CRE teams should understand how multiple stakeholders contribute to corporate strategic goals.
As organizations develop their corporate strategies for the year, corporate real estate (CRE) teams need to make sure they can keep the lights on — quite literally — and continue to work on activities outside of their traditional remit, looking beyond cost and space reduction to find ways to support company strategy.
“ It’s important to consider the impact of CRE on fulfilling corporate goals rather than just tracking operational metrics”
“Because business needs and technology capabilities are shifting rapidly, CRE is expected to deliver value faster than ever, says Douglas Shapiro, Senior Principal, Advisory, Gartner. “CRE teams must continue to implement strategies that are cost-efficient and that enhance the employee workplace experience.”
The following six steps will help.
Lay the groundwork
Heads of CRE teams must first define and set a vision for the function. To do this, be sure to avoid an insular view by engaging business partners early. Consider which activities no longer support the vision to free up resources to support new initiatives.
The CRE team should also collaborate with stakeholders, particularly the CFO, to set out a timeline for the strategic planning process and obtain commitment to the plan, which will be important to ensure funding of CRE initiatives.
Even the best-laid plans can be upended by short-term priorities, so teams will need to design plans that can be managed and tracked through the year.
Learn more: Five shifts corporate real estate must make for the future
Understand business goals
Heads of CRE should collaborate with C-level executives and other senior managers to understand how they can support long-term strategy. CRE can then assess external forces (economic, regulatory and technological factors) and how they will affect real estate priorities.
Managers of different corporate functions may not completely understand their real estate requirements, so CRE teams should look at the overall objectives and offer support, when possible. It is crucial to have confident customer relationship managers on the team to have constructive conversations around occupancy planning and space forecasting — both of which are critical to facilitating business goals.
Identify improvement areas
Next, CRE leaders will need to evaluate the function’s current capabilities. Through self-assessment and business partner feedback, leaders can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
It’s important to consider the impact of CRE on fulfilling corporate goals rather than just tracking operational metrics. Don’t simply focus on hitting metrics.
Determine how to achieve real estate objectives
CRE leaders should leverage their knowledge of the team’s capabilities to translate business goals into functional objectives. Once CRE teams determine how to fulfill these goals, they then need to identify metrics to measure progress, determine the resources required and assess the risks that could affect their plan.
Ultimately, the end goal is for CRE to obtain a prioritized list of strategic initiatives that also includes metrics to measure them.
Communicate your plan to stakeholders
To drive alignment and commitment across the function, the strategic plan must be communicated to different stakeholder groups. Build a dashboard that connects portfolio and workplace performance with business outcomes. Dashboards should contain compelling metrics for the target internal audiences to support the value proposition of CRE teams.
With input from senior leadership, the plan can then be delivered to business-unit leaders, the function’s leadership team and then to all staff. It’s key to deliver a consistent message across the organization to ensure that employees don’t receive conflicting information.
Learn more: Focus on the right corporate real estate activities
Monitor your progress
Once the plan is implemented, employees have to measure progress against defined objectives. Periodically reassess guideline relevance to ensure changes in CRE strategy and local needs are reflected. Reevaluate the asset management task list to add or eliminate tasks. This is a crucial step to reassure business partners who are typically risk-averse and could hinder the execution of the entire strategy.
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The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Real Estate Strategy
Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Morgan Beard
A corporate real estate strategy has never been more important.
That might sound counterintuitive given the shift to remote and hybrid work post-pandemic. Offices emptied, and companies discovered they could make do without them — at least temporarily. However, keep this in mind: Companies need less square footage than they did before; as many people will continue working remotely. New dynamic ways to work have made workplace strategy more important to a company’s success.
Let’s run through an example. Many commercial spaces aren’t working as intended because they no longer meet the needs of staffers looking for a flexible work situation or enhance a company’s ability to attract talent. Every indicator suggests companies are reevaluating their office footprint, but that raises a host of difficult questions: How much space is necessary? What’s the ideal location? Which amenities are most important? What’s the market price point for rent?
With office vacancies not predicted to return to peak pre-pandemic levels until 2025 and commercial landlords more willing to negotiate lower rents , there’s an unparalleled opportunity to find a great deal. Unfortunately, the right location doesn’t have a massive arrow above it. Great locations take a lengthy search to find, and there are unmistakable consequences for choosing the wrong one.
Regardless of whether corporate occupiers are upsizing, downsizing, switching locations, or rethinking their entire workplace strategy — one thing is for certain, commercial real estate will be an important subject in the coming months and years. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about developing a commercial leasing strategy that truly works.
Planning for Growth: It’s Time for a New Corporate Real Estate Strategy?
The most obvious sign that it’s time to seek out new corporate real estate is having more staffers than space to seat them.
During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, however, other concerns might necessitate a move. Your company might need a space that serves as a gathering area or facilitate brainstorming rather than a sea of cubicles. Real estate leadership might see better opportunities to expand to new markets to attract customers or staff members located elsewhere. Having a competitive strategy that achieves employee satisfaction via workplace design, and balances corporate objectives is key.
Your corporate real estate leaders driving your workplace experience should ask themselves this question: What’s the primary goal of our leasing strategy, and does our current real estate portfolio serve that strategy?
Don’t expect an obvious answer. Instead, seek input from throughout your company to help the real estate team make the right choice. Ask the C-suite what image it wants to project through real estate and how much money there is to spend. Consult with HR about what the staff needs in terms of space and personal work preferences. Ask IT what technical requirements an office, warehouse, or store must have, especially as technological needs morph and grow. In short, gather input from all business unit leaders so no detail or requirement is overlooked when it comes to your corporate real estate space requirements.
The next question is this: What’s the minimum square footage we need for office space? The answer requires a close examination of what the on-site team looks like at this point. How many people come into the office regularly? Do they have dedicated desks, cubicles, or offices? Are people meeting in groups, and do those groups include clients?
Figuring out what’s necessary and what isn’t gets a company closer to the right number of square feet. However, as a general rule of thumb, plan for 150 square feet of space for every on-site employee. By this calculation, for instance, a company with 70 employees will need 10,500 square feet of office space. However, if half the employees work from home at any given time, a 5,000-square-foot office could provide plenty of space at a decidedly better cost.
Occupancy planning and space management requires real estate planning with business unit leaders and your facilities management teams. Your teams strategic space initiatives should balance short-term priorities with long-term strategies all through the lens of today’s economic factors. The key to fine-tuning your corporate real estate strategy to the needs of a company operating in a fast-changing economy will be asking the right questions and then spending enough time exploring the answers. Here are some great prompts to start with:
- Where do employees commute from?
- Where are clients located?
- What are the current market rents and concessions?
- What type of building is necessary?
- What building amenities are necessary?
- How long does the lease need to be?
- Is building a space an option, or does the space need to exist already?
- What location draws will attract and retain talent (think restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and so on)?
- Similarly, is there close proximity to public transportation?
- Are there flexible space operators (such as WeWork) in the area that allow more freedom than a traditional lease?
- What ratio of remote-to-in-person working time do employees prefer, and what kind of location will be most convenient for that?
- What technology is required to support a mobile workforce, and what investment is necessary?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you reach the more difficult part: finding a space that checks all the boxes. Ultimately this question set outlines your core business space management needs as well as new opportunities for cost and space reduction or expansion. That’s where a commercial real estate broker— specifically a tenant representative — comes in.
Making the Most of a Tenant Representation Broker
Brokers can be an asset to any company rethinking its corporate real estate strategy —even if there’s a dedicated real estate team in-house. That’s because commercial real estate brokers (also known as tenant representation brokers) have extensive market expertise, especially in markets where a company might be new and unfamiliar. They know the ins and outs of leasing in a particular building or neighborhood better than anyone else, which makes it faster to find corporate real estate that supports the needs of your business.
And even though commercial real estate brokers make moving more successful, they also do the same for staying put. When it comes time to renew a lease, a broker can help a company secure more favorable terms — especially in a depressed corporate real estate market where landlords are eager to keep tenants around or are desperately trying to fill vacancies. Working with a broker might lower the price of staying so much that it’s financially viable to renovate the space or seek out supplemental locations rather than moving everyone out.
Whether you’re relying on a broker to stay or go, the savings you can arrange by negotiating or renegotiating lease terms almost always outweigh a broker’s commission fee. Be aware that broker’s fees for both the landlord and the tenant are often built into pro formas and listing agreements, too. If the tenant fails to utilize a broker, the fees allotted for that purpose go to the other broker or the landlord. Given this fact, the return on investment of working with a tenant representation broker is very compelling.
However, the most compelling reason of all to bring in outside help is because of the access brokers have to insider information. Brokers subscribe to expensive databases such as CoStar and LoopNet, and they often know about off-market opportunities that would be invisible to tenants trying to find commercial real estate on their own. While transparency into commercial real estate data has increased in recent years, we’re not yet at a point where availability data is public and accurate. So beware of the Google search for “office space” and the reliability of the results.
Valuable as brokers may be, they’re not all created equal. When searching for the top tenant rep brokers , ask these questions about your list of candidates:
- How do they communicate and collaborate with clients? Do they use technology, or are they relying on antiquated methods?
- What past deals have they completed that are relevant to this one?
- What additional resources do they bring to the table that are relevant to this one?
- Will they get along with your culture and team?
Enlisting a broker is a great decision, especially when you find just the right one. However, making the most of the relationship also requires a shared understanding that’s difficult to establish with just phone or email. Having a shared platform to work on gives the broker and you — the corporate occupier — a single source of truth.
When everyone has a complete set of facts and information at their disposal, it eliminates misunderstandings and duplicated work while streamlining the decision-making process on both ends. Why use a commercial real estate broker if the partnership can’t be maximized? After all, a shared platform makes a good process great.
A modernized lease management workflow has never been more important. Here at Occupier we enable real estate teams to take control of their lease portfolio by leveraging a tech stack purposefully built for commercial tenants. Gone are the days of manually updating spreadsheets, manually abstracting lease and adding calendar notification for your lease expiration dates.
Check out our Ultimate guide to lease management linked above. This helps commercial tenants and real estate teams navigate the lease lifecycle and lease administration process in order to facilitate better decision making for your business. If you are ready to automate your lease administration tasks and deal pipeline then book a demo with our team to get a look under the hood of Occupier.
Leasing 101: Common Commercial Leases
Having the right lease matters just as much as having the right space. Your company should decide for itself — hopefully in consultation with a broker — what kind of lease you need and what the most favorable terms look like. There are many different types of commercial lease agreements, but the most common options include:
- Short term (one to three years): The advantage of a short-term commercial lease is the flexibility to leave in a short period of time without paying a penalty. But this option might cost more and be harder to find as landlords generally prefer to have tenants commit for longer time periods. The good news is that there are plenty of flexible space operators out there that specialize in this type of lease.
- Standard term (three to five years): This lease is the standard because it’s often the best option for tenants and landlords. The length of time offers some flexibility at a competitive rate. And by committing for a bit longer, tenants make themselves eligible for concessions like buildout allowances or free rent — especially with a broker as an advocate.
- Long term (five or more years): A long-term commercial lease might allow you to achieve the best rental rate, but your flexibility is limited, and you’re typically paying for significant capital expenditures out of pocket. Typically, this option works best for companies with a clear vision of the future and the capital necessary to provide a long-term home for their employees.
Whether for office, retail, industrial, or mixed-use spaces, there are a few other types of commercial leases worth considering:
- Full-service lease: The tenant pays the landlord to handle all or most of the expenses related to a property (think taxes, maintenance, insurance, and so forth).
- Net lease: The tenant pays a lower rental rate to the landlord but also pays out of pocket for services such as trash removal, landscaping, parking lot repaving, or whatever conditions the lease terms stipulate.
- Modified gross lease: Somewhere between a full-service and a net lease, a modified gross lease involves the tenant paying the landlord for rent and select services charged and recalculated on an annual basis. Some fixed costs, such as electricity, are explicitly stated in the lease.
- Co-working lease: This is a kind of short-term commercial lease agreement with a high degree of flexibility. Companies can access highly customized spaces but at a premium price.
- Percent lease : The tenant pays a base rent plus a percentage of monthly sales. This type of commercial lease agreement favors the landlord and is commonly imposed on shopping mall tenants or businesses with high sales volume.
In any lease agreement, however, certain tenant rights should be nonnegotiable. These include the right to renew the lease, which gives a business the right to stay in a quality location for as long as the lease stipulates and avoid the disruption of a sudden move.
Alternately, tenants also need the right to terminate a lease and leave a space, ideally with the least expense and inefficiency possible. And when termination isn’t possible, tenants need the right to sublease commercial space to recoup some of their costs. They should also have the option to occupy more space within a building when possible and necessary with preference over outside tenants. Finally, the ability to restructure a lease agreement makes a commercial real estate strategy flexible in the face of the unexpected (such as, say, a pandemic).
Speaking of the pandemic, COVID-19 altered expectations around commercial real estate in ways that every tenant needs to be aware of. Before, flexibility wasn’t a strong feature within lease agreements. That’s changing now that companies are shifting to remote work, thinking differently about work-life balance, and trying to outpace the competition in fluid markets. Expect to see landlords offer more short-term, co-working, or gross modified lease options as tenants increasingly demand more flexibility. Post-pandemic, commercial real estate can’t limit your company’s agility. It must enable it by allowing your organization to scale, move, and adapt to spaces with ease.
Lease Accounting in a New Era of Commercial Real Estate
Recent changes to lease accounting standards add yet another wrinkle to today’s commercial real estate market. Before diving into the details, however, let’s review the two major types of commercial leases:
- Capital lease: Similar to owning a piece of property, a capital lease appears on a company’s balance sheet. Interest payments on debt financing go on the income statement, the present market value appears under the assets side, and the loan amount is included under liabilities.
- Operational lease: Similar to renting a property, lease payments are accounted for as operating expenses on the income statement. That’s the extent of the accounting requirements.
New lease accounting standards (right now, that’s FASB ASC 842 and IFRS 16) change how companies must account for lease payments. With the exception of short-term lease payments, all leases must now appear on the balance sheet as a lease liability and right-of-use asset. The distinction between capital lease versus operating lease no longer matters from an accounting standpoint, which eliminates some ambiguity but also makes lease accounting more complicated overall.
FASB ASC 842 also requires companies to separate leases embedded in contracts. For example, if a contract includes stipulations around leasing equipment for manufacturing, leasing servers for IT, or leasing billboards for advertising, those agreements must appear on the balance sheet as well. Accounting for commercial real estate leases now requires more input from staff and more time in general.
Making matters worse, companies must comply with another update that affects lease accounting. Known as IFRS 16, this lease accounting standard works similar to FASB ASC 842 in that it creates a single accounting model to recognize assets and liabilities from all leases. But there are also differences between the two standards. Without getting into the weeds of how they deviate, the fact is that companies must comply with two sweeping and separate rule changes that make lease accounting far more challenging than before.
As you revise your corporate real estate strategy moving forward, then, you should be aware of these changes and put the right policies in place to comply with them. Accounting violations can have expensive, lasting consequences, so it’s ideal to avoid them at all costs. A shared platform for real estate data can both help with long-term compliance, as can the best practices we’ll outline in the next section.
Best Practices for Lease Management
When so much depends on your company’s real estate portfolio, it requires careful management and oversight of your real estate objectives. We’ve mentioned the importance of partnering with commercial real estate brokers. But internally, there also need to be partnerships between your back and front offices as well as between your real estate team and other stakeholders throughout the organization. After all, everyone has a stake in where your company operates. Therefore, everyone should have some input.
Best practices around commercial real estate management all relate to keeping various stakeholders coordinated and in close communication. All the potential real estate decision problems — from choosing the wrong space during site selection phases to violating lease accounting standards — result from a misalignment between different moving parts. Knowing that, the single best practice your company can follow is to integrate everyone and everything relevant to your real estate portfolio in one place. Your company performance hinges on that
A single source of truth can save you time because no one has to wait to get the information they need. It can also eliminate errors that arise from miscommunication or bad data. Most valuable of all, a communal data resource synthesizes the three pillars of a corporate real estate strategy: transaction management, lease administration, and lease accounting . Best practices really boil down to keeping everyone on the same page, and today’s lease management software makes that easier than ever.
A Tech-Driven Corporate Real Estate Strategy
Technology can make commercial real estate manageable — even as it becomes more complicated and a higher-stakes endeavor. There are a number of cloud-based “proptech” solutions on the market, for instance, that are of varying quality. In your hunt for helpful tools, look out for these features to dig up the best options:
- Simple: From beginning to end, commercial real estate deals consume massive amounts of time, enlist multiple stakeholders, and generate huge volumes of data. Lease management software should make everything easier by simplifying, expediting, or eliminating work that would otherwise have to be done manually. Look for solutions that promise clear, substantial ROI in terms of time saved, costs avoided, and so forth.
- Collaborative: In a future driven by remote work, any proptech platform worth its salt needs to integrate stakeholders across various locations. Hosting data on the cloud helps with accessibility, but the solution itself should facilitate collaboration by moving more data into the right places automatically instead of letting it get lost in spreadsheets or PDF files. Look for solutions that help your real estate team and everyone they rely on work in perfect sync.
- Secure: When commercial real estate software becomes a single source of truth for all relevant data, it also becomes a valuable target for hackers. And when there are multiple people, locations, networks, and devices involved, the risk of a successful attack is high. With this in mind, always look for solutions that can support a single sign-on and include multiple data protection capabilities.
Why Business Success Depends on Having the Right Approach to Commercial Real Estate
Because it’s now directly related to business success, your corporate real estate strategy has never been more important.
Of course, the two have always been linked. But never has your company’s fortune depended more on its footprint , lease obligations, and accounting standards. You need the right commercial real estate portfolio to help with this. Just as important, you need to manage that portfolio effectively in the face of positive, negative, and surprising circumstances.
A lease management platform improves all major parts of the process: broker relationships, site location, lease negotiations, lease accounting, and so much more. And as commercial real estate becomes more complex, consequential, and competitive all at the same time, it risks becoming a liability. Great software keeps that from happening and does just the opposite: It transforms commercial real estate into a strategic asset and a driver of business success.
Occupier leads the way in this new era of lease accounting and lease management. Schedule a demo to chat with our dedicated team and see what a better approach to corporate real estate management looks like.
Check out our Lease Accounting Resource Hub for additional guidance.
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For real estate professionals, mastering the art of attachment and detachment is the secret to high performance.
In the high-stakes world of real estate , whether at the agency level or in the corporate offices at a prop tech startup, leaders must constantly tap dance a delicate balance between attachment and detachment. This artful balance allows them to stay focused on their strategic plans and remain resilient in the face of challenges.
Derail or stay on track: A critical moment for real estate leaders
Imagine a driven, goal-oriented real estate executive with a reputation for getting things done, no matter the cost. Now imagine that executive and their team are sucker-punched by a major customer who pulls the plug on a major deal without warning.
The team is in a state of shock, dismay, disarray and are pointing fingers at each other. In turn, the moment is unwinding quickly — and the leader is wrapped up in the moment, just as much as their staff.
The perils of attachment
Becoming overly attached to the immediate crisis can have disastrous consequences for everyone involved, but more so for the leader.
The team’s morale, the executive’s credibility, and the company’s reputation are all at risk. The situation can quickly spiral out of control, leading to long-lasting negative impacts. And there’s little time to pivot or put a crisis plan in place.
“The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
If F. Scott Fitzgerald was in the room with this real estate executive, he’d suggest a five minute cool down to detach from the crisis to find some balanced ground. In other words, it’s wise to detach from the immediacy of the crisis and begin to attach to reality. Find a way to some level, rational thinking, however difficult it may be.
By finding emotional balance, minimizing the disruption, and refocusing on the strategic plan, the executive can begin to lead the team out of darkness and even build momentum from it.
Staying attached to your strategic plan
I’m just sittin’ here Watchin’ the wheels go round and round I really love to watch them roll No longer ridin’ on the merry-go-rounds I just had to let it go I just had to let it go I just had to let it go.
“Watching the Wheels “ — John Lennon
For agents, leaders, managers, and founders, mastering the art of detachment and attachment can have a ripple effect on their teams. If you’re feeling overwhelmed as a leader, consider how your teammates might be feeling.
As John Lennon suggests, sometimes it’s best to just watch the wheels go by. However, in the hard-charging world of real estate, simply observing is not enough. You must also stay attached to your strategic plan and press forward.
Addiction experts often emphasize the importance of replacing unwanted thoughts with more productive ones, and the same principle applies here. Detach from the negative and attach to the positive The more attached you are to executing your plan, the less likely you’ll be swayed by external distractions.
Mastering detachment and attachment: An accountability exercise
To improve your ability to detach from negativity and maintain a strong attachment to your strategic plan, commit to the following exercise:
- Wake up and commit to detaching from negative, non-productive thoughts throughout the day. Write this commitment down on a piece of paper.
- Schedule 15-minute reflection sessions for midday and the end of the evening.
- Did I let negative emotions and thoughts control my actions?
- Did I prioritize and stick to my plan for the day?
- Did I approach challenges with a growth mindset?
- Reflect on your responses and identify ways to improve your detachment and attachment in the future.
By mastering the art of detachment and attachment, high-performing real estate professionals can lead during difficult times, enabling their individual team members to learn from your example.
It’s never easy, but staying aware of your emotional resolve using the accountability exercise above is your secret to finding balance through thick and thin.
Bob Pudlock is talent acquisition recruiter at Gulfstream Search .
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Resourcing the strategic plan.
Investing in Human Capital to Sustain Future Howard
Implementing Howard Forward requires attracting, managing, training, developing and retaining a skilled and competitive workforce. To retain top talent in the organization, we must foster an environment of intellectual curiosity, innovation and excellence attributes that are required in order to meet our bold strategic objectives. Employees must be taught the refreshed Howard culture, the dynamics of the Howard University ecosystem, and possess the skills and mindsets needed to realize Howard University’s vision.
Our workforce must mimic the workforce of the future, and be nimble and adaptive to external environmental changes, with differentiation of product, and sustainability of the Howard legacy at the forefront of our thinking.
We are committed to providing high quality customer service to all prospective, current and past staff and faculty and treating them with dignity and respect. This includes handling every aspect of their employment relationship through their lifecycle with Howard University. By making this commitment to the University and its customers, the Office of Human Resources will be able to maintain elevated levels of mutual trust, respect and unwavering support.
Designing and Planning for the Future
Howard is an anchor institution in the nation’s capital that has watched communities thrive, decline, and rebound during our 150-year history. Our leadership recognizes that the health and well-being of the University is inextricably tied to the physical, social, and economic well-being of the city in which we were founded. This simple truth drives the University’s prerogative to improve our physical campuses and the communities that surround them. As a major landowner, the University controls numerous underdeveloped assets within and outside of the District of Columbia. University assets are assessed using two primary filters: asset typology and activity tier. Asset typology is a categorization of assets based upon the extent to which the use of an asset is directly linked to the furtherance of the University’s educational mission (Core, Edge, Non-Core). Activity tiers categorize and prioritize development sequences based upon the immediacy of, and potential for value optimization (Tiers I through III). The intersection of these two filters has established the rhetoric for the strategic treatment of assets in furtherance of the mission.
As the University pursues development opportunities and initiatives, Howard has a responsibility to dedicate our resources to projects and programs that align with our core mission. The guidelines in this document offer a consistent set of guidelines that will steer Howard’s real estate development efforts. The policies are designed to work in combination with the University’s Campus Master Plan, Strategic Plan, and other planning documents to achieve Howard’s goals.
Howard University’s Office of Real Estate Development and Capital Asset Management (“Real Estate”) is committed to optimizing the value and performance of real assets in support of the University mission. The “optimization of value” relates mainly to commercial real estate activities intended to generate capital for strategic reinvestment. The “optimization of performance” relates to the repair and maintenance of core facilities that support the academic mission, and is executed primarily by Howard’s Department Physical Facilities and Maintenance (“PFM”).
The University’s future development initiatives are driven by a consistent set of guiding principles that align with and advance the University’s core mission. These principles must be flexible to enable Howard to respond quickly to opportunistic programs and projects, but precise enough to direct decisionmaking. In a resource-constrained environment, Howard will use these principles to make careful selections among competing opportunities.
The economic development principles and initiatives described in this section ultimately support Howard’s mission in the following areas: catalytic development, value optimization, risk mitigation, diversity, affordability and transparency.
As an anchor institution in the District of Columbia, Howard University is committed to supporting strong, vibrant communities in the neighborhoods surrounding our campus. Through partnerships with local communities and the District, Howard seeks to catalyze economic growth through strategic development.
Howard is leveraging our assets to generate value to support missioncritical physical and programmatic improvements across our campuses. As such, one of the University’s primary goals in all economic development initiatives is the creation and capture of value, including financial and in-kind.
All major economic development initiatives present risks to Howard, whether they relate to financial or legal concerns, student experience, or brand. When selecting and executing projects, Howard will prioritize projects that minimize risk to the University by allocating risks among the parties best suited to manage and efficiently price such risk.
Howard recognizes our role as a promoter of economic opportunity for underrepresented professionals and businesses and will support diversity among our business partners. Howard will increase participation of local and minority-owned businesses; Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs); and city residents in design, consulting, and construction opportunities.
Much akin to the rising costs of higher education, the affordability of housing in and around Howard’s campuses is an area of concern for the University community. Howard is committed to supporting the community’s affordable housing goals responsibly, and will continue to leverage our real estate development initiatives to make our curricula and degrees accessible to students with financial need.
Howard has a long tradition of working closely with community and local government partners when pursuing campus planning and economic development initiatives. This transparency has allowed the University to communicate our reinvestment needs and our intent to leverage assets strategically to meet those needs. Howard will continue to communicate our plans and priorities from community stakeholders and incorporate feedback and recommendations that align with the University’s core mission.
Safe & Green: 2 Ways To Play Real Estate Development
- Safe & Green Holdings is targeting hot markets with high demand due to a shortage of commercial and residential housing stocks.
- SGBX's proprietary modular construction process saves time and costs, making it more profitable for real estate development projects.
- The proposed sale of a key land investment could generate significant returns and provide capital for future projects.
- Milestones expected in development projects could provide valuation catalysts in the near term.
- Spin-off of development subsidiary gives investors an alternative to exploit undervalued stock.
Safe & Green Holdings ( NASDAQ: SGBX ) delivers exactly what its name suggests - high quality, environmentally sound buildings and components. The Company exploits repurposed and recycled materials and completes manufacturing in a controlled and efficient central location. Minimal assembly work on location reduces site disruption and saves as much as 50% of construction time. The arrangement makes it possible to offer more durable and lower cost buildings compared to conventional construction methods.
The Company's 'Safe and Green' modular buildings and components have been certified by The ICC Evaluation Services as meeting the International Building Code and Residential Code as well as stringent building standards in California and Florida. The Company could be the first modular building producer to receive such certification, a status which could give Safe & Green a clear competitive advantage in the construction market. Additionally, structures that incorporate the Company's modular design with recycled materials can potentially earn points for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
Its Own Best Customer
Safe & Green sells its products directly to third parties such as construction companies, architects, and builders, among others developing real estate for commercial or residential use. Most recently, the Company sold an additional thirty-eight modular structures to an unnamed customer, which has deployed units from an earlier order across multiple states in the U.S. The follow-on order is valued at $2.5 million, representing approximately $65,000 per unit.
Safe & Green Holdings
The Company has been developing its own residential properties, using its proprietary modular construction units to build brand distinction and add value. The company has used metal shipping containers, converting the rectangles to meet the needs of customers for housing or office space. However, the company's manufacturing arm, SG Echo, has gone far beyond container conversions. A mix of wood and steel is used to fabricate the Company's exclusive designs at a central manufacturing site. The units are then assembled onsite and given final finishing touches.
Favorable Demand Trends in Target Markets
The Company may be approaching the market at exactly the right time. Higher costs for construction materials and labor as well as interest rate hikes motivate real estate developers to find lower-cost alternatives. (1, 2)
Supply side cost pressures are intensifying just as the U.S. is experiencing a crunch in housing stock. There is a shortage in residential homes, particularly for the middle market. According to the National Association of Realtors, the U.S. housing market is short more than 300,000 affordable single-family homes of middle-income buyers. (3) Down market there appears to be an even more acute supply deficit. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of 7.3 million rental homes that are affordable and available to rental householders after the U.S. lost approximately 8% of the total affordable housing units following the Covid 2019 pandemic. (4)
Capital for Growth
The Safe & Green team is ready to fill in the housing market gap, an ambition that requires capital. Safe & Green had $1.6 million in its bank account at the end of June 2023, could be used to fuel its growth plans, that is after providing support for operations. The Company has not yet achieved profitability with operations tapping cash resources by $3.0 million in the first six months of 2023. That implies a cash burn rate near a half million dollars per month.
The cash kitty could be boosted in the near-term by the sale of its Lago Vista property in Texas. At least one offer near $12.5 million has been received based on the Company's announcement in June 2023 of a letter of intent to buy Lago Vista. (5) The offer could be a compelling win for Safe & Green that compares favorably with the present value of future development projects. The company originally paid $3.6 million for the property in 2021, and invested another $824,231 to smart it up. With a book value of $4.4 million, the math suggests an astute move by Safe & Green management to monetize a real asset.
Some investors might be disappointed the Company may not go so far as to develop the project with its modular building units. This author's recent conversation with Safe & Green management via video conference call suggested the Company is seeking the right deal, even one that could involve a development pact and the Company's modular structures.
Strategic Restructure Plan
If investors are scratching their heads over selling good property before it is developed, they must be really perplexed with plans to spin off the development subsidiary from the Safe & Green parent. (6) Safe & Green Development Corporation is to become a stand-alone public company with shares listed on Nasdaq. The company plans to retain ownership of 70% of the shares and distribute 30% of the shares to SGBX holders.
A fairness opinion commissioned by the Company pegs the standalone value of its development subsidiary at $74 million, suggesting the stock distribution to shareholders could be valued at approximately $22.2 million. This presents an interesting setup given that the parent's entire value represented by the market cap of SGBX shares that has ranged from $12 million to $26 million over the last six months.
Complex Business Model Frustrates Fair Valuation
The problem is, Safe & Green leadership believes the Company has not been getting fair treatment in the U.S. equity market. Complexity could be the wrench in the works and the SG DevCo spinout could help simplify the Company profile. Indeed, the company has a mix of business models under one roof. Property development and manufacturing are just two of them. Safe & Green also deploys specialized modular units for medical testing. A fourth business is service oriented, collecting and treating medical waste for disposal. Investors may simply not want to do the extra work to fully understand or value each business component.
Granted the healthcare sector is robust and represents steady demand. Capturing the low-hanging fruit from a particular vertical, in this case the medical field, could elevate the Safe & Green brand for uses of its modular building units in other sectors. However, successful penetration of the health care market requires an entirely different business development effort than real estate development or building module manufacturing. It is noteworthy that Safe & Green leadership is well experienced and knowledgeable in the healthcare sector. However, their unique qualifications may not be clearly evident to investors.
A View on the Spin Out Proposal
Spinning out the development subsidiary to a separate company with its own stock may have multiple benefits. As a standalone operation, analysis is simplified. The drivers of value will hinge on property acquisition, partnership formation, cost controls, construction management, and marketing - all for real estate development.
Perhaps more importantly, out of the shadow of the parent, the SG DevCo management team might find new inspiration and energy, building reputation, creating brand awareness and accelerating growth. SG DevCo has reported a robust project development pipeline valued at over $800 million over the next seven years. A newly energized team could glean even more than the $200 million in potential returns that have been predicted for the portfolio.
The parent operations could also get a valuation boost. As noted above the Safe & Green parent is retaining a 70% stake in SG DevCo. The majority equity stake will still be represented on the Safe & Green financial reports. Like all other shareholders, the parent will benefit from improved financial performance at SG Dev Co as well as any shift to a fairer valuation for the development business.
Furthermore, the spinout could strengthen the Safe & Green parent's capital position. In the future, the parent may be able to monetize its equity stake in SG Dev Co, securing new capital for its own strategic growth plans.
Call to Action
It would appear the Is are all dotted and Ts crossed for the SG DevCo spinout. The Securities and Exchange Commission has given its approval. A record date of September 8, 2023, has been set to determine eligible shareholders for the stock distribution. Setting the record date calls shareholders and prospective investors to action.
First choice is to take a long position in SGBX before the September 8th record date and receive the stock distribution of SG DevCo. The move gives shareholders stakes in two companies and optionality in future profit taking. Shareholders of the parent would receive 0.93 shares of SG Dev Co for every 5 shares of SGBX. Shares of the two separate companies could appreciate at different rates, leading shareholders to hold one and take profits in the other.
Those ignoring the spin out record date will not be left behind as a second alternative is to grab shares of SGBX and participate in the fortunes of SG DevCo through the parent's retained ownership. If an opportunity arises later to accumulate shares of SG DevCo at a compelling price, investors can increase exposure to the development business with direct ownership of its shares. On a cautionary note, at least initially, trading volume in shares of SG DevCo could be somewhat shallow given that only 30% of issued shares will be in the public flotation.
The Safe & Green opportunity is not for investors without tolerance for risk. The shares of SG DevCo will be entirely unseasoned and will not have the benefit of a 'roadshow' period to introduce the shares to investors. Even the parent company shares carry elements of hazard. The bid-ask spread represents 2.2% of the current share price. The immediately trim-off of capital value is even more concerning given low trading volume near 55,000 shares per day.
The Company is not yet profitable and needs cash resources to support operations in the near-term. As noted above the Company has enough cash in the bank at the end of June to support operations for at least three months based on the recent cash burn rate. A dwindling bank balance has put Safe & Green's management in the hot seat.
There are plans in the works to monetize one of the Company's plum real estate assets, which could provide adequate cash to support operations through to profitability. However, in the current economic environment with rising interest rates could present obstacles to a timely closing of any deal.
It is notable that the Company recently filed a registration statement for the sale of up to $50.0 million in equity or debt securities. It could mean fast cash for the Company, but the sale of common stock or warrants could be dilutive for shareholders. Debt issuance would preserve the equity position for existing shareholders, but the interest burden could weigh common stock value.
Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.
Underwriters of the Prime series may have a beneficial interest in, serve as agents of, or act as advisors to the companies mentioned herein.
Company Financial Data Sources:
Safe & Green Holdings Corp. S-3 Registration Statement and 10-Q Financial Statement filed with the Securities Exchange Commission on July 21, 2023 and August 14, 2023, respectively.
Economic Data Sources:
1 Construction Materials Costs Rise 10.1 Percent Between November 2021 And November 2022 With Double-Digit Increases In Numerous Building Products
2 Here Are Mortgage Rates for May 1, 2023: Rates Trend Down
3 US Housing Market Needs More Than 300,000 Affordable Homes for Middle-Income Buyers
4 Multifamily Developers Predict Further Decline in Affordable Housing Supply
5 Safe & Green Holdings Corp. Announces Letter of Intent to Sell Lago Vista Site for $12.5 Million
6 Safe & Green Holding Corp. Announces Intended Spin-off of Safe and Green Development Corporation
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more microcap stocks. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
This article was written by
Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.
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- Writing a Business Plan
Writing a business plan may seem a daunting task as there are so many moving parts and concepts to address. Take it one step at a time and be sure to schedule regular review (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) of your plan to be sure you on are track to meet your goals.
Why Write a Business Plan?
Making a business plan creates the foundation for your business. It provides an easy-to-understand framework and allows you to navigate the unexpected.
- A good business plan not only creates a road map for your business, but helps you work through your goals and get them on paper
- Business plans come in many formats and contain many sections, but even the most basic should include a mission and vision statement, marketing plans, and a proposed management structure
- Business plans can help you get investors and new business partners
Source: Write Your Business Plan: United States Small Business Association
Writing a business plan is imperative to getting your business of the ground. While every plan is different – and most likely depends on the type and size of your business – there are some basic elements you don’t want to ignore.
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Defining Your Mission & Vision
Writing a business plan begins by defining your business’s mission and vision statement. Though creating such a statement may seem like fluff, it is an important exercise. The mission and vision statement sets the foundation upon which to launch your business. It is difficult to move forward successfully without first defining your business and the ideals under which your business operates. A company description should be included as a part of the mission and vision statement. Some questions you should ask yourself include:
- What type of real estate do you sell?
- Where is your business located?
- Who founded your business?
- What sets your business apart from your competitors?
What is a Vision Statement ( Business News Daily , Feb. 21, 2023)
How to Write a Mission Statement ( The Balance , Jan. 2, 2020)
How to Write a Mission Statement ( Janel M. Radtke , 1998)
Using a SWOT Analysis to Structure Your Business Plan
Once you’ve created a mission and vision statement, the next step is to develop a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” It is difficult to set goals for your business without first enumerating your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Evaluate by using the following questions:
- Do you offer superior customer service as compared with your competitors?
- Do you specialize in a niche market? What experiences do you have that set you apart from your competitors?
- What are your competitors’ strengths?
- Where do you see the market already saturated, and where are there opportunities for expansion and growth?
Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) ( Investopedia , Apr. 21, 2023)
How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Small Business ( SCORE , Apr. 28, 2022)
SWOT Analysis Toolbox ( University of Washington )
Setting Business Goals
Next, translate your mission and vision into tangible goals. For instance, if your mission statement is to make every client feel like your most important client, think about the following:
- How specifically will you implement this?
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- Is this growth measured by gross revenue, profit, personnel, or physical office space?
- How much growth do you aim for annually?
- What specific targets will you strive to hit annually in the next few years?
What are Business Goals? Definition, How To Set Business Goals and Examples ( Indeed , Mar. 10, 2023)
Planning and Goal Setting for Small Business ( U.S. Small Business Administration )
- Regular work goals.
- Problem-solving goals.
- Innovative goals.
- Development goals
Establishing a Format
Most businesses either follow a traditional business plan format or a lean startup plan.
Traditional Business Plan
A traditional business plan is detailed and comprehensive. Writing this business plan takes more time. A traditional business plan typically contains the following elements:
- Executive Summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
Lean Startup Plan
A lean startup plan requires high-level focus but is easier to write, with an emphasis on key elements. A lean startup plan typically contains the following elements:
- Key partnerships
- Key activities
- Key resources
- Value proposition
- Customer relationships
- Customer segments
- Cost structure
- Revenue stream
Creating a Marketing Plan
You may wish to create a marketing plan as either a section of your business plan or as an addendum. The Marketing Mix concerns product , price , place and promotion .
- What is your product?
- How does your price distinguish you from your competitors—is it industry average, upper quartile, or lower quartile?
- How does your pricing strategy benefit your clients?
- How and where will you promote your services?
- What types of promotions will you advertise?
- Will you ask clients for referrals or use coupons?
- Which channels will you use to place your marketing message?
Your Guide to Creating a Small Business Marketing Plan ( Business.com , Mar. 22, 2023)
10 Questions You Need to Answer to Create a Powerful Marketing Plan ( The Balance , Jan. 16, 2020)
Developing a Marketing Plan ( Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation )
Forming a Team
Ensuring the cooperation of all colleagues, supervisors, and supervisees involved in your plan is another important element to consider. Some questions to consider are:
- Is your business plan’s success contingent upon the cooperation of your colleagues?
- If so, what specifically do you need them to do?
- How will you evaluate their participation?
- Are they on-board with the role you have assigned them?
- How will you get “buy in” from these individuals?
How to Start a Rock-Solid Real Estate Team ( The Close , May 26, 2020)
Don’t Start a Real Estate Team Without Asking Yourself These 8 Questions ( Homelight , Jan. 21, 2020)
Implementing a Business Plan and Reviewing Regularly
Implementation and follow-up are frequently overlooked aspects to the business plan, yet vital to the success of the plan. Set dates (annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly) to review your business plans goals. Consider the following while reviewing:
- Are you on track?
- Are the goals reasonable to achieve, impossible, or too easy?
- How do you measure success—is it by revenue, profit, or number of transactions?
And lastly, think about overall goals.
- How do you plan to implement your business plan’s goals?
- When will you review and refine your business plan goals?
- What process will you use to review your goals?
- What types of quantitative and qualitative data will you collect and use to measure your success?
These items are only a few sections of a business plan. Depending on your business, you may want to include additional sections in your plan such as a:
- Cover letter stating the reasoning behind developing a business plan
- Non-disclosure statement
- Table of contents
How To Write a Business Proposal Letter (With Examples) ( Indeed , Mar. 10, 2023)
How To Implement Your Business Plan Objectives ( The Balance , Aug. 19, 2022)
The Bottom Line
Creating a business plan may seem daunting, but by understanding your business and market fully, you can create a plan that generates success (however you choose to define it).
Real Estate Business Plans – Samples, Instructional Guides, and Templates
9 Steps to Writing a Real Estate Business Plan + Templates ( The Close , Apr. 17, 2023)
How to Write a Real Estate Business Plan (+Free Template) ( Fit Small Business , Jun. 21, 2022)
The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Real Estate Business Plan + Free Template ( Placester )
Write Your Business Plan ( U.S. Small Business Administration )
General Business Plans – Samples, Instructional Guides, and Templates
Business Plan Template for a Startup Business ( SCORE , May 12, 2023)
Guide to Creating a Business Plan with Template (Business News Daily, Feb. 21, 2023)
Nine Lessons These Entrepreneurs Wish They Knew Before Writing Their First Business Plans ( Forbes , Jul. 25, 2021)
How to Write a Business Plan 101 ( Entrepreneur , Feb. 22, 2021)
Books, eBooks & Other Resources
Ebooks & other resources.
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
20 Minute Manager: Creating Business Plans Gather Your Resources, Describe the Opportunity, Get Buy-in (eBook) E
The Straightforward Business Plan (eBook)
Business Plan Checklist (eBook)
The SWOT Analysis (eBook)
The Business Plan Workbook (eBook)
Start-Up! A Beginner's Guide to Planning a 21st Century Business (eBook)
Complete Book of Business Plans (eBook)
How to Write a Business Plan (eBook)
The Easy Step by Step Guide to Writing a Business Plan and Making it Work (eBook)
Business Planning: 25 Keys to a Sound Business Plan (Audiobook)
Your First Business Plan, 5 th Edition (eBook)
Anatomy of a Business Plan (eBook)
Writing a Business Plan and Making it Work (Audiobook)
The Social Network Business Plan (eBook)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
As a member benefit, the following resources and more are available for loan through the NAR Library. Items will be mailed directly to you or made available for pickup at the REALTOR® Building in Chicago.
Writing an Effective Business Plan (Deloitte and Touche, 1999) HD 1375 D37w
Have an idea for a real estate topic? Send us your suggestions .
The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.
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How to Come Up with a Comprehensive Real Estate Strategic Plan
- Come up with a presentation about the previous operational year. How was the sales of the real estate business ? How many leads have been converted to actual clients? Is the business at par or even better when compared to its competition? Having awareness with the results of previous real estate activities and efforts can make it easier for the team to decide on which programs are essential to be continued and those that are needed to be stopped.
- Have a complete observation of the current condition of the business. Identify the business health of the company by listing down the factors that contribute to its current state. This can help you develop a general analysis of threats and opportunities. Be reminded that the real estate strategic plan that you will create must have both internal and external studies, researches, and observations so that you can fully identify the specific elements that hinder the business from achieving its goals.
- Give the requirements of the real estate strategic plan. Discuss items about finances, marketing activities, budget allocation, workforce needs, and necessary materials or equipment acquisition. Doing this can specify all the items that make up the entire real estate strategic plan which are essential decision-making factors when it comes to identifying the feasibility of the plan’s usage. You may also see strategic planning checklist examples .
- Let your real estate strategic plan present the priorities of the business. Showcase a timeline that can give an idea about all the action plans and strategies that you would like to incorporate in the operations of the company. This can help you persuade and convince other stakeholders that your strategic plan is measurable and attainable. You may also like strategic action plan examples .
- Provide an idea about the potential successes that the company can experience if the real estate strategic plan will be implemented. Give them an overview of your expected results and the time frame in which these results are expected to be realized. You may also check out personal strategic plans examples .
9. Integration of Organizational and Real Estate Strategies Example
10. Detailed Real Estate Strategic Plan Example
11. Corporate Real Estate Strategies for Management Planning
Tips and Guidelines in Making a Real Estate Strategic Plan
- Never forget the business goals and objectives of the real estate company. You have to ensure that the strategies and call-to-actions that you will present are aligned and related with what the company would like to achieve. Give supporting details, like facts and figures from studies and researches or the results of the previous operational year, that can make your strategic plan more appealing.
- Know the ways on how you can implement improvements in various real estate business operations area. Be strategic when maximizing the strengths of the business while ensuring that weaknesses will be developed so that it will not hinder the company from getting particular milestones. You may also see marketing strategy plan examples .
- It is very important for you to communicate with all the stakeholders of the business. You need to know the concerns and issues coming from the sides of the management, the workforce, the clients, and the creditors or investors of the business. Doing this can help you create tactics and strategies that can satisfy these entities without sacrificing the quality standards and financial condition of the business. You may also like school strategic plan examples .
- Make sure that you will set the budget range for the real estate strategy plan. The management and other decision-makers need to know the financial requirements of the plan so that they can prepare for it or they can suggest other alternatives depending on the capability of the business to shoulder expenses both for a sustainable business operations and marketing activities. You may also check out sales strategy plan examples .
- Have an organizational structure that can present the decision-making processes that will be implemented within the life cycle of the real estate strategic plan. This can make you have a more-efficient time in identifying the actual activities that will be executed by the real estate team should the strategic plan be approved and be up for implementation. You might be interested in business development strategy plan examples .
12. Time, Place, Space, Technology, and Real Estate Strategy Plan Example
13. Action Plans and Strategies in Real Estate Management Example
14. Planning Corporate Real Estate Strategy Example
15. Real Estate Asset Management Plan with Strategies Example
How to Use Real Estate Strategic Plan Examples and Other References
- Just like when making any strategic plan examples , it is best if you will first have a discussion flow. Use an outline or a summary that can give you an idea on how you would like to discuss specific information within the document. With this, you can properly format your desired content.
- Always monitor the progress and the changes within your planning and document drafting phases. This can help you look into references without veering away with the actual details that you want to present. Again, examples and other references are just guides and must not be used as is or how they were presented. You may also see one-page strategic plan examples .
- Other references like templates can be very helpful especially if you want to ensure the formality of the document when it comes to structure and presentation. Ensure that you will select the specific real estate strategic plan examples and templates that are aligned with the branding and document development standards of your business. You may also like community strategic plan examples .
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Jumpstart Your 2024 Real Estate Business Plan
Agents should think about their focus or niche market, seek their mentors’ advice, consider their marketing budget and set specific, measurable goals.
NORWALK, Conn. – Now is the time for real estate agents to update their business plan for the next quarter and the coming year. Questions that agents should ask themselves include, “Have I found my niche market?”
Some agents have successfully limited themselves to a specific property type or client. Agents should discuss this decision with mentors within their brokerage, potentially to fill a local service gap.
For instance, agents might narrow their focus on second homes, which would require them to become the local expert on slip rentals and marinas. Agents also would need to explore how they would assist potential clients and expand their business with organic referrals.
Furthermore, agents should set specific, measurable goals, such as adding a certain number of niche properties/clients within the first/second/third/fourth quarter.
Agents can also strive to participate in or sponsor a certain number of local events targeting the narrowed market as well as gain more social media followers by writing interactive posts and offering helpful niche-focused content.
Additionally, agents should look into such things as enrolling in marketing strategy courses, setting their marketing budget, and becoming knowledgeable about their target demographic.
Also, agents need to consider the best way to spend their marketing budget to achieve those goals. Eventually, agents will be able to measure how much money or time they spent on each marketing strategy, gauge the results of their initiatives, and ask new clients how they were located so they can determine how much each new client costs.
Source: RISMedia (09/05/23)
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Getting a Jumpstart on Your 2024 Real Estate Business Plan
The start of a new year gives us an opportunity to establish new goals and get a jumpstart on our plans. With some careful consideration and planning, we can easily set our sights toward success in the upcoming year.
How to update your real estate business plan for 2024
We know it’s sometimes difficult to focus on big-picture items—like marketing your brand—when you’re overwhelmed with a significant to-do list. But we encourage you to schedule a distraction-free day (or two) to focus on the future of your business.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you plan the next quarter and year.
Have I found my niche market?
Some real estate agents have succeeded by narrowing their focus to a specific property type or client. As you think about your future in real estate, consider if this is the right move for you.
Discuss this decision with mentors within your brokerage. Perhaps a service gap needs to be filled in your area. You may be exceptionally skilled with a specific type of client or property.
If a pattern emerges, research marketing techniques to target these specific clients. For example, do you want to narrow your focus to second homes? Then become the local expert on slip rentals and marinas.
Whatever your demographic is, think about how you will help your potential clients and grow your business with organic referrals.
What are my 2024 business goals?
When you work for yourself, knowing how to set limits within your schedule is challenging. Having specific, measurable goals will help
Here are some goal examples for your real estate business:
- Add X properties/clients from my niche within the first/second/third/fourth quarter of 2024.
- Participate in or sponsor X new local events that cater to my target market.
- Add X social media followers by writing interactive posts and offering helpful niche-focused content.
- Enroll in X hours of continuing education courses focusing on marketing strategies.
As you can see, not all of your goals have to be income-related.
How should I spend my marketing budget?
Review your goals and what you know about your target demographic. Then, consider the best way to spend your marketing budget to help you meet those goals.
If you have been in the real estate business for a while, measure how much money or time you spent on each marketing strategy. Look at the results of your effort. Ask new clients how they found you so you can determine how much each new client costs.
Need help with your 2024 business goals? Visit https://www.colibrirealestate.com . We offer top-notch continuing education options for your real estate license renewal and to help you grow your business.
Colibri Real Estate
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Sponsored: real estate voices, sponsored: real estate voices | denver housing market: strategic pricing drives success in august.
As interest rates remain high and more homes become available, pricing in the Denver metro housing market remains a science.
“If a home is priced correctly, or even under market, it may still receive multiple offers,” said Libby Levinson-Katz, chair of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors Market Trends Committee in the September report .
“However, if the price is slightly high, then days on the market climb until you find the right buyer or the right price.”
According to the report, active listings in Denver increased 9% in August from July and 19% over August 2022. The average number of active listings for August is 15,900, so with 6,858 active listings last month, the metro area’s inventory remains historically low.
The number of new listings increased about 2%. At the same time, pending sales dropped nearly 1%, and closed sales declined 2%. The median closed price dropped to $582,000 while the median days on the market increased to 11 days.
“Buyers feel the shift and think that we are no longer in a full-price market,” Levinson-Katz said.
Days on market creep up
“Median days on market increasing to 11 days may seem benign, but it also means homes are sitting on the market for 70 days or more. As a result, buyers want to negotiate on price and receive a concession for a rate buydown. The close-price-to-list-price ratio remains in the 99th percentile, showcasing buyers and sellers are coming together to make sales happen without huge negotiation swings.”
But while the days on are inching up, they remain historically low.
“It may be hard to believe but in 2019 and 2020, the average days in MLS in the ($750,000 to $999,999) segment was 41 days. Today, post-pandemic, days in MLS are an average of 31 days, still selling at almost 25 percent faster than before,” said Michelle Schwinghammer, a realtor with RE/MAX Alliance and a market trends committee member.
“I am convinced that much of the market angst we are collectively experiencing today is due to a hard psychological rest after living through the warp-speed pandemic market years where everyone got used to an unhealthy and sustainable market pace. Today, normal feels slow, really slow, and that perception can cloud the judgment of buyers, sellers and agents alike.”
Price still matters
Months of inventory for detached homes under $1 million sat just shy of two months, while above a million dollars, inventory sits at roughly two and a half months and increases to 5.79 months for properties priced at $2 million plus.
The best-performing price band for both detached and attached homes was $750,000 to $999,999, with a monthly sales increase of over three percent.
Although buyers look for bargains, competition remains.
“Last month, a client beat out another buyer who toured a Highlands home in a prime location three different times before putting in an offer, then came in $5,000 under list price (a potential savings of just .005 percent),” Schwinghammer said.
“My buyer won the deal by researching the home and area before touring, visiting once with a thorough one-hour tour, and acting with a decisive full-price offer the next day. The home sailed through inspections, closed fast, and appraised above purchase price.”
The news and editorial staffs of The Denver Post had no role in this post’s preparation.
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How the Dream of Building a California City From Scratch Got Started
A former Goldman Sachs trader moved to the Bay Area to make it in tech. He ended up buying rural land with money from some of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest people.
By Erin Griffith and Conor Dougherty
Erin Griffith reported from San Francisco, Conor Dougherty from Los Angeles.
What if you built a new city from the ground up? The idea has tantalized urban planners and utopian dreamers for centuries. In 2017, Jan Sramek joined their crusade.
Mr. Sramek, a former Goldman Sachs trader, had moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to make it in tech. He was a European immigrant smitten with the energy of local start-ups, but he preferred more walkable cities like Zurich. Soon, he began taking fishing trips to Solano County on the San Francisco Bay’s eastern edge.
A rural corner of the county eventually became the centerpiece of a plan hatched by Mr. Sramek to build a city from scratch. He created a company called Flannery Associates, and has spent the last few years using money from some of the wealthiest people in Silicon Valley to make his audacious idea come true, said two people with knowledge of his work who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The story of how Mr. Sramek got some of the richest people in the world to buy $900 million in farms and undeveloped land with the dream of a new city seems destined to become a Silicon Valley legend that mixes idealism — or hubris — with old-fashioned capitalism.
Until last week, when The New York Times revealed the company’s investors and plans, no one in the county had any idea who was behind Flannery. As the company gobbled up land, suspicions about its identity and intentions escalated from Facebook posts to county supervisors to a national security scare that prompted the F.B.I. and the Treasury Department to investigate.
The notion of creating a city where the cars are autonomous and the regulation is light had been bouncing around the meetings and salon parties of Silicon Valley’s tech elite for years. But Mr. Sramek had a specific plan for how investors could acquire the property, said the two people familiar with his plans.
After taking the idea to a dozen potential funders, he got his first check from Patrick Collison, the chief executive of Stripe, a payments company with a rising valuation that had made Mr. Collison a billionaire on paper.
Within a few months, those conversations grew into Flannery Associates. What began with the relatively modest goal of buying 10,000 acres is now a full-blown land grab, according to court documents and an early investor pitch reviewed by The Times. The company has ballooned into a $900 million effort that has made it the owner of nearly enough parcels to cover San Francisco twice.
Now that the company and its intentions are public, Flannery is expected to spend the next several months trying to charm elected representatives and rally voters around its plan. It could be years — if ever — before the company gains approvals from local and state officials and any real work is started.
On Thursday evening, Flannery unveiled a website explaining its plans. It said Flannery had a parent company, California Forever that had spent the past few years polling residents about what they wanted to see. The website noted that in regional plans drawn up decades ago, local and federal planners had identified eastern Solano County as a site for potential development. It predicted a “decades-long collaboration” with residents and the local government.
“I can’t imagine the supervisors allowing such a thing,” said Robert McConnell, the mayor of Vallejo, referring to Solano County’s Board of Supervisors. Vallejo, population 126,000, is the largest city in the largely agricultural county.
“I’m surprised that people that intelligent would waste their time and money and effort on this,” he added.
Until last week, Mr. Sramek was known mostly for a job he quit. In 2011, two years after being branded a 22-year-old golden boy who named the billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel as a role model, he left Goldman Sachs and expressed dreams of founding a company.
His first company was an education software provider called Better. He moved to the Bay Area, where many of its customers were, and sold the company in 2015. After that came Memo, a social media service for ideas and learning that never caught on. In a blog post , Mr. Sramek and his co-founder, Carl Baatz, blamed the modern world’s lowbrow tastes for Memo’s failure.
Around that time, a mutual friend connected Mr. Sramek to Mr. Collison, a wide and voracious reader whose payments company was pushed into more esoteric areas like book publishing and carbon removal as it became one of the most valuable private companies in tech.
Mr. Collison was also part of the budding movement of young people who advocated looser development laws to make it easier to build housing. Along with his brother, John Collison, he donated $1 million to the California YIMBY, a nonprofit focused on the cause, through Stripe.
The pair bonded over having both lived in Zurich. After Mr. Sramek briefly worked as a consultant to Stripe in 2017, he embarked on his city idea, pitching roughly a dozen investors.
Patrick Collison was the first to bite, eventually amassing a stake smaller than 3 percent in the firm alongside his brother. He also connected Mr. Sramek to a circle of powerful investors, including the venture capitalist Michael Moritz, then at Sequoia Capital, who went on to solicit other investors.
The group decided to structure the company like an investment fund, with Mr. Sramek as the general partner and the investors as limited partners. They opted not to use debt, an otherwise common move in real estate investments, to give themselves more flexibility for a timeline that they thought could take several decades.
The venture firm Andreessen Horowitz also invested. In 2020, Marc Andreessen, the firm’s co-founder, wrote an impassioned 2020 blog post bemoaning skyrocketing housing prices in San Francisco and America’s inability to build cities.
The group discussed a variety of plans. It ultimately pursued the most ambitious one in hope that sheer size would increase the odds of success when trying to rezone farmland for residential use, the people familiar with the effort said.
Mr. Sramek chose Solano County for a number of reasons: Its land ownership was relatively concentrated, and it was still part of the Bay Area, said the people familiar with his plan. Solano is also the poorest county in the region, which would allow them to pitch voters on the promise of billions in investment and tens of thousands of new jobs.
This year, the group hired a city planner, Gabriel Metcalf, to lead a team of architects and designers. Mr. Metcalf is well known in Bay Area housing circles for the two decades he spent leading the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association , a think tank that among other things advocates more and denser housing in the region. For years, he has been an outspoken critic of San Francisco planning. A spokesman for Flannery said Mr. Metcalf could not be reached for comment.
Under Mr. Metcalf, Flannery has expanded from a skeleton operation to roughly three dozen people, mostly in Northern California, working on areas like design, engineering and urban planning, according to the people familiar with the work.
As of August, the company had acquired more than 50,000 acres. County maps that show scattershot holdings for Flannery don’t paint a full picture, one person said, because the company has also struck arrangements with some landowners that would not have to be reported to the county.
“The vast majority of landowners in this area concluded that Flannery’s offers were simply too good to pass up and negotiated sales,” the company said in court documents.
Some offers have been summarily turned down. Mr. McConnell, the mayor of Vallejo, said the group had tried twice to persuade the board of the Solano County Water Agency, of which he is a member, to sell a large parcel that the agency had acquired for environmental remediation.
“They came a year and a half ago, and we said no, and then they came back a couple of months ago and doubled their offer,” Mr. McConnell said. Again the board refused.
After years of secrecy, the group has started on an apology tour. State Senator Bill Dodd, a Democrat who represents the area, said Mr. Sramek and one of the group’s political consultants, Andrew Acosta, met with him on Wednesday in Sacramento.
The pitch was scant on details: The pair told him that they would soon explain their vision, and that they felt they had the money and political sway to address the area’s concerns about the lack of water and clogged roads. He nevertheless remained skeptical.
“They did an act of contrition, and that was the start of the conversation,” Mr. Dodd said. “But they’re on a mission. They want to create another city in Solano County. I think they’re off to a very bad start.”
Shawn Hubler contributed reporting from Sacramento.
Erin Griffith reports on technology start-ups and venture capital from the San Francisco bureau. Before joining The Times she was a senior writer at Wired and Fortune. More about Erin Griffith
Conor Dougherty is an economics reporter and the author of “Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America.” His work focuses on the West Coast, real estate and wage stagnation among U.S. workers. More about Conor Dougherty
How the ‘urban doom loop’ could pose the next economic threat
A commercial real estate apocalypse particularly in midsize cities could spiral into the broader economy.
In Indianapolis, the technology giant Salesforce is paring back a quarter of its office space in the tallest building in Indiana, where it has been a key tenant for the past six years. In Atlanta, the private investment giant Starwood Capital defaulted on a $212 million mortgage on a 29-story office tower. And in Baltimore, a landmark building sold for $24 million last month, roughly $42 million less than it fetched in 2015.
All across the country, downtowns, office spaces and shopping centers are at risk of becoming ground zero for a new economic hazard: the urban doom loop. The fear is that a commercial real estate apocalypse could spiral out and slow commerce, wrecking local tax revenue in the process. Ever since the pandemic drove a boom in remote work, hubs such as New York and San Francisco have drawn attention for their empty offices in previously bustling skyscrapers. But many economists are even more worried about midsize cities that have fewer ways to offset the blow when a major company slashes office space, the sale price of a building craters, or a downtown turns into a ghost town.
The worst-case scenario would go like this: With more people working from home, companies from Milwaukee to Memphis are rethinking their leases or pulling out of them altogether. That drives vacancy rates up and makes it harder for landlords to attract new tenants or sell buildings for a healthy price.
Then property owners might struggle to pay off their mortgages or clear other debt. Business districts would dry up, stifling tax revenue from commercial properties or employee wages. Shoppers and tourists would have fewer reasons to venture downtown to eat or shop, choking off spending and forcing layoffs at restaurants and retail stores.
Workers wanting to stay remote prompts an office real estate crisis
“Once those offices are empty, there are few alternatives and not a lot of life after hours,” said Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, who is a professor of real estate and finance at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business who is one of the authors of a paper that coined the “urban doom loop” phrase. Midsize cities “have a much bigger chasm to cross than what New York City has to go through. The situation is worse in those places with so little else in place.” He added, “It is a train wreck in slow motion.”
Economists caution that such a train wreck is not guaranteed, and the spiral has not kicked into gear anywhere yet. There are a few reasons: Many cities are still leaning on historic levels of state and local stimulus aid from the 2021 American Rescue Plan, and those funds may not run out for another year or two. A large share of the outstanding business and mortgage loans are also not due for a few more years. Plus, the economy continues to defy the odds, dampening concerns that widespread layoffs or drops in consumer spending could trigger this dangerous loop.
Yet the Federal Reserve has highlighted commercial real estate as one of the risks to financial stability. And troubling signs are piling up, often in places that are already vulnerable. Midsize cities have some of the highest rates of office delinquency, where loan payments on buildings are behind schedule, and the lowest rates of office occupancy.
The average delinquency rate across the 50 largest metro areas in the country is about 5 percent. But in places like Charlotte in North Carolina or Hartford in Connecticut, it is almost 30 percent, according to data from the real estate analytics company Trepp. Likewise, occupancy rates average about 87 percent. But in Oklahoma City, it is just 71 percent, and 76 percent in both Memphis and St. Louis.
Experts caution that the trend could easily escalate, especially as properties come up for refinancing. “You are going to see some trickle effects, but the downpour is yet to be seen over the next 18 to 24 months,” said Lonnie Hendry, a senior vice president at Trepp. “It is very early in the cycle.”
The concept of the doom loop took off in the past year on the heels of research from Van Nieuwerburgh. Next came a kind of buzz that rarely follows academic papers, with media requests pouring in and at least one headline dubbing Van Nieuwerburgh “the prophet of urban doom.” But all of the research makes clear that the doom loop is not inevitable anywhere.
Some cities will not face the downward spiral at all, while others might experience different harms from vacant commercial space than others, said Tracy Hadden Loh, who specializes in commercial real estate and governance at the Brookings Institution. She noted that some cities were already struggling with office vacancies before the pandemic, so they are not facing an entirely new phenomenon. It also matters how cities have been using stimulus funds and when they will run out.
Crucially, wonky tax rules mean certain places are more exposed than others: Chicago and Boston, for example, have large office footprints and rely heavily on property tax revenue. Philadelphia, meanwhile, depends more on wage taxes from commuters than on real estate, and that revenue could dry up if people are not venturing into the office. “ It really depends on the city,” Loh said. “The local tax structure matters tremendously in the United States. You can’t make a 100 percent true general statement about any class of cities because they each have their own bespoke revenue structure that has evolved over time.”
Initial banking crisis eases but another could be around the corner
Still, each day, with every new mortgage default and every distressed building sale, it is clear how few solutions there are. In cities large and small, some property owners have tried to turn vacant offices into something else altogether, like apartments, kitchen spaces or even spas. But those workarounds can be prohibitively expensive, if they work at all. Plus, these solutions have not taken off on a massive scale.
Take Minneapolis, where many of the stressed loans are concentrated in downtown buildings struggling to attract new customers. In March 2021, Target announced plans to vacate a major complex there, cutting its lease of almost 1 million square feet, or roughly three-fourths of space available in the entire building . The big box retailer held onto other large leases in Minneapolis and said the 3,500 corporate employees who worked at City Center would instead transition to other major headquarters in town.
The move was a massive blow to downtown Minneapolis, said Brian Anderson, director of market analytics at CoStar Group. The empty space has not drawn much appetite from prospective tenants. “The more those companies opt to utilize remote-hybrid work, that is going to matter. That is going to create big shifts,” he said.
Downtown Washington is in another kind of bind. In the District, office leasing activity reached a historic low in the first quarter, with only 900,000 square feet of office leases signed. That is down from the five-year quarterly average of 2 million square feet, according to Trepp.
Progress on inflation stalled last month while prices nudged higher
The takeaway: There is less and less appetite for office space, with little sign the trend will turn around. Much depends on what happens with the more than $5 trillion in commercial real estate debt sloshing around the economy, and the $2.75 trillion in commercial mortgages that are slated to mature by 2027.
The tidal wave of looming deadlines could hit regional banks the hardest, as they hold roughly two-thirds of the total commercial real estate debt in the country (not just including office space) and are more susceptible to what happens in individual cities. Economists have been worried about regional lenders since the banking crisis earlier this year, when the demise of two midsize firms suddenly jeopardized the economy .
What else happens in the broader economy also matters. The Federal Reserve is still trying to tame inflation and has pledged to keep interest rates high for as long as necessary. The goal is to slow the economy by cooling demand for loans and investment, which appears to be working. A July report said lenders have been seeing less demand for commercial real estate loans at the same time banks are tightening their standards.
In that way, Hendry said he worries the doom loop could stem from factors large and small. “If you have a mortgage with an interest rate in place at 3.5 percent, and you want to refinance at 7 percent, that is unavoidable, regardless of geography,” he said.