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Posts tagged with: how to close

A PASSION FOR (REAL ESTATE) BUSINESS

Lawyers are like most other business professionals. We want your business and we want your referrals – we just don’t always know the best way to ask for either.

 

Take me for example. I’ve been handling commercial real estate transactions and business deals for nearly 40 years. I’ve loved (almost) every day of it, and I look forward to many more (knock on wood). My clients appreciate my insights and value the guidance I provide. Other attorneys respect what I do, and brokers and CPAs like working with me because I strive for practical solutions to efficiently and effectively get the job done. I pay close attention to learn my clients’ business objectives, then work diligently and negotiate hard to get my clients what they expect – when they expect it. That’s what lawyers do. Or at least what all lawyers should do. For any client hiring a lawyer, what else is there?  Achieving client objectives and getting the deal closed on time is why lawyers exist. Deals fail, for sure, but we can never be the reason they fail. Deals that fail are a waste of everyone’s time and money. Getting the deal done, if it can be done, is our value proposition.

 

Deals are my lifeblood – my passion. They’re why I wake up every morning and get out of bed. I love this stuff. I can’t explain exactly why that is – it just is.  Why do musicians practice their instruments and play? Why do scratch golfers golf? Why do competitive skiers ski?  It’s our passion. We don’t know exactly why – it comes from within. And we always need more.

 

Commercial real estate deals always come first for me, but in every commercial real estate project is a business. They go hand in hand. My preference for a good real estate deal over a good business deal is a matter of only slight degree. There’s not really a number one and a number two. It’s more like #1 and #1A.

 

So what’s the problem?

 

The problem is, a lot of people don’t know I’m available to represent them. I write books and articles on commercial real estate. I give seminars on how to structure and close business and real estate transactions. I publish a commercial real estate and business blog.  People think I’m busy, or that I only handle huge deals. The truth is, I am busy – but never too busy to handle another deal, large or small. In the words of the late, great Lucille Ball: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” We all loved Lucy!

 

The most shocking question I get from prospective clients is: “Would you (I) be willing to handle my (their) next business or commercial real estate deal?”  Are they kidding? My answer is always an emphatic “yes”! It’s my passion. It’s my love.  It’s what I live for.

 

To be sure, I’m a business professional, and I charge for what I do, but if you have a commercial real estate deal or business deal, and need representation, I’m in. Never be shy about calling me. We’ll work out the economics. The range of deals I handle is extraordinarily diverse. For a taste, look at my blog Harp-OnThis.com, or check out my latest book, Illinois Commercial Real Estate on Amazon.com or in your local public library. I love this stuff. I need this stuff. Of course I want to represent you. When can we get started?

 

So back to my initial point:  I do want your business and your business referrals. Like many other business professionals, I just don’t know the best way to go about asking for it. What do you suggest?

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THE CLIENT CONUNDRUM

A mistake lawyers make is treating all clients the same. It’s a mistake shared by other professions as well. They’re not all the same. The issues clients face, and the solutions they deserve, are as varied as life itself.

 

R. Kymn Harp
Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

With the rise of technology and the commoditization of legal services, nuance can be lost. Precise solutions to particular problems may be neglected while cookie-cutter boilerplate is offered as a cheap substitute. Not that all boilerplate and technology is bad – they can provide huge benefits when applied correctly. But just as a mass-produced size 9 leather dress shoe may be ideal for some, it is of little comfort or use to an athlete with a size 10 foot.

 

Automation is a cost-saver, no doubt. But is it a reasonable substitute for thoughtful analysis and tailor-made solutions to client specific problems?

 

There may be areas of life where commoditized legal services represent a reasonable tradeoff. Perhaps consumers engaged in everyday transactions are adequately-served by inexpensive one-size fits all solutions. Even a consumer buying a home – often touted as the largest single transaction most consumers will make in their lifetime – may be well-served by inexpensive boilerplate solutions on most occasions. In the world of consumer transactions and consumer finance, there is a protective overlay of consumer protection laws and oversight that will often fill in the gaps left by a one-size fits all approach.

 

But what about most commercial transactions? Buying or starting a business? Investing in commercial or industrial real estate? Raising capital from third parties? Entering into a partnership agreement or limited liability company operating agreement for a commercial venture where someone else is in control, and uses or controls your money – or where you use or control someone else’s money? Are these circumstances where one-size solutions and documentation make sense?

 

How do you protect yourself if something goes wrong? Experience shows something can always go wrong. And when things go wrong in a commercial transaction, expensive lawsuits often follow.

 

Business people consider themselves to be intelligent, reasonable beings. When they invest in a business or real estate project they expect it will succeed. If they thought otherwise, they would not make the investment. That would be foolish, and they know for certain that they’re not foolish. If it fails, they conclude it had be someone’s fault – but it certainly wasn’t theirs.  They must have been duped. Information must have been withheld. They must have been lied to or cheated.  The other party must at least be incompetent if not downright crooked.

 

You may laugh, but that’s often how it happens. You may be one hundred percent competent and above-board. You may have understood and discussed the risks to the point where you are certain that your partners or investors understand the risks as well – but if you’re the promoter of the failed business or investment, or you’re in charge of making management decisions – you should expect to find yourself staring down the business end of a double-barreled lawsuit claiming the loss is your fault – even if you lost money as well, and even if nothing you did or could have done resulted in the loss. Changing economic circumstances, business and lifestyle trends, and other factors far beyond your control may be the reason for the loss, but you will be blamed. How do to protect yourself?

 

Suppose you’re on the other side. What if you’re the investor or partner asked to invest? What do you look for? What do you require? How do you protect yourself?

 

Clients are not all the same. Commercial transactions are not all the same. The risks and benefits of each investment and business venture are not all the same. The solutions and documentation of each transaction cannot, therefore, be all the same.

 

If clients are engaged in serious business, serious attention is required. Both the attorney and the client need to understand this. Once a deal goes bad, it’s too late to go back and redo what should have been done at the outset.

 

Will doing it right up front cost more?

 

Probably.

 

Will it be worth it if things go poorly?

 

You bet.

 

Should clients buy a size 9 shoe for their size 10 foot?

 

Thanks for listening. . .

Kymn

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NEW BOOK – Illinois Commercial Real Estate

I’m happy to announce that the website for my new book, Illinois Commercial Real Estate is now live.  Visit www.Illinois-CRE.com for a book excerpt.

illinois-commercial-real-estate-book-coverIllinois Commercial Real Estate, Due Diligence to Closing, with Checklists, is intended as a practical handbook for investors, developers, brokers, lenders, attorneys and others interested in commercial real estate projects in Illinois. This book zeros-in on commercial real estate due diligence, and walks the reader through the due diligence process, from conception to closing, with a focus on making sure the commercial real estate project functions as intended after closing.  Checklists are provided as an aid to commercial real estate professionals to assist on evaluation of the property and the transaction on the path toward successful closing. As people in the real estate industry understand, if the deal doesn’t close, it doesn’t count.

I’d like to extend Special Thanks to:

My clients, whose passion for creative commercial development I share;

My partners and staff at Robbins, Salomon and Patt, Ltd., who work with me tirelessly to earn our client’s business every day.

Catherine A. Cooke and Emily C. Kaminski, attorneys at Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. who provided legal research, advice, counseling, and technical editing;

James M. Mainzer, tax partner at Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd., for his insights and assistance on tax matters;

The editing staff at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, for editing early versions of chapters 11, 12, 25, 27 and 28, which were first published in IICLE Practice Handbooks;

Dale V. Weaver, Illinois licensed surveyor, who was kind enough to convert my rough draft drawings into the diagrams included at chapter 25;

. . . and, of course, my friend and valuable resource, Linda Day Harrison, founder of theBrokerList, for her ongoing encouragement and support.

If you are buying, developing, financing, selling, leasing or otherwise dealing with commercial real estate in Illinois, I hope you will find Illinois Commercial Real Estate, Due Diligence to Closing, with Checklists to be a useful resource.

ENJOY!!!

R. Kymn Harp

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NEW: ALTA Land Title Survey Standards

NEW ALTA LAND TITLE SURVEY STANDARDS effective February 23, 2016.

UPDATE:  Effective February 23, 2016, new minimum standard detail requirements for ALTA Land Title Surveys went into effect, replacing the previously existing 2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys.

 

Note that the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) is the legal successor organization to the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). Accordingly, the new survey standards will be cited as the “2016 Minimum Standard Detail requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

 

Several substantive changes have been made in the updated 2016 land title survey standards. A comparison of the 2016 standards to the previous 2011 standards is highlighted on the Red-lined version (click here) showing the changes made. Among the notable changes are changes to the Table A list of Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications. The modifications to Table A are largely a result of the 2016 Land Title Survey standards making certain requirements mandatory instead of optional. Additional changes involve reassigned responsibilities (or at least a clarification of responsibilities) for obtaining certain information for use by surveyors in preparing a 2016 ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey.

 

RSP_LogoHD (3)Update Purchase Agreements to Require Surveys compliant with NEW 2016 ALTA Land Title Survey Standards

 

Especially for commercial or industrial real estate purchase agreements (and financing commitments) requiring ALTA Surveys  prepared after February 23, 2016, be sure to contractually require that they be prepared in accordance the the 2016 Minimum Standard Detail requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.  Be sure, also, to modify your existing contracts as they pertain to the Table A Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications to address the new Table A instead of the version associated with the former 2011 standards.

 

Purchasers should check with their lenders, and with the title insurance company engaged to insure title, to be certain everyone is on the same page, and that all parties understand their respective responsibilities for obtaining documents and information necessary for use by the Surveyor. Lenders and their counsel should do likewise.

 

2016 should be an interesting year for commercial real estate. Best of luck for a prosperous year!

 

Thanks,

Kymn

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Keys to Closing A Commercial Real Estate Transaction

Commercial Real Estate Closings

Anyone who thinks closing a commercial real estate transaction is a clean, easy, stress-free undertaking has never closed a commercial real estate transaction. Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to deal with it.

Harp Author Photo PID 732110I’ve been closing commercial real estate transactions for over 35 years. I grew up in the commercial real estate business.

My father was a “land guy”. He assembled land, put in infrastructure and sold it for a profit. His mantra: “Buy by the acre, sell by the square foot.”  From an early age, he drilled into my head the need to “be a deal maker; not a deal breaker.” This was always coupled with the admonition: “If the deal doesn’t close, no one is happy.” His theory was that attorneys sometimes “kill tough deals” simply because they don’t want to be blamed if something goes wrong.

A key point to understand is that commercial real estate Closings do not “just happen”; they are made to happen. There is a time-proven method for successfully Closing commercial real estate transactions. That method requires adherence to the four KEYS TO CLOSING outlined below: (more…)

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Illinois Commercial Condominiums – The Inactive Association Challenge

RESALE DISCLOSURE CHALLENGES – When the Commercial Condominium Association is “Inactive”

  • Section 18.3 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that a unit owners’ association will be responsible for the overall administration of the property through its duly elected board of managers. 765 ILCS 605/18.3.
  • Section 19 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act sets forth a specific set of records that the board of managers of every association is required to maintain. 765 ILCS 605/19.
  • Section 22.1 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act provides that “in the event of any resale of a condominium unit by a unit owner other than the developer such owner shall obtain from the board of managers and shall make available for inspection to the prospective purchaser, upon demand . . .” a fairly comprehensive list of condominium instruments, and other documents and information, concerning the makeup and financial condition of the owners association, insurance coverage, litigation, reserves, assessments, and the like.  765 ILCS 605/22.1.

 

RSP_LogoHD (3)Remarkably, perhaps as an aftermath of the Great Recession during which resales of commercial condominiums were infrequent, it is not rare to find that the owners association for a commercial condominium has become inactive or only slightly active. Record keeping and budgeting may have become ‘streamlined”, addressing little more than collecting minimal assessments to pay insurance premiums on common elements. The owner’s association may have no formal budget, no capital reserves, extreme deferred maintenance, scant, if any, record of meetings of the board of managers, and no centralized or organized record keeping system beyond a box in a filing cabinet in the back-office of one of the unit owners.

 

Because of the infrequency of unit transfers in recent years, and the possible inexperience of a record-keeper who may have gotten the record-keeping job by default – when the last remaining board member left following foreclosure of his or her unit during the Great Recession – obtaining and providing the resale disclosure documents and information required by §22.1 can be a challenge.

 

This challenge presents practical problems for the unit seller, unit buyer and the unit buyer’s proposed mortgagee when attempting to resell a commercial condominium unit. Not the least of these problems is delay and frustration in moving toward closing – which may ultimately sour a prospective buyer and its lender, and lead the buyer to back away from acquiring the unit at all.

 

Deferred maintenance of common elements affecting any unit in the condominium association could have an adverse financial impact on all unit owners.  For example, if a commercial or industrial condominium association is comprised of multiple commercial/industrial buildings, a required roof replacement, foundation repair, or other structural repair for any of the buildings, or a recognized environmental condition in the common areas, could be expensive, with the cost shared among all unit owners. Accordingly, when investigating the condition of a commercial/industrial condominium unit being considered for acquisition, due diligence may require having all common elements in the association inspected, rather than merely looking at the unit being considered for acquisition. This may be more expensive and may take more time than might ordinarily be expected when purchasing a stand-alone building that is not a condominium unit.

 

PRACTICE TIP

Consider when drafting a purchase agreement under these circumstances, who should bear the cost of inspecting all common elements in the association? Ordinarily the cost of “due diligence” is a buyer’s expense. But if extraordinary inspections of association common elements beyond the specific unit being acquired is required in the exercise of due diligence because the selling unit owner did not demand that the owners’ association be operated by a board of managers in compliance with the Illinois Condominium Property Act, should the buyer bear this extraordinary expense, or should the seller?

 

There is no easy solution for this challenge, especially for a buyer planning to purchase a unit in one of these inactive associations. The best advice may be to become proactive – whether as an existing unit owner or upon becoming a new unit owner, to reactivate and invigorate the owners’ association and its board of managers, and to take steps to run the owners association in a businesslike manner, in compliance with the Illinois Condominium Property Act.

 

Generally speaking, owners of commercial condominiums are business people. They should demand that the association be run like they would run any business or investment property they invest in, if they expect to be successful.

 

If you have a viable solution to this challenge, please comment with your insights and practical suggestions.

 

Thank you in advance for participating in this discussion.

 

Kymn

 

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DUE DILIGENCE CHECKLISTS for Commercial Real Estate Transactions

R. Kymn Harp Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

R. Kymn Harp
Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.

 2016 Update:

Are you planning to purchase, finance, develop or redevelop any of the following types of commercial real estate in the USA?

  • Shopping Center
  • Office building
  • Large Multifamily/Apartments/Condominium Project
  • Sports and/or Entertainment Venue
  • Mixed-Use Commercial-Residential-Office
  • Parking Lot/Parking Garage
  • Retail Store
  • Lifestyle or Enclosed Mall
  • Restaurant/Banquet Facility
  • Intermodal logistics/distribution facility
  • Medical Building
  • Gas Station
  • Manufacturing facility
  • Pharmacy
  • Special Use facility
  • Air Rights parcel
  • Subterranean parcel
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Other commercial (non-single family, non-farm) property

RSP_LogoHD (3)A KEY element of successfully investing in commercial real estate is performing an adequate Due Diligence Investigation prior to becoming legally bound to acquire or finance the property.  Conducting a Due Diligence Investigation is important not just to enable you to walk away from the transaction, if necessary, but even more importantly to enable you to discover obstacles and opportunities presented by the property that can be addressed prior to closing, to enable the transaction to proceed in a manner most beneficial to your overall objective. An adequate Due Diligence Investigation will assure awareness of all material facts relevant to the intended use or disposition of the property after closing. This is a critical point. The ultimate objective is not just to get to Closing – but rather to confirm that the property can be used or developed as intended after Closing.

The following checklists – while not all-inclusive – will help you conduct a focused and meaningful Due Diligence Investigation. (more…)

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LENDING BLIND – SIX YEARS AFTER LEHMAN’S COLLAPSE

Commercial Real Estate Lending:  What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You!

If there is anything commercial real estate lenders have learned during the collapse of the commercial real estate market over the past five or so years, it would be the danger of “lending blind”.  Commercial real estate lending without fully understanding the project is a prescription for disaster. An original version of this article was first published in 2005.  It is eerie how prophetic the warning signs were. Surely lenders have learned. . . . (more…)

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10 Things to Know About Commercial Real Estate Development Agreements

I was invited recently to speak at the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Annual Real Estate Short Course to discuss what every lawyer should know RSP_LogoFull_2PMSabout commercial real estate development agreements. In preparing for the presentation, a developer client suggested it is not only attorneys who need to know about development agreements – developer clients do as well.

So, on that note, the following is my list of the top 10 things attorneys and developers should know about commercial real estate development agreements.

TOP 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

1.     Development Agreements are not the same thing as Construction Contracts.

2.     There are no “master form” Development Agreements.

3.     Each Development Agreement is unique to the specific development to which it relates, and must accommodate the sometimes conflicting needs, demands and desires of the constituent stakeholders, including the (more…)

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Keys Rules For Section 1031 Exchanges

This is the second installment of a three-part series on Section 1031 like-kind exchanges. Part 1 explained WHY you should consider use of a Section 1031 like-kind exchange when selling commercial or investment real property. Part 2 covers the key rules for HOW to implement a Section 1031 like-kind exchange. Part 3 will cover special issues applicable to a Section 1031 like-kind exchange when a Tenant-In-Common [TIC] interest is being acquired.

KEY RULES FOR SECTION 1031 EXCHANGES

U.S. Tax image [iStock]The following is an outline of key rules applicable to Section 1031 exchanges. Become familiar with these rules. Unless you intend to completely cash out of real estate investing, a Section 1031 exchange may work to your benefit. If you intend to keep investing in real estate or using real estate in your trade or business, a Section 1031 exchange will maximize the capital you have available to reinvest.

Key Elements of a Section 1031 Exchange*

What is Section 1031?

Section 1031 refers to Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

What does it do?

Section 1031 permits a taxpayer (the Exchangor) to dispose of certain real estate and personal property and replace it with like-kind property without being required to pay taxes on the transaction.

What property qualifies?

To qualify for a Section 1031 exchange, the property being disposed of (the Relinquished Property) must have been (more…)

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