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Q&A with Dave Curry: Property Management and Tech

Excerpted from BOMA Georgia’s Insight Magazine story.

Dave Curry, Senior Regional Manager of Franklin Street of Atlanta, shares with BOMA Georgia his thoughts on how technology has affected the role and possibilities of today’s modern property manager, as well as how future trends may impact the commercial real estate industry. 

1. How has technology changed how you approach property management?

Years ago, I saw a property management firm’s office reception area display, an electronic screen with a pie chart, which showed the breakdown of the building’s operating costs. It was color-coded and differentiated controllable costs from non-controllable costs, and it also clearly identified year-over-year cost reductions by categories. The monitor was cutting edge for its time, and it gave tenants and prospects something to analyze as they awaited their meeting with the property or leasing manager. More importantly, I thought, “What a terrific brand differentiator.”

In an industry which is hard pressed to identify “The Ritz Carlton” of property management firms, they were doing something that nobody else was. Some twenty-plus years later, property management firms still struggle to identify unique characteristics of their firms, but I see an opportunity on the horizon.

2. Name one leading tech trend that could have a big impact on building managers.

First, think back to when you used to balance your checkbook. In the property management world, most firms still use a similar process. Each month, they email their clients a monthly report that reflects a static look of the revenues, expenses and leasing progress associated with the applicable asset.

The advent, however, of a technology called “block chain” (most closely associated with Bitcoin) has some distinct opportunities in property management. Envision a shared monthly report that is designed to update daily (or even hourly) by multiple users in multiple places, and you have a rudimentary understanding of how blockchain technology can offer a client real-time data on their investment. When the power bill gets paid, the transaction is immediately rolled through the financials. A lease commission is paid out, and the effects are seen in real time. Friday payday is here, and so are the updated financials. The idea of scanning multiple PDFs with dated data to achieve a monthly report reminds me of the checkbook balancing exercise — it can still be done, but why continue that way?

3. How does the Internet of Things affect the property management industry?

Sensor technology is probably the most significant advancement I’ve seen. Being able to adjust lights or HVAC for occupancy management or to access interior/exterior conditions, results in automated comfort control and decreased utility costs.

IoT also has applications that bring automation and efficiency throughout an entire asset through data capture and smart technology integration. Parking lots and garages can be equipped with sensors which in turn can direct visitors to available spaces. Inside the building, some owners now require any sinks or water heaters to be equipped with sensors not to measure the usage (although that too could be applied), but rather to monitor for the presence of water so leaks can be identified before they become significant; this can be especially valuable if the leak should occur in a vacant suite that would otherwise go unnoticed for some time. IOT has safety applications as well now that most property managers (and owners) can monitor building conditions in real time on their smart phone.

4. Do you see drone technology or virtual reality enhancing property management? 

Drone technology can be used for building inspections but also for creating a better user experience from a leasing or sale perspective. Virtual reality can provide prospects virtual tours allowing the ability to see how a space would flow while fully occupied. Certainly, the residential market has employed drone technology for some time, but commercial land brokers and timber sales find drone technology to be an ever-increasing requirement to effectively market their products.

5. How will the rise of autonomous vehicles affect property management?

In 2012, I was part of a property team that brought one of the first Electric Vehicle (“EV”) charging stations to an Atlanta high-rise office building. Due to the concept’s newness, we were unsure of its acceptance by the tenant base. So, to attract interest, our team placed the stations in ideal parking spaces in the front of the garage near the building entry. We installed equipment for four parking spaces in a garage that held a couple thousand cars. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Today, with the need to promote these parking spaces long since gone, the EV stations have been relocated to less high-profile areas (in the bottom of the garage), there are more than a dozen spaces, and there are daily waiting lists to use the EV equipment. The same process will unfold with autonomous vehicles and the need for thousands of designated parking spaces will slowly dissipate. I envision property owners structuring leases that charge less if you are not requiring some standardized parking ratio five days per week.

6. Has e-commerce hurt the retail property management industry?

Everyone has a list of retail closings or bankruptcies, but what is often overlooked are the chains who are growing. Marshall’s, Dollar General, Ross, Dollar Tree, T.J. Max, and HomeGoods are all expanding. Visit your alma mater and you are likely to see Barnes and Noble, Target, and UPS, instead of the university-run stores that existed during your day. Virtually every new apartment complex under construction in urban markets have retail components that did not exist in the last development cycle. Retail property management is not going away, but it is adapting. And for large retail outlets like malls and big boxes, the need for experienced, “outside-the-box” property managers is greater than ever as these assets are repositioned for today’s market.

ABOUT THE SUBJECT 

With over 25 years of experience, Dave Curry is a Senior Regional Manager for Franklin Street’s Commercial Property Management division in Atlanta. Having initially joined Franklin Street to oversee the Atlanta retail management portfolio, he currently provides leasing services for the firm’s largest retail management client (America’s Realty), and provides business development and recruiting opportunities throughout the Atlanta markets. He can be reached at Dave.Curry@FranklinSt.com.

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Rising interest rates, foreign investment impact South Florida commercial real estate market

Excerpted from Florida Trend story.

More than halfway through 2018, the South Florida retail market is going through a combination of headwinds and tailwinds. Rising interest rates remain a focus for commercial real estate investors. International investors continue to show strong interest in retail properties. Shopping center landlords are also still facing competition from e-commerce and store closures. So, for the rest of 2018, what retail sector trends should industry players keep an eye on?

Investment sales velocity decreases

Since January 1 through June 29 of 2018, there have been a total of roughly 447 retail investment sale transactions completed throughout the South Florida tri-county region. Of those deals, 246 (51%) involved multi-tenant retail centers and 201 (42%) were single-tenant net leased properties.

Over the same period in 2017, there were 347 single-tenant net leased transactions, which is 101 more than in 2018 YTD. Multi-tenant retail centers transactions from January 1 through June 29, 2017 were considerably higher by 187 transactions for 433 total transactions.

The slower market velocity is a direct result of the Fed increasing interest rates, which has caused the current decompressed CAP rate environment. Interest rates jumped from 2.26% in June of 2017 to 2.84% as of June 29, 2018. Cap rates for retail properties rose from an average of 6.06% in Q1 2018 to 6.25% in Q2 2018.

Canadian investors active

The most active buyers in today’s market are 1031 exchange buyers, value-add and opportunistic buyers, who are looking to hold retail properties through the next five-to-seven-year cycle. The market has had less influx of foreign capital from places such as South America and China over the past two to three years. Having said that, the South Florida market saw an increase of Canadian capital, as investors are getting priced out of certain markets across Canada due to rapid growth and massive development in core urban MSAs.

Private parties are still sellers, but at a much smaller percentage than regional and national equity groups and REITS, as the cost basis for a sale moves from traditional motivating factors to yield spread, internal rate of return (IRR), and portfolio re-positioning.

Retail rent rates dropping

With big-box tenants continuing to struggle with competition from e-commerce, as evidenced by recent store closures by Toys ‘R’ Us, Macy’s and other notable national tenants. Rents for power centers and malls have seen a decrease in rental rates from Q1 to Q2 2018, by -1.9% and -4.3% respectively. Strip centers experienced nominal rental increases of roughly 2.1% due to the nature of the tenant mix, which tends to be more service-oriented and is less effected by e-commerce.

This trend should continue moving forward as landlords attempt to backfill larger big-box spaces. Landlords will need to provide concessions and tenant improvement funds to attract suitable retailers and other tenants offering more of an experience rather than specific products, i.e. family entertainment, trampoline parks, movie theaters, mini golf, etc.

FOR INFORMATION

Robert Granda is director of investment sales at Franklin Street Real Estate Services, specializing in retail brokerage throughout South Florida. Reach him at Robert.Granda@franklinst.com or 954.671.1826.

For full story, visit http://www.floridatrend.com/article/24907/rising-interest-rates-foreign-investment-impact-south-florida-commercial-real-estate-market

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The New Closers: The Rising Star Of Franklin Street’s Leigh Anne McGarry

Excerpted from Bisnow story.

Leigh Anne McGarry has been exposed to the business of real estate for her whole life. Her grandfather, John Hartrampf, founded the residential real estate brokerage Metro Brokers in Atlanta, and her father runs one of the Southeast’s biggest billboard companies, Action Outdoor.

But McGarry — a senior associate at Franklin Street and this year’s winner of the  Commercial Real Estate Women Rising Star award — learned how to sell very early on thanks to horses.

Growing up, McGarry — a native of the affluent suburban Northern Metro Atlanta community of Sandy Springs — rode horses competitively. To help make money to fund what is a pretty expensive hobby, McGarry would buy foals in Europe, bring them to Atlanta, train them to be competitive jumpers, then turn around and sell them.

Ultimately, her love for real estate won out over her love for horses when it came time to decide on a career. By 2013, McGarry earned her real estate license and joined Marcus & Millichap, working with Senior Director Sonny Molloy and his retail brokerage investment team.

“It was a definitely a tough decision, but I had gotten to the point where I needed a career and to make some money,” McGarry said. “Horseback riding is pretty expensive, and I was pretty much on the road full time. I kind of needed to grow up and get a real job.”

At the least, her decision on career choice was just given a boost by the influential organization CREW with its Rising Star award.

“She came in and was very automatic in creating value for our team. Our clients loved her,” Molloy said of her time at Marcus & Millichap as a transaction coordinator. “She is one of those people that just gets it. She came in with very little knowledge of what we do in the investment sales arena, and she, without having a background, was a plug-and-play on our team. Immediately resourceful, efficient.”

Molloy — whose team has sold more than $1B in mainly retail real estate in 20 states — said even though McGarry left Marcus & Millichap in 2015, she set the standard on what his company now expects out of a transaction coordinator.

“People who work for me hear her name as though she still works for us,” Molloy said. “She operates and does everything with a high-quality work ethic. She’s absolutely one of the most phenomenal people. She was the most optimal fit for our team.”

When McGarry initially joined Franklin Street, she moved into a transaction coordination job, a position often considered entry level. But in less than a year — sooner than Franklin Street executives expected — McGarry moved up into a landlord representative role and has yet to look back.

“She’s very impressive. I think it’s because it’s her life, it’s all around her. She doesn’t have the doubts and she has the answers to a lot of questions that people her age are still trying to figure out” about the commercial real estate industry, Franklin Street Managing Director Monetha Cobb said. “Some of the things people might learn in the first year of the business … terminology and whatnot. She just understands the players and the dynamic. That was a leg up.”

Her landlord clients at Franklin Street include Bluerock Real Estate, TPA Group, DDR and Equity One.

McGarry got married in 2016 to Kurt McGarry, whom she met at Marcus & Millichap, where he is a multifamily broker. The two purchased a home in McGarry’s childhood neighborhood in Sandy Springs.

For Leigh Anne McGarry, the next transition in the industry will likely be becoming a real estate owner. In the next decade, she and her husband dream of investing in commercial real estate, she said.

McGarry, 27, admits that she finds, as a woman in a male-dominated field, she encounters some hurdles that young men may not have to jump.

“Whether it’s just youth, my age and being a woman, it takes a lot of time for some of the older men in the industry to take me seriously. First impressions, people might blow you off. But when you get to know them, they understand, and I guess appreciate the work I can do,” she said. “It’s not always negative. It’s just something I think women in general have to deal with.”

McGarry’s skills have had an influence over CREW as well, Cobb said. McGarry headed up CREW’s university outreach committee, which holds an annual conference for college students interested in the commercial real estate world to meet with influential executives in the industry.

Open to both sexes, UCREW events usually see themselves with a handful of college attendees that are heavily dominated by men, Cobb said. This year, though, was sharply different. Not only did more than 100 students attend, but there was a healthy showing of female students eyeing a chance to enter the industry, she said.

“In the past, we had these, it’s been sometimes more men than women,” she said. “This year, they just knocked it out of the park.”

Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/atlanta/news/commercial-real-estate/up-and-comers-franklin-streets-leigh-anne-mcgarry-90400

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Next Hot Retail Market: Broward County

Excerpted from GlobeSt.com story.

PLANTATION, FL—With the International Council of Shopping Centers scheduled to hold a conference next month in Orlando, Globest.com felt it was time to take a hard look at some of the prevailing retail trends in South Florida, how retailers are dealing with issues surrounding e-commerce, and where opportunities for new investment exist.

Who better to provide insight on those topics than Robert Granda, a veteran of the retail sector and a director of retail investment sales with commercial real estate services firm Franklin Street. Granda, who works out of the firm’s office in Plantation, FL, focuses on the acquisition and disposition of multi-tenant and single-tenant retail properties and provides advisory services to both private and institutional clients throughout South Florida. Prior to joining Franklin Street, he served as associate director for the national retail group at Marcus & Millichap and earlier served as the firm’s sales manager for its Miami office providing support and oversight to more than 40 agents and $750 million in closed transactions.

For full story, visit http://www.globest.com/sites/johnjordan/2018/07/05/next-hot-retail-market-broward-county/?channel=markets&section=national

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Burger wars 2.0: Another wave of burger joints mushrooming around metro Atlanta

Excerpted from Atlanta Business Chronicle story.

So Benoit isn’t feeling pinched by the mushrooming numbers of burger restaurants around the metro area or the arrival of the latest entry, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, a Denver-based chain. In January, Daddy’s opened its first local outlet in Chamblee and most recently debuted in Smyrna, bringing the company’s nationwide total to 29. Plans are also in the works for locations in Roswell and Decatur. The new outlets join the 41 other burger eateries counted by the Georgia Restaurant Association as part of a continuing wave of gourmet burger joints that’s been washing over the metro area for the last few years.

“The first wave has slowed down a bit, but it’s starting to flow again,” said Greg Eisenman, senior director with Franklin Street, a retail tenant services real estate group. “We’re not going to see an explosion of new burger places necessarily, but restaurateurs believe people love burgers, and we’ll continue to see places with new concepts owners believe set them apart.”

For full story, visit https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2018/06/29/burger-wars-2-0.html