Real Estate Development Financing Creates Critical Situation For Developers

The real estate development industry has created a negative impact on today’s economy. Throughout the United States real estate developers are experiencing many concerns with their development projects. These concerns are mostly related to the lack of financing available and lenders unwillingness to extend or restructure current obligations. Whether you are a residential developer, homebuilder, commercial developer, or any other related real estate development professional without the proper financing terms and structure the projects will remain stagnant or be sold.

The news has hit Wall Street and Main Street that real estate developers and homebuilders require financing, restructuring, and more time to manage through this cycle. Lenders, investors, and other financial institutions have scaled back their lending programs to developers and builders due to the risk associated with real estate development. Many real estate developers rely on financial leverage to make their respective projects successful. In today’s economy the term “leverage” has been a word many people feel has created this current crisis.

The impact has created partially built stagnant projects filled with graffiti, damages, and hazards facing the immediate communities. The citizens of these communities are demanding that police patrol the projects, fire departments monitor access to water, and local municipalities ensure that the integrity of the community. The cities are also being negatively hurt because they relied upon projections of tax revenue created by these real estate development projects.

The real estate development industry has developed alternative contingency plans to adapt to the current real estate environment. Some of the most successful alternative strategies include; raising equity, developing joint venture partnerships, negotiating with their current lenders, and to secure additional debt. Real estate developers that can raise equity can reduce their leverage position and can satisfy lenders needs for paying interest or paying down principal. Real estate developers in turn give up equity into the project. Joint venture partnerships entail teaming up with other real estate development partners or investors to provide additional equity or relationships that create value for the project. Negotiating with lenders has also proven to be successful; however, many lenders are having a tough time with how they restructure the loans. Finally, securing additional debt to either refinance the entire project or pay down the existing debt and hold funds for interest carrying costs has been a strategy for real estate developers.

There are other issues and concerns facing real estate developers besides financing such as finding homeowners, builders to develop projects, and end tenants to occupy the projects. The residential mortgage industry has been experiencing an enormous increase in bankruptcy filings, foreclosures, and lack of funding available to create mortgages to buyers of new homes. The government has been creating programs and ideas to help keep homeowners in their homes and to also stimulate new buyers to the market.

The retail sector of commercial real estate has seen retailers scale back their operations in terms of growth and expansion. The retailers are also struggling to secure financing for tenant improvements for their locations. One of the most troubling concerns for retailers has been the lack of consumer spending. Office tenants have also had to scale back their operations, reduce staffing needs, and cut expenses as much as possible. Office tenants are also experiencing opportunities to move into more desirable locations at more affordable prices causing vacancies in many submarkets.

The recent economic indicators and stock market trends are showing some signs of strength in the economy while others believe that the economy is still due for a slow recovery. As the credit markets start to thaw out and lend to real estate developers the projects will start to get back on track and create momentum. There will be many learning experiences real estate developers will take away from this current real estate market and hopefully will not repeat in the future.

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Real Estate Development Explained Easily

Many people familiar with the real estate market and industry are very familiar with the term “real estate developer,” and perhaps can even name a few famous ones, from Donald Trump to Alfred Taubman. It would seem that the term itself is very self-explanatory, as real estate developer simply develops or improves real estate.

In reality, the entire concept of realtor development is of course much more complicated than that. Unlike someone that purchase a home to fix it up and resell it, a large-scale or high-end real estate developer often deals in millions or even billions of dollars in investment.

It’s true that a developer may be an individual, but more likely will be a partnership or Limited Liability Company, or even a corporation.

There are two major categories of real estate development activity: land development and building development (also known as project development).

Land developers usually purchase land that is unimproved, meaning that it has yet to have utility connections, roads, any type of grading, and so on. Unimproved means just that, in every case.

Developers then step in and define the “covenants,” which are the context of any future builds and improvements on the land. They also gain “entitlements,” which are legal permissions or permits in order to go ahead with their development plans. Once these covenants and entitlements are in place, the land development can then begin, with earth grading and other land leveling, utility connections, and zoning. Roads are also planned, built, and paved, whether for large cities or just neighborhoods.

Once the land is properly developed, building developers may then step in.

These building developers then have buildings, whether offices, retail, or private homes, planned and built on the land.

Building developers and land developers obviously need to work very closely, as the building developers plans will need to be accommodated by the land developers. For example, the utilities brought in for office buildings are obviously different than those for private homes, as are roads, and everything else.

Some building developers also purchase existing buildings or properties for the purpose of upgrading, remodeling, razing and rebuilding, or otherwise improving whether for sale, or to keep as assets to produce cash flow via rents and other means.

Why develop real estate?

When you really think about it, you realize the great amount of work and obvious risk that is involved in real estate development. Additionally, homes or estates cost a lot of money to purchase and develop (sometimes called “hard costs”), and can sometimes be difficult to sell. Because of these high expenses and difficult sales, and because the return on investment often takes some time, this explains the risk in ownership and development.

So then why choose this as an occupation? One thing to remember is that most real estate development projects are financed with debt leverage, that is, with borrowed funds the proceeds of which are assumed to earn a greater rate of return than the cost of interest.

By using debt leverage rather than personal investment, this cuts the risk tremendously.

How do you actually get wealthy?

And of course for most, the real question is how one actually gets wealthy from home developments if the work is so hard and the risk is so high.

The answer is of course complicated, and certainly there is nothing guaranteed. Many developers have lost as much as they have gained, and the market fluctuates greatly. However, it seems that those who are smart about their investments and developments are the ones that are successful. After all, the entire point of real estate development is much like stock trading – you want to sell the product for more than you paid for it.

Having a true understanding of what makes real estate valuable is key. Make a good decision as to location, upgrades, and the like, and you’re sure to make money. Make bad decisions, and you’ll lose money.

To actually get wealthly then, it pays to do your homework as they say. Purchasing land or buildings on the low end is good, but just because something is affordable doesn’t mean it’s going to turn a profit once it’s developed. There may be a reason why certain areas are undeveloped or certain buildings are up for sale.

Quite often, when people begin to invest in commercial real estate, they begin small. They may acquire a single family dwelling, a duplex or maybe even a small apartment building. In order to keep continue the commercial investment game; you have to keep moving property. In fact, if you do not grow, you will eventually find that your bank can no longer help you because you have maxed out your investment portfolio. Taking too long to develop can be a death sentence in the game.

Additionally, staying on top of trends in the real estate market is also crucial. Population shifts can greatly affect the outcome of a development project. When the populace is moving out, it makes no sense to develop new property or refurbish old ones – who will buy the property is everyone is moving away? And, who will buy your developed land if all builders are unable to sell their current properties and are looking at other areas? Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War,” said, “By taking into account the unfavorable factors, he [the soldier] may avoid possible disasters.” This point can obviously apply to real estate development and eventual sales. Being wise about potential problems with any one area or development deal can help avert monetary disaster.

To actually get wealthy from real estate development, it takes some skill and effort to stay ahead of the game, and the ability to organize all the steps needed, as well as to delay profits. However, with a bit of work and study, it can pay off. Development has long proven to be one of the most profitable areas of business that’s around – if you have the patience to play the game right.

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Uncommon View – Commercial Real Estate Development

This is a story I heard growing up:
When my grandfather was 10 years old he found a penny. With that penny he bought a pencil. He sharpened that pencil then sold it for two cents. He took that two cents and bought two more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for four cents. He reinvested his four cents in four more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for eight cents. Then, again, he bought eight more pencils, sharpened them and sold them for sixteen cents. This went on until my grandfather had amassed $10.24. That’s when my great Aunt Sophie died and left us her portfolio of shopping centers, office buildings and rental homes. Our family has been in the real estate business ever since.

The story isn’t true, but it taught four valuable lessons:

1) Sweat equity is a powerful tool;

2) If you reinvest your earnings, wealth can grow geometrically;

3) The BIG money is in real estate; and

4) It would be nice to have a rich Aunt Sophie.

Like most families, we didn’t have a rich Aunt Sophie, so my parents focused on lessons 1, 2 and 3. I mention this story as a backdrop. My life growing up was always about real estate.

In my article “Keys to Closing Commercial Real Estate Transactions”, I mentioned my father because he was, and is, a wiz when it comes to commercial real estate. It was through him that I came to represent commercial real estate developers.

What I didn’t mention was that my mother was active in the family real estate business as well. While my father focused on commercial land development, my mother focused on residential real estate. I should have known better than to mention one but not the other. This article could be sub-titled “Keys To Maintaining Harmony”.

What does maintaining harmony have to do with commercial real estate development? Stick with me on this, then decide.

My mother cared about “quality of life” issues. Comfortable homes. Neighborhood parks. Safe streets. Good schools. Museums and other cultural enhancements.

I remember watching my mother lay out walking paths around detention ponds in residential developments and looking through catalogs evaluating park benches and playground equipment for neighborhood parks. As a residential real estate investor, developer and broker, my mother focused on “living environments”. If families were going to live in her neighborhoods then the neighborhoods had to be “family friendly”.

As you might imagine, with my father focused on commercial development and my mother focused on residential quality of life issues, conversations around the dinner table were always interesting, and sometimes dicey.

On one side of the table, my father envisioned expansive commercial development for retail shopping centers, office buildings, restaurants, hotels, theaters, warehouse superstores, entertainment centers, nightclubs and more.

On the other side was my mother insisting upon neighborhoods with comfortable homes, safe streets, parks and other open areas, dry basements, clean air, clean water, and minimal noise and light pollution.

According to conventional wisdom – derived from public zoning board and plan commission hearings and community planning group meetings when commercial development is proposed near existing homes and neighborhoods – one might expect a clash of ideas turning into heated challenges and demands to forego development. Fortunately, our dinner table was nothing like most public hearings.

My mother and father each respected the vision of the other and understood the natural symbiotic relationship between residential and commercial development. Instead of complaining that one was trying to destroy the vision of the other, they anticipated each other’s legitimate development and environmental needs and sought reasonable accommodation when possible. Sometimes they couldn’t agree, but there was always a meaningful attempt to understand the viewpoint of the other, exchange ideas and come to a mutually respectful and workable plan.

My mother was a resourceful advocate. She made my father think about how commercial development would impact residential neighbors and plan ways to mitigate adverse consequences on families. Long before coming into their current vogue, I learned at our family dinner table the concept of “lifestyle commercial centers” and complementary residential/commercial mixed use developments.

The point for commercial developers and residential advocates is that they should each turn down the volume of their development debate and respectfully listen to what the other is saying. When the other has presented legitimate concerns or needs, those concerns and needs should be reasonably accommodated where possible. An idealistic dream? Perhaps. But I grew up watching it work.

To be sure, not all expressed concerns are legitimate and not all proposed accommodations are possible. In those cases, resolution must necessarily be left up to public plan commissions, zoning boards, and municipal trustees or aldermen to arbitrate and decide the debate. As guardians of the public welfare entrusted with promoting the best interests of the community at large, they must decide. In a fair and evenhanded political environment, your best bet for prevailing is to demonstrate that you have listened with respect and have made reasonable and conscientious efforts to promote public harmony rather than discord.

POINT: If you are a commercial real estate developer proposing a commercial development near existing residential neighborhoods, don’t pretend they don’t exist. Think about how they will be impacted and include in your development plan ways to mitigate any adverse consequences created by your development. Talk to your residential neighbors. Listen to what they have to say. They are not ALL crazy. Sometimes (often, actually) they have legitimate concerns about real problems. If you can include in your development plan a way to economically fix a problem they already have (such as flooding, blight, inadequate parking, lack of sufficient parks or playgrounds, poor traffic circulation, etc.), your chances of favorable governmental action to approve your development plan goes up.

Whether you are a commercial real estate developer or a neighborhood advocate, understand that, whether you like it or not, conditions change. Nothing stays the same. Obsolescence and blight are natural products of time. Redevelopment is coming. If not today, then someday.

Which brings me back to my point of promoting family harmony by making amends to my mother. You don’t necessarily have to read what follows. This is primarily for her.

My mother retired last year but says she still enjoys reading my newsletters and articles. Perhaps a mother’s love, but she always likes to read what I write about real estate and real estate development. She says her favorite is a poem I wrote about “real estate development” called The Great Pyramids Of Egypt Are In Disrepair. She thinks I should share it.

The poem was written in 1992. I have to admit, it never occurred to me that the poem was about “real estate development”. I can assure you, I was not consciously thinking about real estate development at the time I wrote it.

But my mother is a smart woman and I have learned my lesson. I am not going to lightly cross her again. So, in the interest of family harmony, here it is. I leave it to you to decide if it is about real estate development. If you don’t think so, please don’t tell my mother.

THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT ARE IN DISREPAIR

We looked deep into each other’s eyes and said:
“Our Love will last forever”.

When I was two my parents built a new house
next door to the one we rented from my grandfather.
It was “ultra modern” with all the latest conveniences
A garbage disposer – dishwasher – central air –
central vac – wall-to-wall carpet – a private den –
We had a bird bath – and two hundred newly planted Scottish pines.

It’s a parking lot now –
The church next door needed it.
Business was good.

The church doors were padlocked last year.
God moved down the street to nicer quarters.

I saw a news clip recently.
The Great Pyramids of Egypt are in disrepair.
They may not last unless work starts soon.
Sometimes the damage can be too great.
Even mummies get so wrapped up in what
they are doing they can begin to unravel.

Yesterday a friend asked: “Whatever happened to that girl?”

The POINT (according to my mother):

Change happens.
What seems new and permanent today
Will be gone tomorrow.

No time stands still.
Real Estate projects are no exception.
Redevelopment is coming.

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Real Estate Development – Two Essential Keys to Building a Successful Property Development Business!

When it comes to real estate investing very few investors actually look at building their property portfolios as a real business. They need a shift in their way of thinking and to approach real estate investing more like an entrepreneur.

In our opinion two of the essential keys to running a successful Real Estate Development business are using great systems and forming great long term relationships.

Entrepreneurs use proven systems and leverage off others to run their business effectively and they view their business as separate from them. They realize that they are not their business and see their business as the end product. A property developer who understands that, has a real opportunity to become very successful.

When you realise that real estate development is a business and that your business is your product, you can then start to work on building your business. To build a successful real estate development business you will need to change the way you think and your approach to real estate investing.

We believe that the ultimate real estate developer is what we call a ‘Real Estate Development (RED) armchair entrepreneur’. You see, the traditional property developer still thinks that real estate development is a job. They believe that time equals work and work equals money, whereas a RED armchair entreprenuer believes that time equals equity and equity equals freedom. In other words if RED armchair entreprenuers spends the time to build equity it will allow them to get free of the business and if they want more freedom they build more equity.

Traditional real estate developers still believe that they need to do the work and be part of the system whereas RED armchair entreprenuers believe that they should build great relationships and have others do the work. This enables RED armchair entrepreneurs to build their businesses much faster.

When the business owner is also the hands on developer it will usually require much more hard work to make the business successful. It is much smarter for anyone considering entering into the industry to set up a business where the systems run the business, and let others run the systems. In other words the systems and other people work for you so you don’t have to.

Working on your business allows you to work on the things that really matter and that will give you the biggest return for your efforts. RED armchair entrepreneurs use systems to streamline tasks and avoid chaos so they can concentrate on growing their business efficiently.

When the systems are being run by others RED armchair entrepreneurs are able to focus their attention on innovation. They can capitalize moments of inspiration and through effective communication they’re able to turn their dreams into reality.

If you think about some of the great property developers, names like Donald Trump will typically come to mind however one of the biggest property developers was actually a school drop-out, Ray Kroc the founder of McDonalds. An entrepreneur with an incredible vision who worked on his business and not in his business.

You see Ray never considered that he was in the hamburger business but rather that he was in the business of real estate. Ray secured development sites in great locations, put fast food restaurants on them which he franchised. Ray Kroc died on January 14, 1984 and was worth an estimated $500 million.

YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL

As business owners and proud parents our most important asset is time and as much as we wanted to be actively involved in real estate development we knew we didn’t want to be traditional real estate developers who worked long hours trading their time for money.

Instead we looked at the big picture and applied the same entrepreneurial skills we had developed in our architectural practice to property development. Real estate development had to contribute to our ultimate goal of achieving financial freedom and giving back.

We knew that when we achieved our ultimate goal it would give us more choices so we could start to live our dream lifestyle according to our core values and with passion and purpose.

To be successful at real estate development you need to connect with what is most important to you. As soon as you start thinking more like a RED armchair entrepreneur and set your ultimate goal or the dream that drives everything you do the more real estate development will give you a sense of direction and purpose.

Your ultimate goal will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning and stay up late, it is your innermost driving force. It will allow you to live your life intentionally, rather than randomly and it will motivate you to achieve your full potential.

Setting your ultimate goal has nothing to do with real estate development. It is about how you want your life to be like.

It isn’t about material things, or about others. There is no right or wrong answer because it will be different for everyone. It is about your life so it is, in essence, what is true for you. Real estate development is only a vehicle that can be used to support your ultimate goal.

To set your ultimate goal, you should start off by asking yourself questions such as:

* What do I need in my life?

* What do I want in my life?

* How do I want to live my life today?

* How do I want to live my life in 2, 10 or 20 years from now?

* What has given me great joy so far in my life?

* If I had a magic wand and my life could be anything I wanted it to be, what would that life be like?

Knowing your ultimate goal gives you the ability to make conscious choices that are consistent with what is important to you, your core values. It will help you set your life’s purpose and put real estate development in its proper perspective.

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