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Baby Boomers, Retailers Could Change Commercial Lending

Some of the industry’s top commercial real estate mortgage bankers expect business to stay just as strong in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate markets in 2019 as it was in the past two years even as the economy shows signs of slowing.

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts loan origination in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – will only reach $530 billion in 2019, essentially on par with 2017 and 2018.

This report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

The amount of financing in the fourth quarter of 2018 beat the year-earlier period by 14 percent, the group said. It suggests that commercial and apartment lenders apparently have not been scared off by government shutdowns, stock market volatility, looming global trade wars and other headline events. And this follows almost a decade of recovery involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings tipped from one of the nation’s worst real estate collapses, as analysts and economists wonder how long this recuperation can last.

Indications for the immediate future of both national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties are for steady lending activity, bankers agree.

For 2018, “the market as a whole ended the year roughly flat compared to 2017, continuing a plateau we’ve seen in mortgage borrowing and lending since 2015,” said Jamie Woodwell, vice president of commercial research for the mortgage bankers’ group.

These were among the key points from the Washington, D.C.-based trade group, which represents lenders, investors, developers, and others involved in commercial real estate financing.

Financiers avoid retail: Blame the rise of ecommerce and retail chain store closings, but MBA figures show loans in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – posting relatively anemic growth in the past year. They were up 1 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier in 2017, compared with 32 percent growth for apartment loans and 28 percent growth for industrial loans.

Aging boomers haven’t yet spurred a healthcare lending boom: US. growth for healthcare and senior-housing-related lending was up 61 percent year-over-year for the fourth quarter, but analysts said aging baby boomers still comprise only a fraction of development and lending activity.

As banks get queasy, others stand by: Even if banks dealing with national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings are getting skittish about how long the good times can last, a multitude of other financiers stand ready to step in, and the fastest growing contingent includes debt funds. Numerous prominent firms in financial management and private equity have established funds geared primarily to lending to third-party commercial investors and developers, and they are finding rewards even in a tight interest rate environment.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space, and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need – a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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Office Space Decommissioning – The Overlooked Embedded Cost of Moving

Office Space DecommissioningThis article talks about how important Office Space Decommissioning is when moving to a new space.

Here’s a secret that no one ever tells you about moving – the bulk of your relocation costs are NOT transitioning your belongings to the new space. The fact is, office space decommissioning is a significant factor in your budget, sometimes adding up to 3-5 times that of the actual relocation itself.

Office Space Decommissioning Is More Than Just Moving Out

All too often, clients miss the not so obvious “other move” when it comes to their office relocation. Clients split their time and attention operating their core business while also focusing on the “new” space and the endless questions, details, and decisions that are required to get that space ready to unveil. The “old” space, as well as the furniture in it, is often overlooked. If you think you can just leave the furniture and the cleaning for the landlord, you are mistaken!

The problem is that neglecting to properly decommission the old office space leaves you exposed to a wealth of unnecessary costs.
The majority of commercial leases contain very specific requirements as to how the old space needs to be turned back over to the landlord. If not, it’s your deposit that hangs in the balance, just waiting to satisfy those obligations you signed off on in your original lease long ago. The removal of unwanted furniture and equipment can be an expensive undertaking, especially if not handled properly, and your landlord is well within his rights to apply your deposit to those costs.

Most commercial leases require that the occupied space be left “broom swept.” This means that all contents, freestanding furniture, workstations, office/IT equipment, shelving, racking, etc., must be completely removed, and all floors left cleared of debris and vacuumed. That also means following through on tiny details like removing any data/IT cabling that you’ve added while in residence. Overall, you need to return the space back to its original condition prior to your occupancy. Your lease should spell out the specific requirements and standards you will be held to.

So how do you protect your deposit? You need a detailed plan and a schedule! The easiest way to satisfy your lease obligations and get your deposit back is to consult a professional who is well-versed in handling the office decommissioning process. When you partner with the right commercial removal company or transition management company, they can help you properly navigate and negotiate your exit. Most standard moving companies aren’t experienced enough to guide you through this process, and handling it yourself elevates your “soft cost exposure.” Most people over value what they have, don’t fully understand what they’re required to do, and then end up running out of time. The reality is that there is a very tight timeline when you move and the space needs to be vacated. Why wait on a potential buyer to purchase unwanted assets, when it elevates your risk of exceeding that timeline and paying a costly penalty to your former landlord? You need to understand the cost of the distraction to your core business while focusing on something that is only likely to yield a marginal return.

When you value the assets you will not be moving to your new space, factor in the time it takes to liquidate them. It’s often best to hire an expert to advocate for your bottom line, and help you sort it all out in an efficient and expeditious manner. There are three outcomes in an office decommissioning: net positive, net zero, and net negative. To achieve “net positive,” the liquidation of furniture and/or equipment yields a positive cash return and is clearly the optimal outcome to strive for. To attain “net zero,” you can choose to donate contents to a local charity for re-purpose, or have a third-party company remove them at no cost. While you don’t make any money on the transaction, you save the potential cost of having to remove the contents yourself. For those items that simply don’t have much or any value, and need to either be recycled or disposed, you’ll find yourself in a “net negative”
position. Although there’s a nominal return for recycled items, the cost for disposing valueless items leaves you with a fee that an office decommissioning expert can help minimize. You don’t want to incur unnecessary storage costs for assets that won’t garner you a net positive return on that investment.

Quite frankly, there is an enormous difference between a transition management expert and a standard moving company. Before you sign with a relocation company, discuss with them the decommissioning services that they provide. Pin down the price for the services that you need, and compare that cost with hiring various removal providers. Most commercial movers overlook office space decommissioning, and this portion of the job can cost many times your relocation fee depending on how much of your existing furniture you will be taking to your new space. Once you have the transition team in place, establish a facility decommissioning plan and lock in hard dates and deadlines.

Make sure that the company is reliable, and that the personnel have the necessary skills to execute the plan. Often times, it is not worth the risk of going with the vendor with the lowest bid, as the cost for additional “buy back days” at your old space can quickly eclipse those cheap vendor savings.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? Simply that companies that focus all their time and effort on “hard costs” of relocation will be blindsided by the much more important “soft costs” of the move. A transition management expert minimizes your company’s exposure to lost revenue by reducing the distraction to your core business and curtailing downtime. Consult with an expert, and the savings on office space decommissioning will more than likely pay for the actual relocation.

About Argosy Management Group, LLC
Argosy Management Group (AMG) is a leader in office relocation and logistics project/move management. AMG services companies throughout the U.S. and worldwide. AMG delivers a wide range of comprehensive services: move management and transition planning, space planning and furniture needs, office and industrial relocation and liquidation, storage solutions and asset management, furniture disassembly and installation, and I.T./data center relocation.

AMG

For more information contact:
Shawn O’Neil, Partner
609-744-4112

Paul Sipera
609-760-8312

Argosy Management Group, LLC
7905 Browning Rd., Suite 112
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
www.argosymg.com

 

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Who Owns the Fixtures at Lease Expiration

Who Owns the Fixtures at Lease ExpirationLet’s examine who owns the fixtures at lease expiration. In order to facilitate a smooth transition between commercial tenants, it is important for landlords to understand their rights regarding items attached to their property. Generally, a lease will govern these rights. However, if the lease is silent on the issue, articles annexed to the property deemed “fixtures” must stay with the property, while articles deemed “trade fixtures” may be removed by a vacating tenant.

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In New Jersey, a fixture is an object that “become[s] so related to particular real estate that an interest… arises under real estate law.” N.J.S.A. 12A:2A-309(1)(a). In contrast, an article may be considered to be a trade fixture if: (1) the article is annexed to the property for the purpose of aiding in the conduct of a trade or business exercised on the premises; and (2) the article is capable of removal from the premises without material injury thereto. Handler v. Horns, 2 N.J. 18, 24-25 (1949). As such, an important distinction between fixtures and trade fixtures is whether removal of the item will cause material injury to the premises. See e.g.
GMC v. City of Linden, 150 N.J. 522, 534 (1997). In applying this test, courts infer that if removal of an article would cause material injury to the premises, the parties must have intended for the article to remain beyond the lease term. Id.

A typical conflict involving this nuanced distinction may involve a vacating tenant removing an item from the leased premises under the assumption that it was (1) attached to the premises for the purpose of conducting a trade or business; and (2) capable of removal without material injury to the premises. A landlord may dispute one or more of these assumptions, arguing that the article was not used in the conduct of business (that it was in fact attached to improve the structure) or is not capable of removal without material injury to the premises.Over the years, vacating tenants have attempted to remove countless items from leased premises, including air conditioning systems, irrigation systems, bolted down light fixtures and even circuit breaker panels, by arguing these items were trade fixtures. See e.g. In re Jackson Tanker Corp., 69 B.R. 850 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 1987).

However, it isn’t difficult to imagine a hypothetical where the traditional landlord and tenant arguments are reversed – that is, where the tenant argues that the article must remain with the property and the landlord argues that the tenant is responsible for its removal. This unusual fact pattern may especially arise where the tenant’s business is specialized in nature, and where equipment is not easily removed from the premises.

For example, Landlord rents out space to Tenant, who plans on operating a restaurant. The lease does not specifically address what does and does not constitute a trade fixture. Tenant plans on installing a walk-in freezer and other specialized, complex systems. After several years of operating, Tenant declines to renew the
lease, closes, and vacates the premises. Tenant removes the furniture, appliances not fixed to the premises and other items it deems to be trade fixtures and leaves the walk-in freezer infrastructure. Tenant refuses to remove the walk-in freezer, arguing its removal will cause substantial damage to the premises. Unable to re-let the premises to a restaurant tenant, Landlord is left with a walk-in freezer occupying a substantial portion of the premises. It is important that during the lease negotiation, landlords think carefully about the business their prospective tenant is in, the kinds of equipment the tenant will install and what will happen to that equipment upon termination of the lease. This same thought process applies when landlords receive requests for alterations. In the above hypothetical, Landlord could have avoided being left with a walk-in freezer and a less than desirable space if it addressed the issue during negotiation of the lease. A discussion with prospective tenants concerning the specific kinds equipment the tenant will install is always a good idea, followed by specifications and drawings for approval. Landlords are wise to reduce these conversations to writing, and specifically address each party’s expectations regarding the disposition of specific equipment when the lease inevitably comes to an end. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and none of these materials is offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice or a legal opinion based on any specific facts or circumstances.

William F. Hanna, Esquire
Hyland Levin Shapiro LLP
hanna@hylandlevin.com
Hyland Levin Shapiro LLP
6000 Sagemore Drive, Suite 6301
Marlton, NJ 08053-3900
(p) 856.355.2900

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Analysts See Strong Warehouse Demand Despite Varied Concerns

Leasing and sales of distribution centers and other industrial properties reached records across the country last year, signaling strengthening demand in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate markets as shoppers accelerate their shift to buying online.

Industrial activity was robust for a ninth-straight year in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – as overall economic growth and goods consumption drove unprecedented warehouse sales and leasing across the United States in 2018. The data, however, shows some signs pointing to slower growth this year.

This Co-Star report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Investors, meanwhile, continue to pile into industrial space given its strong and consistent occupancy, rent growth, and return on investment. Total sales volume involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings tipped the $100 billion mark in 2018, the highest on record, and industrial sale prices rose about 10 percent over the prior year, an impressive feat this late in the economic cycle and easily the largest increase of all the major property types.

CoStar’s forecast expects new logistics buildings will be completed at a record pace this year as developers try to capture the demand. The research firm is tracking about 275 million square feet of industrial space under construction, equal to about 1.7 percent of the nation’s total supply. That amount of development among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties translates into what’s likely to be a high-water mark for new warehouse and distribution building this year to support the delivery of goods to households shopping online.

That’s a change from last year when the amount of new industrial space in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – dipped 11 percent in 2018 from the prior year. Construction finished the year on the upswing, but even that still may be insufficient to meet demand as more retailers move onto online platforms that require more warehouse space.

White demand remains robust, CoStar predicts the vacancy rate among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings will gradually rise and rent growth will slow as developers finish new buildings, more space hits the market, and the beneficial effects of tax cuts and fiscal stimulus begin to diminish and cool the economy.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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Rising Interest Rates Change the Makeup of Securitized Loans

Headwinds from rising interest rates and investor caution as U.S. economic growth approaches a record stretch are likely to lead to less traditional lending terms for commercial real estate loan securitization in 2019 throughout the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate markets.

While the Federal Reserve’s rate increases appear to be having little meaningful economic impact on the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space, they do seem to be influencing a preference for commercial mortgage-backed securities with shorter-term floating-rate debt or interest-only payments, a survey of credit rating agencies said.

This Co-Star Research report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Full or partial interest-only loans among U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings made up 87 percent of the commercial mortgage securitization market last year and, according to CoStar analysts, this trend is continuing in early 2019.

These loan dynamics have contributed to single-borrower deals and commercial real estate collateralized loan obligations among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties having a very good year in 2018. Those two types of securitizations accounted for $52 billion in deals in 2018, up from $42 billion in 2017, said CoStar analysts.

While the Kroll Bond Rating Agency is forecasting up to $55 billion in these types of issuances in 2019, traditional commercial mortgage-backed deals with longer-term loans in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – started out the first half of 2018 with a solid increase in activity. These deals, however, slowed noticeably in the second half as annual volume in 2018 decreased to $41 billion as compared to $44 billion in 2017.

Overall issuances of this type among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings could fall a bit more next year. One of the main factors that could drag down lending volume is a shrinking pipeline of loans coming due for repayment. With fewer loans maturing, there is less demand for borrowing. Loan maturity volume dropped from highs of about $83 billion in 2016 and 2017 to about $34.65 billion in combined maturities over the next two years.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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Winter Weather and Its Impact On Your Business

Winter weather is unpredictable and can have a large impact on your business. While maintaining business operations is always at the forefront of your mind, it is important to consider employee safety as well. You should have policies and procedures in place before bad weather hits so that your company and employees are as prepared as possible.

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Driving in Winter Weather on Company Time

winter weatherA major concern regarding winter weather is employees who drive a company car or vehicle as part of their workday. All vehicles should be given a safety check by a mechanic before the bad weather hits, and they should also be equipped with emergency materials such as a snow scraper, blanket, first aid kit and
flashlight.

In addition, employees should be instructed to dress properly for the weather, including a hat, scarf and gloves, or have extra clothing on hand in case of a breakdown or accident. In order to protect your company against liability, any employees who may drive in bad weather on company time should be trained in safe, cautious driving techniques and what to do in case of an accident. Also consider employees who drive as part of their commute—it may be wise to educate them in cautious winter driving techniques to ensure their safety while driving to and from work.

Employee Pay During Winter Weather

Pay issues arise when weather forces your business to close for any length of time or prevents employees from making it to work even if your business remains open. For non-exempt (typically hourly) employees, you are only required to pay them for the hours they actually work. Thus, if your business opens late, closes early or closes for an entire day, you are not required to pay them for any time missed.

If an exempt (typically salaried) employee works any part of the day, you must pay them for a full day. Similarly, if the business is closed for a day or more but less than a full week, you need to pay exempt employees their normal salary if they worked any part of that week. You do not need to pay employees if business is closed for a full week. This applies whether your company uses a five-day or seven-day workweek. You may, however, require that they use available paid time off or vacation time, if available. If your business remains open but an exempt employee cannot come in due to weather conditions, this is a personal reason, and you do not need to pay them. One option to ease the loss of a business day or any missed productivity is to ask exempt employees to work from home if you are already paying them for the day. You may also consider offering a telecommuting option during inclement weather even if your business remains open so employees can avoid the dangers of driving in the extreme cold or snow.

Be Prepared for Winter Weather

Employees should be informed of your company policies related to inclement weather—safety, attendance and pay-related. You should have an established communication method to inform your employees of a business closing or delay. When bad weather is coming, address all your policies again, remind employees of communication channels to address attendance and plan for the worst potential outcome to ensure your company is prepared for the weather.

Brian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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Are Letters of Intent a Good Idea?

letters of intentCommercial real estate players use letters of intent (LOIs) or term sheets all the time. Buyers and tenants present offers this way, often to see if a deal can be reached before incurring the costs of negotiating an agreement of sale or a lease (the Definitive Agreement). The key question is whether these agreements are binding or not. The legal principles are fairly easy to state: If the parties intend not to be bound to each other prior to the execution of a Definitive Agreement, the courts will give effect to that intent and the parties will not be bound until the agreement has been fully executed and delivered. This is true even if all issues in the negotiations have been resolved. Conversely, if the parties intend to be bound prior to the execution of a Definitive Agreement, the court will give effect to that intent, and the parties will be bound even though they contemplate replacing their earlier understanding with a later written agreement. Courts have consistently stated that the most important factor in determining whether or which provisions in an LOI are binding is the language used by the parties in the letters of intent themselves.

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Typically, parties draft letters of intent to be partially binding. The letters of intent will contain provisions not intended to be binding and provisions expressly intended to be binding on the parties. The non-binding provisions consist primarily of the “deal points”, such as a description of the key components of a proposed transaction and any important conditions. For an agreement of sale, these include the purchase price, deposit, due diligence period, deal contingencies (e.g. financing, licensing and land use approvals), time for closing and broker payment obligations. For a lease agreement, these include the rental rate, security deposit, tenant allowance, responsibility for repairs and replacements, use and exclusivity terms, brokers and any unique arrangements. The binding provisions focus on the negotiation time period, including access to information, confidentiality, a “no-shop” or exclusivity provision in which the seller or landlord agrees not to sell or lease the subject property to another for a specified period of time, broker representations and protection and non-disclosure (to third parties) obligations. There should be a termination provision and natural end date for the life of the LOI.

The main purpose of typical letters of intent is for the parties to formulate deal points without committing to the actual transaction. Letters of intent provide counsel a blueprint for preparation of the Definitive Agreement, saving time and money. Letters of intent can keep the deal momentum moving forward while negotiating the details of a Definitive Agreement, especially when they contain milestones for delivering a draft and executing a final version. Moreover, an LOI may be necessary for a lender or investor to move to the next step of its process.
However, there are also potential risks in using LOIs. If inartfully drafted, or if the parties act as though they have reached a deal, the LOI may be deemed a binding contract, obligating the parties prematurely.

Further, many courts have found that execution of a letters of intent  creates an obligation for the parties to negotiate, in good faith, a reasonable agreement, which may be an unintended consequence of signing. Another
possible disadvantage of using an LOI is that a party may share the letter with a competing bidder to shop the deal to see if they can get a better offer. Even worse, deal momentum may die while negotiating a trivial LOI provision for a simple transaction that could have gone straight to the Definitive Agreement.

Indeed it is often the case that conceptual agreement on the basic deal points will allow a buyer to prepare
an agreement of sale, without the need to incur the time and expense of negotiating letters of intent. But, for
the complex commercial transaction, an LOI can provide a necessary level of comfort prior to expending significant resources on investigations, inspections, analysis and negotiation of a Definitive Agreement.

If you use letters of intent, be clear and specifically describe the binding provisions, carefully distinguishing them
from the non-binding provisions. If there are no special conditions or complicating factors, go straight to the Definitive Agreement instead of preparing an LOI to avoid unintended consequences, such as a forming a contract or creating an obligation to negotiate in good faith.

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and none of these materials is offered,
nor should be construed, as legal advice or a legal opinion based on any specific facts or circumstances.

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Philadelphia Employers, Economy Positioned for Growth In 2019

With trade tensions escalating and interest rates in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market on an upward path, economists are increasingly warning the U.S. economy is in danger of slipping into recession in 2020.

While risks of an eventual national economic slowdown in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – are real and should not be ignored, Philadelphia-focused real estate investors can take comfort the region’s economic indicators are flashing positive signs for 2019 as the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area’s job gains have strengthened in recent months to a rate of 1.4 percent year-over-year.

This Co-Star Research report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

The industries powering Philadelphia’s recent job gains are:

Healthcare: In University City, Penn Medicine is now wrapping up construction on the first phase of its 540,000-sf Center for Healthcare Technology. Meanwhile, work continues at the healthcare giant’s largest capital project ever, the 1.5 million-sf Pavilion Hospital, which is expected to be completed in 2021. AmeriHealth Caritas, AmerisourceBergen and Sparks Therapeutics have all recently announced major Philadelphia-area expansion plans.

Information Technology: Philadelphia-based Comcast is in the process of hiring roughly 1,500 new employees as it staffs its recently completed Comcast Technology Center.

Distribution: Retailers and e-commerce firms have been on a tear building new distribution facilities in the region to expedite delivery times for their East Coast customers. Just weeks ago, Amazon completed a major distribution center in Burlington New Jersey expected to employ 600 people, one of five massive distribution centers Amazon has opened in the metropolitan area since 2013.

Many of Philadelphia’s largest publicly traded companies are flush with cash following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which sliced the U.S. corporate tax rate almost in half. Over the most recent four quarters of business among some of the leading national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties, top local employers – including AmerisourceBergen, Aramark, Comcast, and FMC – reported all-time highs in net operating incomes that more than doubled what had been collected during the preceding four quarters.

While the recent tax cuts affecting U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings are expected to add at least $1.9 trillion to the federal debt by 2028, according to the Congressional Budget Office, they clearly have boosted companies’ willingness to expand payrolls.

According to data from the world’s third-largest staffing firm, Manpower, the percentage of companies in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area planning to increase staffing levels is at the highest levels recorded during this economic expansion. Meanwhile, the percentage of firms in the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – planning to reduce their staff is near rock bottom.

Philadelphia’s employment growth could still decelerate in the quarters ahead despite local companies’ aggressive hiring plans. With the unemployment rate among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings now well below 5 percent, employers will likely find it increasingly difficult to fill many open positions.

On the spectrum of economic challenges, this is one of the less-threatening problems to face, in part because a tight labor market also supports above-average wage growth. Still, the dwindling supply of available workers was likely a driving force behind the brief slowdown in job growth that took hold here in 2017.

The stage is set for total employment to continue rising in Philadelphia through 2019. The question is how strong and how sustainable these job gains will be.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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Adequate Due Diligence for Commercial Properties

How do you know if you have done Due Diligence for Commercial Properties? I hear statements like the one below all the time. 

“I’m buying a commercial/industrial property; I need a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA)” or “I’m leasing a commercial/ industrial property; I don’t need to worry about performing any due diligence because I’m not purchasing the property”.

But is a Phase I ESA all you need, or is that too much? How much time do you have to perform your due diligence? How much money are you willing to spend? How much risk and potential liability are you willing to accept? These are all questions that you might want to consider as you proceed with your real estate transaction.

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As I’ve discussed in an earlier article, when performing due diligence to obtain innocent purchase protection in New Jersey, one needs to perform both an ASTM Phase I ESA and a Preliminary Assessment (PA). But, is that really all you need as far as your due diligence is concerned? While a Phase I ESA or PA report helps provide protections against certain environmental liabilities, risks, and concerns – specifically, the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the New Jersey Spill Act, respectively – they don’t protect against all liabilities, risks, and concerns. For example, these assessments typically don’t include an evaluation for the presence of wetlands, asbestos, lead-based paint, or radon. Nor do they include an evaluation of the building’s structural or mechanical condition, an evaluation of the building’s energy use or waste  management efficiency, or whether the facility operations are in current compliance with applicable state or federal regulations and requirements.

It’s important to know which assessments you need, if any, because not all these due diligence concerns are necessarily your due diligence concerns. If you’re only planning on leasing a facility, you may not be interested in determining the structural or mechanical integrity of the building envelope, since that would likely be the responsibility of the landlord. Or, if you’re involved in litigation regarding the site, you may require a review of the historical conditions and regulatory status of the facility, but not necessarily need a comprehensive review of the current condition of the property. Perhaps you only need a limited scope of work now, such as a simple “desktop review”, or a Phase I ESA for refinancing purposes, but you also plan on expanding the facility in the future; in this case, you may need to know if there are any restrictions to building construction, such as the presence of wetlands or engineering limitations at the site. It all depends on what you plan on doing at the site, both now and in the future.

So how do you know if you’re paying too much for a due diligence assessment you don’t necessarily need, or not performing enough due diligence to give you the protection you need and the comfort and peace of mind you expect?

Answer: Find a consultant whom you trust, and who specializes in environmental, engineering, and land use due diligence. Your consultant should be your advocate. Ask questions of your consultant, and expect your consultant to ask questions of you and what your current and future plans are for the property. If you don’t feel comfortable or understand the answers, it may be best to discuss the matter further with other consultants to ensure you’ve made the best choice for your particular needs.

Here at Whitman, we have extensive experience in real estate due diligence. We work on many different types of projects with all types of clients, including individuals and corporations who want to buy a property, investors who want to sell their properties, banks that are overseeing a property refinance, companies that want to expand their operations, facilities that want to assess the efficiency and compliance of their current operations, businesses that want to rent a leasehold, attorneys who require historical information regarding former site operations, and the list goes on.

More than anything, we take pride in our commitment and dedication to our clients’ best interests, and enjoy finding creative solutions for our clients’ challenges. We look forward to helping you attain and then surpass your business goals.

To help you ascertain what level and amount of due diligence you may require, Whitman has designed a simple= “cheat sheet” that summarizes many of our due diligence services, and when you might consider utilizing them.

If you have any questions regarding real estate due diligence, would like a copy of the due diligence cheat sheet, or would like a quote for any of Whitman’s wide selection of due diligence services, please contact Chemmie Sokolic, Whitman’s Director of Due Diligence Services, at 732-390-5858 or csokolic@whitmanco.com.

 

 

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Life in the Fast-Food Lane: Restaurants Add Drive-Thrus Across the Country

Jack in the Box Chief Executive Leonard Comma knows his fast-food chain’s sales are dependent on drive-thru lanes. That’s why he said his company is investing as much as $45 million the next three years on digital menu boards and canopies to make the experience faster and more personal.

Quick-service purveyors across the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market such as Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. are also changing how they view their real estate by collectively spending tens of millions of dollars to let people eat in their cars as customers increasingly demand speed and convenience.

This Co-Star Research report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Drive-thru lanes contribute more than 70 percent of San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s sales, Comma said during a recent earnings call concerning the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space. “They represent a sizable sales opportunity,” he said.

Modern drive-thru technology has been around since the 1940s but came of age in “car-crazy California” in the 1950s, according to the National Museum of American History, which noted that by the 1970s “major fast-food franchises nationwide began to install drive-thru windows.”

The concept has never been more popular.

A study by trade publication QSR Magazine found that most fast-food chains among national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties report about 70 percent of their sales happen at a drive-thru window, saying “the outdoor lane is just as important today to quick-service business as ever before – if not more so.”

Starbucks, which said in its Nov. 1 earnings call that it plans to build 600 new locations across North America in 2019, adding to its roster U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, is expanding a push it began last summer to equip about 80 percent of all new stores with a drive-thru lane. Many of those won’t have interior seating, resulting in a much smaller store footprint.

Drive-thru, out-the-window and mobile-order-and-pay combined accounted for more than 50 percent of all orders in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space, in the past three months, up more than 10 percentage points in two years, Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Rosalind Brewer said.

“Last quarter, our stores with drive-thru well outperformed our café comp,” Brewer said. “This format will be a continued focus into 2019.”

Last summer, Seattle-based Starbucks said sales were 25 percent to 30 percent higher at stores with drive-thru lanes. Competitor Dunkin’ Brands Group, based in Canton, Massachusetts, said the drive-thru restaurants among its national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings boast 40 percent higher sales volume.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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Opportunity Zone Property Sales Up 8 Percent Over Last Year

Investors pumped $2.6 billion more into properties covered by the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive initiative — an 8 percent increase from the same time last year — even before the Treasury Department released guidelines on the program.

Almost 40,000 properties in the more than 8,760 zones in the national and Philadelphia commercial real estate market have sold this year, according to CoStar data. More than 51,400 properties are being actively marketed for sale, and the release this month of the first round of regulations is expected to amplify that flow of money through the next couple of years.

This report involving U.S. and Philadelphia commercial properties is being made through Philadelphia commercial real estate broker Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

Opportunity Zone investments are a provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law last December, deferring or eliminating capital gains taxes for new investments throughout the U.S. commercial real estate market – including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space – in communities that state and federal officials define as economically distressed. The Treasury worked into October this year to provide regulatory guidelines for the program.

Estimates range widely for the amount of capital that could flow into national and Philadelphia commercial real estate properties to take advantage of the tax benefits from investing in properties in these zones and holding onto them for at least 10 years. The federal government calculates the capital flow at $100 billion, while some industry estimates reach as high as $250 billion — and it could go higher if all benefits are factored in.

Not every property in a zone is eligible for tax benefits. To qualify, investment buyers must double the value of the investment in a specific time frame. Many zone properties among U.S. and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, however, are newly constructed or not in need of new development or redevelopment. Nonetheless, these properties could also see an upswing in investment.

Other investors in the U.S. commercial real estate market, including Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space, will be pumping money directly into businesses in the opportunity zones –- investments that are also eligible for the tax benefits.

This early activity this year tallied by CoStar may provide a clue to where the expected surge of money could flow into national and Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and for what property types. In CoStar’s analysis of this year’s opportunity zone sales, it excluded properties that were part of portfolio sales of $100 million or more, and that were targeting large national or regional portfolios and not specifically opportunity zone properties.

For more information about Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space or other Philadelphia commercial properties, please call 215-799-6900 to speak with Jason Wolf (jason.wolf@wolfcre.com) at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a leading Philadelphia commercial real estate broker that specializes in Philly office space, Philly retail space and Philly industrial space.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a full-service CORFAC International brokerage and advisory firm, is a premier Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm that provides a full range of Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, property management services, and marketing commercial offices, medical properties, industrial properties, land properties, retail buildings and other Philadelphia commercial properties for buyers, tenants, investors and sellers.

Wolf Commercial Real Estate, a Philadelphia commercial real estate broker with expertise in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings, provides unparalleled expertise in matching companies and individuals seeking new Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space with the Philadelphia commercial properties that best meets their needs.

As experts in Philadelphia commercial real estate listings and services, the team at our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm provides ongoing detailed information about Philadelphia commercial properties to our clients and prospects to help them achieve their real estate goals.  If you are looking for Philly office space, Philly retail space or Philly industrial space for sale or lease, Wolf Commercial Real Estate is the Philadelphia commercial real estate broker you need — a strategic partner who is fully invested in your long-term growth and success.

Please visit our websites for a full listing of South Jersey and Philadelphia commercial properties for lease or sale through our Philadelphia commercial real estate brokerage firm.

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HOME SWEET HOME FOR OFFICE DESIGN – RIGHT HERE AT COFCO

With many of us spending so much time at work, Office Design is changing. Office Design is beginning to look more like our homes. This article takes a look at how Office Design is changing.

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By Dean Molz, VP of Business Development, COFCO

Office DesignWe have seen a tremendous evolution in Office Design in the last 35 years. The freestanding “tank” desk with a typewriter stand was the standard at one point. In came the “cubicle” – a modular wall that provided privacy, and data connectivity. We’ve since seen the cubicle “farm” go by the wayside in favor of open office space. Corner Offices – well moved out of the corner, and the completely “open plan” with non-assigned seats came in vogue. Am I showing my age??

All interesting concepts, with a lot of buzz words.

So, what’s next? According to Jeff Pochepan of StrongProject, Inc., there’s no place like home – unless your office can recreate it. This is an interesting trend, of which you will see signs of at COFCO’s newly renovated Resource Center. It is called close-tohome design.

On average we spend 35% of our waking hours in the office. That’s a lot of time. Therefore, our clients are listening to the wants and needs of their workforce now more than ever. They are also paying attention to what recent graduates are looking for, given the recent influx of millennials in the workforce. This makes for good business, and is a time when we must compete to attract and retain top talent for future generations.

What is it? It’s the simple idea of making your office feel more like home – a place where you are relaxed, have no trouble putting in more hours and feel comfortable doing so. A place that creates a sense of community where you can collaborate with colleagues, work anywhere and in a variety of different types of spaces, based on what you need and want at the moment.

Office DesignThe institutional breakroom has turned into a café. A place where more intimate lighting, restaurant style comfort, and large café’ tables inspire casual conversation. A place to bond, share a meal, and where some of the best inspiration can happen. Maybe the happy hour can come to us, instead of going out to the corner restaurant.

The board room has turned into a living room of sorts. Where more comfortable couches make conversation feel more like friends having a get together, than doing business. This is a space where you may be encouraged to formulate ideas, before they become formal presentations. A place where you enjoy spending time, and can put your feet up.

The office space is more bright, open and collaborative. We are creating a sense of community where you can collaborate, see, talk and mingle with my colleagues. A place where meetings can be simple conversations in the hallway and ideas can come casually and without pretense; where decisions can be made and executed in a flash. It’s about fostering a culture of involvement. The saying “two heads are better than one” has real meaning.

Some common ideas include:

  • Game rooms
  • Yoga rooms (generally in the vicinity of onsite exercise facilities)
  • Food trucks
  • Showers
  • Living room style conversation pits
  • Quiet spaces designed like a study
  • Phone rooms
  • Outdoor spaces

Office DesignHow far should you go?? Your individual culture will determine the answer to that question. Here at COFCO, we have created a sense of relaxed professionalism. This is a perfect blend of comfort, design, collaboration and culture.

Creating this comfort is so intrinsic, that people relax when they enter their workplace. Just like you would when you get home from a long day. We put in longer hours than ever at work now. Technology has allowed us to work “anywhere, and at any time”. Why not create a space where people won’t HAVE TO go to work every day, they’ll WANT TOO.

Office Design - COFCO

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