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Commercial Rooftop Solar Installations

Commercial Rooftop Solar InstallationsCan rooftop solar installations increase the profitability of your commercial buildings? Lets explore your options. Experts say the US is past the point where solar is ‘alternative energy.’ In 2018 alone, a new solar project was installed in the US every 100 seconds. Although regulations and incentives vary state-by-state, commercial real estate owners in all 50 states are taking advantage of the benefits of adding rooftop solar installations to the buildings in their portfolio.

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Up to now, the owner of the real estate also owned the solar system and was responsible for all maintenance. Starting in 2019, this isn’t necessarily the case for commercial real estate owners and investors in New Jersey. Now, commercial real estate owners in NJ can take advantage of Community Solar due to the newly unveiled/ launched NJ Community Solar Pilot program. Real estate owners in other states, such as Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland, have found great success with similar programs.

About the Program:

The Community Solar Energy Pilot Program enables utility customers to participate in a solar energy project that is remotely located from their property and is currently under development. Subscribers from the community pay for subscriptions. Funds from the subscriptions go to a Community Solar Project Owner or a Subscription Organization. The solar energy from that project goes into the electricity grid. The power from the grid is then delivered to the subscribers, who receive credit on their electric bills for their involvement.

Commercial real estate owners in NJ can take advantage of this program by working with an experienced Community Solar Project Owner. The Community Solar Project Owner pays the commercial real estate owner for use of their rooftop and is responsible for all aspects of the Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. The Community Solar Project Owner applies for the program, builds and maintains the solar system, and pays the taxes. Commercial real estate owners simply collect the checks!

Top 5 Perks for Commercial Real Estate Owners:
• Portfolio’s net operating income is immediately increased
• Additional positive cash flow line item is added to the corporate balance sheet
• All costs for the solar projects’ viability and development process are paid for by the Community Solar Project Owner
Ongoing ownerships costs are absorbed by the Community Solar Project Owner
• Additional property tax on the solar equipment is paid by the Community Solar Project Owner

For more information, NJ C/I Real Estate Owners can contact:

Jacob Yaeger
Managing Principal
Green Skyline Solar
267-994-8723
JYaeger@GreenSkyline.Solar

Green Skyline Solar is a vertically integrated partner in the deal-flow process in utility scale, Community Solar, and large net-metered solar projects. Green Skyline Solar’s investor consortium has leased/ purchased and developed 75% of the first Rhode Island Community Solar program equaling $50M in investment capital and 20% of the first Maryland Community Solar program equaling $30Min investment capital. Green Skyline Solar’s team has developed over 500mW nationwide.

Is Real Property Subject to NJ Sales & Use Tax?

Is Real Property Subject to NJ Sales & Use Tax

Is Real Property Subject to NJ Sales & Use Tax

Is the new construction, renovation, repair, and maintenance of Real Property subject to NJ Sales & Use Tax? While we can generalize, there is no easy answer to this question as there are many variables that need to be considered to make a proper determination. Additionally, your contractor often isn’t much help as they simply just charge tax or solicit an exemption certificate from you to protect themselves with little thought as to the actual taxability of the services to be provided. That being said, let’s see if we can simplify things.

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MATERIALS & SUPPLIES – NJ Sales & Use Tax

In NJ a contractor is deemed to be an individual or business entity engaged in the business of improving, altering, or repairing real property. By law, contractors are the consumers of materials & supplies they purchase in the course of performing their services and as such are required to pay NJ Sales or Use tax on these purchases unless the work is for an exempt organization, a qualified business in an Urban Enterprise Zone, and a qualified housing sponsor, or they hold a valid direct payment permit. Therefore, you should never pay NJ Sales or Use Tax on separately stated charges for materials & supplies billed by your contractor regardless of the type of work being performed. Your contractor is solely responsible for the payment of the tax on materials & supplies and it must be presumed that the tax is included in the separately stated charge.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT – NJ Sales & Use Tax

A NJ Contractor is performing a capital improvement when their installation of tangible personal property increases the capital value or useful life of the real property and the item(s) installed are permanently attached to the real property. The labor charge for a capital improvement is exempt from tax and should be supported by the issuance of an ST-8 Capital Improvement Certificate to your contractor. An analysis of the specific work to be performed needs to be done to see if the above criteria are met. To meet the criteria of an increase in capital value, a NJ auditor will often look to verify whether or not the project lead to an increased assessed value for local property tax purposes.

Further, in verifying the useful life of a project, a NJ auditor will review the accounting treatment of the project. If the project in question is not treated consistent with real property that has an increase in useful life for Internal Revenue Service purposes, it will likely not be considered to meet said criteria. Lastly, if the item(s) being installed are not permanently attached, the project will not be deemed a capital improvement exempt from tax. The permanently attached criteria is met when the item(s) are attached in such a way that its removal would result in substantial damage to the real property.

“TAXABLE” CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS – NJ Sales & Use Tax

Despite what we note above regarding a capital improvement project, NJ law identifies three “taxable” capital improvements that regardless of the facts and circumstances are always taxable. They are landscaping services, the installation of hard-wired security, burglar, or fire alarm systems, and the installation of carpeting and other flooring. This is so even when these services are provided under a multi-trade construction contract for a new building or renovation. However, the incidence of the tax will vary. If you hire a contractor for a multi-trade construction contract and they directly perform a “taxable” capital improvement, you should be charged NJ Sales Tax and/or remit NJ Use Tax on these items. However, if your contractor hires a sub-contractor to perform a “taxable” capital improvement the incidence of tax is between your contractor and the sub-contractor.

REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE – NJ Sales & Use Tax

Labor charges for the maintaining, servicing, and repair of real property by a contractor are taxable. A repair is work that maintains the existing value of the real property or restores the property to working condition. They do not add value or prolong its life.

CONCLUSION

Generally, the new construction and renovation of real property is exempt from NJ Sales & Use Tax (other than “taxable” capital improvements) while the repairs & maintenance of real property are taxable. That being said, as noted above, great care should be exercised in determining a capital improvement versus repair & maintenance to ensure proper tax treatment.

Federal Opportunity Zones in Southern New Jersey

Federal Opportunity Zones in Southern New Jersey

On October 19, the U.S. Treasury Department issued proposed regulations for the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive program created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act.

These regulations were highly anticipated by the real estate development and fund creation communities, which have been eagerly awaiting clarity from Treasury since the creation of the Opportunity Zone program earlier this year.

The program could become the most impactful federal incentive for equity capital investment in low-income and distressed communities ever. It offers significant capital gains tax benefits for taxpayers who invest in projects and businesses in low-income areas, allowing investors to delay, reduce and potentially eliminate capital gains taxes on appreciated assets or business located in and on Qualified Opportunity Zone investments.

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Qualified Opportunity Zones are census tracts located in all 50 states in a low-income community. A detailed interactive map by state identifying the applicable opportunity zones is available at https://eig.org/opportunityzones.

As Forbes magazine indicated, there is likely $6 trillion of capital gains in the U.S. that represent potential available investment capital that could use this program to drive investment into applicable Qualified Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate. The program is not limited to any specific product type nor does it mandate any job creation requirements as part of the investment in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Thus, the program is applicable to any type of investor with capital gains from the sale of personal property or real property and to developers/owners of all property types including multi-family rental, retail, hotels, industrial, commercial, office, industries, self-storage, assisted-living, affordable housing, etc.

GENERAL OVERVIEW:

Under the Opportunity Zone program, individuals and other entities can delay paying federal income tax on capital gains until as late as December 31, 2026 – provided those gains are invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds investing 90 percent of their assets in businesses or tangible property located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. In addition, the gains on investments in Qualified Opportunity Funds can be federal income tax-free if the investment is held for at least 10 years. These tax benefits could reduce the cost of capital for these projects, making them more viable, especially when paired with other development incentives like the New Markets Tax Credit or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Specifically, appreciation on investments within Qualified Opportunity Funds that are held for at least 10 years are excluded from gross income. Thus, the longer one has an investment within a Qualified Opportunity Fund within an Opportunity Zone, the more one can reduce its capital gain – either by 10 percent or 15 percent, and if one stays in the zone for 10 years or more and the property or qualified business appreciated in value, the appreciation is not subject to capital gains tax at the federal level. The regulations as proposed give the investor/owner until December 31, 2047 to sell the business or property in order to take advantage of the no capital gains to be paid on the sale of appreciated assets rules.

Additionally, owners of low tax basis properties can sell their properties and defer the capital gains to the extent the gains are invested in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which will likely attract investor capital that is looking to defer capital gains, thereby making the Qualified Opportunity Zones potentially more valuable than non-Qualified Opportunity Zone properties.

DEADLINES:

While the benefits of the program can be advantageous, investors and developers seeking to capitalize on the Opportunity Zone program need to move quickly in order to take full advantage of the tax benefit as demand increases and the time period diminishes.

In other words, as the program only lasts until 2026, the seven-year ability to reduce capital gains by 15 percent will disappear if investments are not made by 2019 and the five-year ability to reduce capital gains by 10 percent will disappear if not made by 2021. Therefore, if one is interested in maximizing the value of the program and its value to investors, investors and developers need to move quickly to commence development and acquisitions in order to maximize the time periods available to invest their capital gains inside the program windows provided within the program.

Additionally, in order to defer short- and long-term capital gains realized on the sale of property, the capital gain portion of the sale or disposition has to be reinvested within 180 days in a Qualified Opportunity Fund.

Also important to note that gains are required to be recognized on the earlier of a disposal of the Qualified Opportunity Fund investment or by December 31, 2026, and are reduced over time.

The basis of the Qualified Opportunity Zone investment increases by 10 percent of the deferred gain if the investment is held for five years from the date of reinvestment and by 15 percent of the deferred gain if the investment is held for seven years from the date of reinvestment. In other words, the gain on which capital gains is paid is reduced to 85 percent of the original gain.

While the recently announced regulations provided clarity on specific time period for self-certification as an Qualified Opportunity Zone fund, for what constitutes a Qualified Opportunity Zone business and for what structures now qualify as Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds (i.e., limited partnerships, C-corporations, limited liability companies, REITs, RICs, etc.), investors need to be aware that certain rules regarding related parties and original use property still need to be clarified by Treasury in additional regulations.

OPPORTUNITY ZONES IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY:

In Southern New Jersey, the program will drive investment from all types of developers and investors seeking to place their capital gains into funds and seeking to place applicable businesses into Qualified Zones in order to potentially defer and reduce applicable capital gains. Developers will seek to purchase land in order to build with their own capital and/or equity from Opportunity Zone investment vehicles in order to utilize cheaper sources of capital and drive development returns.

Atypical real estate investors who are looking to defer and reduce capital gains may not be looking for typical real estate like returns due to the fact that they will be able to defer and reduce their capital gains via the Opportunity Zone program which will likely create a healthy dynamic for capital flows. Sectors such as multifamily, warehouse, self-storage, grocery anchor retail, and assisted living will see substantial interest from investors and developers.

In Camden County, areas such as Cinnaminson, Pennsauken, Deptford, Camden, Pine Hill, Glassboro and Lindenwold will likely be hot spots for focused/targeted Opportunity Zone investment. In Atlantic County, parts of Atlantic City, Pleasantville, the Atlantic City International Airport, Somers Point and in Cumberland County a large swath of Vineland has been designated as an Opportunity Zone and will likely see interest for focused/targeted Opportunity Zone investment.

As Confucius once said, it is good to live in interesting times. Not a day goes by without an article or post online regarding Opportunity Zones and the ability to utilize them for development and capital gains deferral.

Now is the time to optimize your capital gains deferrals and reductions if you have them vis-à-vis the sale of personal property or real property. Interested investors are already focusing on deploying capital in New Jersey and elsewhere in substantially improving various asset classes and in creating funds to deploy in investing in various asset classes.

Brad Molotsky is a real estate attorney and partner in Duane Morris’ New Jersey and Philadelphia offices. He advises clients on commercial leasing (including a specialty in cannabis leasing), acquisitions, opportunity zone fund creation and fund deployment, financing, public private partnerships and real estate joint ventures. He can be reached at BAMolotsky@duanemorris.com.

How to Prepare Your Parking Lot for Winter

How to Prepare Your Parking Lot for Winter

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Did you prepare your parking lot for winter? Most property owners neglect this because many property managers and commercial property owners are unaware of how the winter weather, salt and plowing can cause damage to their parking lot. The harsh freeze-thaw cycles cause asphalt to expand and contract, allowing water to seep into the foundation. This creates permanent damage, in the form of cracks and potholes. While the intention for salt and plowing is to help clear parking lots of snow and ice, these techniques also contribute to further damage. Salt is an effective method for melting snow and ice to prevent slips and falls, but it also erodes the asphalt and inner walls of storm drains. Inexperienced drivers can position the plow too low, scraping away any prior sealcoat and loosening debris from existing potholes. Plows can also chip or crack curb.

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Ways Prepare Your Parking Lot for Winter

You might be asking yourself, “If these elements can help melt snow and de-ice the lot while causing permanent damage, how do I prevent this from happening or prepare for the winter season?” Any existing potholes
should cleaned of debris and filled. If hot asphalt is not available, consider using a high performance cold asphalt product like EZ Street. This product is perfect for the winter and even works in water. It is so easy to use, your maintenance team can apply the EZ Street in the potholes themselves in the coldest of temperatures (the more traffic the better compaction).

Spring Planning is the Best way to Prepare Your Parking Lot for Winter

Planning for spring maintenance is the best way to prepare for winter. By completing an assessment of your parking lot (looking for potential liabilities, safety hazards and aesthetics), you can budget accordingly for necessary improvements. If there is visible damage it is time to call a paving and maintenance contractor to repair, sealcoat and crack seal your parking lot. Crack sealing prevents moisture and water from penetrating under the asphalt surface creating potholes. Sealcoat helps prevent oxidation and degradation from the sun and traffic.

If you missed the boat last spring with parking lot maintenance and you notice that there is now damage from salt, plowing and harsh winter weather, rescue your parking lot by addressing the storm drain and curb damage. Then set yourself up with a spring maintenance plan to prepare for the following winter season.

For more information on ways to prepare your parking lot for winter, contact:

 

david sulkin

WCRE APPOINTED EXCLUSIVE AGENT BY NFI TO MARKET 32,858 SQUARE FEET WITHIN THE VOORHEES CORPORATE CENTER

NFI Voohees NJWCRE | CORFAC International is pleased to announce that it has been appointed by NFI Industries as the exclusive leasing and sales agent to market 1005 Laurel Oak Road, Voorhees, New Jersey.

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This 32,858 square foot property is part of a two-unit 78,205 SF single story building situated within The Voorhees Corporate Center.

The neighboring occupant in the other half of the building is Kellman Brown Academy, which is one of several well-known entities within the corporate center along with Jefferson Health, AAA, CHOP, Kingsway Learning Center, YALE School, UPenn and SunGard.

The office/flex space available for sale or lease and is ideal for a variety of uses including education, back-office operations center, healthcare or for general flex/office use.

The Voorhees Corporate Center is located within close proximity to I-295 and the PATCO High-Speed Line, and provides for immediate access to Eagle Plaza, Voorhees Shopping Center and is within close proximity to many other high-end retailers.

Jason Wolf, managing principal of WCRE commented: 

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with NFI and market a first-class property on behalf of a top tier owner and operator in the region.”

WCRE’s vice president and principal Chris Henderson and Jason Wolf will be working closely together with NFI in order to facilitate the sale or leasing of this well-located property.

A marketing brochure is available upon request.

About WCRE

WCRE is a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and advisory firm specializing in office, retail, medical, industrial and investment properties in Southern New Jersey and the Philadelphia region. We provide a complete range of real estate services to commercial property owners, companies, banks, commercial loan servicers, and investors seeking the highest quality of service, proven expertise, and a total commitment to client-focused relationships. Through our intensive focus on our clients’ business goals, our commitment to the community, and our highly personal approach to client service, WCRE is creating a new culture and a higher standard. We go well beyond helping with property transactions and serve as a strategic partner invested in your long-term growth and success.

Learn more about WCRE at www.wolfcre.com, on Twitter & Instagram @WCRE1, and on Facebook at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, LLC. Visit our blog pages at www.southjerseyofficespace.com, www.southjerseyindustrialspace.com, www.southjerseymedicalspace.com, www.southjerseyretailspace.com, www.phillyofficespace.com, www.phillyindustrialspace.com, www.phillymedicalspace.com and www.phillyretailspace.com.

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

WCRE 2018 FOURTH QUARTER REPORT

MODERATE GROWTH CONTINUES IN SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY & PHILLY CRE MARKETS

Another Solid Quarterly Performance Amid Political and Financial Uncertainty

WCRE 2019 FOURTH QUARTER REPORTCommercial real estate brokerage WCRE reported in its analysis of the fourth quarter of 2018 that the Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania markets continued to show overall solid fundamentals, buoyed by new investments from outside the region and economic inflows to support local expansions. Leasing, sales, net absorption, and prospecting activity all were up in the fourth quarter.

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“Although the financial markets were highly unpredictable, commercial real estate performed the way it has for most of the past several years – with steady growth supported by strong fundamentals,”

– Jason Wolf, founder and managing principal of WCRE.

There were approximately 336,466 square feet of new leases and renewals executed in the three counties surveyed (Burlington, Camden and Gloucester), which was an increase of 18.3 percent over the previous quarter. The sales market stayed active, too, with about 1.4 million square feet on the market or under agreement. Sales were active, with $28.5 million totaling approximately 316,476 square feet.

New leasing activity accounted for approximately 36 percent of all deals for the three counties surveyed. Overall, gross leasing absorption for the fourth quarter was in the range 286,215 square feet.

Other office market highlights from the report:

  • Overall vacancy in the market is now approximately 10.95 percent, which is an improvement of 35 basis points over the previous quarter.
  • Average rents for Class A & B product continue to show strong support in the range of $10.00-$15.00/sf NNN or $20.00-$25.00/sf gross for the deals completed during the quarter. These averages stayed near this range throughout 2018.
  • Vacancy in Camden County increased to 11.5 percent for the quarter, which is an improvement of nearly a point compared to the third quarter.
  • Burlington County vacancy stayed at 10.4 percent, unchanged.

WCRE has expanded into southeastern Pennsylvania, and the firm’s quarterly reports now include a section on transactions, rates, and news from Philadelphia and the suburbs. Highlights from the fourth quarter in Pennsylvania include:

  • The vacancy rate in Philadelphia’s office market was 7.8 percent. This is a slight improvement over the previous quarter. Demand for office space continues to be strong.
  • Net office space absorption in Philadelphia was 1,224,697 square feet for the quarter.
  • The industrial sector is as strong as ever in Philadelphia. The fourth quarter saw a small decrease in vacancy rates, to 5.3 percent, but a jump of about 1 million square feet in net absorption quarter over quarter, to 7.1 million square feet.
  • Philadelphia retail was the lone true weak spot in Q4. The vacancy rate ticked up two tenths of a point, to 4.5 percent, while net absorption was negative for the second straight quarter, at -611,261 square feet.

WCRE also reports on the Southern New Jersey retail market. The fourth quarter saw the contrast of a spending surge that propelled holiday sales to their best season in six years and at the same time, consumer confidence inching downward as the year drew to a close. The job market has stayed remarkably strong, with low unemployment supporting consumer spending and reverberating through other indicators. Other highlights from the retail section of the report include:

  • Retail vacancy in Camden County stood at 7.0 percent, with average rents in the range of $16.19/sf NNN.
  • Retail vacancy in Burlington County stood at 6.7 percent, with average rents in the range of $13.11/sf NNN.
  • Retail vacancy in Gloucester County stood at 8.6 percent, with average rents in the range of $13.76/sf NNN.

The full report is available upon request.

About WCRE

WCRE is a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and advisory firm specializing in office, retail, medical, industrial and investment properties in Southern New Jersey and the Philadelphia region. We provide a complete range of real estate services to commercial property owners, companies, banks, commercial loan servicers, and investors seeking the highest quality of service, proven expertise, and a total commitment to client-focused relationships. Through our intensive focus on our clients’ business goals, our commitment to the community, and our highly personal approach to client service, WCRE is creating a new culture and a higher standard. We go well beyond helping with property transactions and serve as a strategic partner invested in your long term growth and success.

Learn more about WCRE online at www.wolfcre.com, on Twitter & Instagram @WCRE1, and on Facebook at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, LLC. Visit our blog pages at www.southjerseyofficespace.com, www.southjerseyindustrialspace.com, www.southjerseymedicalspace.com, www.southjerseyretailspace.com, www.phillyofficespace.com, www.phillyindustrialspace.com, www.phillymedicalspace.com and www.phillyretailspace.com.

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.

WCRE ADDS TRIO OF NEW HIRES TO PHILADELPHIA/NEW JERSEY TEAM AND RELOCATES TO LOGAN SQUARE

New Assignments and High Volume of Transactions Lead Commercial Real Estate Firm to Expand Further

Wolf Commercial Real Estate (WCRE) is pleased to announce the expansion and relocation of its Center City Philadelphia office, which includes the addition of three new team members serving southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. WCRE quickly outgrew its original Philadelphia office at 1601 Market Street, and has moved to 3 Logan Square, at 1717 Arch Street.

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The new team members are Kevin Coleman, who joins as chief sales officer and executive vice president, and new sales associates Tyler Martin and Mike Scanzano. They join a team that includes several well-known business leaders with deep roots in the city. Among them are Brian Propp, director of strategic relationships, Tony Banks, vice president, Anthony Mannino, senior consultant, and sales associates Mitchell Russell and Joseph Nassib. Each brings a unique skill set, along with energy, passion, and the signature WCRE commitment to the community. Managing principal Jason Wolf and vice president and principal Chris Henderson, also assist the Philadelphia team.

“We’ve been serving numerous clients in and around Center City for the past few years, and we have fully committed to expanding our presence here,” said Henderson. “This move will create more opportunities for our Philly team to network and collaborate with clients and partners, and to deepen our commitment to community initiatives.”

More About WCRE’s New Hires:

Kevin Coleman is a 15-year industry veteran. His role will include sales management and leadership, and business development throughout the region, with a heavy focus on central New Jersey. Coleman will also play an active part in the recruitment of all new team members.

Previously, Coleman served as a vice president of advisory services with Transwestern. During this time, he had the opportunity to work on behalf of office and industrial tenants, investors, and developers. From 2010-2016, Coleman served as director with Colliers International, working out of the Princeton, New Jersey office. He represented national, regional, and local companies with office, industrial, and healthcare requirements. Among many accomplishments, he was instrumental in helping to grow the Princeton office with the addition of a team of brokers.  On joining WCRE, Coleman said,

“Jason has worked very hard to build a strong brand in the region, and I am excited for the opportunity to leverage my diverse background to help the team grow to the next level of performance.”

Tyler Martin is one of the firm’s two new sales associates. Martin is a former new business development representative in the fleet management industry who will be a valuable partner to clients seeking expertise in development and understanding the potential of a space. He will work closely with WCRE’s sales professionals to generate new business relationships and create opportunities for clients in Philadelphia and the suburbs.

Before graduating a year early from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, Martin was a member of the NCAA lacrosse team. He has continued his education by pursuing his MBA with a concentration in Finance at Saint Joseph’s University. His anticipated graduation is in May 2019.

In addition to his professional activities, Martin is an attackman for the Hungarian National Lacrosse Team. He competed with the team in the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships in Israel.

 

Mike Scanzano also joins WCRE as a sales associate. He will focus on the Southern New Jersey market. Scanzano will specialize in sales and leasing, tenant and landlord representation, investment sales, and multi-family dwellings.

Scanzano is an entrepreneur and former professional athlete. He played six years of professional baseball, ending his career in 2010 with the Camden Riversharks. After baseball, he took a sales position with the Southern Illinois Miners, an independent minor league team. Since 2015 Scanzano is also the co-owner of Scanzano Sports in Cherry Hill, a baseball training center. He is responsible for marketing and business development, building relationships in the community, and overall management.

Mike is excited about the opportunity to join the team at WCRE and looks forward to utilizing his sales experience and professional relationships to expand the firm’s client base.

Since its founding in 2012, WCRE has grown into a market leader in Southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania. The team has set a new standard in serving the needs of owners, tenants, and investors. The firm currently has more than 175 properties comprising 4.2 million square feet of office, retail, medical, industrial, flex, and investment property in the region under exclusive watch. Jason Wolf said,

“I’m excited to have such talented new team members servicing our clients in the Philadelphia and South Jersey regions. Our people have always been our biggest asset and our biggest advantage in the marketplace.”

About WCRE

WCRE is a full-service commercial real estate brokerage and advisory firm specializing in office, retail, medical, industrial and investment properties in Southern New Jersey and the Philadelphia region. We provide a complete range of real estate services to commercial property owners, companies, banks, commercial loan servicers, and investors seeking the highest quality of service, proven expertise, and a total commitment to client-focused relationships. Through our intensive focus on our clients’ business goals, our commitment to the community, and our highly personal approach to client service, WCRE is creating a new culture and a higher standard. We go well beyond helping with property transactions and serve as a strategic partner invested in your long-term growth and success.

Learn more about WCRE on Twitter & Instagram @WCRE1, and on Facebook at Wolf Commercial Real Estate, LLC. Visit our blog pages at www.southjerseyofficespace.com, www.southjerseyindustrialspace.com, www.southjerseymedicalspace.com, www.southjerseyretailspace.com, www.phillyofficespace.com, www.phillyindustrialspace.com, www.phillymedicalspace.com and www.phillyretailspace.com.

How to Increase Productivity

How to Increase ProductivityLet’s look at how to increase productivity at work. So many tasks, so little time. Do you ever complete your  workday feeling like you couldn’t achieve everything you wanted to? It begins with preparation. I get it. Being 100% efficient at work can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming. Setting proper timelines will allow you to increase your own profitability and ease workday stress.

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Take a stab at these tips to increase your productivity at work:

How to Increase Productivity #1. PUT A VALUE ON YOUR TIME

I often ask our sales reps, what is your time worth? If you are able to give yourself an hourly rate, it will help you use your time more efficiently. Giving yourself value allows you evaluate whether what you are doing is actually making you money or costing you money. It will also help you notice when customers or colleagues may be taking advantage of your time. Create a total value of yourself, including your salary, free time, benefits, your TOTAL value. (Hint; this should be more than you earn), then back that number into an hourly rate. While working throughout the day ask yourself if you are earning that rate.

How to Increase Productivity #2. TAKE BREAKS

We may think working longer hours implies we’re accomplishing more, yet we never function well when we’re worn out. Studies indicate taking standard breaks helps focus and lifts your inclination. Take a five-minute stroll around the workplace or go through a 15-minute mid-day espresso or stretch.

How to Increase Productivity #3. SET SMALL TASKS

Some of the time, looking at our objectives can be overpowering. Seeing a bunch of enormous undertakings on our schedule can be distressing… however if you split it up into littler tasks, you’ll feel more in charge and will be considerably more helpful. Instead when you complete a project, write down the words COMPLETE or cross off your task within your check list. That feeling of completion will allow you to further feel that euphoria of completing your projects.

This will keep you on track in your everyday and influence the greater tasks to appear to be less overwhelming.

How to Increase Productivity #4. DO WHAT MATTERS MOST IN YOUR DAY

We at times push aside enormous tasks since we’re not sure we are able to achieve them. When we get these tasks, we’re excessively worn out and may push these tasks day after day after day. You need to understand yourself and how you operate best. Understanding when and how you function best is critical to completing those enormous ventures on time. There’s no set timetable that works for everybody… If you’re a morning person, handle the enormous assignments first thing in your day.

How to Increase Productivity #5. TIME YOURSELF

Optimize your time as much as possible at work by timing yourself on all tasks. Similar tasks should take similar time to complete, be mindful of whether you are quicker or slower for each task. This doesn’t mean you’ll have the capacity to finish each assignment within the same time. However, by setting a standard and holding yourself accountable, you are one step closer to achieving them.

Winter Weather Liabilities

Winter Weather LiabilitiesLet’s explore some winter weather liabilities. The winter months bring more than just cold weather and shorter days; they bring the possibility for winter weather and storms that may result in a snow and ice-covered landscape. While it may be a winter wonderland for some, as a property manager, snow and ice buildup means a hazard with the potential for costly liability.

If you deal with either commercial or residential property, you are responsible for the side effects of winter. In legal terms, snow and ice are the same as any other hazard presented on a property, and just like any other hazard, property managers can be held liable if they cause injury. To avoid litigation resulting from winter injuries, it is important that you are vigilant in your snow and ice removal efforts.

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RECOGNIZING AND PREVENTING HAZARDS

Winter brings a variety of hazards that you need to prepare for; slips and falls are by far the most common injury associated with winter weather conditions. Diligent snow and ice removal can go far in keeping walkways and parking lots safe. Remove snow quickly after snowfalls, and salt regularly to keep ice from building up.

Not all winter hazards are under foot, however, icicles, along with other accumulations of frozen or heavy snow above walkways and building entrances, can cause serious injury if they fall on those below. Remove icicles and other buildup as soon as possible. If it still appears to present a hazard, consider rerouting foot traffic around the area.

Performing preventative maintenance in the summer and fall can also keep you prepared for winter storms. Make sure eaves are properly installed, and check that downspouts are aimed away from walkways. If eaves leak or downspouts direct water onto walkways, snow that melts in the heat of the day has the potential to freeze and create a hazard with cooler nighttime temperatures.

TRANSFERRING RESPONSIBILITIES TO TENANTS

For smaller residential rentals, such as single family homes or duplexes, the responsibility for snow and ice removal is commonly accepted by the
tenant. To make sure responsibility is clearly established in this situation, the lease should include a provision citing the tenants as responsible
for any snow and ice removal. This section of the lease should also establish how long after a snowfall the tenant has to clear public areas
such as sidewalks, as most municipalities have laws requiring prompt snow removal. It is important to be as specific as possible to avoid any
unnecessary liability or disputes after heavy storms.

CONTRACTING SNOW REMOVAL

Based on the size and number of properties you manage and the average snowfall in your area, you may be inclined to contract out snow removal to an independent company. While this can save you the time and costs associated with managing snow removal yourself, it is important that you choose wisely to avoid complicating matters.

First, make sure the contractor has sufficient resources to meet your demands. It is important that they can be onsite quickly after, or even during, a snowfall to make sure walkways and parking areas are cleared. It is also important that they have the equipment and manpower to finish the task quickly to reduce any disruption to tenants’ lives or businesses.

Second, make sure the company you hire carries the proper insurance, covering both its operations and its employees. The last thing you want is to end up being liable for a worker’s injury when liability for injury is the very thing you were trying to avoid. Also, much like the lease agreement with a residential tenant, it is important to specify the conditions and time constraints for removal in writing. When contracting any type of service, it is
essential to have a written contract that will guarantee you receive the services you pay for.

It should be noted that hiring a removal service does not absolve you of liability. If the company you hire provides poor service, or simple does not show up at all, you are still the party responsible for any injury resulting from a winter hazard. Make sure to pick a reputable company that you can trust to do a good job, and always have a plan of action for removal if they are unable to complete the work as quickly or effectively as you require.

For additional questions on your risks and exposures, or on appropriate coverages to protect you from liability or costly disputes, contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group today.

For more information, contact:

winter-weather-liabilitiesBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

Land Development Strategies

land development strategiesLet’s explore land development strategies for getting the best result with the least pain. Rest easy… I’m not writing this to persuade you all to retain my firm for your design, engineering, and land development needs (though I wouldn’t mind, and my contact information is provided)! But since I’ve been around the block long enough to see even savvy business people get hurt by the convoluted, unpredictable, costly, and sometimes unfair world of land development, I feel compelled to share my experience and offer some advice to help others avoid the pitfalls and heartache of such a process.

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Despite the perception that land developers are all super-wealthy and greedy, I’ve seen development projects get caught-up in litigation for years, at an expense of millions of dollars, for deals that marginally make financial sense, yet provide a needed service, housing, or economic development opportunities for the community. I’ve seen deals that die (and orphaned properties languish in the process), because a developer was denied access to certain incentives that might render a project feasible, all because he/she is perceived to have “deep pockets”.

But more impactful to me as a professional, I’ve seen many that do not have the experience, knowledge, and expertise in land development strategies get themselves in substantial trouble by either not conducting the proper due-diligence, overpaying on property because of ignorance of value, or listening to poor advice. These are not the big developers that we all know and love (or hate), but the small business owner that is fortunate enough to expand a business and now needs to add to his/her facility or even open at a different location. This could also be the franchisee who wishes to operate a retail or restaurant establishment that knows their business well, but is understandably clueless when purchasing and entitling property, and/or seeking capital.

It’s certainly true that no two deals, properties, or situations are ever the same in real estate, but I’ve enumerated several general things to consider when deciding whether or not to “take the plunge”, and also things to be aware of once the “go” decision has been made.

Many of these are more specific to smaller deals and the “non-developer”, but many are also attributable to the larger owner/investor/developer as well:

Land Development Strategies #1.

Understand your true needs… You’ll need to take stock in what you and your organization or operation truly need in terms of space, acreage, accessibility, geography, exposure, proximity to skilled workforce and other resources, etc. Attention must also be paid to future expansion plans based on growth strategies. Only after this is clarified to yourself can it be made clear to your broker, consultant, investors, capital resources, etc. If developing property for investment purposes, your goals are already likely in place…maximize property and get the best possible returns! Read on, as many of the following will resonate for you as well.

Land Development Strategies #2.

Seek assistance as you source property for your program… This one’s easy, as everyone reading this already knows who is the best broker and real estate advisor in the Delaware Valley. Still, there’s no reason not to ask others you trust on issues such as market conditions and trends, property values, likelihood of success to secure entitlements, local government intelligence, etc. Additionally, make certain that the site meets your physical criteria, such as ingress, egress, circulation, parking, loading, building location and orientation on site, and the ability to promote your brand and/or operation.

Land Development Strategies #3.

Understand the challenges and constraints of a property you’re sourcing… There are numerous things to consider under this heading. First, you must know the property’s zoning designation, and how to interpret it’s meaning relative to permitted uses, density, height, number of stories, parking requirements, etc. These things are not only public policy and matters of law, but also make sense for you… Who wants to build a new manufacturing facility next to a group of single-family homes, a high rise commercial building near a horse farm, or build homes next to a nuclear power plant? Beyond zoning, you must also be aware of the local political climate and fervor, and assure that any “Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY)” issues are innocuous and easy to deal with. Quite frankly, I’ve found that if a municipality clearly doesn’t want your development or project, even if the zoning is appropriate, sometimes it’s better to not even start down that path and select another location.

Land Development Strategies #4.

Assess, Manage, and Mitigate Risk… When developing property or expanding a facility or operation, you must pay attention to the following general risk categories:
a.) Environmental Risk
b.) Market Risk
c.) Entitlement Risk
d.) Finance Risk
e.) Construction Risk
All of these can be daunting to the real estate neophyte, and downright dangerous if proper due-diligence isn’t undertaken. However, with the proper consultants, these risks can be understood, identified, quantified, and mitigation strategies can be implemented. Make sure these risks are understood before “hard money” deposits are released to Seller, as the costs associated with these risks are commonly grounds for negotiating purchase price.

Land Development Strategies #5.

Understand property’s value, and DON’T OVERPAY! There are a few methods to determine the fair price that you should be paying for property (sale or lease), but don’t be pressured to accept a price that doesn’t work for you. Chances are that if a price doesn’t pencil-out as you evaluate a deal, it won’t work for other interested parties either. Many times, a rejected offer comes back, and you might find yourself back in driver’s seat a month or two later, and at your number.

Land Development Strategies #6.

Understand all documents you execute… Many savvy business owners, operators, and land developers can review documentation for “business terms”, but I recommend also having your attorney review for “legal terms”. This can include Purchase and Sale Agreements, Option Agreements, Partnership/Operating Agreements, Financial Agreements, Leases, Developer Agreements, etc.

Land Development Strategies #7.

Understand available programs and grants that may apply… If developing property, there may be property tax incentives and other programs to help the deal’s proforma, which can make an otherwise lean deal become more sensible. There are several other grants and programs available for those looking to simply expand their business, based on your positive impact on the community and job creation/retention. The flip side to this is just as important… if not vigilant, a town may impose unfair fees on your project, such as impact fees, off-site infrastructure improvement costs, and funds for affordable housing and others. Again, make sure you’re aware of these, and have your attorney review any documents that memorialize any negotiated impact costs.

Land Development Strategies #8.

Hire the best team of consultants possible… There are numerous strategies to accomplish this goal, and some may have better results than others on a deal-by-deal basis. For instance, many say to retain a local and “connected” land-use attorney to advance the project through Zoning and Site Plan Approval process. I agree in some cases but not others. If your project requires these types of land entitlements, it is imperative that you retain consultants that not only have experience in their specific disciplines, but their expertise must be specific to your project, your program, and with the types of entitlements required. These consultants consist of the land-use attorney, architect, civil engineer, professional planner, landscape architect, traffic/transportation consultant, environmental scientist, wetlands specialist, real estate valuation expert, market research specialist, and others based on specific needs of the deal. It’s also imperative to have a single “quarterback” run the process. For more experienced and savvy developers, this is usually someone in-house (or the principal him/herself). Sometimes it’s the attorney, and sometimes it appears that NOBODY is truly steering the ship.

These considerations are generic in nature, but I’d be delighted to elaborate on these and other deal-specific strategies to assist getting your project or development deal to the finish line. Best of luck to you all on your future growth, expansion or development plans.

Alan S. Brandies
VP Client Relations and Business Development
Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers
42 Okner Parkway, Livingston, NJ
(O) 973-994-9669
(C) 732-966-5273
abrandies@jkarch.com

 

 

Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers is a full service and uniquely diversified consulting firm, specializing in architecture, planning, interior design, structural engineering, civil/site planning, and MEPF services, serving building owners, developers, facilities mangers, and end-users. We are active in many sectors, mostly focused on multi-family residential, child daycare centers, corporate interiors, health and wellness, and others. We also possess decades of land-use and development experience, and offer full “Development Advisory Services”, including deal facilitation and entitlement management. Please visit our website for more information, and call Alan Brandies for more details.