Commercial Real Estate Pro Network

Commercial Real Estate Professionals who work with Investors, Buyers and Sellers of Commercial Real Estate. We discuss todays opportunities, problems & solutions in Commercial Real Estate.
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Now displaying: 2019
Jun 17, 2019

Q: What do you see is your biggest risk that you face?

A: I think the biggest risk I face is kind of ties into what I was saying earlier is that I think the biggest risk is thinking or pretending that you have a crystal ball and knowing or thinking that the market has topped out and then letting that turn into fear of buying anymore, or continuing to grow your business model.  Which, for us is acquiring property and growing the portfolio.

I get asked almost weekly now, “Well, don't you think the markets too hot and where the ceiling?”  I'm like we could be but you know people were saying that three years ago and here we are and we're higher than we were then.

You can always play that game where well. “You know, things seem too hot. I'm just going to go and wait it out”.  Well, you could be waiting it out for the next 10 years. So the question is do you want to wait it out and let 10 years pass you by or do you want to take a calculated risk now?

As long as a deal makes sense and the numbers make sense and you can you can run it like a need to, then everything is fine.

So I think the BIGGEST RISK actually is letting that fear overrun you, or thinking that you know better than the market.  Nobody knows where the markets going right nobody knows but I think letting that turns to your and then turning to in action. I think it's the BIGGEST RISK, at least for me.

Jun 14, 2019

From an investor and rehab standpoint the two big issues that people get hung up on are under estimating the rehab cost and under estimating the time to complete the project.  You'll find that if you go forward that type of lending, they're always going to ask, “What’s your exit strategy? What's your backup exit strategy? What’s your third exit strategy?  That's what I try to find. If I can't refinance out, can I quick sale? Can I fire sale it? Can I do some type of creative strategy? What does it look like on a commercial note? What does it look like on a fixed 30-year, you know Fannie and Freddie note?  I try to play out that worst case scenario, “can I weather that storm?” Then I back into the deal.

Jun 12, 2019

Headaches faced by Centimillionaires, really? If you had $100,000,000 would you really have headaches?

Richard Wilson is the authority on wealth challenges faced by the ultra wealthy.  He is the founder of he The Family Office Club, and author of the best seller, The Single Family Office where he helps Family Offices deal with the challenges of preserving and transferring the family wealth to the next generational.  

By design, centimillionaires, families with net worth in excess of $100,000,000, keep a low profile.  They don’t do interviews, nor share publicly about the the challenges of managing and maintaining their wealth.   

In today’s episode on CREPN Radio, Richard takes us through the 6 Headaches Faced by Centimillionaires detailed in his new book, Centimillionaire Migraines

Family Offices

Prior to starting The Family Office Club, Richard worked in risk consulting for publicly traded companies and then as a placement agent working with hedge funds calling on investment managers.  During his investment placement work, he realized that the investment managers were not a good fit for his opportunity. He also learned about Family Offices.

Family Offices were the qualified prospect that had the ability to invest in his opportunities.  He searched for information about Family Offices, but found very little. There were no white papers, no network, nothing.  

To satisfy his own curiosity, he followed Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and documented his journey.   He started reading, meeting with family offices, and sharing his findings online. Shortly after starting and documenting his journey, he received invitations to speak at family office events.  Suddenly, he had the attention of the audience he sought, family offices.

Looking for expand his reach, he purchased Family and focused all his efforts on meeting with family offices to learn more.   Since 2007, he has done over 115 events, written a dozen books, posted 1800 videos, all of this on family offices.  

His progression from finding a need for information, gathering the information, and sharing the information is a textbook example of how to develop and be recognized as an expert in your field.  

Inefficiencies in Family Offices Developing the Niche

Inefficiencies in the Family Office industry are and forever will be.  Which provides the opportunity for Richard or anyone seeking a chance to develop a niche in a market space.  

While he developed a ton of digital information, it was not until he was invited to speak at events that his family office consulting business took off.  

The cycle of marketing

Richard truly started from scratch.  As he researched and shared what he learned, the volume of digital content grew.  Once he had the digital content, he got the opportunity to speak at events, which put him in front of his ideal client.  Being in front of his ideal client gave him access and deal flow with his ideal client, which provided him additional, quality content.  This cycle continued to where he it fed itself.

Additionally, he has found that the best way to attract investors is to take the long view and provide the most value.  When you you believe in the niche, and want to be involved in 20 years, it shows.

Two Markets

Family offices have specific needs.  For those, Richard and Family Offices provide consulting help to get set up, and connecting them with providers to meet their needs.  

On the other side of the fence are the service providers and Investors looking to provide services or raise capital from Family Offices.  For these, Richard shares what information that helps these business tailor their offer so to better appeal and attract the attention and business of family offices.  Richard has also authored the number one book, Capital Raising which teaches investors how to raise capital.  

Knowing both sides of the market allows Richard ot better serve these individual markets, and be the connector between the two.  

The Centimillionaire

The centimillionaire is one that has $100,000,000 net worth.  There are 16 times more centimillionaires than billionaires. Every billionaire was first a centimillionaire.  The centimillionaire has just as many headaches as a billionaire, less identifiable and typically more accessible.  

6 Headaches Faced by Centimillionaires  

In Richards book, Centimillionaire MIgraines, he found six unique pain points.  Here he shares a few. To learn more about each pain point and get a free copy of the book, go to and complete the webform at

Blurred vision.  

Most Centimillionaires achieved their wealth through the sale of their business for which they had a single focus for as many as 20 or 50 years.  Now they have hundreds of millions of dollars and could literally do anything they want. They have request to participate in multiple investments, and joint ventures.  What they need is clarity specific to what they want. Without it, they will be instructed by others on what to do.

In order to gain clarity, they need to make decisions, on what they want regarding income, investment returns, transparency, where do they want to live, where they what their kids to go to school, etc.

Family Quarrels

Mismanaged expectations and communications are a recipe for disaster.  A lot of families stop talking when money is involved. Without mutual understanding of what is happening things can go awry.  Why is the brother, who has an interest in and operates the family business, using the company jet? If the brother happens to lose the sisters money in the business, what happens?  

Deal Flow Deficiency

Centimillionaires may not even know they have a deal flow problem.  If they are only seeing three deals a quarter, how would they know this a problem if they are not talking with a similar family office to compare notes?  

Sense of Loss of Control

These ultra wealthy acquired their wealth due to their ability to control their outcome.  Now they have a less control, and they don’t know what to do.

Time Constriction

To learn more go to

Sensitivity to Fees

Too many times service providers think they can charge more because you are wealthy.  For most wealthy people, part of the reason for their success is due to not over paying for things.  While the ultra wealthy can afford to pay more, they are not interested in paying a luxury price for budget level service.  They are willing to pay a high price for a high level of service.

They need people who they can trust and who are in it for the long run.  Not someone who is short sided. They need ethical people capable of providing valuable service.


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK: The BIGGEST RISK is Key Man Risk. Most ultra wealthy individuals have developed the specific skill set and knowledge over time.  If they drop out of the picture, how long can the business sustain itself?

How to manage the risk:  As much as possible, systemize, push the task down to  support staff. Realize that the results may be less, but still effective.  

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Jun 12, 2019

What is the BIGGEST Risk Real Estate Investors face?

Merriam Webster defines risk this way:

possibility of loss or injury

In Real Estate, Risk is everywhere.  It’s what you don’t know can hurt you.

That can be a problem when you are talking about millions of dollars.

This is why so many wise, experienced investors place a premium on knowledge and so much effort is spent in due diligence.  

Most investors agree that you can never know everything, but you can dig in and ask questions and get answers that make sense for you to go forward.

By day, I am an insurance broker.  My focus is working with Real Estate investors to assess their exposure to loss and help them manage the risk.

Risk Management Process

Risk Management is a continuous process.  There are four basic steps to risk management:

  1. Identify
  2. Assess
  3. Manage
  4. Review

Risk Management Strategies

In insurance, we utilize three specific Risk Management strategies:

  • If the situation is too risky, Avoid the risk
  • If there are things we can do to Minimize the Risk
  • What can you do to Transfer the Risk?

Risk in Real Estate

Where is the risk in real estate?  This is the question you have to look for when you buy a property.  It’s your job to find where the risk is hidden, because the seller will not tell you.  The due diligence period is your opportunity to go through the property from top to bottom looking for the hidden risk.  You also need to comb through the numbers to find out what is missing, and where you can make things better.

Depending on what unexpected information you find during due diligence, the purchase process provides you an opportunity to present your findings to the seller.  The seller can offer to correct the problem, or provide you a discount on the price. If you fail to find these hidden issues, and address with the seller, they are yours.  Once you close, the property and the problems you did not find are yours.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

What do you know about the Metropolitan Statistical Area you are investing in?

  • What is the median income?
  • Who are the largest employers?
  • What are the market rents?
  • What is the population of the market?
  • What is the forecast for jobs in the market?
  • Who is the competition in the market?
  • What is the local government attitude towards landlords and tenants?

Beyond, the MSA, you want to understand the neighborhood you are investing in.  In many markets, a mile can make a big difference. These are all numbers you want to know and understand to see if they will be able to support your investment model.

Physical Condition of the Property

The physical condition is where you look for deferred maintenance and assess the major building systems, Roof, Electrical, Plumbing and Heating & Cooling.  How much life is left in each? What is the cost to replace? These questions need to be answered so you can properly budget for replacement.  If you fail to budget for these, the unexpected cost will negatively affect your cash flow and make for some potentially difficult conversations with your investors.  

Financial Condition of the Property

What is the Financials condition, what do the books look like?  Are the Seller’s records in order? What is missing? What is out of the ordinary?  This is where you dive deep into looking for things that are missing and or out of the norm.  

A high water bill is a tip off for leaks, and something you can fix and reduce your cost.  How do the rents compare to the market rents? Is there room to increase rents? Is there any record of laundry income?  Some small property owners put the cash in their pocket without recording. This can be a hidden source of value not expressed on the sellers financials.

Regardless of what you find from the seller, you must contact each service provider and find out what your actual cost will be.  If the seller has owned the property for a long time, or owns multiple properties, their cost will be less than yours. Anything you can do to improve the net operating income should be part of your value add strategy.


Management is one of the greatest ways to lose money in real estate.  Is management pushing rents? Are they marketing the property to attract quality tenants and turn vacancies quickly? This is an easy area to improve upon, especially if the property has not been professionally managed.

If you are investing with others, what is the experience of your partners or deal sponsor.  Are they experienced in this asset class of real estate investing? What makes you certain you will be able to achieve the returns you are projecting?

Purchase Price

Your purchase price needs to accurately reflect the value for the property as is.  An experienced investor will not pay more than what the property supports. The seller and the seller’s broker job is to get as much as possible.  Your job as a buyer is to stay disciplined and not over pay. You cannot get in a bidding war driven by your emotions.

Too often, sellers agree to a sale price with a higher offer only to learn that the buyer cannot perform.  If the seller really wants to sell, and no offers meet their ask, they will be forced to deal with the reality of the market.  


Due to the significant price of large commercial real estate deals financing is required unless you have an endless supply of money.  Fortunately, commercial real estate financing looks at the performance of the property. The bank will not lend more than the property can support.  

The bank will require at least 125% debt cover ratio.  If you don’t understand this before you make your offer, you may lose earnest money or the deal.  Neither is a good option. If either happens, you will not be recognized as a performer amongst the local commercial real estate professionals.   


Insurance is easy for new buildings with desirable tenants.  There is an unlimited supply of insurance companies ready to provide coverage for this type of risk.  As your building gets older and has more deferred maintenance, you will have challenges finding insurance.  

To avoid any problems with insurance, pay attention to the age and type of building system in place for: roof, electrical, plumbing and HVAC.  Most insurance companies require updates if these are older than 30 years. During your due diligence, ask and find out age and type of building system in place.

Market Cycle

Where are we in the market cycle?  Are there reasons to be concerned, or is there momentum and demand for you to take advantage of.  Do not assume that the most recent past will continue. Markets ebb and flow, and for every top, there is a bottom.  If you are buying at the top and selling at the bottom, you are doing it wrong.

Exit Strategy

What is your exit strategy?  Every property will eventually sell, so what is your exit strategy?  Your strategy will be very different if you have partners compared to if you are investing solo.  How quickly can you return capital to your investors? What rate of return are you projecting? What happens when you get there and the market does not support selling?  

The Unknown

Any experienced investor knows there are additional lessons, the unknown, waiting for you.  To prepare for these, you have to do your homework up front and make certain our capital reserves are sufficient to take care of these when they happen.


As an investor, you have to understand these lines, and create your own lines you will not cross.  In an effort to learn more about investors, their risk models and the lines they will not cross, I began asking the guest on my weekly podcast CREPN Radio  the question,

What is the BIGGEST RISK?

To my delight, the guest have shared what concerns them and what they do to manage their risk.  Theri answers have covered the spectrum of real estate investing.

Following is an example of the answers guest on CREPN Radio have provided.

For more go to:

May 30, 2019

A digital marketing growth strategy is needed for any real estate professional looking for more clients and sales.  If you have no web presence, you are invisible to your prospective clients looking for you.

Prior to the internet, Sales and Marketing were lumped into one sentence.  In many companies, they were the same department. The internet provided separation.  Now your marketing efforts can be tracked and measured while you attract and nurture prospective clients. Sales is measured by sales presentations and closings.  

Lael Sturm founded LPSS Digital Marketing to deliver effective growth strategies and tactics to real estate professionals and other profitable businesses.  Below he shares some strategies & tactics that you can implement in your business to attract new clients.

Digital Marketing Growth Strategies

Digital Marketing channels are invaluable for Real Estate professionals who market to individuals.  Whether you sell single family homes, commercial buildings or you seek investors to participate in your syndication, it makes no difference, you need a digital marketing strategy.  You are no longer limited by the words on a written page. Today, the investors expects more.

The great news is that you no longer need a huge budget to get found.  The internet has given the same tools to the entrepreneur as the fortune 100 company.  Each have the opportunity to demonstrate their worth and let the consumer decide which option they want to satisfy their need.

Your prospects will look for you online before or after a meeting to determine your qualifications and ability to meet their needs.  To demonstrate your expertise, you can use all forms of media; written words, photos and video.

Your ability provide instant pictures and videos to a potential buyer, located anywhere in the world is normal.  Theses same potential buyers expect to be able to google you and learn about you without having to call you. If you do not have the information they are seeking, they will find your competitor who does.  

This level of marketing used to be the exception.  However, in 2019, this is the expected. This is the time for developing digital marketing growth strategies to propel your business forward.   

Developing Your Social Media Strategy

The social media options available are numerous  In order to be effective, you first have to develop a strategy.  This is achieved by first knowing what you are trying to do. Are you trying to be informative, capture leads, or make sales.  

Where do you need to be?  Website, social media, or email newsletter?  Lael says the answer is, “yes”. You may want to buy ads on Facebook or Google.  To determine where and how to deploy your marketing dollars, it is important to determine first  set some goals so you have measurable goals.

Who is your target audience?

Where are they online, and how can you best reach them?

Set up a step process, where you can build out your presence and add to it as you go.

Having an effective website is critical to being found in the digital age.  On your website, you need to have content that speaks to the key search words people are looking for.  To refine your website’s effectiveness, there are website tools available to measure how you rank for your key search words.  To improve your ranking, you can employ search engine optimization, “SEO” strategies to fine tune your content and raise your online rank.

Social Medial

For businesses, LinkedIn is the preferred platform.  You should have both an individual page and separate page for your business that describes your business and how long you have been in business.  That said, don’t forget Facebook. These are the two most used platforms for business.

The setup is easy to do, but you need to be thoughtful.  Look at what your competition is doing for some ideas.

Social Media Curve Balls

While Linkedin and Facebook are the standards, there are always new platforms.  


The  current most influential platform is Instagram.  For a real estate professional, with great pictures of the property you are selling or leasing, this is a great place to show off.  Posting regularly online is necessary to stay top of mind. For Instagram, posting 4 - 7 times per week is a great goal.

Facebook powerful tools

In the past, people would purchase and develop specific websites for a specific property.  This is involved and expensive. Facebook allows you to post to your Facebook page each new listing, which eliminates the requirement of building new sites for each property.  By utilizing Facebook, you have access to all of Facebook’s features to drive qualified prospects to your site.

Frequency of Sharing New Content

Fresh and new content is key when trying to rank in the Google algorithm.  For a site that has not had a new post in 5 years, Google will not look upon your site favorably.  Your website needs to be current. You can add new posts as little as monthly.

For maximum effectiveness on social media, it is best to try and post every week day.  For the most effective use of your content, it is advisable that you tailor the same content to the platform rather than wholesale post the same to each platform.  

Email Newsletter should be sent at a minimum of once per month.  Newsletters need to provide value, and cannot just be a sales letter.  What can you share with your community that will be informative and inspirational that keeps you top of mind and makes them reach out to you when they are in need of your services?


In order to measure your results, you first need to know what your goals are.  Are you looking for likes and follows? Or are you looking for new emails and sales?  Each platform will have different results. It takes time, but if done properly, you will be able to grow your following and determine your effectiveness based on your connections with people who want to do business with you.  

For immediate results, ads are a great way to create instant results.  A properly done ad campaign will present your offer to your ideal prospects numerous times.  Normally, it takes 5 - 7 impressions, or “touches”, before the prospect identifies your solution as a remedy to their problem.  In as little as 4 - 6 weeks you should have real data to determine how the ad is performing.


Doing it yourself is not hard.  The hard part is doing it well. Many have tried, only to create a mess, and then hire the services of a firm like LPSS Digital Marketing to sift through and make things work.

Rule number one, Don’t buy followers -  lack of engagement is punitive. If you have done this, it will take time to undo the mess.  To be effective, you do not want quantity, you want quality. The most followers are not your goal.  You want followers who are inclined to do business with you.

Be Authentic

To differentiate yourself, be authentic.  Forget pictures in front of a private jet.  People with problems are looking for genuine experts who can solve their problem.  Demonstrate your expertise and value. What you do may not seem unique or sexy, your perspective is.  Share your perspective about what you have learned and you will find people who are looking for someone like you.


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK: The BIGGEST RISK is a fear to take action.  The biggest risk is not using the tools because you fear you may break the rules and get into trouble.

How to manage the risk: Lael and LPSS recommend that clients educate themselves on 1) the rules of engagement for their industry so they do not break the rules. 2) Learn the tools that are available to help you get the word out to your effective audience.  3) Start small. The internet is not going away. You need to participate and share your perspective.

For more go to:

FREE Social Media Services Guide:


May 23, 2019

The Challenges with scaling in Multifamily faced by investors trying to grow are avoidable, if you are willing to learn from others.    

Krista Testani quit her law practice cold turkey for real estate.  Together with her firefighter husband, they started flipping single family homes on Long Island, NY, in 2007.  Initially the margins were healthy, and the number of opportunities were unlimited.

By 2011, competitors were everywhere.  The profit margins were shrinking and the supply of available properties started to dry up.  It was at this point that Krista recognized, in order to scale her real estate investment business, she needed to get into larger properties.  

Flipping single family homes does not naturally lead to multifamily.  While both flipping and multifamily are real estate, they are dramatically different.  Flipping homes is buying, fixing and selling, quickly for a profit. Multifamily is a business with ongoing operations.  It requires you to dive deep into due diligence to find the operational or physical changes you can change to improve the value over the next couple of years.  

To learn the ins and outs of multifamily, Krista worked with a mentor who showed her the possibilities in multifamily to scale her real estate business.  While she understood how multifamily worked, it was the action steps, the doing, that kept her from instant success.

Fortunately for you, she shares the lessons she learned below.  These are the specific steps that will help you propel your multifamily business and achieve the success you desire.  

Challenges with Scaling in Multifamily  

The challenges with scaling in multifamily are many.  You can either go it alone and grind your way, or you can learn from others who have gone before you.  The following are lessons recognized by Krista that she recommends doing to accelerate your growth.

Krista recognizes two levels of marketing in multifamily syndication; micro and macro.  Micro is the technical learning. Getting to know the brokers and developing your systems so you can analyze a property quickly to determine if a property is an opportunity.  To accelerate your growth curve in the micro, consider working with a mentor with success in multifamily. Then look and analyze a lot of deals.

Macro is marketing.  Marketing to potential investors.  Sharing what you are learning with others.  This is absolutely necessary when raising capital.  Too often new investors believe they can only do after they master the micro.  However, as Krista witnessed, other new investors, who started at the same time as she did, jumped into the macro.  While she waited to talk with potential investors until she mastered the micro, her peers talked and talked.

They talked with others and shared what they were learning.  The more they learned, the more they shared. This naturally created interest with potential investors, and stoked their interest.  These potential investors were investing their time, and became passengers, along for the ride.

Because they had traveled the same leaning journey, raising money was easy.  When Krista’s peers had a deal under contract, they were able to easily get financial commitments from the passengers they had been nurturing.

If you fail to nurture you potential investors, raising capital will be near impossible.    

Market Yourself - Talk to People

Marketing yourself is absolutely necessary to grow and overcome the challenges with scaling your multifamily business.  It can be a struggle if you make it difficult.  However, if you are committed to grow in Multifamily, there are some easy ways to accomplish this.  Remember, multifamily investing is a team sport. In order to close on larger properties, you need a team and willing investors.


Growing your investor list is much like gardening.  In order to grow a successful garden you must plant some seeds.  To make the seeds grow, you have to water, and make sure the seeds get sunlight.  Not all seeds take root.


For multifamily investors, the seeds are conversations.  A gardner has to scatter a lot of seeds to have a large crop.  An investor has to have a lot of conversations.

The gardener gets to harvest their crop.  For you the investor, the payoff comes when others know and trust that you know what you are doing.  Not every seed will bear fruit, but if you talk to enough people, and generate enough interested, able investors, you will have no problem getting commitments when it is time to pull the trigger and close the deal.   

How to Market Yourself:

Do you market yourself?  You have to put yourself out there and let other know what you are doing, but how?  The easiest way is to share what you are learning as you go with people you know.  This allows you to have natural conversations with people who are interested in you and what you are doing.  These conversations help you build your reputation and credibility as someone in multifamily real estate.

The more you share with others, the more comfortable you will become.  Your conversations will lead to questions that require you to find the answers.  Questions are natural for anyone who is interested in learning more. When you find the answer, you have another reason to follow up with the person so you can share the answer to their question.  All of these conversations are necessary to help you overcome the challenges with scaling in multifamily.

In a short amount of time, you will be recognized as someone who knows what they are doing.  Why? Because you had the courage to have the conversations and you took the time to find the answers.  All the while you built up your confidence and your reputation.

Now that you know what you are talking about, you can easily start talking with people you know less.  Ask them what they do. When they ask you what you do, let them know that you are a multifamily investor.

Remember this, if you don’t tell others what you do, who will.  If people do not know what you do, how will they make the decision to invest with you?


Networking is one of the best ways to get to know others.  You cannot do this sitting by yourself behind your computer.  While you can do some initial networking over social media, eventually you have to meet face to face with others.  

You can join a local real estate investment association REIA, Facebook or a MeetUp Group.  If there are none in our area, start one. Again, you don’t have to be the expert. What you have to do is invest in your micro learning, and share this information with others.  

The more organic, authentic relations you can develop, the more success you will have.  Have conversations, be authentic and share the information you are learning with others.


Systems are key to developing your relationship database and overcoming the investor challenges with scaling in multifamily.  Keep it simple to begin with. Consider using Google Docs. Ultimately, you are doing all of this to develop some relationships with investors who are willing to invest with you.  To make certain they progress to the point of commitment, you need to track your conversations with them.

When you first meet them, make some notes.  Are they experienced real estate investors? What are they currently investing in?  Do they have some parameters that need to be met for them to invest? Do they have questions that you can research and get back to them with the answer?  The answers to these will be important when you are trying to take a deal down.

As you make notes, you will find some common points of interest that will help you gauge the progress of interest.  The quicker you set up a system, the faster you be able to recognize which prospects are able to commit and disqualify those who are not.  

Keep in mind, just because one is not able to commit today, does not mean they will be unable to commit to your next deal.  Follow up is key, so stay in touch.

Never Judge

Never judge people.  You never know who may be interested in your opportunity.  If you chose to not share your information, you may eliminate someone who is able to invest in your deal.  You never know who knows who, and may be looking for the deal you have.

Krista thought her Facebook friends would be the last to be interested in investing with her in real estate.  To her surprise, some of them had been interested in real estate, but did not know how to get into multifamily.  Her post about multifamily provided a friend they could contact to learn more from .

We all have so many opportunities to network and can feel overwhelmed.  If you are truly looking for some new investors, you have to be willing to share, and be willing to accept calls from strangers.  Yeah, a lot of these will not develop into anything, but you never know who they know.


For the dedicated, willing investor, sharing yourself is key to overcoming the challenges with scaling in multifamily.


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  


BIGGEST RISK: The BIGGEST RISK Micro - Crime and the cost increase in your insurance if there is a significant crime rate in the neighborhood where your property is located.


The BIGGEST RISK Macro:  The next recession.


How to manage the risk:

Micro: Be aware of the crime statistics in the neighborhood and surrounding properties.  Are they better or worse than your property? These will affect your insurance rates. It is difficult to lower a crime rate in a neighborhood all by yourself.  

Macro: In order to be prepared for the next market correction, stress test your numbers.  Know where the rents were during the last correction. Do your numbers still work if you have to lower your rents?  Also, lock into long term interest rates. If the market changes, will you be able to continue to make your loan payments and ride out the correction?  Stay out of tertiary markets. Stay in primary markets where there will be demand for housing. If using a bridge loan, get the ability to exercise an extension so that you can complete your value add and get through the correction.  

For more go to



Meetup: Multifamily Investing Unveiled

May 16, 2019

Asset Management versus Property Management, what is the difference?

John Wilhoit is an experienced real estate investor, multifamily asset manager, author and returning guest to CREPN Radio.  His true expertise is Multifamily Asset Management.  In this interview John makes the distinction between Asset Management and Property Management.   

In every real estate deal, there are three components.  The property, people and paper.  Knowing and understanding each are key to the successful operation of any property.  Following is a description of each and their relation to the deal.


Every property has a specific street address.  In addition it is a part of the ecosystem for that neighborhood, market, city, and submarket.  Additionally, it has a relation with area comparative assets and competitive assets.


The people are most important part.  People include Asset Management, Property Management and Ownership which make up the investor people.  Additionally, there are the Residents who live at the property.


The Paper that wraps around the property includes Mortgages, Leases, and Insurance Policies which are required to make the property run.  

Asset Management vs Property Management

Asset Management vs Property Management, what is the relationship between them?  

Asset Management

Asset Management acts a controlling feature for these three aspects; property, people and paper.  By controlling these three aspects they make certain the property runs smoothly.

As the owner representative, Asset management has a role in selecting the Property Management and to assure that Property Management is doing their job properly.  Asset Management will plan for, manage and monitor all properties in the owners portfolio.

Property Management

Property Management is charged with carrying out the plan set by Ownership & Asset Management.  Their focus is for a specific property.

Property Management engages with the operation of the property on a day to day basis.  They are there to operate the business of the multifamily asset. Responsibilities include daily maintenance, leasing, and renewals.  All the things that have to occur for the property to operate optimally on a day to day basis fall under the responsibility of Property Management.

When to Hire a Property Manager

For assets under $3M, the owner may be tempted to wear all three hats, Owner, Asset Manager & Property Manager.  Unfortunately, for the inexperienced owner who is acting as all three roles, there is going to be trouble. As the portfolio grows so do roles become more defined.

For a property to operate at its optimal level, it is so important for the roles to be filled by professionals that know what they are doing.  Multifamily is a 24 hour, 7 days a week business. It doesn’t close for holidays or weekends. It is always in operation.

If you are attempting to do this as a side gig, consider hiring a professional Property Manager.  This alone will allow you to act more as an Asset Manager, where you can focus on long term business planning, capital expenditure planning, and the eventual exit from your asset.  

When to Hire an Asset Manager

The need for a professional Asset Manager becomes necessary as the portfolio grows.  Their value shows up when dealing with insurance coverage, accounting, financing, capital expenditure planning and assuring the appropriate property management is on site.  

If property management is not performing, it is up to the asset manager to help bring them up to speed.  Too often, owners think to fire property management. If an asset manager recognizes what is missing, they can likely help get the property manager correct so that they execute ownerships plan.  This is usually more efficient and less disruptive to a property as opposed to firing and starting with a new manager.

For larger value add or long term construction projects, an Asset Manager is invaluable.  These projects go above and beyond the normal day to day operation of what should be handled by a property manager.  If the Property Manager is assigned to manage these task, their focus on the day to day operation is compromised and can create operational problems, like delayed maintenance, turning of units, and extended vacancies.  


Asset management communicates with Property management as often as needed, typically no less than weekly under normal circumstances.  For capital projects the two managers will be in more frequent communication. This is necessary to plan and make certain the project is completed on time with few as possible interruptions to daily operation.

The Asset Manager will also communicate with ownership through monthly or quarterly reports.  These will report on the budgets to plan, rents on competitive properties, financial condition, receivables., bad debt, vacancy, turn overs, capital budgeting, progress on any capital improvement projects, as well as exceptions.  Exceptions can include reports of property damage, injuries that occur at the property and insurance claims.


Asset Manager compensation can be structured in many different ways.  A stable asset compensation package will likely be a percentage of revenue.  While a value add property with significant construction budget and timeline may offer a percentage of equity due upon sale of the asset.

Property management is typically compensated as a percentage of collected rent.  This varies depending on the size of the property where smaller properties will demand a higher percentage and larger properties a smaller percentage.  


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK: The BIGGEST RISK to any asset is complacency.  Complacency is implemented by ownership when they are not engaged.  Complacency from the ownership trickles down through property management, and accumulates in a poorly performing property.

How to manage the risk:  Asset Management’s job is to rock the boat.  Their job is to make certain the property is operating at its optimal level.  They must identify and communicate with the ownership on how to better operate the property.  This includes any needed capital projects and how they can improve the property’s performance.

For more go to

Website & Podcast:



Prior CREPN Episodes with John Wilhoit

May 9, 2019

Why he sold all his Multifamily Real Estate is a question Jonathan Twombly answers.  If so many are buying, why did he sell?

Jonathan Twombly is a former Wall Street attorney who specialized in corporate contract disputes between hotels and property owners.  When the Great Recession happened, his employer waited for legal activity that never materialized. Since billings were down, cost had to be cut and Jonathan was turned lose to become a real estate investor.

The Case for Buying Multifamily

During the Great Recession people were losing their jobs and homes as their mortgages came due.  Replacement financing was unavailable. What were these former homeowners to do? They still needed a place to live.  With their credit trashed, and no financing available, their only hope was to rent.

Nationwide, multifamily is one of the most affordable options for renters.  As more and more borrowers defaulted, the demand for rental housing was grew.  Multifamily is a proven business with predictable income and operating cost. For a conservative investor like Jonathan, multifamily made sense.  The growing demand for rental housing, with predictable income and expenses looked like a good low risk opportunity to make some money.

The First Deal

How can a new investor with no experience get started in Multifamily?  The answer lies in syndication. Syndication is when individuals pool their money together to buy a large multifamily property.  As an attorney, Jonathan regularly dealt with private placement funding, which works similar to syndications. As he quickly found out, his Wall Street contacts had money and were willing to invest with him.

At first, Jonathan partnered with a syndicator.  Together they pursued a couple of deals that did not materialize, primarily due to the difficult lending environment.  After the failed partnership broke up, Jonathan considered going back to law. Fortunately, one of his investors committed to back Jonathan solo, and shortly after, he landed his first deal as detailed on CREPN Radio episode #36.

Multifamily Lessons

Baptism by fire is what happens to most first time investors.  The first deal is where you get the chance to learn all the lessons not taught in the books.  This is where all of your theories go to get tested. Simple questions like, will the property and management perform as planned?  What will you do if they do not?

Jonathan believes the following lessons are directly related to his lack of experience as an asset manager.  He uses these lessons when teaching his multifamily coaching students so that they can recognize and avoid problems like these.  

Property Management

The first lesson was due to his selection of a property management company.  He had established a relationship with a frim from out of town that wanted to break into the market where his property was located.  

To add to the management challenge, the property management company primarily dealt with subsidised housing and had no experience working with a market rate property.  On the surface, this would not seem like a big deal. However, it quickly developed into a problem that kept on giving.

The first sign that there was a problem was that occupancy dropped to 85% compared to the market rate of 95%.  Vacancies are never good, and significantly affects cash flow for investors.

On top of the increasing vacancy problem, was the persistent bad debt and numerous evictions.  Why was this happening?

Subsidised Versus Market Rate

The difference between a subsidised and a market rate property starts with demand, which reflects the way the property is managed.  

The subsidised market has limited supply and overwhelming demand.  When a manager of a subsidised property has a vacancy, they merely have to call the next person on their waiting list to offer the unit, and it is filled.   

Market rate properties are plentiful.  In order to get market rents, each property has to compete for the best available resident.  This requires the property manager to advertise and make your property and the unit appealing to your prospective resident.  Failure to do so will result in unwanted vacancies.

Bad Debt and Evictions

Bad Debt and Evictions were persistent, but why would they be so abnormally high?  There were no obvious signs to point to. Because of this, it took months of investigating to find the root cause of this problem.   What they found was hidden in the screening criteria settings used by the screening vendor selected by the property manager to screen applicants.  

Given the property management company’s experience was with subsidised housing, the screening company set the standards to the levels used for subsidised housing.  The lack of income required of applicants explained why the tenants were unable to pay the rent. Market rate properties typically require 3 times the monthly rent for monthly income to qualify and to ensure rent is affordable.

Once the problem was identified, the solution was simple.  Bring the standards up to market requirements. The screening service was instructed to level up the requirements for this one problem property.  Instead of leveling the one up, the screening company managed to lower the screening requirements for all three of Jonathan’s properties. Quickly they went from having an isolated problem to problems at all properties.  Fortunately, this error was quickly recognized and righted before it got out of control.

The Bank

The bank took issue with the vacancies when the Net Operating Income no longer met the debt service requirements.  When a lender underwrites a property for a loan, it looks for a Debt Service Cover Ratio or a minimum of 125%. This means the NOI must be at least 125% of the annual debt service.  Failure to meet this requirement triggers the loan clause requiring Cash Management.

When “Cash Management” happens, the borrower agrees to allow the lender to collect all rents, and then pay only those expenses approved in the operating budget.  This protects the banks position and ensures payment of their loan. To reverse this clause, you must improve the NOI to meet the Debt Service Ratio requirements.  

More Lessons

The property that provided all the lessons of mis-management, increasing vacancies, and bank problems, was not done teaching valuable lessons the books don’t talk about.  

The next lesson was taught courtesy of two fires at the same property.  Fortunately, insurance rebuilt the nine destroyed units, and covered the lost rent while the units were under construction.  However, as insurance companies do, they refused to offer renewal coverage when the policy expired. To replace his coverage, Jonathan had to pay significantly higher rates immediately after the fires.  This negatively affects the NOI.

The Happy Ending

Despite the fact that the one property was full of operational challenges, there is a happy ending.  The property never provided any owner distributions while it was held as an investment and provided multiple challenges, management, vacancies, bank, fire, etc.  

The happy ending is primarily due to the rising market of the past six years.  In a rising market, you can make a lot of mistakes and still come out ok. Jonathan was able to buy at a low price, and sell at a high price resulting in a handsome profit.  

Why He Sold

Why he sold, is simple.  Recognizing the market is at a high point, and not likely to go higher in the short term, he made the decision to exit all of his properties in 2019.  Due to the positive market conditions, he was able to pay all the arrears in preferred returns, management fees that had not been paid while operating the property.

Fortunately, for Jonathan, the lessons he learned only came from one property.  The other properties operated with only minimal normal issues. This one property taught him lessons he shares with his students to help them avoid making the same mistakes.

He reminds his students that while getting a deal always seems like a difficult task, the real challenge is to operate the property profitably.   If you are not properly capitalized, any one of the issues he faced can be your ruin.

Passive Investors

As for passive investors, this is a cautionary tale of the importance to know who you are getting into business with.  Do they have the experience and know how to navigate the challenging market ahead? Have they stress tested the numbers for the what if?   Have they accounted for the deferred maintenance? Are they properly reserved for capital expenses? What happens if the market changes during the value add implementation?


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK: The Biggest risk investors face is the Economy.  When you are at the top of the market, there is only one direction it can go.  

How to manage the risk: Be aware of the cycle, and recognize the risk you face in an economic down turn.  Understand the tenants in the class of property and how they will likely be affected in a downturn.  While real estate out performed other assets in the crash, it still got hammered.

If you buy at a premium, you have no room for any error.  When you suffer an occupancy loss, will you still be able to meet your debt service ratio requirements?

Go in with your eyes wide open.  Multifamily is a business that requires good people, and the wind at your back to make money.  If you are planning a value add, ask yourself if you can complete the renovation before the market changes.  Don’t forget that timing is important.

For more go to:

Podcast: RealEstateLaunchPad.Net


Facebook Group:  Multifamily Investment Community

May 2, 2019

Multifamily Value Add Rebranding is one way to recapture hidden value for investors looking to increase the value of their multifamily property.

Reed Goossens, an engineer by training, has put his project managing skills to work in his multifamily syndication projects.  The normal syndication hurdles include; pick a market, find the property, get it under contract, raise capital, assemble the team, manage the asset, operate the property and make a profit for the investors.  

Reed and his team at Wildhorn Capital, have employed a value add strategy where they have created additional value through rebranding their multifamily properties.  Wildhorn Capital has identified the following as its investing parameters for properties where they can add value for their investors:

  • 1980’s and newer Class B assets
  • Neighborhood Median income $50,000 - $60,000
  • Primary market with population growth  
  • In the path of progress

They have determined that properties matching this profile are the most stable housing during downturns.  

Why Rebrand

Why consider multifamily value add rebranding?  When does it make sense to invest the additional time and money to rebrand a multifamily property?  For an older, tired property in the path of progress that is competing against new construction, a rebrand can reposition the property so that it competes more favorably against its newer neighbors.  

A new name, signage, paint, and appearance really makes people notice.  The increased financial performance due to exterior improvements are less measurable than money spent to upgrade a single unit.  However, the perception lift raises the spirits of the management staff, which transfers to the residents. This energy makes rent increases easier, even for units that are not yet renovated.  

Steps to Multifamily Value Add Rebranding

The two biggest steps to a successful multifamily value add rebrand involve updating the exterior of the property and the interior units.  Prior to closing on a new property, Reed and his team will engage the services of an architect designer to come up with ideas on how the existing property can best be repositioned.  The plans are then given to his General Contractor to determine the cost. After some budget decisions, the plans are made for how to best move to get the renovations accomplished as soon as possible.  

Exterior Renovation

The primary goal is to achieve a new look and feel for a tired property.  This starts with the exterior to create curb appeal. The easiest most direct ways include: changing the accent paint on doors & trim, landscaping, leasing office update, workout facilities, pool, etc.  

The updated exterior gets prospective residents excited about living in your property before they ever step foot into a unit.  

Interior Renovation

Separate from the exterior renovation budget, is a budget dedicated for interior renovations.  To do the level of renovation needed to achieve the desired rent increase, Wildhorn budgets between $5,500-$6,000 per unit.  The older properties tend to cost more due to additional drywall work needed if opening the wall between the kitchen and living room to make the units more inviting.

The goal is never to renovate 100% of the units.  At most they will renovate 40-60% of the units.

The renovated units will get new floor coverings, appliances, paint on walls & cabinets, updated countertops, modern door pulls on cabinets and new track lighting.  The balance of units are left as the “classic” model with a lower price point.

This interior renovation strategy serves two purposes.  First, this provides the property management a smorgasbord of price point options to potential residents.  Secondly, it provides future buyers with some room to create additional value for their investors.

Additional Considerations

The following are some specific lessons learned from rebranding and renovating multifamily properties.

Be Conscious

Be conscious of where you are spending your renovation money.  It is important to recognize where more people will take note of your efforts.  Common areas with high traffic are the priority; around the pool, in the club house, parking lot, etc.  

Lighting & Ceilings

To update the lighting, they remove all “dangly” lighting and replace with modern LED lights.  A favorite light is the “slim service puck” which mounts directly into the junction box of an existing light fixture.  

One physical space characteristic they recognize is the ceiling height.  Reed and team have found that ceiling height makes an incredible difference towards your sense of space.  Older properties have 8 ft ceilings, while newer properties are 9 ft. That one foot of difference in ceiling height creates a much larger sense of space.  

In some instances, they have popcorn ceilings are in place, which is less desirable than a modern knockdown texture.  However, due to cost to removal cost and the lack of additional rent potential for replacing, they leave the popcorn ceilings in place.


The first six months are critical to getting the exterior renovation made.  You want to get this knocked out as soon as possible. The renovations are a disruption to your residents and you have to be conscious of this.  After the exterior is complete, move to the interiors. Here you can take more time, and be strategic about how to proceed for maximum results.

General Contractor

If you are doing an involved, heavy lift, renovation, be sure to utilize a third party general contractor.  Do not expect your maintenance staff to take on this project. The general contractor can mobilize quickly, focus, and knock out the project so that your property can get back to normal operation.   

Leasing Season

Be conscious of when you are disrupting the usability of the leasing office.  Typically, summer is the busiest season. Renovating the leasing office during the summer, you can be disastrous.


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK: Insurance Rates for properties built prior to 1990

How to manage the risk: Acquire properties built mid 1990’s and newer that have 9’ ceilings and fire sprinkler suppression, as the building codes required.  Properties with fire suppression will benefit from lower insurance premiums.

Bonus Insurance Risk: What is the age of the roof, has there been any hail damage?

How to manage the risk: Know the age of the Roof and how quickly it will need to be replaced.  If you do not have this built into your capital improvement budget, you will not be able to accomplish you have budgeted for.

BIGGEST Non Insurance Risk: Underwriting - There are so many risk.  You have to know what to look for when investing in a property.  

How to manage the risk:  Find the right deal.  Underwrite it correctly.  Know what assumptions have you put into your underwriting to protect your investors.  

As the market cap rates compress, we look for newer properties because we can buy them for the same cap rate as older properties that have more skeletons in the closet.  Properties built since 1990 will have individual utility meters, 9 ft ceilings, sprinklers, individual heaters and are less likely to have potential construction risk that can bite you in the ass.

Know where are you buying.  Be in the path of progress. Core markets with population growth and multiple employers are where we are investing.  We are not looking in tertiary markets.


For more go to:


Apr 25, 2019

Commercial Real Estate Due Diligence is the key to buying right.  If you fail to underwrite properly, you will learn the hard way.

Brian Hennessey, is a 30 year commercial real estate veteran.  He has learned and authored multiple books on commercial real estate, including, “The Due Diligence Handbook For Commercial Real Estate”.

FREE 14 Page Comprehensive Due Diligence Checklist for Real Estate Investments

TEXT “CRE” to 444999

After  18 years as a commercial real estate broker, Brian took a position as VP of acquisitions for one of his clients.  How different could it be from the broker role versus working for the investor making acquisitions?

The first large office deal almost got Brian fired.  The seller quickly realized Brian did not know what he was doing and took advantage of Brian’s lack of experience.  The steps Brian missed during due diligence his boss dearly and almost cost Brian his job.

Brian had a choice to make.  He could either walk away and go back to the broker side, or he could create systems to make certain he never made these mistakes again.

From this point, he created a reference manual.  He included questions to ask, issues to be aware of and checklist so that he would not miss these items again.  For the next 6 years, he used, and added to his reference manual while he oversaw the acquisition of over 9 million sq feet.

Back to Broker

When he returned to the broker side, he made his reference manual available to clients and prospective clients as a tool to help differentiate himself and his expertise from other brokers.  His clients loved it.

This is when he decided to spend the money to properly publish it on Amazon, where it remains a best seller for commercial real estate due diligence.

Old school brokers did not want to show up at physical inspections.  They felt it opened themselves up to problems. So, to avoid problems, they left due diligence up to their clients.

Now, a good broker has to be present at the inspection.  If your broker doesn’t know something, a responsible broker needs to find professionals that do.  There is too much at risk. If the broker ends up in court and the judge ask if he was going to be compensated for the sale, the broker will be held responsible.  

Top commercial real estate brokers are making due diligence a priority.  They are bringing professionals onto their team; attorneys & cpa’s, etc.

Due Diligence Mistakes

Due diligence without a process or system is a recipe for disaster.  To avoid common simple mistakes, create a process & system will help you make an informed decision and avoid the deals you should never do.

Remember, the seller will not come to you with a list of things that are wrong.  They hope you don’t find anything wrong. They want to get the deal done.

Common Due Diligence Mistakes:

Mis-value the property.  There are two values to consider when buying a property.  The “pre” due diligence value versus “post” due diligence value.  One reflects the value with no adjustment to fix the needed capital improvements, the other has been adjusted to reflect the cost of the work needed to operate the property profitably.   

Lender underwriting requirements.  Pick up the phone and talk to a lender about what they can do for you and what they need from you.  Do this before you sign a purchase agreement. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time.

Local compliance.  Take the time to personally go to the city or county that governs the building codes for the property. Find out if codes are coming that will affect you and your operation of the property.  It’s one easy conversation that can alert you to any coming issues the seller may not be aware of.

Tenant leases.  When you buy commercial real estate, you are buying the income stream.  If you do not know the quality of your tenants, and their ability to pay, you can end up with unnecessary vacancies and collection problems that will not help your bottom line.  

Third party reports.  Every lender requires various third party reports; inspections, soil, appraisal, etc.  Most lenders are limited to using reports provided from their list of approved providers.  Make certain you know who is on the list before you order any reports. Otherwise, you will likely get to pay for the report twice.  

Inspect the Closing Statement.  It takes time do all the due diligence.  The preliminary closing statement is your chance to go through all prior communications and confirm that everything is as it is supposed to be.  Professional sellers are notorious at adding fees to the closing statement. If you do not ask for the closing statement in advance of the closing and review the numbers line by line, you will not get the deal you planned for.  Get a second set of eyes to check the numbers. Ask questions, get proof.

Walk the entire property.  Inspect what you expect.  Once the deal is final, every defect is yours.  Even if you have a claim against the seller, you will be tied up in costly litigation to get your correction.  Inspect everything,

Talk to vendors.  Vendors that service the property know the condition and quirks of the property.  If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Spend time at the property.  What is the property like in the evenings, on the weekends, in the morning and middle of the day.  If there are issues, these will become your issues. Know what you are buying.

Once you learn how to do Due Diligence properly, brokers and sellers will know and will be forthright with the information.  Learn how and create your process and systems to do it right everytime.


Each week I ask my guest what is the Biggest Risk they see that real estate investors face.  

BIGGEST RISK:  Assume everything is ok.  

How to manage the risk?:   Assume Nothing, If you assume anything, you have to assume there are problems everywhere.  When you know how to do the deep dive on due diligence properly it will minimize the risk.


For More go to:

FREE 14 Page Comprehensive Due Diligence Checklist for Real Estate Investments

TEXT “CRE” to 444999

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