CPA & Business Advisory Blog

Real Estate Monitor: Spring 2010

2010 Real Estate and Construction Survey

Skoda Minotti is conducting our 3rd annual survey of the Northeast Ohio real estate and construction industries. Every participant who completes the questionnaire will receive a free copy of the survey results and analysis and have a chance to win a $50 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods.


The goal of the survey is to provide professionals in the real estate and construction industries in Northeast Ohio with the invaluable insight into their industries.

As an added bonus, one out of every 20 survey participants will be randomly selected to receive a $50 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods. Note that only the first 100 survey participants will be eligible for the gift cards, so act quickly.


Click here to complete the real estate or the construction survey.


Please feel free to contact Bob Goricki at or 440-449-6800 with any questions related to the survey.

Green Building & Green Leasing: What is it, and why should I care?

By Peter D. Brosse, Esq., Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis


Since the establishment of Earth Day, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and issues brought to public light by the Oil Embargo in the early 1970's, Americans have become more sensitive to the environment and use of resources, including petroleum. However, we still continue to use many of the same chemicals, gasoline and other resources as we did before, subject, however, to regulation.  Recently, a revolution has begun with new attention to conserving energy and resources. This new "green revolution" is evident with the use of a new vernacular that has entered into our common language. Only a few years ago, such words as "green","sustainable," "renewable energy," "greenwashing," "LEED" and "Energy Star" were rarely, if ever, used.  Today, these are part of everyday speech. Nowhere has this "green revolution" been more evident than in the real estate industry.  Such words as "building green" and "green leasing" are commonly heard and many articles are written about the subject. When discussing green building and green leasing, the question that owners, developers and tenants typically ask is "What is it, and why should I care?"


Is there a difference between "green" and "sustainable?"


Yes, there is a significant difference.  When one considers green building or green leasing, it is really sustainability and not "green" that is the focus. "Green" generally means to be environmentally friendly. To be "sustainable" means more. When one refers to sustainability, it takes into consideration the life cycle of a product or a building. To say a product is sustainable, one needs to look at processes, procedures, materials, how the product is manufactured, and whether the product can be reused or ultimately finds its way to the landfill.


Click here for more of this article.

Residential Real Estate: Making Modifications Work
By Brian Bader


Lew Ranieri, often credited with creating the mortgage-backed securities industry when he was at Salomon Brothers in the early 1980s, has returned to try to save America from the worst effects of that accomplishment. In 2008, Ranieri established the Selene Residential Mortgage Opportunity Fund, raising money primarily from foundations and pension funds, to buy and restructure failed mortgages created to feed the securitization process. In doing so, he is showing how mortgage modifications can work – and why the federal home-owners modification program (HAMP) has done so poorly by comparison.


Click here for more of this article.


CMBS: Special Servicers
By John Tax


Special servicers are the firms trying to correct mortgage loans in the later stages of delinquency or in actual default. Their role has become increasingly important as a result of the tremendous number of troubled loans According to a report by Standard & Poor's (S&P), servicers have been training their staffs to address the unique aspects of these loans, packaged as commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS). Almost 50 percent of these unresolved assets are loans originated in 2006 and 2007. Many of the loans are more complex than older ones, which mean it takes longer to resolve them, either by a full workout, a discounted payoff or foreclosure sale. Because of the time period in which they originated, many of the newer loans lack some of the safeguards present in the commercial loans originated before 2004.


Click here for more of this article.


Securitization: Covered Bonds
By Anthony La Malfa


The use of covered bonds as a source of home-mortgage funds is being encouraged by the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) because they offer much greater certainty for the bondholders with respect to damages and rights.

Covered bonds contain a key element that is missing in many commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS), i.e., a double layer of protection for investors, with the asset being backstopped by the issuer of the securities. The key difference between CMBS and covered bonds is that the latter requires lenders to retain the default risk. On the other hand, covered bonds fail to provide a good option for private labels because they require a capital base to retain loans on balance sheets and do not provide the higher level of leverage that was available with CMBS.


Click here for more of this article.


Leases: Subordination Clause Could Harm Tenants
By David Tevlin


Commercial lease agreements often are long and complex, with clauses neither party may expect will ever be triggered by events. But sometimes they are. One such is the lease subordination clause, by which the tenant agrees the lease is subordinate to any present or future mortgage that the landlord may put on the property. Accordingly, foreclosure of a mortgage (depending on the law of the state involved) either will automatically terminate the lease or entitle the lender, at its option, to terminate the lease.


Click here for more of this article.


Legal View: Second Circuit Rejects Champerty Defense
By Alvin Arnold


Champerty is not a word often heard these days, even though it is a living doctrine in modern law and on occasion has real bite. In a recent case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court ruling that had dismissed a mortgage trust's suit for indemnification for loan losses from the originator. Trust for Certificate Holders of Merrill Lynch Mortgage Investors v. Love Funding Corp., 391 F.3d 116 (C.A.2, N.Y.). However, the reasoning of the decision leaves some room for the distressed debt markets to be concerned.


Click here for more of this article.


Migration: Major Shifts
By Andrew Dalecki


Every type of real estate – housing, business, retail, and office – is impacted by population movements across the U.S. and across its borders. In its most recent report, based on new Census numbers, the Brookings Institution says the past ten years saw the greatest migration slowdown since the end of World War II. Significant events were the housing bubble and the worst recession in more than half a century, as well as major storms and terrorist attacks.


Click here for more of this article.


Cleveland Market Overview

Signs are pointed towards recovery for commercial real estate in Cleveland.  The vacancy rate was down over the previous quarter, with net absorption totaling positive 293,238 square feet in the first quarter.  In fact, with the exception of the Southwest and Downtown's Financial and Warehouse submarkets; all markets posted a positive overall net absorption for the first quarter of 2010.  The Cleveland office market ended 1st Quarter with a slight decrease in the overall vacancy rate, 21.8%, as sublease space outperformed direct deals.  Another good sign; rental rates are stabilizing, ending the first quarter at $17.90 per square foot. 


Nationally, as job losses abate and turn into employment gains across various industries and geographies, more markets are moving towards recovery.  This includes Cleveland because we lacked the high stock of inventory that plagued more developed markets (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Florida).  Cleveland should be in a good position to rebound quicker than other markets and continue to see an increase in activity and deal flow.


More information on the real estate markets in North America is available courtesy of Jones Lang LaSalle .  For questions on this information, please contact Andrew Coleman or J.R. Fairman at (216) 861-7171.


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