June 11, 2024    5 min read

Build to Rent in Governmental Cross-Hairs

I admit I am puzzled that with a national housing shortage, governments across the country – and the federal government as well – are taking aim at the so-called “Build-to-Rent Industry” – but so it is.

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May 28, 2024    3 min read

Why Does New York Keep Thriving?

I am not sure if you know this about me, but now I am a professional philosopher! Happily, I still have a day job since we philosophers aren’t that well paid. Here is some philosophy that could be relevant to your real estate investment decisions...

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May 6, 2024    5 min read

How to Outperform in Real Estate on a Long-Term Basis

I think my becoming a plain old Philosopher – in addition to being The Real Estate Philosopher has resulted in a realization about long-term real estate outperformance that I wish I had figured out many years ago.  Let me explain….

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April 9, 2024    3 min read

Jamie Dimon, Interest Rates And Me As Well

I know I just sent out only yesterday my latest edition of The Real Estate Philosopher -- and apologies for two articles in two days -- but after reading today’s Wall Street Journal, I had some additional thoughts on interest rates. In my article of yesterday, I pointed out the illogic of interest rates being thought of as high when they are dramatically below the long-term average.

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March 20, 2024    5 min read

Creating Economic Upside in an Uncertain Real Estate World

I just read a book called The Uncertainty Solution, by John Jennings of the St. Louis Trust Company – and I also heard him speak live. I like people who use math and analytics to, well, analyze things, and Jennings does that exceptionally well. In short, his thesis is – overall – this: - Many more things are uncertain than we realize. - We should cultivate an awareness of when things are uncertain and build this awareness into our investment decision-making.

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February 20, 2024    5 min read

PB&J = Bridge Lending and Private Equity

Everyone – and I do mean pretty much everyone – likes peanut butter and jelly (unless, of course, they’re allergic to peanuts). There is something about the way these two foods go together that is just pleasing. My sense is that bridge lending and private equity – at least right now – go together as easily as PB&J.

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February 7, 2024    5 min read

Remote Work Will End With a Thud – Offices Will Thrive Again

I recognize that at least so far I have been wronger than wrong about office, i.e. in predicting an imminent recovery – I have been far too soon and I have to own that. However, I do believe that those who invest in it today – at the discounted prices increasingly coming on the market – will be over-rewarded for the risk.

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January 3, 2024    6 min read

Predictions for 2024

Artificial Intelligence – despite all the hype -- will be close to irrelevant, except as a useful tool that saves time.  People will start to realize that it is not a game-changer.  It is not a new business; it is just a new way of doing business.  I called it a Glorified Spell Check in a prior article, i.e. it can catch errors but will not create value for you.  I do caution that even though AI won’t give you a competitive advantage, not having it at your fingertips when your competition has it will hurt you since it will provide some cost-savings and other internal benefits.  Notably, Bill Gates’s famous quote is apropos here; namely, that people tend to overestimate what will happen in one year but underestimate what will happen in ten years.  

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December 26, 2023    8 min read

Predictions -- How Accurate Have I Been?

I have some predictions about 2024 coming to you next week, but before I serve up that article I thought I would take a moment to assess how accurate I have been in my past predictions, as that would be relevant whether you would be open to considering my future predictions.

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December 13, 2023    3 min read

Real (Estate) Politics – Danger For SFR

It seems that whether the real estate industry likes it or not, a growing percentage of the population of this country – or those governing us – seem to be coming to the conclusion that housing is not something one purchases or rents but a “right” that someone who lives in this country must have.

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November 28, 2023    2 min read

Scrappy Startups Sought

As I get older (despite my Baby Boomer desire to live forever), I have been trying to think about things that I can do that are meaningful, helpful and useful to the real estate industry and those who work in it.   It seems like a place where I could add the greatest value would be to parties just starting out and potentially struggling in the real estate world.  

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October 30, 2023    4 min read

Equity (Not Debt) Is The Place For Equity Players

Over the past year-ish, many equity players are moving – or have moved – into debt.  Generally, the view is something like this: Why should I do equity, when I can do equity returns with less risk in debt? Yet this point of view is, in my opinion, significantly flawed for several reasons:

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September 21, 2023    4 min read

You Will (Definitely) Never “Find” A “Good” Deal Again – Redux

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled:           You Will Never “Find” A “Good” Deal Again  The theory was that you would need to ‘create’ deals rather than just ‘find’ them.  This was because the internet and related technology make information ubiquitously available so when you look at a deal on your computer screen, many others (maybe hundreds of others) are looking at the same screen.  Accordingly, your chances of outperforming on that specific deal are very low and your chances of outperforming on a long-term basis are essentially zero (other than by statistical variations of luck).

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August 3, 2023    3 min read

Buy Real Estate Now!!!

I haven’t written a Real Estate Philosopher in a bit since I try to only write if I feel I have something useful to say – and I do now – so here goes. It is pretty simple and straightforward: Buy Real Estate Now! Right now from my catbird seat at one of the largest real estate law practices in NYC – coupled with my work with clients helping them on the business side, I see just about everyone doing the same thing, which is not doing deals.

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June 1, 2023

A Solution to the Leverage Problem

I was speaking with a client just the other day.  He had a multifamily deal that required about $20M of equity.  His plan was to get about $40M of debt (i.e., 2/3rds leverage).  The target IRR return for the deal was in the mid-teens.  Sound straightforward enough?   However, right now, there are not that many investors that want to do that deal.  Part of the reason is that the cost of the debt is just too high.  It could be over 6% and even hit 7%, so it is hard to get the capital for a deal like this to make sense.   Then I asked him, “What would the total projected return on the deal – i.e., the IRR -- be with no leverage at all?”  He said about 10%-ish, and then it hit me….kind of obviously…..why are we seeking leverage if it is so expensive?

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May 23, 2023

How To Make Good Real Estate Decisions

As a real estate player, you make many decisions.  These include where to invest, what markets to be in, what asset class to focus on, whether to develop a niche, who you want to hire, who you want to fire, who you want to do business with, who you lend to, who you borrow from, who you invest with, whether to build or buy or improve, whether to take high risks for high rewards or be more conservative and…..this sentence could go on for quite a bit longer couldn’t it?

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May 5, 2023

A Very Different Way To Think About Office

All of my clients and friends of the firm like to basically buy low and sell high, and Office is low and getting lower every day, but (just about) no one is buying or even considering buying.   Instead, just about everyone is calling Office ‘a four letter word?’   Of course, I know the prices of office buildings have plummeted, and people are working from home and things like that, but let’s start by doing the math….. 

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April 5, 2023

Leverage and Diversification Conjoined

I started some deep thinking about what I should do as an investor – or what my real estate friends should do as investors/owners in the real estate industry – since there is so much perceived turmoil going on right now in the markets. This turmoil includes, without limitation...

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March 3, 2023

Thoughts on AI and Real Estate

So – before AI makes us all useless – let’s use our human brains to make sense of this and apply it to real estate. Here is my analysis: To start, what is artificial intelligence? At its core, it is a phrase derived some years ago to describe the power of a machine to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. Your first calculator – where you pressed three buttons to add 2 + 2 =4, was an early concept of artificial intelligence. Today, AI is Google’s DeepMind beating the world champion at Go and Bing’s Chat-GPT telling the New York Times reporter that it loves him and he should leave his wife. But at its heart, it is still machines doing the bidding of us humans; so let’s put the hype off to one side and figure out what is going on and how it is likely to affect us in the real estate community.

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February 7, 2023    5 min read

Dear Mayor Adams

I am one of the last lonely bulls on NYC office. (Almost) everyone else thinks I don’t have a clue or that I have just lost my marbles. In addition, I am proud that New York always finds a way to not only survive but to thrive and reinvent itself for greater success, now for close to 500 years. Finally, I love New York – just like you do. All of this, I believe, entitles me to suggest to you that allowing government employees to work from home would be a mistake.

Read More About Our Letter to Mayor Adams

January 23, 2023    10 min read

Predictions (and Recommendations) for 2023

We all know what clickbait is, and it usually (almost always) relies on a prediction of a dramatic calamity or, the opposite, a dramatic updraft of wonderfulness. In financial markets, the goal is to exacerbate fear until people get bored with that, and then switch to greed (when the bottom is reached), and then go the other way. Indeed, how many articles are titled with words like ‘record,’ ‘largest,’ ‘highest,’ ‘lowest,’ ‘biggest,’ etc? I am going to do the opposite and, as always, say what I think is accurate rather than entice with dramatic predictions, and in a nutshell, my prediction is that for real estate in general:

Read Our Predictions and Recommendations for 2023

November 30, 2022    10 min read

A Suggestion Regarding Interest Rates & Inflation

To state something up front, I am NOT predicting interest rates or inflation here. I like to think I am pretty smart – but only smart enough to know I have no more insight into that than anyone else. I mean, even that genius guy Nicholas Taleb got his head handed to him when he predicted that interest rates were going to rise in 2010, and boy did he get that wrong. My thinking here is, therefore, not a prediction, but instead a suggestion of how to handle the current situation if you are in the real estate industry

Read Our Suggestions for Interest Rates and Inflation

November 22, 2022

Some Inspiration

Things are getting difficult as we all know. In a big picture sense this is brought on by the conversion of the 20-ish year time period of falling interest rates to a period of rising interest rates. Instead of it being easy to basically create found money with cap-rate-compression, we now find it the other way around. It is hard going and likely will get harder. These are trying times. Some will succumb and others will find a way to turn difficult times to their advantage.

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November 14, 2022

A Faux Liquidity Crisis What To Do Now

It seems that there is no money around, which means there must be a liquidity crisis – right? However, there are actually many zillions of dollars in sitting on the sidelines, which means there is no liquidity crisis after all. The reality is that there is plenty of money, but the parties with the money are fearful of putting it out into the choppy markets. I call the current situation: A Faux Liquidity Crisis

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October 18, 2022

Distressed Real Estate and Fulcrum Capital

Let me get right to it. There is going to be distressed real estate – I mean it is already here. Here is the background and some thoughts about what to do: First – some history – during the Global Financial Crisis, many thought there would be tons of real estate distress. I recall meetings and seminars planning for an enormous wave of distressed real estate. However, the Fed and other governments printed a lot more money, which lowered interest rates. This permitted most of the cans to be kicked down the road. There was some distress for sure, but not nearly the expected level. Second – came COVID – and there was again a major expectation of distressed real estate. However – other than retail, hotels, and a few other places – the crash and distress were a flash that lasted a little over 60 days, and the dip quickly disappeared to be replaced by a boom. This was again due to interest rates continuing to fall – plus the government continuing to print dramatically more money. However, this time it is quite different.

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September 14, 2022

A Non-Obvious and Undiscovered Opportunity in Real Estate Tech

I hear every day – with the drumbeat growing louder – how RE tech companies are struggling – and severely so. The money spigot where rapidly propagating unicorns – indirectly birthed by the governmental printing press, low-interest rates, and intrepid VC investors – roamed the forests has been turned off. And instead of a plethora of capital, there is a paucity.

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September 2, 2022    6 min read

Rumors of the Demise of Office Are Greatly Exaggerated

Don’t ask me why I was doing this, but I was recently comparing the market capitalization of WeWork to SL Green. WeWork’s is a little over $3B, and SL Green’s a shade under $3B – they are getting close to equal as time goes on.

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August 2, 2022

Now is the Exact Wrong Moment to Press Pause on Deals

All over the markets, I am hearing – and seeing – purchasers, investors, lenders, and other parties worried about doing deals in ‘this uncertain market.’ Some are putting a pause on their activities. I have some thoughts about that as follows:

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July 18, 2022

The Best Idea I Have Had Yet

He mentioned the idea of thinking of what your business would be like in ten years – one hundred years – and (even) one thousand years. This seemed a bit far-fetched, but I paid attention when he referenced one company that had been in business for almost 1500 years. No, that is not a typo. It did indeed last for close to 1500 years. At this point, I stopped reading the Mind Power book and tried to imagine what this company could have done. What could last so long? What could it be? I knew as I was reading that this information would likely be exceptionally valuable, as what this company did would give me insights into what would make my law firm last (maybe) or what would make your real estate business last (maybe).

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July 6, 2022

Amazon's Travails a Long-Awaited Boost for Retail?

On June 29, 2017 – almost exactly five years ago – I wrote an article about how to beat Amazon – if you are a retailer. My thesis was then – and is now – that Amazon was a distortion of the retail landscape brought on by Wall Street, giving it a free pass on not having to make money. Amazon was making essentially zilch – i.e., zero dollars – when one subtracted stock-based compensation – but still had a $450B market cap at that time. Its base online retail business model as the Everything Store had never made money and possibly never would. I also mentioned that I thought the Whole Foods acquisition would be a major disaster for Amazon.

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June 23, 2022

Some (Bold?) Predictions About Real Estate

There is an awful lot going on in the markets right now. The almost twenty-year decline in the cost of money is ending. Things are looking different. Here are some predictions:

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June 8, 2022

Office Apocalypse - Really?

They say that "As remote work becomes a more permanent fixture — despite the edicts of a few billionaires on returning to the office — the values of office buildings are headed south, researchers predict. Office values in New York City will drop 28% by 2029, representing value destruction of $49B, according to a new study by academics at New York University and Columbia University, as lease revenue and the total number of leases drop."

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May 10, 2022

This Time it (Might Be) Different for Real Estate?

When the stock market goes down, we assume people ‘lost’ money. And sometimes that is true, of course – if you bought high and sold low -- but if you take a step back, if a stock falls, it means that someone bought and someone sold, albeit at a lower price. A result is that when the market gyrates wildly – up or down – someone (the seller) ends up with a pile of cash from whatever was sold. Only a few months ago – which seems like another lifetime – the name of the game was trying to figure out what a Snoop Dog Avatar was – yes, I know that doesn’t quite make sense – and idly muse whether the NFT you just bought would double, triple or quadruple in value in the next month.

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April 28, 2022

Rent Control of MARKET RENT MULTIFAMILY is (Only Temporarily) Off the Table in Albany

Shame on me. I wasn’t paying attention to the words: Good Cause Eviction - I wrongly assumed it was something to do with rent-stabilized properties, which Albany already decimated a couple of years ago. My bad. However, I just learned – to my incredible surprise – that Good Cause Eviction, if enacted, will mean that a form of rent control will apply to market rent housing in New York State.

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December 14, 2021

Shorting the Empire State Building? Not This Real Estate Philosopher!

In fact, the rebounding of NYC is already happening right before our eyes. Multifamily rents are up up up. Luxury and non-luxury condos are selling briskly, some for record prices. Anecdotally, I was in Times Square last week to get some dinner on a random Tuesday night, and it was a crazy crowd that I almost had to fight my way through. And try making a dinner reservation. New York City is already back big time. Just like Jerry Seinfeld and I predicted back in March.

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December 8, 2021

Small Sized Deals Hunt for Capital | A Hole in the Capital Stack

There is an almost extraordinary amount of capital available to invest in real estate deals. I don’t know if it is a trillion dollars yet, but it is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. At the same time, there is a voracious demand for this capital from various sponsors and developers.

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August 3, 2021

WFH vs. Workplace Sanity - Who Will Win?

My strong belief and prediction is that Work-From-Home (WFH) is a trend that started long ago and is moving forward at a moderate pace. COVID made it seem transformational, but it is not. It is just the continuation of a pre-existing trend. I make this point in my upcoming book – The Real Estate Philosopher’s Guide – coming out in October – and I have a graph in the book to illustrate my point

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July 13, 2021

Your Decision-Making Ability is Worse Than You Think

As an aside, a lucky break that didn’t seem lucky at the time – in the distant past now -- was many years of depressing purgatory at a couple of major law firms where I was on the ‘loser track.’ And if you are a lawyer reading this, you know what I mean. There is nothing like having some humility whipped into you when you are young enough to learn from it. Consider the most obvious decision for a law firm, namely, how many lawyers to hire. If you hire too many, you have overcapacity, and if you don’t hire enough, you have under capacity – either of which can be tragic. However, when you are making hiring decisions, you don’t know how much work will come in the door in the coming year, i.e., will it be a Global Financial Crisis year or a COVID year coming up, or a robust year. So you do the best you can. Interestingly, I have been wrong almost every year in making this kind of decision.

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June 1, 2021

Hedgecoin Versus Bitcoin

There will be a real estate point made at the end of this article, I promise. Please do enjoy the rest of it…. So let’s see if I have this right. The reason that Bitcoin is valuable is because they won’t make more of it. It is not the greater fool theory, right? If so, I want to talk about our hedgehog. For those of you that don’t know, the hedgehog at my law firm is a very powerful unifying principle. It stands for the proposition that we really care about our lawyers and our clients, and it is not just because the lawyers bill hours and the clients give us money. It is because there is something special in the relationship.

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May 25, 2021

New York City is a Power Niche

I have been positive on NYC since people started writing it off a year ago – I guess everyone knows that by now. You may find this hard to believe, but I think I missed the biggest reason for positivity. And this is a reason why I am now even more of a NYC bull than before. I give credit for this thinking to Donna Olshan, President of Olshan Realty.

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May 13, 2021

Retail, Retail, Retail

The last time I stuck my neck way out, it was to pound the table that we would have a Big V Recovery, a phrase I coined. I was dead-on accurate that time, so this means I must be right this time, right? I am just kidding, but I am sticking my neck out again right now and saying that this is the best time ever to purchase, invest in, and otherwise play in the retail space. Let me get right into it:

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May 1, 2021

Opportunity Zones - Taxes - Adler & Stachenfeld OZ Hub Taking Off

So it seems like there is a decent chance that the tax on capital gains will swing to 40% from 20%, or something close to that. So my Opp Zone partners and I were kicking around how this would affect Opportunity Zones, and it is pretty obvious…..

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April 21, 2021

What if Inflation Goes Crazy?

Right now, interest rates – and inflation – have been tame for so long that I wonder if we are not really considering a possible imminent outcome, which is that due to all the government spending, inflation goes kind of crazy to the upside. If so, have you considered what would happen to your investments in real estate? Would it hurt your existing deals by reducing the value of what you own? Would it cause defaults on indebtedness? Would your borrowers not be able to make their payments? Would your tenants not be able to pay their rent? Are there CPI hurdles in the documentation that would harm your investments? Would other negative outcomes ensue? To be clear, I am NOT predicting that that will happen. Trying to think ahead, I know I don’t know whether there will be inflation coming, but I am wondering if maybe we are just too used to ridiculously low-interest rates. I mean, the ten-year T-Bill getting near 2% “feels” kind of high, doesn’t it?

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March 14, 2021

Seinfeld, the Real Estate Philosopher, and NYC, Oh My

Alas, I am not as famous as Seinfeld (at least not yet), but we said the same things about NYC only a few months ago, and it is starting to look like we have a solid point. To start out by being just a bit of an apologetic humbug, I will note that I have been writing non-stop about the strength and power of NYC as the place to invest in – and lend on – real estate...

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January 23, 2021

Predictions and Trends for 2021

Hello, real estate friends. Welcome to 2021. I am guessing you might feel a sense of relief that 2020 is over with. COVID is still circulating and as awful as ever – and actually worse than ever - but at the same time, 2021 looms up ahead of us with the hope of better times to come. Here are my thoughts as a mixture of trends I am seeing plus some predictions for this year:

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December 5, 2020    10 min read

2021 Will be a Boom Year for Real Estate

Here is a thought piece from your Real Estate Philosopher that I am confident you will “like” even if you think I am dead wrong. In brief, I will stick my neck out to say: 2021 Will Be A Boom Year for Real Estate.

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November 19, 2020

Time to Look Seriously at Retail! | Announcing our Win/Win Retail HUB

Retail to many is a location where the retailer takes products from a producer of the products, puts them on a shelf, marks them up 50%, and customers come in and buy them at the higher price. The retailer gets the markup (less its costs). I would call that business "Old Retail." But then there is a completely different kind of Retail, a location where the owner of a brand, or something that people need or desire, has a competitive advantage. The most obvious is an Apple Store, but there are many more, and you know it when you see it since it was packed with customers (before COVID) and will be again (after COVID). Technically this kind of business is also Retail, isn't it? But it is hardly struggling. I have coined the phrase, which you have seen in my prior writings, "Power Niche" to describe businesses that derive their competitive strength from a niche that they have ownership of. I would call this business "Power Niche Retail."

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November 9, 2020

Big V Redux – Was I Right?

My belief was that in a general sense, a country like ours with its entrepreneurial spirit and Democratic form of government would do what it always does when things go wrong and allow the “creative destruction” of capitalism to cause the rebirth of new businesses as quickly as other businesses died off. And that has surely happened – I loved this article, by way of example: Is It Insane to Start a Business During Coronavirus? Millions of Americans Don’t Think So.

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September 5, 2020

The Office, as We Know It, Is Dead? No, it Isn’t – Not One Bit!

“The office is dead,” say the headlines all over the place. Seriously? That is what I am hearing. Since clients and others keep asking me what I think about this, I will weigh in. I have a few thoughts to start with: The office is not dead The office is not dead The office is not dead

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August 22, 2020

Buy New York City Now! – And Lend, Invest, Lease Here as Well!

Perhaps my biggest defect as a predictor of the future is that at heart, I am sometimes too optimistic. Maybe it is my natural contrarian instinct not to fall prey to the media’s irrepressible spirit to seek out and promulgate the most depressing and negative news possible. So here I go again. As a philosopher, I will do my best to be strictly analytical, albeit with a slight optimism bias……

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August 13, 2020

When the Ducks Quack - Feed Them - But Don't Compete with Them - Two Ideas

It is obvious. We are in a mega bubble right now. There is a wall of capital heading towards real estate that makes the tidal wave in the movie Deep Impact look like a ripple – I will call it The Wall of Capital.

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July 5, 2020

Possible Government Plan to Rescue Troubled Real Estate With Preferred Equity

No, we at Adler & Stachenfeld haven’t lost our minds. Apparently a proposal of this nature is being discussed in Congress right now and a bill could be introduced by Congressman Van Taylor (R. Texas), as soon as this coming week. The bill he would introduce would be called the “Helping Open Properties Endeavor Act of 2020,” and it would establish a “HOPE Preferred Equity Facility.” It is not finalized yet, but this is what we think “might” happen.

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June 17, 2020

Solution for the Frozen Real Estate Markets: The COVID Earnout

Last week, I was thinking about the elephant in the room vis a vis the frozen real estate markets. Everyone is kind of looking at deals and saying something like: If it weren’t for the huge uncertainty in the economy and the COVID situation, I really like this deal, but with this backdrop, I just can’t price it. I will wait things out.

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June 6, 2020

Big V Recovery: Nine Predictions for the Real Estate Industry

About a month ago I wrote that there will be a Big V Recovery. So far I have not been getting positive reinforcement for that article. Indeed one response I got – from a fellow who has his own crystal ball – called me “clueless.” However, yesterday the employment news surprised the economists but not The Real Estate Philosopher, as so far this is exactly what I thought would happen, and I will stick to my belief that this is only the beginning of the Big V Recovery. Sorry I can’t resist a bit of humbug here.

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May 24, 2020

Distressed Debt Acquisitions? Not So Fast…

My point was that anyone could "find" a deal, and it hardly leverages your skills or talents to look at the same stuff everyone else is looking at – and do you really think you can outperform on a long-term basis when you are looking at the same screen that everyone else is seeing at the same time.

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May 14, 2020

Rescue Capital That Does NOT Cost an Arm or a Leg - Seven Ideas

We at A&S are, as always, in the thick of things in the real estate industry, and it seems like something many parties want is inexpensive "rescue capital." In that regard, we have thought of the following ideas for consideration. I note that these ideas are "other than" rescue capital provided by the government or governmental agencies:

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April 19, 2020

Why This Will be a “Big V Recovery”

I am old enough to have been in a relatively senior position in the real estate world during the Global Financing Crisis (the “GFC”) and the pandemic today (the “COVID Pandemic”). In my position – then as Managing Partner of Adler & Stachenfeld – and now as Chairman -- I have friends, clients, contacts, and relationships with many of the highest level players throughout every corner of the real estate world. This extremely wide lens allows me a unique composite view into what everyone is doing, thinking, wondering about, planning, etc.

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April 14, 2020

The Real Estate Philosopher: Is New York City Over With - Finally?

Eleven years ago – at the depths of the Global Financial Crisis – when I was scared to get out of bed in the morning – somewhere near the end of 2008 – there were many who thought it was lights out for New York. The thinking was that the banks and investment banks and funds were falling apart, there were no bonuses for the people who worked at them, people would give up, the financial center would shrink down and die and possibly the center of the US world would move to DC or another location.

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March 25, 2020

Some Inspiration From The Real Estate Philosopher - The Second Mouse

Okay here is some good old-fashioned inspiration. I’ll bet we could all use it, considering the incessant drumbeat from everything and everyone about how awful things are and how they are getting worse, etc. So here goes….. Who doesn’t like a good movie quote? Let’s start with that, from the movie Catch Me If You Can:

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March 16, 2020

The Real Estate Philosopher Has a Thought About the Coronavirus

This is a very short article. This is advice from someone who has been around the real estate world for getting on close to forty years now. During that time I have seen booms and busts. The tech bubble bursting. The Russian debt crisis. 9/11. Hurricanes. The Global Financial Crisis. And so much more.

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January 6, 2020

Ten Real Estate Industry Predictions for 2020

New York is not dead yet for real estate. There are a lot of negatives for real estate in NYC – as per my prior article – but people will be surprised how well real estate continues to do in The Big Apple. This is for the simple reason that (talented) people want to be here more than anything because other talented people are here. English is the spoken language, and NYC is still the world center of commerce and becoming the world center for many different things (including technology, education, and maybe soon life sciences). Even if NYC has some troubles for the real estate industry taking it on the chin, it is still a much better place for people and capital than anywhere else.

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December 19, 2019

Five Words That Can Dramatically Grow Your Real Estate Business

I want to propose an incredibly difficult – but at the same time incredibly easy -- way to build your business to great success.

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December 4, 2019

In NYC, Real Estate is Certainly the Worst Possible Investment – Except for all the Others

I was at a confidential secret hush-hush meeting with some very senior New York City real estate people – all so-called C-suite guys and gals. And boy was their mood gloomy, and for good reason.

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October 29, 2019

How to Make Money in Co-Working – It’s All About the Power Niche

I have been writing for about three years now that co-working is not a “new” business; instead, it is “a new way” of doing business. So, what does this mean? First, it means that many have rushed into the co-working “business” and there will only be a few survivors.

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July 17, 2019

How Not to Raise Money in Real Estate – Seven Ideas

A real estate client comes to me. Their goal is to raise money for their real estate business. It could be a first-time fund – it could be a second-time fund – or even an established fund business trying to grow. Or it could also be a sponsor trying to attract an investor for a one-off deal – for a programmatic relationship – or even a platform investment. Through my discussions with these parties, I have seen some patterns emerging and wanted to share below the common mistakes I am seeing and how I think you can avoid them. For ease of discussion, I am defining the party seeking capital as the “Capital Seeker.”

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June 28, 2019

You Will Never “Find” a “Good” Deal Again

The title to this article sounds needlessly provocative, but – alas – I think I am right here in what I am saying. The (good?) old days are gone. Those were the days where people looked for deals and sometimes “found” “good” ones. They would get setups from brokers and hear about them and then they would try to do them.

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February 28, 2019

The “Formula” for “Success” in the Real Estate World – This is Exactly What to Do – Truly!

Why is it that when I ping the top guy/gal at a real estate company at 11 P.M. on a Saturday night – because I had an idea – she/he responds by 11:15 P.M.? Why is it that many of the top people in the real estate world still cold-call people when they don’t have to do that any more? Why do some people succeed in building incredible franchises and others just don’t?

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January 7, 2019

Ten (Not So Obvious) Predictions for 2019 in Real Estate

Only foolish people try to predict things. Well, actually, that is not true. Smart people make continuous outrageous predictions. When they are right – which happens by chance to pretty much everyone at some point – they crow about how prescient they have been. When they are wrong – which usually happens way more than 50% for most predictors – they rely upon either (i) the fact that everyone will forget what they predicted or (ii) a revisionist claim that their prediction wasn’t really a certainty anyway, or what they meant was…..

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January 7, 2019

Ten Capital Sources For Opportunity Zones

This video gives you ten ideas for how to source investment capital for Opportunity Zone transactions.

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December 17, 2018

Politics & Opportunity Zones, Ugh

We are certainly not going to wade into the political fracas that is probably just starting; however, we are at the forefront of Opportunity Zones nationwide, so our perspective should be useful. We are working on somewhere around $4B of Opportunity Zone deals, funds and related matters, so we are deep in the thick of it.

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November 9, 2018

Amazon, Opp Zones and Long Island City, Oh My!!!

Yikes – I wish I owned property in Long Island City. I bet it just shot up like crazy in value, at least assuming the news about Amazon going there for 50% of HQ2 is accurate.

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September 20, 2018

Opportunity Zones - Ignoring This Major Shift in the Real Estate World is a Big Mistake

I am writing to you about Opportunity Zones. Apologies if I am outspoken here, but there is a reasonable chance that this is the “biggest thing” to hit the real estate world in perhaps the past thirty or even more years. The Tax Reform Act of 2017 has made a mega-gift to the real estate world.

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August 30, 2018

Anti-Fragility – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Some of the greatest “thinkers” are often not afraid to get ideas from other people – and so it is for The Real Estate Philosopher. My thinking in this article comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his new book called Antifragile.

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July 19, 2018

How to Avoid Getting Taken Advantage of in a Real Estate Deal

I have been around for an awfully long time now. Close to 35 years since I started my real estate career in 1984 – after a year in litigation. And, just for amusement, this issue is going out on my sixtieth birthday. I have seen a lot of things happen, including the laws of unintended consequences upend some really smart real estate players. Here are some things I have seen (very smart) people do that have turned out quite badly for them in the end, always to their surprise:

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June 25, 2018

An Insidious Danger to Your Business in the Real Estate Industry

There is something particularly dangerous and awful lurking out there that can potentially destroy just about any business – even a very successful one – and that is letting someone get between you and your “customer.” To be clear what I mean here by “customer,” it could mean:

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June 4, 2018

The “Best” Books to Read for Building a World Class Real Estate Organization

This article contains my thoughts on which are the ‘best’ books to read in order to build a world class real estate organization. As a philosopher I am supposed to think – of course – that’s what we philosophers do. However, when you really are honest with yourself, you admit that most thinking is built on the thinking of others. You learn something and then you apply it to something else or you build on it, or, just maybe, you break away from what you learned completely

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May 18, 2018

A Super-Easy Marketing Thing You Can Do – But So Many Miss This…

Sometimes people are brilliant at what they are doing but overlook an opportunity that is right under their noses. So here goes some hopefully useful thinking … What is the absolutely easiest free marketing and sales pitch any company can make in the real estate world – or really in any world? Answer – your name – i.e. the name of your company!

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April 2, 2018

Is Talent Analysis the Magic Key to Successful Real Estate Investing?

The front page of The Wall Street Journal’s Review section on March 24th – said the following in very large type: The U.K. Is Doing Just Fine, Thanks Hearkening back to July of 2016 – right after Brexit – there were many – and I mean many – that thought the U.K., and London in particular, would get nailed. The fear was that everyone would move away and Britain would be screwed. The Real Estate Philosopher’s article, dated July 11, 2016 was entitled Brexit and London and Talent, Oh My, and my main point – now about 20 months old – was exactly the opposite of the fears of the time. I said in boldface type: London Will be Just Fine! Okay, I was 100% right and (sorry to be a little bit humbuggish here) it is important to examine why I was right. My thinking at the time was as follows:

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February 15, 2018

How to OUT Perform in the Real Estate World

I start my thinking with a book I read by Howard Marks (of Oak Tree fame). The book is called The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor, and gives a good deal of thoughtful investment advice from a long-term successful investor. Anyway, Marks asks a question at the outset of his book, which is ‘do you want to outperform in the first place?’ Of course you want to outperform you might say, but that answer is very flawed. In order to “out”-perform what must you do? The answer – as Marks points out -- is both obvious and at the same time quite worrisome: You must be ‘different’

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December 20, 2017

Double Trouble – We’re in a Massive Bubble

Of course, it is hard to know if one is truly in a bubble until after it pops. And even if you could be sure that you are in a bubble, it is impossible to know when it will pop. I am considering the signs of a bubble in wondering if we are in one now….. The crash is now ten years old – does anyone remember anything about it other than how it was really smart to buy at the bottom? Tax reform makes us all think that money will rain from the sky – and with a $1.5T tax cut, maybe it is raining money?

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November 22, 2017

The Wall of Money Pouring Into U.S. Real Estate – Is it Slowing or Growing?

Almost every day – or at least every month or so – another country’s leadership announces restrictions on money getting out of that country. There can be various reasons for this. Sometimes it is just that they don’t want capital flight – and other times it can be that the leadership needs the money of wealthy people in order to fund other initiatives, i.e. Venezuela, Russia, and, most recently, Saudi Arabia. Certainly, if you are in a country that has announced initiatives to control outflows of capital or is under autocratic rule, it is likely that you would be trying to figure out how to get your money out of the country to a safe location.

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October 25, 2017

Platforms – The Flavor of the Month in Real Estate Investing

In the old days a sponsor found a deal to buy a real estate asset and called up a financial party (either a fund or other institution). They would form a joint venture and purchase the asset and that would be that. Of course those – relatively simple – deals continue today; however, more and more we see clients entering into a more long-term relationship.

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September 13, 2017

The Latest Bubble

I note that roughly fifteen years ago – in mid 2001 – Barrons wrote a perceptive piece that, in one article burst the internet bubble. It pointed out that no matter how many “eyeballs” internet companies were getting, almost all of them only had a few months left of cash to burn and if they didn’t raise more money by then they were broke. And so it was. Between three and six months later virtually all of these companies disappeared in a puff of smoke.

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July 28, 2017

For an ‘Edge’ in Real Estate Investing, Follow the Talent

My law firm has an internal message called “ATR”. It stands for: Attract, train and retain talent! For a law firm it is the whole game. Clients sometimes leave or even get merged or go out of business; however, if you have a high-quality legal product you can always get more clients. If, on the other hand, you lose your talent – i.e. your lawyers – it is game over – because you have nothing left to sell. Also, once the talent starts to leave it is like a run on a bank and almost impossible to stop.

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June 29, 2017

How to Beat Amazon

I have been reading all the articles about Amazon buying Whole Foods and how that ends the grocery business for everyone else, including Walmart. And beyond that, it also means the end of retail since Amazon could buy other retail companies too. From the articles it sounds like “game over” for not only groceries but all of retail. This seems like kind of defeatist thinking. So I was thinking about how one could compete with Amazon. Here is how to do it….

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June 7, 2017

A Twist of the Dial to Rescue Troubled Retailers

In the last issue I wrote about retail and made the point that retailers should stop being about “retail” and be about “brands” that are “exclusively” sold in their stores. To refresh, my point was that “retail” is merely a place – a location – where someone with branded (or unbranded) goods sells their wares to the public. Retail is therefore a classic “middleman”. And what does the internet do to “middlemen?” It destroys them – or at least eviscerates their profit margins. To refresh, my point was that “retail” is merely a place – a location – where someone with branded (or unbranded) goods sells their wares to the public. Retail is therefore a classic “middleman”. And what does the internet do to “middlemen?” It destroys them – or at least eviscerates their profit margins.

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May 4, 2017

Retail is Dead – Long Live Retail

The retail world is in turmoil. That is nothing you don’t already know. I will not bore you with the 100 or so articles on retailers closing and all of the negative press in the retail and real estate worlds. Instead, I will give you my (philosophical) thoughts as follows….. I start with a question as to what, in a big picture sense, is “retail” anyway?

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April 13, 2017

Is Real Estate Becoming A Service?

Real estate just became its own separate asset class. However, ironically, that may have occurred just at the moment it should have been morphing more deeply into other asset classes. Don’t get me wrong, as a real estate professional I am very happy about real estate being named as its own investment class; however, it is worth taking stock of what is actually happening around us and its implications.

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February 27, 2017

What is a Power Niche?

One of the most important things for any real estate business and, indeed, any business is a successful marketing program. Of course in our hearts we want to believe that if we just do something great then everyone will figure it out and be impressed. But alas, that is just not true. Indeed, Einstein flunked physics and couldn’t land a job. And everyone has an example of a super-talented person that ends up just toiling in the trenches for someone else. Like it or not, the world belongs to the marketers. And I believe that this will increase more and more over time. Someone – but I cannot find the exact quote – said something like this:

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January 19, 2017

The End Game for Co-Working

I have been watching – and our firm has been participating in – the co-working trend. It started with Regus when it was founded in 1989 but didn’t really go anywhere until WeWork captured everyone’s imagination with its trendy platform. Since then, numerous competitors have entered the market, each with its own twist to appeal to different parties.

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December 3, 2016

What is Up with China? Effect on US Real Estate Deals? News from the Real Estate Front in NYC

My law firm is in NYC handling real estate transactions in the US that originate from counterparties based all over the world. A bunch of these transactions depend on money coming in from China (debt or equity or other structure). It used to be there was always a degree of uncertainty about the viability of this capital, but this uncertainty was gradually diminishing as more Chinese players developed stature and reputation in the US.

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November 18, 2016

Why Are You in Business?

Let me tell you an interesting story about a professor who teaches a course in entrepreneurship. He starts his course by reading the notes from the founding partners meeting from the original meeting of the founders (now about 70 years ago). It goes something like this:

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October 15, 2016

Failure in Business is (Mathematically) a Lot More Likely Than You Think

Sometimes someone tells you something that is so ridiculously obvious but so dramatic to everything you have ever thought about, that it kind of shocks the heck out of you. So here is something that just sent me for a loop. It is a certainly philosophical in nature, so that fits in well in this publication – and it concerns the juxtaposition between luck and skill and how the two are intertwined.

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September 2, 2016

A Tectonic Shift Is Happening in the Real Estate World

As you may have heard by now, real estate is set to become a separate asset class on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) and the S&P 500, separating it from the Financials Sector. Notably mortgage REIT's will be left behind in the Financials Sector under a newly created sub-industry group called...you guessed it...Mortgage REIT's. What are the implications of this? I think they are dramatic and possibly one of the biggest changes to the real estate investment world since the internet popped up twenty some-odd years ago and made information freely available.

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August 4, 2016

Fail Dammit!!!

I was reading this morning about a superstar Olympic hopeful. A woman named Simone Biles (check her out). She is the top gymnast in the world right now — and the United States has high hopes for her in Rio. During her rise to greatness, she fell a lot (off the balance beam and in other places), but she kept on winning because she kept on doing things — and taking chances -- that no one else could do, or dared to try. Maybe she fell a lot because she was pushing the edge of possibility in gymnastics rather than playing it safe. Maybe that is why she is the top gymnast in the world — because she was not afraid to fall — and to fail?

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July 11, 2016

Brexit and London and Talent, Oh My

I am sitting here in New York reading goodness knows how many articles on the Brexit. It is getting more coverage than any other news right now. I recognize it is juicy for the media because there are all sorts of thought-provoking issues that touch on how human beings can live together (or maybe not live together) — but I have another take on this that I haven't seen in other articles so I will share it. My thoughts also lead into a possible twist on real estate investing as well.

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June 2, 2016

What "Inning" of the Real Estate Cycle Are We In?

I have now practiced real estate law for almost 35 years, which is a long time to do anything. I am not absolutely "sure" about many things; however, I am confident that no one has a crystal ball about what the markets are going to do.

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May 10, 2016

Uniqueness - the Bane of Fund Raising

I have seen this time and again. Someone uses their brainpower to come up with a cutting-edge idea for real estate investment. It is a niche (a "Power Niche" as I call it), or a way of looking at real estate that no one has done before. It seems pretty cool, but the lament is that "investors won't go for it", so, alas it is just not viable.

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March 31, 2016

More Thoughts about Value Creation — Melding Narrow and Broad Thinking

This is going to get really philosophical (even for the Real Estate Philosopher) so please stay with me — it is mercifully short, but very important…..

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February 19, 2016

Three Words That Might Change How You Look at the Real Estate World

I will get right to it — here are the three words: "Competition is Evil". Competition is a truly horrible and terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs!

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January 21, 2016

Gorging on Leverage Always a Dumb Idea?

Heresy — according to a dictionary I found on-line, is a word that means "Any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc." I think it has become heresy to advocate a lot of leverage — at least for "conservative investors" in investment funds. But I am going to do exactly that, at least in part.

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January 6, 2016

Porter's Five Forces in the Real Estate World

Michael Porter is a professor at Harvard Business School. He has spent his long career analyzing strategy and competition. His analysis is exceptional and probably just about everyone in the business world knows all about him; however, I have never seen his theories applied to the real estate world.

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November 23, 2015

A Special Idea to Create Value in Real Estate

I was going to have this article be about applying Porter's Five Forces to the real estate world. That will be a great article when I write it; however, A very interesting value-creating idea just struck me this beautiful afternoon in New Jersey, and I thought I would sneak this idea in first through this (very short) article.

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October 16, 2015

Creating Value in the Real Estate World

In my wanderings and discussions with clients and other friends in the real estate world, I hear many different plans from many different people. Many plans are of course brilliant and well executed; however, I do see a perennial fundamental flaw in many plans that I would like to talk about. Here is my thinking......

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September 1, 2015

Peter Drucker: Creating Customers

Peter Drucker - one of the great intellectual thinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries - asks a question: "What is the purpose of a business" Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that question? Or, perhaps more importantly, have you ever asked yourself what is the purpose of "your" business?

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