Monday, December 3, 2012

Why do I need a Technology Specialized Broker?

Have you ever tried to find a Commercial Real Estate agent that understands the specialized needs of technology companies? Do you know what these needs are?

In my prior life of selling technology products and services, I encountered technology-reliant organizations who hadn't considered technology ramifications when selecting space to lease or purchase. The impact was often substantial... Have you ever seen a broadcaster go down because a carrier's (old) fiber developed microbreaks? Or have you ever seen a technology company whose offices are across town from most of their collaborative partners? How about an online gaming company who finds out 45 days before move-in that their new facility is not fed by any communications fiber? I have seen all of these... and more.

Each of these situations could have been avoided IF the organizations had worked with a real estate broker who understood the key technology factors affecting real estate. The problem is that such agents are not common.

For the record, the biggest of the key technology factors are communications, power, and people. Contrary to common perception, communications fiber does NOT reach all buildings (much less all areas) in a city, robust / diverse power CAN be had if one knows how to look for it, and geographic knowledge corridors DO evolve.

So which companies should seek a technology-savvy broker? To keep it simple, don't look at the name of the organization - just ask a few key questions. Organizations who answer "yes" to more than one of the questions below should seek a broker who understands technology:
- Do phone, data, or power outages impact your profits?
- Do you require large information “pipes” to move data to other facilities?
- Do you rely upon technical people to develop or manufacture products?
- Is the movement of data time-sensitive?  In other words, if you have to wait until later to do it, are there financial ramifications?

You may be thinking, "I don't really need technology-savvy broker because I have consultants who look at those factors." I'll share three thoughts on that point. First, you'll have a much smoother experience if your broker speaks your consultants' language and can work with them in evaluating these specialized factors. Second, your consultants are charging you for their time, while your real estate broker should cost you nothing out of pocket (the landlord typically pays his/her fees). You do the math. Finally, your real estate broker's job is to know the area and to find you the right building... wouldn't it be better if they can attack that task by partnering with your consultant rather than having to lean on them?

And what is the reward for taking the extra time to find a tech-savvy broker? It's simple - peace of mind.  You can rest in the knowledge that your new space won't come with any ugly surprises.  No unavailable fiber, no regular power outages, and no cross-town drives to get to organizations that should be nearby.

If you don't know of such an agent, feel free to call.  I'll help you determine if you really need one and, if you do, tell you who I may know in your area.

Here's to your success!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What does BGC's acquisition of Grubb mean?

What does the Grubb acquisition mean?
A common question I'm hearing at the moment is, “What does BGC Partners’ acquisition of Grubb & Ellis mean to end users?” It’s a great question, and I'm excited to have great answers – particularly this early in the merger process. The key impacts to clients will come in the areas of tools, presence, service offerings, and financial resources.

Change 1: The Name
The most immediate change is the name. Call a Grubb & Ellis office and you’ll now be greeted with the name “Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.” The Newmark Knight Frank part of the name comes from the other real estate brokerage firm BGC has acquired in the past year. Bringing these two very different firms together allows BGC to take the best ideas, people and practices from both firms, merge them with BGC’s own expertise, and create a completely new firm with completely fresh perspectives.

Change 2: Tools
As a financial services organization, BGC Partners has a rich history of data analysis leading to actionable findings. Similarly, Newmark Knight Frank’s Corporate Services division has invested heavily to create unusually powerful real estate analysis tools. These intelligent approaches to business have already begun to impact the the new Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF) organization. An example is the NGKF real estate management platform, an extremely sophisticated client platform allowing real-time access to amazing amounts of data and (most impressively) allowing decision-makers to quickly run “what if” scenarios to determine how best to achieve their objectives. Budget reviews, portfolio analyses, client/owner footprint pairings, space utilization scenarios, square feet by product, Class A versus Class B profitability analysis… it’s all possible on a real-time basis.

Change 3: Presence
Grubb & Ellis was primarily a domestic firm with roughly 100 offices. BGC’s acquisition of Newmark Knight Frank gave them a real estate presence in 300 offices spread across 5 continents and a workforce of more than 8,000. The new domestic Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF) presence appears in the map below.
The Newmark Grubb Knight Frank domestic presence

Change 4: Service Offerings
In addition to technology-based tools such as the previously-mentioned real estate management platform, the combined NGKF organization offers consulting in the areas of operations, portfolio strategies, workplace strategies, business processes, location optimization, and account management in areas such as transaction management, global program management, governance program development, and facilities management. Capitalization will be another particularly strong area due to to BGC Partners’ close ties to investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald (see the following paragraph). Alone, Grubb & Ellis and Newmark Knight Frank offered many of these services within their respective footprints and areas of strength. Together with BGC, they bring best-of-breed solutions to all parts of the globe.

Change 5: Financial Depth
BGC Partners is a publicly-traded company led by Chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick. Lutnick is also the Chairman and CEO of privately-held Cantor Fitzgerald (, a prominent and highly successful investment bank and brokerage firm. BGC Partners’ 2011 revenues of $1.44B include only 3 months of Newmark Knight Frank results. With the Grubb & Ellis addition, one can only expect BGC Partners’ revenues to climb. To clients, this strength should give confidence that BGC Partners’ real estate companies have the financial depth and diversification to address any storms that the economy may bring.

In Conclusion
Grubb & Ellis, Newmark Knight Frank, and BGC Partners all have strong and well-respected histories in their respective areas of expertise. Bringing them together in a single real estate platform creates a one-stop solution to address healthcare organizations’ comprehensive needs, and the I am proud to be a part of it all. To better understand what it could mean to your organization, feel free to call or email me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Areas Eligible for Tax Incentives

Atlanta's 2012 Less Developed Census Tract (LDCT) areas are out, and they include a number of areas not previously eligible. What this means to business (and property) owners is that the occupants of certain properties can gain a tax credit as high as $3,500 per new job if a number of criteria are met.
  • Property Owners: You'll want to include this information in your property marketing to attract tenants and buyers.
  • Tenants: You'll want to work with a tenant representative who "gets it" so you're positioned to take advantage. To get it, the agent needs to understand the credits and their geography, AND have connections with the state and consultants to insure that any business decisions are reliable.
Gwinnett County's new map appears to the right... you'll see that their LDCT is a major piece of Norcross. (Thanks to Gwinnett economic development for making this information available)

Feel free to reach out for more information or to discuss the specifics of your situation. I've worked with this tax credit on several occasions and am happy to advise... $3,500 per new job can add up quickly if your enterprise is growing!

Monday, January 2, 2012


A few of John's transactions from the past 12 months appear below. Please be patient with this section... it's very much under construction as he works to build his blog while managing ongoing client needs!

Tenant Representation
Sample 1:  Represented a globally-recognized gaming company in a 40,000 SF office lease.  This transaction involved an extremely intensive search, engagements with state and local tax and economic development experts, a multi-floor building renovation, and significant legal negotiations.  While the details of the contract cannot be disclosed, we can report that the client is very satisfied with their arrangment!

Sample 2:  Represented an Atlanta-based financial services organization that does business in 18 states. This was a 25,000 SF complex sublease transaction involving significant monthly rents, a large amount of personal property, and construction modifications. The client has since engaged John to represent them nationally.

Sample 3:  Represented a startup division of an established Canadian software company as they established their first office in the United States.  This was a 10,000 SF sublease involving technology infrastructure assessments, personal property transfers, and a direct lease that begins with the expiration of the sublease term.

Sample 4:  Represented a healthcare tenant in a 22,000 SF free-standing office lease in the Atlanta suburbs. This same tenant engaged John in this lease after seeing what John was able to accomplish in a 5,000 SF retail transaction on their behalf elsewhere.

Landlord Representation
Represent multiple office, light industrial, and medical property owners in lease transactions.  Sample properties include:
  • Multiple 10,000 SF sublease spaces in Class A office buildings
  • An 8,000 SF space in a single-story Class B office building.
  • An 11,000 SF, two-tenant light industrial building.
Buyer and Seller Representation
Experienced in working with both buyers and sellers through multiple millions of dollars worth of transactions... through some VERY tough markets for selling buildings.  Samples of completed sales include:
  • A 14,000 SF Flex building
  • A 14,000 SF office building
  • A 15,000 SF industrial building
  • A 6,000 SF shell-condition office building
  • A 35,000 SF office building, including a full projections for a gut-and-rebuild