Economy: The Road Trip of 2009


This year I will remember as the year of our extended “Spring & Summer Tour” to visit with our most valuable clients, and to nurture future client prospects. So far, it has stretched from New York, Boston, Hartford and Washington DC to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and with colleagues joining me in Chicago. In addition, I personally re-visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai and made a first visit to Oman and Kuwait.

The atmosphere at all the meetings was filled with a common thread of “braving the current storm”. The combined investment of these clients represented hundreds of billions of dollars worth of commercial real estate portfolios. Each agreed they have not experienced similar conditions since the early nineties. All had a clear focus of the challenge for their respective organization, but also articulated, with real ingenuity, how they remembered the transference to wealth making opportunities during the time period from 1995 to 1999. Nearly all of the discussions centered on the need for new sources of debt to replace the stagnant CMBS marketplace; the challenge of $1.4 trillion of debt maturities in the next five years, and how to be positioned to take advantage of the inevitable distressed assets that will work their way through the system.

As I reviewed the six month report from Real Capital Analytics it is a sobering realization that a 2009 home sale in Lake Forest, at $7.5 million, exceeds most commercial “investment sales” in our Metro.

There is an insatiable need, from your clients for a return to a real pricing model reflecting current valuations, and an exchange of market perspective.

As I reflect back on our “Tour” it reminded me of the classic United Airlines commercial, that many of you will remember, with the opening line “I heard from a good friend today”, as the executive hands out flight tickets to his employees.

Creative thought, working more closely than ever with friends and clients, will help to identify those inevitable opportunities.