CEG "shorts" are Jeff's career and industry tips and advice as well as answers to common questions written in short form. Read our blog for more in-depth information about the commercial real estate business. Blogs and shorts alternate Fridays. Subscribe to our blog to receive both via email.
Green, Green, Green 👨🚀🍀
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate! It’s the season of green––green shamrocks, green beer, green clothing––even though I look out my window and see white, white, white. So how does green play out in commercial real estate? If you don’t want to be green with envy, try being green with CRE. 😉
The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about green in CRE is, of course, investments and money. Just think about that Andrew Carnegie quote, “90% of millionaires become so through owning real estate.” CRE investing became their pot of gold. (Piece of the Pie blog)
Next, I think of sustainability. Buildings with renewable green energy have been a trend in CRE for years. In 2021, the EPA listed Minneapolis and St. Paul at 15 on the list of top large cities for ENERGY STAR certified buildings. We have a ways to go, but the trend is there––says the guy who has solar panels and drives an electric car. 😀
Finally, as warm weather approaches and the snow melts, it’s time for my annual reminder to take care of the grounds and landscaping on your properties. Curb appeal is important in the selling and leasing of buildings. (Chain Saws, Machines, & Spring blog)
I hope to see you at the March Madness networking and charity event today. This year the event raises funds for the St. Paul Fire Foundation. Bring some people and join in from 10:30 am-5:30 pm at The Loop Bar + Restaurant – West End (5331 W 16th St, St. Louis Park, MN 55416). There’s a pizza buffet from 1-2 pm and Coors Light on tap until it’s gone.
3.17.2023 🍀 🍀 🍀
Warm Ride 👨🚀
Life feels different when you approach each day as a chance to help someone. It’s innate to being a broker, but I have a personal goal to help beyond CRE.
My close friends know that when it’s really cold outside, I get up early and offer rides to early shift workers. How can I not offer a warm ride to the guy who is hunched over in the cold wind, gripping his lunchbox, and struggling with each step? It’s really about seeing others with compassion. And we need more of that these days.
There’s plenty of research out there that supports the importance improving someone else’s life. For you, it may mean better physical and emotional health. Studies show helping others can reduce depression and increase self-esteem and confidence. You may live a better, longer life from simply acting with intention, kindness, and generosity.
From the formal ways of volunteering, mentoring, and teaching to the small gestures of kindness, helping can have a big impact and how we move through the world together. A warm ride may not work for everyone. The bottom line is that each person I help––even by other small random acts of kindness––puts me in a better frame of mind and fuels my success in business and life. And that’s a win-win.
My son Levi is creative, artistic, and musical. He likes art class, and Josie and I love the work he brings home. (Even our friend who was an art teacher for many years is impressed 😀) We also got him an electronic keyboard last year, and he’s doing well with that, too. He may not end up as an artist or musician, but I want him to use the creative thinking skills he’s learning now in whatever profession he chooses later.
Creativity––the use of imagination or original ideas––benefits all professions. It helps us innovate and adapt to changing times. This week, KSTP aired a story about the three vacant MPS schools we have for sale and lease. Part of their headline was “buyer must get creative.”
I see the need for creativity in many deals, from getting them done to the use of the property. Industrial buyers and tenants need to think creatively how a space could work for them in this very tight market. On the other hand, developers and investors need to think creatively in how to reposition or redevelop a property. Like with the schools––or even vacant office buildings––how can we use our imagination to best help the community? How do we adapt to a changing market and increase our return on investments? Whether they are original ideas or new ways of looking at traditional markets, buyers must get creative.
Watch a short video:
2.3.2023 (Levi's owl painting, second grade)
Work Happy, Part II 👨🚀⚖️
Building off my last short where I talked about what makes my team “work happy”, I wanted to share a few more answers:
Office yoga (And, has that really helped my back pain!)
Flexibility (working remotely, schedules, and every day is different)
Freedom to build systems (Yep, that’s our numbers/data guy!)
Having a boss that understands work-life balance
I know the importance of work-life balance. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it (just ask Josie 😏), but I am committed to better achieve it. One of the things that makes CEG unique is our different approach. We want our personalities to show. We focus on getting the best deal done for our clients while also keeping our values in check. We’re fun, relationship driven, and proficient. We prioritize helping others and stay growth focused.
We all know the right employee/contractor fit is critical for productivity. For me, it’s important that I work with people that love what they’re doing and possess a drive to figure things out to get things done––all while enjoying work and life. That’s CEG work happy.
Work Happy, Part I 👨🚀❄️❄️❄️
Because we’re starting off another year––and I have aspiring goals for the company––I asked my team, “What makes you happy at work?” There’s a common thread in their answers:
Working with fun positive people
Interacting with my coworkers and having fun with them
Having people who can make you smile when you come to work makes your whole day
Working with awesome people
Seeing my teammates achieve success
Working with a team that innovates, thinks creatively, supports each other, and definitely, laughs
Being able to laugh and joke around while getting things done makes me happy
And that makes me happy, too! Take for example the snow video we posted on social media during, not this week’s storm, but the one before. Adam and I took a situation that could have been stressful––having to drive in a MN snowstorm––and made it something we could laugh about. Our collaboration not only ignited our creativity but made the day fun. Who doesn’t love having fun? And shouldn’t fun be had while doing the thing we spend so many hours doing each day?
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Light, Joy, & Community 👨🚀🕎🎄❤️❤️❤️🖤💚💚💚
In the spirit of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, here are some interesting space facts about the holidays:
The International Space Station (ISS) is a microcosm of how Earth celebrates the season. With astronauts from different countries and cultures, the crew sometimes celebrates several times a year, depending which days are a priority to the current crew. Sharing traditional food is a highlight.
In 2019, NASA astronaut Jessica Meir brought a bright pair of socks decorated with menorahs and stars of David to ISS. On the first night of Hanukkah, she posted a photo on Twitter of her stocking feet floating above a very large Earth in the background. Many people around the world liked, retweeted, and replied, “Chag Sameach” (Happy Holidays).
The Apollo 8 crew (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders) were the first to spend Christmas in space. They beamed down a message on Christmas Eve for the world to hear.
In 1973, the crew of Skylab 4 (Gerald Carr, William Pogue, and Edward Gibson) created the first space Christmas tree out of empty food cans. The robotic-looking tin tree was televised on Christmas Eve.
The African American festival Kwanzaa is the namesake of a mountain on the Ceres, a dwarf planet. The International Astronomical Union decided that the seven mountains on Ceres should be named after seven harvest festivals around the world, including the US, Latvia, Peru, Cambodia, and India.
The CEG Team and I hope you have a “space-tacular” holiday season!
12.23.2022 👨🚀 👩🚀 👨🚀 👨🚀 👩🚀 👨🚀
Growth & Business 👨🚀🪴🏢
Driving to St. Cloud, I started to think about how plants are similar to business. (yes, my mind is always going 😆) Plants are necessary for the health of our ecosystem (says a guy who had to take Biology twice 😉), and business is necessary for the health of our economy. So if your business was an indoor plant, what type would it be? Does it have the right growing conditions?
Indoor plants thrive when the pot, soil, and the amount of water and sunlight are just right. When any of these are off, growth is stunted. Same with business.
Think about a plant’s pot as a commercial building. Is your space the right size for growth? Is it too large, so resources dry up? Like plant soil and its nutrients, does the space provide the essential needs and resources to flourish? How much do you have to feed or maintain it to make work?
If water is traffic, does your business have the right amount? Whether it’s industrial, hospitality, service, or retail, can business goals be met in the space you’re in? Some businesses don’t need physical traffic, but they all need commerce––which leads me to sunlight. Commerce depends on visibility––customers need to know about a business before they can do business with them. When dealing with the physical commercial space, is your business in the right location? Is your signage working for you?
If we think about your business as a plant, let’s make sure it grows. Make sure its “pot, soil, water, and sunlight” are the right match. Reach out if you want to discuss CRE and your business. We’re here to help!
It's About Memories 👨🚀
Last weekend, we were at our cabin in northern Wisconsin. It was family time. I posted a FB (feel free to friend me) photo and footage of my son, Levi, snowmobiling on not much snow, mainly grass. 😉 I wrote, “If you wait for perfect conditions in life, you will miss out on many great opportunities and memories!”
I believe in those words––both in my personal life and with CRE deals. If you spend too much time on the fence or in “analysis paralysis”––overthinking and overanalyzing––you will miss out on fantastic opportunities. Sometimes when you see an opportunity, you just need to jump. Then you can see what happens. In every deal there is always a parachute and a reserve.
So during this holiday week, be grateful for opportunities and memories. Enjoy your time with family and loved ones.
The CEG team and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
BTW, for those who worried about him tearing up the grass, I say, “Time cannot be replaced, but grass can.” 👨🚀
Team Adds 3 👨🚀👨🚀👨🚀
Last week in my blog, I mentioned that we welcomed greats to our CEG team. Meet Brian Potratz, Alec McEhinney, and Adam Burke! 😀😀😀
Brian jumped into CRE through investing, which is an effective way to start. He eventually left his mortgage origination career of fifteen years to be a CRE broker and investor full time. After five years, he’s now working with us as a strategic growth partner and broker. During his free time, Brian enjoys time with his wife and three kids, playing golf, or being on the lake. We’re excited to have him join the team.
One of Alec’s strengths is to analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. Having been an actuary, he’s an expert at building models and data systems, and that’s why he’s working with CEG. A proud Greek and avid reader, Alec also likes to travel around the US and Europe. He’s a numbers guy, and in CRE, they’re always good to have around.
Adam is another brilliant friend I’ve had in my circle for years. He joined the team this summer and is a definite value add. With a title of business development, he manages our public sector business, tackles internal strategy and systems management, and rounds things out by adding marketing support. Adam’s an artist, and his creativity and humor make him a great addition to the team.
I said in the summer blog, It Takes a Team, that I’m humbled by our team. Like these three, they all bring incredible strengths, and we continue to build connections and get deals done every day!
CRE & GDP 👨🚀🚀
There’s been a lot of talk this week about the GDP growth annual rate of 2.6% for Q3. Although it’s good news, there’s plenty to unpack when talking about the economy. But the rate announcement got me thinking about commercial real estate and the GDP.
In 2021, the combination of developing new and operating existing buildings contributed to the GDP $1.2 trillion nationwide and $4.3 billion in Minnesota. Our industry supported 8.5 million jobs in the US, and I know at the local level, CEG has done our part and added a few fantastic team members since then. 👨🚀👨🚀👨🚀
Minnesota warehouses are big growth makers with a GDP contribution of $1.9 million, and offices are not far behind at $1.1. At CEG, we’ve been busy getting deals done in both areas. We recently represented an industrial client on an office/warehouse sale and got the deal done at $153 per square foot! We’re working on a $4+ million office/warehouse heading to close. In the last 30 days, we’ve completed multiple large office building investment deals. The deals are out there!
If you’re interested in investing and not sure how to get started, let me know. I can help. Also, check out my blogs, “Buying an Industrial Commercial Property in a Tight Market” and “Tips to Begin Investing in CRE.” We’re here to help owners, tenants, buyers, sellers, and investors get deals done.
Looking for a Unicorn? 👨🚀🔭
Wednesday night, I was part of a city planning expert panel to address multiple development projects set to impact Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, Gem Lake, and Shoreview.
We are a facing a CRE shortage of light industrial buildings across the metro. People hear “industrial” and get nervous. Will it make the neighborhood ugly? Too loud? Too busy? My advice, stop looking for the unicorn and look at what you need. The demand for light industrial buildings with smaller bays is high and not expected to change any time soon.
I’m talking about the 3,000 SF spaces with offices up front and big doors in the back. These are incubation properties for companies that service our towns – commercially and residentially. If we don’t build these spaces and continue to remove them for redevelopment, companies are forced to move further and further outside the metro. Then when we need them, they have to drive all the way in, and we pay for it.
Good investment properties are rooted in what is good for the community. Light industrial buildings are part of what makes vibrant and economically strong cities.
We Can Save You Money 👨🚀
At CEG, we know space. When we say that, we mean more than finding, leasing, buying, selling, and investing in space. Let me explain.
I got into commercial real estate being thrown into the fire, learning every aspect of the business including property management, construction, maintenance, and tenant improvements. I was even the snowplow guy for many years while learning my craft!
This gives me unique insight and experience to work with owners, architects, and tenants to create win-win space plans. Clients often “wish” or say they want a sink but have no idea the plumbing is on the other end of the building. A part of our involvement at CEG is to sort these things out, saving our tenants and owners often unnecessary costs.
We can help owners and tenants decide where the best place to put their money. What changes are really necessary for functionality? What’s the best way to use your budget?
Helping is one of my missions in life, professionally and personally. Reach out to our team if you want us to help you save money.
T-Minus 10, 9, 8… 👨🚀
As an owner, tenant, and client, what do you need to do ahead of time to be prepared to launch a deal? When the time is right, will you start from a strong position?
Wanting to move on a deal without being prepared, means you could miss a beneficial opportunity. Preparation puts you in a much better position to reach your business and investment goals. In business, time is money, and being prepared helps you manage issues within the deal more quickly and efficiently. You want to have solutions and necessary information on hand, so you can easily implement or access them.
An experienced broker can walk you through the steps to get prepared. However, it’s important to start a conversation early before you get to the launch pad. Our role is to help you meet your business goals. So, if you are thinking there might be a deal in your future, reach out now. Don’t wait to text, call, or email. You need to be completely ready for "3, 2, 1 lift off!"
9-16-2022 (NASA Image)
Show It 👨🚀
Tomorrow begins a long weekend. On Monday, we pay tribute to American workers for all their contributions and achievements. There are three ingredients to achieving these successes – skills, knowledge, and attitude.
Typically, we spend Labor Day with our families – at the State Fair, grilling food outside, or some other event. But as we enjoy the day off, remember how critical purpose, productivity, and contributions are for each of us. Remember the importance of a positive attitude and the essential need to increase skills and knowledge along the way.
On Tuesday, as we get back to work and our kids to go back to school, we unofficially mark the end of summer. It’s time for us to unite as Americans, and as American workers, and show our persistence, grit, and ingenuity. It’s time to show what we’ve got.
It's Risky 👨🚀
My advice has to do with those tenants that think they’re special. They might just find out they’re not. Hear me out…
Many tenants think that because they have been leasing their space for years, they’re safe. Or, if their landlord is their friend, it’s all good. Some of these relationships mean that the rent agreement may be month-to-month or perceived as easily renewed. Some tenants have no lease at all.
These relationships are risky for the tenant. In this current market, owners are being approached by buyers with record high offers, leading to new buyers taking over. New owners are then looking to increase rents to get a return on the price they paid. They may even want to go in a completely different direction, like move into the property over time or redevelop the site. These situations leave the tenant hanging with no recourse.
Tenants should always talk to a broker before engaging with their landlord. They need to have someone on their team when there’s a shift, and they're no longer that special.
Why Are Rents Getting Higher? 👨🚀
Construction costs and interest rates continue to go up. These rising costs affect buyers and tenants as well as owners and sellers. In this hot market, more and more multi-tenant properties are being sold at record prices per square foot. These record sales often cause an increase in a property's operating expenses, and many times, its assessed value and taxes. So, between the increase in expenses and taxes, rents are getting higher.
I’ve been receiving calls from tenants who are struggling to understand why their rent continues to increase. In a triple net lease, tenants pay their prorated share of taxes, insurance, and common area maintenance costs (CAM). If taxes and other costs associated with the property go up, tenants will see the total of their prorated share cost more.
Understanding your lease is one good reason to know a broker. They’re a great resource. If you need help understanding your current lease, give me a call. I’m here to help.
Distant Galaxies & Sharp Focus 👨🚀
This week we saw the release of images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. They’re fascinating! We’ve seen nothing like them, as they are the deepest and sharpest infrared images of the distant universe. Amazing. I find it challenging to take a picture 3’ away with my iPhone at times. 😉
It makes me wonder what the future holds. Will we start selling land on Mars? Another planet? Will my son, Levi, be brokering deals in another galaxy?
Seriously, the phrase “distant galaxies into sharp focus” makes me think about possibilities. And in some ways, it makes me think of Commercial Equities Group. Yes, of course, I automatically think about our tagline, “At CEG, we know space.” But I’m thinking more about endless options. Also, the willingness to imagine something different for yourself and then look from far out and bring the details into sharp focus.
I took the jump to go full time with Commercial Equities Group almost two years ago. I wasn’t sure exactly how it would develop, but I was open to possibilities and absolutely driven to make it happen. As our team grows and more and more deals get done, I see the company more clearly and the results in sharp focus. They’re not quite as visually spectacular, but it’s nonetheless meaningful, and I’m pretty humble you are all part of it!
7-15-2022 (NASA Image)
Fireworks or Duds? 🎆
I was watching a post on YouTube this week called, “Get Rid of Your Friends” by David Goggins, Andy Frisella, Jordan Peterson, Les Brown, and Jocko Willink. It’s about surrounding yourself with people that move you forward and not hold you back. It’s the difference between anchors and propellers. Or, fireworks in the air and the duds on the ground.
Coming off last week’s blog about the CEG team, the post made me think again how fortunate I am with the people I have around me. Our team is loyal to who we are trying to become and that propels us forward. And I'm not just talking about our small CEG team, but also the extended CEG network made up of industry greats. They’ve all pushed me to take advantage of my time and create opportunities for myself and others. I, in turn, do the same. We are driven, and that means we provide the best service, share insight grounded in experience, and get each deal done.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this advice from the post –– only make friends with people that want the best for you. I’m lucky to have friends on my team that do just that.
Get Smart 🧑🚀
This week has been all about working smarter, not harder. It's been busy – a full calendar, deals getting done, meetings, and new processes being developed. As the owner of CEG, I don't pretend to know everything. I do know there are always ways to work smarter.
Just like a motorcycle 😉 needs a tune-up, so do the systems and processes in an organization. I have found it beneficial to listen to people new to the industry or young entrepreneurs. They come to me for advice/mentorship, but I usually walk away humbled. I find I've learned a lot from them. One suggestion to do things differently – a new technology, approach, or skill – can make the whole organization run more smoothly. This week several of my conversations have changed the way we do things for the better. And, that means more deals done and more smooth rides.
Easy Access 🧑🚀
The majority of calls I get are from mobile numbers, especially since COVID hit. I have a stack of my traditional business cards that I rarely use. Although my number travels, it's not from people sharing a small piece of cardstock. Those mainly end up in the trash.
We use our smartphones so much, from ordering food and watching stocks to listening to podcasts and checking emails or sending texts. They are a vital tool to get deals done. They are also the perfect way to keep track of our network and refer the people we know.
I had a conversation this week with some guys new to the business. My advice was if anyone contacts you with business questions or potential leads, most likely they are calling from a cell. Immediately text them a vCard to follow up, and if they inquire about a property, attach a digital brochure or link. Virtual cards are an easy and organized way for these potential clients to store and quickly access your contact information. That also means, they will be more likely to use and share it when another opportunity comes up. It keeps your name relevant and your phone number spreading, and that's essential for success.
I mentioned The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey, two weeks ago in my short. I’m not done talking or thinking about it.
He asked the question, “Have you been in the business for 15 years or one year 15 times?” It’s the difference between investing in yourself to stay current and relevant or doing the same thing over and over. I’ve been thinking about his question and the impact of intentionally adding value vs. just coasting on your business.
As a person who likes adventures, I approach my business the same way as life. I don’t want to be stagnate and do the same thing over and over again. I want to continually challenge myself. So, I read books, listen to podcasts, try different experiences (like writing a blog), and most of all, get out there and meet new people.
Sometimes growth comes from meeting people just starting in the business. My experience and their new perspective end up being a win-win. It benefits the industry when the new ask for help and the more experienced are open-minded about another way of doing things. The mentor/mentee relationship can be energizing for both careers. So, I wonder, how do you push yourself forward?
It Changes Everything 🧑🚀
I’ve been thinking about trust––both as an economic driver and how it affects relationships. A while ago, I read the book The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey. If you haven’t read or listened to it, I highly recommend it.
If you get good at trust, everything else gets better. Innovation, collaboration, and partnerships flourish when there is high trust. High trust is a dividend, and low trust is a tax. In the CRE business, trust is critical. Tenants, owners, and investors need to trust brokers, and brokers need to trust them.
Credibility is the base in which to build trust. It’s about being honest, walking the talk, and doing the right thing when there is a cost. The successful brokers and business partners I know enjoy that dividend, and they stake their reputation on it every day.
What's the Price? 🧑🚀
I've been thinking a lot this week about pricing. I have a new 5,300 SF industrial listing in the Minneapolis-Bloomington area. It used to be that there were many small to mid-sized industrial buildings in the metro. Not so anymore, making them are harder and harder to find. Many of these properties were bought up and then redeveloped or repositioned into something bigger.
So, how do you put a price on an existing building whose size and type won't be built in Minneapolis again? What's the value for something that's disappearing but still in very high demand? The market's moving fast, and pricing always depends on supply and demand.
That's my week. Hope yours went well.
Shifting Gears 🚘😎
As a broker, I spend a lot of time in my car. I find it's a great place for me to think and reflect. One of the things I thought about this week was my Friday blog. I started them back in October 2021 to share my experience as well as opportunities, perspectives, and thoughts about the CRE profession.
After seven months, I've decided I need to downshift a gear. My "official" blog will come out every other Friday instead of weekly. On the alternate Fridays, I'll email shorter career and industry tips and advice as well as answers common questions. One of my favorite things about Blog Friday has been reading responses from those who have reached out. We'll keep that communication going, just with fewer words to read. 🙃