Upgrading for Your Tenants and Your Market

February 2016
Business Success
Brought to You By: Randy Elgin

Randy Elgin
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San Antonio
TX 78230
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How to Win Big in Today’s Economy

The altered economic landscape presents innovative and nimble businesses with opportunities to thrive.

Find out how by requesting my free report “How to Win Big in Today’s Economy.”

Just reply to this email and I’ll send it right out to you.

Worth Reading

Smart Workers Seek Out Advice, Study Suggests
By Phyllis Korkki

International New York Times

Many workers think asking for advice is a sign of incompetence. In reality, those who seek advice are seen as more competent than those who don’t, according to a study by Alison Wood Brooks, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and her fellow researchers. People are generally flattered when asked to share their wisdom; it doesn’t even matter whether you actually use it.

Stop Making Excuses and Be a Starter
By Robert Herjavec


Every small business started with someone’s courageous decision to become his or her own boss, and this courage is worth celebrating, according to entrepreneur Robert Herjavec. There are lots of excuses not to go for it, including timing, inexperience, and fear, but as Herjavec says, “When you fall into the trap of making excuses, you limit yourself from going after your dreams.”

This Month: Entrepreneurs and the Law

Handshakes don’t cut it. In all things legal, you need to be sure; it’s key to your business success. Discover what legal info you need to know with the following resources for entrepreneurs.

How to Hire an Attorney

A good attorney is an entrepreneur’s best friend. If you don’t have one already, get one. How do you choose a lawyer?

Commercial Lease Basics

Your business may require rental space. Don’t sign on the bottom line until you know what you’re getting into. Check out these basics of commercial leases.

5 Ways to Use Arbitration

Arbitration, or judge and jury? Some businesses are opting for arbitration clauses with consumers. Which is right for your business? Get the pros and cons here.

Wisdom Quotes
Quotes on…Work

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.


Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.

Booker T. Washington

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Vince Lombardi

Nothing will work unless you do.

Maya Angelou

Out of clutter, find simplicity.

Albert Einstein

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Thomas A. Edison

Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.

Byron Dorgan

The Upgrade Issue: Where to Start and When to Stop

Landlords are never quite sure how much to invest in upgrading their properties; it’s a balancing act between making the property comfortable and pleasant for tenants and overspending on remodels that may not provide you with the return on investment you might be expecting.

For landlords of larger residential properties, this is doubly important. Upgrades can be a significant expense in larger buildings, and it’s unlikely you can raise your rents sufficiently to gain back any significant portion of your investment.

There are levels of upgrades that you can undertake, and it only makes sense to start at the highest level, by spending your renovation dollars to meet health and safety regulations and local bylaws-particularly those dealing with fire safety, accessibility, energy savings, and structural problems. Know the regulations in your area, and ensure they are met before even considering cosmetic changes.

Know your tenants, too. For every tenant who complains about the dark garages or outdated washers and dryers, there are many who won’t complain; they’ll leave. If the same issue keeps cropping up, consider it a second-level renovation to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Then make cosmetic upgrades in common areas: redo the laundry area or paint the halls (in a neutral color, please). You also may want to consider replacing older toilets in all units with low-flush versions.

Finally, know your neighborhood. Don’t invest so much that you’ll have to price yourself out of the local market to recoup. But don’t underinvest and lose good tenants to other buildings.

Small Investors Can Invest in Startups: But Should They?

FinanceFor angels investing at a time when Apple and other startup stars were launched, the profits could be heavenly.

As Daniel Eran Dilger writes in Apple Insider, “Apple’s initial public offering on December 12, 1980, sold 4.6 million shares at $22 each…instantly creating 300 millionaires.”

But not many were members of the public, who were generally excluded from these opportunities.

No longer. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved a rule change in the groundbreaking Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS) Act of 2012. “Title III,” as it’s called, approved new equity crowdfunding rules for investors, effective May 16, 2016.

According to Julia Greenberg in Wired online magazine, “What that means is that startups or small businesses looking for investors can go through brokers or online platforms to find them-and those investors can now be, well, anyone.”

Meanwhile, other countries are following suit.

Six Canadian provinces are coordinating to give small investors a crack at startups-rules are being eased for companies looking to raise money from investors through online crowdfunding platforms, meaning equity crowdfunding will be open to all investors.

But there is one proviso: a limit on investing via crowdfunding is based on the individual investor’s net worth.

Just as well. Startup investing isn’t foolproof; it’s pretty much a case of “buyer beware.” Wired’s Greenberg quotes researcher Richard Swart, of the University of California, who said, “Even if you’re truly invested in investing in a startup, the odds are against you. It’s the law of startups-mathematically the most likely exit for a startup is failure.”

Reports on Print’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

ebooksThe advent of digital books in 2010 was a big story, and with it came predictions of disaster for print and paper books. Traditional publishers saw the incursion of the technology as the end of an era.

Who would choose to physically lug books around when thousands can be stored on a feather-light electronic gizmo?

E-books are cheaper, their font size is adjustable, and they can be downloaded whenever and wherever-even at home in pajamas. Sales of digital books soared.

In 2011, global bookseller Borders declared bankruptcy, confirming print publishers’ worst fears. E-books were gaining traction; print was doomed.

But according to Alexandra Alter in the New York Times, “The digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.”

Adds Alter, “Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers…”

Stats appear to support Alter’s point: e-book sales declined in the first quarter of 2015, while sales of paperbacks increased.

This trend toward “spurning the technology” is driven by powerful demographics, notes Hollie Shaw in the Financial Times. According to Shaw, retiring boomers and millennials tried e-books and are now unplugging.

It seems many people prefer print-at least some of the time. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports on the death of print have been greatly exaggerated.

Now, book lovers have a choice: they can go high – or low-tech or both – boon to publishers and readers alike.

“Mom-and-Pop” Industry Becomes Investable

Commercial real estate (CRE) is expected to grow this year, but prices may have peaked in some major markets, according to the Commercial Real Estate Market Survey conducted for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in November 2015.

NAR suggests that U.S. office vacancy rates will decrease slightly to 14.8 percent in 2016 and that the vacancy rate for industrial space will decrease by 1.4 percent to 9.7 percent. Retail vacancies also will decline slightly to 11.3 percent.

The market for new apartments is vibrant, thanks to apartment construction projects under way in many markets, and vacancy rates are expected to increase from 6.1 percent to 7.3 percent in 2016.

And that’s good news, not just for commercial real estate companies across North America, but for the economy in general.

Why? Because over the past thirty years, CRE has become a force to be reckoned with: once labeled a “mom-and-pop” industry, CRE has grown up and has now become investable.

$6.7 trillion asset class

As Brandon Weber, CEO and founder of Hightower, points out, “Institutional investors rarely used to invest in real estate…[but this asset class] now represents nearly 10 percent of institutional investment portfolios, or $6.7 trillion.”

Weber, whose company provides leasing management software to the industry, posted his comments in a recent Forbes article titled “Four Trends That Are Reshaping the Commercial Real Estate Industry.”

As he notes, the industry is finally catching the technology wave: “While much of the world has embraced technology innovations like the cloud, mobility, and big data, CRE is still managed out of Excel spreadsheets and twenty-year-old technology platforms.”

That may be coming to an end; an increasing number of tech companies are building new tools for the industry, and these initiatives are pushing/pulling CRE into the twenty-first century. And just in time, if Weber’s trend analysis is correct.

Growing competitiveness

One trend that is changing the industry from the inside, and that will continue to impact it for some time to come, is an increase in competition.

With the jump in demand (thanks to lower interest rates and the ups and downs of the equity market), prices of commercial properties have soared to historic levels, and this has encouraged a host of new entrants into the industry.

Everyone is looking for a competitive edge, and not just in attracting new clients but in attracting capital and talent as well.

This search for the competitive edge is driving the need for new tools and new ways of decision making, including access to real-time data and purpose-built mobile support for CRE businesses-which was missing prior to two years ago and has only recently begun to remedy itself.

Now, says Weber, “with a wave of CRE mobile apps…CRE professionals will soon be able to run their entire leasing business from anywhere at any time.

“Technology has already revolutionized other industries…and now it’s slowly starting to do the same for CRE.”


This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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