A shopping center is a valuable investment with HUGE upside potential.

But owning shopping centers isn’t like other investments. Stocks, bonds, and even stakes in startup businesses are celebrated for their “passive income” earning potential.

Shopping centers, on the other hand, require much more direct, hands-on attention. Which makes it difficult for many landlords and property investors to generate truly passive income.

But it Doesn’t Have to be This Way…

The truth is, plenty of shopping center owners enjoy the financial rewards of their investments, with little to no direct involvement.

How?

It all comes down to having the RIGHT TOOLS. Because with property support, it’s far easier than you might think to achieve maximum returns with minimum effort.

So, What Are the “RIGHT TOOLS?”

Two things: Professional Leasing + Professional Property Management.

Here’s a closer look at how these two services can benefit landlords and property investors…

1. Professional Leasing

What do you do when a vacancy pops up in your shopping center? Well, you can certainly try and lease the space yourself… Put up a FOR LEASE sign with your phone number. And post the vacancy on a free online listing service.

But as already noted above, handling your shopping center is NOT your primary business. Which means you not only have limited time to deal with prospective tenants, you may not be entirely savvy when it comes to qualifying tenants, or negotiating retail leases.

The solution? Hire a professional leasing broker.

Here are the three primary benefits of hiring a leasing agent…

Market Exposure

Signage – A leasing agent will put up a sign, just like you would. But here’s the difference. A broker with a multitude of listings throughout your area and adjacent areas receives hundreds, if not thousands of calls a week. So, in addition to the calls on your property, your broker also receive tenant calls on the rest of their listing inventory. And if a particular vacancy doesn’t work for a prospective tenant, the broker will move them along to another space that does. Which could be your property!

Online Listing Services (MLS) – These days, landlords have access to a handful of free online listing services. In addition to posting your vacancy on free sites available to anyone, a broker will also list your property on a variety of paid platforms exclusively aimed at real estate professionals. And these platforms not only have a local and regional presence, but a national, and even international reach. This expanded coverage amplifies your property’s online exposure by 10-fold.

Active Tenant List – Most brokers, even landlord representation focused brokers, have an “active tenant list.” This is a list of tenants either actively seeking space to lease. Or tenant who would consider leasing a space if the right unit came along. Upon securing your listing, this is your leasing brokers first stop. They present the space to any tenants on their “active” list they feel would be a good fit and have a desire for the unit.

Tenant Broker Relationships – Landlord representation brokers are dialed into the tenant representation brokerage community. Landlord rep brokers are constantly pitching sites to tenant rep brokers. And when marketing a new space, a landlord broker’s second stop, after exhausting their own tenant contacts, is their tenant rep broker contact list.

Tenant Qualification

Again, managing a retail property likely isn’t your primary business. As such, are you’re probably not 100% clear on what makes an ideal tenant for your property.
A broker, on the other hand, is immersed in the retail world. In fact, brokers are busy qualifying tenants all day long. Which gives them specialized knowledge. Specifically, a broker understands…

== > The use types that make the most sense in your property’s area.

== > The uses that best synergize with the existing tenants in your shopping center.

== > And the financial position of a tenant that has the capability to not only survive, but thrive in your center.

All of which are key consideration when sourcing a tenant for your property. And one of the most important aspects of the services a broker provides.

Protecting Your Financial Interest By Drafting AIR Leases

When you find a qualified tenant who’s ready to sign on the dotted line, what lease form do you use?

You can find free forms online – But as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for…”

You could use a friend or colleagues form – But who says the particulars of their agreement really applies to your situation?

You could hire an attorney – But at hundreds of dollars an hour, that’s a very pricy proposition. And truth be told, many attorneys don’t understand the nuances of crafting a retail lease that genuinely protects your interests. Plus, you often wind up with a document no tenant wants to sign because the attorney (serving as your paid advocate) has stilted the document too far in your favor.

Brokers, on the other hand, rely on AIR Leases – A stock format, AIR leases are accepted throughout the California commercial real estate industry and the Gold Standard of commercial lease forms.

Moreover, a broker draws on the benefit of tremendous practical experience – They’ve drafted hundreds, if not thousands of leases over their career. And they understand how to draft a lease agreement that stridently protects a landlord’s financial interests.

2. Professional Property Management

When you first purchase a retail property, the deluge of responsibility is generally overwhelming.

Suddenly… Tenant rent + CAM payments start rolling in (or, more distressingly, don’t materialize). Countless vendor and utility invoices clamor for payment. Mortgage payments are due, promptly, the first of each month. And then there’s semi-annual property tax bills. Oh, and don’t forget about reconciling your NNN fees on a bi-annual basis.

Then there’s site visitation. Maintenance + vendor oversight. And tenant relations management, which includes presiding over tenants’ endless complaints, demands, internal squabbles and so on…

Needless to say, it’s a huge job. And the task is not only time consuming, but it can difficult to grasp. Particularly if you don’t have relevant experience. Worst of all, errors, even innocent mistakes,can create ENORMOUS problems.

The solution? Hire a professional property management company.

Here are three primary benefits of professional property management…

Professional Accounting

When you’re overseeing a shopping center… Rent and CAM payments are coming in. Vendor, mortgage and property tax payments are going out. And the entire process has to be carefully document according to exacting standards defined regulatory legislation. Otherwise, you may wind up sitting down for an audit with local, state or even federal financial regulators. A position NO ONE wants to find themselves in.

Suffice it to say, most shopping center landlords struggle to stay on top of their property’s accounting. Fortunately, a management company can help. Here’s several examples of how…

Dedicated Accounting Department – A property management company employs an accounting department specifically dedicated to managing your property’s finances. This department records, monitors and tracks all incoming rent + CAM collections and all outgoing vendor and utility payments, in addition to issuing monthly mortgage payments and bi-annual property tax payments. Accounting also conducts complete bi-annual Common Area Reconciliation.

Specialized Property Management Software – The facilitate the recording, monitoring a tracking process outlined above, property management companies use specialized property management software. CBM, for example, uses a software platform called Skyline. The entire collections and payables process outlined above is recorded into. And debts and credits are reconciled monthly with property bank trust accounts.

Monthly Financial Statements – Your individual property manager, using software like Skyline, generates a monthly financial statement and property narrative. This financial statement is a detailed report of your financial position, including all funds collected and payments issues, in addition to outstanding collections and debts.

Site Visitation + Maintenance Oversight

Staying abreast of your shopping center’s physical condition is a key concern for any landlord. If your center is consistently dirty or trash frequently piles, prospective customers are likely to avoid your property. And that’s bound to aggravate your tenants. Not to mention destroy their business and send them fleeing at another property.

Additionally, if maintenance issues aren’t addressed quickly, particularly potential hazards – sizable cracks in the parking lot or sidewalk, for example – you’re likely to wind up with a trip-and-fall lawsuit, if not worse. Eradicating graffiti as quickly as possible is another major concern. Lest your property garner the wrong kind of reputation. In addition to racking up expensive fines many municipalities now levy for failure to remove graffiti.

Long term maintenance issues are another important consideration. As a property ages, large scale maintenance projects need to be addressed… Eventually parking lots and sidewalks must be repaved. Facades need to patched and repainted. Roofs must be restored. And HVAC systems must be replaced.

Meanwhile, monitoring these maintenance issues can be an endlessly time-consuming and exhausting task.

Fortunately, site visitation and maintenance oversight are two key services property management provides.

Regular Site Visitation – Your property manager will visit your shopping center on a regular basis. During visits, they will take note of sweeping and trash collection, ensuring property is clean and trash-free. They’ll scrutinize your center for potential hazards, recommend appropriate action, and hire vendors to address necessary repairs.

Monitoring Property Condition – Your manager will also monitor your center as whole, taking note of any potential large maintenance projects that may be order. For example… Parking lot or sidewalk reconstruction, roof repair or replacement, HVAC repair or replacement, in addition to ADA compliance violations, which is currently a MAJOR concern for shopping center landlords in the wake of so-called “drive-by lawsuits.”

Vendor Management

As we’re already noted, maintaining your property’s physical condition is central to preserving and enhancing your property’s investment value.
But all that maintenance requires sourcing and managing a host of vendors. So now on top of dealing with leasing, accounting, and tenant relations, you’ve also got wrangle a bevy of property service vendors.

Here again, property management comes to the rescue!

Sourcing Quality + Affordable Property Services Vendors – Thanks to the portfolio of properties managers oversee, they deal with countless vendors. As such, your property manager can help you identify competent, competitively priced vendors to service your property.

Vendor Services Oversight – Your manager will your oversee vendors’ work, ensuring they not only complete their prescribed tasks, but deliver quality service. And they’ll also take vendors to task for failing to meet their obligations.

Bidding Alternative Vendor Services – If a vendor’s quality wanes or prices rises unreasonably high, your manager will bid out alternative vendors services.

Construction Project Bidding + Oversight – If your center requires major construction – parking lot + sidewalk replacement, roof or HVAC replacement, ADA upgrades, etc… – your manager will help gather bids from qualified contractors. Make informed recommendations about your options. And your manager will monitor construction and help keep you appraised of project progress.

Tenant Relations Management

Tenants are life-blood of your shopping center – they’re literally your property’s income generation engine.

But dealing with tenants is a never-ending task, not to mention a tricky business. When it comes to your center’s function, condition and management, tenants have no shortage of concerns, complaints, and demands, which they’re all too eager to voice. There are also frequent, if not petty and often ridiculous, internal squabbles between tenants occupying a center. And, of course, the not uncommon claims of financial hardship and accompanying pleas for rent and CAM reductions.

Once again, your property manager insulates you from these issues. All tenant communications are routed through your manager. And following your instructions, your manager will adjudicate tenant demands, inter-tenant disputes, and requests for rent + CAM concessions.

Your manager effectively serves as a buffer between you and your tenants. They bear the brunt of emotionally overwrought tenants and play the “bad guy” role, sparing you the angst and consternation.

Need Help Leasing + Managing Your Shopping Center?

If you’re interested in enhancing your property’s investment value, professional leasing + property management can help.
To learn more about our leasing + management services, visit our services page at: cbm1.com/services


The question we’re asked most often by prospective landlords? (And as a leading Southern California retail property management firm, we talk to LOTS of landlords!)

“How much does property management cost?”

It’s a perfectly natural question. And it’s not necessarily and issue of affordability. It’s a matter of value.

Unfortunately, the “short answer” is wholly unsatisfying: “Well, it all depends…”

In fact, this is one of the most difficult questions for us to answer about our services.

How come?

Largely because every property, not to mention every landlord, is unique. And each comes with their own set of needs and requirements. Which, understandably, makes it difficult to quantify management fees without specific details.

So what details are necessary for us to calculate management fees? Well, here are the four key factors we consider in determining… How Much Property Management Costs

Current Rents

The FIRST thing we ask to see is a rent roll. This tells how many tenants are in place and their monthly rent.

Rental rates are critical because base management fees are calculated either as percentage of total monthly rent, or as a flat monthly fee.

If tenants are paying high monthly rents, a percentage management fee doesn’t make sense. Essentially, the fee would be greater than the value of services rendered.

Conversely, if tenants are paying low rents, a percentage fee doesn’t make sense, either. The fee wouldn’t justify the amount of time and effort required to manage the property.

Type of Tenant

Secondly, we need to the know the type of tenants occupying the center. Are they corporate tenants or “mom & pop” shops?

Corporate tenants don’t necessarily require as much one-on-one attention. Most corporate tenants, however, insist landlords enter complicated leases agreements, which often demand specific accommodations. Dealing with these types of leases requires expert knowledge. Especially when it comes to justifying CAM charges and conducting periodic CAM audits, which are required in many corporate leases.

On the other hand, independent, “mom & pop” tenants need much more hand-holding and one-on-one interaction. This is critical to ensure such tenants consistently pay rent and CAMs in a timely manner.

But regardless, every tenant is a party (and personality) a property manager has to deal with. And the greater the weight of individual tenant demands, the higher the management fee.

Property Age + Condition

Next, we always insist upon a site visit. This gives us an idea of the property’s age and overall condition, which is critical because a brand-new building requires MUCH less oversight than a 40+ year old structure in need of TLC.

A newer building not only has little wear and tear, it’s also constructed in accordance with current building + safety codes.

Older structures, on the other hand, often suffer from deferred maintenance. But even well-maintained properties will eventually require roof and HVAC replacement, parking lot slurry and the like. Sizable projects that will demand a great of a manager’s time and attention.

Moreover, older buildings usually aren’t up-to-date with current building and safety codes. And with ADA lawsuits running rampant throughout Southern California, compliance with present-day codes is major concern. It’s also a complicated and laborious matter that can absorb a significant amount of a manager’s time.

In short, an older building demands far more time and effort, not to mention expertise, from the property manager. And in turn warrants a higher fee.

Landlord Expectations

Finally, we need a CLEAR picture of the landlord’s expectations. This is why always request a face-to-face meeting.

Some landlords are content to turn over their property and the let the manager handle everything. Their only major concern is that their monthly check arrives on time ;—)

But other landlords want to discuss their property at length on a regular (sometimes even daily) basis. This included consulting with their manager in detail on all manner of property related issues and decisions. Additionally, they want to review monthly reports and financial statements with the manager, in person.

Additionally, some properties are owned by several people in partnership. This often compels a manager to generate and distribute multiple, highly detailed reports and financial statements to satisfy the various partners. And while one partner may act as the primary representative, other partners will at times also demand the manager’s attention, too.

And the more demands landlord’s make on the manager’s time, the higher the management fee.

Clearly, Calculating Management Fees is No Simple Task…

As you can see, calculating a management fee is not an easy proposition. Several critical issues must be factored in to arrive at a fair and equitable price.

Want to Know How Much it Costs to Manage Your Shopping Center?

Get in touch with CBM President, Rick Rivera, to discuss your property. He’ll walk you through the fee calculation process and provide a quote the accurately reflects the effort required to manage your property.

You can contact Rick at 310.575.1517 or rickr@cbm1.com.


By SCTWeek, Friday, April 11, 2014

Family Dollar to close 370 stores, cut prices

FAMILY DOLLAR Closes 370 Stores

Family Dollar, a juggernaut of expansion in recent years, announced plans to close 370 of its 8,100 stores in the second half, and to slow new-store growth to about 400 per year (from 525 in fiscal 2014) beginning next year. The announcement comes on the heels of a slow holiday sales season for the chain. Family Dollar posted a 6.1 percent year-on-year drop in net sales for the fiscal second quarter (ended March 1). Same-store sales fell 3.8 percent during the quarter, while net income dropped to $90.9 million, from $140.1 million for the year-ago quarter.

“The 2013 holiday season was challenged by a more promotional competitive environment and a more financially constrained consumer,” said Howard R. Levine, chairman and CEO, in a press release. “In addition, like many retailers, our second-quarter results were significantly impacted by severe winter weather — which resulted in numerous store closings [and] disrupted merchandise deliveries — and higher-than-expected utility and store-maintenance expenses.”

Family Dollar will also try to boost traffic by slashing prices on about 1,000 basic merchandise items, and to increase profits by slashing an unspecified number of jobs, Levine says. The store closures and staff reductions should result in annual savings of about $45 million, he says.

During the first half of the fiscal year, the chain opened 244 stores, closed 22 and renovated, relocated or expanded 319. Family Dollar says it anticipates that same-store sales for the fiscal third quarter will decline in the low-single-digits range. For the coming fiscal fourth quarter, the company predicts that same-store sales will be flat or up slightly.


By CoStar, Tuesday, April 9, 2014

Just What the Doctor Ordered: New ‘Medtail’ Tenants Filling Vacant Shopping Center Space

retail minute clinics
Changing Medical Economics Prompting Caregivers to Offer Services Where Patients Shop

With the era of retail medicine fast approaching, health care providers and medical specialists are increasingly opening facilities in shopping centers, which offer an attractive combination of affordable space, good patient access and ample parking.

“We’re seeing a lot of strip centers being converted to medical offices of various sizes, if a dollar store or grovery store goes out,” Robert Moon, vice president, brokerage services, for Farmington Hills, MI-based Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions, tells CoStar News. “New MOBs can cost upwards of $200 a foot to development — those are big numbers. Existing space at a retail center will be substantrially less than that, so there’s a big incentive to take that space rather than building from the ground up.

Read more…


By Commercial Observer, Monday, April 8, 2014

Death of Malls Exaggerated: REIT Leaders

Shopping malls–that much-maligned asset class—are actually no thorn in the side of real estate investment trusts, a group senior executives at top REITs said today. The group was assembled at the New York University Schack Institute’s annual REIT symposium, held today at the Pierre Hotel.

REITs are in fact seeing these assets perform well despite the many news reports to the contrary.

Death of Malls Exaggerated: REIT Leaders

Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va.

“Reports on the demise of malls are greatly exaggerated,” said Joseph Coradino, CEO of PREIT LLC, a Philadelphia-based REIT that focuses on retail. He made the remarks at a panel called “Strategy at the Mid-Cycle,” this morning.

He was not alone in the sentiment.

“Spaces [in malls] above 10,000 square feet,” remain well-leased, according to Matthew Lustig, the head of real estate at investment management giant Lazard Ltd.  While smaller spaces in malls nationally sometimes remain vacant, the larger spaces and big box retailers are indeed faring well, he said.

Read more…


By SmartBlog Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Whole Foods takes fwhole foods down scale marketresh to the middle market

Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb said recently that the chain plans to grow in part through high-grade conventional produce offerings, a move that goes well beyond recognizing that organic is now mainstream and no longer a viable way to differentiate itself. Robb highlighted produce in particular — an excellent place to reach shoppers in the less educated/affluent zip codes where it is now expanding.

Like most natural/specialty grocers, Whole Foods no doubts wants to increase the number of people who regularly fill carts, not just baskets, at its stores. Its successful 365 private-label program has helped in that endeavor, offering lower-cost commodities that still uphold the brand’s natural, less processed promise — but that is mostly happening in the center store.

Read more…


By New York Time, Tuesday March 4, 2014

RadioShack to Close Up to 1,100 U.Radio Shack Closes 1,100 StoresS. Stores

NEW YORK — There will soon be about 1,100 fewer places to buy batteries.

RadioShack said Tuesday that it plans to close up to 1,100 stores, or about a fifth of its U.S. locations. The news came as the retailer reported a wider quarterly loss after a disappointing holiday season. Its stock tumbled 16 percent in afternoon trading.

CEO Joseph Magnacca said the closings would leave the company with more than 4,000 U.S. stores. That’s still far more than Best Buy, which has roughly 1,400 U.S. locations, and makes RadioShack stores nearly as common as Wal-Mart.

RadioShack didn’t immediately identify which stores will close or how many jobs would be affected. A call to the company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was not returned.

Read more…



By Los Angeles Business Journal, Tuesday, March 4, 2014

L.A. Council Passes Restrictions on E-Cigs

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to ban smoking of electronic cigarettes at all public buildings and restaurants, as well as at parks, playgrounds, beaches, libraries and public schools in the city.

The council voted 14-0 to approve an ordinance that places the same restrictions on the use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, as on the smoking of traditional cigarettes.

The ordinance allows the smoking of e-cigs at any of the scores of vaping lounges that have recently opened around the city and by performers during theatrical productions.

Supporters of the measure say that because e-cigs contain nicotine, their use should be restricted until the health impacts are fully studied. Opponents of a ban say that e-cigs release fewer toxic chemicals than conventional cigarettes and provide a way for smokers to wean themselves off nicotine.

In December, the council voted to ban the sale of e-cigs to minors. That ordinance also requires that e-cigs be sold only by licensed tobacco retailers and bans their sale at kiosks and displays directly accessible to customers.

Other local cities have also begun regulating the sale and use of e-cigs, including Long Beach and Beverly Hills.


By Globe St., Monday, January 27, 2014

Retail Flight to Quality Continues

CBM President, Rick Rivera
CBM President featured in Globe St. article on recent Acre event

LONG BEACH, CA-National retail tenants are focusing on centers with the best positioning and visibility and the highest traffic counts, said panelists at the Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives of Southern California’s 2014 Industry Forecast here last week. However, portfolio diversity helps businesses remain steady over time, they added.

Panelists agreed that 2013 was an outstanding year for their teams. Greg Fisher, president of Present Value Properties, said, “We have more than tripled our business since 2007,” and Shauna Mattis, SVP of Wilson Commercial Real Estate, added, “We also had a very successful year. Now our concern is that much of the quality space got leased and retailers seem to be back in the cautionary role.”

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