December 2020

December always seems to be a time of waiting. Whatever happened during the year, we think it will change in January. This year many of us have that feeling even stronger than in the past. New election, vaccine, end of eviction moratorium. Come on January, February, March, we need the changes you’re bringing. Don’t extend that eviction moratorium, don’t delay those vaccines.

Oh yes, and one more thing: property owners, we need you to put your properties up for sale, at reasonable prices! Well we can wish for it anyway.

The optimists are saying once a certain critical mass of the population gets vaccinated, we’ll be travelling and spending, businesses will be 100% open, and we’ll have a mindset of making up for lost time. Great for the economy, great for multifamily. But will the urban exodus continue, stop, or possibly reverse? Many of us prefer the cities, some move to the cities to be close to the job they like, and now those people may not need to stay in the city. Some will, though, and when office space sits empty, new businesses will negotiate great lease terms in the urban core, and jobs could migrate back to the cities. Zoom and Teams are great but there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication and collaboration.

Mobile, AL – tiny Mobile, so far away from the major metro population centers, how can there be anything going on in Mobile. But look again. Not so tiny, at over 400,000 population. And one of the most prosperous cargo terminals in the U.S., the 9th largest, and one of the fastest growing. Why ship your container through Mobile, and not Philadelphia, New York, Oakland? Cost. Waterfront space is cheaper and terminal operators favor Alabama’s looser regulations on work rules. Your containers get off the ships and onto the trucks and railcars quicker, and on to Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, wherever they’re going.

Shipbuilding continues to be strong in Mobile, because of its deepwater port, but also, new to the area, aviation has arrived! Airbus builds the big A320s here. If you follow aviation, you know that other big manufacturers, including Boeing, are continually looking for strong, low-cost centers for building their airplanes, places where they can get their big parts shipped to easily, and where the workforce embraces these high quality jobs. Look for more aviation growth from commercial builders and defense contractors, especially once people are flying again and airlines are buying more planes.

The Power of Face-to-Face
One of the greatest sales educators was David Sandler. His books have been classics and his methods are taught worldwide. So many of his most valuable principals are focused around how to read people. He teaches how to listen, how to watch for body language, how to react to what the other person is saying, how to ask questions, and of course when not to talk. These skills are so valuable and so difficult to master, which is why they are taught through regular, usually weekly, training sessions.

Not surprisingly, these skills are useful in virtually all business interactions. Discussions with your partners, property managers, and, especially, with brokers and sellers all require you to set the right tone. That starts with seeing them eye to eye, and that starts with being there.

We lost a deal once that we thought we won. The broker called and said Congratulations the seller wants to go with your bid. We thought that’s fantastic, because we liked this property and liked the deal. They wanted us to tighten our terms just a little. We thought about it for less than a day, called them and said we’ll shorten our due diligence a little, although not quite as much as what they asked for. His response was Never mind, they decided to give the deal to someone else. We pleaded with them, said okay we’ll give you the DD terms you wanted, but it was too late. We talked some more and expressed surprise that this deal swung on something so trivial, so quickly.

Except that it wasn’t trivial, and it wasn’t the DD period. The broker let me know that the other bidder came in to see the property, flying from one coast to the other. Three times, including once with his GC. I relied on a local PM who I had gotten to know. He was very knowledgeable and informative, and the broker knew and respected them. But it wasn’t us, and our choice not to visit the property and meet the seller personally did us in. Our offer price may have been the highest but that didn’t matter.

Why would the seller care? Don’t they just want the best deal? Not always. They want to know you as the buyer who means what you say, that you take the time to understand and get to know them, that you are capable of meeting the terms of your agreement, and they want to know their property will be in good hands. In other words, they need to trust their buyer.

Trust can be built over email, and can be improved through direct conversations, but nothing replaces face-to-face communications. Do your Zoom calls but book a trip to visit the people who are important to you. See them to understand them, and let them see you too.

Who We Are

Cardinal Oak Investments acquires, improves, and manages under-valued commercial apartments. We buy B and C class properties of around 100 units in the Southeast and Midwest. We look for properties whose amenities, aesthetics, and appeal have fallen into obsolescence, whose care reflects tired management, and whose location is where a stable workforce wants to live.

And we partner with like-minded investors looking for stable assets that produce good cash flow and strong appreciation.

Founded and managed by John Todderud, Cardinal Oak Investments has acquired properties on both coasts and in between creating annual double-digit returns.

For more information, schedule time with me or contact us.

Please note: Past performance is no indication of future performance.