“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details”
by Robert Hand, CCIM
Making decisions in commercial real estate often involves more than just calculating a capitalization rate or net present value, because there is always a component of unknown risk. In the office leasing sector, risk is created by local market factors, such as supply and demand for space, asking and effective rents, and absorption rate. Other factors contributing to risk are the specifics of the situation. Learning how to quantify and illustrate such risks to clients is a challenge, especially in small or mid-size markets where office demand can still be somewhat stagnant.
This article discusses how to quantify the risk of a real-life decision: Should an office tenant write a check for $1.5 million to accept a lease buyout offer, or continue to market a sublease for 56,542 square feet of class A downtown office tower space in New Orleans?
As a byproduct of a merger between two large oil companies, a decision was made to relocate 250 employees from New Orleans to Houston, leaving 75,000 sf — four floors of fully furnished class A office space — vacant with an obligation to pay rent at $18.25 psf for 54 more months.
The situation is compounded by two issues: The space represents the largest contiguous class A office space in New Orleans, and with only 54 months left on the lease, it is not feasible for the lessee to offer any build-out allowance. This means the sublease space cannot compete with market-rate space.
The lessor has presented an offer to take back 56,000 sf — three full floors — for a lump sum payment of $1,500,000 rather than the current obligation of $1,022,000 per year. The decision for the tenant is whether to pay the $1.5 million and gain the difference or try to sublease the space to produce a greater income. The dilemma is how to analyze the risk.
The New Orleans class A office tower market is approximately 9,000,000 sf, with 1,000,000 sf currently available for lease. Building occupancy rates range from 73 percent to 97 percent and 2013 absorption was 133,000 sf, or 13 percent of available lease space. Asking rents range from $16.50 to $21.00 psf, including build-out payments ranging from $10 to $30 psf. In competing buildings, 15,000 sf of sublease space is available at $15.00 psf and 90,000 sf was just renewed at $12.50 psf.
The Decision-Making Process
At first glance, the answer appears to be a no-brainer: Accept the offer to pay a lump sum of $1,500,000 rather than pay $1,022,000 annually for 54 months, equal to $4,599,000. However, calculating the numbers on subleasing the space at the average asking rate of $18.50 psf produces a profit of $63,609 for the remaining period. (See Table 1.)
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Walter Unger CCIM, CCSS, CCLS
I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 20 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.
WHETHER YOU LEASE OR OWN
NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO EXPAND, UPGRADE OR INVEST.
we are at on the a rise of the cycle in Commercial Real Estate. so there is only one way and it’s called we are going up and now is the time for you to expand, upgrade or invest in Commercial Properties in Phoenix. The prices on deals I may get you will not be around forever.
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Walter Unger CCIM
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