Last night, I made it home in time to catch one of my favorite shows, Big Bang Theory (a show about the lives of a couple of uber-geeks – reminds me of my youth), when instead I was treated to our new president giving his spiel about the stimulus package making its way through congress.
Don’t get me wrong, I like being stimulated as much as the next guy… but there are a group of people right here in the Wausau area who are doing some brain storming to see how they can do some of the stimulating themselves.
Last Wednesday morning, the CREA invited me to speak to their organization. (I believe that CREA stands for Commercial Real Estate Association, but I am not 100% sure.) Although the topic that I was asked to talk about was valuing commercial real estate from an investment point of view, what I found much more interesting was the discussion that took place prior to me “taking the stage.”
This group consists of some of the best and brightest in our region’s commercial real estate scene. It includes brokers and agents who specialize in commercial property; it includes owners and developers; it includes bankers and appraisers. This was the second time I was asked to be the speaker for this group’s monthly meeting, which I find as a great compliment. Considering the background of most of the people in the room, I am the one who should be sitting at the desk trying to absorb the knowledge that these people have to offer.
Anyway, back to the “stimulating” discussion before my presentation. The question that was being discussed: what can be done by this group, by these leaders in commercial real estate, what can be done by them to stimulate our local economy? We all understand the government is trying to do something, as was said last night on TV, something is better than nothing (I disagree but that is a discussion for a different day). However, help by the government is not really known for its speed or is effectiveness, and instead of just sitting on the sidelines and heckling, the CREA is trying to come up with ideas that will help stimulate our local economy, create jobs, and do so in a method that is quick, easy, and makes sense.
A number of ideas were brought up (as is the nature of brain storming, you don’t really discuss ideas at this point, you try to get as many different ideas on the table as you possibly can, you wait to discuss them after you have everything on the table.. then you can start looking at each idea individually for its merits, problems, etc.)
Ideas included everything from rent breaks for new businesses to partnering with existing programs that help educate new business leaders to putting in their own funds to start a revolving loan program for small businesses that would be easier to navigate than current ones out there. Again, all of these ideas are just that – ideas. They need to take a look at each one. They need to determine if the idea will really help. They need to determine if the idea is really feasible. They need to determine if the idea is legal. They need to determine if the idea has unintended consequences. They still have a long way to go.
However, I think it is encouraging that the members of this informal group recognize that they are in a position to go above and beyond and truly be a part of the solution. It is encouraging that when people in real estate need to start tightening their belts because of the current economic times, they are still willing to do something to help, even if it means money out of their own pockets.
If you have ideas, feel free to submit a comment to this blog, I will be sure that those in the group know to check this blog so that they might have more ideas on the table.
Before I forget, I should probably let you know what I plan on talking about on Wednesday’s Dr Rent Radio Show (5 PM, 93.3 FM, WNRB-LP). The main topic will be what is known as the shadow market. Many people who own homes that aren’t selling have decided to rent them out to help make that mortgage payment. We will discuss the pro’s and con’s. We will talk about ramifications that many may not be aware of, such as how the decision to turn the home into a rental may affect your mortgage, your insurance, and some of the tax implications. I did have a really good question this last week. Per their request, I am not going to get into the specifics of the question. But what I will do is discuss how rental agreements for houses or apartments are a little different if the housing is associated with a job (for example, you work for a property management company and as a part of your wage, they give you a free apartment to live in).
Until then, HAPPY RENTING!