Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2012’

  • APJ Morning News 6.12.12

    Is Atlanta one of the fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in the United States? Petrilli lists the 25 zip codes in the US with the largest change in the white share of the population.

    Where you work affects how you work. How does office space impact your work?

    Decatur Plaza has been sold to a Boston-based company. The building is fully leased to The Emory Clinic, INC.

    CRE pros can manage their portfolio with an app called Property Capsule. The app is iPad, web, and mobile compatible.

    Over the last 20 years, convention space in the US has increased by 50 percent. Is it time to stop building convention centers?


  • Writing for Your CRE Site: Tell Secrets

    Write interesting stuff and I will hang around


    To continue our discussion of best practices in writing for a CRE site or blog, let’s discuss content.

    I have been asked  about what types of information to reveal and what types of knowledge to share. I don’t think there is one answer to that question and it certainly depends on several factors. For instance, if you work for a law firm, you may need to be very careful about your opinions and the insights you share. King and Spalding may not appreciate you telling about their unreasonable practices with their billable hours (I’m sure their hours are reasonable and fair, by the way).

    But I will say that, in general, more sharing is better. In fact, I would go ahead and advise you to tell your secrets and best practices.

    The reason I say that is pretty simple: Readers like interesting content. Reusing the content of others is fine, but nothing will drive content to your site like original content. And I would argue that the most interesting types of original content are “insider knowledge” and “trade secrets.”

    If you don’t believe me, think about your favorite articles. Are they news posts? (This deal happened at this property.) Are they product reviews? (I like this widget for business.) Maybe.

    My favorite articles are the ones that give me an inside look at something or a little known secret of the industry. I once read a great article from the New Yorker about elevator malfunctions and a history of people being trapped in elevators. The article was like 15 pages long and took me the better part of a half hour. But it was fascinating and I loved it. I read it 3 years ago and I still remember it.

    Those articles draw eyes. And lots of them . . .

    Telling secrets, sharing insider knowledge, pointing out what everyone else has missed, those are the articles that really distinguish your voice as interesting and insightful.

    I can already hear the push back:

    Duke, if I tell all my secrets, I will have no competitive advantage and my readers will take deals from me.

    Two things wrong with that feeble complaint.

    First, I never said tell ALL of your secrets. If you found the greatest way to source equity in the history of the planet and no one has figured it out but you, then by all means protect your intellectual property. If it is that revolutionary, patent or trademark it and make money off it. You can patent it, then write about it, and then charge others to use your idea.

    But the vast majority of secrets and best practices are known and shared by the top tier of professionals in a niche. So you really aren’t sharing anything all that revolutionary. You’re just taking info from the upper echelon and distributing it to everyone else.

    In essence that’s what most journalism entails. Since none of us sit in the White House every day, we watch CNN to hear what their reporters gather from the upper echelon of politicians. These politicians are part of an exclusive circle of information and we depend on reporters to find out what they are talking about and what they are thinking in order to remain informed about the direction of our nation’s politics. Your CRE post is no different. You are sharing privileged information with the masses.

    So don’t think that sharing little-known information is new or controversial. Reporters and journalists do it every day and we eat it up.

    The second problem with your intellectual property conundrum is that you probably overestimate your audience both in size and retention.

    The whole point of a blog is to share interesting information with a group of like-minded people. They don’t want to come to your site for info they can get elsewhere. They want original insights and great information. Chances are you won’t have a billion people reading your post; just a few interested parties. The APJ caters to commercial property professionals in Atlanta, GA. How many people is that? A few hundred? Maybe a few thousand? However many it is, I’m not sure it’s enough to change the planet forever with my tricks on how to get a loan or how to manage multiple brokers.

    I think that’s why TentBlogger has tens of thousands of followers. Not only does he tell you how to create great content for your site, but he also tells you how to monetize it. He even told his readers how much money he makes blogging and how he makes it! That is proprietary knowledge that he is sharing with thousands of potential competitors. Have any of them put him out of business? Nope. Will they? Probably not, because he has established a reputation as a knowledge leader and knowledge dispenser. I just mentioned him on this site and linked to his articles. Because he was so forthcoming with info, I mentioned him, linked to his site several times (boosting his SEO), and recommended you read his work. Sounds to me like telling secrets has helped him a great deal . . .

    ProBlogger does the same thing. It’s a blog that makes money while teaching others to make money . . . blogging.

    In fact, thousands of people use this method. Paula Deen isn’t afraid of being out-cooked by someone who buys her cookbook. Eric Schmidt isn’t afraid Google will be overtaken by rivals with the publishing of In The Plex. I doubt Ted Williams was afraid of being out-slugged by some young hot shot when we co-wrote The Science of Hitting.

    All of these people are achievers who shared insights about themselves, their companies, or their recipes. Did they fear being overtaken by a rival by sharing this secret or privileged information? Probably not. There is a huge difference between “knowing” and “doing.”

    I have read Good to Great by Jim Collins at least 3 times in the last 2 years. In a debate on Corporate Strategy and Business Excellence, he would destroy me and make me look like a child. If there were a moderator in our debate, his response to my comments may be something like this:


    All kidding aside, it’s a little silly to think that the consumer of information can match the distributor of information. If you learn a trick, share it with the world, and then are overtaken by those who read your trick, then I would assert that they would have overtaken you eventually anyway.

    Think about the people you know who still cling to best practices from 1985. Are they industry leaders and market drivers? Absolutely not. The best of the best are constantly learning, changing, and adapting. If your secrets, tricks, and insider knowledge are the same as the secrets, tricks, and insider knowledge you possess in 10 years, then you will have already been passed by.

    Sharing a secret/trick/insider tip you have about the best way to conduct a property visit, or the best practices for stream-lining construction loans , or 5 tips on obtaining equity financing, will NOT hurt you in the long run and I would argue that it will only help your reputation with your audience and followers in the short run.

    So, if sharing secrets and insider knowledge doesn’t hurt you in the long run and only helps you in the short run, why are you still protecting that intellectual property? Share it with the rest of us, let us tell you how smart and wonderful you are, and then we will forget it and you can still be the expert. Just teach me something interesting and I promise I will come back hungry to learn more. Teach me something I could learn elsewhere and I will just go wherever is easiest or best looking.

    Secrets and insider knowledge make your posts unique and interesting. If you don’t share them, then (eventually) someone else will and I will just hang around on their site.

    – Duke


  • APJ Morning News 6.11.12

    Here are some great pictures of midtown commercial property. They are done in a time lapse form to capture the changing beauty of the skyline. Enjoy!

    Upcoming TSPLOST referendum is asking to raise sales tax to help relieve Atlanta traffic congestion. One writer gives 3 reasons why he doesn’t think that will happen.

    Law firms are banning together to drive sustainable initiatives. These firms hope to draw more clients and improve the public view of the firm. This philosophy is changing how law firms practice law and how they run their business.

    Stock market decline, recent decline in REIT’s and several large investments are updated in the Commercial Real Estate Week in Review for June 2-8.

    Buckhead shopping center Powers Ferry Square could get nearly $900,000 in renovations. The building permit was requested on Friday. Powers Ferry Square is owned by Regency Retail Partnership.

  • Weekly Financial Market Update: June 4-8

    APJ is pleased to announce a new weekly article!

    Every Friday, our financial markets expert will be posting on the latest market trends from the past 5 days. If there are any metrics or maret trends you wish to hear about, please let us know in the comments!

    This week’s update:

    Equity markets: The S&P 500 rose 3.7% on the week. There wasn’t any great catalyst for the move. Optimism grew that the Federal Reserve will do another round of quantitative easing if financial conditions worsen. China cut interest rates this week, leading people to think they could begin a new round of stimulus programs. More importantly, after a nearly 10% market decline since the beginning of April, it looks like the selloff from the weak May payrolls report may have finally shaken out enough investors to lead to at least a short-term bottom. We’re now in the stock market’s summer period following Memorial Day, and news flow will be light until the economic data at the beginning of July and Q2 earnings season starting in the middle of July, so any major developments out of Europe may have even more of an impact than normal.

    Bond markets: The 10-year treasury yield rose 0.19% this week, from 1.45% to 1.64%. Again, this was driven by a reduction in fear given the stock market rally, positive developments from the Federal Reserve and China, and a lack of bad European headlines.

    Currency markets: The dollar was little changed on the week, falling about 0.4%. Over the past few years stock market rallies have coincided with dollar selloffs and vice versa, so this is the most logical explanation.

    Interbank markets: 12-month LIBOR was unchanged on the week at 1.07%.

    Next week: News flow will be quiet until Friday, when May industrial production and the Empire Manufacturing reports will be released. Additionally, with Euro 2012 underway (June 8th – July 1st), it’s possible that Europeans will be too distracted to try to crush the US economy over the next few weeks. All in all it should be pretty quiet until the elections in Greece on June 17th.

    – The Earl

  • Book Review: The Power of Habit

    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

    Image courtesy

    If you’ve read any of our past reviews, you will know that I’m a big fan of habit formation and business psychology. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a book called “The Power of Habit” would catch my eye.

    I bought and listened to the audio version a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed it.

    The basic premise is that there are certain patterns that have been scrutinized surrounding both positive and negative habits. You can imagine that this is a blossoming branch of science as habitual smokers are desperate to quit, over-eaters crave self control, and habitual gamblers try to walk away from the slots. Intuitively, the business of habits, both how to form the good ones and how to break the bad ones, is potentially worth billions of dollars.

    The book, by Charles Duhigg, walks through a dozen stories that illustrate the newest and most innovative thinking on habit formation and deconstruction. Duhigg has a gift for navigating controversial issues with science. Much like Gladwell claimed that Japanese children were good at math because of ancestral rice-farming and Levitt claimed that abortion led a decreases in crime, Duhigg uses facts and science to avoid moral debates on habitual gambling or other socially questionable addictions.

    One basic take-away from the book is the basic routine of any habit. Duhigg delves deeply into the brain and it’s functions in the various steps of the process, but for my purposes I was really only interested in the process itself. It is as follows:

    Queue – Response – Reward

    Something will queue your action. According to that queue you take some action. Because of that action, you get a reward.

    Let’s use smoking as a quick example. Say you start smoking when you feel stressed. In that habit cycle, your queue would be stress. You feel stressed and your trained response to that would be to grab a cigarette. After lighting up, you would get the brief buzz of the nicotine. So the stress queues the action of smoking which delivers the reward of the buzz.

    Interesting right?

    Try to apply that to your life or your customers . . .

    Better yet, let Duhigg do it.

    My favorite example from the book actually involves a retailer in a mall setting. Cinnabon is a national purveyor of molten, gooey cinnamon rolls that seem to melt in your mouth. They may be one of the most unhealthy foods on the planet, but they are just plain fantastic. Cinnabon knows this and uses habit to bring in customers. In their case, they know that the queue for someone buying their naughty treats is the smell of a fresh baked cinnamon roll. That enticing aroma of doughy cinnamon can bring a man to his knees. So, Cinnabon tries to maximize that aroma for its potential customers. They will actually pick their location within a mall to maximize the delivery of that aroma.

    That’s why you will see Cinnabon a good bit away from the food court. Amidst the odors of teriyaki chicken and beef burritos, the alluring cinnamon can be lost. So Cinnabon will locate a good bit away from the food court and put their ovens close to the window. That way the maximum amount of smell is wafting out of their store front and it isn’t muddied by other smells.

    It’s half evil and half genius. They are tapping into the queue of the smell to get the action of purchasing the roll for your reward of the taste.

    Beyond the implications of retail, I think habits are what make our daily lives. As the saying goes: You are what you repeatedly do. In the end, our actions are just a collection of habits. And all of us have some habits we would like to correct. So, you can use the Queue-Action-Reward process, alter any one of the three, and create newer, better habits. Or, if you are perfect, use the knowledge to help your customers or clients (as Cinnabon did, kinda).

    This book and its concepts may not be a life-changer like Compound Effect or Win Friends, but I think it’s a great read full of interesting anecdotes and well worth your time.


    Power of Habit in Two Sentences: All habits, both positive and negative, can be broken down into three steps: Queue – Action – Reward. If you wish to change a habit (i.e. the “Action”), then tweak the queue or the reward and watch your habit either improve or disappear.

    Pros: Interesting read with good anecdotes to illustrate points. Very good personal and professional applications if you chose to use the information that way.

    Cons: A bit scientific and cerebral. May be be a little overwhelming for those uninterested in brain biology and cognitive habits.

    Target Audience: Anyone who has habits, I suppose.

    This book is best for: Those stuck in the grip of bad habits (or a single bad habit), those looking to cater to or manipulate the habits or others (retailers), or those ambitious to improve their habits

    Overall Rating: ♦♦♦♦ (out of 5)

    Here is the Amazon link to buy this book:

    Ratings Guide

    ♦ = Not worth your time

    ♦♦ = May be worth your time if it is specific to your industry or interests

    ♦♦♦ = A decent book and worthy addition to your library depending on your interests

    ♦♦♦♦ = A great book and an excellent addition to your library.

    ♦♦♦♦♦ = One of the all time classics. A must-read for anyone and everyone.


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  • APJ Morning News 6.8.12

    Chinese developers create a clone of an Austrian town. Although there was some opposition, the town was completed just outside of  Huizhou.

    Google street view apps are helpful in the office and out. Adding a Google street view map to property listings is simple to do.

    Atlantic Station has a new advisory board. The board will help improve Atlantic Station’s relationship within the community. The board includes business and civic leaders from the Atlanta area.

    Business owners, and contractors,  should be aware of two Georgia court cases. The results of the case will have an impact on worker’s compensations in the future.

    Myrick Commercial Real Estate has joined with Bullock Mannelly Partners . Myrick will serve as the managing director for the land brokerage and investment banking group.

  • APJ Morning News 6.6.12

    Several improvements are happening in midtown. Midtown Alliance Capital updates us on what is happening now.

    According to National Real Estate Investor, the Top Lenders in Commercial Real Estate include Metlife and JP Morgan, with the number 1 lender being Wells Fargo. The ranking was created through an annual Top Lenders Survey.

    Will Atlanta ever be a successful urban city? Lee Kolber of thinks that with time and deliberate careful planning, maybe.

    What does a “smart city” look like? Check out this VIDEO to see how technology can help us in the future.

    Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge gets help from Midtown Alliance. The Better Buildings Challenge is a national competition to encourage private companies to invest in making commercial buildings more efficient.

  • APJ Morning News

    Pollution is not just a problem now. Back in the 1940’s , Pittsburgh had a severe pollution problem. Many steps had to be taken to clean the city up.

    First, smart phones, and now smart cities? What is the Future of the City? How do emerging technologies change culture? This video is part of an ongoing series.

    With the current crisis in the residential market, multifamily comes to the rescue.

    More and more of our future population will live in cities. How do we prepare for this increase and how do we fight climate change? With 4,700 measures as a start.

    Brookhaven’s redevelopment centers on creating a landscape that is not all automobiles. National tenants who have their own views on how to use space may derail Brookhaven’s Peachtree Dreams.


  • Types of Posts for CRE Blogs


    Your audience is ready. What are you going to tell them?

    Ready to start writing for your commercial real estate blog?

    Yes? Super duper!

    . . . go ahead . . . .

    . . . right now  . . .

    . . . any time . . .

    . . . we are waiting . . .

    Need some ideas where to start? Well, I would suggest that you review our previous posts about the 5 Steps to Posting on Your CRE Blog. After that, you probably need an idea.

    We can help you with that.

    In my mind there are a few basic types of articles to write for CRE specific sites: quick notes on news, reviews of other people’s articles, a curation of resources, opinions (my favorite), product reviews, interviews, or data interpretation.

    Let’s take them one-at-a time:

    1. Quick Notes on News

    This is one of the quickest and easiest posts. You simply take some news that’s published elsewhere and post it on your site. You are adding value to your readers because you are saving them the time of finding these articles themselves. I like to put comments or observations with my links, but it is more than sufficient to simply repost and add links to current news. Curbed does a good job of creating posts around news and Llenrock does a great job of simply reposting articles (or videos, in this case).


    2. Reviews of Other People’s Articles

    No need to get in anyone's face

    This is slightly different than notes on news because it involves opinions. In this type of post, you are commenting on a post someone else made by agreeing with or disagreeing with their view on Subject X. You can also use this type of post to draw attention to a post that you like and what it did for you. You can say “I saw THIS post at THAT site and it helped me do THIS for THAT thing.” That way you are validating the article, but also taking it one step further to its application in your life/business/career. If you read an article on TentBlogger about coworking space, you could talk about how it made you realize the sudden demand for that type of office product in the city and then muse for a few paragraphs about the finer points of that trend. (Tip – Be nice here. The internet is written in ink and people will never forget when you call their opinion stupid or ridiculous.)



    3. A Curation of Resources

    This is one of my favorites to read, but not necessarily my favorite to write. It’s basically just a huge list of resources for a given category. These posts save your readers a massive amount of time and energy in research. If you have all of the latest and greatest resources in one place, they don’t have to waste their precious time looking for the right link. DailyTekk is one of the best on the planet at this and Duke Long has great posts about people to follow on LinkedIn, CRE blogs to read, or CRE people to follow on Twitter.


    4. Opinions

    Think that building is ugly? Are all traffic engineers idiots? Is TSPLOST the best thing to happen to Atlanta since the Olympics? Write it down, defend it, and prepare for a fight. Nothing gets comments going more than a strong opinion article. I love this type of writing because . . . I’m opinionated (scandalous revelation, no?). I have strong opinions and I like sharing them. There are so many facets to our industry and our city that these topics are almost unlimited, and as long as you remain cordial and respectful of the opposing view, these are some of the most interesting articles to read. Coy Davidson does a good job on these posts.


    5. Product Reviews

    Did you just try to CoStarGo app? Have you found some flaws in ARGUS? Did you just visit a recently opened property? Review it (them) and share in your post. As I mentioned above, you are saving time for your readers here. Readers like this for the same reason they like to check Rotten Tomatoes. They want to see what others are saying before they form their opinion. CRE-Apps is the winner in this arena.


    6. Interviews

    Sit down with a local executive and ask him 3/5/10 interesting questions. There are very few rules when you’re writing for a blog instead of a newspaper, so feel free to be creative with your questions because creative questions will create interesting responses. I would caution you thusly: be respectful of their time and send them the questions ahead of time. Execs are very busy and have many demands on their time. Don’t come in asking for an hour. Ask for 20 minutes and be grateful when you get it. Also, let him or her read the questions ahead of time. That way they aren’t caught off guard and they can prepare witty or pithy replies. Make them look smart and they will like you. Then publish it and let me read it!


    7. Data Interpretation

    The census just published some good data or the government just provided voting trends for the city? Pick through it, find a trend, and comment on it. This can be time-consuming and (if the data isn’t easily sortable) tedious. But these posts are VERY interesting and thought provoking. You can drive a ton of traffic to your site with an original trend idea that you noticed from the data. Maybe 94% of unmarried Asians in Atlanta vote against TSPLOST in July. Why did that happen and why should I care? That would be an interesting article worth a read.


    There may be more types of posts and the more creative you can get the better. But those 7 listed above are by far the most common and highly read types of posts on blogs.

    Think about the types of posts that you read. Would you agree that most of them fall into these categories? Do you prefer re-packaged information like 1,2,3 & 7? Or do you prefer more original content like 4, 5, and 6? Let us know in the comments!

    – Duke



  • Atlanta Property Journal 6/5/2012

    A city audit points to Atlanta Station’s success to show why stronger city control over redevelopment is beneficial. Read the full article HERE

    The S&P has decided to revamp the CMBS rating system after being blocked from all new issue deals. Read what The CRE Review has to say about the changes HERE

    Commercial Real Estate  can “lift” your assets. New automated parking garages store your car using a mechanical lift. While they are still extremely new, Brandywine Realty lists why they can be advantageous. For the complete article, read HERE

    To REIT or not to REIT, Brad Thomas shares his views on why he chooses not to own shares in REIT’s. Here are his four RULES

    Cortland Partners acquires it’s 29th acquisition since mid-2010. Tuscan Apartments in Norcross has been purchased for $7M. The details of the sale can be found HERE



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