Categories Economy, Narrative

Finally AZ is Growing Again!

Arizona is growing again. Of all the states boasting job growth, we are at the top. We have been doing it with regional headquarters relocations, internal growth, and a robust tech market.

I give a lot of credit for this growth to our pro-business Governor Doug Ducey. This narrative is decidedly not political, but our growth is cause for celebration. 

One interesting trend we are seeing is Arizona taking a lot of jobs and business from California. We will see this trend continue, as Arizona is a great place to do business. See how many jobs have moved here in the past couple years by clicking here

Below is a cool infographic from Sandra Watson and her team at the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).  Between the ACA and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, we are flat out kicking butt for jobs.

In Arizona, we are open for business.

P.S. – Last week we talked about driverless cars. Singapore is testing driverless taxis. Now! Autonomous cars are speeding up. Click here to read more. 


Click Here to view the full pdf.


Categories Narrative, Tech Industry

Autonomous Cars

I have talked about autonomous cars previously. All of the coming disruption is just the next evolution in transportation. If you think driverless cars won’t happen in your lifetime, you’re wrong. Here is a link to a New York Times article about Ford putting these automobiles on the road in less than 5 years (click here to read). Starting in a month, Uber will be providing driverless rides in Pittsburgh (click here to watch a short video).  Google and Tesla have already made a commitment. All these companies and more are spending billions of dollars to get in the game.

How the disruption affects commercial real estate remains to be seen, but here are a couple thoughts from an interesting article below:

  • People will start moving back to the suburbs as commute times become productive. You can work in your driverless car. 
  • The demand for subways and other means of transportation will decrease, changing retail, office, and services. 
  • Parking will change dramatically, and the necessity for commercial parking garages will decrease. Suburban parking lots will be used for other purposes.
  • A new real estate opportunity for “Car Nesting” will emerge. See below for more on this.
  • The industrial and logistic companies are going to change drastically as their transportation process becomes more reliable and efficient. Driverless trucks can run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. On a side note, what will happen to truck stops?

Keeping ahead of this seismic change in how we move around will be important for all of us to monitor. I promise to keep you abreast of the progress. I love talking about this type of disruption. Email me your thoughts to kick it around. 


P.S.- Our Shark Tank comedy series continues–It is amazing what balls can do these days! Watch this week’s video by clicking here to see if the market agrees with these balls! 

Amazing Balls

(Having trouble viewing the video? Click here)


Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.
                                                                                                                   – E. B. White
By Ben Sayles
July 20, 2016
The future is now: Self-driving cars have moved from fantasy to reality. Technology companies, including Alphabet, Apple and Intel; traditional automobile manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, GM, Nissan and Toyota; and hybrid companies like Tesla are all deploying significant resources to make this revolution happen even faster. Much speculation has been made regarding the impact this new technology will have on everyday life, but what affect will it have on commercial real estate?
So Where Are We and Where Are We Going?
Throughout history, the available modes of transportation have driven real estate development. In the Colonial times, cities clustered around ports, as ships were the main means of delivering raw materials, finished good and even new residents. With the introduction of the light rail, the “Streetcar Suburb” came into existence. The proliferation of the automobile meant that people could live in one location and work in another, thus began urban sprawl. During these successive periods of progress, infrastructure and real estate development were forced to adapt from a primarily pedestrian-oriented environment (save for the occasional horse and carriage) to an auto-centric lifestyle with ever-widening roads and ever-increasing need for parking.
Currently, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift; with the advent of ZipCar (, one no longer needs to own a car. With the advent of Uber (­c) and Lyft (, one no longer needs to own or drive a car. The next evolution – the self-driving car – has the ability to completely revolutionize our built environment.
Impact on Commercial Real Estate
While it is not yet clear how self-driving cars will ultimately take form, it is certain that their mainstream adoption will create shock waves throughout the commercial real estate industry. Blurred Lines: Self-driving cars will dramatically blur the lines between cities and suburbs as the transportation barrier between the two will likely be erased. The push/pull of urbanization and suburbanization has been a fascinating trend since the development of the modern city. Between 1950 and 2010, suburbanization was a dominant force, as people opted to live further outside of cities to get open space and a better quality of life, all the while accepting the commute as the price of admission. Recently, that mindset shifted as urbanization and the “live­work­play” experience are equally prized by millennials, young families and empty nesters. With the advent of self-driving cars, along with the expectation of a reduced commute and better access, people will be able to live where they want to live, work where they need to work and play where, and when, they want to play.
 Urban Impact: While city dwellers already enjoy high Walk Scores (, self-driving cars could effectively meet any remaining transportation needs. Residents could reallocate the cost savings of car ownership, operation and parking toward things like better housing and entertainment. Entryways at many residential buildings will need to be redesigned to accommodate high volume pick­ups and drop offs. Self-driving cars would have an immediate impact on traffic. Not only do people speculate there to be fewer cars on the road, but also the synchronization of cars would hopefully allow traffic to flow much more smoothly and with minimal accidents. Whether autonomous cars favor urbanization or suburbanization, it is clear that the increased flexibility in transportation will allow urban sprawling to remain unchecked.
Suburban ImpactOn the suburban side, autonomous driving could eliminate the biggest burden of living outside the city: commuting. Usually considered “lost” time, the commute could be used for working, sleeping, eating or recreation. For suburban office buildings, shopping malls and apartments, almost all of which, generally, have a sprawling footprint, the same facility could be built on a site half the size of today’s standards. This could potentially lead to a development boom due to the general existence of supply constraints in cities. Additionally, the trade­off of bigger yards for a bigger commute could become much less of a factor and cause a shift back out to the suburbs.
Industrial: Self­driving trucks have the same ability to create change in the real estate industry. Currently, industrial distribution takes place via a “hub and spoke” network with manufacturers supplying large regional hubs that ship products to other warehouses, stores and homes. Having autonomous vehicles able to deliver product directly to end­users could bring about several types of change. Industrial buildings may get bigger and be located further outside of city centers as autonomous vehicles use less energy and would encounter less traffic. They could be more efficiently loaded and unloaded with a potentially wider range of SKUs that would go to a limited number of destinations. On the other hand, industrial buildings may no longer need to be so big, and, instead, the product could be housed in smaller warehouses closer to the population, and automated vehicles would then complete numerous delivery runs quickly and efficiently.
Parking as a Component of New Development: Today, the inclusion of subsurface parking in high-rise construction can actually diminish a developer’s return. With rare exceptions, building inhabitants, particularly those in high-end residential and office buildings, generally require a certain level of parking, rather than viewing it as optional. Below grade parking is incredibly expensive to build, and the general consensus is, the less parking you need to build, the better your economics are. With the increased reliance on public transportation, bicycling and ride sharing, municipalities have already started to reduce the parking requirements of new buildings. The advent of the driverless car could effectively eliminate demand for on­site parking in apartment buildings and greatly reduce the requirements for high-end residential and office buildings.
Autonomous Cars Need to Nest Somewhere: These vehicles will need places to “nest” (or park) while not in use. The vehicles would be constantly roaming, but will need a place to rest when they are not needed or to recharge when they need power. This nesting is likely to come in two forms:
·         Satellite Locations: These would be one­off spaces,located throughout the service area. They could be akin to our metered parking spots of today or in dedicated spaces in different buildings, where a vehicle could go when it is not in service and await the next fare. It might also be a place where a vehicle could go for a quick charge.
·         Home Base: It is very likely that service providers would also seek to invest in large parking garages that could house a large portion of the fleet during off peak hours (nighttime and weekend days) and where mechanics could repair the vehicles as needed.
So What Now?
Less than 10 years ago, the thought of the driverless car was still viewed as something out of The Jetsons. Today, we are living in an “on demand” world, and autonomous vehicles are another incredible technology to make life easier. Driverless cars are likely to bring about some of the most significant changes in real estate and land use within the past 100 years, as architects, developers and city planners need to recalibrate their perspective on transportation. While it is hard to predict exactly what the changes will be or what they will look like, it is a foregone conclusion that our world is about to dramatically change right before our eye.
Categories Narrative

Learn From Arizona’s Top Entrepreneurs

Some of the best entrepreneurs in the United States live right here in Arizona. Instead of sharing an article this week, I thought you would enjoy a video getting inside the minds of some successful businesspeople, like my business partner Craig Coppola.   

“INSPIRE: Stories of the American Dream in Arizona” was created by The Arizona Corporation Commission to showcase some of the state’s best entrepreneurs, and how they achieved success. From the NBA to real estate to restaurants, there are great lessons here you can apply toward any business.  Continuous education is a huge part of our team’s culture and you can take a few minutes to learn something from these first-class professionals.

The video link below is an in-depth interview with my partner Craig, who happens to be the top-performing broker in Lee & Associates’ history (55 offices across the U.S). He does not disappoint! 

Click Here to view the video

Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, please feel free to call me if you have questions on how real estate affects your business.

AC for VR                                                                        


P.S.- For a brief overview of the series, check out the video below, which includes clips from 10 of Arizona’s top entrepreneurs, including Jerry Colangelo, Robert Kiyosaki, and more. Click here to view the video.

Categories Law Firms, Narrative, Office Market

Political Real Estate Issues

Below is a great summary of political issues facing the real estate industry.  I have highlighted some key issues specifically for commercial real estate.  These include:

  • Ongoing tax reform may make “Like Kind Exchanges” more difficult to close and lose tax benefits drying up volume.
  • New standardized accounting principles for leases could decrease cash flow to owners. This is a huge issue for a ton of our clients.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program is up for reauthorization – if not authorized, millions of people will not be able to get mortgages. I am sure it will get reauthorized, but this political season is the craziest of the crazy.
  • New water regulations could cause higher costs for developer permits. We have experienced “navigable” waters in AZ and guess what ….it was a wash.  Federal overreach in this area is, well, CRAZY.
If you want to discuss any of these issues, or others you see in your business, send me an email.


P.S.- We know you will swipe right for this week’s video. The video can be seen on our website by clicking here.

If you cant view this video, please click here.

Advocacy: A Look at Several of the Issues Important to Your Business
May 17, 2016
NAR is actively engaged on issues affecting all aspects of the commercial real estate industry, supported by thousands of staff hours working tirelessly on your behalf to ensure you and your clients can conduct business.
1031 Like Kind Exchanges
Under both House and Senate tax reform proposals released in the 113th Congress, Section 1031 is repealed, and further, the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 proposed limits on the deferral provisions of Section 1031. Although none of these proposals progressed in the 113th Congress, if tax reform plans are introduced in the 114th Congress it is likely that they will borrow heavily from the previous ones, so Section 1031 is still at risk. 
What does this mean for my business?
The exchange rules often provide a real estate professional with an opportunity to facilitate two transactions: the sale of the relinquished property and the purchase of the replacement property. Any curtailment of the exchange rules will make both pieces of exchange transactions more difficult to conclude and would mean many transactions would not take place. The like kind exchange technique is among the most important of all tax provisions for real estate investors and commercial real estate professionals.
Commercial Lead-Based Paint
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to consider federal rules that would regulate the renovation and remodeling activities in public and commercial buildings to address possible lead-based paint hazards. The EPA is collecting data about the hazards presented by lead based paint and how renovation and remodeling activities in commercial and public buildings would potentially increase the harm to building occupants.What does this mean for my business?

Residential property managers must spend more on staff that now must be EPA certified in lead-safe renovation procedures. The Agency may impose the same regulatory burden on commercial building owners and managers if data show their RRP activities pose a child lead hazard. In addition, contractors must be certified and comply with the lead-safe renovation procedures, which drives up the cost of these renovation activities, which drives up the cost of owning and managing both residential and commercial properties.

Credit Union Lending
The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) proposed a rule which would eliminate restrictions on credit unions making member business loans (MBL). The proposal would give credit unions more autonomy in creating commercial lending policies unique to each credit union. The proposal would also create a new treatment for construction and development loans.

What does this mean for my business?

What has worked in the past may not work now in terms of accessing credit. Increased banking regulations, particularly in community and regional banks, mean banks are spending more of their capital on regulatory compliance.

Energy Deduction 179D
The Section 179D deduction in the Internal Revenue Code encourages greater energy efficiency in our nation’s commercial and larger multifamily buildings, by allowing for cost recovery of energy efficient windows, roofs, lighting, and heating and cooling systems meeting certain energy savings performance targets. Without section 179D, the same energy efficient property would be depreciated over 39 years (nonresidential) or 27.5 years (residential). In the Omnibus Appropriation bill passed on December 18, 2015, Section 179-D was extended retroactively to include the 2015 tax year and through 2016.

What does this mean for my business?

In addition to reducing energy consumption and saving owners and tenants’ money, these improvements can also increase the property’s attractiveness to new tenants and help them retain value as they age.Short-term extensions of 179D and allowing it to expire, even for short periods that are covered retroactively, can undermine its purpose, as building owners may be unsure as to whether it will apply to improvements they hope to make and opt not to take the risk.

Energy Efficiency
The federal government is moving forward with voluntary energy efficiency policies and programs, as well as regulations to limit the U.S. atmospheric contribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Some of these policies, programs and regulations may impact the built environment, including commercial properties.

What does this mean for my business?

If energy efficiency were federally mandated, property owners’ ability to sell their home or building could be at risk without first having to conduct energy audits and improve its heating and cooling system, windows, insulation and/or lighting.

Lease Accounting
As part of a larger effort to converge accounting standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) have been working since 2005 to develop a standardized approach to lease accounting. The latest reports from FASB indicate it will replace the current dual model approach with a new one: though leases currently categorized as “operating leases” will be brought onto balance sheets under the new rule, “Type A” leases are treated as capital leases and “Type B” leases continue to be recorded as straight-line rent expenses. Most real estate leases will fall into the “Type B” category. The updated standards were released in February 2016 and will go into effect for public companies in 2019 and private companies in 2020.

What does this mean for my business?

The new standards could harm businesses of all sizes, especially lessees and lessors of commercial real estate. With more bloated balance sheets, some companies may see their debt-to-equity ratios increase and find it more difficult to obtain credit, especially those with heavy debt loads or still recovering from the recession. The new standard could also complicate compliance with debt covenants or agreements between the bank and borrower, which usually prohibit companies from borrowing more than they are worth. By capitalizing new and/or existing leases, some businesses could show more debt than allowed in their agreement with the lender, and therefore be in default of their loan. This could force some firms to put up more capital for existing loans or even have their credit lines revoked.

Additionally, the elimination of off-balance-sheet financing could be detrimental to commercial property owners. More frugal lessees will want less space and shorter-term leases without renewal options or contingent rents, which will decrease cash flow for property owners. Shorter-term rents will likely reduce the borrowing capacity of many commercial real estate lessors, who rely on leases and the value of the property as collateral in order to obtain financing. Ultimately, property owners would be forced to increase rent rates due to market uncertainty and reduce tenant improvements due to shorter recovery periods. Conversely, this change could encourage some firms to consider buying instead of leasing commercial real estate.

Leasehold Improvements
The 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties provision expired at the end of 2013; in December 2015, Congress passed and the President signed into law an Omnibus Appropriations bill which makes the provision permanent. Thus, it is now available for all improvements to property placed in service.

What does this mean for my business?

Property owners are required to amortize the costs of improvements made on behalf of tenants over a recovery period that has no relation to the economic life of the assets. This artificially depresses rates of return. Providing a shorter and more realistic depreciation period for tenant improvements allows upgrades for technology and modernization to be more economically feasible. These types of improvements help assure that nonresidential buildings will be adequately maintained and remain technologically current.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was extended for five years in 2012 by the Biggert-Waters Act, but Congress must reauthorize it again to continue providing flood insurance after 2017. Biggert-Waters also phased out subsidized flood insurance rates for many commercial properties but severe implementation problems threatened to undermine real estate transactions where flood insurance is required to obtain a mortgage. In March 2014 Congress responded to these issues by amending Biggert-Waters with the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act.” The new law, among other things, restores the grandfathering of properties under lower risk rates upon remapping, reduces the increased rates of non-grandfathered properties, and repeals rate premium increases at the sale of properties (including refunding increases to those who have already paid them). In June 2015 Reps. Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL) introduced H.R. 2901, the “Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act,” which clarifies that property owners may satisfy federal flood insurance requirements with either NFIP or private coverage. The bill was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on March 2, 2016.

What does this mean for my business?

Without the NFIP, millions of home and small business owners in more than 20,000 communities nationwide would not be able to obtain a mortgage or insurance to protect their property against the most expensive and common natural disaster in the U.S.: flooding. The NFIP was created because of the lack of access to affordable flood insurance coverage in the private market. It also reduced the number of uninsured properties that otherwise would rebuild with tax payer funded disaster relief after major floods.


Waters of the U.S. Definition
In April 2014 the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly proposed a rule to “clarify” which bodies of water are “waters of the U.S.,” and thus able to be regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In support of this, the agencies released a draft science report on “connectivity” of various bodies of water in the U.S. Depending on how the definition is finalized, compliance with the CWA under it may require expensive, time-consuming federal permits to develop private property near most water bodies, not just those which are navigable (as under the current regulatory scheme). The final definition was released in May 2015, and several states sued the government. In October 2015, an appellate court ruled to stay the implementation of the rule, effectively halting the rule from going forward.


What does this mean for my business?

Depending on the “U.S. water” definition, the Act will require expensive, time-consuming federal permits to develop private property near most water bodies — not just those which are navigable. In addition, property owners may experience a taking under the regulation without adequate compensation, as prescribed under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.

Categories Narrative, Tech Industry

Using Drones in Business

We know technology is disrupting business at an incredible rate. One big area is using drones. There has been a lot of controversy and excitement about introducing drones to business, the military, and more. This technology has the potential to disrupt many industries.

Below is an article detailing some companies that have already begun testing drones, including my top picks:

-Get your package from Amazon in less than half an hour
-Have all your mail delivered by drone
-Have your groceries delivered to you at home

A few weeks ago, I was backpacking along a railroad. A couple trucks retrofitted to run on the rails came by inspecting the tracks. Drones will eliminate those. Where will drones fit in your business? Here is one way we are using drones in our business. Click here to view.


15 UK companies using drones

Tech World

Drone sales are expected to more than double from 2015 to 2016, according to Juniper Research. The agricultural sector is expected to account for 48 percent of purchases. Techworld looks at how businesses both in the UK and abroad are using the technology to improve customer service, maintenance and even capture the news. Image: ©Amazon

Drones for farming

A wide range of organisations are exploring the use of drones for farming in the UK: from traditional vendors like Thales or Yamaha to universities, government-backed bodies and startups. Juniper Research estimates the agricultural sector will account for 48 percent of all commercial drones sales in 2016.

Drone 1
© Europa

Royal Mail delivery drones

Canadian-born Royal Mail CEO said that the postal service is considering both drones for air-mail as well as autonomous delivery trucks. 

Drone 2
Post box © Flickr/Ian Britton


Devon and Cornwall police are trialling drones fitted with HD cameras to help search for missing people, monitoring traffic accidents and capture crime scene photos in a similar way to the Helicopter response service.

Drone 3
Dorset Police

Asda grocer-drones?

Asda’s parent company, American retailer Walmart, applied for drone licenses to deliver shopping through the skies yesterday.

Sadly, the application has been made in the states, where Walmart is headquartered, so it may be some time until UK customers can fly their shopping home. 
Drone 4

NASA to work with UK for drone traffic system

The UK government is discussing a drone traffic management system with NASA, Lord Ahmad Tariq, the Under Secretary of State for Transport, revealed in the House of Lords.

Peers have previously suggested that civilian drones could be tracked and traced for security and safety reasons.

Drone 5
NASA is also working on driverless cars ©Nissan

Amazon Prime Air

Toward the end of last year Amazon advertised for a drone operator who would be based in Cambridge. Applicants needed “flight test experience, manned or unmanned” and “5+ years of relevant aviation experience, either civilian or military with either manned or unmanned aviation”.

It hopes to drop packages weighing less than 5lbs at customer’s doors in half an hour through its Prime Air service.

Drone 6


Logistics firm DHL has been working on drone deliveries long before Amazon. It has even delivered to a pharmaceutical company based on an Island in Germany using its parcelcopter. 

Drone 7
DHL has a technology trends team ©DHL

BA pilot’s open drone school

Four British Airways pilots opened a UK-based drone training school called UAV Air to help people learn how to fly unmanned aircraft safely and legally. Courses will set you back £1,150 – £1,500. 

Drone 8 2
British Airways isn’t endorsing the school, but four of its pilots are founders ©BritishAirways


Shell uses drones in some of Europe’s largest energy plants, and is rolling them out in oil and gas facilities in hard-to-reach places (like tall towers or the underside of an offshore oil rig) because it is safer, and more efficient, than sending people. 

Drone 9
Workers at a Shell plant prepare a drone ©Shell

Network Rail

Network Rail’s ORBIS project, which will see the railways in the UK digitised with 3D cameras and visualised online to analyse maintenance and field worker distribution. It currently uses aerial cameras but would like to use drones to get a better picture of the transport networks.

Drone 10
©Network Rail

Balfour Beatty

The construction firm’s CIO said in 2013 said he would assess whether drones would be useful for building walls and increasing staff safety.

Drone 11
©Flickr/Vondera Visuals

Park rangers in Africa

It’s not quite the UK, but Spanish engineers at Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona have developed a drone that could be used to catch rhino poachers in national parks in Africa, thanks to its thermal vision technology.

Drone 12
©Flickr/Chris the Scot

BBC and other British Media

Media outlets like the BBC and Al Jazeera have begun using drones to film overhead – but with some undesirable consequences. Three BBC journalists were questioned after breaching high-level security protocols in Davos for the World Economic Forum, and Parisian police arrested three Al Jazeera reporters after their drone was spotted in the Boi de Boulogne skies.

Drone 13


Budget airline easyJet has begun completing safety inspections on its aircrafts using drones.

The drone was tested at Luton airport, with plans to roll the technology out to the rest of the network by 2016.

Drone 14

UK government

Drones in the Ministry of Defence and other aspects of the government are a closely guarded secret. In the past, the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Cross Government Working Group have refused to outline its drone policy. This could be about to change now that it has settled with the Information Commisioner’s Office outside of court, over Freedom of Information Act rules.

Drone 15

US army

Yes, it’s not a UK company. But it is interesting that the US army has tested consumer drones – and decided that they are worth defending against. 

The army brought consumer quadcopters and octocopters to the Network Integration Evaluation war games at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Drone 16
©JohnHamilton_IDG News Service​


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