Straight Talk with John Lauriello

Southpace Principal John LaurielloLooking back at 2015

Last year was our 31st year in business. As I say every year, “Where did the time go?”

We had an overall good year in 2015; had a few staff changes, added some folks, lost one of our wonderful brokers, Tyler Bradford, who was hired by Books-A-Million as Vice President of Real Estate—all things considered 2015 was fine.

Our brokerage activity was mixed, we added some new property management assignments and developed a few projects for clients. Our retail brokers have been really busy, the warehouse and industrial sector was OK, and overall office, especially south of town, has been very soft.

Downtown is doing very well, with new and redevelopment projects being developed for residential rental units, mixed use and office. There is more than $600 million
in private development in the downtown/midtown area—that’s more than the last 15-20 years combined.

Up until now our most consistent growth in the downtown/midtown area has been Children’s Hospital, UAB and Health Services, which continue to grow, but now private developers are in the market. For the first time in 30 years, UAB/Health Services has competition for properties, which is raising the price of property in the lower southside/midtown areas.

Avondale and Lakeview continue to grow and expand, especially with all the new residential units and retail being developed for lease. The over-the-mountain activity for retail and residential is also very good, with prices continuing to increase and demand exceeding supply. North and East of Birmingham, Gardendale, Fultondale, Trussville and Moody are also enjoying good retail and residential activity.

The overall outlook for metro Birmingham is OK, not great. We simply are not adding many new jobs or bringing new companies to our market. The cities we compete with—Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Jacksonville,Tampa—are all doing fine. Nashville maybe the hottest city in the south, other than Atlanta.

Investment properties are selling for really low cap rates/returns. It’s a great time to be a seller of investment grade real estate and a horrible time, in our opinion, to be a buyer—unless you’re a tenant owner, in which case, these deals can still work, mainly due to extremely low interest rates.

In fact, several of my clients who own buildings that they occupy are being contacted by many folks to sell their properties, with them signing long term leases. This “Sale-Leaseback” is not a bad option, but if you have a property that your firm/company occupies that is either paid for or will be paid off within the next three, five or seven years, why sell it? Where will you find a safer investment than a building you own and occupy? If we did the deal for you, the return before taxes is normally 10% or more per year. Where can you find a better investment in the current market?

There is simply too much money chasing too few deals. Again, it’s a great time if you want to “cash out” and sell.

We are overly conservative on buying existing properties for our clients with low returns. We receive calls several times a month from great clients and friends who have money and want to invest in income producing properties.  We are not finding many deals that we can recommend.

It is not that we are afraid of risks, it’s simply that the pricing is too high, and three to five years from now these types of investments may look awful.

Maybe we are too old-fashioned, but we worry about our clients and friends more than we worry about ourselves. And that is not going to change.

We hope everyone has a wonderful 2016!

John Lauriello, CCIM, SIOR is a founding Principal at Southpace Properties

Straight Talk with John Lauriello

Southpace Principal, John Lauriello2014 was our 30th year in business. Where did the time go?

We had a very productive 2014: new brokers, a new property manager, new property management accounts, plus several new business clients. We’re very grateful for this growth. This year we also upgraded our software and bought two new American made vans for our maintenance folks, with plans to buy another in 2015. And as always, we continue to have a polite human being answer our phones Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

As we now enter our 31st year we feel we have the best team of brokers, property managers and overall staff in the company’s history. We think our future is bright and that Southpace Properties, Inc. will be around for many more years. We believe our sleepy metro Birmingham market is poised for growth with good leadership and the use of common sense.

Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello: We’re Turning 30

john on purple copyIt all began the first week of January in 1984. Bill McDavid left his independent commercial real estate practice and I left Colonial Properties. I was redeveloping the Title Building and we moved into a small office on the 9th floor. It was the only room in the building that had any glass in the windows. I can remember how cold it was those first few winter months like it was yesterday.

Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: We’re Turning 30”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello

Southpace is now 29 years old and we are very proud of the company we have developed.  We pride ourselves as being totally independent and our goal is to help our clients make decisions that work best for them, period—not to do what works best for us.

We do not develop properties for our own accounts and do not compete with clients by owning properties that are in direct competition with the clients we are supposed serve.  Our company does not have ownership in any properties — none.  Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Birmingham City Schools

The world has changed so much in the last 30 years, but unfortunately the Birmingham City School System hasn’t changed at all. Instead, it had continued to conduct business and operate the same way today as it did all those years ago. Your business and my business would be OUT of business if we still worked  the way we did back then.  Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Birmingham City Schools”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello – What to Expect from Southpace in 2013

Another year is behind us, and wow was that fast! I remember my father telling me “the older you become, the faster time goes by.” I used to think it was crazy, but now I understand.

Actually, 2012 was a good year overall at our company. We added some great brokers and staff. Business was better than in 2011, and we have a lot of deals working for our clients going into 2013. We have the best group of brokers and staff as we enter our 29th year in 2013. Again, how fast time goes by. Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello – What to Expect from Southpace in 2013”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Effects of the Election

Southpace has had a great 2012 with a lot of properties moving and transactions closing. We had several deals coming up and a lot of momentum going into 2013, but after the election, that all seems to have changed.

Things have gotten a little bit shaky, and we know that the results of the election have already cost us at least two deals. These businesses were planning to buy buildings from us, but they backed out and canceled their contracts because they decided to go into a hold position. Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Effects of the Election”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Looking forward to Regions Field

As you may have heard, I’m very excited about all of the positive things happening in downtown Birmingham right now. One of the things we’re looking forward to most at Southpace is the construction of Regions Field which will be the new home of the Birmingham Barons baseball team.

I think it will be great for the entire metro area. There’s already a lot of momentum on that side of town with the continued growth of UAB, the new Children’s Hospital, Innovation Depot  and Railroad Park. When you put all those things together, you really have some buzz going on, and it will be great for Birmingham. Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Looking forward to Regions Field”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Positive Things Happening in Birmingham

I’m an early bird. I come into our downtown office around 7:00 or 7:30 every morning. I see people of all ages out walking their dogs or just enjoying the morning. They live in condos or lofts, and most likely they work nearby, too. Those scenarios were unimaginable in this town 30 years ago. Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Positive Things Happening in Birmingham”

Straight Talk with John Lauriello

The presidential election is still several months away, and I think people are worn out already.

To me, it feels like the current president has been campaigning since he was elected. Then, on the other side of the aisle, we had Republicans beating each other up for over a year. Every time they have a chance to win an election, they seem to screw it up by fighting with each other.

Personally, the far right scares the hell out of me as much as the far left. Maybe more so. Continue reading “Straight Talk with John Lauriello”