Dear El Cardinale,

What a few weeks. I don’t even know where to start. What are you seeing and hearing in the commercial real estate markets? Are you about to buy a bunker and hide away for a year or two?

– Ms. What-iifa

Dear Whatifa,

These are uncertain times to say the least. Things are and will change. Deals will stall. Underwriting will change. There will be “repricing” and good ol’ re-trading.

But I was fascinated by the conversation I heard last week at UNCC. I was participating in a pitch that the students were making to a group of fellow board members with the Childress Klein Center for Real Estate. The school’s Student Managed Fund (which is one of only two programs of its kind in the country where students invest funds), was presenting potential deals.

We turned one deal down and accepted another. It struck me on the way home how these board members and I had just approved students investing a significant amount of money into a real estate deal.

In retrospect, I think it may have been a more helpful lesson to tell the students that they were a bit out of their mind for bringing these deals to approve at a time like this and to instead have them assess what was happening in the markets and take that into account in their presentations. But I digress. The real thing that stood out to me was how even as late as two weeks ago, the students and board members had a business as usual mindset.

I was sitting next to big hitters like Peter Fioretti, Fred Klein, Landon Wyatt. If these guys were panicking, they were very good at hiding it. Just 10 days ago, it was business as usual.

How long does it really take before one starts to change their behaviors and adapt? We’d had a decade of great times, and it really does take a while to get one’s head fully in the new game. It’s almost like there is a grieving period, a mourning for what was and is no more.

To answer your question, no, I’m not leasing a bunker or building my own. I intend to stay very present in this new market. And it is ok to be unnerved by the uncertainty out there. I think we are all in a bit of shock, or perhaps grieving. And when that time is over, we will figure out how to work our way through the new world.

I’m choosing to use this time to do the following:

  • Focus on creating value for “the friends of the firm”, not prospecting new business.
  • Look high and low for new opportunities, not what I lost.
  • Focus on today, not hoping for a “V-shaped” recovery that may happen this Summer.

I am grateful for you reading Ask El Cardinale and let’s get out there and make the most of what we have!

Check out what I said to Tony Mecia, Editor in the latest edition of The Charlotte Ledger. This piece is for subscribers only, but his publication is worth the coin and the time. He’s been breaking news left and right and offers great insight into what’s happening around town and why.