Commercial Real Estate deals are notoriously complex. And for most participants, Real Estate is essential for their business, but it is not their core business.

We’ve managed literally hundreds of Commercial Real Estate transactions. Some very large and complicated, involving many layers of public and private interests, and some as straightforward as selling an owner-occupied commercial property.

But no matter the size of the deal, every one of our clients has marveled at the complexity and uncertainty of the transaction, and how ever the smallest detail can make the difference between a great deal and no deal at all.

Over the course of 25 years, we've amassed a powerful portfolio of tools and processes to simplify and expose the nature of the game.

These tools have helped our clients navigate the perils, pitfalls and promise of any real estate deal and come out on top. We’ve experienced firsthand how combing these tools into a unified process can make the difference between a dead deal and a world-class transaction that creates lasting value for all stakeholders.

At Cardinal, we truly believe that better deals can make a better world. And we’ve never been shy about sharing and showing our work. Inspired by the Business Model Canvas from the innovative visual strategists at Strategyzer, we are pleased to present the full suite of these tools and processes as a comprehensive collaborative visual framework for analyzing and optimizing the full scope of activities and outcomes of real estate deals…from idea to closing. We call it…

The Deal Canvas™️

The Deal Canvas oblq

The Deal Canvas™️ is a framework for visually structuring and making sense of even the most complex of real estate transactions. Four integral components work together through each phase of the deal to drive to a desired (or inevitable) outcome. In the center of these components is a simple but powerful communication and thinking tool (The VOTA Process™️) that allows you to reflect on issues identified by each of the components in an integrated manner to forge compromise and identify strategies to improve your position in the deal. Each of the four components are described in further detail below.


The DSQ Approach™️

Goal Clarity is Fundamental​

The most essential factor in getting what you want out of a deal is actually knowing what you want. The DSQ helps you do just that. It seems almost absurdly simplistic, but we are always surprised by how most parties to a transaction come to the table with a broad, poorly specified definition of success. It always helps to begin with a clear vision about what you want, and what’s really required to make it happen. The DSQ is a powerful tool for crystalizing your values and objectives from the start, and for reassessing them when the deal changes.


The STP Scorecard™️

Where is the Leverage in the Deal?

The STP Scorecard provides a measurable indication of how much (or little) advantage a party has in a deal. A 30-question online assessment tests the assumptions about three core aspects of every commercial real estate deal: The circumstances that bring the Seller to the deal; the characteristics of the Transaction being considered; and the attributes of the Property itself. The STP Scorecard identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each party and highlights opportunities to gain leverage and advantage. Does this deal have STP in it? 


The Due Diligence 360 Checklist™️

Leave No Stone Unturned

The sheer scope of details that comprise any Real Estate transaction can be mind-boggling. The DD 360 is a helpful tool for ensuring that even the most trivial detail is captured and processed on a timely basis. What’s unique about this approach is that even details that would otherwise be “left to the pros,” like potential title deficiencies, are highlighted early in the process. YOU don’t have to be a pro, but you should know which details have the ability to kill a deal.


The Prepared to Win-Win Negotiation Worksheet™️

Practice Makes Perfect.

The outcome of most deals hinges significantly on how well the parties are able to actually come to an equitable agreement. Beyond price, timing and standard deal terms, expectations and circumstances often hold the key to transforming a deal that simply gets done into a truly great deal for both sides. The P2WW allows you to clearly identify the greatest likely gaps between parties and create opportunities for trade and compromise to give you confidence in meeting your objectives. 


The VOTA Process™️

Leave No Stone Unturned

At the center of it all is The VOTA Process™️ – a systematic method for thinking, planning and communicating clearly throughout the process, from deal-making to negotiating to closing. After work has been completed in one or more of the components of the Canvas, the VOTA Process helps participants blend documented facts, analytical insights, conflicting values, stated objectives and anticipated outcomes into issues that can be clearly stated, communicated and staged for resolution….turning impasses into clear pathways to success.

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