The Northwood Group

Building Partner Investors

Utah Real Estate


April 2, 2012

Post Office Closed, Building Sold

  • Asking Price: $2,840,000
  • CAP Rate 7.50%
  • 11,860 SF
  • 100% Occupied

I am pleased to announce the closing of the Centerville, Utah, United States Postal Service, the building sold. The Post Office has been at this location since 1997 and is one of the highest producing Post Offices in the State of Utah. The annual was $213,000 and the initial 20 year lease comes up for renewal in June of 2017.  The Post Office has 2, 5 year options to renew their current lease term with the annual rent bumping to $300,000 for the first option and $310,000 for the second option.  Asking price on the property was $2,840,000 at a 7.5% cap rate.  Please contact for comparable details.

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Buying on Pro Forma Rent

March 27, 2012


Back in the peak of the commercial real estate market many investors bought properties with values underwritten by “pro forma” rents.  By “pro forma” rents I mean that properties were underwrittten based on projected lease rates, occupancy rates, and future increases as opposed to actual operating history of a property.  The obvious risk with this approach is that inaccurate assumptions can lead to dramatic swings in actual property performance.  To complicate matters, many lenders also underwrote deals based on these assumptions.  Many of these puffed assumptions added to the crash that we’ve experienced in recent years.

With the downturn in the commercial real estate investment market, investors and lenders alike were forced to “get real” with the way that they valued properties.  Properties values were derived based on actual operating history which was a tough pill to swallow for those properties experiencing high vacancies.  Essentially no value was being given to that square footage that was not leased.

It is amazing how short our memories are in this industry.  I have seen a resurgence in the last 12 months of properties being offered based on a “pro forma” basis.  The most typical scenario I see is that of a property with higher than market vacancy (say 20%) include rent for the vacant space as part of the net operating income and then taking out a less than market vacancy factor (say 5%) of that net operating income.

There are several factors that need to be addressed when analyzing properties presented by this approach.  Please keep in mind that I am addressing this from the standpoint of an investor looking for stabilized returns and not speculative upside deals.

  • Market vacancy – What is real market vacancy for the property?  How has this property performed relative to the market historically? It is important to understand what stabilized occupancy really is.
  • Costs to Obtain Pro Forma Occupancy – If pro forma occupancy is realistic, there will usually be a cost in the form of downtime, leasing commissions, and tenant improvements to reach pro forma occupancy that must be considered in the analysis.
  • Lease rate risk – Make sure that projected lease rates are reflective of current market conditions for comparable properties. It is too easy to say that lease rates “should” be higher when historically they have not been.  It is also important to underwrite in-place leases to determine where those leases will renew at.

Despite the uptick in the market in recent months I remain hesitant to recommend properties to clients that rely too heavily on future assumptions.  For the most part, I want to make sure that a property can perform to expectations based on actual operating history.  In those cases where pro forma analysis is relevant, it is necessary to fully understand the assumptions being made to avoid those equity losses that so many investors experienced in recent years.

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March 13, 2012
  • Multi-Tenant Industrial Park
  • 37,100 square feet
  • 13 tenants in 5 buildings
  • 3.28 acres
  • Sold – February 2012

The Skull Development Industrial Park was recently sold to a 1031 exchange investor from Michigan.  The project, located just off of I-15 in Centerville, Utah has maintained high occupancy for the past several years despite the downturn in the economy.  The park was 100% leased at the time of sale and sold near the asking price.

Additional comparable information available upon request.

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The Multi-Tenant Property Alternative

March 13, 2012


Over the past several years, the single-tenant property market has gained a lot of momentum.  It has for good reason.  There are many advantages such as ease of accounting, management, underwriting, and predictability of cash flow.   Many investors perceive that the risk is much lower with the typical long-term leases associated with the single-tenant market.

However, many investors who follow the single-tenant trend might be missing an opportunity that actually fits their investment objectives a little better.  Multi-tenant properties often times can provide higher returns and in many cases less risk than their single-tenant competitors.  Some of those advantages include:

  1. Lower Risk – The risk is spread out over many tenants rather than having it all concentrated in one.  For example, let’s consider an all-cash, 10% cap rate property.  If that property hits a rough patch and vacany increases to 20%, the investor is still making 8%.  On the other hand, on a single-tenant property, if the tenant has an issue or doesn’t renew at the end of its lease term the return evaporates completely.  This is exacerbated if the building is a unique building requiring extensive tenant improvements.
  2. Higher Returns – Because the trend right now is towards single-tenant properties, there is less competition in the multi-tenant market and often higher returns.  There are also few institutional buyers set up to acquire multi-tenant properties reducing the competition in this arena.
  3. Upside Potential – Lease terms are typically shorter on a multi-tenant property which allows for an opportunity to capture upside as lease rates increase.  Depending upon your opinion on the market and inflation in the coming years, this might be something to consider.  With a single-tenant property, lease rates are most often fixed.

With those advantages being stated, an investor also must mitigate those disadvantages associated with this type of investment which create those opportunities.  Those include more intensive management with more leases to administer, more responsibility for physical property maintenance, and tenant rollover.  These can typically be mitigated through competant 3rd party management but they are concerns nonetheless.

I am of the opinion that no one property type is best for all investors.  There are advantages to both single-tenant and multi-tenant properties considered here.  I do believe however, that there is wisdom in considering the alternative when the majority seems to be going one direction or the other.


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March 12, 2012

Real Estate Office Buildling

  • 12,192 SF – Medical Office Building
  • 100% Occupied
  • Closed in February of 2012


The Rock Run Medical Office Building was recently sold by our team to a family investment group out of Utah.  The real estate office building was a 100% leased medical office building in Roy, Utah. The property included strong Tenants, such as Wee Care Pediatrics, IASIS, Rock Run Physical Therapy and Price Orthodontics.  Comparable information available upon request

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Capital Market Review – March 1, 2012

March 5, 2012

With the volatility in the capital markets, I will be posting a monthly update on the current state of those markets.  The reports are provided by Metro Commercial Finance.  The link below contains a link to the Capital Market Report for the month of March.

A few of the highlights are as follows:

  • Lenders are slowly considering higher loans to value
  • Rates for quality projects remain in the low 5% range
  • We are starting to see availability of funds for development

The underlying theme is that capital is available for good projects and even for some more challenging projects depending upon buyer strength.  Underwriting remains stringent but deals are getting done and they are getting done at very attractive terms.

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Investors Seek Secondary & Tertiary Markets

February 27, 2012


As the commerical real estate market begins to recover, we are seeing an increase in acquistion activity among investors both institutional and private.  While the majority of investment activity in recent years has been in primary markets, many investors of late have been seeking better returns in secondary & tertiary markets.

It is hard to believe that there is already significant cap rate compression in many markets.  However there remain opportunities for smart money willing to consider markets that maybe haven’t been considered in the past.  Secondary markets typically have higher upside, less competition, and better returns.

There are a few factors that investors want to consider when looking at secondary markets.   Those include population growth, employment growth, financing availability and potential risk related to a local economy’s reliance on any one particular industry.

Utah is recognized as one of the strongest secondary markets in the country.  It maintains very strong historical population growth and employment growth.  Many companies look to the state as a place to do business because of its highly educated workforce as well as its relatively low cost of labor.  Because of these factors institutional investors, strong private investors as well as the smaller 1031 exchange buyers, have found strong rates of return relative to risk.

It is interesting to note that nearly half of the deals that I have been involved in have been with out-of-state buyers.   Utah definitely should be on investors radar as they are looking to place money.

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Notable Utah Transaction – Hobby Lobby – Logan

February 22, 2012

Investors in Utah, each month I provide some information on a notable transaction that occurred in the State of Utah.  This month I am highlighting the Hobby Lobby in Logan Utah.  A few of the highlights of this deal were:

  • Single Tenant
  • 9 years remaining on lease
  • 8.21% Cap Rate
  • 55,137 square feet
  • 3.86 acres


Please let me know if you would like additional information regarding this sale.

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Property Investment in Utah? See What the Rest of the Country is Saying.

January 30, 2012

As I talk with investors from around the country, many are looking at Utah for the first time.  These investors are weighing the stability of their property investment with the potential for growth.  While Utah has historically not seen the extreme pricing shifts that other markets in the country have, it has continued to provide strong, stabilized growth for those willing to place their money there.

Commercial real estate in Utah continues to outperform the national economy.  Utah boasts significantly lower unemployment and vacancy and has performed steadily through some turbulent times.  The national media has recognized Utah for its economic performance in recent years:

  • Utah Ranked #1 Best State for Business — Forbes Magazine (2010 & 2011)
  • Utah #1 Best Managed State  — Governing Magazine (2009)
  • Utah #1 Economic Dynamism — Kauffman Foundation (November 2010)
  • Utah #1 for Expected Economic Recovery & #1 for Economic Outlook — ALEC
  • Utah #1 Most Fiscally Fit State  — Forbes Magazine (2010)
  • Utah #2 Best Business State  — Polina Corporate, 2010 “Rebuilding American’s Economic Power”
  • Utah #3 “Most Competitive States” for Business — Beacon Hill Institute, 2010

In addition to these accolades Utah was recognized in the July/August issue of Business Facilities Magazine as one of the best overall states in this industry with #1 rankings for “Best Business Climate” and “Quality of Life” and top 10 ranking in several other categories.

I have provided a segment of the 2011 Forbes Article Below:

“Utah repeats this year as Forbes Best State for Business and Careers in our sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states. No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on.

Utah highlights include energy costs 31% below the national average and employment growth that has averaged 0.6% the past five years. Compare that to the U.S. as a whole where job growth has averaged negative 0.6% since 2005. Utah’s 5% corporate tax rate is well below western neighbors Arizona, Idaho and New Mexico. Utah ranks sixth in a new Tax Foundation study that looks at the tax burden on business in each state across different industries. As part of the ranking, we included the study which will be released to the public in the coming months.

Businesses are getting the message on Utah. Procter & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot and Boeing all announced expansions in Utah this year. The Goldman Sachs office in Salt Lake City is its second biggest in the Americas with more 1,000 employees and significant expansion expected over the next four years.

Technology companies particularly have had Utah on their radar as an affordable alternative to California with overall business costs in Utah 10% below the national average. Adobe Systems, eBay, Electronic Arts and Oracle have all expanded in Utah in recent years.

Companies are also attracted by Utah’s population growth which is one of the fastest in the country and provides a burgeoning workforce. “Utah has a young, dynamic economy with a vibrant high-tech sector,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

The Utah story is far from over. Job growth is projected to be 2.4% annually through 2015 according to Moody’s, sixth best in the country (for more states with strong job growth forecasts, see “The Best States for Jobs“).”

It is interesting to see many investors from around the country looking at Utah for the first time for property investment.  Many are adding Utah to their property investment horizon and many more are expected to in the coming years.  If you do not already own property in Utah it may be a place that you want to check out.


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Introduction to Utah Property Investors

January 16, 2012

I appreciate you taking the time to visit this Utah Property Investors.  The intent of the blog is to congregate all of the information that a property investor in commercial real estate would need to know in order to make educated decisions on acquiring or disposing of commercial real estate in Utah.

Over the coming year the blog will address the following topics:

  1. I will address a wide array of opportunities and issues facing property investment real estate across the nation with a specific focus on Utah
  2. Monthly and quarterly updates of capital markets, financing, construction cost fluctuations, & commercial real estate markets
  3. Highlight available and notable closed investment properties in Utah
  4. Note particular investor needs in the market for those needing to exit existing properties

I hope that you will use the information, insight, and ideas as a valuable resource in your business.

Highest Regards,

Brandon L. Wood, CCIM
President | Principal Broker

The Northwood Group
P: 801.593.5500

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