Commercial Real Estate Advisors

Viewpoint by RoKez

Choose your words – and fewer of them, please!

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Austin, CCIM, Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin, CTCAR, IREM, Newsworthy, Texas, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Choose your words – and fewer of them, please!

That’s me – if I’m running a conference call, I tend to talk too much — even if we have an agenda, I wander off topic and I’m sure can be confusing to anybody on the call.  On the flip side, I have been on a call where the same thing happens and find myself losing focus and checking email…  so presumably this is happening to others, too.  We are in such a rush, we have too much on our plates, we are trying to cram in way too many meetings, every day, every week, and it all becomes an inefficient use of our collective time.  And in the end, we feel like we haven’t accomplished our goals!


Dan Rockwell, of, said it better in response to a “DearAbby” inquiry.  Check it out.

Dan Rockwell

Dan Rockwell

My Outlook Calendar is full – and I feel like I’m checking it hourly to remember what’s coming up — but whatever it takes, planning ahead is my best approach for preparedness, even if I’m not ‘ready’ for the group discussion. Try to remember that the others working the project may have key questions or insight that can help the team meet the goal, so allowing others time to provide unscripted input can be helpful (and may get the quiet ones to speak up)!

I’m shutting up now.  — RK

Generational Shoppers – The Millennial

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Austin, CCIM, Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin, CTCAR, IREM, Newsworthy, Texas, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Generational Shoppers – The Millennial

Having been in the commercial real estate business for 30+ years, and a shopper myself, I recognize that different generations behave and respond differently.  Needs, convenience, disposable income, time all things to consider.  Each generation thinks the next one has it ‘easier’, although maybe it’s just DIFFERENT.  Shopping centers, malls, town centers, strip centers – all have been around for a long time, and have seen style changes.  The thing that seems to be consistent is the desire for convenience.  But convenience can have shades, too.

Everyone wants to talk about The Millennial — how they think, behave, respond.  I’d like to say keep in mind that the NEXT generation behind The Millennial is going to be different, too!  People behave in cycles.  We have a new president with very different ideas of how the world should be — and change is the constant.  SO, I’d say pay attention to the demographics and shifts in population, spending, housing, employment for the area where your real estate is — it’s not just about The Millennial — it’s about the individual consumer.

This is an interesting snapshot into the make up of The Millennial, if you are interested.  Thank you, CBRE!

Stressing out?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Austin, CCIM, Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin, CTCAR, IREM, Newsworthy, Texas | Comments Off on Stressing out?

We all feel pressure and stress from time to time, some more than others.  How we deal with it is key to how we feel and how we SEE the world we are in.  I don’t know about you, but finding the BALANCE between personal and work lives can be tricky.  Spouse, children, household, and most importantly our own health is at risk if we don’t take some time to breathe…  Check out this article from SHAPE.


CREW Austin to CREW San Antonio Successful Connection

Posted by on Mar 9, 2014 in Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin, Texas | Comments Off on CREW Austin to CREW San Antonio Successful Connection

The search for office space began around March 2013.  Through a series of CoStar office space searches and research through CREW San Antonio brokers through the CREWBiz database, I was able to identify some office space suitable for The Stone Group’s client.  After some changes in need and some added time, the CREWnection between CREW Austin and San Antonio members was successful and all parties were pleased.  Thanks to Lindsey Tucker with CBRE of San Antonio who represented the Landlord.

Why you should join Central Texas Commercial Association of REALTORS®

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Austin, Commercial Real Estate, CTCAR, Texas | Comments Off on Why you should join Central Texas Commercial Association of REALTORS®

An interview with Eric Layne, CCIM, 2014 CTCAR Chapter President

By Rosalie G. Keszler, CCIM

January 2014 – As many licensed commercial real estate professionals have or will renew their memberships in networking organizations for 2014, the question arose by a colleague, “What are the benefits of joining CTCAR?”  So, I went to the 2014 chapter president, Eric Layne, to find out.

Keszler:   Central Texas Commercial Association of REALTORS® (“CTCAR”) describes itself as the only professional trade organization in Central Texas designed exclusively for all commercial real estate professionals.  What does this mean?

Layne:     CTCAR is the commercial real estate board for 26 counties in Central Texas recognized by the National Association of REALTORS®. CTCAR’s membership is made up of Texas real estate license holders who desire to practice commercial real estate brokerage rather than residential brokerage.

Keszler:   CTCAR’s members must be licensed real estate professionals, with either a broker or salesperson license.  Can a licensee with a salesperson license become a member of CTCAR if their sponsoring broker is not a member?

Layne:     No, the sponsoring broker by State of Texas law is responsible for the legal and ethical practices of those he or she sponsors. CTCAR takes that responsibility a step further by affiliating with the Texas and National Associations of REALTORS® and adopting the Code of Ethics promulgated by all members of their associations. The sponsoring broker leads by example. Not all brokers are members of these associations; membership is a matter of good business practice.


Keszler:   As a REALTOR®, what other membership is included with your CTCAR annual membership?

Layne:     CTCAR REALTOR® members enjoy membership in NAR and TAR. REALTOR® is a licensed trademark of the National Association of REALTORS®.


Keszler:   What would you say is the primary benefit of membership in CTCAR?

Layne:     The primary benefit of REALTOR® membership in CTCAR is that all the benefits of NAR, TAR, and CTCAR are fully available to its members. The active commercial broker realizes savings in the operation of their own services that often out weigh the cost of membership.


  • NAR benefits include:
    • Discounts for Office supplies and technological services;
    • Hotel and Rental car discounts;
    • A National Commercial Listing service called in early 2014;
    • REALTORS® Property Resource-147 million property records;
    • Federal legislation lobbying; NAR is the nation’s largest contributor to federal candidates; and more.
  • TAR benefits include:
    • EXCLUSIVE access to more than 50 commercial real estate forms and contracts prepared for use in Texas by membership of the Texas Association of REALTORS®.  However, non-members using these forms are subject to copyright infringement with penalties that cost far more than membership;
    • Free legal advice through TAR’s staff and volunteer attorneys simple by a phone call;
    • State lobbying and contributions to statewide candidates through TREPAC
  • CTCAR benefits include:
    • Members of CTCAR can purchase, at a discount, the services of a fully researched commercial property availability survey through Xceligent;
    • The member can list all of his/her listings on the site plus have full access to  the same information in other cities using the Xceligent system;
    • The Xceligent system will also upload your information into the national data base of NAR Commercial;
    • Opportunities to meet and get to know other with commercial brokers through CTCAR sponsored luncheons, property exchanges, commercial real estate courses, and social events;
    • CTCAR’s volunteer members also participate in the development of MCE credited courses designed for commercial brokers and sales people;
    • Discover opportunities to achieve REALTOR® designations that reflect your qualifications;
    • CTCAR is the Commercial Real Estate Board for 26 counties in Central Texas recognized by the National Association of REALTORS®.


Keszler:   Other commercial real estate organizations, such as CCIM, require its members to maintain membership in NAR.  What is the difference between NAR and TAR membership?

Layne:     NAR membership does not automatically include TAR membership; these are separate levels.  TAR is specific to the state of Texas and provides additional benefits and resources to NAR.


Keszler:   TAR provides commercial transaction forms to its members, and since CTCAR requires membership in TAR also, its members have exclusive access to these commercial forms.  What types of forms are provided?

Layne:    Of the 144 legal forms available to TAR members, 37 forms are exclusively for commercial use. An additional 14 legal forms are for both residential and commercial. Thus 61 % of the forms available to TAR members have commercial implication.


Keszler:    Can non-TAR members utilize the TAR commercial forms?

Layne:      No, non-TAR members are not allowed to use these forms.  Penalties can be assessed by TAR. Typically a cease and desist order will be sent to the offending non-member.  A civil violation of the US Copyright infringement carries fees of $750 to $30,000 per infringement.  If a violator is charged under willful misconduct, the maximum fine is $150,000 per infringement.  The forms are specific to the CTCAR member and traceable to them.


CTCAR wants to be the go-to organization that is talking about what’s coming and how to be prepared.  In addition to special events like the annual symposium and the Power Cruz, CTCAR offers monthly MCE classes, its “PIE” breakfast on the 2nd Thursday of every month at Chez Zee, and luncheons held quarterly.   For more information,  

Context for Creativity and Innovation

Posted by on Jan 29, 2014 in CREW Austin | Comments Off on Context for Creativity and Innovation

On Tuesday, January 21, 2014 in a packed room at the Austin Woman’s Club in downtown Austin, CREW members and future members gathered to understand the context for creativity and innovation as presented by Margaret Gilchrist Serrato, PhD MBA AIA ASID LEED AP, Workplace Strategist with Herman Miller.

Serrato described how we are all born with a high potential for creativity.  But as we age, brain synapses are lost.  Memory, pattern recognition, cognition, and creativity levels decrease, due in part to low level chronic stress.  Over time, the effect can be the same as if you are in a traumatic event.  So, how do you stop the loss and reverse the effect?

Activities to Enhance Creative Ability:  Six ways to grow new brain cells!

1)      Exercise your brain with puzzles and games.  Playing a musical instrument makes more neural connections than just listening to music.  Dance, or learn to speak a new language.  Great ways to create new synapses.

2)      Connect and have new experiences. Visit new places, attend different events.  Change the ‘usual’ in your everyday routine.  Try reading a different magazine.

3)      Practice your craft, your profession until you become an expert. Takes 10,000 hours to perfect – look at The Beatles, and Bill Gates for inspiration.

4)      Rest, relax and reduce stress.  Relax in nature – surround yourself with views, water, fire, stone and wood (see ‘environmental features’ following) – create “fuzzy thinking” mode so that your brain can make new neural connections. Try using the opposite writing hand and switch back and forth.

5)      Be happy and have fun!  Laughing with friends increases activity in the part of the brain associated with creativity.  Avoid road-rage…just let it go!  Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff.

6)      Organize your home and work space. Creating order reduces stress and exercises the brain. Don’t be a chaos hoarder – even the act of organizing works the same way for your brain.

Serrato reviewed several creativity myths:

  • “Creativity is only for creative types.”   Nope; we can all have creative ideas.
  • “Money is related to how creative you are.”   Sorry, money is not a creative motivator.
  • “Time pressure fuels creativity.”  Deadlines don’t force the ideas to come.
  • “Fear forces breakthroughs.”   No, having more time and no fear of losing your job shows that output increases.
  • “Creative people have creative ideas.”   No, but creative people can have a LOT of ideas — like Thomas Edison. He had 1200 personal patents, but we only know 4 or 5.

We live in an economy that is based on innovation and creativity.  Per Serrato, research in environmental psychology has identified several environmental features that affect our mood and ability to rest and relax.  Our “preferred environments” and our universal preference for them come from our shared genetic heritage evolved from our African plains predecessors:

Prospect:             Looking out at long views, plenty of natural light.

Refuge:                A sense of shelter and safety from enclosed areas.

Change:               We prefer naturally changing environments to static ones.

Water:                  We love being near water, even if it’s symbolic; water is essential for life.

Hearth:                The center of the community provides warmth, light and food.

Nature:                Patterns, colors and textures of natural materials comforts us.

Order:                   Our outer world reflects and shapes the patterns of our inner mind.

Collaboration:  Critical for innovation, influenced by layout, distance and visibility.

Creativity is important because in our free enterprise, capital-based economy, creativity drives success.  Companies with research, creativity and innovation at their core include Cisco, Microsoft, Apple and Google.  “The ability to apply creativity to solve problems is an important measure of job and personal satisfaction,” advised Serrato.

Entry-Level Job Opportunity: LEASE ADMINISTRATOR

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Austin, CCIM, Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin, CTCAR | Comments Off on Entry-Level Job Opportunity: LEASE ADMINISTRATOR

The Stone Group Corporate Real Estate group is looking for immediate hire of a part of full-time Lease Administrator to work with its Transaction and Property Management teams in their Austin office.

Job Description – Lease Administrator

Salary starts at $15 per hour.  Send resume to



CREW Network: Membership Advantages

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Austin, Commercial Real Estate, CREW Austin | Comments Off on CREW Network: Membership Advantages

The end of the calendar year is always the most expensive time of the year for me, both personally and professionally.  Year end brings us back-to-back holidays, gifts for family, friends and clients, parties and get-togethers (never empty-handed), and then there’s the dues and membership renewals that really add up to a lot of moolah.  As we make our list of new year resolutions, and plans for the year ahead, one of the tasks I try to repeat is a recap of the previous year’s expenses and evaluation of wants vs. needs, with special attention to areas where I can be more effective with my precious dollars.

When it comes to CREW Network and CREW Austin, I don’t think twice about the NEED to renew my membership.  Compared to other commercial real estate organizations, CREW’s dues provide both national and local membership advantages.  The intrinsic value of membership, in my opinion, is two-fold:  1) Member-to-member business; and 2) Relationships.  On top of this, add in all of the resources provided by CREW Network, CREWBiz (that provides immediate access to almost 9,000 other professionals across the US and Canada), the incredible pool of talented members available in your own home town, and an incredibly fun and easy way to network with like-minded women and men at monthly luncheons, annual programs like UCREW and CREW Careers, and other member-only meetings and events.

I have been a part of CREW Network and CREW Austin since mid-year 2004, very quickly becoming an active part of the leadership ladder, and as a past-president continue to enjoy staying active among the next group of leaders as they learn and grow together.  This year’s officers and board of directors, led by Sarah Scott, the 2014 chapter president, will continue to keep the goal of supporting women in commercial real estate as the focus.  All goals and paths lead to the success of each of its members.

The beautiful thing about CREW is that it is such a natural way for professional women and men to get to know each other, and share and refer work to and with each other.  Networking can be a scary word for so many – but not with CREW!  If you have volunteered to serve on a committee, you know what I am talking about.  The camaraderie is natural, simple and leads to some great business relationships.  If you haven’t yet chosen a committee to work on, don’t hesitate – teamwork is a vital way to hone your own skills, learn the ropes of CREW, and climb that leadership ladder for yourself.  And, it’s a great way to get to know your fellow committee members and what they do… and for them to get to know YOU and what YOU can offer them.  It’s no secret that you have an ulterior motive for your participation in a networking organization; now take advantage of your membership!

CREW Network exists to influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women.   For more information,  

Texas Water Development Board – Work Session Summary

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Austin, Commercial Real Estate, Newsworthy, Texas | Comments Off on Texas Water Development Board – Work Session Summary

From the desk of Buddy Garcia, Modern Stewardship

Buddy provided a summary of the discussion from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) work session that took place October 9, 2013.  Best description: “Its a ham and eggs breakfast… Everyone wants to be the chicken, no one wants to be the pig.”

The TWDB met for a work session on October 9, 2013 in the SFA Building, Room 170, Austin, Texas. Among five items, agenda item #3-discuss regional water planning prioritization criteria- was the biggest discussion.
Background: The 2012 State Water Plan is the ninth state water plan and the third plan based on the regional water planning process. In addition to incorporating the regional water plans, the state water plan serves as a guide to state water policy and includes legislative recommendations that the Board believes are needed and desirable to facilitate voluntary water transfers. The plan also identifies river and stream segments of unique ecological value and sites of unique value for the construction of reservoirs that the Board recommends for protection.
The mission of the Regional Water Planning Section of the TWDB is to guide and support planning of the state’s water resources by administering and assisting in the development of the regional and state water plans. Activities include: provide direct technical and administrative assistance to the regional water planning groups; water planning data collection, analysis, and dissemination; fund and manage regional planning contracts; serve as liaisons (non-voting member) to regional water planning groups; manage research and facility planning grant contracts; and review financial assistance loan applications.
The TWDB administers loan and grant programs that provide for the planning, acquisition design and construction of water related infrastructure and other water quality improvements.  Communities interested in financial assistance authorized by Proposition 2, or TWDB’s other programs, can call at (512) 463-4841 or email at
Current: The 83rd Legislature approved three bills as part of a broad package to provide funding for projects within the State Water Plan.  These bills include Senate Joint Resolution 1, House Bill 4, and House Bill 1025.  Taken together, these bills propose an amendment to the Texas Constitution creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (or SWIFT), appropriate $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund to the SWIFT, and direct TWDB on how the newly created fund may be used.

Before any funds may be used for State Water Plan projects, however, Texas voters must first consider the proposed amendment to the state’s constitution creating the SWIFT.  That amendment will be Proposition 6 on the November 5ballot.  If Proposition 6 is approved by Texas voters, then the state can begin implementing the SWIFT.  This implementation, based on the deadlines in House Bill 4, may not be complete until March 2015. 
FAQ: The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs below) provide information about how the SWIFT will work.
1. What is the Texas Water Development Board?
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is a state agency formed in 1957 in response to Texas’ record-breaking drought.  The agency has three main responsibilities: assisting with regional water planning and preparing the state water plan every five years; collecting and distributing water data; and providing loan and grant money for Texas water and wastewater projects.
2. What is Proposition 6?
Proposition 6 creates and constitutionally dedicates two new funds: the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT).
3. Where will the money come from?
If voters approve Proposition 6, the legislature has also authorized a one-time, $2 billion investment from the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund) to the SWIFT.  These funds are designed to make the financing of water projects more affordable and to provide consistent, ongoing state financial assistance for water supplies.
4. What will this program do for Texas?
The funds created through Proposition 6 would help communities develop and optimize water supplies at cost-effective interest rates.  The upfront costs on water infrastructure can often make it difficult for some communities to build what they need.  The SWIFT provides the economic opportunity for communities to overcome this hurdle by providing low-cost, flexible financing options for water projects.  This financial assistance will enable local communities to begin needed water projects.
5. How would the program be used to ensure adequate water supplies?
The funds would be used to provide low-cost financing for projects in the state water plan-a plan created by local and regional entities, with the assistance of the state, to meet future water demands.  Every five years 16 regional water planning groups assess the projected population and water demands and supplies in their areas over the next 50 years.  Each region then compiles a regional water plan, and those plans are rolled up into the state water plan.  The state water plan also includes important information on statewide trends and policy issues, and it lists the water supply strategies identified to meet the regional water shortages over the next 50 years.  The 2012 State Water Plan contains numerous strategies to meet water needs during drought.  Those strategies are the water supply projects that would be eligible for funding through the SWIFT and SWIRFT if Proposition 6 passes.
6. Is my community represented in the state water plan?
Yes.  Every community and every water user group in Texas is planned for. Water user groups include cities, rural water users, agriculture, livestock, manufacturers, mining, and steam-electric power.  The 2012 State Water Plan addresses the needs of roughly 3,000 water user groups.
7. How does Proposition 6 help rural communities and Texas farmers?
Rural and agricultural stakeholders serve as part of the water planning process. This process identifies water supply projects that go into the state water plan.  Our planning process helps identify water projects that are needed by rural and agricultural interests.  Moreover, the legislature made serving these interests a priority: directing the TWDB to undertake applying not less than 10 percent of the funds to projects serving rural communities and Texas farmers.
8. What water supply projects would be supported by these funds?
Projects in the state water plan would be eligible for support from the SWIFT and SWIRFT.  These water projects range from conservation and reuse, to desalting groundwater and seawater, to building new pipelines and developing reservoirs and well fields, and include many other kinds of projects as well.  Through the regional water planning process, local and regional water experts recommended these projects as the most efficient and viable ones for their communities.
9. How does this program support water conservation?
The legislature has recognized the importance of water conservation and reuse strategies in managing and protecting the state’s water resources.  The legislature directed the TWDB to undertake applying not less than 20 percent of SWIFT financial assistance for water conservation and reuse projects.  The TWDB is also directed to undertake applying an additional 10 percent for projects to serve rural areas, including agricultural conservation projects.  Emphasizing the importance of conservation will help ensure communities use their water wisely and extend the life of their current supplies.
10. Could these funds be used to build reservoirs?
Since all water supply projects in the state water plan would be eligible, reservoirs would be eligible for support from the SWIFT and SWIRFT if they are strategies in the state water plan.  Reservoirs make up approximately 15 percent of the total financial assistance requested in the 2012 State Water Plan.
11. What will happen if these funds are not created?
Many communities may not be able to get adequate financing for water infrastructure projects, and our state could face critical water shortages.  As the ongoing, severe drought demonstrates, some Texas communities currently do not have enough water to meet demands during times of drought.
By 2060, the Texas population is expected to nearly double and existing water supplies are projected to decrease by 10 percent, creating a need for an additional 8.3 million acre-feet per year—or about 2.7 trillion gallons.  If the state fails to help communities develop enough water supplies to protect against future drought conditions, Texas will also suffer significant economic losses.  Estimated economic losses in the year 2060 could exceed $116 billion, including over 1.1 million lost jobs.
12. How will the state ensure these funds are protected?
As required by legislation, the $2 billion investment in the SWIFT will be protected by the Texas Treasury Safe Keeping Trust Company.  The legislation also calls for an advisory committee to evaluate TWDB’s management of the funds.  Committee members will include the state comptroller, three state senators, and three state representatives.  In addition, the legislation calls for a regional and state prioritization process that ranks projects for funding.  The TWDB would manage the administration and disbursement of funds and ensure they are used to finance needed water supply projects.  Since it was created in 1957, the TWDB has loaned $14.3 billion dollars for water and wastewater infrastructure without a single loan default.
13. How would the funds be disbursed?
Communities and utilities would apply to TWDB for financial assistance, and funds would be disbursed for projects in the state water plan.  The TWDB would evaluate and prioritize projects for assistance based on a state and regional process.  Many factors would be considered in this evaluation, including the number of people served, the urgency of the project, the ability of the local and regional sponsors to support the project, and the degree of conservation achieved—just to name a few prioritization criteria.
14. How would the SWIFT and SWIRFT work?
The SWIFT allows for more cost-effective water projects, ultimately saving Texas and Texans money on water.  Money in the SWIFT may be used to provide financial assistance for state water plan projects through the following TWDB programs: the Rural Water Assistance Fund, the Water Infrastructure Fund, State Participation, and the Agricultural Water Conservation Fund, as well as the proposed SWIRFT.  The SWIFT can support low-cost financing for projects in the form of reduced interest rates, longer repayment terms, and deferred repayment periods of interest and principal.
15. Can these funds be used to help address the current drought emergencies some communities are facing?
The legislation for these funds outlines several planning requirements and milestone dates.  The funds would not be available until March 2015.  In the meantime, entities may be eligible for financial assistance through a number of other TWDB programs.
16. Will this program affect groundwater rights?
No.  The SWIFT will not affect groundwater rights or other private property rights in any way.  Further, the SWIFT will not affect how groundwater conservation districts manage local groundwater supplies.
17. Does Proposition 6 require that I install a meter on my groundwater well?
No.  There is no provision within Proposition 6 or its enabling legislation that would require landowners to meter their wells.  Back to top.
18. Will this program change how surface water is regulated?
No.  Surface water (water from lakes and rivers) is governed by an entirely separate set of statutes that will not be affected by this program.
19. Who benefits from this program?
Texas.  Cities, counties, water districts, river authorities, irrigation districts, regional water authorities, and nonprofit water supply corporations across this state are all eligible to use TWDB’s financial assistance programs to address implementation of state water plan projects.
TWDB Challenges remaining post-election (assuming prop 6 passes): Criteria for processes, assigning discreet value categories
State level prioritization standards will be recommended by the water region stakeholder’s group but no one is sure how those recommendations will be “weighted”* by the TWDB ( *how to weigh small population region with the rest of the state). The stakeholder committee report is due to the TWDB by December 1, 2013. The TWDB is then directed by legislation to approve and rank, contemplated to be a numerical ranking. Due to the subjective nature of assuring a reasonable application of ranking, and due to “apples and oranges” comparisons, stakeholders expressed concern that a comparison of water projects will be unequal within the various regions. How to put a number on each project appears to be the challenge. For example, how to rank rural groundwater irrigation projects against municipal surface water needs has yet to be decided or discussed. Many feel ranking is set up to favor municipal needs, not industrial or agricultural (city strategies greatly differ from other user groups). Some strategies do not include capital costs, but do include planning costs and concern is that rank may be negatively affected by these types of financing nuances. Should priority be given to prevent water losses (replace old pipes), conservation (to meet future demand), water supply (to meet current needs due to drought), or set-asides.
TWDB Function: Development of the state water plan is central to the mission of the TWDB. Based on 16 regional water plans, the plan addresses the needs of all water user groups in the state – municipal, irrigation, manufacturing, livestock, mining, and steam-electric power – during a repeat of the drought of record that the state suffered in the 1950s. At the end of each five-year regional water planning cycle, agency staff compiles information from the approved regional water plans and other sources to develop the state water plan, which is presented to TWDB’s governing Board for adoption. The final adopted plan is then submitted to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Texas Legislature.
Modern Stewardship is a full service consulting firm that specializes in providing legislative and regulatory strategy to clients assuming an active role in state government policy. With our top priority being our clients, we are motivated by producing results through diplomatic solutions with an emphasis on realistic and sustainable outcomes.
After working over 22 consecutive years for the great State of Texas, Buddy Garcia recently began his government consulting career. “Modern Stewardship” specializes in providing legislative and regulatory strategy to clients interested in assuming an active role in state government policy. Areas of expertise include regulatory policy, environmental sustainability, energy production, as well as Gulf of Mexico coastal & bi-national (Texas/Mexico) relations.  Buddy can be reached at,

Office Condo Conversions 101

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Austin, Commercial Real Estate, CTCAR | Comments Off on Office Condo Conversions 101

CTCAR – August 2013 Luncheon, August 29, 2013

Maggiano’s Domain, Austin, TX

By Rosalie G. Keszler, CCIM

The Central Texas Commercial Association of Realtors (CTCAR) held its monthly luncheon to educate about office condo conversions.  The panel of experts included Robert “Bob” Burton of Winstead, Gay Ruggiano of The Kucera Companies, and Syd Xinos, PE of Doucet & Associates.

Burton started the discussion about conversion regulation.  The State of Texas has no state-level regulatory requirements per the Texas Property Code, Texas Uniform Condominium Act, Chapter 82.  The owner and developer simply need to comply with each other.

Residential and/or office condominiums are an alternative to subdivision platting.  This is vertical subdivision of a physical nature, per Burton.  One can subdivide any property through the “Condominium Declaration”.  This document tells everything you need to know for a prospective purchaser/client about the condo.

One of the most important aspect of the Declaration document is to describe the unit – a 3-dimensional space – for the ultimate end-user that will hold fee simple title.

There are two real estate components:  1) the unit; and 2) common elements, owned in common by all project owners.  Anything that is not a “unit” is common element, stated Burton.  Units are maintained by the individual owner, and common elements are maintained by the condo HOA.

Of critical importance is the description of the unit.  How has the Declarant described the unit?  In the old style, the “lazy developer” would include walls, floors and ceilings.  But if there is a dispute such as a water penetration issue, or electrical panel problem, this description fails.

The alternate and more current way to describe the unit is the “Parametrical Boundary”.  The real property interest is described in three dimensions.  Describing a 3-dimensional space in a 2-dimnsional piece of paper:

1)      Texturally describe (boundaries: upper, lower, lateral, included in the condominium declaration);

2)      Condominium map (visual representation of the unit and all common elements).

There are specific instructions on how to prepare this in the Texas Condominium Act.  When hiring a surveyor, make sure they are familiar with the specific provisions of the Act.

Syd Xinos took over the microphone to discuss conveyance.  For proper conveyance of the real estate interest, you must have the legal description.  Metes and bounds are proper to identify the property, but common now is a description that includes the lot/block, final plat recorded with the legal description.

Condominium “Plats and Plans” is addressed in the Condominium Act.  Xinos advised that in the 3-dimensional depcitions with elevations, ceiling/floor, layout, all tied very closely to the Declaration prepared by an attorney – make sure all are defined and called the same thing.   Assigned parking spaces to a particular unit should be in the Plats and Plans document.  And, warns Xinos, make sure to certify that they comply with  the Uniform Condominium Act, as certified by a surveyor/engineer.  The Plats and Plans document carefully defines what is being purchased (or sold).  The engineer uses building plans to create the Plats and Plans document.  Per Xinos, there are companies such as Dimensions Floorplans, with a nod to Mary Lawrence, CTCAR Director, that can perform the laser description and define air space.

Xinos covered “legal stuff”: The Declaration has allocations.  This tells a purchaser what their responsibilities are with respect to sharing costs incurred in the community.  Common area, exterior of bulding, major mechanical/electrical/plumbing/ costs – all allocated.  These costs may be uniform or based on square footage, and dictates the percentage of ownership in the condo.  Each individual unit owner gets a tax bill — value of unit and value of undivided common elements (theoretically the higher %, the higher the tax bill).  The Declaration will define all restrictions and special rights.  Example of office type use restrictions include no pets, hazardous activities, competing businesses, etc.

Special rights – 2 bundles:  1) Developer has the right to control the administration of the condominium association for a certain time.  The developer in control will appoint the majority of board members with respect to common elements, typically 120 days after 75% of units are sold/conveyed; and 2) Developer rights are included in the Texas Uniform Condominium Act.  The developer has the ability to create units, subdivide units, have sales office on site; these rights don’t go away unless the Declaration says WHEN these rights go away — 5 yrs, 10 yrs?

Due Diligence Homework:  Look up the Texas Property Code 82.153 and learn about commercial use restrictions on office condos.  The seller of a condo unit under contract for sale can waive the compliance with Subchapter D with purchaser protection.  If project is restricted to office use, can waive.  82.153 shows all the things you should be asking for when doing your due diligence – answers what is this condo all about?  Budget, insurance, allocations, estimate of monthly statements, primer for acquisition of office condo.  Ask for this to protect client’s interest.

Gay Ruggiano was passed the mic to address marketing:  The Good & the Bad (she left off the Ugly).

The Good:

  • Small users are allowed to have affordable ownership = BEST
  • High finish out like MOB, don’t want to put $390 psf finish-out into her lease space (over and above LL’s TI).  So if you own your space, you now own the investment in your space.
  • When you package real estate ownership with business, the return is much greater on resale side, especially with high tenant improvement needs to own their space.  The medical community is buying.
  • Cheaper to own vs rent (low interest rates).  An owner-occupied unit can get lowest inerestt rates.  Allows business owner not to have to manage the common areas; HOA/Management handles the common areas. Costs are less:  Examples, umbrella insurance policies vs stand-alone office.  Can qualify for discounts on wide variety of things.  Economy of scale:  Maintenance costs, everything goes down.
  • Condo owners take a pride of ownership. Condo projects always look good, well maintained, owners aren’t going to let management slack off on the job.

The Bad:

  • Are you a control freak?  Condos are probably not for you.  Have to share, i.e. parking lot!  What are the parking ratio requirements?  Understand the parking ratios, if unassigned parking.
  • Reserves for Replacement:  Owners are not happy about somebody else holding their money, but if it’s built into declaration, have to abide by it and you have a credit when you sell the unit.
  • Condo decs have to be amended frequently.  Mary Lawrence with Dimensions can reassess common area, unit info, etc.

Ruggiano further explained that to properly describe what is being purchased, you have to be able to understand the condo declarations.  Example, balconies should not be common element, nor should access to roofs, stairwells or types of access to get to A/C units – these should be defined as “limited common elements”.  Be sure to DESCRIBE what is being purchased.  The buyer is not paying for the balcony, but they are paying for the access ladder to A/C.

To lease the unit, Declarant will need to do BOMA standard measurement to properly charge unit owners’ share of NNN expenses.  Properly define the rental rate and any other requirements.  If you leave it vague, you’ll have problems in the future.  Brokers – need to explain and identify; liable for misrepresentation down the road.

CTCAR wants to be the go-to organization that is talking about what’s coming and how to be prepared.  In addition to special events like the annual symposium and the Power Cruz, CTCAR offers monthly MCE classes, its “PIE” breakfast on the 2nd Thursday of every month at Chez Zee, and luncheons held quarterly.   For more information,