As I am out and about on the #CRE planet I get to meet some fascinating people. A few weeks back I was invited to have lunch with Kase Abusharkh, and we struck up a conversation about all things #CRE. I suggested we do some Q&A together and what follows is just a small sample of that conversation.
1. Let’s start with you and your companies background.
Kase Abusharkh is the Founding Principal of The Kase Group (TKG). TKG specializes in the sale of single and multi-tenant net leased retail and industrial assets across the country. Prior to going independent of SVN, TKG was one of the top producing offices at SVN nationwide and continues to lead the marketplace as an independent boutique brokerage. Mr. Abusharkh has been involved in the acquisition and divestiture of over $3 billion in assets since joining in 2004. Mr. Abusharkh attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco and St. Mary’s College of California majoring in Economics and Business Administration. Mr. Abusharkh has 17 years’ experience in commercial real estate finance, acquisition, disposition, and development. Mr. Abusharkh also helped form Sutter & Pierce EPC, LLC, a diverse real estate investment group based in Northern California. Its primary area of focus is the acquisition and development of single and multi-tenant net leased retail projects, as well as multi-family and self-storage projects. Most recently, Mr. Abusharkh has served as the Chief Investment Officer for a publicly registered non-traded REIT, American Realty Capital- Retail Centers of America, Inc. During his 3-year tenure as Chief Investment Officer, he helped successfully complete the $1.2 billion equity raise and oversaw the acquisition of over $1 billion worth of multi-tenant retail shopping center space. Mr. Abusharkh concluded his time at American Realty Capital- Retail Centers of America, Inc. by successfully seeing through its merger with American Finance Trust Inc. to create a $4 billion diversified REIT. Along with his brother, Jacob, Mr. Abusharkh founded the Kase, Jacob and Jeannine Abusharkh Endowment, which provides a 4-year scholarship to a deserving student touched by illness at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. Mr. Abusharkh also supports kidney transplantation research through the Kase, Jeannine and Jacob Abusharkh Endowment in association with Stanford University Hospital’s Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine, which helps to improve clinical outcomes of kidney transplantation. Over the years, Mr. Abusharkh has been recognized for his dedication to his business as well as his community. Mr. Abusharkh serves as a member of the Board of Regents of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory.
2. What part of #CRE do you focus on personally and as a group?
Predominantly single tenant net leased assets.
3. What is your view of the general market today and why and how did we get here?
Interesting time, cap rates remain compressed for specific asset types- QSR, C-Stores, last mile distribution. Demand is still very high for quality assets as alternative yields remain low and real estate provides stable returns as well as tax advantages.
4. What are your observations about how #CRE does business today compared to 10 years ago? Has there been any change at all? If so what and why or why not?
We’ve seen a lot of changes in technology and the space is very crowded with investment professionals, albeit the new investment professionals who have come into the space in recent years seem more like boiler room cold callers. Ten years ago, most agents leaned on traditional media and print advertising for marketing purposes. That is changing as the younger, more tech-savvy generation is gaining traction. People are beginning to understand the power of technology to scale their business and brand.
5. What have you found to be the most effective way to market your services? What have you found to be a complete waste of time?
Word of mouth, direct marketing, strong reputation and a business that is truly relationship driven. Passive marketing does not work. No matter what the tools, you have to do your job as a broker to push your investment proposition.
6. Could you give us a look inside your tech toolbox and explain why you chose these specific tools and how you utilize them daily?
We use multiple technologies to build offering memorandums, list properties, manage databases, and reach clients. We prefer to use an all-in-one solution, that is why we use biproxi where we can take our transaction from listing to closing in one place. We have data vaults to store and share property information, we get lead reports off activity in the vaults, they introduce us to thousands of potential new buyers, and we can close the deal – all in one place – for a success-based fee less than a traditional referral paid by the buyer. Biproxi is the only tech offering we have come across where their incentives are aligned with ours, they don’t get paid if we don’t get paid.
7. You have invested in some of the up and coming tech companies aimed right at commercial real estate. Give me your inside opinion about what that was like.
Just like all investments, I think you have to choose tech investments that make sense to you. By that, I mean you have to ask does this add value to my business, does this make me more efficient, does this allow me to expand my reach or does it just add more tools and time to what I do on a day-to-day basis? With my latest investments, I have chosen opportunities that I think will change the way I and others do business by freeing up my time to do what I do best, which is brokering transactions
8. Where do you see the all-encompassing Global #CRE #Tech scene going and why? What are we missing and what could we be doing better?
I see the global CRE tech scene democratizing investment in real estate. I think you see it already with out of state and international buyers underwriting and buying properties that they never would have before. The access to information is so much different than it was ten years ago. I also see transactions becoming more efficient, with the time to close shrinking and greater access to capital expanding. I think what we have missed over time is a focus on the middle market smaller buyers and seller, which drive the vast majority of the CRE market. I think that is where the great opportunity lies in CRE.
9. Let’s get a bit more personal, what do you think the traits are of a great, not just good broker and let’s go beyond the basic type “A” kill what you eat stereotype.
I’ve always believed this is a relationship, information, and control driven business. If you have those three things, you should do fine
10. This has somewhat become a cliche but if you went back ten years and could tell yourself one thing to do what would it be?
Always be nice.
+1 What one thing do you want the readers of this article to take away today and do NOW?
Don’t be afraid to try new things to improve the way you do business. The landscape is changing out there and you don’t want to be left behind by technology and those that know best how to utilize it. I look at technology as an opportunity, not a threat. It helps me do my job better and more efficiently and focus on growing my business.