Site To Do Business
Keeping Deals in the Pipeline
A CCIM candidate in Atlanta keeps his pocket full of potential deals in affordable housing by leaning on Site To Do Business to save time and money.
Affordable housing is a complicated market. Unique variables can quickly turn a straightforward deal into a hairy proposition. Synthetic ceilings on rent levels, for example, can make it harder for a potential development to pencil. Increased government regulations and standards, meanwhile, are stacked up opposite tax breaks and other economic enticements for developers. The regulations go beyond market forces by measuring housing and social need with census-tract-level statistics pointing developers to more effective and equitable outcomes.
Jeff Thompson, principal at Acacia Realty Advisors in Atlanta, understands the details matter with so many i’s to dot and t’s to cross. A CCIM candidate, he leverages the mapping features of Site To Do Business and Esri’s Business Analyst to efficiently and exactly examine potential developments for his clients.
“I can kill a deal or know if it’s got a future within an hour,” Thompson says. “With the mapping tools, once I’ve established certain parameters, I can pinpoint exactly what I need — looking at the proximity of a supermarket, post office, restaurants, and other important uses.”
Considering the involvement of government entities in developing affordable housing, sites are often scored according to certain criteria. Knowing how to navigate this process is key to Thompson’s ability to provide clients with the best potential developments.
“It’s a different scenario than dealing with private equity,” he says. “In that case, you can say the nearest grocery store is 0.6 miles away and [investors] aren’t going to sweat that. But I know having a store within a half mile will improve my overall score — so that’s why it’s so important to be exact in mapping sites.”
The mapping capabilities in Site To Do Business allow Thompson to quickly analyze potential areas and specific sites, while minding the enhanced regulations in affordable housing.
With developers a bit beholden to state and federal requirements for certain aspects in affordable housing building sites, Thompson has a bit more leeway with his clients. They understand the existing complex restrictions in the site-selection process, so it’s not feasible to be ultra-specific in terms of geography without the proper data to disseminate.
“People always have subjective things they like or don’t like in a deal,” he says. “One spot may be too rural and another could be too urban — but I’m trying to fish for a particular kind of fish.”
Locating workable sites for affordable housing is also an exercise in both quality and quantity. Working with his clients on a longer timeline than a single project, Thompson has multiple deals in his pocket at a time. If zoning becomes a problem for one or the financing falls apart in another, it’s important to have options.
“Let’s say I have eight sites I’m looking at now. If my No. 1 option dies, then all the rest slide up a spot,” he says. “We want to maintain plenty of variety, where we’re able to feel confident in our deals and negotiate knowing that.
“If certain aspects of a deal get temperamental, it’s easy to get stuck if you don’t have options. You don’t want to ask yourself, ‘What if we don’t do this deal? What if this won’t work?’”
Developers understand the existing complex restrictions in the site-selection process, so it’s not feasible to be ultra-specific in terms of geography.
This type of volume in site location is one of the primary reasons Thompson became a CCIM candidate. He had been using Esri data before joining CCIM Institute, but it was without the support that comes with Site To Do Business.
“Everyone’s mileage and usage of Site To Do Business will vary, but I realized it would be an easy way for me to save time and money,” he says. “I’ve been able to utilize the data in new ways with support I didn’t have before. I can ask specific questions and watch tutorials to improve my business.”
Thompson also appreciates that Site To Do Business allows him, as a CRE professional in a relatively small firm, to compete with larger players who have exponentially more resources to dedicate to research, mapping, due diligence, and technology.
“I used to work for larger platforms like Cushman & Wakefield, so I know the benefits that come with those big firms for certain clients as well as their associates,” he says. “But with CCIM resources like STDB, I can custom tailor what I am doing for my specific clients and for my specialty. It’s a huge benefit to be able to meet unique requests.”