COSTA MESA, CA—As GlobeSt.com reported last week, John Itzel has been appointed president of Cornerstone Realty Group. We caught up with him to discuss his new role, the company’s latest venture and issues facing the TIC and value-add categories.
GlobeSt.com: What are your goals for the firm in your new role?
John Itzel: We’ve got three plans of attack. 1. Invest in value-added real estate. 2. Concentrate on the tenant-in-common restructuring process. 3. Launching a website called 1031netex.com. This is a unique adventure we’re embarking on to allow 1031 exchange people and TIC owners to list their properties on a website, kind of like Zillow. If things work out as we plan, we’ll eventually get to 50,000 to 60,000 registrations. It allows these owners to trade in a secondary market where one didn’t exist before.
GlobeSt.com: What challenges do you face in accomplishing these goals?
Itzel: Probably the biggest challenge is getting the word out. 1031netex.com is a new product, and everyone we’ve spoken to about it is extremely excited about it. We need to let the world know that this new website is coming online: title companies, escrow companies, TIC owners and those currently on a 1031 exchange looking to liquidate.
GlobeSt.com: What do you see as the most important issues facing the TIC sector of the industry today?
Itzel: The biggest problem we’ve seen is most of the TIC participants are in a locked equity situation, an ownership structure that they can’t get out of. We’re trying to provide a vehicle to allow them either to sell or trade out of their current position. I’ve recently been involved in 19 TIC restructurings and sales of properties. I know the systems required are very tedious and cumbersome. It requires participation of all TIC owners, patient buyers and a great deal of coordination.
GlobeSt.com: Value-add seems to be a buzzword today as everyone searches for increased yield. What should we know about value-add opportunities?
Itzel: The biggest problem is because there’s a demand for value-add, buyers are paying too high a price for many properties. It’s difficult to add value to something for which you’ve overpaid. Be patient, evaluate each property and buy right. You can’t get competitive—don’t get into a bidding war and get in over your head and pay too much. Particularly in multifamily right now—cap rates are so low, unless you go to a non-preferred market. In some markets, your debt can get higher than the value of the property unless you go to the lender and negotiate a reduction.