How to Invest in Commercial Real Estate

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Episode 109 - Empowering WOMEN in Commercial Real Estate with Beth Azor!

by Criterion, Braden Cheek, Brian Duck
June 19th 2023

Today hosts Braden Cheek, Brian Duck and Joel Thompson sit down with Beth Azor of Azor Advisory Services to discuss the importance of empowering women to get involved in commercial real estate inve... More

Alright. Well, how is it going? And welcome back to another episode of how to invest in commercial real estate. And we are excited for today's show. I personally am excited because I love interviewing guests. It makes my job a lot easier on playing the podcast. Right. Well, and every time we have a guest on, we learn something new that we do. I didn't know before. So it's always insightful to get people on and hear their stories. Yeah, and it's relatable, right? We're trying to talk about how to invest in commercial real estate. There's so many different ways, there's so many different people doing it and every person we have on kind of has their own little flair or their own little niche or what they love about commercial real estate. But anyway, without further ado, I wanted to introduce Beth Azor with Azor advisory service services. There we go. I got it. Um And she owns a retail investment advisory firm in South Florida where they invest and specialize in, in retail shopping centers, but I'll kind of get out of the way here and let Beth take it over from here. Beth. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Sure, thanks guys. So I've been in the retail leasing and investment industry since 1986.

So I would say that I'm well healed. I'd like to say that instead of old. Um So I uh I love leasing. Leasing is, you know, part of my heart and especially filling vacancies and shopping centers. So that's how I got into investing. I worked for a big company in Miami. We started with 11 people at the last six years there. I was the president and we had expanded to 100 and 50 people. But my boss, it was awesome. It was fun. And my boss and partner came to me in 1988. I was there two years and said, hey, we're gonna buy a shopping center. Do you want to invest? I'm like, no, uh A I don't have any money. I'm 28 years old and b uh you know, I'm good with my 401k like I'm maxing out and so they buy the deal they put in equity, they refinance it, it's a huge success and I watch it all happening and I'm like, well, you know, no, not for me. So then, and two years later that he comes to me again and says, hey, we're buying another shopping center, you know, this time. Are you ready? Do you want to invest?

And I'm like, no, I don't have any money because what do you mean you're making 100 grand a year, leasing space. How do you not have any money? You know, you're married. I go, well, yeah. No, no, not gonna do it. So then the third time, 1992 I'm now there six years. He goes, ok, you're gonna lease this puppy and you really need to invest in this. And I'm like, um, he goes, don't tell me you don't have any money because now you're making an excess of six figures. You're married. He's making excess of six figures. And I go, I don't have any money. He goes, you are an idiot. Where is your money going? And I go, well, you know that Jaguar out in the parking lot and that class trip to Hawaii that we just took and our heat season tickets and our Dolphin season tickets and our Florida State season tickets. And he goes, you're an idiot. And he says I'm gonna take you down to the local bank and cosign a note for you. The minimum investment in this deal to be an LP was 50 grand. He took me down to a bank. My parents gave us 10 grand and he cosigned a note for 40 on one condition that I would put from. Then on 20% of every commission I made into an investment fund.

And if he ever found out that I wasn't doing that, he was gonna fire me. So this guy is a good boss, by the way, Yeah, he's really good. So, so he did that and we invested 50 grand and we made over 2 million in that asset over 20 years. So that started me, that was my first LP with him. I did six more. So I did seven LP S. Uh I left the company in 04 to start my own thing. And I now then became a GP. So one of the people say, well, what's your advice? Or first, my first piece of advice is save money because I could have been in those other two deals, but I was blowing my money and then second of all, be an LP and watch how other people do it. That prepared me then to go be a GP. So I currently own five shopping centers. Um They're worth $80 million and they're all within 10 minutes of my house. So I have a grasp on the market knowledge and the even. So that's kind of my story in a nutshell. You, but you guys had mentioned at the opener that so many people are investing real estate.

Well, I wanna, I do want to point out that of all of the commercial real estate investors in the US, only 3% are women and of that 3% guys, 1.5 50% are spouses or inherited. So now I'm divorced, I'm a single mom. I am of the 1.5% of women that invest in commercial real estate so that we have to change. So I'm working on that and I hope you guys will help me. We would love to help you with that. We were just out at I CS E in Vegas and it is a for sure. It is like all guys and there are a few, a few women, but it would be so great if it was more diverse because it's a really lucrative part of the economy and, and women need to be participating in that. Uh And not let guys have all of the financial benefits of commercial real estate. It's kind of like uh engineering was 10, 20 years ago where it just wasn't a thing girls aspired to or women aspired to, but I love that you've done it and hopefully you can inspire some of our listeners to get involved.

Yeah, in, in the C suite, we're up to 36% in commercial real estate. But investing, like I said, dismal three. I just raised, I'm buying an empty bank branch and I'm hopefully putting in a ground lease of a coffee guy and I'm, I'm gonna buy it with cash with no loan. So I've raised 3.2 million and I've raised it in two weeks and 27 women are investing $25,000 and it's their first investment ever. Oh, that's fantastic. I absolutely love that. We, I mean, I feel like that's kind of why we started the show and, and obviously, um you know, a lot of us advertise these minimums, but most of us are, are kind of allowed to take whatever amount we want. So we're massive proponents of getting people involved at whatever amount they can um that are close to us because you, you're right. And there was a couple of major themes that I picked up on. The first one was that 36% of, of women are in the c suite working in commercial real estate.

But they're not investing. I would say that that's just as much, if not more of a disparity in men, right? How many people do we know out there that are working in commercial real estate that just don't invest in it. It's, it's like they're selling jaguars but they've never driven one. They, they don't want to own one but they tell you the benefits of it. Yeah, especially brokers. They're the ones that see all the deals and they see how much money uh the people make and have that are buying the centers that they're selling them. But it's just so weird that short term payoff of the income and then go spend it on something they want. Instead of reinvesting back into what they're pitching is an amazing investment to others. It's a, it's a weird dichotomy there. Yeah, it does, it does make sense. So the wrap up the first one, invest in commercial real estate. You already know, it's amazing because like Joel said, you're, you're selling it to other people. The second one that I loved hearing you say, I literally threw my hands up in the air with the excitement is be an LP to learn, right? How many times have we said that on this show? Get involved with somebody you, you trust, right?

I'm, I'm sure Beth that most of your $3 million that you raised in two weeks, I'm sure most of those were repeat investors or know of you and your successes and your properties and, and kind of how you model this in. And eventually some, some of these people, mostly women probably said, Beth, how are you doing this? And you probably said, you've got to write me a check. I'll show you how, how are you, how are you reaching out to these women specifically? Is it on your podcast? Um So three years ago during COVID, I had a virtual uh webinar called the CRE uh Investment Summit for Women. And we had 100 women virtually. And then two years ago, we had 100 and 50 women in South Florida come to a conference where, what I learned was I thought that originally women said I don't have enough money or I'm afraid or it's too complicated or it's too risky. And what? And I kept drilling down, drilling, down, drilling down and I found out it's really none of it's a little bit of all of those. But the biggest thing is I don't see any other women in my circle doing it.

Which makes sense since there's only 3% of us. So I created a conference where I put women on stage that are doing it. Women investing in hospitality, hotels, self storage, retail, land, multifamily. And, and so the, so the first, the virtual conference, I had eight women and then the second conference we had in South Florida, I had eight women get up on stage. I had a, a panel of lenders and then I got them all in a bus and I drove them around my properties, handed them a hand book and said, this is why I picked the deal. This is what's happened since I bought it. This is how I raised family and friends. This is how I got a loan. Here's my partnership agreement. And then last year we did it in Orlando and instead of the bus tour, we did deep dives of, of breakout rooms where the women speakers again, who own real estate went into rooms. So if you were interested in self storage, you went into the speakers uh that owns self storage and she broke down underwriting in a breakout women and we had 200 women at that event. So now that next year in March, we're gonna have it back in South Florida because I've added two assets.

We're gonna do the bus tour again because everyone liked the bus tour and that's how I'm so of the 25 or 27 women that have invested in this deal. I think that half I knew in South Florida are ready and half were new women I met through the summit. That's amazing. Yeah, that's, that's fantastic. And what she's saying is so right. Think of our investor list. It, it really is not very many women on our investor list. right? No, that's fantastic that you did that. So I've got some questions uh just for our audience to understand. So you were investing in LP. Uh What were the returns that you were seeing that helped to motivate you to keep investing in those LP S uh and then eventually get to the GP side. Oh my gosh. Um Just roughly, yeah, I mean, easily 20 to 25%. I mean, I have a crazy story. We, you like you guys like stories. So we bought, we had a, a client, we had a multiple different business service lines and one of our service lines at this prior company was investment sale broker and we had a client that came to us and said um I want to sell my two shopping centers in Miami and I think if I get 9 million on both of them, I'm happy.

So 4.5 each, my investment sale broker and one of my top tenant rep brokers were looking at the two deals and said, you know, we need to buy these for 9 million. Like th this is a great deal and we're like, oh, that's kind of a conflict of interest. But we called the client. We said, look, if you think it's a conflict of interest, no problem, no harm, no foul, foul, we'll do the om, we'll put it out to the market and we'll, you know, go, go to market with it. But if you want 9 million, we're ready to pay you 9 million for both. Right now. It's like, fine, give me 9 million. We're, we're good. I'm happy with the 9 million. So we bought these two centers. Um, I put in 25,000 in each deal and I was also gifted part of the GP. We sold one of them four years ago to Kimco, which we should have never done. We should have kept it. But the other one that we still own was just appraised. I know you, I, I'm glad you guys are sitting down. If you're listening in the audience, sit down, it was just a praise for 60 million.

We refight at 40. Oh my gosh. Did you guys buy that in 2004? So 16 years you went from 4.5 to 60? Wow. That, uh, that guy, you know, I was thinking if a broker tells me they just want to buy the property and not take it to market, I definitely would have to, a red flag would go up like, ok, maybe I'm leaving some money on the table. I mean, that was the warning. That was the flag. Hey, here's the flag. It's a deal. It's a deal. My man. So it was, you know, it went from foreign and we would have paid him 10 million. Like if he said, no, it's a conflict of interest. We need, you know, you need to up it a little bit or whatever we would have absolutely taken it to market. Never did. We think that in 2023 it would get a price at 60 million. Never. So let's dive into the $40 million in, in tax free money. Like just so everyone appreciates that fact, right? Like a refinance of $40 million. That's, that's why I'm saying we should have never sold the other one. We pay taxes on, we should have refined and kept it right. So we're not paying taxes on this money because it's a loan that you are paying back.

So this asset I'm sure has an no I to service the $40 million. So you can take the $40 million throw it up in the air. Hopefully you're investing in something else right by more real estate. But then this asset is servicing the debt on the $40 million and it's tax free. So it's gonna pay off that 40 million and then years from now you'll be able to refinance and pull out that money again, tax free. Right. So, and we did it two years, we did it, I think it was 15, 18 months ago. So our rate is 3.75. That's great. That's insane. So, you have a similar story with, with Stephanie promenade a deal you bought in Vegas, you run through the highlights of, of that really quick si similar story. Very kind of similar. We, we purchased it for like $16 million and uh it's only been four years or five years and you bought it from a guy who bought it for eight. Yeah, because they bought it out of the, out of the recession. So I thought, oh, it's a little risky because I'm paying double what this guy had paid for it. But now it, it, it appraised at 30 million. We, we refined it at 3% interest right before the rates went up and we paid back all the investors.

So they have no money in the deal and now it's cash flowing and it's worth double what we, what we paid for it. So yeah, these stories are, they are unique. Not every property you buy for 4.5 million is gonna be worth 60 or in my case, 16 to 30 or whatever the case may be, but they do happen. And so get in the game and you might hit a home run, uh swing the bat, you might get a base hit and, and so that's what we want to encourage people to do with these. So another question I have is as you switch to the GP side, tell us about your structure. Uh You know, because everybody has a different structure on, you know, the GP ownership and what the, what you're offering, your LP S. That's a good question. So my prep that I offer is, you know, across my portfolio is somewhere between six and eight. So the deal I'm doing right now, um again, I said it's an empty bank branch building for the first, first year. I'm not accruing any prep. So I was, I was going ok, am I gonna give a prep of six and started accruing day one even though it's gonna be like a development deal, no income but blah, blah, blah. I said, no, no, I'm just gonna give a seven but it starts 12 months in.

So that's what I did. And then I do a 30 70 promote and I had a lot of people, some of my partners who are giving me money, you know, you can do 50 50. I'm like, I don't want to do 50 50. I think that's kind of piggish. I don't know what you guys do, but I just think 50 50 I don't, you know, I'm happy with the 30 70 then someone said, well, you could at least do 60 40 I said, ok, I'm 62. I have a portfolio. I am on a mission and my mission is to get women to invest. So if I make a 10% less on my promote, I'm good with that. So I know that my deal is more conservative than what's going on right now. But I'm completely fine with that. So that's my structure. But I and I don't take a bunch of fees. So I'm not a fan of acquisition fee. Disposition fee guarantee fee. I do take a leasing fee. I do take a property management fee if I'm property managing something. Um I, when I'm doing a renovation or, or a development deal, I hire a project manager that knows that an RT U is an H VAC which I didn't know a few years ago when I was doing my first development.

So I hire a project manager and the partnership pays for them like it's a property management fee that goes directly to hire someone who knows what they're doing. Not me. But so that's my structure. Excellent. And we, we typically do an eight pre uh and a 70 30. We, we've also done 60 40 65 35 just depending on the situation. Uh we do take, uh we do take a asset management fee. We, we take an acquisition fee and sometimes a disposition fee if the property met all expectations. So yeah, definitely different ways to do that. Um but I think your structure sounds great. I'll hire a broker to sell the deal. I won't sell the deal and then the, the partnership will pay that for that guy's fee. So, and I have, I don't have, I don't uh charge an asset management fee. I do have a deal where it's an eight, I bought it in 08 and it's a 65 35 and it's an, it was an ongoing cash flowing asset. So do you get to earn your promote during cash flow operations?

So you return all of the gotcha. So it's an eight, then 100% return of capital then split. Ok. And then what kind of debt are you uh typically looking at for these retail deals? So, um prior to now, so this deal I'm doing, we're doing all cash. But uh the last deal that I did was a 65% loan from a regional bank. Um I think my rate was four. I bought a two story office building. I knocked it down and I built this uh Starbucks strip center on half of it and I'm doing a wa wa ground lease, doing the site work for a Wawa ground lease on the other half. So, um so that was a acquisition loan, like I said, I think it was 425 65%. I raised the equity on the other 35% I signed on the note. Um We raised some additional equity to build the strip center. And then now I got another 1 million added to the loan for the site work for the Wawa. Oh, I love it. Um Well, and so I think it's been awesome hearing your story.

Uh How can we help our audience get in touch with you? Uh How would you like them to be able to reach out to you get on your mailing list? Uh And, and be able to see your, your stuff. So probably um Twitter is the easiest way. Uh But I'm on linkedin Instagram and it's everything is Beth Azor. Beth Azor. OK. Azor Advisory Services. Beth Azor. All right, I got, I remember that. All right guys. Well, Beth, I really appreciate having you on the show. I love hearing stories like this. I love hearing 20% returns. I love hearing, buying 4.5 million, turning it to 60. I love the stats about women investing. I personally didn't know that. So I'm now your biggest fan and advocate to get women invested in commercial real estate. Congrats on your success. I love your passion for getting women involved. That's fantastic. So, and, and you guys work on getting, you know, don't I talked to someone else recently, actually, it's a woman who owns, I think 30,000 apartments and I was on her podcast and I said how many women? And she goes, I have no idea. And then she went back and looked and she had 18% which is awesome.

So I challenge you all to go out and look and see how many, what's your percentage of women, you know, not just spouses like just women, right? And then um and then try to improve that, right? Try to encourage more women to invest with you guys. We will, we would love that. I'll tell that to my wife babe, I'm meeting all of these women to get them to invest to change the world. Ok? One woman at a time, it's about them. It's not about me. Anyway, Beth, thank you so much and everyone else we will see you next week on how to invest in commercial real estate.

Episode 109 - Empowering WOMEN in Commercial Real Estate with Beth Azor!
Episode 109 - Empowering WOMEN in Commercial Real Estate with Beth Azor!
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