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Environmental Site Inspections 101 … Blog Style

Commercial Real Estate in Connecticut is closely monitored by the Department of Environmental Protection. It is very rare that a commercial property in New Haven County is sold without an Environmental Assessment being conducted. As a matter of fact, if the Buyer is getting a mortgage, an Environmental Site Inspection, or at the very least an Environmental Screening will be done.

First and foremost the Environmental Site Assessment will determine whether or not the property is an
"Establishment" as defined by the CT Transfer Act. If properties are defined as "Establishments" by the act then transfer act forms must be submitted to the state when the properties are sold. “Establishments” are properties at which hazardous waste was generated or at which hazardous waste was brought to or stored. However, in CT, there are three use types that create automatic establishments. They are properties where Dry Cleaning Operations, Furniture Stripping or Auto Body Repair were conducted on or after May 1, 1967.

Environmental Site Assessments or Inspections are defined as, Phase I Site Assessments, Phase II Site Assessments and Phase III Assessments, or Inspections.

Phase I Inspections are basically conducted on Paper through research. The property’s history is researched through DEP file review and database search, a physical tour of the property to “eyeball” Areas of Concern such as storage containers, potential asbestos sites, like floor tiles and roofs, dumpsters, floor drains and more. Topography and historical records are also studied. A Phase I Environmental Inspection does not encompass any subsurface investigation or remediation plans

Phase II Inspections or Assessments identify the exact location of any contamination. This is where the digging begins. Groundwater monitoring wells may be installed, Ground Penetrating Radar Surveys are completed, and samples are pulled from the soil.

If Contaminants are present, then Phase III work begins to identify the dimension of the release and the extent of the contamination. However, often times Phase II work reveals the best news of all, the presence of Zero Contamination. After this work is done, remediation plans and scope of work are detailed, but they are not a part of the Phase II or Phase III work.

May 25, 2006

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The Internet has Changed Real Estate Market Place Forever.

Where is this trend taking us?

These days no Home Buyer worth his or her salt speaks to a Real Estate Agent or Realtor without first consulting the internet. Very often they’ve seen pictures or virtual tours of every room prior to their first walk through.

Knowledge and Information used to be every agent’s ace in the hole, now, skill and knowledge of neighborhoods, schools, the accessibility of clubs and community amenities, the ability to navigate home inspections, paperwork detailing underground tank removals and the ability to communicate effectively with the Buyers’ attorney are far more important to buyers than ever before.

In the Commercial Market, the evolution of agent or Realtor® as consultant has been occurring steadily over the past several years. Commercial Real Estate Investors and Purchasers have access to some of the same Information Exchanges that Real Estate Professionals do. Commercial Real Estate practitioners, though still on the clock Monday through Friday during business hours are required now, more than ever to be accessible 24/7. Wireless networks and PDA’s have made this accessibility available and the Agent or Broker who finds him or herself unable to return a call on a Saturday afternoon, may learn that their customer has talked to someone else before Monday. Slower in coming is the online real estate transaction platform.

Implementation of online platforms will take place across the board and will increase transparency and more satisfaction for customers and clients soon. It has been the talk of the industry for more than three years.

Perhaps most importantly, the face of the Commercial Real Estate Industry will change. While Women are not pursuing careers in C Level executive suites at corporations as once predicted, they will be more and more entrepenurial and Women in Commercial Real Estate will reap the benefit of better communication with their peers. In New Haven County, we have yet to see a big influx of women in the business, I'm President of our company in Branford, while the only other two or three women in New Haven county are based in North Haven, Orange and then further into Fairfield County and Hartford County. Similarly, ethnic and racial diversity will open the Brokerage and Investment fields up to many who previously may have thought the doors were closed to them.

Finally, as Environmental Laws continue to become more complex, lending grows more intricate, and more properties need visits to zoning departments prior to their sale, Full Service Brokerage Firms will become more and more valuable to the Commercial Real Estate Purchasers who have businesses to run and realize that Full Service Professionals, who offer a complete package of services are worth their weight in gold.

More on that next time. - Kristin

May 17, 2006

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The Bidding War

Everyone calls a “Seller’s Market” a hot market, and a “Buyer’s Market”, a slow market. In a “Hot Market” where real estate is at a premium, home buyers try to bide their time, wait for the market to cool, the housing bubble to burst, or a correction. They are waiting for interest rates to rise and people to go into payment shock when the fixed rates on mortgages expire and monthly payments become tougher or impossible. But, The Commercial Property Market in New Haven and surrounding towns, particularly, Branford, Milford, North Haven, Wallingford and the shoreline in its entirety, has been “Hot” for years.

When Businesses are in the midst of expansion or even downsizing, they can’t wait for the market to slow. They need to buy as soon as a building that fits their needs becomes available, which in most cases lately, means that Buyers are going to find themselves in a bidding war. For example, the most sought after property type: a 20,000sf building in Milford with 20 foot ceilings became available to the real estate market 10 days ago. Today, there are three offers on the property.

These three bidders are going to war. The Seller and one Buyer will wind up the winners. How does one Buyer become the most attractive? Dollars are the most obvious way, but an offer to purchase isn’t just the price. There are contingencies to offers, Clauses that allow a Purchaser to walk away if something about the property doesn’t suit their needs. Fewer contingencies make an offer more attractive. Better down payments and lower mortgages are also a boon. Cash purchases obviously trump any mortgage backed purchase. Beyond that, it’s often about a prospective purchaser’s ability to do business. Selling their prospective Buyer has been a trend and skill that Real Estate Professionals, both Realtors® and non-Realtors alike, have mastered over the past several years. It’s another dimension of service that they must bring on game day and if they don’t they aren’t doing the best for their clients or customers. More Trends, including the internet and brokerage are on their way. – Kristin

May 6, 2006

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