Laurie Wartik Joins Berkshire Hathaway California Home Services



By Gary Wartik
January 5, 2017

Berkshire Hathaway California Home Services (“BH”) recently announced that Realtor ® Laurie Wartik of Camarillo joined its Ventura, CA office in November, 2016 after having an association with another broker since 2014. The BH Ventura office, a corporate office rather than a franchisee, serves a wide area that includes Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Malibu, the Conejo Valley and the San Fernando Valley. Operating from a corporate office, Laurie said, “….offers my clients a higher and more complete line of realty services. During 2016, the Ventura BH office matched more buyers and sellers of residential properties in Ventura County and the Conejo Valley than any other area brokerage.

Laurie and her husband are long-time residents of Ventura County, and also reside part-time in Palm Desert. Laurie is also a member of the Desert Cities Association of Realtors. “Having the opportunity to join Berkshire Hathaway Ventura is a special opportunity, especially at a time when the local housing market, while in short supply compared to needs, remains strong,” she added.

“This is a great time to become a first time home buyer, as well as for current homeowners to move up to a larger home to meet growing family needs,” Laurie pointed out. “I look forward to continuing to help families and individuals in the Central Coast area and Coachella Valley areas find that special property that will fit both their budget and their lifestyle,” she concluded.

Laurie Wartik may be contacted directly by calling 805-437-9521, emailing her at lwartik4re@gmail.com ; or by visiting her website at www.realestateagentlaurie.com

ENTREPRENEURS AND BUSINESS LEADERS



ENTREPRENEURS AND BUSINESS LEADERS

Information and Inspiration by renowned

Entrepreneurs, Real Estate and Business Experts

 

 

This acclaimed, semiannual conference gives the critical facts you need to make key decisions for your business, staffing and team inspiration in 2016. Gather the latest information, tools, and resources to propel your business farther, faster in 2016 and beyond.

The most important information that business owners
should walk away with from this event

  • How long the current economic expansion will last and when businesses will begin to meet more difficult challenges
  • A better understanding of which sectors and markets are growing and at what speed in Ventura County and California
  • Current and expected conditions in commercial lending markets, with insight delivered by renowned experts

Who are the speakers?

Howard Smith

Vice President and Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley

“Financial Markets Today and What You Can Expect in 2016”

 

Gerald Price

Portfolio Manager, Pacific Western Bank

Participant on Panel of Commercial Lenders

 

 

Paul Rahimian

CEO, Parkview Financial

Participant on Panel of Commercial Lenders

 

 

Douglas Scott

Principal, The Alison Company

Participant on Panel of Commercial Lenders

 

 

Mark Schniepp, Ph.D.

Director, California Economic Forecast

“The 2015 Forecast Update for California and Ventura County”

 

What have people said about our previous events?

Come and network among peers. 

Don’t be late – Register Today!

 


Register today at

Call us at 805-692-2498

CLICK HERE FOR FULL BROCHURE

Body Piercings and Tattoos, Part 2



By Gary Wartik
April 10, 2015

In our last newsletter, Karen L. Gabler, Esq. of the law firm of LightGabler, LLC of Camarillo, employment law specialists, offered us insights into how to deal with job applicants, adorned with tattoos, nose rings, extra bushy beards and similar body “enhancements,” should be treated in terms of meeting a company’s dress code.

Ms. Gabler told us that in developing a company-wide grooming/appearance policy prohibiting tattoos and piercings, employers should consider the business reasons behind any such prohibitions, as well as the specific job duties of the individual employees.   For example, an employer might wish to prohibit visible tattoos for employees who interact with customers.  In that case, a janitor who works after hours and never interacts with customers might be permitted to have visible tattoos, whereas a customer service representative might be restricted from having visible tattoos.

As the article noted, employers are entitled to hold prospective new employees to the terms of an enforceable dress code, especially for those meeting with customers, clients or patients.  Well, that is good direction for those meeting with prospective employees in an interview setting.  Some of our readers, however raised the question of how to deal with the employee who, at the time of employment reflects a “clean appearance,” then moves into the world of tattoos, nose rings, etc.

In discussing this with Ms. Gabler, she confirmed that with an enforceable dress code in place, the existing employee who changes his/her appearance may be held to the same standards as applied to them when hired.  For those who, subsequent to being hired, violate the dress code, and continue to interact with the company’s clientele, such an employee may be released for violating the dress code, or given the choice of complying with company policy.  As a reminder, however, there are two key tests, they being: 1) Employee interacts with clientele, and 2) The physical adornments are not religious based.

For further questions, please contact us at Vision Economics at gw@visioneconomics.net, or by calling 805-987-7322.

Searching for Weakness



By Mark Schniepp
April 15, 2015

Peak of the Cycle?                                    

We are at or near the peak of the economic cycle. That’s my opinion.  We could also be in for a longer period of expansion than normal, because the sluggish period of recovery during this economic cycle was much longer than expected.  If so, then my thoughts about the peak could either be premature or the peak could evolve into a longer running plateau of economic growth.

Expansions generally end when the economy overheats, occurring when the labor market is at full employment and businesses are operating beyond their capacity. Inflation begins to rise along with interest rates, and consumers tend to overspend and become debt laden.

inflation

We are not there yet.  The labor markets are not yet at full employment, though that condition is rapidly approaching.  For anyone over 25 years old, the unemployment rate is effectively “full.”  And this will translate into rising wages and salaries this year and a higher rate of inflation in 2016.

unemployment

We are expecting the Federal Reserve to begin raising the federal funds rate this summer, as early as June.  Treasury rates are expected to move higher along with mortgage rates by the fourth quarter. The 30 year conventional mortgage yield is forecast to push past 5 percent next year.

Looking for Weakness                                        

The economy is now in its best condition since the end of the Great Recession. Consequently, we are gradually turning our attention from how strong the current economic expansion will be to a search for any weaknesses, i.e., potential excesses in household spending and debt, financial lending practices, or over extended asset prices.

Household debt is currently at the lowest level since reliable records have been kept. The amount of credit card debt fell to the lowest level since 2002. This is one of the key reasons that the U.S. economy is outperforming much of Europe and Japan.  Corporate debt as a percentage of total corporate equity is also at a 12 year low.

household debt

Household debt is the sum of mortgage debt plus consumer debt including credit card, auto, and student loan payments. Currently, household debt as a percent of disposable income is at its lowest level in more than 35 years

In general, households and businesses are in better financial shape to spend this year and next.  Banks are in a better position to lend.  These conditions in concert, along with likely increases in wages and salaries, point to a predicted 3 percent increase in total spending this year, a meaningful improvement over 2013 and 2014.

Asset Prices: The Stock Market 

Another bubble Building?                                              

The stock market run has been fairly sharp since the beginning of 2013. And to date in 2015, the financial markets continue to move higher. Adjusted for inflation, the S&P 500 is currently at its highest level ever. The Nasdaq reached a near all time record close on March 20, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is just 300 points from it’s all time record high set on March 2, 2015.

As of April 7, the S&P 500 P/E ratio stood at 20.29.  This is the twelve month trailing price to earnings version of the ratio. The average P/E ratio for companies comprising the index since 1979 is 20.6. The Dow Industrial Average P/E ratio is 16.33, just slightly above the year-ago level. The obvious question is whether current P/E ratios are worrisome, indicative of another bubble?  There is no shortage of current online debate on this subject, which can get quite complex.

price to earnings

The stock market numbers are worth following closely to ascertain the degree of speculative behavior that might be infiltrating current values.  But it’s not an immediate concern because expected earnings reports for the first quarter of 2015 appear to be strong.

No Leaks in the Dike                                

Interest rates remain low, gasoline prices are falling again, and the dollar continues to strengthen.  The economy is stable and growth rates for most of the important indicators may reach their best levels this year.  We’re looking for initial problems, but we don’t see many at this time.  So enjoy the spring.

Bitter Cold Weather in the East, but a Warming Economy All Over!



By Mark Schneipp, Ph.D.
Introduction by Gary Wartik
February 20, 2015

We are pleased to offer the current issue of the monthly newsletter of the California Economic Forecast written by its director, Mark Schneipp.  Dr. Schneipp, based in Santa Barbara, CA is one of the most quoted economists in California’s central coast region that encompasses Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Dr. Schneipp is known for his comparative analysis, thus the cold weather map below, not to mention his dry wit.  His insightful predications of future economic performance are usually as accurate as any in the “industry.” Of late Schneipp’s views have been more optimistic and accurate than those of many analysts reading the same economic data.

Hopefully Dr. Schneipp’s comments will make you feel better economically, even if you are freezing in one of the very cold climates depicted below.  We wish you warm economics and a warm spring to come! 6-image

Source: weather.com/maps/current

Throughout the Great Lakes Region and the Eastern Seaboard, there is record or near record bitter cold.  Negative temperatures are being recorded in more than 20 states. The ferocious arctic front is diving as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. Atlanta recorded a high of 26 degrees and there are freeze warnings in Florida. The map shows the wind chill temperature on February 20 at noon eastern time.  This is clearly the coldest period of the year or even the decade for most eastern cities.  Meanwhile the temperatures in Ventura County during January hovered in the 70 degree range.

Economic Heat                  

The dark pull of the Great Recession has now let go. The economy is growing at its fastest rate since the mid 2000s and the rate of job creation is prodigious.  In fact, it’s the strongest growth since the technology boom 15 years ago.

More than a million jobs were created over the last 3 months. And there are now more open work positions than hires each month.  Employer surveys indicate that nearly one-half of respondents say they are hiring.

Consumers are benefiting from more job opportunities, lower gasoline prices, extremely low interest rates, a strengthening dollar, rising equities in their homes, and near record stock market values.  And soon, they’ll be the general recipients of higher wages and salaries.

Prospects for increased housing production this year will generate even more employment opportunities, higher wages, and faster overall growth in the national, state, and regional economies.

While bitter cold grips much of the nation, overall economic growth is the hottest we’ve observed since 2005.

In California, the labor market is creating jobs at a faster pace than the nation.  Consequently, the unemployment rate is falling like a rock.  More homebuilding this year will create more jobs. Demand for both new and existing homes will increase though only gradually. So much of the “millennial” population currently lives in apartments or with their parents and are not buying homes.

But this condition will change, albeit slowly.  So expect a longer drawn out expansion of housing, more new jobs associated with housing, and more inventory from which to choose.  Higher interest rates will also accompany these trends as the Federal Reserve gets ready to push rates higher during the summer months.

Well, it’s been about a decade since the last time the economy was operating at full employment. And though job growth won’t immediately slow when the economy reaches full employment, we may atypically be facing a scarcity condition for workers in some sectors.  There is some likelihood that the economy’s biggest problem by 2017 will be a lack of qualified labor.

Anything Cooling this Year?

We don’t expect much cooling this year, unless you’re talking about winter weather in anyplace but the west coast.  The current evidence strongly shows escalating momentum in the labor and consumer markets.  And when you combine that with gasoline prices that will stay low, interest rates that will stay low, and the U.S. dollar that will continue to strengthen this year, you get near perfect storm conditions that produce an economy growing above it’s potential.

Now, barring any major and unexpected calamities in the geopolitical arena, the economy should remain in high gear for most of the year.  As housing ramps up this year and into 2016, it should offset sectors that may be dragging, such as our export sector due to the strong dollar.

We’ll be watching carefully, so stay tuned !

Is “Integrated Marketing” the Next Big Thing?



By Randy Strong
January 2, 2015

“Integrated marketing” is not a new concept. It is a fundamental strategy that business students study and experienced marketers practice intuitively. But it seems to us like there has been a lot more buzz about the term lately.

5-image

All the pieces of your marketing puzzle should work together.

Integrated marketing is a term I have used since the early ‘90’s when selling Major League Baseball programs and it always amazed me that even big business did not implement this strategy with greater frequency.

Let’s remind ourselves of what the term means. “Integrated marketing” is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as a “Strategy aimed at unifying different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing. Its objective is to complement and reinforce the market impact of each method, and to employ the market data generated by these efforts in product development, pricing, distribution, customer service, etc.”

For the marketer, “integrated marketing” works when you have a single brand identity that is so strong that it remains consistent and recognizable regardless of the medium. The biggest, most powerful brands in the world are great at this. Think Starbucks, McDonalds, Target.

Back in 2012, the May issue of BusinessWeek included an article called “Integrated Marketing: If You Knew It, You’d Do It” in which fragmentation is described as “public enemy No. 1” in today’s marketing environment. The proliferation of marketing platforms has certainly contributed to this fragmentation, with social media being the primary culprit.

If you are going to use all of the marketing channels available to you, you’re going to need help, and that can mean multiple people working in different mediums. Developing and sticking to a single brand identity across platforms can be very challenging.

Now that the bloom on the rose of social media is starting to fade, we see marketers taking a fresh look at traditional media and asking themselves how they make all their new tools work with the old ones.

We believe that marketing success comes not from focusing on any specific marketing platform and not from trying to use all of them.

Know Your Brand

For any marketing program to work, first and foremost you have to know your brand. What is the image you want to present to the world?

Know Your Market

Second, you need to know who it is you want to reach. Who is your target market?

Evaluate Platforms Based on Potential ROI

Now you’re ready to evaluate which platforms will help you best reach your target markets and prioritize them based on potential ROI.

Different platforms call for a different tone. On Facebook you want to be fun and friendly, magazine ads must be visually gripping, print publications give you a chance to present a longer, more informative message.

But you must have a consistent voice across all platforms as if one person was in many places at one time, reinforcing your connection to a specific customer each time you come in contact with him or her.

Regardless of your budget, you can and should ask how you can diversity the marketing platforms you are using while maintaining and reinforcing a strong brand identity.

 

Lower Fuel Costs – What’s Good and What’s in Doubt?



By Gary Wartik
January 29, 2015

Since November 2014 there has been significant discussion about the short and long-term effects of dramatically lower vehicle fuel prices on the American economy, and even on the world economy. From this vantage point, it looks positive in the shorter term, but with some caveats.

Under current pricing, a hypothetical California family that drive vehicles that get 25 miles per gallon, and purchase an average of 75 gallons monthly at $2.35 per gallon, will save about $100 a month, when compared with the average price of $3.70 per gallon in place just last fall in Southern California. That annualized savings of $1200 is important to many families and certainly to the local economy. Some families will have the discipline to put the funds into savings, or into reducing debt, while others will intentionally or otherwise spend the savings in the local economy. Those actions are all a good thing.

From the standpoint of businesses, a reduction in fuel costs will have many levels of benefits, most apparent of which is the reduction in all costs associated with the delivery and shipping of everything from raw materials to finished products. With fuel costs held in check for the time being, companies may find greater profits for shareholders, and even spread some of the savings in the form of improved employee wages and benefits. United Parcel Service, FedEx and moving companies, for example will save thousands of dollars daily that can either be passed along to customers, or that will serve to hold delivery rates in check. Major companies such as commercial airlines will benefit from the savings that will flow right down to the bottom line. In effect, lower fuel costs will help hold future inflation in check. These are good things too.

In another other realm of good news, the 50 percent drop in international oil prices during the last few months has begun to hurt some neighborhoods that are less than friendly to America. Think Russia, Iran and Venezuela. These three states mainly fund their national budgets with oil money. There are likely few tears being shed around the Western world for the economic challenges now faced by these autocratic regimes.

What is helpful to understand, however is that there is no “free ride” for many. Lower oil prices also affect our own economy, as well as some of our important allies. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Norway and some West African oil exporters are also going to suffer budget impacts. Fortunately for most of them, these countries have more diverse economies that are less dependent on oil exports.

Here in the United States, we have a number of states that are major oil producers. Texas, North Dakota, California, Alaska and Oklahoma are the top producers, in that order. Each looks to strong oil revenues to maintain a healthy economy. In the area of “be careful what you wish for,” there are already news reports of thousands of job layoffs in the American oil industry itself, along with those that service that industry. We are already seeing layoffs in Texas, North Dakota and in the Bakersfield, CA area. There are more to come. The job layoffs are not good news, although if one compares the value of wages lost versus the overall gains of fuel savings in the economy, lower oil prices clearly win out. The challenge is that if you are one of those losing a job, that puts one in a crisis mode. That is not good.

Recent press reports reflect that even with low fuel prices only in place for a few months, some Americans are already thinking that fuel efficiency and conservation are now less important. The increase in the purchase of larger, less fuel efficient vehicles in the US has already been reported, as has a decrease in consumer interest in fuel efficient vehicles. This sends the wrong message to our fellow citizens and to the world. This is not a good thing.

There is one more aspect to the oil price issue that warrants addressing. That relates to OPEC, Saudi Arabia in particular. The press has been replete with reports that the Saudis are looking to maintain market share at almost any price. Their $750 billion in dollar reserves confirm that they can afford it. Some Saudi officials have been candid enough to admit that they oppose America’s move towards energy self-sufficiency. This is not good for OPEC, and if the Saudis drive the oil price down further, it may be a challenge for America as well.

It is no secret that the advent of American shale oil extraction, where previously uneconomical to recover, is now a significant threat to OPEC. If the goal of the Saudis in particular is to drive oil prices down low enough to make the more expensive process of fracking for shale oil uneconomical, then over a period of time, less oil will be available on the world market. Oil prices will then begin to rise again. As well, the faster the economies of Germany, India, Japan, and China recover from their respective reduced economic growth, the faster additional consumption may drive up international oil prices.

From the macro point of view, $46 oil is likely not sustainable long term. Prices may dip some more, but the sense here is that prices will begin to firm as the economies of the industrialized nations begin to recover from their present malaise, perhaps later in 2015. That too would be a good thing, even if that drives oil prices somewhat higher.

We won’t know for awhile how much the oil markets have changed. Markets will remain subject to political shocks, especially in the Middle East, but new American oil coming on line, whatever the international shocks may be, should lessen the impact on world oil prices than they have previously. That should be a good thing too.

Baby Boomers Looking at Retirement – Business Succession Plans Crucial



By Cristian R. Arrieta, Esq.
Edited by Gary Wartik
January 15, 2015

Our monthly newsletter continues to offer articles of interest provided by professional colleagues that offer sound advice to our clients and associates. This month we are offered some timely and compelling direction by Cristian Arrieta of the Lawthorp, Richards law firm in Oxnard, CA, a firm that offers a substantial business law practice. He specializes in trusts and estates planning.

As Mr. Arrieta notes, it has been commented that working for oneself is great because you get to work half-days. You even get to choose which half – the first 12 hours or the second. Funny as that may seem, Baby Boomer generation business owners smile knowingly, and the thought of retirement is alluring. Logistically, however, said Boomers might find themselves in a pickle when it comes to business succession, unless they focus now on some forward-thinking.

Born between 1946 and 1964, the US Boomer generation of small business owners has been, and continues to be, a major driver of our economy (by some estimates 66 percent of all businesses with employees are Boomer owned). Sometimes referred to as the “Me Generation,” Boomers sunk their teeth deep in the American Dream, and they have become the wealthiest generation on the planet. They are also the most numerous – approximating 80 million, and they are currently celebrating their 65th birthday at the rate of about 10,000 a day!

On the heels of the Boomer generation is Generation X, numbering about 50 million, currently aged forty-something, by and large, and entering their professional peek years. Proportionately, there’s about half as many Gen Xers as there are Boomers with any comparable business acumen. With that in mind, if every Boomer-aged business owner today sought to hand the torch off to a Gen Xer, there would be a major demographic bottleneck.

As a trusts and estates attorney, without betraying any confidences, I can disclose that very few of my small business-owning clients have devoted much thought to their business succession plan prior meeting with me (only about 30% of people have done any estate planning at all). Business succession needs to be carefully crafted, preferably at least five years in advance of retirement, and there are a number of moving parts. Moreover, considering the demographics, it should be clear that failing to plan now will likely dampen future opportunity (and therefore value) translating to a less-than-optimal crossroads for retirement age business owners: sell my business for a song or continue to work 12 hours a day.

Take, for example, the business owner who has built a firm over thirty-five years of dedicated, hard work. Now that the business is profitable and rewarding for the owner, he finds that he or she wants to live a little. So he hires a young go-getter who is aggressive and ambitious, with good people skills, and a knack for generating new accounts. In time, the owner is able to play some golf and travel with their spouse, while the identified key employee is content managing the firm.

With retirement in sight, the owner crafts a business succession plan. He provides bonuses for key employees, say 10 shares of common stock, keeping 90 shares for himself. In conjunction with this, he offers his key employee the opportunity to buy his shares at the rate of 10 shares each year. In the fifth year, the owner will take a secured promissory note for the balance of the purchase, payable to him over five years and bearing an annual interest rate of 10%.

Such an arrangement would nicely supplement the owner’s income in retirement and defer income taxes. A structured buy-out will tend to maximize the long term value of the firm, which could otherwise dissipate in the absence of a plan. However, it will work only if it is implemented from a position of strength, early on, instead of waiting until the options become few.

Building a successful business takes guts and years of hard work. Business succession requires careful planning and foresight as well. Boomer generation business owners ought to consider the demographic challenges ahead, and implement a plan now, so they can secure their accustomed standard of living in retirement.

Vision Economics continues to work with small and medium-sized businesses that have need for outside professional services, including those dealing with succession planning issues. Mr. Arrieta is available to provide legal advice and appropriate legal documentation of succession plans as needed. Mr. Arrieta may be contacted through Vision Economics at 805-987-7322, or by calling him directly at 805-981-8555.

Decline in Business Bankruptcy Filings Offer Good News



By Gary Wartik
January 27, 2015

In a continuing trend, bankruptcy filings for both individuals and for businesses declined during 2014 for the fourth year in a row, according to data available through the office of the United States Trustee in Los Angeles. The report noted that total filings decreased by more than one-half percent when compared with those filed during 2010, the high point of filings during the Great Recession.

Filings of Chapter 7 petitions, those that wipe out the debt of an individual or a business, decreased almost 24 percent when compared with 2010 filings, although in Ventura County, just over 2,000 Chapter 7 petitions were still filed during 2014. As well, only one-half of corporate reorganizations under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code were filed during 2014 when compared with a high point in 2007, although a total of 19 Chapter 11 filings still occurred in Ventura County. The decrease in Ventura County bankruptcy filings was mirrored in most other jurisdictions around the nation.

The formal bankruptcy process has a time-honored place in American law and American history, dating to the time of the Constitution. So too does the out-of-court settlement or “arrangement” with creditors that avoids the lingering bankruptcy stigma for many individuals and some business people. Even in good economic times, businesses and individuals have issues related to managing their debt.

Vision Economics is one of the firms that work nationally to offer “informal” arrangements by which we, the client and the client’s creditors work to resolve debt issues. With the greater availability of credit in the marketplace following the Recession, settlement of debt has become easier for businesses and individuals without the use of the formal bankruptcy process.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings are a costly and time consuming process. It is not unusual for even smaller companies to spend two years and between $100,000 and $200,000 in professional fees and expenses to go through the Chapter 11 process, even if the process ultimately proves unsuccessful. In many cases there is a viable alternative, working with creditors through the “Informal Arrangement,” “Out of Court Arrangement, or “Out of Court Settlement,” as mentioned above.

Non-bankruptcy matters may be resolved much more quickly than the average Chapter 11 process, and at greatly reduced costs. With no court hearings to prepare for and attend, management is left with more time to focus on rehabilitating their business. As well, the savings in professional fees and costs leaves more funds available with which to help the business recover from its operational losses and to resolve its debt.

There are, of course cogent reasons for using the formal bankruptcy process, especially when the goodwill of creditors has been exhausted and collection lawsuits against the business are piling up, where foreclosure on property is imminent, bank accounts are about to be seized, or tax liens are about to be filed. In those cases, Vision Economics may be of assistance in resolving issues and making an introduction to a highly qualified Attorney specializing in bankruptcy matters. For further information, we may be reached at 805-987-7322, or email us at gw@visioneconomics.net.

Watch Those Lease Costs – Some Advice for Office, Commercial and Industrial Tenants



By Gary Wartik
December 31, 2014

Lease terms can be challenging to understand, especially for someone new to business or one operating a small business who is involved in negotiating a new lease. When questioned about lease terms, Brokers often say that the questioned terms “are just standard language” or “boilerplate.” While that may be the case, this does not mean that tenants should accept lease terms without understanding all of the obligations thereunder.

Most leases of course provide for a base rent. In addition, so-called Common Area Chargers (CAMs) are added as lease costs and add significantly to monthly lease costs. CAMs include costs for water, property taxes, landscape and parking lot maintenance, and even building repairs. One of the recommendations made by tenant representatives such as Mazirow Commercial, Inc. in Westlake Village, is to ensure that leases include provisions for auditing CAM charges. This should ensure that a tenant limits its liability for CAMs to those actually due at month’s end or at year’s end. Audit provisions are not normally included in standard leases, so tenants need to ask that audit provisions be included. In most cases, landlords will agree to audit of CAM charges since it also serves to protect their interests as well.

Audit provisions should include language that deals with any over-charges in the form of either reimbursement of the overcharges or credits against future lease payments. In the event that CAM charges have been under-charged, of course audits would disclose that too and would leave the tenant liable to the landlord for the difference in costs. It is noted, however that CAM overcharges are more common than undercharges. Audits cost money, so who conducts the audits and who pays for the audit needs to be included in the lease terms.

For additional information or assistance in lease negotiations, please call Vision Economics at 805-987-7322, or Sheryl Mazirow at Mazirow Commercial, Inc. at 805-449-1945.