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Welcome to our  3rd Quarter 2016 Newsletter , highlighting the recent work of the firm, trends in commercial real estate, International Real Estate ethics efforts, possible solutions for Homeless housing in Southern California, and the final answer on whether foosball at work really helps.  

Anytime we can provide you with market research information, consulting, or simply answering a question, just let us know; we are happy to be of help.  That is why we are here.


Steven R. Norris, MAI, CRE

Norris Realty Advisors
How Charter Schools are Finding Homes in Unconventional Spaces
Norris Realty Advisors has now valued more than 80 charter and private schools over the past decade.  Charter schools have changed dramatically throughout the nation, not only in number but also with financing structure and a wide array of locations and settings.  

According to the California Department of Education, there are approximately 1,230 charter schools in California that currently serve more than 580,000 students.  In Los Angeles alone there are 359 charter schools, or approximately 29% of the State's total.

Along with the growth in the number of schools, financing is changing.  In the early days of charters the schools would get loans from community banks and lending organizations such as the Low Income Investment Fund, LISC, or New York based New Generation Fund.  Now charters are moving to more traditional bond financing, particularly with larger charter organizations.

In addition, with more dense urban centers, charters have had to get creative in finding spaces to rent or own.  Our firm recently consulted on a former urban infill indoor shopping mall, a mall that was previously an auto dealership.  Soon, this structure will be the home of two new charters.  For a number of years charters would find large warehouses and convert them to school use - but now that industrial space is in high demand and often being converted to creative office in the urban core, charter developers must get creative.  

In the San Francisco Bay Area, charters have to deal with sky high rental rates and land prices that are limiting their options. We have also valued a former classic car dealership that will soon be converted to charter use.  We find this a wonderfully hopeful redevelopment plan for a tired out industrial use.

With Proposition 51 on the ballot Californians are being asked to approve $9 billion in school funding, $1 billion of which is earmarked for charter and vocational schools.  In our view, the future is bright for charter schools.

A Draft is Completed for World Wide Ethics
Standard in Real Estate Practice 

The IES Coalition gathered for its first meeting at the United Nations in New York, October 2014.  T he group agreed that in many parts of the worl d,  there  is a real and perceived problem with an inconsistent app roach to ethics in real estate which must be  a ddressed.

Over the past 18 months, Steven Norris, MAI, CRE has been a representative member for the Counselors  of Real Estate - participating on the Standards Setting Committee of the  International Ethics Standards Coalition ( IES).  This is the group that is charged with the actual drafting of the ethics document for world wide use by real estate practitioners.

A listing of member organizations can be found

And now the draft consultation is available for review. The draft document can be viewed here.

For more details on the IES Coalition, view this information.

The Urban Land Institute's StimULI Breakfast Meeting and Panel Discussion
Members of the Team at Norris Realty Advisors attended the August StimULI Breakfast series, where the topic was the Homelessness Crisis in Los Angeles.  Panelists included Alisa Orduna, Homeless Policy Director at the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Brian D'Andrea, Senior Vice President of Housing at Century Housing, and Mike Alvidrez, Chief Executive Officer at Skid Row Housing Trust.

Panelists agreed that the current annual cost of $20,000 necessary for public costs of each homeless individual can be avoided through proper affordable housing arrangements. It was also expressed that the permanent solution is to shift the development focus from transitional housing to permanent housing. Mr. D'Andrea shared the elements that improved the overall issues with homelessness in the City of Long Beach: a contained geographic area, self-sustainable funding, and concentration on specific areas within the city.

Ms. Orduna believes that one main problem is landlords' unwillingness to accept homeless applicants, including the 2,000 holders of Section 8 (Housing Choice) vouchers. Mr. Alvidrez believes that the lack of affordable housing units is the a core problem. 

Some concerns regarding the proposed $138 million "solution" include the source of funding being dependent on the November ballot (where $1.2 billion dollars will be allocated for low-income housing) and the impacts of another important and controversial November ballot initiative, Build Better LA. 

It was resolved by most in attendance that homelessness is something each citizen needs to be concerned about, and that working together, public and private agencies are beginning the process of making a difference.
Why the Ability to Focus, Not Perks, is Top Concern for Office Employees

Hipster millennials don't like corner offices, and prefer salad bars, pool tables, craft breweries, and foosball in their work environments, right? 

Alas, this is untrue!

Employees' top priority in an office environment is to  be able to focus without interruptions, according to research by Oxford Economics.

A global survey of more than 1,200 senior executives and non-management employees found that employees want office designs to foster the ability to concentrate, more than any other factor.  The research shows that amenities like free food and table games are far less important.

Managers and employees have much different views on this issue. Nearly two-thirds of executives say employees are equipped with the tools they need to deal with distractions at work, but less than half of employees agree with that notion.

The research suggests that the growing popularity of open-plan offices comes with a cost: Difficulty for many employees to get their work done without distractions. In addition, most managers do not have the technology or strategies in place to deal with these problems.

Want to know more about the reality behind the open-office craze?   Look here.

Thank you for taking the time to review our Newsletter.  We greatly value our relationship with clients, peers, and friends of the firm.  Contact us directly with any questions.

Steven R. Norris, MAI, CRE View our profile on LinkedIn
Norris Realty Advisors