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Doing Deals Can Be An Ordeal

February 2008 has been the month for closing commercial real estate deals here at Atkinson, Conway and Gagnon. In the first two weeks of this month alone, I have personally closed a half dozen transactions in which something like $20 million has changed hands. I say “something like $20 million” because they do not actually let me handle the money itself in these deals. I just make it possible for the money to get passed around amongst the other kids on the playground.

The deals this month have ranged from helping a client sell a couple of office buildings to assisting a client in buying a Midtown trailer park. (Earl Hickey, Come On Down!) Its always gratifying to see a deal come together and successfully close.

Some deals are harder to get closed than others. The deals over the office buildings were particularly troublesome. While my client was in Anchorage, the buyers were a couple of Delaware limited partnerships run by a guy in New York with a lender in Seattle and a lawyer and title company in Washington D.C. The money also had to go through a bond broker and bond trustee before any of it could find its way into my client’s pockets. All the e-mails scurrying back and forth amongst this crowd trying to pull these deals together could have crashed and melted the entire computer infrastructure of any number of Central Asian countries. Like the Republic of Uzbekistan for instance, where the President-For-Life has his very own Apple IIe sitting on his desk.

(I made that last part up. The Uzbeks can actually boast that a whole 15% of their universities in the capitol city of Tashkent have access to e-mail and the Internet: Uzbek Internet )

Uzbekistan-20C-1992.jpg And speaking of Uzbekistan — truthfully, how often does that country come up in the course of a day? — I just had to mention that the Uzbeks issued a terrific postage stamp a few years back. The 20 kopeck stamp shows just how highly regarded the Unibrow is in the rest of the world and how backwards we Americans are when it comes to the appreciation of female body hair. (Note that this gal — Princess Nodira, the wife of Omar Khan — bears a strong resemblance to Princess Jasmine of the Disney movie Aladdin, except that the lame Disney animators gave Jasmine a wax job on the eyebrows in order to be more politically correct for Western audiences. It just goes to show that the PC police can take the fun out of everything, including facial hair and trailer parks.)

Anyway, the deals for the office buildings turned into ordeals. I had my client twice sign the impressive pile of the closing documents just to have the buyers fail to come through with the money to pay for the buildings. Arghh! We sat on our hands for a few days until – REJOICE! — the money appeared. After a third round of document signing, the deals were completed.

And so my friends the lesson to be learned is that the Art of the Deal takes many forms, one of which may include chewing your fingernails whilst doing nothing else in particular. Other than perhaps working on your stamp collection, or maybe keeping an eye out for a clean, low mileage double-wide to fit in that open trailer park space you just happen to know is available.