Truss Goes Live In South Florida!

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy building a database of over 8.5 million square feet of available office space from Kendall to Boca Raton. We are still adding buildings every day, but on July 18, 2018, we flipped the switch and we are now live in South Florida.  Truss is a tech-enabled commercial real estate brokerage platform that allows tenants to search  for their ideal space with the help of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.  As Truss’ Regional Senior Vice President for South Florida, I work with the tenants to turn those searches into tours, to turn the tours into leases and help companies operate more efficiently because Truss has helped them find their perfect space. Truss specializes in small to medium sized businesses – anything from a coworking space to 10,000 square feet

“We’re excited to expand into Miami, after closely watching how the city continues to grow exponentially both in population and business opportunities, with Florida recently passing New York as the third most populous state,” said Andy Bokor, co-founder of Truss. “We’ve seen immediate demand from small-to-medium sized business, in addition to a strong demand for coworking space.”

Downtown Miami, Brickell, Wynwood, Doral, Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton are some of the most popular South Florida markets on Truss’ platform to search, tour and lease. Business owners are also able to take advantage of Truss’ shared commission.

“Truss is a great way for tenants to quickly and easily compare pricing on different types of space in different locations. As an architect, I appreciate their use of virtual tours and access to floor plans  saving a lot of time in determining whether a space meets the my clients’ needs,” said Stephen Tewes, principal at Tewes Design Group.

Truss also offers office space in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Washington D.C., along with industrial and retail space in select markets, totaling more than 200 million square feet of space. New properties are added consistently on Truss, adding square footage and expanding the options for small business owners.


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What is this Truss Thing All About?

Technology continues to change the way we do business almost on a daily basis. Why call for a taxi when you have Uber and Lyft? With Amazon, you can shop for your underwear in your underwear, and why buy that timeshare when you can find a great place to spend your vacation on AirBnb? 

Meanwhile, Commercial Real Estate has stayed pretty much the same for the past 30 plus years that I’ve been in the business. There have been a few changes – it’s easier to send info, pictures and floorplans via email. Instead of having a research department, we now have a company that collects all of our listing info so they then can sell it back to us.  And we’ve seen the workplace evolving with the rise of co-working. Otherwise its a series of phone calls, tours, a request for proposal with countless revisions and a few volleys of lease comments before we finally arrive in our new office space.

Best Real Estate Tech site – best Real Estate tech site for 2017 and we’re only getting better in 2018.

Can there be a better way? That’s where Truss comes in. Our platform allows tenants to use artificial intelligence to search for their space in minutes rather than days. Yes, we still need to physically tour the spaces, but our virtual tours can streamline that process. And instead of the dreaded eight page request for proposal, we have an online collaborative platform where broker, landlord and tenant  can negotiate the proposal in real time without the need for several dozen calls and emails. And the lease itself can be stored on or off the platform to make it accessible to all parties involved.  

In addition, Truss provides total price transparency. Why navigate though what is a net lease, a gross lease and what modifications make up a modified gross lease? We put the tenant in the driver’s seat and boil it down to a monthly cost. Our clients can also compare the cost of co-working solutions to traditional office space. And by simplifying the process, we allow the tenant to share in our commission. 

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Big News – Making A Move

I am pleased to announce that I have joined Truss Holdings Inc. as Regional Senior Vice President and will be introducing our groundbreaking online commercial real estate platform to South Florida. Truss, the smartest fastest way for small to medium sized businesses to find office space, was named the #1 Real Estate Tech Site for 2017 by Truss already has over 100 million square feet of available space on its platform in five major markets. South Florida is next on the list.

Over the next 90 days, my task will be to add 10 million square feet and build the most comprehensive and user-friendly database of office availabilities in South Florida.  Those  who have worked with me in my 30+ years in the South Florida market know that I’ve successfully done it before. With the help of our Chicago based development and operations team, our serial entrepreneur founders and millions in venture funding, we are about to do it again. We intend to start in Miami-Dade and work our way north though Broward, Boca and the Palm Beaches. The South Florida site will be up and running after the 90 days.

If you are a broker, I will be asking you to provide your inventory, but our technology will make that task significantly easier. This will save you time and we intend to help you fill your buildings and make more money.  You’ll also love our online proposal system that can cut days or weeks out of the leasing process. I’ll be traveling throughout the market demonstrating the Truss platform to the brokerage community.  And I’d be happy to bring in some bagels, sandwiches or beers.

If you are a business owner, you can register to search for your ideal space. Vera, our virtual assistant  will have you pinpoint some locations on a map and answer a few questions. She will then use her Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide a list ranking the spaces on a 1 to 100 scale based on the answers. We also have exclusive virtual tours on the site through an alliance with Matterport. From there, you can shortlist the best properties and the Truss Representative (that’s me!) is alerted to set up a tour.

Following the tour, the transaction moves to our online proposal system and then through the lease process. Because we have greatly streamlined the process and you share in the work, you also get to share the commission.You still get the benefit of professional representation, we put you in control of the process, and our people and our technology help get it done in record time! 

That is a brief overview of the Truss business model. We are focusing on the underserved market for small to medium sized businesses. We are not a data service, we are a web-based tenant representation brokerage. We want to be a marketing resource for building owners and Landlord reps to help them fill their most difficult spaces. And for business owners, we are making it easy to find a great deal on a space you love.  Are you interested, excited, confused? Feel free to call, text or email me if you have any questions or visit (Note – we are .co not .com).

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Winds Of Change From The Windy City

Winds of change from the windy city will soon be making waves on Biscayne Bay.

Stay Tuned for Details!

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Valentines Day – Go Big or Go Home

A special KensTrends for February. For Valentines Day, why buy your special someone Valentine Chocolates or even Jewelry when you can buy a Chocolate Factory or Jewelry Store.  Or how about a preschool for the little ones?

Still looking for the perfect Valentines gift for your special someone? Sure, you can buy a nice box of chocolates, but why stop with that? Buy the whole factory! And we’ve reduced the price to $140,000.

I have a great chocolate shop in South Broward County. It has operated out of the same location for nearly 15 years. They also have a full menu of ice cream and specialty coffees. It generates over $80,000 in annual income so it’s a great value at the new price.

Is jewelry more your speed? Let’s talk about my  jewelry store in one of Broward County’s top retail locations for $599,000. 

And what about the kids? Well, mine are a bit older, but it sure would have been nice to buy them their own preschool. You still can for $3.5M.

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Trump, OJ and How the New Tax Law Will Benefit Florida’s #1 Industry

You may love our President, you may hate him, or maybe you understand both sides of the issue and hope he can still be successful. Regardless, we have a new tax law going into effect for 2018 and that law should benefit what I consider to be Florida’s number 1 industry.

Is it tourism? Well, Disney and the beaches are still huge, but no. Orange Juice? Good guess, but the last thing we need in Florida is O.J. I’ve always considered, the number one industry in Florida to be Florida itself.

We recently passed New York as the third most populous state in the US. After some down years following the storms of 2004-5 and the great recession,  Florida is back to adding approximately 1,000 residents per day. These new residents need housing, they need places to work, play and shop, they need attorneys, physicians and accountants, they need hair dressers and dog walkers and yes, even business and real estate brokers.

As long as Florida keeps adding residents, (provided we don’t destroy the environment) it’s going to be good for Florida businesses. While new residents have always been drawn to our sunshine and warm weather, you can’t ignore the impact of no State income tax. The new tax law eliminates the deduction for State income tax in New York and the 41 additional states with an income tax. This creates an additional incentive for companies and their employees to relocate to Florida.  As we don’t expect Governor Scott to build a wall to keep New Yorkers out,  the new tax law should further accelerate Florida’s growth. So we’re looking forward to a great year for our number one industry and for Florida business owners in general. Looking to buy or sell a business in Florida or to relocate yours? We’d be happy to help!

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Wish You Could Go Back to Preschool?

Did you ever wish you could go back to preschool? Those carefree days of fingerpainting, show and tell, field trips; and who couldn’t use some nap time. In New York, adults pay $333 to $999 to re-create the preschool experience. Well, we have a better idea. Why not own your own preschool. It may cost a bit more at $3.5 million, but it’s a great investment opportunity presented by Capital Business Solutions and Stigliano Commercial Real Estate.Education has become big business. The preschool industry continues to grow rapidly due to the demand created by dual income households, and the increased realization of the importance of early childhood education. Between charter schools, private schools, and preschools, we are seeing tremendous investment in education properties. Charter schools and preschools with Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) programs also receive some of all of their revenue from the government which is very attractive to investors. School buildings also attracting some impressive prices per square foot (see below) and have become prime triple net investment targets similar to a Starbucks, Wawa or Walgreens, selling at cap rates of 6 to 7 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that education will be one of the strongest sectors for employment growth through 2020.The Learning Experience, founded in 1980 in Boca Raton, is a prime example of how child care has become big business. The company was sold in 2014 to New York-based private equity fund Quad Partners and Palo Alto, California-based Norwest Venture Partners. They recently leased a 39,000 sf corporate headquarters here in Deerfield Beach. Their school buildings have become prime triple net investment targets similar to a Starbucks or Walgreens, selling at cap rates of 6 to 7 percent based on the stability of the industry and the financial strength of the tenant. The Learning Experience’s long-term plan is to have 30 to 40 facilities in South Florida.

Other major national players in the industry include Kindercare, Learning Care Group (La Petite, Tutor Time) and Bright Horizons. But the business remains primarily fragmented among local entrepreneurial owners. According to IBIS World, only 7.3 percent of the $48 Billion in industry revenue is generated by the top four providers in the market.  So for those entrepreneurial owners, Capital Business Solutions is marketing an 11,000 sf preschool on 2+ acres which generates $750K per year in revenue with room to grow. Contact us for more information. Do you own a preschool? We are also working with some active buyers looking to expand their operations.

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Downtown Fort Lauderdale Riding Wave of New Development

I continue to write for the South Florida Office Brokers Association (SFOBA) blog at . Here is my recent article on new development in Downtown Fort Lauderdale:

Special thanks to Laurel Oswald, Jon Blunk and Joody Andre at Tower Commercial Real Estate for a great lunch, some amazing views and a super presentation by Jenni Morejon of the Downtown Development Authority. Tower hosted our May 11 meeting at the Tower Club at One Financial Plaza.

If you missed the presentation, shame on you. The good news is that we have Jenni’s presentation here on the blog.  The bad news is that I wasn’t able to save you a piece of cheesecake.

Some of the highlights:

Over $2 Billion in post-recession investment is either planned, completed or under construction in the CBD. This includes the new 750,000 sf County Courthouse, 11,200 residential units, 1.5 million sf of office, 433,000 sf of retail and 1,200 hotel rooms. In addition, the new wave streetcar project is in the works with service to start in 2020.

While supply will be increasing with the new development, strong demand has driven residential rental rates up by 40% over the past five years and Class-A office rental rates are up by $4 over the past 12 months.

We are looking forward to more on the CBD market next month when Stiles presents details on their new downtown mixed use project.

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Florida House Votes to Reduce Sales Tax on Office Rents – Here’s How to Eliminate it Completely

Here is an update to last week’s post:

Good news for Florida Businesses – yesterday, April 26, 2017, The Florida State House of Representatives voted unanimously 117-0 to pass  HB 7019, which among other things reduces sales tax of commercial rents from the current 6% down to 4.5 percent in 2018 and 2019 and 5.5 percent in 2020 and thereafter. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate.

From the bill starting on line 478:

Section 16. Effective January 1, 2018, paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (1) of section 212.031,Florida Statutes, are amended, and paragraph (e) is added to that subsection, to read: 212.031 Tax on rental or license fee for use of real property.— (1)(c) For the exercise of such privilege, a tax is levied at the rate of 5.5 percent, except for the period beginning January 1, 2018, and ending December 31, 2019, during which period the tax shall be levied at the rate of 4.5 percent, of and on the total rent or license fee charged for such real property by the person charging or collecting the rental or license fee.

For a typical office tenant paying $25 per square foot for 5,000 square feet, the 1.5% reduction equates to $1,875 per year, enough to pay for a couple of lunches and trips to Starbucks. But Florida remains the only state to charge sales tax on rent. And yes, because real estate tax is included in rent, Florida businesses will continue to pay tax on tax. No complaints here, though, Florida is still one of only seven states with no state income tax, so we have only enhanced Florida’s status as a great place to do business. Thanks to Rick Orr of for passing this information along to me.

This brings me to my final point – how would you like to pay no State income tax and no sales tax on rent? Buy an office condo in Florida. I have 7,032 to 17,958 square feet of office condo space available in Boca Raton.  


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Happy Tax Day! Here’s a Legal Way to Stop Paying Tax.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

First an apology – I can’t help you with the IRS, but I do have a way to reduce your taxes. Florida is the only state in the US that charges sales tax on office rent. The tax is assessed … Continue reading

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A Great Future-Proof Business – And No, You Don’t Have to Do Windows

One of the big challenges I see every day in business brokerage is whether a business is viable for the future.  Major retailers continue to shut down.  The taxi business is giving way to Uber and Lyft.  The printing industry faces challenges from electronic documents and e-readers. The travel industry has been transformed. Your local Blockbuster has given way to Redbox and streaming video. And how will the world change when cars drive themselves?

My buyers are looking for sustainable businesses that they know will exist for the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Which brings me to an indisputable fact…Windows get dirty.  It is perfectly clear (pun intended) that regardless of how you get from point A to point B, how you listen to music, or where you buy your new ipad –  that the windows in your house, your favorite restaurant, and even your recently closed Sports Authority are going to get dirty. And even when they get cleaned, they are going to get dirty again.

Wouldn’t it be great to own a great window cleaning company with loyal long term clients with recurring business?  Add to that a territory that includes some of the most affluent zip codes in the US with thousands of luxury homes and upscale businesses. And they all have windows that will continue to get dirty. And the other great thing –  the Seller manages the company from the office.  Employee responsibilities include labor, collections and sales via self-managed teams. So you can own the company even if you don’t do windows… We have a great business listed for $250,000 generating an owner’s benefit of over $80,000.  Click here for a nondisclosure form and we’ll get you a full package.

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How to Save a Million Dollars on Office Condo Fees

In my other blog articles, I’ve shown how office condo ownership can provide significant savings over leasing. Here, I’d like to show how some office condos provide more savings than others.  In this case, a $7 savings on condo fees provides the same benefit as purchasing for $100 per square foot less. On a 10,000 SF space, that savings can equate to $1 million.

 Whether you own or lease, there are basically two components of occupancy cost:

(1)The net rent (leasing) or debt service (owning); and
(2) the operating expenses (leasing) or condo fees (owning) which for purposes of this discussion include real estate tax.

congress-corporate-boca-901-main-122Looking at the office condos I am marketing at 901 Clint Moore Road in Boca Raton, the condo fees are $4.33 per square foot. Real Estate Taxes are estimated at  $2.62. One of our primary competitors has condo fees that are over $11 per square foot, or over $7 more than ours. Their taxes run about $1 per sf higher than ours as well.  The total difference is close to $8.50, but let’s use a conservative $7.

Assuming we borrow $180 per square foot for 25 years at 5% interest, our annual debt service would be $12.63 per square foot.  Excel formula ( =pmt(0.05/12,300,180)*12 ) Add $4.33 in condo fees and $2.62 in taxes and we get a gross cost of occupancy of $19.58. (electric and janitorial are billed separately) By the way, the net rental rate on comparable space in the market is $15, well more than the debt service to a buyer.

congress-corporate-boca-901-59If we borrowed at $180 per sf at our competitor’s property, our gross cost of occupancy increases from $19,58 to over $27. This is still well below the top rental rates in Boca Raton which in some cases exceed $50 gross. But the $7 savings should get your attention. You do get more amenities for the $7, but is it really worth it?

So how can $7 per SF save you $1 million? If we wanted to finance $100 in property cost at 5% over 25 years, our monthly payment would be $7.02 per square foot. Excel formula ( =pmt(0.05/12,300,100)*12 )  Therefore by saving $7 in condo fees, your cost of occupancy is the same as it would be if you payed $100 less  per square foot for the property. If you were to purchase 10,000 square feet, that savings would be $1 million.

Insert your disclaimers here – your mileage may vary and this admittedly may stretch the bounds of logic. But the numbers certainly support the claim. Regardless of your interpretation, there are significant benefits to office condo ownership and even more benefits if your office condo has competitive condo fees.

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EB-5 Visa Program Extended – S. Fla. EB-5 Investment By the Numbers

eb-5-visaThe EB-5 Visa Program has become a key source of capital for South Florida Real Estate Development. The program was scheduled to expire on Friday September 30, 2016, but was just extended through December 9 as part of the same Continuing Resolution bill that will keep the government funded through the same date. The program has created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in foreign investment. But it has also been susceptible to fraud with investment funds going to affluent areas rather than underserved markets, and allowing rich investors to jump the line to gain citizenship. The extension does buy Congress a little more time to develop reforms to tweak the program so it can better achieve its intended goals.

Thanks to our friends at The Real Deal and The Master Brokers Forum, here is a look at South Florida EB-5 Investment by the numbers, showing the positive impact EB-5 has had on our community. Read More While the EB-5 program has it’s share of issues, there is no doubt that it is creating jobs and capital investment in our area.

Capital Business Solutions ranks among Florida’s leading Business Brokerage Firms and  has affiliates across the globe. We represent buyers and sellers of businesses and commercial properties. We provide opportunities for your clients to enter the US via acquisition of businesses or commercial property under the EB-5 or E2 programs. Looking for a business to purchase? Are you looking for a way to get into the US through capital investment. Do you have a client looking to do so?

Take a look at these business opportunities.


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5 Reasons to Reconsider the Office Condo Market (Part 1 of 3)

This is part one of a three part series on office condominiums. With the economy improving and the office market on the rebound, office condominiums are once again making sense to corporate occupiers.  The commercial condo market is a niche market consisting of only a small fraction of the entire inventory. Office condos generally gain popularity when rental rates are increasing and companies try to lock in their real estate costs.  The market reached its peak in 2005-2007 as office vacancies declined to historical lows and rental rates escalated rapidly. As the economy hit the brakes in 2008, rental rates nosedived and leasing office space made more sense than owning. Fast forward to 2014 and we see vacancy rates declining, rental rates trending upward and  office construction at a near standstill while interest rates remain historically low.  At Brenner Real Estate Group, we are expecting an increase in demand for office condominiums and are considering converting Cypress Commons (pictured below), one of our investment properties to a condo. Here are a couple of our prime commerical condo listings in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Is the market ripe for a new wave of office condo conversions and new development? Continue reading

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Prose And Condos – Is an Office Condo Right For You ? (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of our 3 part series on office condos. Click to Read Part 1: 5 Reasons to Reconsider the Office Condo Market

OK, I admit it, But I just couldn’t resist going with this title. With interst rates remaining historically low, property values still below peak levels and consumer confidence on the rise, business owners are asking once again:

               Is owning my space right for my business ?

It should be noted that this comparison holds true for commercial condos as well as owner occupied buildings. It’s really not a simple answer. It involves an analysis of the business, the owner and the market. There are benefits to owning as well as leasing. It is ultimately your decision as to what is right for you. Making the right decision involves weighing the pluses and minuses of the two alternatives, something I call “prose and condos.” Continue reading

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Does it Pay to Buy an Office Condo? Part 4 of a 3-Part Series

The third and final installment of my 3-part series on office condos (click for Part 1 and Part 2 on the Brenner Blog) was entitled “Does it Pay to Buy an Office Condo,” a detailed financial analysis of commercial condominium ownership. When I initially tackled the subject back in 2013, there was already a strong argument for ownership. But more recently, a potentially game-changing new financing program makes it virtually a no-brainer for many firms.

While the 90% financing available through the U.S. Small Business Administration provided the opportunity for many companies to own their facilities, the newly unveiled 100% program opens the door to ownership for many more. Continue reading

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