for Lodging Development
|By Anwar Elgonemy – Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle, San Francisco
How do Condo-Hotels Work?
By no means a novelty, the condo-hotel model is showing resurgence due to rising condo prices and the current "Midas Touch" perception of residential real estate.
The most successful condo-hotels are those built as hotels first and then as condominiums second, as public space is needed to sell hotel rooms, while unit owners share in the popularity and success of the lodging operation. Alternatively, many deals have floundered where the developer built the tower as a condominium, and later sought to create a rental program and piece together the public space and amenities.
For a hotel to operate smoothly when a different person owns each unit, it is imperative for a management company to have a contract with the owners. The management company can be either the developer of the property, or a group directly related to the developer. However, more increasingly the management company is a third party hotel operator, such as Hilton, Hyatt or Four Seasons, among others, that the developer and unit owners agree should manage the guest rooms for the unit owners, and the facilities (such as food & beverage outlets, recreational amenities and meeting space).
The industry is currently shifting its strategy toward the outright sale of the hotel management opportunity to nationally affiliated hotel companies, operating these properties similarly to that of a conventional hotel operation. This has been achieved by separately deeding all of the hotel-like features mentioned earlier as individual condominium units; these commercial condos are then sold to a hotel operating company. Along with rental agreements from the individual condo buyers, this allows the hotel operator to effectively manage the property as a hotel.
In order to place a unit in a rental pool program, a management and rental agreement is first signed between the unit owner and the hotel management company. This agreement provides for a number of variables, primarily:
Additional particulars pertaining to the successful operation of condo-hotels are highlighted as follows:
The Condo Owner
For the condo buyer, these types of developments can offer enhanced financial returns when owners choose to place their units in a rental pool. Individual owners usually can put their units in the hotel-room rental pool while they're not using them and get a portion of the proceeds. Better yet, they get access to the same amenities and services as hotel guests.
By capitalizing on a hotel’s national affiliation, reservation system, brand recognition and management expertise, unit owners are more likely to receive a higher level of rental income through a rental pool agreement with a recognized professional operator, despite having to share a portion of their units’ revenues.
The Condo Developer
The condo-hotel structure offers a number of potential benefits for the developer. First, it provides a method to help finance the development of hotels; the sale of units gives the developer an assured source of revenue to repay a portion of the construction loan upon the completion of the hotel, and the closing on the sale of the units. Additionally, a developer can benefit by marketing the hotel amenities to a buyer.
Developers of successful projects generally can obtain construction financing without reaching the lending threshold of 50% presales for a planned condominium development (along with a 20% down payment on the loan amount). Developers of condo-hotel projects are attracted to this development approach due to their ability to quickly "monetize" the management function of the property. That is, the sale of the hotel management opportunity becomes similar to another condo unit that can be sold for immediate profit. If the hotel management opportunity is sold upfront during the sell-out phase of the residential condominiums, the developer may be able to receive rental revenues from the completed (and sometimes unsold) units being rented to hotel guests.
In developing this tier of property in the U.S., it is important to note the potential for securities law issues to arise out of the sale of condo-hotel units. The sales of condominiums may be deemed to be the sales of securities if certain conditions stipulated by the SEC exist at the time of sale. However, in order to avoid coming under the scrutiny of any securities agencies, or being obligated to register under the Securities Act of 1933 (both costly and time consuming), developers may take several measures while planning condo-hotel projects. These encompass:
This type of development also provides an interesting approach for hotel operators. In some respects, it is similar to owning a hotel outright, because the operator does own some real estate (the commercial condominium units appurtenant to running a hotel); however, individual condo buyers own the actual guest rooms. As such, the overall cash investment by the manager is not as great as that found in typical hotel deals. To a certain extent, the manager is essentially granted a long-term management contract, because a long-term management relationship is expected to exist with the condo owners.
What Are the Benefits of Condo-Hotels?
The investment-oriented condo-hotel concept has numerous advantages such as greater product consistency, fewer ownership conflicts, as owners do not live in the units, and a more even distribution of revenues since units are a regular part of the hotel room inventory.
The following table highlights the pros and cons of condo-hotels from
the standpoint of owners, traveling consumers (guests), developers and
Although still unknown how units will sell a second or
third time or during periods when hotel operations are trending the wrong
way, condo-hotels currently offer a means to finance construction of new
properties. There is a large amount of underutilized hotel portfolio in
certain parts of the U.S. and numerous hotel owners are interested in converting
part or all of their properties to condo-hotels. There is little doubt
that condo-hotels are an intriguing approach to the development of lodging
properties, and as its use becomes more common in the market, levels of
understanding by both the lodging industry and the condo-buying arena are
projected to increase.
Based in San Francisco, Anwar Elgonemy draws on over 10 years of lodging investments experience. Since joining Jones Lang LaSalle in 2001, he has been involved in hotel advisory, transactions and debt placement assignments. Elgonemy holds an MBA from Thunderbird and a Bachelor of Science from The Glion School in Switzerland.
|Also See:||Summary of San Francisco Hotel Market; Cap Rates, New Hotel Construction, Occcupancy / Anwar Elgonemy / July 2005|
|The Momentum of Hotel Transactions in the Current Low Cap Rate Cycle / Anwar R. Elgonemy / December 2004|