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Hotel Lawyer with nuggets from JMBM's Meet the Money® 2011

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®, 
Author of
May 12, 2011

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For all of our industry friends -- whether or not you were able to attend Meet the Money® 2011 in Los Angeles last week -- we will be posting on the Hotel Law Blog some of the invaluable information delivered by industry thought leaders at the conference. In the coming days and weeks, look for PowerPoint presentations, summaries of panel discussions and, of course, commentary. But today, we will whet your appetite with some sound bites -- nuggets of insight, analysis and humor -- from some of the best minds in the industry.

  • Who is financing?
  • When do we hit the peak?
  • Are market values running ahead of fundamentals?
  • How do you price deals today?

These are some of the questions that continued to surface through various panel discussions and hallway conversations during the conference. For some pertinent nuggets, read on.

What is happening now?

Jan Freitag, Smith Travel Research (STR)

Transient room demand is back. But at what cost? It will take at least a year for group demand and ADR to come back.

Coastal markets fell off the cliff in the 2008 Crash, but they have come back the fastest.

The top 5 "engines of the engine" are New York, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

San Francisco and LA are rocking and rolling!

Luxury is setting the pace for the recovery. It is pulling up everything else as it goes.

Will finally see real rate growth in 2012. The upper end of the market will drive the market. Look for double digit or close ADR growth.

New supply

Jan Freitag

The pipeline of new supply is basically non-existent.

Mark Woodworth, PKF Hospitality Research

It will be at least a couple of years before there is meaningful new construction.

Kevin Colket, Starwood Capital Group, L.P.

Construction will be limited to NYC and a few markets. It will not be widespread for at least a while.

When do we hit the peak?

Mark Woodworth

Our forecast is for improvement as far as we can see -- almost 4 years.

David Loeb, Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

We are still in the early stage of the recovery and downside is fairly limited.

Mike Cahill, Co-Chairman of LIIC

In an investment sentiment survey of Lodging Industry Investment Council (LIIC) members controlling billions of dollars of hotel assets, 63% said they believe that hotel values will not peak until 2015 or later.

39% of respondents believe values will peak in 2015.

29% of respondents believe values will peak in 2014.

24% of respondents believe values will not peak until 2016 or beyond.


David Loeb

REITs have both a cost of capital and access to capital advantage

Rick Kleeman, Wheelock Street Capital

Where capital has come back, is the public markets. So it is not surprising that they are buying. REITs are trying to get to critical mass.

Michael Cahill, HREC

Everyone has REIT envy!

Who is financing?

Jonathan Roth, Canyon Partners Inc.

We enjoy being able to play all throughout the capital stack with our different funds - ownership, mezz, debt . . . Our value mortgage funds provide senior bridge capital without geographic restriction but we focus on major markets, and on secondary markets where there are compelling reasons. We are now sitting on $1.4 billion of capital, and maybe 25 percent of that will be in hospitality.

We like doing note acquisitions in concert with the borrower.

We have been spending time in the construction lending business, particularly for the 3 loans about to close. The owner has owned the land for long time, ther is no new supply, and there is the ability to buy back existing debt at a discount. That lets us adjust the land basis.

We are one of the few providers of construction financing right now. We have a dedicated team with experience in owning, operating, managing and financing hospitality assets.

David Loeb

Debt is now available for high-quality assets in top markets.

Yields are now sub-9%.

Financing is not readily available outside the top 15 MSAs.

Construction financing is essentially unavailable.

Rick Frank, Behringer-Harvard Partners, LLC

We are a seller at a 4% cap rate but not a buyer. We like to work with JV partners who put in sliver equity.

Rene Theriault, Goldman Sachs

Availability is growing for 5-10 year fixed rate loans even in secondary and tertiary markets.

Good news: there is demand for CMBS paper backed by these loans. Now 70% LTV and 10% yield. Full service, limited service. Most of this is 5 or 10 year paper. There will be a new push on floating rate debt soon.

There will be more value driven loans in this area than cash flow driven. This market was not there 6 months ago but is evolving very quickly.

Are market values running ahead of fundamentals?

Rick Kleeman

Yes, generally speaking. But this is a case where asset prices are pulling fundamentals along with them.

I don't think the market is massively over valued as it was in 2006 and 2007. These prices are the logical consequence of the government flooding the market with trillions of dollars.

The Fed is managing asset prices because that improves the balance sheets of lenders and investors, and when people feel richer, they spend.

The market is a little bit ahead of itself, but there are pockets of opportunity.

Jonathan Roth

The Government has provided so much stimulus that bank balance sheets are starting to look pretty good. They have not been selling assets much to date, but they are starting to sell, and we will see more sales.

How do you price deals?

Kevin Colket

Very limited down side today from this point.

A year or two ago there was no guide to value. Now there is a guide to value from REITs, but that is a false friend - the values have been high because the REITs have bought the premier assets. People looking for the same price will not find it without premier assets.

Over the next 12 months, we are looking for attractive, unlevered IRRs. People will being to do deals on value - not cash flow. You will have to drill down and get comfortable with what will happen to P&L for the next 3 or 4 years.

Rick Frank

We look at 15-17% as the new 20% IRR when we underwrite in our shop.

Cap rates

Suzanne Mellen, HVS

Cap rates are down and prices are up.

Even though rates are down to historic lows, the spread over T bills is still healthy (250 bp). What will happen when T bill rates go up? Unless spread decreases, hotel values will go down. Could be a significant impact on value.

What are you doing now?

Rick Kleeman

We call ourselves a focused opportunity fund. We have in-house verticals with experts in each product type. They teach generalists like us a lot each day. We have bought and financed 10 hotels in the last few months. Early on we did a financing for a REIT - that worked then, but not doing it now.

Now we are focused on transactions. 3 in California. We just bought Hyatt in Westlake. This was an asset that we might not have bought initially. Very low cap rate, but bought it for about half of replacement. When we studied the market more carefully, we liked it more and more. While Countrywide was big employer, it had not generated many room nights.

We appreciate our speakers and sponsors

JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® wants to thank all the incredible speakers and sponsors who made the 21st annual Meet the Money® a success. Meet the Money® has developed a reputation for being the hospitality conference where high powered industry leaders get deals done while candidly sharing meaningful information and having a great time. This would not be possible without the participation of our speakers and sponsors.


This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We've done more than $60 billion of hotel transactions and have developed innovative solutions to help investors be successful in bidding for hotel acquisitions, and helping investors and lenders to unlock value from troubled hotel transactions. Who's your hotel lawyer?


Our Perspective. We represent hotel lenders, owners and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $60 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,250 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at [email protected] or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is a founding partner of JMBM and Chairman of its Global Hospitality Group®. Jim is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE "hotel lawyer" and you will see why.

JMBM's troubled asset team has handled more than 1,000 receiverships and many complex insolvency issues. But Jim and his team are more than "just" great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. For example, they have developed some unique proprietary approaches to unlock value in underwater hotels that can benefit lenders, borrowers and investors. (GOOGLE "JMBM SAVE program".)

Whether it is a troubled investment or new transaction, JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® creates legal and business solutions for hotel owners and lenders. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®
The hotel lawyers in the Global Hospitality Group® of Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell (JMBM) comprise the premier hospitality practice in a full-service law firm and are the authors of the Hotel Law Blog. We represent hotel owners, developers, investors and lenders and have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $60 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties worldwide. For more information about the Global Hospitality Group®, go to For more information about full range of legal services provided by JMBM, go to

Jim Butler
[email protected]


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