Property Presentation is Everything

environmental status of property presentation

When I was a younger man I was the President/Owner of a couple fashion companies in NYC … a Ladies Designer to Couture clothing manufacturer and a Designer jewelry manufacturing firm. There were many lessons learned in one of the most competitive and dynamic industries on the planet … but one in particular has served well and is universally applicable…


How an Asset presents defines degree of Sale Proceeds and smoothness of transaction. Good Macro intro but presentation is made up of many smaller or Micro parts. Considerations or questions might be … how does the HVAC look and function … is drainage functioning properly … how is our lighting and landscaping … is the asset exceptionally clean … where/what do we need to “redecorate” and to what extent. These are all good questions when generating a healthy Property Preparation Strategy for an existing structure(s) … but there is a primary question that has to be asked and applies to any RE asset ….


Recently we listed a very high end 14 res unit partial development in Montclair, NJ. During the initial walk through I noticed asbestos insulation on the pipes of the heating system. It was vehemently recommended (declined by our Seller Client) that this and any other visible contamination be remediated and that we do a full Phase 1… for two primary reasons:

  1. Leaving visible contamination suggests to a buyer that they need to focus on environmental status … not just in the category of what they can see … but on what they can’t see as well.

    Certainly was not a surprise that our first showing, and all others, were dominated by questions on enviro status. Is that asbestos insulation? Does the interior plaster have asbestos? Does the exterior stucco contain asbestos…what about lead…what about radon….what about infestation…what about mold….what about water infiltration….what about oil tanks and DEP case #’s?

    Granted…most buyers will want to review most if not all of these but having a contaminant (in this case asbestos insulation) slap a buyer in the face results in they looking more comprehensively and more diligently … and sours a viewing and subsequent Value Analysis and Perception.

  2. A Phase 1, 2 and or 3, if necessary, should be done by the seller. It puts seller more in control of the outcome of all, is less expensive than if a buyer performs with a seller escrow and greatly reduces the possibility of contract cancellation and or closing delay that might come from an enviro problem revealed during DD.

Another example using a ground up with multiple use options….

Recently we performed a Development Feasibility Valuation¹ on a 3 acre parcel in Bergen County…and revealed a development capability to 38 Town Homes or an Assisted Living Facility. We were subsequently hired to broker that asset. Our Seller Client understood the importance of preparation. We have completed:

  • Updated Title
  • Verified the Deed
  • A full Phase 1 with no 2 needed
  • Removal of considerable vegetative debris
  • Some structure cap improvement and landscaping around three existing structures

Our Seller Client agrees that nothing should get in the way of highest and, once the trigger is pulled, most expediently received proceeds.

Should be noted that laws in the State of New Jersey are such that if an attorney representing a buyer does not recommend, in writing, that their client do a full Phase 1 … there is a liability that may come back to bite that attorney and or their firm if a contamination is revealed after closing. We have seen buyer attorney representation require a formal waiver indemnifying them … if a buyer chooses not to fully inspect prior to closing. AND … any/every conventional lender will require a full environmental inspection.

A TWG Adage….

It can be construed that not removing selling obstacles
has the same or similar outcome as installing them.

¹ Not relevant to the Blog subject but is extreme enough to note….the Assessed Value of this asset is about 500k. The Appraisal Value is 1.2 Million. Our DFV came back at 3.5 and 6.6 Million supported by a use change to 38 Town Homes or an Assisted Living Facility … respectively.