Although it's more fun working on a new development project than disposing of troubled assets for clients, Randy Podolsky is comfortable toiling in the distressed commercial real estate arena. In the turbulent 1980s, he served as a court-appointed receiver more than 50 times in metro Chicago. Today as managing principal of commercial real estate services firm Podolsky Northstar CORFAC International in Riverwoods, Ill., a northern Chicago suburb, Podolsky finds himself back in familiar territory amid a wave of loan defaults.
In March, Podolsky was named court-appointed receiver for two industrial buildings in Tinley Park, Ill., located in Will County. Southpoint I and Southpoint II, each approximately 100,000 sq. ft., are part of the Tinley Crossings Corporate Center. Podolsky Northstar also was selected as the exclusive marketing agent and property management firm for the two properties.
Podolsky Northstar ultimately arranged the sale of SouthPoint I for Jefferson Pilot Investments, a subsidiary of Lincoln Financial Group. Jefferson Pilot was the lender on the property when it went into receivership. Manufacturer KVH Industries was the buyer in the deal that closed in September. NREI spoke with Podolsky about the impact a receiver can have on a troubled property.
NREI: What distinguishes the best receivers from the also-rans?
Podolsky: The selection of a receiver should be based on the overall depth of service and consulting the receiver can provide. It's not about who can collect rents and pay the bills. It's who can help you strategize the ultimate disposition of the real estate or offer direction. Select a receiver who deals with your property like it's his own and who knows how to operate real estate.
NREI: Do most lenders know what they want and need in a receiver?
Podolsky: We have clients who have been through this before and understand what their ownership philosophy is, and they know what they want to do with the assets. We help them execute that plan. We also have clients who don't know where they want to go with it and need our long-term, big-picture vision of whether or not that asset can be held short term or long term.
NREI: How is a receiver compensated?
Podolsky: It can be an hourly fee and typically it is. In our case, the lenders like us because we provide fixed monthly fees that incorporate the management and caretaking of the asset along with all the receivership duties. We're known for charging fixed fees and keeping costs very effective.
NREI: Is there a typical length on a receivership assignment?
Podolsky: I've been in and out of receivership cases in 120 to 150 days or less, and I've been in cases that last a year or more. It depends on the complexity of the asset and how much the parties want to fight.
NREI: Will the receivership business grow or decrease in 2011?
Podolsky: Everybody says that receiverships are slowing down. I don't agree. The residential receivership boom has probably peaked. The commercial real estate receivership business will still be large over the next year or so. When does that change? Well, it's when other conditions start to improve and owners can refinance, or pay their bills, or lease a property and pay their mortgage — whatever is necessary for these problems to go away.