Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lease-Option as an Option

In the current climate, a lot buyers and sellers are getting creative, buyers because credit is tight, and sellers because buyers are tight. The transaction form perhaps gaining the most popularity is the lease with an option to buy, or lease-option. This starts out as a landlord-tenant relationship and can thereafter be turned into a vendor-purchaser relationship. Consequently, the agreement needs to provide for both relationships. Here are a few of the things that need covered: if the buyer doesn't make lease payments, the seller needs to be able to evict him; if the buyer records the agreement and then defaults, the seller needs to be able to peel it off his title; if the seller doesn't pay the mortgage, the buyer needs to be able to protect his equity; and someone needs to be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

There are many issues in a lease-option transaction that either normally arise in a lease relationship but not in a sale or vice-versa. Get someone with some experience to draft up the agreement now and save yourself a world of hurt later.

Is Anyone Paying Attention to Traffic Flow?

Target is going to put a 140,000 sq. ft. store on 300 W. near the existing Lowe's and Walmart. South Salt Lake wants to put a two-block development between State and Main south of 2100 S. that would have shops, offices, and 850 residential units. Let's set aside for the moment the question of whether South Salt Lake really has a demand for those residences (After all, West Valley City had to scale back the residential elements at West Valley Mall. See my 11 July entry, "A Tale of Two Malls."). Where is the traffic going to go. 300 W. and State are messes already. The freeway accesses (900 S. and 1300 S. on I-15 for Target and 2100 S. on I-15 and State on I-80 for South Salt Lake) are messes already. So let's throw some more traffic in. Granted South Salt Lake is trying to factor the new Sugarhouse Trax line into this development, but that will be like bailing out the Titanic with a one-gallon bucket. And does Target honestly believe its customers will be walking the 3-4 blocks from Trax?

If you want to see development that has taken no consideration of traffic, look at State in Sandy and Draper. And they keep adding more. Merchants who think that raw traffic count past their doors is all that matters, without accounting for the inconvenience of driving on the street out front and getting onto and off of that street, are likely to learn the truth of Yogi Berra's comment about a restaurant being "so crowded no one goes there anymore."