Commercial Real Estate Internship Update #1 – Blake Imperl

Commercial Real Estate Internship Update #1 – Blake Imperl

How My Views on Commercial Real Estate Are Changing

By: Blake Imperl

As I am approaching the end of my first month as an intern at Gabhart Investments, I’d like to reflect on what I’ve learned, and what has changed thus far.

What I’ve Been Doing

Over the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time reading the material Curtis has provided me on Property Valuation & Investment Analysis. Although it is mainly an overview of the subject, it has proved to be some highly valuable content. This material essentially picked up where I left off in my Real Estate Investment Analysis class that I took last semester at San Diego State. I have been brushing up on subjects like tax benefits, 1031 exchanges, expenses, leverage, returns, evaluating cash flow, and much more. I still have a great deal of learning to do on these subjects, but it is exciting to see how what I’ve learned in the classroom correlates to real world applications. It is my intention to continue to read up on these subjects and ask as many questions as I can.

I’ve also been observing how Curtis and his team assemble marketing packages for commercial properties they are listing. I was doing things similar to this at my last internship at Realty National, so I’ve enjoyed seeing how this translates in the commercial arena

Commercial Real Estate Blog Posts

Another task I have taken on is the editing of Curtis’s blog posts. My first edit was a post on property walkthroughs. One tremendous benefit of doing this has been the information I’m learning is sticking much deeper than if I just glanced over it. It’s proved to be a great learning tool for me and I’ve even taken on the task of researching some of the topics I was curious about. Writing has always been a passion of mine, so getting the opportunity to revise and write some stuff has been great. I’m excited that I will get to continue to edit blog posts during my time here.

Property Walkthroughs

This past week I had a great learning opportunity with Curtis to do a walkthrough of a 13-unit apartment building in Fallbrook. I was able to learn about some of the things you should be looking for in a property, both on the interior and exterior. This was a neat real life application after reading Curtis’s article on property walkthroughs. This is certainly the kind of stuff you’d never learn in a class room.

13-Unit Apartment Building In Fallbrook

La Jolla Multi-Family Building

Another property we looked at was a 5 unit multi-family building in La Jolla. This was a very intriguing property because it had great bones, was less than a block to the beach and offered several routes for renovation. When walking the property, we looked at things like the condition of the floors, the bathrooms, kitchens, balconies, electrical, etc… It was far from move-in-ready, however, at the right price this could prove to be a great deal.

Curtis and Abe inspecting the condition of the upstairs balcony

the interior of the detached studio

Co-Star Lunch & Learns

In addition to the property walkthrough, I’ve also attended two Co-Star lunch and learns with Curtis and his assistant Dianne. The one that stood out to me was on the housing forecast over the next few years in San Diego County. I enjoyed this meeting because this is a real problem we will be tasked with fixing over the next decade. This past semester in my investment analysis class I did a great deal of research on this subject, so it was neat to hear the industry take on the issue.

Other Opportunities

Lastly, I have very much enjoyed the opportunity to pick Curtis’s brain. He’s always offering me valuable tips and knowledge about real estate and just life in general. Whether it be tips on client relations, listing properties, or even just financial management, I’ve been trying to act like a sponge of knowledge. He’s always honest about things and I respect that.

My views on real estate are growing stronger than ever and I’m excited all the learning opportunities that lie ahead. I am finding that the San Diego Commercial Real Estate Market contains more possibilities than I ever could have expected. Stay posted for my final update in August!

In a bit,

Blake Imperl

Intern, Gabhart Investments

13704 Rosecroft Way in Stallion’s Crossing

13704 Rosecroft Way in Stallion’s Crossing

Del Mar-48

This stylish Tudor-style home has 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a bonus room and an office. It is over 12,000 SF lot, situated on a large cul-de-sac road and nestled in an elite neighborhood of Stallion’s Crossing which is located in a private area behind the community of Del Mar to the north of Carmel Valley & at the start of the prestigious & highly-regarded Rancho Santa Fe Community.

Coffered ceilings above the dining area

Del Mar-43

Wolf Kitchen Appliances

7It has state-of-the-art Wolf appliances & more, creating a kitchen that people who love to entertain guests can only dream about.  It boasts a water filtration system that runs throughout the house, custom ironwork and woodwork.

3Fireplaces in living room, family room & sitting room in the master’s bedroom

Del Mar-16

This beautiful home has 2 balconies – where one looks over the Del Mar fairgrounds that stretch to embrace the vast blue of the Pacific Ocean in a picturesque view.

Large Pool Size Yard with Waterfall & Jacuzzi

Del Mar-51

It includes a flawlessly landscaped property with waterfall that cascades directly into a relaxing & sumptuous Jacuzzi.

Extremely Private & Gated Community



Del Mar-34

It is also home to many excellent walking trails and features a pristine coastal boardwalk that provides a spectacular view for both neighborhood residents and nature enthusiasts alike.


Del Mar-28



Surrounded By Dedicated Open Space & Trails


Perfect for a family, this home is ideally positioned to enjoy the proximity to  the world-famous 2-mile stretch of the Del Mar Beach, The Bluffs, and the Torrey Pines State Park. It is one of the most highly-sought after spots in Southern California for people who love watersports. The area is also a critical nursery habitat for some of the world’s endangered species of ocean fish and birds who used to span from Siberia to South America, such as the Light-Footed Clapper Rail, the California Least Turn, and the California Brown Pelican. The nearby San Dieguito Lagoon is a beautiful coastal estuary with over two hundred acres of wetland, which has been recently restored. This lagoon is situated near the San Dieguito water-park, which stretches well over 55 miles from Julian to the PacificOcean, and it only manages to increase San Diego’s already beautiful natural landscape.


More info about the home…

More info about Stallion’s Crossing…

Go for a tour!

Real Estate Joke of the Day – “The Balloonist”

“The Balloonist”

A balloonist is blown off course and is forced to land. He is
in a field close to a road, but has no idea where he is. He sees a
car coming along the road and hails it.

The driver gets out and the balloonist says, “Howdy! Can you tell me where I am?”

“Yes, of course,” says the driver. “You have just landed in your
balloon, and with this wind you have obviously been blown off course. You are in the top field on John Dawson’s farm, 12 miles from Albury. John will be plowing the field next week and sowing wheat. There is a bull in the field. It is behind you and about to attack you.”

At that moment, the bull reaches the balloonist and tosses him over the fence.

Luckily, the balloonist is unhurt. He gets up, dusts himself off and says to the motorist, “I see you’re an appraiser.”

“Good grief,” says the other man, “you’re right! How did you know

“I employ appraisers,” says the balloonist. “The information you
gave me was detailed, precise, and accurate. Most of it was useless, and it arrived far too late to be of any help.”

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Newest acquisition is a short sale

Short Sale Deal Points:

Purchase Date 6/28/2011
How did I Find the property? Through my website. Property was pending and scheduled to close in a couple weeks & current buyer was backing out. This was a pending MLS deal
Who represented us The listing agent
Location East San Diego
Purchase Price $195,500 click here for property pro-forma
Rehab Estimate $15,000 (+/- 20%) click here for scope of work
Estimate After Repaired Value $265,000 – $305,000 click here for property CMA

This San Diego short sale that was pending in the MLS  came directly from our website which always surprises me since I don’t specifically try to get investors or sellers from our site.

The Realtor called to inform me this short sale had already been approved with the bank and the current investor/buyer was backing out and that if I could remove contingencies immediately (within 3 days) and close on the currently scheduled closing date so it didn’t get foreclosed on I could probably get this investment.

At first glance the price of $195,500 seemed a little steep for this property. I assumed the sales price to be about $265,000 and construction to be about $35,000 (the agent said it didn’t really need any work but that’s what they all say!) which is about average for a typical (not major) rehab of this size.

I get LOTS of calls & emails about “great real estate deals” and I need to be very careful about how I spend my time since 99 out of 100 Real Estate investments don’t fit our conservative criteria.

I told him it probably wasn’t my deal but I would do a little more research and call him back if I changed my mind. Knowing Realtors don’t get paid unless I they close on a deal I never want to jeopardize their lively hood by being selfish and saying yes if I really don’t mean it.

I do not subscribe to theory of making offers unless you are almost 100% certain that if you get a yes you are willing and capable of closing.

So I only write offers on deals that I know I will close on or otherwise you risk getting a bad reputation and stop getting deals.

So that means if I know I am going to close a deal I put an offer in that means I need to spend a decent amount of time on research to make sure I can execute successfully on the project and buy it like I said I would.

To do that successfully I can’t research EVERY property that is sent to me and that means I have to learn to say NO quickly so I don’t waste my time or just as important the person who is bringing me the deals time.

On the other hand you need to be careful that you accidentally don’t turn away great deals. It’s definitely more of an art than a science and also qualifying the deal quickly up front by playing red light green light as I have talked about in previous posts.

After verifying there really was not a lot of work to be done and a very light rehab and making some phone calls to agents and investors who worked that niche market I came to the conclusion that although our subject property had a converted garage and shared driveway the almost 360 degree views would give it a conservative (re) sales price of $275,000 (I was told $270,000 – $305,000) it made sense as long as I could quickly remove contingencies and get it closed right away.

So quickly I called the agent back, made an appointment to check it out on the inside to make sure it would not be a major construction job I checked it out, made an offer the same day and closed a couple weeks later.

Below are some pictures of the project and a video narration of the deal. For more insight into this deal including our scope of work for construction, our comparative market analysis on pricing and our estimated costs and profits go to

In case many of you aren’t aware we have websites set up for all our active properties (look under the projects tab and then click on the property to take you to it’s website), in addition to the left of the screen you will see an RSS feed that updates every time I post on the property website.


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Aloha to our little friend… We have San Diego city approval

Aloha to our little friend… We have San Diego city approval

Hello to my little friend….

Say hello to our little friend! We have approval from the city to add square footage to the Aloha house and are in the construction phase as we speak.

I want to apologize for not posting more but we have 5 properties that we are buying this month

Been busier than a one legged ass kicker

and have been as busy as one-legged  man in an ass kickin contest.

In addition my wife and I are in Mexico for my best friend’s wedding until next Monday.

It was a much needed break and thanks to technology there is quite a bit I can actually do while gone but it really comes down to teamwork and poor Nick is grinding it out in the office while I start my first leg of my trip at our ocean front suite with a jacuzzi on the balcony, at the all-inclusive resort called dreams Puerto Vallarta.

Upstairs “rec room” at Rolando flip

When we got Shannon aka Aloha house under contract we noticed that the city records had only 2 bedroom 2 baths and 1775 square feet even though there was clearly another room above the garage.

This and the fact that the rear of the property was obviously added onto at some point made us go to the city to do a little more research since we were not willing to buy a 2 bedroom for the price we were under contract for.

We were fortunate enough to have a co-operative (bank) seller who gave us permission in writing to go down to the city to pull permits (the County of San Diego will not let you pull building records without the owner’s permission and many lenders specifically state in their contract that you agree not to contact the city about the property.

Brad went down to the city and once he got through the usual red tape and double talk was able to find out that in fact the whole structure was permitted. And

Sample building record in the city of san diego

copy of San Diego flip building record

even better news was the fact that 1775 square feet did not include the room above the garage but that the room above the garage WAS permitted as a 320sq. ft. rec room.

Since the rec room was not under the same roof it did not count towards the square footage and was considered just a rec. room.

So long story short and a bunch of time in between we found out that the only way to permit the room above the garage and turn it into a bedroom was to attach it under the same roof..

Well since the seller stated they were selling a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath when it was really a 2/2 we pulled out the old 1,2 punch hail mary. ( We told our agent up front that we were not going to buy it for the price. We were under contract for because of the reasons above and let him know that we could either back out or try to get a credit but didn’t want to jeopardize his relationship with the other agent. He said let’s go for it).

Okay here is the 1,2  punch which is risky in the sense that you will spend some money, time and potentially lose the deal. (I told the agent up front that I was not buying this deal for the price. We were under contract for so this was not a surprise to him.)

  1. Get a professional building inspection

We get inspections on many projects before we buy them because It does a few things

  • Sees things that I may miss
  • Helps me come up with a list of items that are easy to fix but can scare buyers. I add this to my scope of work and I require my contractor to have these items fixed before his last payment. I bring the inspector out one more time before I put it on the market and make sure the work the contractor did was okay and have the inspector sign off that I completed the work.
  • I give the building inspection and my termite report to any buyers before I let them put in an offer, that way they can’t come back and say they want a $5,000 credit because the electrical is not grounded. By giving them the BIR they already know this before they put in the offer. Remember a buyer can negotiate the price down at multiple stages, as a seller you get one shot, once you’re property is tied up the price never goes up.

2. Get a bid on the work that needs to be done in writing from a contractor, submit any information you gathered from the city the sellers maybe didn’t know about (now they need to disclose this info to the next buyer since they now know about it) and justify a price reduction.

This is risky because it takes a lot of time to do it correctly and not just look like your a grinder which only pisses people off and will make them say no, just because they think you are full of it!

So we submitted a bid and in addition Nick wrote a great letter (since he is smarter than me) demonstrating the reduction in value a 2/2 has as opposed to a 3/2

The letter we wrote to the bank asking for a credit

(about $14 per foot over the last 1o years). Here is a quick snipit asking for a $40,000 credit.

Okay so I digress (I write like I think. All over the place so bear with me).

We submitted to the city with plans to add 2 bedrooms (by adding closets to the œrec room above the garage and to the dining room since there was plenty of room to make a living/dining room) and one bathroom to the œrec room.

Well we got approval just after Christmas. By adding 2 walls, 40 square feet of roof and $6,000 dollars / $11 per sq. ft. we were able to go from 1775 sq. ft to almost 2,300. Not bad considering the average price per square foot is over $250 in the area.

Next time, I’ll tell you about some of our new projects and some pretty cool stuff we are doing including another place that we are able to get about 500 sq. feet added just by adding a garage which will give us about $100,000 in extra value!

Stay tuned to the same bat channel and no particular time except when this one toothed man in a corn-on-the-cob eating contest dude gets around to updating this site.

12 hours and I’m off to our second leg in our adventure, Cabo for our friends 40th birthday!

Updated floor plan

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Falcon Flip Update – The Eagle Has Landed

Falcon Flip Update – The Eagle Has Landed

So we finally got through plan check from the city (huge relief since our Falcon project in Mission Hills got stuck in the bureaucratic spin cycle because of a little plant called Artemisia californica or better known as coastal sage brush which I will now just refer to as an expensive weed. This expensive weed was found on the cities property next to ours on the hillside and because no one at the city could seem to agree on how to move forward.

The options they were giving us were not acceptable especially since we were not even touching anything within a 100 feet of this little frigging plant. The only exterior work we were doing on the back of the property (where the hillside is) is some work on the decks which are already existing.

This has definitely been an interesting project and quite the learning process. On every project you learn something and some times those lessons cost more than others.

I am not sure what I could have done different on this project. We were able to get a great deal on this buying it at $305,000 when the average price in the area is above $700,000, but that price came with strings attached.

Here are some things that we have come up against.

As some of you may or may not remember the reason this property was so cheap is the city put a lien against the property due to code violations.

The previous owner started a big remodel including

  • New electric & Plumbing
  • Siding
  • Decking
  • Flooring
  • Framing

But like many back yard weekend warriors you could tell some of the work was questionable at best.

Hey it’s so easy to flip real estate even a cave man can do it.

To make sure we knew what we were getting into (or at least have a decent idea of what we were looking at) we met the inspector at the property (multiple times) who put the violations on Falcon.

The inspector seemed very helpful and walked myself , contractor, architect (different times) through the property  and pointed out what he wanted fixed. Some of these items were…

  • Electrical & Pluming – make sure it was to code and fix what wasn’t
  • Wanted the decks engineered to make sure they were OK
  • Check the roof and some beams
  • Replace some windows that were removed
  • A handful of miscellaneous items

Well even though it wasn’t April, the joke was on me. The first thing the city did when we submitted (as per the cities guidelines) our plans from the architect was to ask for additional items (it seemed like every time we submitted someone asked us to add something else. I think there was a contest at the city to see who could get us to make the most changes and different times).

What made this difficult is every time they asked for something new we had to scramble for someone to get it done as a priority. Below are some of the items that were asked of us, piece meal (It would have made more sense to me to have just given me the list from the start. But what do I know they need to stay busy to justify those big pensions right)

  1. Submitted set of plans of our modifications the city suggested. Hired an architect to do this
  2. They then asked us to get a surveyor to survey the property lines – week later re submitted
  3. Wanted additional engineering – week later submit
  4. Oh, now you want a landscape architect and a biologist to call out EVERY plant on our property and 100 feet past in all directions and onto the cities land…. Oh, sure why not that makes sense since we are doing what to the landscape? Oh, you also want us to actually draw, diagram and show the placement of each plant… Yeah no problem, just let me know if you would like me to re-pave the street for the city while I am doing this extra work. A few weeks later
  5. Oh, you have coastal sage brush on our city property… tisk tisk…
  6. Fast forward months of back and forth,  Tug-a-war between different people in the city telling us to do different things. Different interpretations, more submittable to the city, tweaks, and finally the legal has landed we are through plan check and now just need to get this thing finished and hope we don’t run into any more major problems like we have already.

Here is a brief rundown of where we are at and what happened.


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