How to Manage Your Second Property During the Off-Season

Article provided by Clark Insurance

A vacation home is great when you need to escape, but maintenance can be a headache – especially when you are not there for prolonged periods of time. Not only is the process of closing up your home at the end of the season tedious, but you’ll also need to make sure your property is safe while you’re back at your permanent residence. Follow our tips to keep your vacation home in good shape while you’re gone.

It’s time to batten down the hatches and make sure your house is prepped and secure. Use our checklist for closing a vacation home to cover all your bases.

Interior Maintenance: Room-by-Room Vacation Home Maintenance Tips
Follow these steps to come back to a clutter- and odor-free home after months away and prevent burglars from knowing you’re not there.

1. Kitchen:
• To avoid odors, clean thoroughly and make sure everything, especially food, is stored properly or thrown away.
• Clean out the disposal.
• Turn off and unplug appliances.
• Toss perishable foods from the pantry.
• Empty and clean the refrigerator, and prop the door open to prevent odors.
• Pro-Tip: Leave a few boxes of open baking soda in the fridge to absorb any lingering odors.

2. Living room: When you get back to your vacation home, you’ll likely want to jump right into relaxation mode, so make sure the living room is ready for you to easily settle back in with a good book.
• Clean ashes out of the fireplace and close the chimney flue.
• Move furniture away from the walls.
• Pull out loose cushions on couches and chairs to allow air circulation.

3. Bedrooms: Take these easy steps to come back to that hotel feeling.
• Strip and clean the bedsheets.
• Put linens away or leave clean sheets on the beds.
• Leave closet and dresser drawers open to allow air to circulate.

4. Laundry room: The biggest goals in the laundry room are to prevent mold or floods and to avoid unnecessary power usage while you’re away.
• Make sure there’s no water left in your washing machine.
• Disconnect the hoses to your washer and dryer, and unplug them.

5. Bathrooms: The bathroom has a potential to accumulate awful odors. Don’t let sewage back up into your toilets and stink up the whole house. If you don’t feel comfortable prepping the toilets and taking care of the pipes yourself, call a licensed plumber to make sure everything is in tip-top shape when you leave.
• Clean shower drains.
• Shut off the water supply under each toilet tank and flush to drain the water, or add non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems to the tank and toilet bowl.
• Pour half a cup of chlorine bleach into the toilet bowl to prevent stain-causing bacteria.
• Pro-Tip: If you work with a property management company or have a neighbor look after your house, see if they can let the plumber in while you’re gone so you can avoid taking care of it during your vacation.

6. General Around the house – Interior:
• Don’t forget to take care of easy-to-forget tasks around the house like turning off all the lights and setting security devices.
• Empty trash cans.
• Cover furniture with dust covers.
• Clean the whole house thoroughly.
• Leave containers of baking soda, charcoal or cat litter around the house to absorb odors and moisture in the air.

Download Clark’s comprehensive visual vacation home maintenance checklist today.

Other helpful interior home tips:

1. Remember to Turn Off:
• Gas
• Lights
• Water
• Water heater
• Non-essential electrical circuit breakers
• Pro-Tip: Shut off the main water valve, and open all faucets and showers to let them drain out. This is especially important in areas with freezing temperatures.

2. Safety Precautions to take:
• Check the sump pump. Consider adding battery back-up, or a water-powered sump pump if you’re on municipal water supply.
• Close shades and curtains.
• Have the chimney inspected, and cleaned, if necessary.
• Set alarms, light timers, cameras or home-away devices.
• Test detectors. Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Lock doors and windows and put wooden dowels in sliding door tracks.
• Minimize public posts on social media that could provide clues to a would-be burglar about when your homes are unoccupied.
• Tell the local police department the property will be vacant. Leave them with emergency contact information.
• Pro-Tip: Install moisture or water-level sensors, especially if you’re in an area prone to flooding. These will alert you if water begins to accumulate in the home, either due to weather or leaks.

3. Energy Efficiency Tips
• Change air and furnace filters.
• Unplug appliances, electronics and anything non-essential.
• Set the thermostat to 50 degrees for heat and 80 degrees for air conditioning.

4. Pause Regular Services
• Have the local post office forward your mail to your home address.
• Ask your waste management company to hold trash pickup until next season.

Exterior Projects & Tips to Consider Before You Leave
Make sure the outside of your home is in good shape before you leave to prevent major issues.

• Fertilize the lawn.
• Trim trees and bushes.
• Weed and clean up the yard.
• Drain the pool.
• Empty and store garden hoses.
• Check caulking around the windows.
• Cover the grill and disconnect the propane tank.
• Secure the shed and any other outdoor dwellings.
• Store patio furniture, hammocks, flags, lawn decorations, etc.
• Make sure the paint around the outside of your house isn’t cracked. If you see a spot, push it in with your fingers to make sure the wood isn’t rotting underneath.
• Throughout your vacation, check the roof, foundation, driveway, etc. to make sure they’re not damaged, cracked or leaking. Make sure to fix any issues before you leave.
• Clean storm drains and gutters
• Seal your deck to protect it against wind, rain and snow.
• If heavy snow and wind are common in your area, wrap trees or bushes with burlap or twine to prevent damage.
• Install storm windows or hurricane shutters if you have them, or board up windows if your area gets a lot of wind or snow.
• Consider taking steps to maintain access to your driveway during the winter months so that emergency responders can quickly respond in the event of a fire or other emergency.
• Take the keys out of mobile equipment (snowmobiles, ATVs, tractors, etc.) and store them in a secure area.
• Consider installing hitch locks on any trailers (i.e., boats, utility trailers, etc.) that are stored on your property to deter theft.

For additional second home safety and maintenance tips, be sure to download Clark’s vacation home maintenance checklist.

Original article published on July 26, 2021, https://www.clarkinsurance.com/how-to-manage-your-second-property/

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May the “blended workforce be with you”: Policy and internal control considerations for a new era

by: Kaylyn Landry, Senior Manager | CPA, MSA at BerryDunn & David Stone, Manager | CPA, MBA, CFE at BerryDunn

Read this if you have a blended workforce with both in-office employees and remote workers.

It is hard to believe it has been nearly a year and a half since we started our remote work journey. At the time, many thought the move to working remotely would be short term. Then, a couple of weeks turned into a month, a month into another month, another month into a year and, some employers are now finally considering re-opening their offices.

Back in April 2020, we provided some internal control challenges, and potential solutions, faced by working in a remote environment. These challenges included exercising appropriate tone at the top, maintaining appropriate segregation of duties, and ensuring timely review, amongst others. Although these challenges still exist, there are new considerations to address as we transition into (hopefully) a post-pandemic world.

Blended workforces
As we mentioned in that article, since people have now been forced to work in a remote environment, they will be more apt to continue to do so. For some employees, the perks of ditching that long commute outweighs the free coffee they receive in the office. Employers have a decision to make—do we allow our employees the option to continue to work from home or, do we require employees to work from the office, as was standard pre-pandemic? Now that employees have exhibited the ability to work from home efficiently and effectively, it may be difficult to move all employees back into the office. Requiring all employees to return to the office could result in employees seeking employment elsewhere, and the option to work remotely is a selling point for many recruiters. Furthermore, disallowing remote work could cause employees to feel distrusted or undervalued, possibly leading to less efficient and effective work.

However, remote work comes with many challenges. Although video chat has been instrumental in navigating the remote work environment, it still has limitations. Nothing can beat in-person conversations and the relationships they help build. Nearly every video chat has a purpose, and unfortunately, you can’t just “run” into somebody in a video chat as you can in the office. Building camaraderie and instilling your company’s culture is difficult in a remote environment. And, if your workforce is blended, with some working in the office while others work remotely, building culture may be even more difficult than if your entire workforce was remote. Employees in the office may be less apt to communicate with remote colleagues. If you have a task you wish to delegate, you may think of giving the assignment to someone in the office prior to thinking of your remote co-workers that may be just as able and willing to complete the assignment. It will be important to ensure all employees are provided with equal opportunities, no matter of where they work.

Remote work policy
Regardless of your company’s decision to allow employees to work remotely or not, we recommend developing a remote work policy addressing expected behaviors. When developing such a policy, consider:

  • Will the policy’s provisions apply to the entire company or will there be different provisions by department? If the latter, consider what the implications may be on employee morale.
  • Will there be a minimum amount of days per week that must be spent in the office?
  • If employees are allowed to work remotely, do they need to work a set schedule or can the frequency, and which days they work remotely, change from week to week?
  • Who should the employee communicate their decision to? How will this information then be shared company-wide?
  • How do remote employees address document destruction? If they are handling sensitive and confidential documents, how should they dispose of these documents?
  • Similarly, what are the expectations for protecting sensitive and confidential information at home?
  • Are employees allowed to hook up company-provided equipment to personal devices, such as personal printers?
  • If an employee is customer/client facing, what are the expectations for dress code and backgrounds for video chat meetings?\
  • What will staff development look like for individuals working remotely? Alternatively, what will their involvement look like in onboarding/developing new employees?
  • What are the expectations for meetings? Will all meetings be set up in a manner that accommodates in-person and remote attendees? Are there meetings where in-person attendance is mandatory?

The importance of these considerations will likely differ from company to company. Some of these considerations may be addressed in other, already existing policies.

Are your internal controls “blended workforce” ready?
If your company plans to allow employees to work remotely, you will need to assess if your internal controls make sense for both in-office and remote employees. Typically, internal controls are written in a manner irrespective of where the employee resides. However, there may be situations that require an internal control be re-worked to accommodate in-office and remote employees. For instance, do you have an internal control that references a specific report that can only be run in-office? If the control owner plans to transition to a hybrid work schedule, does the frequency of the internal control need to change to reflect the employee’s new schedule? Alternatively, does it make sense to transition this internal control to someone else that will be in the office more frequently?

Internal control accommodations
The transition to a remote environment was expeditious and many thought the remote environment would be over quickly. As a result, there may have been modifications to internal controls that were made out of necessity, although they were not ideal from an internal control standpoint. The rationale for these accommodations may have been the expectation that the remote environment would be short-lived. Although these accommodations may have made sense for a short amount of time, and posed little to no additional risk to your company, the longer these accommodations remained in effect, the greater the chance for unintended consequences.

We recommend reviewing your internal controls and creating a log of any internal control accommodations that were made due to the pandemic. Some of these modifications may continue to make sense and, after operating under the new internal control for an extended period of time, may even be preferable to the previous internal control. However, for those modifications that do appear to have increased control risk, control owners should assess if the length of the pandemic could have resulted in inadequately designed internal controls. And, if so, what could the consequences of these poorly designed internal controls have been to the company?

Internal control vs. process
While reviewing your company’s internal controls, it will also be a good time to ensure your internal control descriptions actually describe an internal control rather than simply a process. Although having well-documented processes for your company’s various transaction cycles is important, a good internal control description should already incorporate the process within it. Think of your internal control descriptions as writing a story—the “process” provides background information on the characters and setting, while the “internal control” is the story’s plot.

For example: The Accounting Manager downloads the market values from the investment portfolio accounting system and enters the market values into the general ledger on a monthly basis. Once the journal entry is entered, the Accounting Manager provides the market value report and a copy of the journal entry to the Controller.

Although a savvy reader may be able to identify where the internal control points are within this process, it could easily be modified to explicitly include discussion of the actual internal controls. The text in bold below represents modifications to the original:

The Accounting Manager downloads the market values from the investment portfolio accounting system and enters the market values into the general ledger on a monthly basis. Once the journal entry is entered, the Accounting Manager provides the market value report and a copy of the journal entry to the Controller via email. This email serves as documentation of preparation of the journal entry by the Accounting Manager. The Controller then reviews the market value report against the journal entry for accuracy. Once approved, the Controller posts the journal entry and replies to the email to indicate their review and approval. The Accounting Manager saves the email chain as auditable evidence.

The text additions in bold font help provide a complete story. A new employee could easily read this description and understand what they need to do, and how to appropriately document it. Most importantly, the internal control is both in-office and remote environment friendly.

Transitioning back to the office has resulted in a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Routine office norms, such as shaking hands and having a spontaneous meeting over a cup of coffee need to be relearned. Likewise, policies and internal controls need to be revisited to address the changing landscape. The more proactive your company can be, the better positioned it will be to accommodate its employees’ demands, while also maximizing the effectiveness of its internal controls. Please contact David Stone or Dan Vogt if any questions arise.

Original article published on August 19, 2021, https://www.berrydunn.com/news-detail/may-the-blended-workforce-be-with-you-policy-and-internal-control-considerations-for-a-new-era 

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MEREDA panel: Developers take on emerging trends in Southern Maine

The demand for mixed-use spaces is trending upwards in Southern Maine, experts shared in a panel in September.

Speaking at a Maine Real Estate and Development (MEREDA) “Morning Menu” roundtable, panelists explored current and evolving development trends throughout York County. With an influx of young professionals moving to Southern Maine, the need for rental housing is on the rise, and a focus on community-oriented, multi-use spaces remains paramount.

The panel, titled: “Southern Maine Development Trends: If You Build It, Will They Come?” was held on September 14, 2021, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland and was moderated by Craig Young, Vice President of MEREDA and Partner at The Boulos Company, a commercial real estate firm based in Maine and New Hampshire. The discussion offered insights on the latest industry movements from two developers who have been active in Southern Maine.

Port Property CEO and co-owner, Tom Watson, discussed the burgeoning demand for multi-use environments and the urgent need for rental housing, specifically within Biddeford. Speaking to Port Property’s recent project at Riverdam, Watson stressed the trending demand for “neighborhood environments” and how multi-use spaces can be developed to create “vibrant community centers.”

Acquired in 2018, Riverdam demonstrates the “momentum” of the Southern Maine region, with 71 residential units and four commercial spaces making up the 91,000 sq ft property on the Saco River. The momentum isn’t slowing down, according to Watson, who revealed details on Port Property’s latest venture into the Biddeford market: an upcoming redevelopment of another vacant mill building at 59 Elm Street. Watson highlighted the redevelopment’s location as a key to its potential growth: the 150,000-square-foot industrial building is located along the Saco River in the historic mill district adjacent to the City’s RiverWalk and planned new Pearl Street park. The site of the project offers opportunities for future mixed-use development to create a new live-work-play destination for the community.

The second panelist, Amy Cullen, shared her insights as Vice President of The Szanton Company, a Portland-based mixed-income housing developer. Cullen is also President of Saco Falls Management, The Szanton Company’s property management arm. Among the projects Cullen has managed are The Mill at Saco Falls and The Lofts at Saco Falls, two of the earliest residential redevelopments in the Biddeford-Saco mill district. Built in 2010, The Mill at Saco Falls is a “166 year-old historic textile mill building on the banks of the Saco River,” in the heart of the district.

Both panelists focused in on historic mill rehabilitation projects, underlining the importance of private/public partnerships. Cullen described Affordable Housing Tax Increment Financing as a “crucial element” in getting adaptive reuse projects off the ground, as well as state and federal historic tax credits. Referencing their work on mill renovations, both Watson and Cullen cited the assistance of historic tax credits as a “key element” in bringing these projects to development and touted their impact on not only the preservation of historic buildings, but also local economic growth. Through it all, said Cullen, “the results speak for themselves, as these projects bring a lot of vitality to Southern Maine.”

Watson and Cullen went on to exchange views on the state of commercial real estate, the rental market, and takeaways from recent projects. Both panelists expressed a positive outlook and a heightened demand for housing in the Southern Maine market, specifically within the Biddeford mill district and downtown.

As the City surges amid an economic and cultural revival, development of housing is critical for continued long-term growth and expansion.

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu –Vertical Harvest Plants a Seed in Downtown Westbrook

December 16, 2021 – 7:30 – 9:00 AM
In-Person – Masks are Required

The City of Westbrook in partnership with The Day Brothers, LLC has an exciting new mixed-use development project that will be breaking ground this Winter in the heart of its downtown. This project will be Maine’s first commercial urban vertical farm adjacent to a structure combining ground floor retail space, residential units, and a 4-level, free covered public parking garage. This dynamic new development captures Maine’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Make plans to join us in person on December 16, 2021 at the Portland Regency Hotel in Portland as our Moderator, Craig Young, Partner & Broker at The Boulos Company, and MEREDA Vice President, talks with our esteemed panel about how vertical farming is changing the landscape in an urban, sustainable and profitable model.

Joining us are Daniel Stevenson, Director of Economic and Community Development at the City of Westbrook, Nona Yehia, Co-Founder & CEO of Vertical Harvest, and Greg Day, President of The Day Brothers, LLC.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED!  No walk-ins will be allowed. 

Portland Regency Hotel
20 Milk Street
Portland, ME  04101

About the Event:

MASKS ARE REQUIRED: Due to the uncertainty with the Coronavirus Delta variant, and to protect the health and safety of our attendees and presenters, we request that ALL ATTENDEES wear a mask for the duration of the event, unless eating or drinking, and strongly encourage ALL ATTENDEES to be vaccinated.

A buffet breakfast will be available with the hotel staff serving each guest. Upon arrival, please check in, proceed to the buffet while maintaining 6’ between other guests, and go directly to your table. Coffee will be located on each table.

We will continue to follow all State & Federal CDC guidelines and suggested protocols, and will respond accordingly. Updates will be posted on our website.

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Registering for this Event:

Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 each
Prices increase by $10 after December 9

Your RSVP is requested by December 9 . Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after December 9 . 

For more information and to register, visit  https://www.mereda.org

This Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank

This event is co-sponsored by the City of Westbrook

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MEREDA’s TD Bank Sponsored Forecast Conference & Member Showcase is back and better than ever!

This year, we’ll be live, in person in a much larger venue. We are moving across Spring Street to the Cross Insurance Arena located at 1 Civic Center Square in Portland.

Two Formats:  You Choose In-Person OR Virtual.

Requirements for attendees are subject to change and we will post new updates on our website and social media. Our first priority is to keep our members, volunteers, and staff safe and we will continue to follow CDC protocols and guidelines.

Masks will be required, and with what we know currently, the Arena will be asking for proof of vaccinations with a matching ID, or a negative Covid test (up to 72 hours from event time). The arena has a state of the art HVAC system with recently upgraded filtration.

Seating options include: Distanced/reduced seating at round tables, theater style seating with 3 foot distancing, stadium seating for “make your own distancing”. All seats will have unobstructed views and our sound system will be built to produce the appropriate sound level.  All seating is first-come, first-served.

A streaming component will be available for those wishing to attend virtually.

Join us and the top minds in real estate for MEREDA’s 2022 Annual Forecast Conference and Member Showcase on January 20, 2022.  

Interested in participating as an Exhibitor? Review the opportunities by clicking HERE.
Booths are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

We look forward to starting this important new year with you!

Walk -ins will not be allowed.  To learn more and to register either for In-Person or Virtually, visit www.mereda.org.

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November Federal Advocacy Alert: Historic Tax Credit Provision

Update courtesy of Greater Portland Landmarks

Historic Tax Credit Provisions REMOVED from bill!

Last week, a new iteration of the reconciliation infrastructure bill was released and was significantly reduced in scope, excluding the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) enhancements and many other community development incentives that were in a prior bill.

With a very limited amount of time to influence the legislation and knowledge that the HTC is currently “out” of the bill, now is the time to tell your federal legislators how much HTC improvements mean to you. As we’re seeing in the national news, Congress is poised to move forward on infrastructure legislation, including a vehicle that could carry HTC provisions, as early as next week.

For months, Greater Portland Landmarks has joined preservation supporters across the country to advocate for improvements to the federal Historic Tax Credit program. It’s critically important that our members of Congress hear from YOU!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Sign the National Trust Sign-on Letter

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has organized a National Sign-on letter to encourage congressional leadership to include the HTC enhancement provisions in the final bill. Click here to sign the letter.

Continue to Reach Out to Maine’s Members of Congress

Please ask for Historic Tax Credit enhancement provisions, not included in the “Build Back Better” framework, to be included back in the final reconciliation bill.

Call the Capitol Switchboard to connect with Maine’s Members of Congress: 202.224.3121

• Introduce yourself as a constituent and provide our legislators with a message like:

“The Historic Tax Credit is the single most important tool for historic preservation. Though the HTC provisions were included in the Ways and Means bill in September, HTC provisions were not included in the recent “Build Back Better” bill. Please make sure to include the HTC provisions in the final reconciliation bill. These provisions would benefit projects from Main Street revitalizations to large-scale rehabilitation while also supporting community revitalization and climate change mitigation.”

For more information: https://www.portlandlandmarks.org/blog/federal-tax-credits-reconciliation-h25dz

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How Contractors Can Avoid 10 Common Exit Planning Mistakes

By David Jean, Principal at Albin Randall & Bennett

Exiting your business requires long-term, comprehensive planning, whether you plan to pass your company to family members, sell your interest to a partner, or sell the company to an employee group or outside buyer. As with any major planning endeavor, the path to a successful exit can present you with some roadblocks along the way. In the construction industry, planning an exit comes with its own inherent risks and potential hazards. But, with the right plan in place, you can turn things around before the hazard takes its toll. Here’s a look at how you can avoid 10 common mistakes contractors make in exiting their business.

1. Start planning early, so you can maximize your company’s transferable value.

As a contractor, the day-to-day grind can make it easy to place business matters that don’t feel urgent on the back burner. While it may feel like you have plenty of time, later often comes around sooner than you think. From planning to implementation, exiting a construction business generally takes around three to five years. One of the reasons it’s helpful to begin planning for your exit as early as possible is to increase transferable value and ensure the company’s ongoing financial health. If your company has transferable value, it means company success is not dependent on you as the owner, and a transition would cause minimal disruption to cash flow.

2. Perform a gap analysis to ensure you can meet your post-exit financial needs.

You need assurance that you will receive the amount of income you need to live comfortably after your exit, independent from future business cash flow. As you begin to prepare yourself and your business for what comes next, one of the first things you need to know is your business’s current value. By weighing that value against your projected post-exit expenses, you can calculate a baseline on which to set your growth goals ahead of your exit. And consider your options based on the type of transfer. For example, most family transfers are financed or executed over a more extended timeframe than typical third-party sales because of cash flow and liquidity needs. Depending on your financial needs, you could bridge the gap by maintaining ongoing involvement in the business or participating in profits as an owner until you receive the money you need to exit.

3. Start with in-house opportunities to increase business value.

It probably goes without saying that maximizing cash flow and minimizing costs will help you increase your company’s value. However, there are more ways to increase business value that go beyond monitoring receivables and cutting spending. Start by reviewing your existing operations for opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity. You might consider analyzing the cost against the projected time savings, revenue increases, and ultimate hike in business value you may experience by utilizing automation and efficiency-promoting software, such as job costing, project management, or customer relationship management programs. Having effective financial controls, a realistic strategic growth plan, and formally documented systems and procedures in place will also increase the value of your business.

4. Don’t underestimate the value of your key players.

Key employees hold significant responsibility for maintaining (and increasing!) your cash flow, customer and employee relationships, and day-to-day operations. Finding good help can be challenging, and maintaining a team that works in harmony is even more challenging. Key employees push several business value drivers in a successful direction, which means they play a critical role in ensuring you receive the highest possible sale price for your business. Incentive plans, such as those for non-qualified deferred compensation, stock appreciation rights, phantom stock, stock bonus, stock option, and stock purchase, go a long way in keeping employees motivated and happy, as do current and deferred cash bonuses.

5. Search for value drivers outside of the box.

For some, now may be an ideal time to acquire customer lists, inventory, equipment, or experienced staff from smaller, less adaptable companies struggling to continue since the pandemic. Obtaining these assets may lead to significant growth. Others may benefit from expanding their geographic footprint, whether on their own or as part of a joint venture or partnership. Weighing fixed costs against the capital needed and looking at market studies and area competition can help you assess your options as well as the risks involved. Advancements in technology have also provided new opportunities for vertically integrated services. Customer diversification or adding service work to supplement your contract work may be good options. Moving manufacturing, distribution, or labor management in-house or implementing prefabrication and modular construction may reduce cost, boost efficiency in resource allocation, and maximize job profitability.

6. Ensure the sale or transfer will be a “balance-sheet friendly” transaction.

All of your open jobs and contractual obligations must be met or reassigned, and the transaction that occurs when you exit your business has to be financially feasible for both you and the new owner. There are a lot of moving parts involved in making all of that happen successfully. Your plan needs to protect your assets and account for your ability to maintain appropriate liquidity leading up to and through the transfer. Business owners also want to keep any potential effects on surety, banking, and credit capacity at the forefront of their exit planning efforts. If you use debt, for example, how will that affect your loan covenants? Debt does not always fall to the new owner. It depends on whether the transfer is made through a stock or an asset sale. In addition to “traditional” debt-transfer matters, there are new ownership transfer considerations for business owners that are Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan borrowers as well.

7. Tax planning is a critical part of the process.

Careful tax planning is needed to minimize certain liabilities throughout the ownership transfer, and it’s an ongoing process. For example, in a family transfer, you need a plan to leverage opportunities over time and balance taxes from income, capital gains, gifts, and your estate. Since there is a tax rate increase on the horizon for all of those rates for high-income individuals, timing has become an integral part of minimizing tax liability as well.

8. Don’t lose your focus.

It’s too easy to let distractions or fear of the unknown lead you astray from your goals. There may be some recalibration needed as your exit plan progresses, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your exit plan. Business owners have to reevaluate their current exit timeline and make adjustments as necessary. If, for example, you have experienced changes in your business value, investments outside of your business, or other areas of personal or family financial stability, timing adjustments may be needed to maintain a feasible and successful exit.

9. Even the most solid plans require a backup.

Even an exit plan needs a backup plan to ensure appropriate wealth distribution and business continuity. There’s always room for unforeseen circumstances to offset any plan. What if your child does not possess the drive or interest to carry the business? What if something happens to you before the plan comes to fruition? What if the deal you were counting on falls through? It pays off to be prepared with Plan B, no matter how confident you are in Plan A.

10. Find the right professional team.

Exit planning is a multifaceted process, to say the least. Business owners exiting their companies need access to trusted guidance on everything from business valuation, organizational development, profitability improvement, and strategic planning to asset protection, business continuity, and tax minimization. Since no one person can be a specialist in everything, business owners really need a collaborative team.

As Certified Public Accountants, the Altus Exit Strategies team members bring the financial consulting and tax expertise of a public accounting firm to the exit planning process. As a Certified Exit Planner, I bring together and lead exit planning teams that include lawyers and other financial and professional advisors. Together, we help business owners create comprehensive exit plans that help them ensure strong legacies and reach successful exits. Contact me today to start your exit plan.

Article originally published on June 29, 2021, https://arbcpa.com/how-contractors-can-avoid-10-common-exit-planning-mistakes/ 

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu – Third Quarter Residential Market Check-In

November 16, 2021 – 7:30 – 9:00 AM
In-Person – Masks are Required

To say it’s been a crazy year for the residential market is a bit of an understatement. Make plans to join us in person on November 16, 2021 at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland for a look back at what transpired in this sizzling hot market this past year, and hear some predictions for the close of 2021.

Joining us are Chris Lynch, President & Designated Broker of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, Mike LePage, Managing Broker at Portside Real Estate Group, and Debra Abbondanza, VP, Regional Sales Manager at Bangor Savings Bank.

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED!  No walk-ins will be allowed. 

Holiday Inn By the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME

About the Event:

MASKS ARE REQUIRED: Due to the uncertainty with the Coronavirus Delta variant, and to protect the health and safety of our attendees and presenters, we request that ALL ATTENDEES wear a mask for the duration of the event, unless eating or drinking, and strongly encourage ALL ATTENDEES to be vaccinated.

A buffet breakfast will be available with the Holiday Inn By the Bay staff serving each guest. Upon arrival, please check in, proceed to the buffet while maintaining 6’ between other guests, and go directly to your table. Coffee will be located on each table.

We will continue to follow all State & Federal CDC guidelines and suggested protocols, and will respond accordingly. Updates will be posted on our website.

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Registering for this Event:

Members: $45 each | Non-Members: $55 each
Prices increase by $10 after November 9

Your RSVP is requested by November 9 . Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after November 9 . 

For more information and to register, visit  http://www.mereda.org

This Morning Menu Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank

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Capital Markets: Where do we stand and where are we going?

By Jon Rizzo, Partner, The Boulos Company

As we stand today, investment properties are in high demand, which is a result of low interest rates and pent-up demand from the investment community. With prime investment opportunities moving quickly, staying aware of what product is available, knowing how to get creative to find deals, and keeping ahead of the market’s trajectory can all make the difference between procuring your next project or missing out on it entirely.

Product

It’s all about finding product. By that, I mean the right properties for your clients looking for investment deals. Solid investment properties are extremely hard to come by in the New England market at this time. Even if a property hits the market at a low capitalization rate (“cap rate”), money is still cheap to borrow and investors can live with the spread between money borrowed and income received from the property. It isn’t uncommon to see properties trade consistently at a sub-7% cap rate. We are seeing solid industrial and multi-family deals trade in the sub-6% cap rate range. There are clearly exceptions to this, but supply is tight and demand is high.  For these competitive situations, looking at value add to “juice the yield” is what can be a tipping point for an investor to pursue a property or pass on it.

Property owners who know they are sitting on a great property are also shooting for record high sale prices.  If a buyer is willing to pay the asking price, the issue for the seller now becomes one of where to exchange the proceeds.  With the potential of 1031 tax-deferred exchanges being eliminated, this may accelerate the decision to sell the property now – but the challenge remains in finding an appropriate exchange property.  That is where getting creative can help.

Getting Creative

So what can we do as advisors to help our clients find the right opportunities?  It’s about being creative.  We are seeing properties sell in certain sectors at record pricing (think industrial and multi-family).  With rents being pushed to record numbers as well, these sale prices seem justifiable.  Understanding building and market fundamentals is extremely important to ensure that the investment is still sound if we were to see a dip in the market or activity.

Can an underutilized building be prime for a conversion into a different product type?  Think office to industrial or office to multi-family.  The property may check off all of the boxes as it relates to location, access, construction type, etc., but because we are seeing limited office demand, can we reposition this building to meet the demand in these two sectors.  Having a grasp on construction costs, zoning, permitting, approval timeframes, and demographic information is what The Boulos Company can advise on and assist with during this process.

Mark-to-Market

Additionally, if a property is currently rented at an under-market price point, is there a chance to mark-to-market once the lease expires?  Can a property that has a short lease term remaining be overlooked by most buyers and be a diamond-in-the-rough type opportunity?

Understanding inventory that is coming available, market rents, tenants in the market, and competitive buildings is key to taking advantage of an underutilized or under-rented opportunity in the market.  Working with an advisor can give clients a leg up, as this is the space we live in daily.

Where are we going?

It seems as though we have been singing the same tune for the last few years.  “Interest rates have to go up soon.” “The market can’t keep pushing record highs for this long.”  However, unless interest rates increase fairly significantly or property owners start feeling some pressure in underperforming sectors, we will likely continue on this trend of limited supply with increased demand.  We, as advisors, will need to continue to get creative to find those solutions for our clients.  Our clients will likely have to take on a bit more risk than they’d like to take on in order to win deals.  Again, it falls back to having a strategy in place to “check the boxes” for their investment criteria and sticking to that plan.

Article originally published on September 30, 2021 – https://boulos.com/capital-markets-where-do-we-stand-and-where-are-we-going/

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Like-Kind Exchanges Present a Number of Tax Deferral Options Part 3 of 3

By S. Andrew Smith, CPA, Principal, Baker Newman Noyes

This article is the last in a 3-part series on the mechanics and tax benefits of Like Kind Exchanges

In Part I of our series of articles we covered some of the recent legislative changes to the §1031 rules and discussed the simplest form of a like-kind exchange, which is the rare simultaneous exchange. In Part II of our series, we highlighted the most common type of exchange used in the real estate world: the delayed exchange. In Part III below, we conclude the series by addressing the “reverse exchange.”

Reverse Exchange

Until now we have discussed simultaneous exchanges and acquisitions that follow sales. The last type of exchange involves acquisitions that precede sales.

With reverse exchanges, taxpayers have identified assets they wish to acquire but the acquisition will make other assets they own redundant. A §1031 transaction can be used in this case, but will require both a qualified intermediary (“QI”) and an exchange accommodation titleholder (“EAT”). The EAT is used to acquire (and sometimes operate) the replacement property until the exchange can be completed following the sale of the other property. Often, the EAT consists of a single-member LLC established and owned by the QI solely for that transaction.

To qualify as reverse exchange, the relinquished property generally must be sold within 180 days of the EAT acquiring the replacement property (the “safe harbor” method). Sometimes a party will engage a QI/EAT to acquire the property and the taxpayer simply cannot sell its own property during that window. Under certain circumstances, §1031 treatment may still apply, but only if a “burdens and benefits” test outlined in Revenue Procedure 2000-37 is met. Build to suit construction projects sometimes meet this criterion, and thereby qualify without the need for the safe harbor method.

Delayed reverse exchanges can be extremely complicated and as a result are quite costly to administer – particularly those falling outside the safe harbor. They require the QI, accountants, attorneys, and often lenders to work together on the taxpayer’s behalf to ensure the transaction is successful. Therefore, they tend to be utilized only when the tax benefits are significant or when other types of exchanges are unavailable.

Application/Conclusion

The §1031 like-kind exchange provisions can defer gain and taxes under a number of scenarios. This series of articles has highlighted the various types of §1031 transactions available to taxpayers. A taxpayer’s goal to defer the taxes resulting from a sale usually can be accomplished with advance planning and proper expert advice. Where there is a will, there is a way, but it often requires some trade-offs and concessions.

To defer 100% of the gain, receipt of boot cannot accompany the exchange property. That means a taxpayer is unable to defer all of the gain AND pull some cash or equity out of the sale. To avoid boot, the value of the replacement property must exceed that of the relinquished property. Perfect matching is uncommon, so taxpayers often seek like-kind exchanges only when “trading up.” However, the presence of boot does not prevent application of §1031, and partial deferral can still be of value. There is no limit to the number of properties allowed to be relinquished or acquired as part of the exchange, and recall that nearly all business, investment or rental real estate, developed or not, generally will be considered of like kind one to another – including real estate located in separate states. Savvy taxpayers and their advisors who think creatively may be able to exchange a warehouse for a beachfront condo or a retail strip mall for a multi-unit residential building. Changing locales, industries, or usage types can allow taxpayers to diversify and reduce risk without paying a tax “toll charge.”

These variables, applied to the different methods of deferral explained above, give a property owner many opportunities to defer taxes, and the astute taxpayer or real estate professional will not overlook them.

S. Andrew Smith is a Tax Principal at Baker Newman Noyes specializing in closely held business and real estate transactions. He has advised on numerous Section 1031 transactions. If you think a like-kind exchange is something that could benefit you, please contact Andy at asmith@bnncpa.com.

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