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When an Office Building Sells, Tenants Pay

Sacramento CA: About a week ago, 621 Capitol Mall sold for $161,000,000. This amounts to $439 per square foot; nearly $100 a square foot more than what Wells Fargo Center sold for 14 months ago. 621 Capitol Mall (aka US Bank Tower) was built in 2008 and is home to Downey Brand, US Bank and Nossaman LLP. KP Public Affairs is moving into 16,000 square feet in March.

This sale is a significant validation for the Sacramento commercial real estate market because the price is significantly higher than the average, and this is Shorenstein’s first purchase in the Sacramento Market. Shorenstein, based in San Francisco,  is one of the country’s most prolific, opportunistic institutional investors.

When an office building sells for a price significantly higher than its assessed value, the Property’s tax basis goes up. In this case, the previous assessed value was $122 million – soon to increase to $161 million.

The tenants are responsible for increases in expenses over and above its Base Year, and this includes property taxes. The Base Year is typically the year a tenant’s lease commences. With this recent sale, the assessed value increases by approximately $40 million. Property taxes are approximately 1.15% so the property tax bill will go up by $460,000 or $1.25 a foot per year. Therefore every tenant in 621 CM will pay 10 cents a foot more in rent to cover this increase in property taxes.

Unless you are a special tenant (special meaning: large, Fortune 100, or the public sector) you are probably going to pay more rent when your building sells. So when looking for a new property, consider the ownership’s goals for the building. For example, if they have owned the building for 3 to five years and the market has appreciated considerably, there is a chance that the owner will sell the building during your lease term. And if it sells for a big number, you are probably going to be picking up a bigger portion of the tax tab.

If you have specific questions about your current lease, the assessed value of the building you are in and what your possible exposure is, I can help.  Please feel free to call me at (916) 761-1202 or email me at tom@baconcre.com.

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