Sonia Bain, partner, Bryan Cave LLP
The M&A market is showing signs of revitalization in 2013, and real estate is the sector to watch, according to international law firm Bryan Cave LLP's most recent hire Sonia Bain. Over the years, she has held various leadership positions at several firms, including Troutman Sanders LLP, Parker Chapin LLP (which merged with Troutman Sanders in 2005) and Fischbein Badillo Wagner in 2000. During that time, she has worked on deals for Donald Trump, developer Leonard Litwin and others. Most recently, Bain headed the legal team representing a national retailer on its investments in New York. A 20-year law veteran focusing on commercial real estate, including the negotiation of leases and joint venture agreements, Bain also handles acquisitions, dispositions, financing and building conversions including residential, commercial and mixed-use properties. Mergers & Acquisitions caught up with Bain shortly after her arrival at Bryan Cave.
What dynamics have changed in the real estate sector in 2013?
I think there will be continued activity in the metro markets - New York, San Francisco and Washington DC - despite a continued rise in property values and taxes, in general. The interest in those markets will continue from the big players and foreign money, especially while interest rates remain low. However, the high prices for properties in these "hot" markets just may force many investors to reconsider their strategies and look at properties in the secondary and tertiary real estate markets. Another difference that I think we may see this year is an increase from the last few years in construction and development projects across the country. There seems to be a lot more construction financing options available than in the recent past and many more shovels ready to hit the ground.
Do you expect the rebound in real estate to continue?
Yes. I expect the rebound to continue across the country because interest rates remain low. The secondary and tertiary markets across the country are getting attention because investors are starting to get sticker shock in the metro-market sector because prices for properties are rising to record highs. Also, the investor pool seems to be made up of more sophisticated investors that are looking at investments for long-term holds. This strategy is not just popular, but necessary. First, lenders are looking to established, sophisticated borrowers who have the ability to hold onto, manage and operate their properties for longer terms. Second, prices in most markets, outside of the major cities, are not rising at a rate that makes sense for investors to look to short-term gains.
Why did you recently join Bryan Cave?
I joined Bryan Cave because of the amazing depth of its real estate group in New York and across the firm nationally, and internationally. With strong and very reputable zoning, tax, environmental, financing and private equity practices, Bryan Cave has a platform I know will serve my existing clients and practice very well.
For more real estate coverage, see our April 2013 cover story "Beyond Location."
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