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Things are tough all over, eh...so what do you do?

I know and hear that people with money are buying where prudent. This is notwithstanding more recession fears, Fannie and Freddie, huge numbers of retail store closings (including a Steve & Barry's BK and probable liquidation), record gas prices, war...good grief, is anything going well? And Anheuser Busch is going to be owned by WHO???

(Speaking of ICSC and retail BKs, here's a nifty little summary of the BK process after reform, which some say is just in time for landlords and other say leads to liquidations because of a lack of time to decide which leases to reject and keep.)

As we have all said countless times, real estate is about location. So if you only make money by buying, selling and leasing, and you can find a panicked or distressed seller (not as easy as it seems, bucko), then it is your business call. I can give you a few legal thoughts I see in my crystal ball.

First, involve your lawyer at the letter of intent stage, not once the main points are covered. We can make suggestions that might make your life easier.

Remember that unless you are a cash buyer your lender will drive the deal. Transactions are getting delayed a lot lately because of due diligence, committee approvals and just plain slowness, and you will need flexibility to meet your lender's needs.

Make sure your seller commits to obtaining high thresholds of estoppels and SNDAs that your lender requires (or negotiate this with your lender if posssible). Get as long of a financing contingency as you can. (Yes, the days of no free looks, no contingencies and close in fifteen days are gone for now.)

Find ways to get your earnest money back if a lender bails or significant problems arise. Be prepared for material changes that may occur during due diligence or the period between due diligence and the closing, such as tenant blowouts, bankruptcies and other similar issues.

Finally, be patient. Rome was not built in a day and, as we've said before, the real property market is probably not going to completely collapse (in which event I'll be out of a job and going back to graduate school or something!) Don't expect to find bargains on every street corner. (Also, this is just a summary of a few salient points. Keep that disclaimer in the sidebar in mind when reading this.)

P.S. If you are a seller, you ave legal issues of your own to consider, and perhaps I can cover that another time.