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Hotel Lawyer on 2012: A good year to buy a hotel (and a bad year, if your hotel note is due)

3 February 2012

While no one has a crystal ball to accurately predict the future of the hospitality industry, Eric Stossel, Managing Editor of Lodging Hospitality has the next best thing: access to experts and insiders who have their fingers on the pulse of the industry. I was recently interviewed by Eric, along with other hospitality practitioners, for one of his articles that forecast the year ahead (see Capital Markets Key to Hotel Real Estate Rebound).

There was plenty of prognosticating going on by pundits at the ALIS conference in Los Angeles this week, as well, and I took a lot of notes. Here’s what the experts think the hospitality world will look like in 2012.


  • The fundamentals are looking good. Three top industry researchers presented information at ALIS that forecast positive growth for the hospitality industry in 2012: STR’s Jan Freitag estimated growth at 4.2 percent growth, PKF’s Mark Woodworth pegged it at 5.4 percent and Suzanne Mellon, with HVS at 6.5 percent.
  • Supply growth is at an historic low, lifting occupancy and rate across the board.
  • Experienced investors will continue to buy notes and distressed assets.
  • The transactions market is stabilizing — equity funds, existing owners, and people with strong financial relationships will begin to do more acquisitions.
  • The top 25 and top 50 markets will begin to look attractive again, as recovery and purchases move down the food chain and into secondary and tertiary markets.
  • For those who are positioned correctly, it will be a very good year to buy a hotel.

Challenges Remain

  • The flagging debt market is hampering developers who are straining at the bit, and borrowers desperate for replacement capital.
  • The specter of defaults and foreclosures is looming larger for those that borrowed in the abundant years of 2006 and 2007. Those CMBS loans will begin to hit the market this year.
  • Franchisors are demanding that long-delayed PIP (Property Improvement Plan) requirements are implemented, but financing for these improvements is difficult to obtain.

While these challenges are real, and will affect some hotel owners more than others, the overall trends point to steady growth and improvement throughout the industry. As I told Eric Stossel, “We’re nowhere near the peak, but we are approaching some long term norms in 2012 and beyond.”

You may want to read the following Hotel Law Blog articles:

Seller representations and warranties in a hotel purchase agreement — What are the big issues today?

How to buy a hotel — What you don’t know about undocumented workers could really hurt you!

HOW TO BUY A HOTEL Handbook: Franchise issues in hotel purchase and sale transactions

5 Things to remember when buying hotel notes

Hotel Lawyer on 2012: A good year to buy a hotel (and a bad year, if your hotel note is due)

Hotel Lending: “NOW” could be the best time for hotel lending in 20 years

Buying a Hotel? Don’t buy an ADA lawsuit or DOJ Investigation

Hotel Lawyer: So,You Think You Want to Buy a Hotel?

With a team of hotel veterans who have been through every cycle since the 1980s, have been through more than 1,000 workouts, bankruptcies and receiverships, and wrote the book on troubled hotel loans (The Lenders Handbook), we have a few thoughts to guide you safely on this journey.

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $87 billion of hotel transactions and have developed innovative solutions to unlock value from hotels. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent hotel lenders, owners and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $125 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 4,700 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or +1 (310) 201-3526.

Jim Butler is a founding partner of JMBM, and Chairman of its Global Hospitality Group® and Chinese Investment Group®. Jim is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.

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