Moore Joins New Wisinski Effort

November 8, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Cyril Moore has come out of retirement to join Stan Wisinski and Michael Cagen in a new real estate investment division at S.J. Wisinski & Co., the region’s largest commercial broker.

Moore, one of the city’s best known certified public accountants, retired from BDO Seidman LLP in June after spending 36 years in the accounting field. He comes to S.J. Wisinski as a senior executive consultant.

“He brings us over 36 years of financial experience and numerous contacts within the business community that will be vital to our formation of commercial real estate investment opportunities,” said Wisinski.

“Working in conjunction with our affiliated companies, our goal is to make available diversified commercial real estate investments, both directly through the use of partnerships and LLCs,” he added. “We will make these investments available to investors who are looking to balance their portfolios.”

Moore told the Business Journal that he hasn’t really un-retired. Instead he said that when he retired he did so with the idea of doing something else — something that required fewer hours and less travel.

After talking with Wisinski for a few months, Moore decided that joining the brokerage firm would give him a chance to do something different and allow him to use his expertise in a field that interests him — namely, real estate investment.

“There is an easy way, but not a better way, for people to invest in real estate. The only way most people can do that is through Real Estate Investment Trusts, and some of those don’t have the best reputation and haven’t been doing real well,” said Moore.

“As part of my own portfolio, I wanted to get more into real estate.”

At first Moore thought he would put together his own firm that would specialize in that area, but then Wisinski told him that he was considering doing the same. So Moore got his real estate license and recently joined Wisinski.

“We’re in a position now that Stan and I are working together and we’ve identified a lot of people that want to get into real estate investment as passive investors, and now we just need to find some good properties to put them into,” he said.

“Hopefully, with Stan’s reputation in real estate and my reputation in the financial area, we’ll be able to do well for the investors. And both Stan and I are pretty conservative, as well,” said Moore.

What should help the new division succeed is that S.J. Wisinski already has a property-management arm to take care of the details involved in running a building that passive investors don’t want to be bothered with as owners.

Another should be the current investor interest in real estate, which has climbed over the past year due to the market decline and corporate scandals at major corporations. Moore and Wisinski feel the desire to own property will only grow because investors need to diversify, especially as Wall Street and the economy continue to sputter.

But at the same time, Moore admits that investing in real estate is tougher to do than buying equity shares. He has noticed that investors wanting to diversify have put up to 15 percent of their dollars into a single project. Doing that, he said, is not actually diversifying; rather, it’s like buying a large amount of shares of one company.

“You’ve got to diversify within real estate. Our idea is if someone wants to put $500,000 into real estate, we would put them into five different real estate limited liability corporations that own five different pieces of real estate — say, in industrial, in retail and residential,” said Moore. “That way they spread their risk in real estate, too.”

So the bottom-line mission of the new S.J. Wisinski division is to help investors diversify by investing in real estate, and then coax them to diversify their real estate holdings.

Why put such an emphasis on diversification? Because buying property can often be as risky as purchasing stocks, and investors need some guidance.

“What we want to do is identify properties that have tenants currently and whoever wants to sell it has a reason to, or to identify companies who want to do a sale-and-lease-back,” said Moore. “Those are pretty safe investments because we know who the tenant is. But it’s still risky.”           

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