There really is a secret to a good abstract and, I apologize in advance because it will sound a little patronizing at first, it is to read the lease and fill out the abstract. Seriously? It does sound patronizing, doesn’t it? But, it is very obvious reviewing an abstract that has been completed using the more common method – complete the abstract by finding the information in the lease.
Is there a difference? Absolutely. The common method is one we refer to as “hunt and peck.” You need to fill out the co-tenancy section in the abstract, you go looking in the lease. And, then, when you find it, you may do a cut and paste of the entire section. Is that portion of the abstract complete? It will absolutely look like it. You have four or five paragraphs related to cotenancy. However, is it really complete? Odd are – no.
When you read a lease and complete and abstract, you read through parts of the lease that apply to many different sections. For example – the definition of Shopping Center and the definition of Gross Leasable Area. Whether the Shopping Center is defined to include all of the anchors, or the outparcels, or the adjacent wholesale club may impact a tenant’s tax or CAM or insurance calculation. Or whether the landlord is even required to provide common area liability or property insurance on a parcel. It may impact an exclusive. If Gross Leasable Area is defined as something like the ground floor area of the shopping center, or as the area available to lease to retail tenants may impact whether that second floor office space or the hotel or multi-family space in the center is included.
A good abstract takes the information from various parts of the lease and dispenses it throughout the abstract to where it is needed. Think about a clause that might state that the tenant has the right to terminate the lease after the fifth lease year if sales are less than $500/sf. A good abstract will address whether an initial partial lease year is or is not the first lease year. It will take that $500/sf and consider whether a lease for a 2,600 sf space but is based upon 2,500 sf should apply the $500/sf to 2,600 sf or 2,500 sf.
A hunt and peck of either of those two abstract sections might get you a couple of paragraphs each, but may not address those other factors that truly change the requirements.
If you read through the lease, you may see the requirement that the landlord is required to paint the interior of an anchor tenant’s premises once every ten years, and you can plan for it. If you are doing a “hunt and peck” abstract, there may not be a spot on the abstract requesting such a requirement, which may lead to a nasty surprise when the tenant asks the landlord to fulfill its obligation and you find that you will be $250k off in the budget.
It may seem like semantics – “read the lease and complete the abstract” vs “complete the abstract by finding the information on the lease.” But, it makes all of the difference in the world.
This blog is not intended as a recruiting tool. However, if you see those two statements as more than semantics, and you are one of the odd few that truly enjoys reading leases, you should probably be with us! And, if you can see and appreciate the difference between the two statements but really don’t want to read the leases, we are here for you!