Thursday, March 24, 2016

Appraisal of a Resort near Victoria, British Columbia


This was an appraisal done for financial reporting purposes for a Chinese corporation that acquired the resort 2 years previously.
 
Chinese investors have already bid up the Vancouver housing market to prices unaffordable to most Canadians. I even have a Chinese friend who owns three Vancouver condos while he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
 
Some Chinese investors are now competing with Canadian investors for commercial real estate. Capitalization rates for British Columbia hotels have dropped by half since 2003 (from 12 to 14% to 6 to 8%).  The BC tourist industry has particularly benefited from the until-recent growing oil wealth of western Canada, particularly Alberta.
 
View from my room
 
The subject property is a 5-star bayside resort on Vancouver Island with a restaurant, bar, spa and marina. Guests were observed to be middle-aged couples, presumably Canadian (who else would vacation in Canada in March?), and the ambiance of the resort makes it a good place for “second honeymoons”. Management is by Canadian professionals. In the two years under new ownership, net operating income has increased by almost 5%, with higher gains in gross revenues, occupancy and operating profit.
 
What is unique about this resort, though, is that only 30% of revenues come from room revenues. 53.5% of revenues come from food and beverage operations, which for most hotels normally have low profit margins or are even loss leaders. In this case, though, the profit margin on food and beverage operations exceeded 28%; the food was excellent, and the hotel often serves as a venue for weddings and other community events. The spa contributed another 12% of revenues and the marina contributed about 6% (but was the department with the highest profit margins).
 
I found it unusual that I was hired by an appraisal firm that was hired by another appraisal firm. Perhaps the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is intent upon truly independent valuations, which I would applaud. On this blog I have been critical in the past about the Singapore Stock Exchange, which seems to let corporations hire any appraisal whore that they choose.
 
The financial statements seemed to conform to the new Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry. I was presented, however, with excerpts from another appraisal done by an unknown appraiser as of the same valuation date. This appraiser was of the opinion that the hotel had appreciated 48% in value in the previous two years, despite only a 5% increase in NOI. I had no details of the appraiser’s income approach, which is the approach I generally rely on for profitable hotels, but I suspect that this appraiser did not adjust the income and expense statements for “reserves for replacement” for FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) and other building components, which I generally see estimated at between 3 and 5.5% of gross revenues for hotels. The general manager of the subject hotel even estimated 4% “CapEx” for the subject resort.
 
The other appraiser’s sales comparison approach was an abomination. The simplest way of comparing hotels is on a “price per room” basis, but this works best for limited service motels which earn their revenues substantially from room rentals. All of the comparable sales prices he used were inflated and incorrect, which would have been easily verified by going on-line to British Columbia’s free land registry web site: http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca , where real estate sales are publicly recorded. Although publicly recorded sales of BC hotels have been as high as $275,000 per room in the last two years, this appraiser made awkward adjustments (up to 100%) to justify a value of $533,333 per room, without considering that this resort’s restaurant, bar, spa and marina operations accounted for much of the value of the resort.

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