Leased corporate real estate is about to undergo a massive change that will fundamentally shift how real estate is viewed by senior management and challenge CRE professionals to support their organization like never before.
Did that get your attention? If not, maybe this will…
In 2012, the International Accounting Standards and the Financial Accounting Boards will, “utilize a completely new model for lease accounting under which lessee’s rights and obligations under all leases, existing and new, would be capitalized on the balance sheet” according to a recently published white paper entitled, “The overhaul of lease accounting: Catalyst for change in corporate real estate” authored by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Real Estate Advisory Services National Practice Leader, Xavier Menendez.
I know what you’re thinking, yawn, yawn, yawn, “I’m a CRE professional and this is an accounting issue.” Wrong! I’m hoping this post will get you to sit up and take notice, research the new standard and proactively approach your organization’s CFO/Controller to discuss how your organization might prepare for these changes.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers document highlights that the new lease accounting standard will:
- Eliminate off-balance sheet accounting – assets currently leased under operating leases will be brought onto the balance sheet
- Replace straight-line rent expense with interest expense
- Recognize and carry leases at an amortized cost based on the present value of payment to be made over the term of the lease
- Include optional renewal periods that are more likely than not expected to be exercised and include contingent amounts for percentage rent or CPI increases
- Impact lease renewal and contingent rents by being continually reassessed, and the related estimates trued up as facts and circumstances change
- Require significant systems and process changes at adoption date and maintenance on an ongoing basis
- Not permit pre-existing leases to be grandfathered
The implications will place real estate front and center in the CFO/Controller’s cross hair when the cost and value of these leases are realized. It is likely that many functions now being managed in the RE/FM Department will be assumed by the Finance Department. And, rightfully so given the amount of risk exposure a large leased portfolio has to an organization. The new standard will have a greater impact on retailers and banks that rely heavily on leased facilities to support their operations but it will affect all leased facilities.
Don’t wait to get the memo. Start assembling financial information and lease abstracts, get your information systems in order and document your controls, procedures & processes. Reexamine everything and anticipate how you might alter your corporate real estate strategy to address the tax considerations, operational, economic, regulatory, intercompany, governance, budgetary and financing issues.
What have you heard about these evolving standards? How do you think the new lease accounting standards will impact your corporate real estate strategy?