President & CEO, America’s Realty LLC
In the past 40 years, Carl Verstandig has gone from a stock boy at his family’s local Baltimore grocery store to amassing an enormous real estate portfolio of over 12 million square feet. Carl started off in the retail space working at his family’s local grocery store. Growing up, Carl lived in an apartment above the store in downtown Baltimore. By working with his family he learned firsthand how to run every aspect of a business. After graduating college in 1976, Carl and his partner opened up their first grocery store called Kash and Karry. The grocery store grew from one location to 35 locations throughout the DC-Baltimore region and into three different chains (Kash and Karry, Warehouse Food Markets and Food Town). The grocery business was sold in 1986.
With his vast knowledge of the grocery and service industry, Carl ventured into opening small boutique groceries throughout Baltimore. His first store was an old converted 7-11 site. He purchased the real estate and opened his first store. Carl realized that he could make more money by selling the business, retaining the real estate and collecting rent. This has since blossomed into a $1,000,000,000 real estate portfolio.
Carl started his company, America’s Realty, LLC 28 years ago with the development of a 40,000 square feet Parkville, MD shopping center which he still owns today. Carl and his investors are long term owners – in the 30 years that Carl has been in the business he sold only three centers. Carl also has had the same core group of investors since he started the business.
America’s Realty, LLC is a blue collar shopping center acquisition firm. They purchase in markets that are supported by middle-class Americans. Carl believes that no matter where the US economy falls, there is always a strong demand for “discount” retail. Carl has very strong relationships with a number of blue collar establishments, including Variety Wholesalers, Dollar General, Food Lion, Save-a-Lot, Cato Clothing, and Ollie’s. Some of these companies have locations in a number of Carl’s properties and follow him as he buys new centers.
Carl’s strategy for buying property is purchasing partially vacant centers at an 10-11 cap, based on current income. During due diligence Carl reaches out to his rolodex of national retailers to gauge their interest in leasing space at the center. If Carl is not able to pre-lease 80% of the center during due diligence he will not buy the center. Carl will fill in the remaining space with local tenants after the national retailers have moved in. This way he can demand a higher rent from the local retailers.
Carl has a strong philosophy that in exchange for the retailers building out their own space he will give them rental concessions. He believes that if the tenant has “skin” in their space, they will renew their lease when the time comes and that they also in a sense become a “partner” in the center. Carl has learned that tenants who build out their own space also take better care of their space as well as in the center since they have money invested in the asset. This strategy works well, as the overall portfolio is 95% leased.
Besides his belief in purchasing at the right price and being able to lease the space, another key to his success is running a very lien office. Currently, there are 30 employees in the corporate office. All centers that are located within 400 miles of Baltimore are managed out of the corporate office. The remaining centers are managed by local third-party management companies. All national tenants’ leases are negotiated by Carl and his team in the office. The “mom and pop” space is leased by local leasing companies who have better connections with the smaller area retailers.
Carl’s vision and philosophy, together with his personality and sterling reputation, has created an empire that sustained every cycle of the economy with incredible success and stability. He is poised to continue leading the industry at lightning speed as the future shines brightly on the retail industry and economy as a whole.
Carl Verstandig launched America’s Realty, LLC in 1990 with the purchase of a 40,000 square foot Shopping center located in Parkville, Maryland. Today, Carl operates America’s Realty along with son, Steven Verstandig, and the original group of investors from 30 plus years ago.
America’s Realty is a blue-collar shopping center acquisition firm. Carl purchases in a market that supports our hard-working middle class. He believes there is a strong demand for discounted retail. The core tenants of America’s Realty include Variety Wholesalers who trade as Roses Department Stores and Maxway Stores, Ollie’s Good Stuff Cheap, Dollar General, Food Lion, Home Depot, Giant Eagle, Advanced Auto Parts, Auto Zone, Pebbles Department Store, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Save A Lot, and Cato Clothing. Most of these retailers have multiple locations with America’s Realty and follow Carl as he purchases new shopping centers. Carl also welcomes current local businesses and startup businesses to lease space with America’s Realty.
By purchasing centers where the big-ticket retailers have pulled out and filling those large units with retailers offering affordable merchandise, Carl feels America’s Realty helps the economy and increases job opportunities locally.