As a private lender, we are unique in that we underwrite all our loan transactions in house (we do not require appraisals since one of the partners inspects all properties we lend on). Since we do not rely on appraisals, we are in allot of different areas evaluating both residential and commercial properties. I drive over 30k miles in Colorado looking at properties from Denver to more remote locations ( Walden, pagosa springs, etc…). Sure we pull comparables just like an appraiser, but we also have found that one of the best ways to evaluate a property is to get out of the car and take a walk (or in my case a run) of the surrounding neighborhood. Most people think that walking the neighborhood is only important on a residential property. It is equally important on a commercial property. There are 3 items I always look for when walking a commercial property
I walk (or sometimes run) near every property before making a loan and recently had a close encounter on one of my inspections. I was in Telluride, CO (SW Colorado ski town) looking at a commercial building and was scheduled to inspect the property mid day so thought I would get up early and see what was going on in the market. It was a beautiful cool mountain morning with the sun just starting to rise. I strapped on my running shoes for a route through downtown and then decided to take a little detour to some waterfalls above the town (see pic below) to see the sunrise on an old mining trail. It is a pretty challenging technical trail with lots of rocks about a mile out of town. I was the only one on the trail. Due to the trail conditions I was looking down as the trail was pretty steep and foot placement was challenging. As I rounded a bend I I felt something close… real close.. I could hear it breathing and it was large; I look up and am face to face with a black bear. He was maybe three or four feet from me, he had popped up over the ridge onto the trail and I almost ran right into him. He was close enough to reach out and swipe me with his paws. My adrenaline is racing as I struggled to stop quickly and not fall forward as the bear stood up on his rear legs to check me out and sniff the air. Both the bear and myself felt we were way to close for comfort. All I had was my cell phone which wasn’t going to help much (no coverage, brought it to see how long I was running). I quickly realize that I am a member of the food chain (and not at the top).
The situation was going to get bad real quick as the bear looked pretty agitated and was not happy about seeing me this close. Although I’ve read allot about what to do in a bear encounter, I wasn’t convinced that the advice was not just a theory and someone had actually tested it out. Standing within a few feet of the bear, I begin talking in a soft voice and attempting to back down the hill; the trail follows a ridge so there was a drop-off below; getting to the downhill side was a bit precarious. The bear is still on his hind legs checking me out throughout the encounter and sniffing the air. After I get a little farther to the downhill side of the trail, he finally figures I’m not a threat and retreats a little ( I was able to get a pic of him after I was out of the danger zone, not great since he was up the hill, above in the aspen grove). As he goes up the hill he stands up one last time (it was pretty wild as it looked like he was waving goodbye). The whole experience lasted a couple of minutes. So the million dollar question, what did I do after the bear left…like any good trail runner, I waited a few more minutes and continued up the trail giving the bear plenty of time to go on his merry way.
5 tips for a black bear encounter; I’ve had the pleasure of trying out two and three (I have a friend who is a ranger and provided info on the others)
1) Try to prevent an encounter, unfortunately sometimes they are unavoidable like in the situation above, but many can be prevented by announcing yourself when you are going through tall brush or other areas where a bear might not see you. I frequently go into the backcountry with my wife and kids, on our kids I put some bear bells on the back of their packs to help.
2) Slowly get to the downhill side of the trail, bears typically want to go uphill and feel threatened with something above them
3) Talk calmly to the bear so that he knows you are not a threat
4) Carry bear spray, if the above fail and the bear is close shoot a couple short bursts if they do not retreat
5) If all else fails and you don’t have bear spray (and the bear is a black bear) fight back (grizzly play dead and protect you head), fortunately never got to try this one out myself
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