My husband and I invested in a TIC situation, one of thirty investors in what was technically a security, but with the only asset (besides some cash on hand) being a large commercial building. We had approached Graham Williams of Williams Palmer in
Bellevue, WA because he was a Certified Financial Planner, and we knew that the law is very clear that a CFP owes his clients to act in their best interest, even when he sells them an investment and does not provide the traditional
services of a CFP, as was the case here. We specifically sought this protection.
Graham Williams singled out one property that he strongly recommended. He assured us that
due diligence had been done by Pacific West (the broker-dealer) on the building in which we were investing. He repeated
this point when we asked why the fees pocketed by various parties were so high, stating that much of it was going towards the cost of extensive, thorough due diligence. We had owned real estate before, and thus assumed that structural engineers and other construction professionals would be crawling into narrow spaces and climbing on the roof, among other things.
Fast forward a few years later, after we had lost the entire investment and found ourselves in arbitration hearings. When pressed about due diligence, Tony Pizelo, the president of Pacific West, stated that the only physical due
diligence done on the building had been done via Google Earth. Thats correct! Pacific West was purchasing a large
commercial building on behalf of 30 investors and did not deem it necessary to have qualified professionals assess the physical soundness of the building. So clearly, Graham Williams was professing that very thorough due diligence had been done without having assured himself that it had, and obviously without having reviewed any such due diligence, since it did not exist; or worse, knowing full well that no physical due diligence had been done, but actively choosing to state the
opposite and strongly encouraging us to invest in this property; probably assuming (rightfully so) that telling the truth was the fastest way to have us pull out of the deal. Not only did Graham Williams insist at the time we invested that due diligence had been done, but he described the process as thorough and extensive. Because as a Certified Financial Planner
he was legally bound to watch out for our best interest, we took his word for it.
The issue of the physical condition of the building came back to haunt us. Over the years
that followed, serious physical/construction defects proved either dissuasive to prospective tenants, or very costly to fix, and eventually brought about the demise of the investment. Even though Mr. Williams tried to claim that this was all due to the softness of the commercial real estate market, the timeline shows otherwise.
There were numerous other misrepresentations from Graham Williams. Here is a recounting of two of them:
When describing the property, Graham Williams mentioned that it had redundant power, a feature that was central to the value and usefulness of this type of property (a technology center), and that he described as being
inherently, permanently and unconditionally attached to this building. In fact, we found out after it was too late that the only thing this feature had ever been was an option to be exercised by one of the tenants in the building, and that the option would
disappear at a specified date if not exercised by the tenant; never to be recaptured again. And thats exactly what eventually happened. So Graham Williams was either repeating the selling pitch provided to him by Pacific West without bothering to check it out first, or he knew full well that what he was describing was inaccurate but knew that the property would have no appeal without it.
This inaccurate information was also included in the official description of the property (PPM) that he provided us with. Again, the redundant power was described as a set, permanent feature, and nowhere mentioned as an option to be
exercised or lost forever.
Furthermore, the same document, given to us by Graham Williams one month before closing stated repeatedly (5 times that we could see) and in normal print size that the building occupancy was at 95%; each time using the term current and currently. Only on the very last page of this 100 + -page document and at the very bottom of this last page; and in print so
tiny that it required a magnifying glass to read it (not an exaggeration), is it stated plainly that in a couple of months (in other words, just one month after closing), the occupancy rate would fall to 70%. No mention at any point from
Graham Williams that the PPM he had provided us with, whose sole purpose was to objectively describe the property to the 30 potential investors, would no longer be accurate within a month after closing. In other words, Graham Williams knew full well that within a month of having made the investment, the occupancy rate was going to go from the current 95% to 70%, yet verbally repeated to us the 95% figure found numerous times in the PPM, stopping short of alerting us to the fact that major tenants had already given notice and would be leaving soon, bringing the occupancy rate to 70%.
I have copies of all documents, including the recording of the hearing, proving without a doubt that the above statements are truthful, and would gladly make these available to interested persons.