Excel and Other Programs

Why do I get a message that Microsoft has blocked macros?

When downloading and opening an Excel model from A.CRE, some users get the ominous message: “Microsoft has blocked macros from running because the source of this file is untrusted.” Now you’re probably asking, “Why did this message appear, and can I use the file without macros?”

A bit of background on Excel Macros

First off, we assure you that you can enable Macros in our models with confidence. We use Macros in our Excel models to improve the user experience, speed up the models in cases where there are circular references, and to handle various real estate modeling tasks (e.g. calculating reserve accounts) that Excel out-of-the-box can’t.

Sometime in late 2021/early 2022, Microsoft released an updated version of Microsoft Excel that includes greater security protection related to Excel Macros. This update is meant to protect Excel users from downloading files from the internet that contain malicious macros. Unfortunately, in their zeal to protect Excel users from bad actors, they’ve made using A.CRE models a bit more difficult.

Can I use an A.CRE Model without enabling macros?

Unfortunately, the A.CRE Models that we’ve built with macros won’t function properly unless you enable the macros. Therefore, you will need to enable the macros in order to use the models. Below, we’ve recorded a video and shared instructions (from Microsoft’s website) on how to enable macros in models downloaded from A.CRE.

How to enable macros in models downloaded from A.CRE

  1. Download and save the Excel model (i.e. Excel file) to a local hard drive, network share, or cloud share drive.
  2. Open Windows File Explorer and go to the folder where you saved the file.
  3. Right-click the file and choose Properties from the context menu.
  4. At the bottom of the General tab, you should see a section for Security. Select the Unblock checkbox and select OK.
  5. Open the file and click ‘Enable Content’

Why did you send a zipped file (i.e. compressed file)? And why can’t I access (unzip) the file?

The file you received is NOT a .zip file (or .cpgz file in the case of Mac users). The file you downloaded is an Excel .XLSB file (i.e. Excel Binary Workbook file).

Since XLSB files are binary, they can be read from and written to much faster, making them extremely useful for very large spreadsheets. XLSB files are also generally smaller than typical XLSX or XLSM Excel. As a result, the A.CRE team prefers to use the .XLSB file format for many of their more complex models.

However, to open a .XLSB file you must have a version of Excel 2013 or newer. If you don’t have a compatible version of Excel, and since the XLSB file is a compressed version of an Excel file, your operating system (i.e. Windows or iOS) confuses the XLSB file for a zipped file and attempts to extract the file.

To correct this issue, upgrade your Excel to the latest version. If you prefer to open the file in a different spreadsheet tool or find a workaround, you might check out this online guide:


Getting ‘Server Denied’ or Request Denied Error When Using the A.CRE Geocoding Add-in

Receiving a ‘REQUEST_DENIED’ error in Excel when attempting to use the add-in? First make sure you’re using a version of Excel 2013 or newer.

If you’re using a compatible version of Excel, then the issue is due to your Google API key. The ‘Server Denied’ or ‘Request Denied’ error is similar to an ‘incorrect password’ error when attempting to login to a website.

Effectively, Google doesn’t recognize the API key  you’ve added to the Add-in or the Google API key was not setup correctly.

Return to the ‘Using the A.CRE Geocoding Add-in’ section, paying special attention to the Google instructional videos in items 1 through 5.

Also make sure you’ve properly added the API key to the A.CRE Geocoding Add-in by reviewing the instructions in the ‘Adding the API Key to the A.CRE Geocoding Add-in in Excel’ section at the link above.


Does A.CRE provide consulting services or model customization?

Unfortunately, with full-time jobs, families, and A.CRE to manage, Spencer and Michael are unable to take on consulting engagements. With that said, quite a few A.CRE Accelerator graduates do provide independent real estate financial modeling consulting services and many of those individuals are versed in the models shared to A.CRE.

*Click here to browse the list of individuals able to take on consulting engagements.

Feel free to reach out directly to the individual or individuals in the link above that appear to best fit your needs.

* Important Disclaimer: Adventures in CRE provides this list of real estate financial modeling professionals as a free service to you and to the individuals herein. It does not earn a referral fee nor commission, and is not party to any agreement that you may make with any individual named herein. We are not responsible or liable for any work, nor do we participate in any work, produced by individuals within this document. Although all individuals herein have completed the A.CRE real estate financial modeling Accelerator and have represented to us to have experience in this field, we have not independently verified their claims.

Excel crashes (or says the file is corrupt) when trying to open an Excel model

When an Excel model crashes upon opening, or when Excel returns a “the file is corrupt and cannot be opened” error message upon attempting to open a model, it’s generally due to one of two issues:

  • You’re running a version of Excel incompatible with the model. Make sure you’re running Excel 2013 or newer.
  • A security setting on your system is blocking the file. Here are a few options for correcting the security setting:


Can I use Apple Numbers or Google Sheets instead of Excel?

The models shared on A.CRE as well as the Excel files and models used in the Accelerator were built in Microsoft Excel. As a result, we can’t ensure compatibility with non-Excel spreadsheet alternatives such as Apple Numbers, Google Sheets, OpenOffice, etc.

Nevertheless, the simpler Excel files and models shared on A.CRE can be imported into non-Excel alternatives with most (or all) features converting without issue. We recommend you check out our article on real estate financial modeling in Google Sheets.