Occasionally I am asked, "okay, what separates you commercial/investment real estate agents from other real estate agents?"
A good question. The obvious answer is specialization. Residential real estate makes up the bulk of what we hear about and read about. It is what most people think about when someone asks them "hey, what do you think about what is happening in real estate today?" But commercial real estate impacts all of us, also, even though most consumers don't think of it immediately.
Let me put it differently. Where do most people work? In an office building? Large, medium or small, it is commercial real estate. In a retail center? Commercial real estate. Perhaps at a mill, or some other sort of manufacturing facility. Commercial real estate once more. Where do a lot of people live? If they don't own their own home they are in an apartment complex. Or a double, or a four-family, etc. Perhaps they are even in a rental house. Lets look at consumer habits. Where do you shop? At a retail center/shopping center perhaps? Of course -- its commercial real estate. That new development taking shape down the block from your neighborhood? Commercial real estate. Don't forget about grocery stores, auto repair shops, office supply centers, where you go to get your hair cut or styled . . . the list goes on and on. It is all commercial real estate.
To be succinct, commercial real estate touches us all.
Add to that the fact that the owners of these properties aren't doing it for the general good, but do it for business . . . an an investment for a profit. And voila!...you have commercial/investment properties!
These properties are important because, unlike single family home ownership, there is business incentive. The best real estate agents working in the commercial/investment field have a skillset that goes beyond residential brokerage. An understanding of financial analysis, commercial trends, and building plans for the future.
What makes for a good commercial/investment real estate agent? Don't take my word for it. Look to the recommendations of the National Council of Exchangors (NCE) -- a loose confederation of member-driven organizations specializing in real estate exchanging. You know, the IRS 1031 tax deferred exchanges about which I often write. Columbus Real Estate Exchangors (CREE), the organization of which I am the immediate past president, and the Ohio Commercial Realtors Exchange Association (OCREA), a group I want to spend more time with, both are affiliates of NCE.
Here are the skills NCE says buyers and sellers of commercial/investment real estate should seek out when evaluating whether to use a particular real estate agent.
1) Client Counseling - The art of questioning and listening to achieve a close working relationship with the client and to understand fully the client's needs and objectives.
2) Formulas - The knowledge of a wide range of techniques used to structure transactions in the exchanging, financing, acquisition and disposition of property.
3) Taxation - A working knowledge of the income tax impact on various real estate transactions.
4) Forms - The ability to effectively use standardized forms common to the exchange marketplace.
5) Marketing - The skills, forms and methods of presenting property to the exchange marketplace and the professional conduct expected of a member working in the National Council of Exchangors Network.
So there you have it. The basis for a list of questions one might ask when looking to partner with a commercial/investment real estate agent on a transaction -- whether buying or selling income-producing property.