SIOR Real Estate World Conference in Toronto, Canada in October 2009
October 29th to 31st – Edward Redlich, SIOR of Miami took the opportunity to attend the SIOR World Conference in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Over 600 industrial and office real estate professionals attended the event. Mostly were real estate brokers, but also included developers, investors, institutions, lenders, architects, engineers, and more. The commercial real estate convention was held at the Fairmont York Hotel. Personally, I am very pleased that this year’s convention was held in a city outside the United States; especially Toronto. It is an awesome city and I now have several Canadian customers including a flower distributor, logistics company and a stone importer/distributor. Toronto has over 8oo,ooo square feet of warehouse space. It is a primary logistics and distribution center for North America and has self-proclaimed itself as “Toronto: Gateway to North America and the Globe”. As such, there is plenty of access to rail lines, airport cargo, sea port and highways. Nearly 50% of the US population is within a day’s drive. Over 80 airlines operate at Pearson International Airport with over 80 international destinations. The population is about 5.5 million. Toronto reminds me of Chicago with it’s industrial warehouse market, city’s architecture, culture, international community, and more. However, it seems much safe, cleaner and the people are friendly. Next year’s convention will be held in Orlando, Florida. I’d like to see a SIOR convention held in Mexico in the near future.
Here is a brief summary of the highlights of the SIOR real estate convention primarily from my industrial real estate perspective. I would like to note that real estate markets around the world and the United States vary greatly of course. However, a common theme amongst the SIOR professionals at the World Conference is that warehouse activity in the USA remains low. Almost every market in the USA had no major activity from the 4th quarter of 2008 through 2nd quarter of 2009. There is hardly any specualtive industrial construction anywhere. The good news is that most industrial real estate markets started seeing activity in the past two quarters and some have reported more frequent transactions; both large and small. Rental and sale values along with occupancy rates are just recently appearing to stablize. SIOR’s are great at communicating with their clients and reading up on market trends. As such, it appears that most SIOR’s are optimistic about the future, however there is anticipation that we will have more economic and political challenges for the next couple years. We are listening to the economists and politicians speak, but are skeptical they will get it right. Our best course is to focus on our business and our customers. And as the theme of this conference states “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.
“Helping your clients navigate the globe with SIOR”. Before and after this session, I had the opportunity to meet commercial real estate professionals from around the world from countries such as Canada, Ireland, England, Japan, England, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. These connections will be of great benefit for myself and my customers. There was some discussion on Miami, Florida’s central role in the international business and real estate market. Miami is viewed as a major gateway into South and Central America and the Caribbean. Miami has the trade routes, businessmen, relationships and language capability for companies to reach Latin America via Miami. Interestingly, most deal flow for business decisions come from the United States; so referrals are going out of the U.S.A. It is much easier to obtain an office specialist than an industrial specialist amongst international real estate brokers. The reason is that there is more commissions in office brokerage hence more office experts. This point really stresses the point why it is important to select SIOR professionals around the world. My theory is that Florida will continue to receive good activity from real estate investors from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada and others. This session of the convention, I learned how to protect my client relationships by being able to offer global services and contacts; understanding international issues like languages, cultures, currencies, time zones, referral standards, etc.; and highlights from other CRE professionals of other countries.
“Distribution and logistics: the client’s perspective”. This session was of value for an array of reasons and also stressed the importance of the broker / customer relationship and experience. Be sure to point out the value added during the entire relationship.
* The broker must take a leadership role during the process and add value for the client. CRE brokers negotiate purchase contracts and lease agreements everyday. Most often, the clients have not seen these documents in five years when they did their last transaction.
* Broker must work with client to identify the customer’s requirements. Sometimes the customer does not yet know either. However, the broker’s experience in dealing with similar businesses and warehouses will be able to determine such needs and requirements. And most importantly: the broker must ask the customer many, specific questions. An experienced, SIOR broker always asks the best questions which help the customer and add-value to the relationship. Often the broker will speak with executives such as VP of operations, CFO, human resources and any other employee that is integral to customer’s business.
* New tools, technologies and innovative processes must be adopted by CRE brokers which add both value and time-savers for clients.
* CRE Tip #1 for customers: Engage a CRE broker now. All too often, clients look for real estate and/or renegotiate a lease way too late. Do not wait right up until a lease expires or you obtain a new contract for business with a customer which will require new or more warehouse space. It is never too early to contact a CRE broker for a candid discussion on market trends, forecasts and availability.
* CRE Tip#2 for customers: Contact your local CRE broker for service providers such as a warehouse roofer or architect. Brokers have a database of all types of contractors and professionals because good ones are needed so often. So they will come well recommended and have been used before with good results.
At the end of this session, The Port of Prince Rupert in Canada was discussed (see www.rupertport.com). It actually is more direct and takes less time for Asian ports to ship freight via Prince Rupert than via the Panama Canal. In addition, some in the distribution and logistics businesses try to avoid Los Angeles, California due to the disruptive strikes by unions and longshoremen. However, Prince Rupert does experience unpredictable land slides and Panama Canal has the problems of bad weather and hurricanes that can be supply chain disruptions.
“SIOR keynote speaker: Marci Rossell, PhD.” One of my favorite parts about attending CRE conventions is learning what the economists have to say. There is too much to write, so I’ll just mention the most important part of what I took away from this. Ms. Rossell affirms my theory that the sector of the economy that will pull America through 2010 to 2012 during this bad economy is: exports! I strongly believe this to be true. The reason is that people from around the world are gaining higher disposable incomes. Just look at the increasing economies and standards of living for the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China); plus all of the other nations. In addition, the United States of America still has a profound reputation for manufacturing high quality products; coming up with innovative ideas; being economically and politically stable; and being trustworthy and dependable business partners during the trading process. For these reasons, Americans will see exports grow significantly in the next few years. The lower US dollar value will help increase export sales too. It is so imperative for our economic and political leaders to execute the foreign trade agreements with countries like Colombia, Panama, South Korea and more. Countries like China, Iran and Venezuela are aggressively doing business. Why does it seem the USA government is apathetic to foreign trade and exports? Anyway, for those in the Miami, Florida industrial real estate market “more exports, means more warehouse space”. The ComReal Miami team is looking forward to serving our warehouse customers in the manufacturing and exporting industries during the next several years.
For more information on SIOR and commercial, industrial real estate trends and data, please contact Edward J. Redich, SIOR, CCIM of The ComReal Companies based in Miami, Florida, USA. Phone: 786-433-2379 or www.comreal.com.