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The Changing Role of Corporate Real Estate Advisors

Irrespective of the size of the market or geography, many of the duties and responsibilities of commercial real estate advisors appear to be very much the same. Clearly, the role of commercial real estate advisor has changed over the past ten years or so. Not too long ago, those of us who interfaced with large corporations and/or large institutional organizations were primarily tasked with site selection and lease negotiation responsibilities—purely transactional roles. The scope of our duties was very limited and didn’t require a substantial understanding of our client’s business or long term plan. “Here’s what we need for space and get us the best deal possible.” Our mandate was clearly defined, narrow in breadth and customary to our proven skill set. However, for better or worse, those days are long gone!

Our new role still includes transactional responsibilities but this expanded role is now the product of the deliberative process that includes the commercial real estate advisor’s voice at the table. To be sure, this role now comes with obligations. To be successful in meeting the needs of our clients in today’s marketplace, we have become students of our clients’ businesses. We have grown to thoroughly understand our clients’ short term financial goals and challenges and collaborated as a partner in their long range facility optimization and planning. This required working with many more business units within our clients’ organizations. According to a recent study by Jones, Lang, LaSalle, prior to 2011, only 8% of global corporations reported using outsourced real estate services. By 2013, that number had grown to 24%. Clearly, those in our profession have demonstrated and validated our worth to senior management in much the same way that outsourced IT and HR did several decades ago.

We foresee the continued evolution of the role of commercial real estate advisor as our clients, whether global corporations or large public/private institutions, adapt to changing technologies and the needs of the modern workforce. The optimization and flexible use of real estate assets is being recognized as an integral part of the success of an organization. Simply reducing the organization’s space footprint to reduce costs has proven itself to be, all too often, counterproductive. Armed with the broad knowledge of our respective markets, including more than just real estate data, commercial real estate advisors are able to provide our clients with value added services that enhance our new role as trusted partner in success. Increased participation will lead to increased opportunity. All of which is good news for those in our profession.

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