How Small Businesses Will be Affected in 2017
Jared Friedman, manager of acquisitions and opportunities at Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions, reveals the main challenges for small businesses in real estate and why this year will mark a shift from multifamily to commercial.
Detroit—With 2017 expected to be a strong year for real estate, small businesses in the industry are also preparing to get in on the action. Despite some challenges and the significant competition coming from larger players, these companies are focusing on expansion and upgrading their offices to attract professionals. Jared Friedman, manager of acquisitions and opportunities at Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions, revealed the impact of smaller deals for a firm’s portfolio and why multifamily won’t maintain its top asset class position for long.
CPN: Small real estate deals don’t always make headlines, and many big real estate organizations can’t be bothered with smaller businesses. How does Friedman see this slice of the real estate pie?
Jared Friedman: Friedman works on both big and small transactions. While the largest deals make the headlines, the majority of the volume is done on the smaller deal size. Our portfolio includes over 600 tenants at any given time, while only a few deals a year make the news. We also execute anywhere from 10-15 deals a week and many are not making headlines. We see the small deals just as important as the large ones. We also see smaller companies not achieving the level of service the largest clients get from the big firms. At Friedman, we approach each deal the same way with the goal of providing the same level of service to all clients.
CPN: How do you think the investment activity of smaller businesses will play out in 2017?
J.F.: Small businesses make up much of our economy in the U.S. With consumer confidence at all-time highs, I see the small business sector growing strongly in 2017. Companies are hiring, expanding office space and investing in FF&E. I think this will continue this year with more tax breaks and incentives coming from national governments. These businesses are growing in all forms as well: purchasing new facilities for manufacturing, expanding retail footprints and growing/upgrading their office space to attract workers. I see a strong year ahead for 2017.
CPN: What are the main challenges small businesses face when it comes to leveraging their real estate portfolios?
J.F.: They don’t have the expertise needed. Our advantage is the depth of our real estate team. With 450+ professionals, we have experts in every category (physical, construction, leasing, etc.). Without these experts, it becomes difficult to be proactive, avoid mistakes and manage costs efficiently. Real estate is a complicated and unique market and if you don’t spend every day doing it, you are subject to a lot of errors. It’s one of the only industries where you need to understand finance, construction, design, legal and management. Very hard to be an expert at all.
CPN: Are smaller businesses open to hiring a broker and what would be the benefits of doing so?
J.F.: Smaller businesses tend to try and find space themselves. However, most realize it is not an easy process. Real estate is a niche and unique industry. Tenants who hire brokers, generally, can reduce costs of rent, optimize their space more efficiently and can negotiate better terms. I always tell my clients “you don’t know what you don’t know” and with the real estate industry being so unique, it’s important to understand the ins and outs.
CPN: How do you see demand for smaller office and industrial properties in 2017?
J.F.: I see small office space demand continuing to grow. We saw over 2.7 million square feet in Michigan alone last year, which I expect will continue. This is true across the board and especially true with smaller industrial properties given the low inventory and increasing demand. Business is doing well.
CPN: This past year, multifamily became a more attractive investment than commercial properties. Do you think this trend will continue in 2017?
J.F.: No, multifamily is at a point where pricing cannot get much higher. The edge will be in the commercial space. Multifamily will still see its share of investments, but I do not see it becoming more attractive. It has been the most desirable asset class for the last several years. Pricing is at an all-time high and I can’t see it going much higher.
CPN: Many of Friedman’s operations are concentrated in the Greater Detroit Area. How is the real estate market there different from other Midwestern markets or other areas in the country?
J.F.: Friedman has a presence in over 20 states now. What we find the most unique about Detroit is the age of the buildings and lack of density. Most other markets have dense downtowns, cool infill areas and new multifamily and office stock. Metro Detroit lacks all three of these. There are some infill markets and Detroit is starting to come back, but unlike other markets, we lack the cool new product seen across the Midwest and the country. I think it has to do with how spread out we are as a metro. I see this changing over the next 10 years, but at a much slower pace than other communities.
CPN: What type of properties are investors looking for in the Greater Detroit Area?
J.F.: Multifamily is obviously the hot sector right now. We have seen a huge uptick in this category lately. Industrial is very desirable as well. The automotive industry is on fire, so most of our industrial market is full. I think you will see office investment picking up this year as the prices are much lower than multifamily and industrial. Retail. Well, that’s a whole other story that is just starting to unfold with the recent waves of bankruptcies. That is a scary sector right now.
Alexandra Pacurar, Commercial Property Executive