From financial advisors to medical practitioners, at some point, we’ve all needed a specialist. Real estate is no different. We’re all familiar with residential and commercial real estate, but through the years, commercial real estate specifically has become highly specialized.
A broker’s role has morphed into that of a real estate “advisor.” Depending on the property type and specialization, there are a slew of functions brokers perform, including financial and market analyses, demographic studies, site selection research, portfolio analysis, and more.
The depth of broker specialization is largely dependent on the needs of the market. The larger the market, the more specialized it tends to become. In Columbus, most brokers who are specialists do so by product type: industrial, investments and multifamily, office, and retail, primarily, explains Matt Gregory who specializes in office sales and leasing at NAI Ohio Equities.
However, in larger cities, such as New York City, you may encounter brokers that strictly do tenant representation or work within a particular submarket of the city. As Columbus continues to grow, we are also beginning to see the emergence of subspecialization. For example, areas such as medical office, self-storage, data centers, hospitality, religious institutions, and schools, are all types of subspecialties.
Generally, the more you drill down into a particular property type, the more nuanced it becomes. Understanding those nuances is where a specialist earns their stripes.
“When looking to lease downtown office space, any commercial agent would be familiar with the terms stated within a contract and be able to negotiate them, however, a specialist who focuses on downtown office leasing would better know what terms are acceptable in that submarket and what can be reasonably negotiated,” explains Gregory. For example, many terms can vary from one submarket to another, particularly when dealing with leasing concessions.
Additionally, there is also something to be said for reputation. In real estate, you get the reputation of the person you hire – whether it be a generalist or a specialist. But it’s worth noting that those who work exclusively within a certain industry segment are familiar with their counterparts, their reputation, and even their negotiation style. Beyond that, they also may have a deeper knowledge about the market because of the relationships they’ve established, such as who the “dealmakers” are, which landlords take care of their property and which don’t, and even, what properties are available that aren’t being actively marketed.
While hiring a specialist isn’t always needed, it’s worth taking a closer look at what your goals are, and then determining whether your representation has the capability of helping you achieve them.