Boutique Firm or National?

Boutique Firm or National?


Often times in the marketplace of commercial real estate many ponder the question, “Should I choose a national firm or a boutique firm?” This might come across as self-serving, but I do believe the facts are credible and they represent the 21st century marketplace. How should you decide and what factors should you consider? Is a boutique firm capable of executing the high-level real estate transactions in the marketplace?

First and foremost, Technology has made a huge difference in the real estate marketplace. Firms of all sizes have access to similar modalities, whether it is a listing service, a database, mapping tools, gap studies, needs analysis, financial modeling, social media, research and analysis, and the list goes on. This advancement alone makes the playing field highly competitive among all sizes of brokerages. No longer do national firms separate themselves from boutique firms in this arena since most are staying on the cutting edge of these technologies.

Secondly, the Network of buyers is no longer limited to nationals. Access to these buyers with all the previous tools mentioned is no longer limited to a select few firms. A boutique firm that is disciplined in the marketplace has the same market presence as their largest competitors. Therefore, listing exposure is on a level playing field and usually will get more attention from a boutique firm.

Thirdly, Commercial Real Estate Organizations are open to all brokers and now firms of all sizes are creating cultures that require involvement in these organizations. Some of these include NAIOP, SIOR, CCIM, ICSC, Retail Live, CFCAR, and others. These organizations thrive on the concept of networking and usually involve the best in class for all brokers no matter the size of their organization. Many transactions result from participation in these highly organized groups that foster relationships and deal making sessions.

Fourth, Specialization in a sector of commercial real estate used to be a differentiator for national firms. They focused on creating experts in each discipline to include Retail, Industrial, Office, Multi-Family, Investment, and Land. Now boutique firms in large and tertiary markets are deploying a highly specialized group of real estate brokers that are the local experts in each discipline. The brokers in these firms are capable and often times more compelling than national firms. I would suggest no matter how you answer the question of which firm to choose, you ensure that your broker is a specialist in the class of real estate you own.

Fifth, Teams are a must in commercial real estate today. The solo practitioner is becoming obsolete since the demands due to technology and the needs of clients are more complex. This has been a standard practice of national firms, as they understood the value of teamwork. Boutique firms are now committed to this strategy in the marketplace and are executing teams with excellence.  This is necessary as it increases marketing horsepower and transaction excellence.

Lastly, Local Knowledge is often times dominated by a strong local boutique firm with excellence in some of the core competencies mentioned above. The local firm is usually plugged into the local economy, the growth, jobs, new developments, local and state trends and drivers in a specific geography. This market knowledge usually cannot be compared to a national reaching into a market that they are less familiar with. Time and again listings will be with a national and nothing happens particularly in a tertiary market like Brevard County. Specialized Brokers with market knowledge are the most effective in a specific marketplace and will produce the desired result more often due to an insider’s perspective.

Written by Jeffery T. Robison, CCIM
Principal | Broker

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