It’s no secret that COVID-19 has thrown a lot of industries for a loop. But what’s it been like to be a Commercial Real Estate (CRE) agent in the midst of a pandemic? We spoke to two local CRE agents at LAH Commercial Real Estate to learn more.
Our first interviewee is Wanda Williams, a recent addition to the LAH Commercial Real Estate task force. Before joining the team, Wanda practiced real estate around Birmingham for three years.
How did you get into commercial real estate?
Wanda: “Commercial real estate is actually my second career—I was in dental sales for over 25 years. After a while, I got tired of the constant travel. I had always been interested in real estate, so I decided to give it a shot!”
How did you find LAH Real Estate?
Wanda: “I met Rachel Nichols several years ago over coffee. This past summer, over the pandemic, I started focusing on getting back out and about and walking. One day, I was walking on Overton Road when I heard a voice behind me—it was Rachel. We got to talking about real estate and she encouraged me to reach out to the broker at LAH Commercial Real Estate. I decided to make the move and I haven’t looked back since.
What areas of real estate do you specialize in? What are some of your favorite aspects of your job?
Wanda: “Since my background is in dental, I focus on properties that have to do with medical application, whether that be dental offices, veterinary offices, hospitals, etc. My favorite aspect of my job is meeting new clients. I am very much a people person, so I love to go out of my way to make my clients feel special and that it is my obligation to put them first!”
What sort of trends are you seeing in Birmingham commercial real estate?
Wanda: “More and more, I have seen businesses, especially in the medical field, opt towards selling their property to a buyer and then continuing to lease it back. Just about everything else stays the same—the same president, board of directors, employees and more. Maybe companies like this don’t want to own their property anymore. Leasing does give them the freedom to grow and move if necessary, and they don’t have to worry about property upkeep.”
Just like Wanda, Commercial Real Estate isn’t Roy Hockman‘s first career. Before entering the real estate world, Roy worked as a franchisee for Outback Steakhouse—opening new locations throughout the Southeast. Now, he’s firmly set in his new career as a CRE agent for LAH Commercial Real Estate!
Why did you decide to enter the commercial real estate world?
Roy: “During my time as a franchisee for Outback Steakhouse, I did all of my real estate transactions and gained a lot of experience in the real estate world. After I sold my business in 2003, I grew tired of playing golf and watching Andy Griffith re-runs, so I decided to try my hand at commercial real estate.”
What drew you to LAH Commercial Real Estate?
Roy: “I had heard of LAH Real Estate, and I knew about their tremendous reputation in the community. I wound up meeting with and speaking to one of the brokers and decided to make the leap. LAH Real Estate just felt like a great fit for me—even though I’ve only been in the business for three years, I have a breadth of experience in the field that I bring to the table.”
What kind of trends have you been seeing in the CRE world?
Roy: “Since my expertise is in the restaurant world, I tend to work mostly with restaurant clients. Although it’s been sad to see many of our favorite restaurants close down this past year, it has opened up vacancies. That means that established restaurants can grow, or new ones can pop up to take their place.
I’ve also seen an uptick in renting out freestanding, independent homes to both younger couples AND older ones. In the young couples’ case, they might not have the capital to pay a mortgage. And for the older generation, they are looking to downsize and not have the responsibility of upkeep.”
Want to learn more about commercial real estate in Birmingham? Learn more from the experts.
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What are your thoughts on the current commercial real estate climate?