JLL Poaches Major Multi-Family Players for Atlanta Team

Jones Lang LaSalle has made a big move to take its already powerful presence in multi-family investment sales along the Eastern Seaboard to new heights. The commercial real estate services firm just added four preeminent names to its capital markets platform, leaving Atlanta's top two multi-family brokerage teams with some big shoes to fill.

March 16, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Jones Lang LaSalle has made a big move–well, four big moves–to take its already powerful presence in multi-family investment sales along the Eastern Seaboard to new heights. The commercial real estate services firm just added four preeminent names to its capital markets platform, leaving Atlanta’s top two multi-family brokerage teams with some big shoes to fill.

“It is the perfect time to for us to be expanding in Atlanta,” Jubeen Vaghefi, managing director with JLL and national head of the firm’s multifamily investment sales business, told CPE, adding, “Atlanta, in terms of size, is one of the largest markets in the country.”

JLL grabbed two dominant Atlanta multi-family industry forces, David Gutting and Derrick Bloom, to serve as managing directors. Gutting, previously an executive director with commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield Inc., brings to the table a 22-year history in all things multi-family in the Southeast region. At Cushman, he helped the Atlanta office close the sale of over $7.5 billion in multi-family assets. The snapping up of Bloom, a former partner and founder of investment advisory brokerage firm Apartment Realty Advisors Inc. and ARA Finance Inc., was also quite a coup. ARA got off the ground in 2000 and Bloom spent the following 10 years playing leading roles in the expansion of over 20 offices and five specialty practice groups.

Gutting and Bloom have very clear ideas of what they intend to achieve in their new positions. “One of our goals is to be able to do a level of client business where the lead principal is involved on every transaction,” Gutting said, speaking for himself and industry comrade Bloom. “Before, we were not able to have our hands on every single deal.” The union, he added, has been a long time coming, as both Gutting and Bloom have felt for quite some time that “merging the best of our offices would be synergistic for clients.” The two had been tossing around the idea of joining forces for the last three years.

JLL got its hands on another ARA prize. Vince Lefler who, after having achieved great success in increasing ARA’s sales activity in markets surrounding Atlanta, is focusing his talents on secondary Southeast markets in such area locations as Alabama, the Carolinas and Tennessee, in his position as a senior vice president. ARA was not the only firm to see a couple of its best and brightest move on to JLL. Cushman got the one-two punch as well, losing Porter Jones to the Capital Markets team. Jones’ work centers on facilitating Atlanta-area institutional sales and supporting developers on the firm’s client lists in securing joint venture equity, tasks he takes on under the title of vice president.

Gutting, Bloom, Lefler and Jones will work in tandem with Vaghefi to bolster multi-family services for JLL’s East Coast clientele. Vaghefi noted that, together, Capital Markets’ four-person addition ruled the Atlanta market for nine of the last 10 years, staking claim to the number one or number two rankings. Additionally, he points out, the new hires have been behind a total of approximately 65 percent of Atlanta’s sales transaction market share since 2003.

The fab four will also complement a recent JLL acquisition, the assets of Atlanta-based commercial real estate lending and servicing group Primary Capital Advisors. With the Primary Capital purchase, which just closed earlier this month, JLL can now act as a Freddie Mac Program Plus Seller/Servicer. “The ability to join debt and sales teams together will be valuable to clients,” Vaghefi said. “It’s a natural progression of growth after the acquisition, particularly in Atlanta.” Gutting seconded the notion. “It was a big reason for us coming here from our respective ships,” he asserted, speaking again of the motives behind his and Bloom’s decision to pack their bags for JLL. “We felt that with Primary Capital and Faron Thompson at its helm as managing director, it would combine to provide a platform that is unmatched in the Southeast.”

Gutting, Bloom, Lefler and Jones have hit the ground running, as evidenced by the fact that they are all scrambling to prevent their voicemail boxes from reaching maximum capacity as a result of being out and about, shaking hands and making deals. “We’ve been getting a bunch of new business off the ground,” Gutting noted. “We are launching off three new opportunities within the weeks ahead and we have a large pipeline of business.” Armed with the enviable list of contacts they bring from their years at Cushman and ARA, the new team members are not allowing any grass to grow under their feet.

And as Vaghefi previously attested, the timing is right for JLL to make a bigger splash in metropolitan Atlanta. “Investors are looking at the city very opportunistically,” he said. “Atlanta is a major jobs market, and in an economic cycle where you have a downturn and the subsequent recovery, Atlanta is one of the markets that see a lot of job growth, and that drives multifamily. There was a lot of new supply over the last 10 years but it has dwindled. And we will see substantial rent increases; local experts are predicting 20 percent rent growth over the next three to five years.”

Vaghefi is more than confident that Gutting, Bloom, Lefler and Jones can capitalize on the changing market and enhance services for JLL’s clients. “We’re very fortunate to have guys of this caliber. It’s a testament to our brand and where the firm is headed. We firmly believe that our multifamily business will be one of the top in the industry in a very short time.”

JLL’s Capital Markets group, Gutting added, “will be a broader platform that will catapult the firm’s local and regional efforts to a new level.”