Rob Cord: Technology Businesses to Define CRE in Coming Years

In his new role, Rob Cord will lead national expansion efforts for the Salt Lake City-based company.
Rob Cord, President of CBC Advisors

Rob Cord, President of CBC Advisors

Salt Lake CityColdwell Banker Commercial Advisors (CBC Advisors) announced the appointment of Rob Cord as company president, with Lew Cramer maintaining his role as CEO. Cord has 26 years of diversified management experience, and he joined CBC Advisors last year as president of the Asset Services division.

Under his leadership, the branch tripled its portfolio and exceeded 21 million square feet in less than one year. From his new position, Cord will lead national expansion efforts while overseeing a growing asset services practice.

Commercial Property Executive spoke with Rob Cord about the challenges he could face in his new mission, trends in commercial real estate and predictions on what’s to come.

CPE: How do you see your new role as president of CBC Advisors? What will be your priorities for the next year?

Cord: As president of CBC Advisors, I look forward to expanding operations throughout primary and dynamic secondary markets nationally, while further unifying our national service delivery at the highest level possible for our client’s benefit. Our culture at CBC Advisors places a premium on supporting our personnel; brokerage, operations, marketing, research and asset services to meet our clients’ goals and expectations. We are excited to revitalize a 110-year-old legacy brand in Coldwell Banker Commercial. Because we are privately held and operate with a lean entrepreneurial spirit, we offer the flexibility to do more and provide a different level of service than the next firm.

CPE: Which do you think will be the biggest challenge you will face in this new position?

Cord: The biggest challenge ahead speaks to the strength of the firm. CBC Advisors has maintained the designation of the top-performing Coldwell Banker Commercial affiliate in the world for 13 consecutive years. Maintaining such a high standard of excellence is difficult to replicate in every service market. However, I am confident we will carry forward the legacy of excellence our clients have grown to appreciate in every market CBC Advisors enters.

CPE: I know your job involves a lot of traveling and I am sure you are familiar with the situation in many U.S. real estate markets. How would you describe the general status of the market in terms of transactions, prices, capital invested and trends?

Cord: CBC Advisors maintains full-service commercial operations in 30 markets coast-to-coast, from New York City to Los Angeles and from Miami to Anchorage. Though each market faces its own unique circumstances, what is common among all is the demand of investors seeking high quality properties, and rising prices making it difficult for buyers to justify the cap rates being sought by sellers. Our teams are introducing investment opportunities to our clients in new markets from the coasts into high performing interior markets they had not considered previously. We also seek out off-market opportunities to achieve the win-win that both the seller and buyer are seeking.

CPE: What are the challenges the U.S. commercial real estate market is facing at the moment?

Cord: Though optimistic in general, with capital available for investment, the growing unoccupied space in the hi-tech, creative space in Northern California’s Silicon Valley and San Francisco, recent lay-offs in the tech sector globally and what appears to be a slowing in capital into new ventures is concerning. Additionally, leasing slowing and vacancy increasing in major markets, as landlords push rents and tenants start seeking less expensive alternatives, have historically signaled the beginning of a cycle of adjustment. This, combined with the potential post-election increase in interest rates, declining consumer confidence, and uncertainty within the global economy, cause me to advise my clients to take advantage of the immediate benefits of the market today and go for more cautious strategies moving forward.

CPE: Would you say Brexit made an impact on the U.S. real estate market so far? What do you expect will happen next?

Cord: Brexit has impacted the U.S. stock market in the short-term. However, Brexit will have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and the real estate market in the long term. The U.K. steadily ranks within the top five economies in the world. Brexit will increase manufacturing and trade potential between the U.S. and the U.K. We are fortunate to work closely with investors and funds in the U.K. We place a great amount of respect and appreciate the opportunities we see here in the U.S. from our expanding client relationships in the U.K.

CPE: Which are the most sought after commercial properties in the U.S. market right now?

Cord: Generally speaking, demand for certain property types is balanced in U.S. markets. We see our clients taking advantage of the current market to sell off assets that may not be core or have reached, in their opinion, the highest practical value rebalancing their portfolios moving forward. We see clients venturing into multifamily, though they have not previously, and also in mini-storage, aggressive revitalizations and condo projects, as well, to compete for product and place capital when unable to meet their return requirements in more conventional office, industrial or retail investments in major market across the country.

CPE: Which markets are experiencing a revival and where do you see a slowdown in terms of transactions?

Cord: Primary markets and dynamic secondary markets with diversified economies, particularly those that include technology oriented businesses, universities and distribution, have experienced tremendous growth and recovered nicely from the Great Recession. Secondary and tertiary markets with heavy industry, manufacturing and markets dependent on the oil industry are not performing, generally speaking, as well.

CPE: What trends will define the commercial real estate market in the following years?

Cord: Technology and internet-related businesses will continue to define the commercial real estate market in the following years. Autonomous vehicles, drones, logistics and distribution, together with shared space will gain popularity, and commercial real estate will directly feel the impact these trends will have on the economy. Lack of demand and availability of affordable brick and mortar retail and the consolidation of creative and hi-tech space will be an off-setting factor.