Don’t get caught in a pinch

In an ideal universe tenants could plan ahead and leave themselves enough time to complete a comprehensive commercial real estate search.

They wouldn’t feel pressured to take space that isn’t quite right or doesn’t entirely suit their needs.

But it happens far too often in my world. Why?

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Saskatoon still shining

I used to smirk a little every time former mayor Don Atchison found a way to work in the “Saskatoon Shines” message into public speeches.

But I’m drinking the koolaid and on board these days with repeating something he was fond of reminding people: Saskatoon is where it’s at.

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Sears is out but the possibilities are endless

Sears has finally pulled the plug. They were granted permission Oct. 13 by the courts to start liquidation of their remaining stores.

This includes a job loss for over 12,000 people who have helped served generations of Canadian shoppers.

So I posed the following question to my friends and social media followers this week: If Sears is out of Saskatoon’s Midtown Plaza, what should be in?

After a flurry of brainstorming I got some pretty good suggestions. So hopefully Kingsett Capital, the Midtown Plaza landlord, is listening!

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Facts about Saskatoon’s Retail Sector

I enjoy capturing a positive Saskatoon commercial real estate story when they surface. Our recently released 3Q17 retail survey provides me that opportunity. After two quarters of negative absorption, retail vacancy has decreased by 20 basis points to 4.1 per cent.

Due to continued population growth and expansion of new neighborhoods, we see a healthy amount of new retail development for the Saskatoon metropolitan area in coming years.

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Automating retail convenience

I’m about to really date myself here but as a kid do you remember going to the grocery store and watching the cashier type each item into a till?

Bar code scanning changed everything, none more significantly than grocery stores.

If the inset picture is a confusing one to you, let’s take a trip down memory lane and a quick look into what the future holds for the grocery retail experience.

 

 

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Why so shy? The undisclosed buyer

Most commercial real estate transactions are negotiated between parties with full disclosure as to who each party is.

So why would do offers from buyers sometimes come in undisclosed?

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An argument for municipal controls on architecture

We as professionals in the commercial real estate industry can be known to talk out of both sides of our mouth.

There is no question that almost every stage of real estate development has become more complex.

I often hear frustrated comments due to the increase in resources and knowledge required to navigate red tape from what can be numerous applicable authorities who have jurisdiction over development.

And yet, in some cases there are not enough controls in place.

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Are craft breweries the next big thing?

What do craft breweries and frozen yogurt have in common? They can’t be mixed together that’s for sure!

No, in fact, both retailers share a strong entry into our market and have made an impact in our commercial real estate landscape.

The question is: will craft breweries melt out as fast as the frozen yogurt competition did?

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Will the Commercial Real Estate Broker become extinct?

With the pace of technological change now accelerating, it is not reasonably possible for businesses to plan farther than five years into the future.

We like to think we know, however, the change that is coming upon us is so rapid that no one has a clear picture of where we’ll be in ten years.

I see three evolving trends which will translate into opportunities for the savvy commercial real estate broker.

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Long live the record store

The Buggles famously sang “video killed the radio star” but streaming hasn’t quite put the final nail in the bricks and mortar music business just yet.

It looked like the end was near when HMV Canada announced they were closing all their stores but homegrown Sunrise Records has stepped up to fill the musical consumer gap.

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Why no one’s talking about Regina’s failed office development bylaw

I had the pleasure of moderating the office panel at the Saskatchewan Real Estate forum in April.

One of the topics that seemed to “gather legs” during our discussion was Regina’s current office development policy as it relates to Saskatoon’s proposed office development bylaw.

I discussed some of the issues surrounding this topic in an earlier post a year ago: Regina’s policy, implemented in July 2012 does not permit major office developments more than 43,000 square feet of floor space outside of the core area (except in limited and specific contexts; e.g. accessory to an institution).

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YXE Marquis Industrial facts you didn’t know

Up to and including June 13th, only five building permits have been issued since January 1st, 2017 within the Marquis Industrial Area.

There were four permits issued during the month of April however that number has remained unchanged since the end of April.

Spring is typically the season we see the greatest number of new industrial construction starts.

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3 questions to ask yourself when leasing retail space

Leasing commercial retail space can vary by development but there are some fundamentals that most tenants in this sector should take into consideration while shopping around.

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My Personal Experience of “Unplugging”

It’s not hard to find opposing opinions on the philosophy of disengaging from technology, nor is it possible for me to say what’s right for you. My wife and I have experimented for a month now with “technology free Sundays.”

Our definition of “technology free Sunday” is that our cell phones and computers are shut down from the time we retire Saturday night until Monday morning. The experiment has been positive for both of us.

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What’s in a name?

Chrysler Building. Empire State Building. Rockefeller Center. What do these iconic New York City buildings have in common?

They are recognizable by name alone. They are examples of commercial real estate known throughout the world whether you’ve physically seen them or not.

How significant is a name when it comes to commercial buildings?

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What you need to know before investing in commercial real estate

I had a client ask yesterday what I believe to be the long term risk associated with investing in retail commercial real estate. Let’s ponder that question as it relates to the four major asset classes.

In an earlier post, “Time to Sell Functionally Obsolescent CRE?” the discussion focussed on what could be considered owner occupant type assets. For the purpose of this overview, we’ll assume that the real estate is current and relevant.

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Did you notice Sears no longer has a catalogue?

My grandmother and I recently discussed the future of Sears Canada. Outside of heavy news coverage of the US Sears hardships, she identified something that dropped from all our radars: the absence of a Spring/Summer 2017 catalogue.

Amid no apparent fanfare, Sears Canada appears to have quietly shut down their catalogue service.

So what’s going on?

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Saskatchewan #CRE retail trends you need to know

Retail continues to play a stabilizing role in Regina and Saskatoon commercial real estate. The office vacancy has hovered in the double digits for the last 3 – 4 years while the industrial sector witnessed a 3% increase in vacancy in 2015 in both cities.

Here’s a synopsis of the presentation by one of ICR’s partners, Linely Schaefer made as Moderator on the retail panel last week at the Saskatchewan Real Estate Forum.

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Kindersley still a hot spot for SK drilling activity

Despite a rough patch for oil in 2016 activity actually increased in one of Saskatchewan’s growing secondary markets.

The town of Kindersley has a total population of 5,628 people but trades as a hub for more than 40,000 surrounding residents. Their history in oil and gas goes back many decades and they are certainly not tapped out yet.

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A solid case for going Green

Some holes are surfacing in the climate change stance as stated in this recent article. You may or may not believe the world is entering an irreversible period of global warming.

There is no question that air pollution within our world’s mega cities and the waste being deposited into our oceans are a result of increasing population density and our enormous human footprint. Can a business case be built for constructing and refurbishing buildings with environmentally friendly specifications that goes beyond supporting the global warming cause?

Let’s explore that question.

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Slower but sustained growth in Saskatoon

With a certain weaker economy currently in play, the City of Saskatoon has released their newest projections for growth in Saskatchewan’s largest urban municipality.

While the gain may come more gradually than it has in the past few years of Saskaboom, the City has high hopes we will continue to attract residents.

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Ode to the Mall

My little sister Jenni and I in West Ed Mall, circa 1984. West Ed opened in 1981 and was the world’s largest mall (5.3 million SF) until 2004.

I have been a fan of the shopping mall experience for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s my upbringing as a country girl, but I’ve always found interior malls to be an exciting place to visit.

Despite what appears to be dire times for the mall, market research indicates that some traditional shopping centres are doing very well. And in fact, aren’t down for the count at all.

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Turn a negative into a positive

Mainstream media is quick to report the bad news in our world. We can’t ignore the negative but the creativity to turn these opportunities into a positive is available to us.

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A diligent dilemma

Regardless of whether you have entered into a commercial real estate lease or sale, there is a level of due diligence required by each party to complete the transaction.

Every deal is unique but I’ll provide a few examples that most commonly occur in the Saskatoon commercial real estate market.

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Steady as she goes, in Saskatoon CRE

ICR has collected the fourth quarter results for 2016 and though commercial vacancy remains higher than average in some sectors, overall the numbers have not changed drastically over the past year.

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Four key benefits of contracting a Commercial Broker to find your space

Most businesspeople make it common practice to hire a broker to list their space for sale and/or lease.

There are also many compelling reasons to seek formal representation when looking for a new home for your business although this may not be the best solution in all circumstances. Don’t sign a contract unless you believe you will benefit from representation and save money.

Let’s explore the advantages of contracting one commercial real estate company to partner with to meet your goals and ensure the most favorable outcome.

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Former police headquarters gets new lease on life

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Saskatoon City Council has approved the sale of the former municipal police building on 4th Ave S and now the work will begin for us.

Originally built with a uniquely specific purpose, this property is going to get a new lease on life.

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How to leverage your commercial real estate investment options

1899585_origI was chatting with a client over dinner at a charity event last night. One of the topics he spoke passionately about was the benefits of forming partnerships to invest in real estate.

He has observed other cultures which have successfully embraced the partnership model more frequently than he sees in Canada.

Are Canadians simply more independent thinkers? Or does it speak to a lack of confidence in this form of ownership?

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Hack: Exposing the games CRE buyers play

chess-boardLet’s assume you or the listing broker representing you has properly qualified the purchaser who has your commercial real estate under contract.

Let’s also assume you provided that purchaser a very comfortable six week conditional period to complete their due diligence and arrange financing so they don’t have to come back to you with a request for an extension.

I just experienced this exact situation as a listing broker working with a buyer’s agent from another brokerage.

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A frank discussion about the open office concept

ambus-desk-0111There has been much written about the benefits of the “new” open office concept. On the other hand it’s not difficult to find articles which state the open office concept has been proven to not be effective.

The truth is it depends upon the dynamics of a company and personal preferences of the individual. It is important to tell you that I have my own bias on this issue. I will nonetheless do my best to present the pros and cons objectively.

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Fall brings cool weather, but Saskatoon still warm for retail

shopping-bags1The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) held their annual Canadian Convention in Toronto from September 19-21. The event allows brokers, owners, developers, and retailers to meet up and form relationships at one central location.

With over 150 booths of various disciplines, attendees were able to mingle and cook deals in person. ICR sent a large contingency of brokers as usual and they came back with encouraging news.

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ABC’s of Leasing: Pitfalls for first-timers

Leases are created by landlords to protect their investments. They identify the rights and responsibilities for both parties during the term of the relationship.

Because in most cases the lease comes from the Landlord, he or she is going to be more aware of the clauses and ultimate implications. No one is trying to pull the wool over a tenant’s eyes, but there are items that are important to understand prior to entering into an agreement.

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Deeper issues surround YXE property tax increase

city-logo-2_1With a civic election around the corner there is much discussion surrounding our current administration’s property tax track record.

We have seen annual property tax increases average 5.43 per cent over the current council’s four-year term. During this same period the consumer price index indicates inflation has risen by an annual average of 1.9 per cent.

Anyone seeking civic office who is riding on the representation that they’ll keep increases under the rate of inflation without revealing a road map simply lacks credibility.

There is lots to talk about surrounding this issue.

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Hello, I am… Accountable

accountability-businessAccountability is defined as the fact or condition of being accountable; therefore, responsible. I think it’s a word that is thrown around without much consideration for the consequence of the potential expectation created.

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Salesman, saleswoman or salesperson?

Barry and KellyA few weeks ago, I was searching for a photo to accompany an earlier blog post. It didn’t surprise me, but it was a little disheartening to find that images of female real estate agents were hard to come by.

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How has the Employee Ownership Purchase Model worked for ICR?

businessSuccession

In an earlier, January 2015 blog post  I discussed the Employee Purchase of ICR. Nineteen months have passed since that announcement; let’s try and take an objective look at the pros and cons of this method of selling a business.

I believe in both our personal and work lives, where change is involved, it is beneficial to stop and take note of what worked, and what kind of challenges we encountered along the way.

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We’re on the hunt

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We field a number of questions regarding the type of sale or lease product that moves the quickest in our market. It’s hard to generalize because every commercial real estate property is different however there are certainly those that stand out from the rest.

We are always searching for new product to bring to our clients, so pay attention to our wish list:

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Saskatoon CRE market snapshot

DSCN1001With an abundance of industrial and office inventory, the story in Saskatoon’s commercial real estate market has not necessarily improved since the beginning of 2016 but it could be stated that things may be stabilizing.

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The sky is not falling

optimism

I had a conversation with a small contractor this week whose view of the commercial real estate market was a little off to me. He indicated that landlords should be bowing to tenants and taking whatever offers they can, given our current vacancy.

I won’t disagree that we have a fair amount of inventory within our Saskatoon industrial and office markets. While deals and incentives are being offered I don’t think it’s a dire situation.

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5 ways to get your commercial property leased

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Location and demand stand out as the major leasing drivers of commercial real estate however they are not the only factors.

Here’s a few tips I share with landlords to help their properties shine above the competition.

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Millennials influence commercial real estate developments

 

There is no definitive start to when a generation begins, but millennials are loosely described as the next demographic following Generation X. They are defined as people born from the early 1980s up to around the year 2000.

Their needs and wants should be important to employers, because as a generality this group of workers will not necessarily just follow the money; they want a workplace that offers a lot more.

Not only the office set up but location and amenities will play huge roles in companies’ ability to attract millennial employees. We see examples of this already impacting our commercial real estate market.

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Quality YXE commercial real estate investment assets scarce

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Many people I speak with are surprised to learn that we have such a high demand for investment product in this province. I am quite often asked the question (possibly due to the high vacancy rate in the industrial and office sectors) whether we believe prices have “bottomed out.”

I will first need to qualify my definition of “quality,” however in the last number of years there has been absolutely no downward movement in the price of these assets. As a matter of fact there has been some minor cap rate compression in the past year.

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The Saskatoon Commercial Real Estate Shining Star

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A common question asked in conversation is: “how’s the market?”  It’s difficult to provide a one sentence response to that question!

We’ve already reported the rather dull current status of the Saskatoon office and industrial leasing markets. We do have a strong demand for good quality Saskatchewan commercial real estate investment property however our supply is limited.

Where the story gets better, where we have a good balance between supply and demand and where we are still seeing new construction on spec is… retail!

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3 Essential investigations before buying CRE

There are three important due diligence items that should be on your to-do list when purchasing commercial real estate in any asset class. I have just resolved that when applicable, my Business Manager and I will do everything reasonably possible to ensure Buyers that we represent will be provided these documents prior to removal of their purchase agreement conditions. Let me explain why!

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Industrial land remains a hot commodity in Saskatoon

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While building inventory in the industrial sector may be high, demand for industrial zoned lots continues. According to the ICR first quarter report for 2016, the industrial market is stabilizing but vacant inventory has risen slightly since the final months of 2015.

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What are the odds?

0d7055b437da51678e4ca2b28590fe7ef03bfeffI’m not much of a gambler, but I’m game to make a few wagers on the immediate future of commercial real estate in Saskatoon. I still thinking putting money in our market is a safe bet but there are some important items to consider.

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My commercial property is worth what?!

Like so many material things in the world, the value of commercial real estate can often be in the eye of the beholder. There are two sides to this story; the hard truth is, the value to an owner user can outweigh what the market may be prepared to pay.

There are a number of items we look at when valuing a piece of commercial real estate. Here are just a few to consider.

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Does my site work?

IMG_4713When developers and investors are considering commercial real estate purchases, their broker is often called upon to render an opinion on site feasibility. As Barry and I would both tell you, we are not engineers or architects but we do have a pretty good idea of what is most commonly requested in our market.

Sharing some of our market insight can be important to the development of a site when it comes to tenants’ current expectations and achieving an expedient lease process on the property.
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Saskatchewan Secondary Market Outlook

Swift Current

Swift Current

Traditionally the general economic activity affecting Saskatchewan’s commercial real estate industry is impacted by three main outputs: agriculture, energy and potash. The Conference Board of Canada’s forecast of 2% GDP growth in 2016 is based on a resumption of typical agricultural production and somewhat lessening declines in the energy sector.

I’m not sure that I agree with the assumption that we will see recovery in the energy sector next year. Certainly however a lower loonie contributes to a stronger export market with the U.S., by far our largest customer. We believe 2016 will see some growth; two percent may be a bit optimistic.

The Royal Bank of Canada forecasts 3.2% retail growth for this province. An achievable number if we continue to grow our population.

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Exciting stuff on Saskatoon’s CRE horizon

Cornerstone CommonsWith all the economic doom and gloom, it’s time someone looked at what’s going right in Saskatoon. National tenants continue to look at our market and there are brave developers out there with the belief that if they build it, they will come.

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Psychology of employees to affect worth of CRE properties

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I came across an article entitled “Real estate value tied to human behavior” which takes an interesting view on the future values of commercial real estate properties, office in particular, when it comes to the psychology of the upcoming millennial workforce.

In commercial real estate the asset value is often attributed to lease rates. But it’s a unique concept to think employee wants and needs could be a contributing factor in achieving value to a space as well.

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Saskatoon’s office, industrial remains competitive

Third quarter market highlights for Saskatoon

 

Retail rendering

 

ICR Commercial Real Estate has released their third quarter musings regarding the office, industrial and retail markets in Saskatoon. Oversupply and slow absorption lowered expectations over the previous quarter, but where does that leave us?

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The Evolution of Retail

With technological advancements facilitating consumer’s ability to shop, the emergence of e-commerce continues to gain momentum. Many experts once believed that the future of retail would lie primarily within the e-commerce marketplace as online retailers were expected to overtake traditional brick-and-mortar chains. As a younger generation of shoppers becomes the main consumer within our marketplace, will e-commerce continue to dominate?

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YXE core neighbourhood loses grocery store

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Saskatoon core neighbourhood residents are up in arms regarding the recent announcement of a City Park grocery store closure. The media picked up the story quickly soliciting the shocked reactions of people living nearby the Loblaw-owned Shop Easy Foods on 7th Ave.

The impact to people who utilized and depended on the retailer is significant.

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University land play

U of S landsThe University of Saskatchewan is the largest urban land owner in Saskatoon outside of the City of Saskatoon with almost 1,000 acres of land ready for development. And they are ready to start maximizing their investment.

The U of S set forth a plan in 2009 to start considering the re-use of their expansive land inventory to capitalize on its potential going forward. This plan was recently addressed in the news as it starts to take shape. The U of S has purchased land in Clavet to begin moving some of the agriculture programs out of the City limits.

So what happens next?

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The good, the bad, and the ugly in CRE

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Over my seven years with ICR I’ve had a few deals that stick out in my mind. Much like a snowflake, every deal is unique but there are a few noteworthy examples of what I’d classify as the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

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You only get one chance to make a first impression

cleaning-hallMost commercial real estate agents would agree that our tenants and buyers are less likely to show warm, fuzzy feelings about properties like a homebuyer might. Often functionality and cost win out as the primary decisions behind choosing a commercial space.

But presentation does matter to these clients and there is typically only one opportunity to wow them so why not make it count.

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How much does $5K a month get you in Saskatoon’s CRE market?

Retail photo

We are often tasked with researching space for tenants using a monthly budget. But when we use a price per square foot as an industry to compare properties against each other there are a few steps required.

Thinking like a tenant, ICR’s Research Analyst Alvaro Campos put the question to our office this week: how much does $5,000 a month get you in Saskatoon’s office, retail and industrial?

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2015 Saskatoon Commercial Real Estate Forecast

Larry Kent with Rubbing Crystal BallIt’s not possible to accurately predict where the commercial real estate market is going this year. In order to understand the factors that generate changes in the market, these causes must be first be identified and evaluated.

A general market gap analysis, evaluating the difference between demand and supply of space involves four major market categories: investment, office, industrial and retail. Even though a region’s economic prosperity tends to move in one direction, it is not uncommon to see these different sectors trending in opposite directions.

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Commercial Real Estate Slang

Tongue TiedLike most industries, there is specific commercial real estate lingo that we use every day that may not be immediately evident to clients. Here’s a few I use nearly every day that I’ve had clients look for clarification on.

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Goodbye to 2014

ar126204051028313We said hello to many new restaurants and retailers in 2014 but we also had to say goodbye to a few in Saskatoon. A recent article about Toronto landmark real estate that has been closed or demolished, inspired me to think of the properties or businesses that gave way to growth and change taking place in our Saskatoon market in 2014.

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What major Saskatoon retail corridor is this?

question-markSometimes the most obvious answers are right in front of us. I often get retail tenants looking for high exposure retail zoning. In Saskatoon’s under retailed landscape this can be a tough find.

There is one area that springs to mind that many people have underrated over the years. See if you can guess where I’m talking about.

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Why it was necessary to throw away 18 years of real estate knowledge

Real estate knowledgeYou may have sometime in the past chosen a new path believing that your life experience would be a great asset in your new endeavor?  Well that was certainly my thinking 18 years ago!

Previous to that, between the years 1978 and 2006 I sold new and then resale residential real estate. My last four years during that period I was a non-competing Branch Manager.

When the company I had been working for was sold I made a decision to make a move into the world of commercial real estate.

I knew the business would be different but was not prepared for just how different it was. I brokered a few transactions but mostly floundered for about six months, believing I would find my way by approaching the business using my old residential tools.

It was about the seventh month when I finally came out of denial, realized I had to throw everything I knew out the window, and start asking a lot more questions. So why are the two sectors of the business so different?  Here are three of many reasons:

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What happens when a tenant goes into default?

8923306_origLaws governing commercial real estate tenancies vary from province to province. In Saskatchewan, once a tenant has been determined to be in default (by definition of their lease agreement) there are several remedies available to the landlord.

Some of the information presented here is from an article prepared by the local firm of Robertson Stromberg. This should not be taken as legal advice, rather a discussion on some of the consequences that can be imposed on delinquent tenancies. Each tenancy must be dealt with on a case by case basis.

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Time to Sell Functionally Obsolescent CRE?

Obscelecent bldgIn an earlier blog post: “Have Saskatchewan commercial real estate values peaked?” I discussed the future of commercial real estate values in this province. Here we look more specifically at what I will refer to as the functionally obsolescent asset class.

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Saskatoon retail starting to catch up to demand

Restaurant logosFor the past eight years, Saskatoon’s retail vacancy rate has stayed under three per cent leaving tenancies with little choice or few options to locate here. Recent construction surges have started to create more opportunities in the commercial real estate market for retailers looking to get their foothold into Saskatoon.

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12 secondary market hotspots in Saskatchewan

 

Saskatchewan’s largest urban centres are Regina and Saskatoon but did you know there are a dozen secondary markets attracting retailers and developers?

The Secondary Market Retail Outlook for 2014 was just recently released by ICR Commercial Real Estate. In house Research Analyst Alvaro Campos has been hard at work collecting information on these communities, which we’d like to summarize:

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Is there a shift taking place in the Saskatoon retail sector?

homepageIn days gone by, when a new national retail merchant came searching for a spot for their first Saskatoon store we found they usually wanted to locate within the 8th Street, Broadway or Downtown retail corridors. Obviously there were many other available options however the majority of interest centered on those areas.

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