3 Mistakes I’ve Made in Commercial Real Estate


We have clients requesting commercial real estate advice on a daily basis. It is also necessary to make personal investment decisions to achieve our own long term financial goals. Here are three examples that come to mind where I was found to be “off the mark!”

­Business expansion opportunity

A number of years ago a client had an opportunity to purchase a piece of land in the Saskatoon core. He proposed to construct a building on this parcel for the manufacture and retail sale of his product. He had been in business for a number of years and had a very established client base.

The land was located adjacent a freeway entrance ramp and on the edge of an area that was known for its derelict buildings and higher crime rate. He asked for my advice and without giving much thought, very emphatically stated that it would be a bad investment decision. Even though the land was relatively cheap he would spend a lot of money constructing a building and have a difficult time getting his money back whenever he wanted to sell.

He fortunately did not take my advice, bought the land and built the building. That land is located within what is now considered the “chic” area of town. The exposure that his building signage offers adjacent the high traffic freeway is priceless. If he did choose to sell I could now bring him offers that would multiply his initial investment many times.

Motel development site

I was asked by a client to assemble land ideas for hotel development. After presenting all of the options he expressed interest in a parcel which appeared to offer great value given its location and high traffic count.

We submitted an offer and came to terms on a conditional deal. I proceeded to investigate the City of Saskatoon’s long term traffic and roadway plans. There was a railway crossing directly in front of property and I wanted to know if there were any future changes contemplated by the city for that crossing.

I discovered that there was a reasonable possibility that a future overpass could be constructed which would negatively impact access to this development site.  I informed my client and advised that he not proceed on that basis. He took my advice. There is now a national flagged motel on that site that has been operating very successfully for a number of years.


It’s interesting that for many years I was comfortable providing guidance and suggestions to clients but delayed moving my own investment dollars into commercial real estate. A very wise client told me: “just do it!”   I followed that advice and have never looked back. **

**The Agents and Brokers at ICR have agreed a non-compete policy that prohibits us from competing with clients in the primary market where we reside and sell. I cannot therefore purchase commercial real estate in Saskatoon and immediate surrounding area. I have however found great opportunity within our Saskatchewan commercial real estate secondary markets.

Lessons Learned: Neither gut instinct or site specific research can be solely relied upon to make a business decision. Investment decisions always involve a bit of both.  There are many different factors that affect commercial real estate strategy. At ICR we offer clients the benefit of many collective years of commercial real estate experience along with confidential team collaboration.

Posted by Barry Stuart


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