CCIM Q&A

CCIM Q&A: Surviving and Thriving Amid Disruption

Blaine Strickland, CCIM

 

A 40-year veteran of commercial real estate, Blaine Strickland, CCIM, has succeeded as a broker, manager, consultant, and coach. His second book, “Adapt,” discusses the commercial real estate industry’s readiness to react and improve amid disruptive forces in technology, demographics, and global markets. Published in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the brakes on the global economy, Strickland’s work focuses solely on disruptive forces within commercial real estate, as opposed to worldwide public health disasters.

We spoke with him about challenges and opportunities tied to disruption, along with his personal experience in commercial real estate.

Listen to the full podcast episode, Adapting to Disruption in Commercial Real Estate with Blaine Strickland.

 

CIRE: “Adapt” covers plenty of disruptors, some of which are already game changers in commercial real estate. You discuss online auctions as a potential area of opportunity. How could the industry best leverage this business practice?

Blaine Strickland, CCIM: In 2012, I watched two brokers use the Ten-X platform to sell a neighborhood shopping center. And I was like, “What? I’ve never seen that. How can that be?” The real estate was not distressed. It was a complicated property, with plenty of tenants along with vacant space. It’s a complex animal, and yet they pulled it off.

The lenders took the real estate back and then employed special servicers to dispose of it. A bank has loan officers and a very small staff associated with real estate that it has to take back and continue to own. Banks want to move that away from themselves as quickly as possible. Certainty is important and the auction provides it, because the whole world knows that the auction is going to occur on this date. As the seller, it’s pretty exciting to think, “Wow, it’s 1:30 in the afternoon now, and my property will be under contract in a few hours and closed within 30 days.” In the last 10 years, it has become a more valuable and legitimate sales strategy for brokers to use on an everyday basis.

But what would happen if the quarantine effect lasted another six months? If tenants can’t make rent and property owners can’t make their payments, all of a sudden, it’s like a stranglehold. The banks definitely do not want to take a bunch of real estate back at the same time. You could see a situation evolve where the primary players — the landlords and lenders — would want that certainty. Guess what? We’re back in a moment where certainty becomes extremely important. The borrower is stuck. They haven’t made payments in six months but the lender doesn’t want to take back the property. They could work together and decide to put the property in a commercial auction. These kinds of economic swings could really cause this to be a very valuable channel. So 10 years ago, it didn’t seem possible, and now it’s completely viable.

CIRE: On a more personal note, you’re the second in three generations of CCIM designees. What does that mean, knowing that the business that you have dedicate your life to is something of a family tradition that you share with your father and your son?

Strickland: Well, my first reaction to that question is that my 87-year-old father, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., is healthy. He’s safe and he’s healthy, so I’m pretty darn happy about that. He’s not active in the business anymore, but he’s certainly somebody you would want to model yourself after. My son is 29 years old and is about 40 minutes away in Central Florida. I became a designee in ‘87, my dad in ‘84, and my son in 2018. That’s the first time that’s happened in history. We just hit the demographics perfectly because the institute is 53 years old now. But my dad was a leader in his day. I was very active with the local organization back in my day, and I’ve been an instructor for the last 13 years, teaching six or seven times a year. Now, my son is the president-elect of his local district.

Teaching is still a joy. Students can hardly wait to run back to their businesses because they’ve now been armed with powerful tools that they can immediately put into play. 

It’s been a lifelong passion for us. We’ve all bought into the same organization and the meaning of the designation — the relationships that we’ve built really have been life-changing for us.

And teaching is still a joy. Students can hardly wait to run back to their businesses because they’ve now been armed with powerful tools that they can immediately put into play. That might be the single most magnetic element of CCIM Institute to me, which is that the information that we traffic in makes people better at what they do. It is street driven.

CIRE: As an instructor for CCIM Institute, you interact with young, developing professionals on a regular basis. What skills would you recommend CRE professionals either brush up on or start learning to hit the ground running in late-2020 and 2021?

Strickland: I would simply say this: I’m an old guy — most of the industry is younger than me. But I enjoy studies, mapping, and visualization. This is a way to be more valuable to your clients. I have been continually impressed with the information that can now be converted or transformed into a visualization. 

When I started many years ago, if you were a real estate director, you would come into town blind. You’d get in the car and drive around — it was called a windshield tour. You’d think, “Oh, this is a nice part of town…” Now, you can paint such an unbelievable story with the layers of data that are available. If you’re not doing that, you will soon be surpassed by the competition. People are using it — and they are pressing that advantage.


To listen to all episodes of Commercial Investment Real Estate podcast, visit ccim.com or stream wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Nicholas Leider

Nicholas Leider is senior content editor for Commercial Investment Real Estate. Contact him at nleider@ccim.com.

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