A Game-Changing Year Ahead

Q&A with Eddie D. Blanton, CCIM

Eddie Speaking

Eddie D. Blanton, CCIM, is principal and senior adviser with Tradd Commercial in Charlotte, N.C., and the 2020 CCIM Institute President. A native of Charlotte, he began his career more than 23 years ago as a leasing agent and property manager before moving into retail and investment brokerage. 

We spoke with Blanton about the industry and his goals for the institute in the coming year.

CIRE: What do you see as the biggest challenges for commercial real estate in 2020?

Blanton: Today’s challenges remain the same as they were in 2019. It’s the unforeseen outside influences that could possibly affect commercial real estate in 2020. There is so much uncertainty out there with the election year, trade tariffs, and other global issues. We will not know the magnitude of their individual or collective effects on CRE until something actually happens. As a result, I believe that we are going to remain in a wait-and-see mindset.

CIRE: What market sectors do you see excelling and which will struggle this year? 

Blanton:  Multifamily and industrial warehouse markets will continue to lead the way in 2020. These are such strong sectors within our industry today, and I see that continuing into 2020. Although it pains me to say this, I believe that retail will continue to slow down and remain the dark cloud in 2020. It pains me because I personally specialize in retail. This sector will continue to see a changing of the guard as longtime traditional stores close and the new retail concepts continue to emerge. Look for office to continue to have issues, as well. Overall, investment transactions will be slowing down as about 90 percent of all buyers are chasing value-add deals — deals which probably represent only 10 percent of what’s available today.

CIRE: Do you anticipate the presidential elections significantly impacting the industry? 

Blanton: Yes. Historically, we have seen our industry remain somewhat flat during the election years. But given the current polarizing state of politics and the behaviors resulting from this polarization, I believe you’ll see people getting overwhelmed trying to figure out what’s actually the truth and what’s not. And that kind of environment is rife for creating uncertainty and trust issues with the general public. When the “warm and fuzzy” feelings about the U.S economy disappear, it will impact all of us. 

The institute continues to get in front of the issues and provide training and thought leadership to assist in overcoming the challenges, preparing for the future, and providing real-world solutions that you can readily put to use in your own day-to-day business models.

CIRE: How will CCIM Institute prepare its members for these upcoming challenges?

Blanton:  CCIM Institute’s history is one of always looking forward, identifying the potential issues, and providing its members with relevant information, education, and tools to successfully navigate whatever lies ahead. The institute continues to get in front of the issues and provide training and thought leadership to assist in overcoming the challenges, preparing for the future, and providing real-world solutions that you can readily put to use in your own day-to-day business models. That’s what the Ward Center for Real Estate Studies is all about, and I hope that everyone takes a moment in the New Year to really pore through the more than 60 courses available through the Ward Center.    

CIRE: What area would you like the institute to focus on this year, and how will this benefit members?

Blanton: I have always been and will continue to be a huge advocate of providing the local CCIM chapters with the tools and resources to better serve their members. The chapters are the institute’s boots on the ground, serving as the face of the institute and the primary source for service and networking. Over the past two years, the CCIM Institute Board of Directors has approved a tremendous amount of business plans that are in-progress focused on further enhancing the support we provide the chapters — a direct result of the 2019-2020 strategic plans. In 2020, we will implement many of these plans, so you’ll really be able to see the fruits growing from all the seeds we’ve planted. It’s an exciting time to be president of CCIM Institute, and I’m honored to serve in 2020. 

CIRE: You founded The Blanton Foundation in 2015, a non-profit organization that provides financial and volunteer assistance to local and regional charities. Why is giving back important to you?

Blanton: I personally don’t like the words “giving back.” We use the phrase “assisting others” at the foundation because that is the sole mission of The Blanton Foundation. When I started the foundation, it was something that I wanted to create to serve as a great legacy to leave my son. There are usually two types of people that give to charities: those who give financially and those who volunteer their time. I have done both in the past, and I saw a real need to provide charities with additional assistance above and beyond the donations they raise. I am very proud of where we are; we have a great management team in place to carry on the good work and grow the foundation. And none of us takes a salary; we all donate our individual talents to the foundation so that 90 percent of what we raise goes to the benefactors. That’s what makes a big difference.

Larry Guthrie

Larry Guthrie is director of communications for CCIM Institute.


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