This CCIM's unique training defines her real estate approach.
As the industry looks ahead to 2010 (or beyond) for solace, commercial real estate professionals are steeling themselves against the slowdown by ramping up their marketing efforts. These may include a renewed focus on client relationships or developing creative negotiation techniques. But for Candice Chevaillier, CCIM, managing director of The Foundation Group in Seattle, such fundamental marketing strategies have defined her role since day one: “As brokers, it’s our job to market a property for a client and get them the highest price in the least amount of time,” she says. “Good marketing is at the core of our work.”
In 1998, Chevaillier earned a master’s degree in global marketing communications and advertising from Emerson College in Brussels, Belgium. After graduation, she worked at Andersen Consulting before joining Avanade, a venture between Accenture and Microsoft. At Avanade, Chevaillier led targeted global marketing campaigns that — although they were not related to commercial real estate — provided the foundation for her current approach. The cross-cultural experience prepared her to work with a diverse list of foreign clients at The Foundation Group, but the formal training is the real advantage, she says. “My background in service and product marketing gives me a step up. Not many brokers have that training.” Chevaillier honed these skills at Marcus & Millichap before joining The Foundation Group.
Last year, Chevaillier put her marketing know-how to the test when she listed the 44-unit Parkwing Apartments in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Reeling from the credit crunch, many brokers assumed potential buyers would shy away from this trophy property, Chevaillier says. Seattle’s multifamily buyer pool was in a state of flux, shifting away from condominium converters toward long-term investors looking for cash flow. But despite this new market wariness, she pressed on, confident that she and her team could create the right climate for a sale. “That’s my philosophy: Create a competitive environment,” she says. “And within two weeks, through a tightly controlled marketing campaign, we had 25 showings and rounded up 10 offers.” Thanks to Chevaillier’s creative engineering, the property closed $175,000 above the listing price.
Another Queen Anne-area apartment deal, which is scheduled to close in May, pitted Chevaillier against a difficult buyer. “A buyer and agent combo were dragging their feet during the negotiation process,” she says.
“The seller had indicated the lowest acceptable price, but the buyer kept asking for something lower.” Chevaillier convinced the seller to lower the listing price, allowing her to market the property at the lowest acceptable number — the same number that was being contested by the buyer. “This meant that the buyer and agent could no longer negotiate with us in a vacuum. They were competing with the rest of the market at the new price,” she explains. Within two days, the seller received another offer. “To avoid missing the opportunity, the buyer finally stepped up to the plate.”
But as deals become more elusive, commercial real estate professionals everywhere are rethinking their tactics. Chevaillier, for her part, has returned to fundamentals. “Right now, we’re focused on ‘block and tackle,’ reaching out to clients over the phone and in person to give them relevant market updates,” she says. This consultation strategy helped Chevaillier weather her transition into the real estate industry, and she is anxious to reprise it: “Times like these provide an excellent opportunity to foster existing relationships and build new ones,” she says. “But client service is important no matter what kind of market we’re in.”