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Successfully Motoring through Choppy CRE Seas Successfully Motoring through Choppy CRE Seas
As an avid boater, I learned long ago not to become mesmerized by the surface of the water. It doesn’t always tell the whole... Successfully Motoring through Choppy CRE Seas

As an avid boater, I learned long ago not to become mesmerized by the surface of the water. It doesn’t always tell the whole story. For one, it is easy to overlook or endanger some of the most special parts of our environment, such as manatees, reef structures and schools of feeder fish, which direct you to a trophy fish that all hide below the surface. Equally important and a recipe for disaster, particularly in the waters of our beloved Southwest Florida coast, individuals who boat with a lack of awareness about potential submerged hazards.

Throughout my three-plus decades of experience in Southwest Florida commercial real estate, I have found the same principle of awareness applies to ensure constantly exceeding clients’ expectations. “Highest and best use” is more than a phrase for appraisers to beef up reports. What an asset is today might not be its best purpose in the future. What clients believe they need now might not be the best long-term solution. Communities, population centers, businesses and markets expand and contract like the tides.

While the Southwest Florida market has been spared much of the reassessment that has struck the CRE industry since the pandemic, particularly the office sector, I cannot assume there are no assets that are mispositioned or obsolete, or that demand is going unfulfilled. Throughout the nation, stakeholders are considering office, retail and industrial properties for redevelopment to multifamily housing. Here is a local example: as the North Fort Myers submarket evolves, we are seeing repurposing happen as long-unused retail space at Merchant’s Crossing and Hancock Bridge Square is demolished and redeveloped to multifamily housing, which is one of the area’s greatest needs.

Perhaps a client approaches me in need of space to lease. Generally, that is a straightforward request for users aware of their needs, financial constraints and timeline. However, as a real estate professional, it is my responsibility to look below the surface, like a boat captain successfully navigating through our inland waterways. For clients with special circumstances, such as a need for specialization and buildout requirements or financial considerations like lease rates and capital markets, leasing might not be the best option. Perhaps purchasing an existing building or constructing new space is more appropriate.

Similarly, owners and investors, particularly those in our international market, are dependent upon local professionals to help them make informed decisions as to use (both what the market demands and what is permissible) and what terms to demand that will maximize return now and years down the road.

Much like a trusted charter captain or guide, I constantly monitor the market and economic forecasts – the boating equivalent of navigational charts and weather forecasts – to give clients the best chance to reach their CRE destination. To achieve that goal, it is essential that I keep my eyes open to what is needed, what may be permitted, population trends, new supply in the pipeline and what return on investment is dictated for different uses. Particularly in a time of tumultuous national economic weather, that in-depth local knowledge, the ability to think outside the box and willingness to educate my partners will earn the loyalty and business to make you, and your clients, thrive.

Enn Luthringer, CCIM is a partner with CRE Consultants. Enn’s expertise includes all aspects of commercial brokerage, with a specialty in the office and health care sectors. For more information, please contact him at (239) 481-3800 or enn. or visit