The growing tech landscape in commercial real estate has evened much of what was once not a level playing field.
While larger corporate companies may still own a larger quantity of markets, the competition within those individual markets is as high as ever.
That’s because teams of all sizes now have the same level of access to property intelligence, data, and technology.
Perhaps the best examples of this, is the rising prevalence of boutique real estate firms in markets around the country.
Increasingly, boutique firms present better opportunities for agents looking to move to another company, as well as for investors looking to buy or sell a commercial asset.
Why might you want to work with or for a Boutique Real Estate Firm?
While traditional corporate real estate firms have a lot to offer commercial real estate investors, boutique real estate firms cannot be discounted.
Their smaller size means that these firms can’t get by on national name recognition.
They must do consistently excellent work to develop and maintain their reputation and client relationships.
1. Top-tier customer service and collaboration.
This often leads to a greater focus on customer service rather than on the number of completed transactions. Typically, boutique firms only hire experienced brokers with a proven track record of successfully serving clients.
And generally, these smaller companies provide a collaborative environment rather than a cutthroat mentality.
In some cases, an entire office may be dedicated to finding a client the property they’re looking to purchase or sell.
Smaller company size means more innovative and customized service, with nimbler responses to situations like increased staffing needs for new projects.
Many boutique firms have local accounting teams, in-house marketing teams and so on.
This often ensures that waiting times to get properties listed are reduced or eliminated while responses to issues that may arise are much more rapid.
2. Local market mastery and connections.
Doing business with a real estate firm that employs a local marketing team means that sellers can expect their marketing materials to highlight the most relevant and important features of a community.
And a boutique firm’s owners and employees will be invested in and very connected to the local community—a wonderful asset to buyers and sellers alike.
In fact, although large national commercial real estate firms will have a presence in most major markets, they may not have an office in the area that you’re interested in.
Smaller, more local firms may actually have larger offices and more team members in certain real estate markets throughout the country.
Many local firms also have strategic partnerships with excellent brokers in other markets if you have any need of them.
The fact is, when it comes to real estate firms, bigger isn’t always better.
And of course, it depends on the mindset of you as an agent or investor. Perhaps you prefer a more cutthroat environment to increase your potential ceiling for success.
Perhaps you’d like to start at a large corporate firm and work your way to a boutique firm later in life.
Below, we look at some examples of boutique real estate firms around the country and what they have to offer.
Boutique Real Estate Firms in the United States
For each firm mentioned below, we’ll cover:
- The areas they serve.
- The services they offer.
- The experience they provide.
- What makes them unique as a boutique firm.
Park Commercial Real Estate – Charlotte, NC
Founded in 2010, Park Commercial Real Estate is a Charlotte-based boutique commercial real estate firm serving both North and South Carolina.
Together the founding partners have over 40 years of commercial real estate brokerage experience.
As native Charlotteans, they offer in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the local market.
Park Commercial’s team offers clients a personalized approach to the complex real estate market, from navigating challenging listings to searching for real estate space for a new location or investment.
The firm provides a full range of leasing and sale services for industrial, office, medical, land and investment properties.
Redwood Property Group – NYC
Redwood Property Group is a commercial real estate firm in New York City dedicated to commercial leasing, building sales, and property acquisition.
As a company, they believe in giving back.
For every lease brokered, they plant a redwood tree in northern California through the Redwood Forest Foundation.
Firm services include tenant representation, landlord representation, lease renewal, and subleasing.
Redwood Property Group offers an exclusive portfolio of retail and office space listings, and their listings also include profiles for each building.
Another exclusive asset they provide business owners is a handbook breaking down the key aspects of the potentially overwhelming process of leasing commercial space in Manhattan.
Caton Commercial Real Estate Group – Chicago, IL
Since 1988, the professional teams of commercial real estate brokers, commercial property managers and support staff at Caton Commercial Real Estate Group have been representing the interests of landlords, tenants, investors and property owners in Chicago, its suburbs and beyond.
Caton Commercial is one of Chicagoland’s most respected third-party brokerage firms.
The family-founded company has strong community ties and relationships, with team members holding leadership roles in local organizations such as Economic Development Corps, Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs.
The firm offers a full range of client services including property disposition, investment sales, leasing, tenant representation and property management.
Caton Commercial’s website provides detailed information for the communities they serve.
Community pages include maps and location specifics, population details, community history and current information about local assets including dining and entertainment, attractions and accommodations.
Local property listings are provided through the community pages as well.
Chicago Real Estate Resources Inc. – Chicago, IL
Chicago Real Estate Resources Inc. (CRER) is a full-service, commercial real estate firm.
Founded in 2004 by Chicago real estate veteran Eric Janssen, the firm specializes in a multitude of services including investment real estate sales and leasing, tenant representation, property management and receivership services.
The CRER brokerage team has a broad range of experience in commercial transactions.
This includes expertise in marketing and selling multifamily, retail, office, vacant land and more. The firm also handles the leasing of retail and office space.
With over 100 years of combined experience in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana, the CRER team can offer excellent regional market advice.
CRER brokers use top-of-the-line systems and software to streamline transactions and have instant access to all the leading property listing services, marketing and research tools available—tools like LoopNet, CoStar, LexisNexis and Constant Contact.
The firm also has an in-house marketing professional.
CRER’s property database allows investors to view available properties for sale or lease. Results are given by both map view and list view, with the list view including price, address and size details.
AQUILA is an Austin, TX based commercial real estate firm offering tenant representation, project leasing, asset, property and project management services.
Founded in 2007, it’s one of the fastest-growing commercial real estate firms in Austin.
Taken from Greek mythology, the company’s namesake and inspiration is Zeus’ loyal servant—a majestic eagle renowned for his sight.
Like the eagle, the firm bills itself as seeing everything that happens in their corner of the world.
Collaboration is a cornerstone of the firm’s culture. Brokers talk to property managers.
Accountants talk to partners. Researchers talk to everyone. This helps the company’s 75 team members discover openings and develop negotiating leverage.
AQUILA offers services for owners, investors and tenants in the office, retail, industrial and land services market sectors.
The firm’s property database can be searched by properties for sale, lease and sublease or by market sector. They also provide the Austin Office Market Report which gives insights into Austin’s commercial real estate scene.
Woodyard Realty Corporation
Woodyard Realty Corporation is a boutique brokerage firm specializing in the sale of multifamily housing apartment complexes in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and the Mid-South.
The firm has closed over 40 percent of the total apartment market sales in the Memphis Metro area in past years, representing institutional, local, and out-of-state clients.
The firm was founded in 1984 and its agents have over 60 years of combined real estate experience.
Woodyard has an exclusive inventory of available investment properties which usually exceeds 50 listings.
Many of these property offerings are confidential and not known to be available by the brokerage community. The firm also acquaints clients with publicly listed properties and offers all the investment opportunities on the market that meet each client’s investment criteria.
The firm provides client access to leading-edge capital resources, investors, and local market information.
Their website includes a database of the firm’s property listings which can be viewed as a list or on a map. The list view can be sorted by property price, name or zip code.
Birchin Lane Realty Advisors, LLC
Based in South Carolina, Birchin Lane Realty Advisors, LLC is a professional advisory firm specializing in commercial real estate.
Focusing on the Southeastern United States, the firm possesses twenty-five years of proven, diverse real estate experience with multi-disciplinary skills across all major asset classes.
Birchin Lane offers a wide range of commercial real estate services in several key areas:
The firm’s listings database includes properties for sale or for lease as well as net lease listings. Their website also provides a calculator to help business owners determine how much office space they need.
Located in Lake Oswega, Oregon, OmniVest is a boutique commercial and investment real estate brokerage firm specializing in multifamily investments.
Areas of expertise include acquisitions, dispositions and assisting clients with 1031 exchanges.
The firm’s market knowledge and experience allow team members to counsel clients on the best strategies to maximize their real estate portfolios.
The firm’s website offers a number of tools for investors:
MBH Investment Real Estate
MBH Investment Real Estate is a boutique brokerage firm specializing in investment property sales transactions across all sectors.
Founded in 2016, the Milwaukee-based company was created to provide a dedicated and focused level of service to clients and customers on both the buying and selling sides of the transaction.
Matson Holbrook, CCIM, is principal and managing broker of MBH.
His areas of expertise cover all real estate sectors, including multifamily, office, retail, industrial and other special asset classes such as self-storage and development parcels.
MBH strives to provide strong personalized service in a simple, yet sophisticated manner. A single point of contact with your broker ensures a streamlined and efficient marketing and sale process.
Services provided by MBH include the following:
- Investment Property Sales & Acquisitions
- Financial Underwriting
- Broker Opinions of Value (BOVs)
- Market and Industry Research
- Due Diligence Coordination and Oversight
MBH property listings can be viewed by market sector. Results include detailed information and property highlights for each for sale listing, as well as the firm’s recently sold listings.
Investors looking for the services of a real estate firm would do well to consider boutique real estate firms as well as corporate mega-firms.
Consider the service and experience offered by each firm in relation to your investment needs.
What we’ve reviewed here is a small selection of the boutique firms that exist to serve commercial real estate investors throughout the United States and beyond.