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Are you looking to buy commercial real estate, but have no idea how to take care of the property? No worries! Cory welcomes Warren Smithies, CEO of Martello Group, one of Western Canada’s leading commercial property management companies with over 5,000,000 SQFT under management. Warren walks you through the benefits of having a professional management company oversee and manage your property, which will lead to increased value for owners without having to lift a finger. COVID-19 impacted landlords all over the world. Hear firsthand what Warren’s portfolio has experienced and how they prepare as BC enters the first stage of the reopening plan.
Please tell us about yourself.
I’m the CEO of Martello Group and we’re a family business. We have offices in Alberta and BC and I have been in the business since 1988. I know property management inside and out.
There’s a lot going on in the commercial business and it’s different from residential. The complexities make it a different ballgame. There’s a lot more to learn. That’s why it helps to bring in someone like us when you’re new to the commercial game.
There are three reasons why an investor would want to work with a management company. It removes the headaches. Our expertise helps them to maximize ROI. And we help to protect you against risks that don’t exist in the residential space.
How is property management different in the commercial space?
Commercial is pretty much unregulated compared to residential. There’s not a Residential Tenancy Act; it all depends on the lease that you’ve negotiated. And commercial leases are very complicated. That’s where we come in. We create a level of consistency and professionalism when communicating with tenants.
What are the fees involved?
This ties into how we can help maximize an investor’s ROI. Unlike residential, in the commercial space, the maintenance and management costs of the property can be collected from the tenant. Leases are collected on a triple net basis; tenants pay a base rent, but they also pay the cost of maintenance, insurance and property taxes. So you’re actually much better protected as a commercial investor.
What does the management cover?
It would cover regular management things like janitorial services, utilities, insurance, etc. And those numbers adjust annually. When costs increase, like they are doing right now in lumber, you can pass those onto tenants who then pass those onto their customers. So commercial investors are much better protected against inflation and rising costs, compared to residential investors.
What challenges did covid cause in the commercial space? What asset classes were most affected?
We do manage all asset classes across Western Canada so we have a great overview of what’s going on. Multi-family came out pretty well overall. In BC, there were rent subsidies. The office class was pretty hard hit, especially in Alberta. But our tenants have come out well; better than I expected. There are additional cleaning costs and tenant concerns about being in buildings. We’re only now starting to get back into offices. It’s been an interesting time for sure.
Did you have any problems with collecting rents on the retail side?
Retail was an interesting one through covid. At first, it was hit very hard and many are still recovering today. There were big box stores that closed and are still sitting empty. Small mom and pop shops shut down. There were a lot of layoffs.
But an interesting trend we’re seeing is people turning towards entrepreneurship. Especially in Alberta, we’re seeing new businesses pop up as people take the opportunity to go out on their own. So for us and our clients, they have done pretty well. We don’t have a ton of retail vacancies.
I think the move towards entrepreneurship speaks to Canadians’ resiliency. We’re seeing it more in Calgary than Edmonton.
Retail and office were hit the hardest. And the government response made investing in BC more attractive. Is that correct?
Absolutely. Back in March/April of 2020, we were asking the government to support landlords and businesses. And generally, those programs came through and they were effective. After the hiccup period, our clients came out whole. I feel very fortunate for how it ended up shaking down.
We know there’s high demand in the industrial space. Was that asset class the least impacted by covid?
Industrial is like a fortress. You could invest in that asset class and I don’t see how you could lose money at this point in time, from a management perspective. There’s so much demand and such a short supply of space. That asset class has been very strong.
The Metro Vancouver market is definitely the strongest; Edmonton is weaker as there’s a bit of an oversupply. Calgary is quite resilient.
When should someone bring on a property manager?
The earlier someone works with us, the better. We can provide insight during the early part of the process, especially if this is a first purchase and they don’t have the experience. Once you have an LOI (Letter of Intent) in place, you should engage us. We would not charge fees at this time.
A note on LOIs by Cory:
Some landlords ask for an LOI (Letter of Intent) before a PSA (Purchase and Sale Agreement) as PSAs can be very long and complicated. The LOI is where you would tell the landlord what you want to pay and your terms and conditions. If they feel that you’re in the same ballpark, they will then negotiate that into a PSA. It’s a common practice in commercial when you’re dealing with larger landlords or larger buildings.
Are management fees always passed onto the tenant?
It’s extremely rare that tenants can negotiate those terms. For example, government tenants may be able to negotiate those terms as they have excellent credit quality. But it is standard in the industry to have the tenants pay those fees. It’s only in very rare situations where the tenant could limit their costs per year.
How often do you see people trying to manage properties by themselves?
Some investors prefer to have the tightest control of their operations as possible. Some people feel that delegating is not best for them. But that’s the only time we see people going it alone. We always recommend an investor work with a manager. If it’s not us, it should be someone else. There’s a level of complexity that exists in the commercial space that doesn’t exist in the residential space. That’s where value is lost when investors leave money on the table.
How does Martello Group remove headaches for owners?
Like in residential, commercial tenants are demanding. They want regular communication with their property manager. Properties need to be properly tended to. Emergencies happen, like pipes bursting at 2:00am. If you’re an investor, you don’t want to be handling those things yourself. We take care of all of that for you. We have dependable trades with pre-negotiated prices. We take the pain out of working with tenants.
Screening is huge. We make sure tenants are of quality. The last thing you want to do is sign a 10 year contract with a tenant who goes bankrupt in three.
There are a lot of costs involved in finding and placing a tenant. If you’re not screening and you’re turning over tenants every few years, your costs may be outweighing your profits. Bringing in professional management is like an insurance policy. I can’t imagine a better time for having a management company in place than covid.
Covid was the most challenging situation our industry has faced in my career. We actually gained clients as individual investors couldn’t navigate the process themselves. We developed systems to navigate the programs, cleaning, etc. It brought to the forefront the value add of having a professional manager.
Where are the best investment opportunities?
There are opportunities everywhere. In my mind, price matters but growth also matters. Vancouver Island and the Greater Vancouver Area are big growth areas but prices are high. Are the prices worth the growth? I don’t know. The interior is also growing very fast with relatively good value. If you look a bit farther, you may find better value but it might be lower growth.
If you were to buy one commercial property, what property would it be and where?
It’s hard to pick one. The last place we put our capital is in the Okanagan. We feel there’s growth there and we see the value.
As an investor, can I be more hands on or hands off with my property manager?
Yes, we’re very customized. Some of our clients want to interact with their manager on a daily basis, and that’s fine. They want to have final say and be very involved. And we have other clients who are international and only ask for a quarterly statement. We can go either way.
What advice would you give to someone starting their commercial real estate journey?
Make sure you have a good team on your side before you make a purchase. They will add so much value and protect you from situations you can’t even see.
Find out more: www.martello.group
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Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from all of us at the VCREP and thanks for listening in 2022. As the podcast continues to grow week-over-week we have some amazing guests lined up for 2023 which is shaping up to be our biggest year yet. Thanks for all the continued support and we look forward to some amazing shows in 2023!
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Mayor Ed Mayne discusses the exciting opportunities Parksville is currently experiencing in the Central Island market. As Nanaimo continues to boom, just 20 minutes up the road sits Parksville, which has seen a development boom of their own, led by a proactive mayor who has the experience to guide the community into 2022 and beyond.
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Rod MacKay of WWC’s Vancouver office discusses the most unpredictable year we’ve had in real estate yet. From faster than expected rising interest rates, to record breaking month-over-month inflation, to worldwide supply chain issues… 2022 has been anything but predictable.
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Bronwyn Scrivens from Omada Commercial Real Estate in Edmonton discusses Alberta’s growing industrial market. She shares how Alberta is receiving the halo effect from BC’s tight vacancy rates and staggering acquisition costs, and what tenants and developers are now looking into when it comes to Alberta vs BC.
One of the biggest secrets in commercial real estate is spotting the trends and staying ahead of them. Jonathan Meads, Vice President of StreetSide Developments, discusses the booming Fraser Valley markets and unpacks why StreetSide keeps their focus primarily on this area.
On a national and provincial level, one of the most exciting real estate markets has been Victoria. Mayor of Victoria, Lisa Helps, unpacks how Victoria got to where it is today, the goals she has accomplished in her eight years as mayor, and unveils what’s in store for BC’s capital city.
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Mike Kozakowski, founder of Citified Media and citified.ca, a comprehensive resource for researching new-build homes and commercial spaces on Vancouver Island, gives a glimpse into the years and years of new construction data Citified has tracked in the Greater Victoria area.
Sam Wilson, renowned host of the hugely popular podcast, How to Scale Commercial Real Estate, uncovers his roots in commercial investing, shares some mistakes he has made along the way, and talks us through what a good deal looks like to him.
If you had to guess which real estate market saw one of the biggest increases in commercial property value over the past 2 years, would you have guessed Chilliwack? David Algra of Algra Bros. Developments discusses their current downtown Chilliwack project, District 1881.
Leonard Krog, Mayor of Nanaimo, shares some great insight on all the new and upcoming projects and what the future holds for the port city. Plus, we dive into the highly anticipated and forthcoming OCP for the downtown and surrounding areas.
Cory and the team are hitting the beach this week for a well deserved break. Next week we are back with another phenomenal episode. Stay tuned!
Named Canada’s fastest growing city with a 14% increase in population since 2016, Jon Friesen, CEO of the Mission Group, the company behind some of Kelowna’s spectacular tower developments, discusses why Kelowna has seen such a massive growth over the past 5 years and what the future looks like.
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Have you ever wanted to make the money real estate developers do? Ravi Mann of PROPetual REIT and the Isle of Mann Property Group discusses the exciting new investment opportunities that can get anyone through the real estate investment door for as little as $5,000.
Have you ever wanted to make the money real estate developers do? Ravi Mann of PROPetual REIT and the Isle of Mann Property Group discusses the exciting new investment opportunities that can get anyone through the real estate investment door for as little as $5,000.
As Canada and the world continues to battle with Omicron, supply chains are challenged and the Bank of Canada surprisingly holds rates. Doug Porter, Chief Economist & Managing Director of BMO Financial Group, shares his thoughts on what’s next for the economy and his prediction for interest rates.
Ever wonder which commercial asset class has the lowest cap rate but offers the most stable returns? Marianne DeCotiis, a multifamily specialist with WWC, breaks down the multifamily asset class, sharing how it’s funded, how the leases are government regulated, and plenty more!
Over the past 20 months, most industries have seen a lot of change and the law industry is no different. Tim Lack of Redpoint Law discusses the ever-changing world of the legal side of commercial real estate and shares insight on how the pandemic has changed how commercial real estate is leased, sold, and financed.
Over the past 20+ months, we have heard about supply chain issues, labour shortages, and logistical challenges, and this all has a direct impact on the construction of real estate in the province. Owen Lecky of Wales McLelland unwraps the issues that have been affecting our real estate market.
Do you own a property with lots of equity that has built up over the years? Alan Haigh of Impact Commercial Group, one of BC’s leaders in commercial mortgages, explains how to tap into that equity and turn one property into a thriving commercial portfolio without having to sell your asset.
Wishing our listeners a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
From Keltic Development Canada, Steve Jedreicich, Senior VP of Development, and Andy Tam, Senior VP of Business Development, discuss their recent 27-acre acquisition in Richmond, which tops off this year as the biggest transaction of 2021 at a whopping $300,000,000!
This past year has bolstered some amazing results for those who invested in commercial real estate, and this week we’re going to give you the VCREP Top 5 Markets for 2022! Rod MacKay from WWC’s Vancouver office joins Cory to discuss which markets will be ones to watch heading into the new year.
Do you own a condo in a rapidly developing area where the land might be better suited for an incoming high-rise? Meg Cooney, strata wind-up specialist, discusses what a strata wind-up is, how your condo might be worth way more than you think to a developer, and how to use this strategy on your next real estate investment.
Ever wonder what makes Surrey so attractive for both businesses and families? Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, discusses Canada’s next big major city, breaks down the economic drivers behind the massive growth, and shares what makes it attractive for so many developers.
Maxime Charron, President of LeadingAhead Energy, an industry-leading electric car charging solution provider, talks about how the impact that electric vehicles are having on society is causing more and more developers and commercial landlords to install EV car charging solutions on their properties.
It’s no secret downtown Vancouver has been slower than its pre-COVID form, but is it as bad as other cities? Nolan Marshall, CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), discusses what’s next for downtown Vancouver and how things have fared over the pandemic.
Did you find the perfect commercial property to invest in, but you’re not sure where or how to start? Matthew Dunnigan, commercial mortgage specialist from Impact Commercial Group, breaks down all the steps needed to acquire that commercial investment property you’ve always wanted.
Peter Leung, the Investorpreneur himself, who has amassed an international real estate portfolio in London, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, provides his insight on how to get started in commercial real estate and how commercial offers greater opportunities for investors who require funding.
So many commercial real estate deals happen off the MLS, so where do investors go for market data? Raymond Wong, Vice President, Data Operations of Altus Group, details why Altus is a one-stop shop when it comes to data and research in the world of commercial real estate across Canada.
Senior writer Frank O’Brien of Glacier Media, home of Business in Vancouver and Western Investor, shares where he sees the winners and losers in the post-COVID era. He also gives a sneak peek at the upcoming Best in BC, where he and his team predict the 5 best real estate markets in 2022.
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Strand Development’s President Mike Mackay discusses everything Langford, BC. With the recent acquisition of the former Langford Speedway, which encompasses over 80 acres of prime development land, the excitement of the Greater Vancouver Island industrial market just keeps growing.
Jeff Prete, President of Jima Cannabis, unpacks the impact the cannabis business has had on retail in Vancouver and throughout the province. Ever wonder how long it takes to get a store open, how much capital you need, and if the stores are even that profitable? The answer Jeff gives might surprise you.
Is there a real estate market that has attracted more hype during the pandemic than Kelowna? Jeff Brown, Team Leader of WWC’s Kelowna office, discusses the readily growing Kelowna real estate market, what, if any, impact the BC wildfires have had, and how Kelowna can top the recent growth into fall and beyond.
Ever wish you could go back in time and buy as much Vancouver real estate as you could in 2003? It may not be too late to buy into what could be BC’s next real estate market set to boom: Kamloops. Bryan Pilbeam, Vice President of Invictus Properties, discusses everything Kamloops and more.
Impact Commercial’s Jon Switzer, owner occupier financial specialist, shows business owners how to unlock their revenues, enabling them to become their own landlord, and in some cases, with as little as 0% down including closing costs. Jon highlights the do’s and don’ts when purchasing real estate for your business.
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Over the past year and a half, the world has seen many changes… but is the office space one of them? Drew Ratcliffe of And-Co, a new all-in-one, multi-level, office community, complete with a wellness studio, restaurant, and event space, shares his vision of what he feels the future of office space in Vancouver will look like.
There is no question the hospitality sector has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Glowbal Group CEO Emad Yacoub, one of Vancouver’s most prominent restaurateurs, discusses the challenges the industry has had to overcome to survive and what the future of the business looks like.
Ever wonder about that 5′ x 5′ self storage unit that you rented for $110/month to store all that crap you never use? Pat Wood, formerly one of the authorities, if not THE authority, in self storage appraisals and consulting, discusses why this asset class has seen a huge run in the past couple of years.
Ever wanted to buy commercial real estate, but never felt you had the financial ability to do so? Mitch Jarvi from Addy, a crowdsourcing investment platform, walks through the new opportunities Addy offers to its members by acquiring shares in various commercial real estate properties for as little as $1.
For all the curious minds interested in commercial real estate investing, grab a coffee and pull up a chair because we have exclusive stories and tips from commercial real estate brokers, investors, developers, economists, urban planners, and everyone in-between. From the successes and failures to the motivations and lessons learned, the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast is your insight into commercial real estate in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and beyond.
What's the best real estate market to invest in? What are the commercial real estate asset classes and property types? Hosted by Cory Wright, founder of William Wright Commercial, and co-hosts Adam and Matt Scalena of the Vancouver Real Estate Podcast, our podcast opens the door to real estate investing for everyone from beginner investors to experienced real estate professionals. New episodes are released every Tuesday. Follow the Vancouver Commercial Real Estate Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or your favourite streaming platforms.
This communication is not intended to cause or induce breach of an existing agency agreement. E&OE: All information contained herein is from sources deemed reliable, and have no reason to doubt its accuracy; however, no guarantee or responsibility is assumed thereof, and it shall not form any part of future contracts. Properties are submitted subject to errors and omissions and all information should be carefully verified. All measurements quoted herein are approximate.
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