CAPITAL DISTRICT — Jessica Richer began her real estate career in 2001 at The United Group of Companies, Inc. She recalls being hired by Walter Uccellini, a private real estate developer in Troy, to find sites for him, get them under contract and through the municipal approval process so he could develop senior housing.
Today, Richer is a licensed real estate associate broker in RealtyUSA’s Commercial Investment Division.
Her experience now includes all aspects of land development, representation of landlords and tenants for leasing of retail, office and warehouse space and selling of real estate property such as mixed-use buildings, multifamily apartment buildings and all types of commercial real estate.
Richer took time out of her busy schedule to field questions about the local real estate environment; recent trends and what should would-be investors consider before going into the market?
Spotlight Newspapers: You have a particular expertise with commercial realty, and within that market has been an on-going trend to convert commercial property to residential property, what is driving this trend?
Jessica Richer: In downtowns like Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, they have allowed projects that create a live-work environment where people can get it all in one place. The desire is for people to live and work in the same area versus working and commuting to the suburbs. There have been some very creative commercial and residential mixed used buildings and projects where residential apartments, town homes or condominiums are interspersed with commercial restaurants and retail shopping. These live-work developments have provided the incentive for people to rent or buy real estate in the city.
Spotlight: There certainly seems to be a green movement behind re-purposing old buildings, instead of tearing down, creating waste, and taxing resources to build anew. There’s an added element that speaks to the aesthetic, as well. What other benefits have you observed from your clients who have re-purposed property for either residential or office space purposes?
Richer: If possible, the elements of the building that can be saved and reused are salvaged. This allows the architect to incorporate the beautiful existing elements of the building into the new aspects of the building design. Some municipalities offer grants to assist developers to upgrade or “save” the façade of the building. Creative re-purposing of the interior of the buildings includes utilizing wood or doors or parts of the building in a different capacity. For example, I had a client who purchased an old school and was able to keep the original wood work and chalk boards as a part of the apartment’s interior renovations.
Spotlight: Before would-be investors purchase property, what kind of homework do you recommend they do before committing money into real estate?
Richer: Whenever an investor is looking at purchasing a property, it is critical to engage a Commercial Realtor to help in the analysis of the investment. When I meet with investors, we spend a lot of time identifying exactly the type of investment they wish to make. In some cases it may be a business owner who has been renting space and has grown and is now ready to purchase a building. Or perhaps a business owner owns the building where they are located, and they need to sell to get additional money to invest back into the business. In this situation, they will do a sale lease back where they sell the real estate and then stay and lease back the space to the new owner.
Whenever I meet with prospective investors, I always ask their time line – how quickly do they need to make a decision? In the situation where the buyer is involved in a 1031 exchange, there are very strict guidelines as to when a property can be sold and when the investment into another property occurs.
There are also triple net investment properties that many people look at. These are situations where a property is fully leased and the tenant pays all of the expenses. As a Commercial Realtor, it is my job to explore all options with a potential buyer.
Spotlight: Anything else you’d like to add?
Richer: In the Capital District we are very fortunate to have the Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Brokers, Inc. (CIREB). In January 2015, I was installed as the President of CIREB. The Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Brokers, Inc. (CIREB) is a professional trade association established in 1967 by a small group of forward thinking commercial REALTORS. CIREB maintains the country’s oldest and most advanced commercial multiple listing service, (MLS). Members of CIREB service New York State’s Capital Region and its extended Tech Valley and include real estate brokers and salesperson (all of whom hold membership in a local REALTOR® association), property managers, real estate appraisers, attorneys, developers, economic development agencies and financial institutions.