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Q&A with Axiom SIORs: Patrick Fitzgerald, SIOR; John Salsberry, SIOR; and Ryan Bertin, SIOR
Relationships are always important, and never more so than when you are doing a deal outside the United States. In January, SIOR Pulse featured a piece where I interviewed John Huguenard, SIOR, to get his experiences with global transactions. I’ve now reached out to Patrick Fitzgerald, SIOR, a member of the SIOR Chicago Chapter, and his Axiom Advisory Group colleagues John Salsberry, SIOR, and Ryan Bertin, SIOR, members of the SIOR Michigan Chapter to get another set of experiences of deals around the world.
Q: How do international transactions factor into your business, and how has SIOR membership impacted that?
John Salsberry, SIOR: As an independent company, we have the autonomy to pick local partners for each market and project—and SIOR is an important part of finding qualified local partners. We rely heavily on our existing international relationships and the SIOR network plays a big part when finding partners for each project.
Patrick Fitzgerald, SIOR: We have specifically set up our business to serve the global real estate needs of our clients, which range from private clients with 10 locations to publicly-traded clients with 800+ locations globally. We’re fully integrated and we cross all corporate sectors, including industrial, office, R&D and land, and we provide all components of service, starting with developing a tailored strategy for each client and following through with portfolio and transaction management.
Q: Can you walk me through the process of how you pick your partners in international markets?
PF: We look at every project on a case-by-case basis, and always look for the most qualified, and as importantly, unconflicted local resource for each project. We usually start with SIOR and any pre-existing relationships our firm has in the specific area. Failing that, we use our SIOR network as a launch pad for recommendations of who is most qualified given the unique scope of each requirement. Regardless, we run a competitive process and usually interview and evaluate two to three firms for any individual assignment.
JS: If we do know an SIOR in the market we’re working in, we’ll reach out, and if they’re the best fit for the project, we’ll work with them. We set up a competitive process, but we’re usually only one or two degrees away from SIORs.
Q: What are some recent international deals you worked on?
PF: Most recently we worked with a fellow SIOR, Michael DiNicola, on a 1,151-square-meter / 12,385-square-foot office space in Prague, where Michael is based. We worked with the tenant to sign a 5-year lease expansion and renewal in June 2018.
Ryan Bertin, SIOR: We’ve already done about 10 international projects in 2018, but one of my favorites was from a few years ago—a build-to-suit office headquarters lease in Baar,nSwitzerland. We actually worked with the real estate fund of the Lego family.
Q: What are some differences between deals in the U.S. and deals in other countries?
PF: One example is that in Europe, it’s customary that landlords will deliver a facility in “warm shell” condition, which is just the structure, and the tenant is charged with fitting it out. In the U.S., more commonly the landlord pays for (and often times completes) the fit-out.
RB: Compensation, cooperation, and transparency are also significantly different in other countries. We tend to discuss service agreements, disclosures, and things like anti-corruption upfront, which we have customized based on our global experience.
Q: What advice would you give to a young broker qualified to join SIOR?
JS: Being in commercial real estate is all about the relationships. Getting involved with SIOR means you have the opportunity to meet people and have personal relationships outside of just deal-making. You can look up an SIOR in the website’s directory, but it’s better to reach out and have a conversation about their market and their experience—an open exchange of information. Your relationships in this business are important and can only be enhanced by getting to know someone outside of the deals.
PF: Other than just Chapters, SIOR is also broken into subgroups per specialty, so it’s important to get involved with those groups as well. These smaller groups facilitate much more candid interactions, which always helps improve your base of knowledge and contacts.
RB: Especially if you want to work internationally, it’s all about knowing about the unique cultural norms and how to navigate them. And that knowledge starts with your relationships, formed through SIOR conferences, interactions and personal conversations.
Patrick Fitzgerald, SIOR, Advisor, is an Advisor with Axiom Advisory Group and an experienced real estate broker/consultant. He specializes in assisting companies with their commercial real estate requirements anywhere in the world.
John Salsberry, SIOR, Advisor, is an Advisor with Axiom Advisory Group and has more than 24 years of experience managing all aspects of real estate for corporations, investors, developers and institutions.
Ryan Bertin, SIOR, Advisor, is an Advisor with Axiom Advisory Group and is a client-focused CRE professional that considers comprehensive business objectives while providing real estate solutions.