Differences between regional and national CRE brokers

Managing Partner and Senior Sales Associate , ICR Commercial Real Estate
  • Jan. 22, 2019

If you had asked me a few years ago about the long-term fate of independent commercial real estate brokers, I would have honestly expressed some uncertainty (you may be thinking, “But Barry, you are an independent commercial real estate broker . . . that means you would have been questioning your own survival!”).

Most of my uncertainty at that time arose from questioning the ability of independent brokers to keep pace with potential investment required in metadata.

Let’s look at the current differences between a national and an independent regional commercial real estate broker.

What’s important to the client?

Our research indicates clients are seeking a trusted advisor who has been well-trained and is therefore able to offer creative solutions. Contrary to what I used to believe, national market data and metadata is becoming increasingly available and accessible to anyone interested in finding it.

Clients value the broker who can provide highly specific local and regional commercial real estate market information which allows them to make informed business decisions.

Assembling historical and current data on every commercial real estate property, vacancy and cap rate surveys for each sector can be valuable intelligence for tenants, landlords, buyers and sellers.

In an earlier post I talked about the benefits to a client of engaging a full-service real estate company.

The “proof is in the pudding!”

If my above-mentioned concern had merit, the independent firm should be weakening. I have several examples which illustrate the exact opposite is true.

I enjoy telling the story of my son who, after completing university in Saskatoon, moved to Calgary. He worked for a large national commercial real estate company as a sales and leasing agent for four years, then moved to an independent regional company where he’s now been for six years specializing in the industrial sector.

His sales volume increased considerably after the move. He and his business partner have continued to increase their market penetration despite a very challenging market (due to the struggling oil and gas sector).

I can offer several examples of regional independent brokers throughout Canada and the U.S. who continue to thrive and increase market share.

Is national/international reach required?

An international broker can offer expertise in the sale of large assets.

And when it comes to really big, ICR works with JLL to bring a global perspective to the table. As JLL’s strategic partner for Saskatchewan, we service JLL’s national and international clients.

We also work in concert with JLL’s national practice groups across all disciplines including capital markets, landlord and tenant representation, and project management.

This relationship provides JLL with a presence in Saskatchewan and ICR with access to one of the strongest commercial real estate brands in the world. JLL has eight offices and approximately 1,000 employees across Canada, plus 1,000 offices and 48,000 employees in 75 countries worldwide.

There will always be a place for the broker who is able to offer unrivalled insight, experience and smart thinking resulting in exceptional client solutions.

Our unrivalled insight, experience and smart thinking allows us to offer exceptional solutions.


Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

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Born in small town Saskatchewan, I began my real estate career in Saskatoon at a really early age in 1978. Although I can’t claim to be No 1 in North…

Read more





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