Specialty: Investment sales; office, retail and industrial leasing; apartment and hotel transactions; consulting; property management; corporate services; valuation and market research

Management: Doug Frye, CEO

Founded: 1898; 1979 in Seattle

Headquarters: Boston

Largest deals: N/A

‘We’re beginning to see some of the larger companies in the larger downtown office buildings push out smaller tenants.’

-- Rob Aigner,
Colliers International


It’s been an excellent year to be in the commercial real estate business, says Rob Aigner, executive managing director at Colliers International.

“2005 has been the best of the past five years by a measure of 20 to 30 percent. I see that continuing through 2006.” As the Puget Sound economy has rebounded from the doldrums — and job growth with it — businesses are once again on the prowl for space.

“As the sublease bubble goes away, the market has tightened,” Aigner says. “We’re beginning to see some of the larger companies in the larger downtown office buildings push out smaller tenants.”

More office demand

Office construction fell out of favor when vacancies swelled following the 2001 recession, and with few major office projects on the horizon, Aigner foresees sharper demand for space throughout the region. That could be offset if interest rates rise too quickly, he says, likening it to a “hand on the spigot turning the water off.”

Real state investment, on the other hand, has slackened as prices have hit vertiginous heights, leading more investors to wonder whether they’re getting their money’s worth.

As a broker, Aigner says part of his job now is to manage sellers’ expectations, “so they’re not thinking they’ll have 22 offers for any particular property.”

Apartment properties are faring well, though, as higher interest rates have put the bite on home mortgage costs, pushing more housing stock out of the reach of potential buyers.

In the more densely populated areas, Aigner said he sees supercharged mixed-use projects such as Lincoln Square in Bellevue or 2200 in Seattle gaining popularity. The developments combine residential and retail space with hotels, offices, grocery stores or other amenities that urbanites favor.

“These are all the kind of integrated products that appeal to the consumer, office worker and shopper in all of us,” he says.

Incredible industrial

Industrial growth is “still incredible,” but as the Kent Valley fills up, distribution centers are migrating southward to Pierce and Thurston counties. Despite Puget Sound’s well-known traffic problems, Aigner says construction will likely continue as long as shippers seek to avoid logjams at ports elsewhere on the West Coast.

Aigner declined to discuss Colliers’ own business dealings this year, citing confidentiality agreements.

Strategically, he says the firm is looking at building its appraisal and investment services, and possibility adding mortgage banking into the mix.

The firm is also pursuing more international business, assisting firms with outsourcing, offshoring and inshoring needs. Colliers can draw on the local knowledge of partner offices around the globe.

“We’re servicing the needs of international corporations that have offices here and assisting growth globally.”

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