Sometimes you need a swift…

Earlier this week, the Greater Knoxville Business Journal published the sixth annual commercial real estate awards issue.

I was fortunate to win the “Deal of the Year” award but didn’t realize that the Business Journal would be posting a link to my blog,, in the article.

Looking back I realized that my last post, 53 questions to ask before hiring a commercial real estate practitioner, was published in March of 2016!

I’m sure that I’m not the first (or the last) person that will start a blog, get busy with other stuff and forget to post.

It’s been six months since I joined the team at Avison Young and it’s awesome. I’ve got great clients, projects and a new team, so it’s time to work the blog back in to the schedule.

I’ll plan on posting about once a month to start and if it goes well, will increase the frequency. If there’s anything you’d like for me to talk about, please let me know.

I’m active on Twitter and LinkedIn so please follow me if you’re interested in what’s going on in Knoxville and commercial real estate.



53 questions to ask before hiring a commercial real estate practicioner

Start Here

If you’ve never hired an agent to market your commercial real estate property the process can be daunting and many folks don’t know where to start.

There are tons of commercial practitioners, most are great and some….not so much.

How do you find the right person to help you sell your property?

After spending over 11 years in the commercial real estate business, I’ve had a chance to hire and refer business to over 37 brokers outside of the Knoxville, TN market for clients.

I’ve compiled the following checklist and interview questions to help you find the right agent for your project with minimal fuss.

Step one – private investigator

  • Ask your friends that have recently sold property if they have any recommendations.
    • Friends that are in these fields are great resources: accountants, appraisers, architects, real estate attorneys, commercial bankers, general contractors*, developers*, real estate investors* and economic development officials.
      • *these folks could be potential buyers but I would highly recommend hiring a broker and putting your property on the market so you can get the highest dollar.
  • Search LoopNet for similar properties to find brokers that are active in your market
    • Search criteria
      • Sale or Lease
      • Geography: By county (or larger geography depending on property type)
      • Building size: +/- 30% range of your property
  • Things to consider:
    • What brokers are listing the most property by similar property type and size range?
    • How many properties do they have listed?
    • Do their listings have good photos and complete information?
      • Does it look like they are still taking photos with a flip phone? – awful photos are completely unacceptable.
    • Do you think the properties are being marketed professionally?
  • Trust but verify – take your top picks and do a little sleuthing:
    • Google the agent’s name
    • This should bring up these websites:
    • Things to consider:
      • Is the agents profile complete?
      • Are they a Realtor?
      • Are they licensed?
      • Are they active members of a professional organization(s)? – CCIM, SIOR, ICSC, etc.
      • Do they communicate well online? – a lot of communicating happens via email and text.
      • Are you friends with any of their friends? – call your friends and ask what they think about the agent.
      • Does it appear that they are doing this part time or full time?

Step two – communication challenge

  • Test how they respond to inquiries:
    • Call or send a request for information on one of their listings via LoopNet or local commercial multiple listing service and see how quickly they respond. The agent should get back to you by the close of business or within 24 hours, max.
  • Setting up the interview:
    • Assuming all agents responded promptly, ask the agent to set the appointment.
      • This is another opportunity to see how well and timely the agent communicates.
    • Things to consider:
      • Did the agent send a pre-listing package?
      • Did they do a good job learning more about your project? (aka pre-qualifying)
      • Was the scheduling process clear and easy?
      • Did the agent show up on time?
      • Do they appear professional?
        • Notice their car, shoes and dress.
      • Did they come prepared?

Step three – the interview

  • Getting to know the agent:
    • How did you get started?
    • How many years have you been in the real estate business?
    • What were you doing before going in to commercial real estate?
    • What do you do for fun?
    • How are you involved in our community? (Church, volunteer, sports, etc.)
    • How do you network with: other brokers, developers, investors, chamber staff, economic developers, elected officials, planning commission, etc.
    • What professional organizations do you belong to?
    • Do you have a product and/or geographic specialty?
    • What percentage of your deals are commercial?
    • What is the average number of projects you have listed?
    • What is the average number of buyer rep projects you typically work at any given time?
    • What trade magazines or emails do you subscribe to?
    • Do you attend any national trade shows?
    • What continuing education classes have you recently completed?
    • How would your colleagues describe you?
    • How would you clients describe you?
    • Who were your two worst customers/projects? Why?
    • What did you like the most about your last transaction? Least?
    • When you think of salesperson, what words come to mind?
  • Marketing:
    • Could I see marketing material for a similar project?
    • Do you pay for upgraded listings?
    • What websites would you use to advertise my property?
    • Would you have professional photos taken of my property? Aerials? Video?
    • How would you market this property?
    • Do you share fees with other brokers?
    • What databases do you use to find and keep track of leasing and sales transactions?
    • What databases do you use to find occupiers and buyers?
    • Are you a paying member of Costar?
  • Communication:
    • How would you keep me up to date?
    • How often?
    • Who would be my primary point of contact?
    • What do you do when we haven’t had much interest in this project?
  • Process:
    • Describe the process for selling my property?
    • How do you organize the process of taking this project through to closing?
    • How do you manage your projects on a daily basis?
    • How many projects are you currently working on?
    • How long would the exclusive agreement be?
    • How do you get paid?
    • What would the commission be for my property?
      • How is this calculated?
    • When do you get paid?
  • My property:
    • Why are you interested in this project?
    • Why are you qualified to help me with this project?
    • Have you worked on a project like this before?
    • What’s good about my property? Challenges?
    • If you were the buyer, what would you want changed about my property?
    • What do you think this projects needs to be successful?
    • How does my property stack up against the competition?
    • How should we price the property?
      • What price range do you believe my property would sell for?
    • What is the percentage difference between asking price and a done deal in the market?
    • How long will it take to sell my property?
    • What do I need to do to get my property to sell for the highest amount in the least amount of time?
    • What vendors would you recommend to fix/enhance: __________?
  • Wrapping up the meeting:
    • After all these questions are you still interested in working with us?
    • What’s the next step?

All of my checklists are a work in progress. I would appreciate any feedback in the comments below.

If you’d like to learn more about interviewing here are some great resources:

Top Four Sites to Search for Commercial and Industrial Real Estate in Knoxville, TN

Top four sites to search for commercial and industrial real estate for sale or lease:

KAARCIE is the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors Commercial multiple listing service. If you are looking for the best information that is updated regularly on office, commercial-retail, shopping centers, industrial, multi-family, hospitality, special purpose and vacant land this is a great place to start.

LoopNet, with over 5,000,000 monthly visitors, is the most heavily trafficked commercial real estate website. LoopNet will have most of the properties found on KAARCIE but will also pick up some non-Realtor landlords as well as mom and pops trying to for sell/lease on their own. You can search the same property types as on KAARCIE but will also pick up more investment opportunities.

TVA Sites is focused on bringing jobs (and electrical customers) to our community. Most regional economic development areas and chambers of commerce add their existing office, industrial and vacant land here. Typically the area industrial boards that own public land for economic development don’t post on KAARCIE or LoopNet so if you aren’t using a Realtor and are looking to expand this is another place you need to look.

Mmm, fresh asphalt

Couple of interesting reads from this week.

I’m surprised that the USPS is still in business…
Is Amazon Plotting an Air War on FedEx? – Don Reisinger – Fortune

What’s the future of the 30-second TV commercial?
Why Ruby Tuesday is putting all its chips on social marketing – Yuyu Chen

Sorry if I don’t pick up the phone some times!
The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now – Tim Ferriss

Yeah but AMC+Carmike still won’t be as awesome as Knoxville based Regal.
U.S. Movie Theater Chains Consolidating Almost as Fast as CRE Brokerage Firms – Tim Trainor – Costar

Get ready for big changes in student housing at UTK.
Student Housing | As off-campus housing changes communities, asset-rich investors vie for the best properties – Sara Patterson – CIRE

Photo: Knoxville friends, the driveway is finally fixed!

Why aren’t you getting up early?

Interesting stuff from this week.

Dear Santa, I want a new DJI Phanton 4…Video preview

Apartment-Building Boom Looks Set to Ease – Chris Kirkham – WSJ

New-Arena Sticker Shock – Joe Sullivan – Knoxville Mercury

Happy, Smart, and Useful – Derek Sivers

If you didn’t know… The Knoxville-Knox County Minimum Subdivision Regulations is undergoing a major overhaul. Learn more here and here.

Critical Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Before 8 AM – Dr. Travis Bradberry

This Is How You Identify A-Players (In About 10 Minutes) During An Interview – Mitchell Harper

13 major differences between successful and unsuccessful people – Jacquelyn Smith and Shana Lebowitz

Trust, compliments, 39 quick workouts

Thank you

What I’ve been reading recently…

The irrational thing about trust – Seth Godin

How to take a compliment – Derek Sivers

39 Quick Workouts Everyone Needs In Their Daily Routine – Awesome Daily Staff

Industrial CRE Market Study | Part 4: In the Pipeline – NREI – David Bodamer and Robert Carr

Hotels don’t actually appear to be that scared of Airbnb — yet – Washington Post – Lydia DePillis



/now, How is your commute going to change?

/now – If you’re interested in what I’m focused on these days check out my new “now” page, I plan on updating every once and a while. NowNowNow is an initiative of Derek Sivers and is pretty cool, learn more about it here:

Transportation is going to be changing quick –  The Commute of the Future? Ford Is Working on It

Laundry detergent, who would have guessed? Amazon Helped Make This One of the Fastest-Growing E-Commerce Categories Last Year

This is hilarious – Peyton Manning Talks to Brother Eli’s Super Bowl Sad Face

Incredible zero gravity video – OK Go – Upside Down & Inside Out

Absolutely correct – Good Property Managers Can Prosper Whatever the Cycle

That’s me on a billboard on Kingston Pike near Harper Audi. That photo was taken a couple hours earlier after early voting. Who says digital billboards aren’t cool?

How to Get Your Commercial Property on the Market Quicker

If you’re thinking about selling your commercial property be prepared to get asked for a lot of information about your property. If you want to get your property sold quicker, time to get organized.

Here is a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Most recent property tax assessments and tax bills
  • Most recent title policy insuring the property
  • Insurance policies with summary of insurance coverage,insurance inspector risk assessment report & premiums
  • Survey (ALTA preferred)
  • As-Built Plans and specifications for property (electrical, mechanical, structural)
  • Site plan
  • Copies of all recent appraisals, engineering reports, environmental reports
  • Cut sheets for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) conveying with property
  • Warranties for real property improvements, FFE and personal property conveying with property
  • Certificates of occupancy
  • Written summary of all pending or threatened litigation, insurance claims, legal violations
  • Reports or studies to bring property in compliance with ADA
  • Schedule of special assessment districts and amounts
  • Schedule of impact fees paid or owing
  • All maintenance records for property
  • Any encroachments onto the Property, or from the Property onto other lands?
  • Are there any encumbrances on the Property that will not be cleared at Closing?
    Easements? Covenants Running with the Land?  Liens or other financial servitude’s?Leases?
  • All Leases, including any addendum’s, riders or subleases.
  • Rent roll
  • Profit & Loss Statement (keep five years back minimum)
  • Balance Sheet
  • Payroll register
  • Utility bills (keep at least two years minimum)
  • Fire protection system inspection reports
  • Tax returns

Further Reading: “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande

If you want a quick overview of The Checklist Manifesto, check out Derek Siver’s notes.

What am I missing? Feel free to add suggestions in the comments below.

2,000+ Great Things Happening in Knoxville

Skyline of Knoxville from UT ccampus

Sunrise in Knoxville Tennessee and skyline

Concrete is Surprisingly Awesome

Gimlet Media, who produced the fantastic podcast, Startup has another hit in the making, Surprisingly Awesome. The latest episode, Concrete, is pretty awesome and should be relevant to the Knoxville area since we’ve got a bunch of limestone quarries which is the primary ingredient in cement.

What I’m Reading

I recently bought “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What Do in Life and  Business” by Charles Duhigg and so far it is a great read. If you are trying to transform anything (personal life, business, family, etc.) look at your habits first to get the ball rolling.

Quick Count of New Job Announcements

Over the past month or so, we have had a deluge of job announcements. I’ve rounded up what I could find and I came up with 1,941 new jobs. This number doesn’t include all of the restaurant openings and other announcements that didn’t have an actual count so I rounded up to 2,000+.

Pretty sure that the kayak manufacturer is the opening act… Kayak manufacturer to be at jobs announcement – Gerald Witt – Knoxville News Sentinel

General Graphene is going to do GREAT things! – Oak Ridge startup General Graphene nets $8.7M financing round – Shelley Kimel – Knoxville News Sentinel

605 New Jobs in Blount County – AMI development to be two phases – The Daily Times

400 Jobs in Loudon County – Truck manufacturer adding at least 400 jobs in Loudon County – WBIR Staff – WBIR

500 Jobs in Blount County – DENSO receiving land, tax abatement for expansion – The Daily Times

100 Jobs in Knox County – Travel Channel moving HQ to Knoxville – Shelley Kimel – Knoxville News Sentinel

228 Jobs in Blount County – Kroger Marketplace is “an experience” – The Daily Times

70 Jobs in Knoxville – Gov. Haslam Announces Regal Move to South Knox – Clay Duda – Knox Mercury

Super Weigel’s at Kingston Pike and Welsley Road is Open – Weigel’s opens new Knoxville store as convenience chain continues its growth – G. Chambers Williams III – Knoxville News Sentinel

Memphis’ Third Best Contribution to Tennessee (only behind the music and FedEx) – Gus’s Fried Chicken aims for Knoxville opening in early 2016 – Shelley Kimel – Knoxville News Sentinel

Anchor Tenant, Big Brothers, Big Sisters has moved in to Regas Building – Regas Building renovated to house nonprofits, cafe – Ed Marcum – Knoxville News Sentinel

Nice work John Haney at NAI Knoxville! – Upscale Rosarito’s Mexican Cantina opens on Lovell Road – G. Chambers Williams III – Knoxville News Sentinel

There you go Chad Ridner, now quit stalking me! (inside joke) – Knox company wins Intuit honor as the national “Firm of the Future” – Ali James – Knoxville News Sentinel

Couple of good quotes from yours truly – Knoxville commercial real estate strong, could soon feel pinch – Shelley Kimel – Knoxville News Sentinel

Looking forward to checking this out on our next date night! Oliver Royale opens with ‘New American’ menu, art deco vibe – Mary Constantine – Knoxville News Sentinel

38 Jobs in Cocke County – Log home manufacturer adding 38 jobs in Cocke County expansion – Shelley Kimel – Knoxville News Sentinel

Thanks to Boyd’s, the Old City is about to go through the roof – Chef Tim Love to bring Love Shack and Lonesome Dove Western Bistro to Knoxville – Mary Constantine – Knoxville News Sentinel

Former Knox Auto Parts/Moore’s Lumber on Clinton Highway Sells (Camo Painted Civic Not Included)


6226 Clinton Highway
Knoxville, TN 37912
Submarket: North/Broadway

2015-10-05 10.30.15 HDR

+/-  37,500 square foot building(s)
Land Area (SF): 269,636.40 SF
Land Area (AC): 6.19 AC

Frontage: 465′ on Clinton Highway
Traffic Count: 26,150 AADT
Use: Commercial/Industrial

Sale Price: $1,035,000
Sale Type: Owner/Occupier
Price/SF: $31.33/SF
Price/Land SF: $3.84/SF

Recorded Buyer: Withheld
Recorded Seller: JTT Land Holdings, LLC
Buyer Broker: N/A
Seller Broker: NAI Knoxville – Sam Tate & James Roberson
Occupancy at time of sale: 0%

Sources: Knox County Register of Deeds Office, Costar, Courthouse Retrieval System, KGIS, TDOT

Information Deemed Reliable, But Not Guaranteed

Real Estate News Update

Chipotle Coming to Oak Ridge – News Sentinel Staff, Knoxville News Sentinel
A Chipotle Mexican Grill is locating in a new retail development on South Illinois Avenue that also includes an Aspen Dental office, Great Clips and a Pie Five pizzeria. Read More

The Marble City Kitchen and the Firefly Open at the Hilton – Knoxville Urban Guy
Have you noticed the fuss outside the Hilton? The courtyard which for years has been more or less unattended is suddenly much more attractive, with interesting heavy-duty latticework looming above the space. Stadium-style seating… Read More

Retailers Raise Number of Store Openings Planned for the Next Two Years – Elaine Misonzhnik, NREI
Worries about the fallout from Chinese economic troubles notwithstanding, U.S. chain retailers upped the number of stores they plan to open in the short term, according… Read More