By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor
Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates is expanding its international footprint by adding a new affiliation in London, its first foray into this key market that will help the real estate services firm continue its global growth.
Coldwell Banker Commercial London is an independently owned and operated firm headed by CRE veteran Chris Palmer as chairman. Palmer, who has more than 40 years experience, is joined by his partners, Robin Paterson and Alex Upson.
“We are confident that the London office will thrive under Chris Palmer’s leadership in light of his proven success in commercial real estate, his investment expertise and market conditions in the area,” Fred Schmidt, president & COO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, said in a prepared statement.
Palmer served as regional chairman for the Richard Ellis Groups of companies in Asia, where he expanded that office network to cover China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and India. He is a founding member of Square Bay (Property) Ltd., which provides land acquisition, planning and residential development advice.
The United Kingdom market and London in particular have been increasingly attractive to foreign investors, particularly in the commercial sectors.
“London is the gateway to the financial east and a cornerstone market in the world. Entering London and the U.K. brings new and exciting opportunities for our worldwide network,” Schmidt said in the prepared statement.
“The London commercial market is flourishing, having traded an outstanding £30.7 billion (approximately $47.5 billion) in the first half of 2015, much of which included capital coming from the U.S. and Asia Pacific,” Palmer said in a prepared statement.
“We currently have a worldwide residential business which is generating considerable interest for commercial investment in London. In order to service these inquires, we are putting together a specialized investment team and we were fortunate in finding a brand who shared our vision of personalized service on a worldwide scale,” Palmer told Commercial Property Executive via email from London.
Palmer pointed to the brand’s “well-established profile” as a factor in choosing to affiliate with them and Schmidt pointed to the quality and expertise of Palmer and his organization.
“We are very excited about their team and their qualifications,” Schmidt told CPE in an interview.
“London is a key market for us and we wanted to make sure we have a presence in that market but also the right kind of presence,” he added.
In particular, Schmidt noted the team’s experience in the investment arena. The plan is that deals will not only be made in London and elsewhere in England, but also to bring investments into the United States, he said.
“That’s a big pivot point for us,” Schmidt told CPE.
Palmer said his team, which currently has six members but is growing, will be seeking investments in a variety of sectors attractive to their clients.
“The greatest interest is in the West End/City office investments let to single tenant and interestingly, more of this scarce product is coming to the market possibly as a result of the relentless yield compression recently,” Palmer said. “We also receive many inquiries for prime London hotels of which there are very few available.”
He said they will likely expand outside London based on demand by their clients.
“Investors into the U.K. are not quite as restricted to London as previously; and certainly yields in urban centers such as Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol etc. are starting to attract more investment owing to the more attractive returns,” Palmer added.
He expects many of their clients may be coming from Asia.
“Having spent some 25 years in Asia, I was fortunate to have represented many of the leading property companies who, for the most part, I am still in touch with. Almost all of these companies have an existing and growing interest in U.K. property,” Palmer concluded.
Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, a division of Coldwell Banker Real Estate L.L.C., is a collaborative network of independently owned and operated affiliates of more than 200 companies. Located in about 44 countries, affiliates can be found throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. CBC already has numerous affiliates in Europe, including in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Romania, Spain and a group in Italy with offices in Rome and Milan.
Schmidt said the Italian affiliate was also added about a year ago. The Madison, N.J.-based firm also plans to keep growing its brand in Asia Pacific, he added.