Get to Know… Montreal & Calgary Office Space
Source: Exis Global
When was your company founded?
Landmark Advisory Services was founded in 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. However, Landmark’s heritage of representing commercial tenants goes back more than 30 years. We were rolled out of a property management firm that was representing private and institutional landlords while also representing tenants through an advisory division. As each business grew, they needed to be separated and so we were created in 2013 and subsequently the landlord management firm was sold to Colliers International.
This early foundation gave us an in-depth and behind the scenes view of how landlords negotiate leases and manage their tenants. It was clear to us that there existed a lack of knowledge and expertise among tenants’ in-house real estate teams, and the typical brokerage model did not appear to adequately serve the unique needs of tenants in a way that produced true value and benefit.
How long have you been a member of Exis?
We have been an Exis member since 2019. Since then, we feel more confident servicing our clients globally, no matter where their business takes them.
Are there specific areas of focus/expertise that your firm practices?
As a Canada-wide real estate advisory firm, we represent tenants in industrial, retail and office asset classes. The light industrial/distribution sector is an area of particular expertise.
What is the current size of your team?
As of today, Landmark is a team of 25 experts including transaction managers, research analysts, lawyers, urban planners, lease auditors, and lease administrators. Last year we successfully expanded our services to include project management and facility maintenance. We continue to develop complementary services which allow us to provide more value to our clients.
What is the amount of square footage you have secured in the last calendar year?
In 2020, we have transacted on more than 2 million sq. ft. of space for our clients. This is only a portion of the total leased footprint that we manage on an exclusive basis for our clients in Canada and internationally.
What are some of the credentials/characteristics/values you look for when hiring your team – to ensure you offer the highest quality service possible?
We recognize that our single greatest asset is our people – any value we bring is created from their knowledge, hard work, and individual interactions. By taking care of our people first, good things happen for our clients and for the company.
We look for smart and dedicated professionals who have a responsibility to each other to exceed the boundaries of their job description and contribute whatever is needed for the team to succeed. Internally and externally, in every project we touch, in every interaction we have, we create more value than we capture.
A diversity of people and backgrounds brings fresh ideas and experiences into our organization. We also want professionals that are self-starters and keen on developing and enhancing their skill set which leads to individual, company and client benefit.
What are your firm’s core values as a company?
Landmark is aligned around five core values:
Be the Client
Give more than we take (create value)
Keep it simple
Our values shape our strategy, our culture, and the way in which we serve our clients daily. They are the guiding principles of Landmark.
How would you describe the CRE atmosphere in your market?
Landmark is active from coast to coast in Canada and there are many different market types captured in that vast geography. However, there are some constants: the industrial sector is doing exceptionally well and we’re seeing CRE respond to record breaking demand through rising rents and minimal vacancy. It is a landlord’s market and finding good available space is often challenging. The office market is responding to Covid-19 economic realities and remote work trends, decelerating to reflect this. In markets like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, this represents a slight slowdown in what has otherwise been a strong market going into the beginning of 2020. While Calgary, located in the heart of Canada’s oil patch, is seeing a suffering sector further challenged. Vacancy rates have risen upwards of 25%, but new and creative proposals are coming forward to re-position office towers into housing and alternative commercial uses.
Landmark has offices in and represents Exis in both Montreal, QC and Calgary, AB.
We recently opined on the Greater Montreal CRE market. The city has changed over the past decade and, from a commercial real estate perspective, has never been more exciting.
What is the most valuable advice you can give a client in today’s overall CRE atmosphere?
It is great time for organizations to rethink their real estate approaches. Companies which actively look towards the future and align themselves with strong real estate partners will not only reduce their real estate costs but be better prepared for any further uncertainty. Developing a solid real estate strategy based on leading industry knowledge, best practices, and technologies is becoming an urgent matter.
Simply put, you are losing money if you’re managing your real estate portfolio passively.
Finally, landlords are experts in their business, and you deserve to have a real estate expert protecting your interests as well. An organization’s time is best focused on growing your company.
What are some upcoming trends in the CRE industry that you feel will affect how companies do business?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a lesson in realizing how quickly “normal” can change. We clearly see the impact of those changes reflected in CRE trends such as reduction and optimization of office space.
Companies are optimizing their real estate footprint and adapting workspaces to new requirements. When possible, companies will be developing a combination of on-site and remote working.
Importance of fostering connection, both digitally and in-person when possible
Greater emphasis on quality vs. quantity of space
Ensuring that lease language adequately protects your interests in cases of force majeure.
Why is exclusively representing tenants important to you?
Commercial tenants are often underserved, take reactive (and uninformed) real estate decisions, and pay more for their leases than they should. The CRE industry is built to service landlords at the expense of tenants, and Landmark strongly believes in inverting this model and building value for tenants. We operate with no conflict of interest.
It is not possible for a tenant advisor to be fully impartial when also representing landlords. This was critical in the reasoning for separating our tenant corporate advisory business from the landlord business. We were pleased when they were sold to Colliers because “Landmark” has now become synonymous with pure tenant advocacy.
We value our membership in Exis, an exclusive global network of advocates for tenants only.
What is the most meaningful/valuable feedback you’ve received from a client?
This is a testimonial left by the President of Sonepar Canada, a member of the Sonepar Group, the world’s largest privately-held electrical distributor and supplier of safety, facilities maintenance and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) products and related services:
“Sonepar mandated Landmark to exclusively represent our Canada real estate interests.
Our network of branches, distribution centres, and offices (both headquarters and regional) across Canada were handled regionally and we elected to centralize real estate functions. This decision to outsource real estate services to Landmark has been very beneficial to our organization hence the successful and longstanding relationship we continue to maintain today.
Landmark has brought to us a significant depth of knowledge in all areas of commercial real estate ensuring that we have been able to upgrade our facilities, better match them to our needs and yet remain at a very competitive cost. I do not believe that we would be able to provide a similar level of real estate accountability control and flexibility in a cost-effective manner with internal staff.
In all real estate decisions, we consider that Landmark is our partner, and they have played a significant role in our continued growth.”
We value every client’s feedback and strive to do more.
Partner Smarter is not just our tagline. We live it by partnering with our people and our clients.