Repurpose Your Skills: 5 Commercial Niches in Demand

Try these niches to get business booming again.

April 1, 2009

If sales are slow, consider these hot commercial specialties, suggests Lynne Walsh, senior vice president of commercial real estate recruiting company South Coast Partners Inc. in Kingwood, Texas.

1. Office leasing rep with a specialty in subleased space.

As companies cut back staff, they need help finding tenants for excess space. Required skills: The ability to negotiate sublease provisions that will be acceptable to landlords but still relieve companies of most or all of the financial burden of their lease obligations.

2. Multifamily property manager.

With slow home sales, demand for apartments should be on the rise. Required skills: Operational expertise to reduce expenses and grow cash flow while still keeping tenants happy.

3. Shopping center workout specialist.

Retail owners with falling occupancies and loans they can’t refinance will be increasingly facing foreclosure. Required skills: The ability to visualize creative uses that will build traffic or repurpose unoccupied mall and big-box space.

4. Military housing manager.

Privatization of military housing over the last decade and the continued military deployments necessitated by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan promise a stable niche for the foreseeable future. Required skills: Renovation expertise and long-range planning are needed to improve properties that were allowed to deteriorate during the 1990s and to ensure viability for the 40-plus–year leases that the military often grants to private management companies.

5. Asset manager.

Institutions that have seen the value of their portfolios fall as property prices slide are looking for new ways to build returns. Required skills: The ability to look for properties that can maintain a steady cash flow now or that offer repositioning options that will boost their value when the market picks up.