by Lenny Pierce, Research Analyst
CBRE/New England’s Broker Spotlight series offers perspective on the world of leasing and sales brokerage across the New England Market from those most intimately involved in it. In this first installment, we hear from Alison Powers. Alison is a member of CBRE/New England’s Metro West leasing team along with Bob McGuire, Rob Walles, Chris Tosti and Sam Crossan. Alison has been with CBRE/New England since 2007 and has also worked with CBRE/New England’s Global Workplace Solutions.
How did you first come to CBRE/New England?
I started working at CBRE/NE in August of 2007, shortly after I graduated from Trinity College. CBRE/NE is the only company I’ve worked at since graduating. I started out working for the corporate services team and moved onto the suburban team in October 2008. I decided I wanted to be a commercial real estate broker in college after interning with JLL and focused my job search after college solely on commercial real estate. I have learned so much from the people and experiences I have had at CBRE/NE.
What are some of the challenges facing women in the leasing brokerage world – a service line made up largely of men?
I am blown away by the number of women that are in the industry today as compared to seven years ago when I first started as a broker. I don’t think of it as a challenge, instead it is a differentiator and a way to stand out and be recognized. It’s important to embrace your differences and the skill sets that set you apart and use them to your advantage. There are some incredibly successful female brokers in the industry today who are great role models and have had amazing careers.
What are some key trends you’re seeing in the Metro West submarket?
Overall, the past few years have been strong in the Metro West. We have seen organic growth from existing tenants and new Fortune 100 tenant’s establishing their headquarters in the market and doing sizeable transactions resulting in reduced vacancy in availability. Most landlords in the Metro West have had to invest in their product to keep it relevant and appeal to the market’s demand for first class space with clean, modern lobbies and amenities. Investment sales activity has been strong and we have seen a whole new group of owners enter the market and believe in the market. Certain markets have outperformed others and micro markets have established themselves within the traditional markets we categorize. These micro markets achieve higher rents and have set themselves apart as areas where tenant demand is stronger. While many might think the suburbs are losing tenants to downtown markets, overall we think the suburbs are very much alive and there is a lot of opportunity for investors.
You recently received Heading Home‘s Luberta Shea Volunteer of the Year award. How did you first get involved with Heading Home and what were some highlights for the organization in 2015?
I started volunteering with Heading Home in 2009. Andy Hoar and Wendy Jacobs (former CBRE/NE employee) encouraged me to get involved with the Outreach Council. The Outreach Council is a group of young professionals who come together to raise money and awareness for the organization as well as assist with Heading Home’s volunteer programs, in particular the Up & Out Program, which pairs a volunteer group with a client making a milestone move from a homeless shelter into permanent housing. The volunteer group spends a day preparing the client’s new apartment for them by cleaning, furnishing and decorating/personalizing the apartment based on the family’s preferences. The day ends with the group meeting the client at their new home and presenting the keys to the apartment to the client. It is an incredible experience to take part in an Up & Out Move and I’ve been privileged to participate in over 15 moves over the past few years. Other volunteer activities I’ve been involved with are planning and throwing birthday parties for homeless children in Heading Home’s Shelters and serving dinner and doing activities with the children and cooking or teaching a new skill to the adults.
What do you feel is the single most important advantage that CBRE/New England has over competitors in the market?
Having just returned from the CBRE America’s Summit in Denver, Colorado, I am continuously blown away by CBRE’s global platform and the many resources CBRE has for their employees in all markets. By participating in the America’s Summit, CBRE employees are exposed to new technology and best practices in the real estate world that assist us in serving our clients and being the best we can be within our business lines. CBRE is constantly researching and investing in new resources and technologies to make the platform stronger. The people at CBRE both locally and nationally are top notch professionals devoted to their clients. I think CBRE/New England has the best people in the business, both professional and personally. I have made lifelong friends at CBRE and enjoy coming to work every day. My teammates have been incredible mentors to me and have helped me succeed and be the best I can be.
What is your favorite thing about living and working in Boston?
Boston has changed so much since I first started living here after college. There have been, and continue to be, so many exciting changes to the city over the years that have made Boston a wonderful place to work and live. I love the restaurants, the neighborhoods, the sports teams, the people and sense of pride for being a Bostonian. I also love being so close to the ocean in the summer and the mountains in the winter.