Knowledge, experience propel Sunny Sharma Commercial Team to new heights

by Neil Sharma on 04 Mar 2021

Commercial real estate agents certainly had their work cut out for them in 2020—although the industrial sector was on fire, the same can hardly be said for the office and retail spaces.

Some agents, however, were looking at commercial real estate in a different way.

“My business partner, Kathleen, and I both have our CCIM [Certified Commercial Investment Member] designation, which includes education and a minimum quota,” said the head of the Sunny Sharma Commercial Team and co-owner of Century 21 Leading Edge VIP Realty. “You receive a pin and take an oath to represent it with honesty and integrity. It’s comparable to having a CPA or CGA in accounting, but it’s specific to commercial real estate.”

CCIM is the National Association of Realtors’ highest designation, requiring 250 hours and to eight to 10 courses, and allows members to network and enhance their investment opportunities in the world’s most vigorous markets.

In particular, CCIM teaches adherents how to evaluate commercial properties in wholly different ways than their cohorts do.

“We look for needs and do something called ‘gap analysis,’ which is based on the supply and demand of certain sectors in any given area and we look for what’s lacking,” said Sharma. “Maybe there’s only one tire store there but 10,000 households. Based on people’s spending habits over X number of years, there’s this much business sitting on the table, and only one provider is eating up all that money.

“We examine the goods and services in a certain city or neighbourhood to see if there’s a way to capitalize. Let’s say there’s a retail plaza on a main street that gets a transit line, the city, as per the provincial intensification mandate, will increase residential density. That plaza’s best use then becomes a mixed-use development with, say, a doctor’s office on the ground level and apartments above it. Or more land could be acquired to turn it into a master-planned community.”

For Sharma and his business partner, and Century 21 Leading Edge VIP Realty co-founder, Kathleen Xie, that kind of outside-of-the-box thinking stems from careful study of city plans. Xie says that’s the difference between discarding a condemned, seemingly worthless site or conjuring a higher use for it that aligns with forthcoming city development plans.

“We did over $60 million in commercial transactions in 2020 just in Toronto alone,” said Xie. “A lot of what we see is development opportunities. Retail, for example, is in the midst of evolution; yes, it’s changing and it needs to be redeveloped. We help find it that better use.”

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