At the helm of Cushman & Wakefield’s Valuation & Advisory practice for the Americas, Urquhart-Bradley talks about the ebb and flow of investment capital and the impact of global investment on the U.S. property market among other things.
August 2016, Nicole Urquhart-Bradley took the helm of Cushman & Wakefield’s Valuation & Advisory practice for the Americas. A 30-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, Nicole began her career as an associate appraiser with Appraisal Partners Inc. of Silver Spring, MD, before being hired in 1992 as a senior appraiser by Legg Mason Realty Group Inc. of Baltimore. In 1996, she joined Joseph J. Blake & Associates, serving as an assistant VP in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and then as VP and regional manager in its Los Angeles office. She joined Cushman & Wakefield of Washington, D.C., Inc. in 2003 and served as manager of the firm’s D.C. office until mid-2004, when she was promoted to manager of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In September 2009, her area of responsibility expanded to include the Northeast Region, and expanded again in 2010 to include the entire United States.
In August 2016, she was promoted to her current position, a role in which she oversees 600 appraisers across 71 offices and drives the business objectives and activities of the group’s operations. V&A offers six core services, including appraisal management, diligence advisory, dispute analysis and litigation support, financial reporting, portfolio valuation and property tax services, along with 17 asset-class practice groups.
GlobeSt.com caught up with her to get some insight into what is happening now in that world, how clients can navigate trends and
GlobeSt.com: What are some of the national trends happening now in the V&A world?
Nicole Urquhart-Bradley: We’re really seeing the impact of globalization on U.S. assets. On a daily basis, we’re witnessing firsthand the ebb and flow of investment capital and the impact of global investment on the U.S. property market. Asian investors in particular are interested in the relative safety of American assets, at a time when countries like China and Japan are grappling with balancing their economies and negative interest rates. American assets are, comparatively, a better buy that yield more bang for an investor’s buck than, say, government bonds in the Eurozone. I predict we’ll continue to see active interest by foreign investors in first-tier markets like New York and San Francisco.
GlobeSt.com: Why do clients choose your team to navigate these trends?
Urquhart-Bradley: Our clients hire us because whatever the issue or need, we’re one of the most responsive valuation firms offering the best market intelligence regarding commercial real estate assets in any market around the world. We’re focused on working together, with a culture that fosters agility, team work, and resourcefulness, so we never stand still and are able to deliver superior client service. Our dedicated research resources coupled with professionals on the ground, offer significant and relevant experience with every asset class in each respective market. And as the world gets smaller and smaller, working for a recognizable brand that’s associated with quality around the world ensures clients that we’ll deliver the most effective solutions on every assignment, every time.
GlobeSt.com: What are some challenges your clients are facing? And what strategies is your team using to help navigate those?
Urquhart-Bradley: There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of significant retail “right-sizing.” Cap rates are rising, and coupled with current market forces, we’ve heard some concern from clients. They’re citing big box vacancies and fretting over the future of shopping malls. And while we don’t discount those concerns by any means, we also know that these circumstances present great opportunities for redevelopment. We understand – both on a big-picture and granular level – how to extract value from these kinds of assets and make them perform.
And, as we as a firm look toward growth and expansion, we’re looking at what our clients are doing. They’re becoming more sophisticated and more diverse, and we’re always finding new ways to improve along with them. We’ve had a core business for 35 years that’s become an industry leader and we are building on that fantastic foundation. We are listening to our clients’ needs, adapting and streamlining our processes. We’ll continue growing with our clients — whatever they need, we’re going to figure out how to do it. We’re a huge company, but we’re nimble enough that as those needs change, we’re going to change right with them. In my role as the group’s Americas lead, I’m focused on constantly finding ways to better serve our clients by adapting and streamlining company processes. Our recently-created Capital Advisory Group, which is part of the Diligence Advisory team, is a great example of how we’re responding in that way: we saw a client need and we were able to create a team to support those services. This team allows the firm to provide best-in-class third-party asset management and surveillance services and CMBS B-Piece diligence expertise to private equity fund managers and investors. Services like that are really unique to our firm and, in my mind, set us apart from the competition.
GlobeSt.com: How has the practice changed over the last 10 years?
Urquhart-Bradley: Technology has absolutely transformed our business over the past decade. We are now able to tap into more data than we previously thought possible, more quickly than ever before. And with commercial real estate markets moving at an increasingly frenetic pace, transactions are going faster and our turnaround times are dramatically shorter. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we provide thoughtful, nuanced analysis of the data we’re using to serve our clients. Technology levels the playing field somewhat, but our strength as a firm – and what makes us stand out from the pack – lies in our capacity to view and conduct ourselves as true advisers who provide fresh, innovative solutions to our clients’ unique valuation issues.