The commercial real estate brokerage scene has become a little more crowded with the arrival of a Canadian brokerage firm that believes the Fairfield/Westchester County market is showing signs of growth.
Toronto-based Avison Young, which has more than 1,500 real estate professionals across Canada, Europe and the United States, has opened an office in New Canaan headed by seasoned industry professional Sean Cahill.
The New Canaan location at 65 Locust Ave. is Avison Young's fourth in the tri-state region. The firm has 58 offices in 47 markets.
"I'm very excited to utilize my more than 25 years of experience in the Fairfield and Westchester County real estate markets to take this next step in my career and play an integral role in building Avison Young's regional presence here," Cahill, who was a senior vice president at CBRE in Stamford, said.
Cahill said he was attracted by Avison Young's senior leadership and the opportunity to move up through the company's ranks. He has been named a principal in the company.
"I was at CBRE for 26 years. I thought about it hard. CBRE is a great company. I saw value in being able to move to a company like A.Y.," said Cahill, who will draw upon his connections in the area commercial real estate scene to recruit a staff of brokers and support personnel. "We're in our infancy. We're looking into recruiting senior brokers from other firms. We'll be making some announcements soon."
Cahill said his goal is to eventually have six to eight brokers on staff, as well as support staff including two project managers, a researcher and a marketing professional.
"By attracting top talent, we go to the market with an advantage. We're hiring experienced brokers who are good at getting business," said Cahill, who has completed 15 million square feet of transactions during his career.
Fairfield County is populated by a large number of commercial real estate brokerage firms, and with good reason.
The county is the most densely populated and wealthiest in Connecticut and a haven for investment firms, employing highly paid staff. It also has become an international business center, and many of those businesses are potential clients.
The timing was right for the opening of the office, according to Mark Rose, chairman and CEO of Avison Young.
"Improvements in the economy make the current climate an opportune time to expand into Fairfield and Westchester counties," he said in a statement.
Avison Young opened its first New York office in April 2012 in Manhattan, with Arthur Mirante joining as principal and tri-state president. The company opened a Morristown, N.J., location in September 2012, followed by a Long Island office in August.
"The expansion of our tri-state operations allows us to create regional synergies in servicing the needs of our corporate institutional clients," Mirante said in a statement. "The economies of Fairfield and Westchester counties and New York City are closely intertwined, enabling us to tap into the relationships and to collaborate in identifying new opportunities for growth. Sean's track record as one of the region's most accomplished professionals will provide us with the network and insight needed to enter the Connecticut and suburban New York markets quickly, and immediately begin building our book of business."
"It's making a real splash in trying to grow a platform in the United States. It sounds like a natural," he said, referring to Fairfield County's strong economy and business base. "Fairfield County is a big market, and there's a lot going on there."
But Cahill initially could face a challenge in filling out his staff, Blank said, as some brokers considering a move may wait to see if the fledgling business can produce results.
"If they are talented and have the budget to withstand an initial slow period, all they need is their first big success all of a sudden. Then they become credible. It's never easy to open a new (commercial real estate) branch in an existing market," Blank said, stressing the need to hire seasoned brokers with solid reputations because they can establish long-term trusted relationships with corporate clients.
Avison Young's decision to come to Fairfield County validates its economic vitality and potential, according to Lisa Mercurio, director of the Fairfield County Information Exchange, a division of the Business Council of Fairfield County.
"We already have many international players here," she said. "It's a place were the commercial real estate firms know they have to be represented."