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Transwestern Looking to Grow Brokerage Operations

Company In Talks to Acquire Four Boutiques, Including Two in the Southeast
March 12, 2018
Pictured: Larry Heard, CEO of Transwestern.

Transwestern confirmed to CoStar News that it is in talks to acquire four boutique shops to bolster its brokerage operations in deals that could be announced by the end of next month.

Transwestern CEO Larry Heard says the firm is close to acquiring two firms that specialize in capital markets/investment sales that primarily focus on the Southeast, and a pair of other brokerages, including one in the Western U.S.

The acquisitions jibe with an expansion strategy Transwestern has embarked on in the last few years, one that involves steadily adding talent with smaller moves rather than making a big splash through a large acquisition.

The news on the acquisitions may also help counter the hit after CBRE hired away 48 brokers and support staff - mainly leasing and property management specialists - from Transwestern’s Boston office two weeks ago, in a move that nearly wiped out its New England presence.

"Sometimes you lose good people, sometimes you add good people," says Heard. "But if you look at our history the last 10 to 12 years, we remain in a growth mode."

With brokerage offices in 35 cities around the country, Heard said Transwestern is looking to beef up both its capital markets teams and leasing and management teams in the big gateway markets, while establishing a presence in what Heard called the "next eight" influential markets, such as Phoenix, Denver, Austin and Nashville.

"We see most of the commerce in the largest eight markets, so naturally we gravitate towards those," says Heard. "But cities like Nashville are interesting to us, because there’s a lot of investment focus and momentum there. And we’re going to do more recruiting in the West, from LA to Seattle."

Among Transwestern’s hires in the last six months was Blake Williams, a managing director in Houston who came from Medsite, a medical office investment shop he founded. He’ll handle Transwestern’s medical practice nationwide.

Lisa Bovermann, a senior vice president, also in Houston, who joined the firm from CBRE; Whitney Hake, a senior vice president handling office leasing in Denver, who joined from Cushman & Wakefield; and Joe Ritchey, an executive vice president in Northern Virginia who’ll handle office leasing after leaving his own consulting firm.

Transwestern’s strategy of acquiring smaller brokerages and adding to teams with hires of one or two professionals at a time is largely in keeping with today’s brokerage growth trends.

M&A activity among the major CRE brokerages has quieted down after several of the national brokerages made big waves at the top of the market in 2015 and 2016 with such major expansion moves as Newmark snagging Grubb & Ellis and Apartment Realty Advisors while also adding high-flying office sales veterans Robert Griffin and Kevin Shannon and the their teams in Boston and LA, respectively; and Cushman & Wakefield merging with DTZ following its previous merger with Cassidy Turley.

Nearly unique among the national full-service brokerages, Transwestern is privately held and also has development and investment arms, with more than $4 billion of assets under management, and 35 development projects in 17 cities.

John Doherty, Multifamily Reporter  CoStar Group   

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