Gail Reaney is a senior broker with Colliers International, one of Victoria’s leaders in Commercial Real Estate, offering comprehensive services to investors, property owners, tenants, and developers. Gail joined Colliers in 1987 and has worked with almost every office building owner and leased space in almost every office building in Victoria’s downtown core.
How is Colliers International Victoria coping right now?
We are all doing relatively well staying connected, supporting each other, and sharing information on a regular basis. After the initial shock of the shutdown we tried to keep our days as normal as possible by way of checking in with everyone on a weekly basis. Encouraging each other to share what we were encountering with the group gave us the ability to then provide our clients with up to date information from all facets of the real estate industry.
How has the pandemic affected business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?
Our business is relationship based, and for deals we are facilitators. We initially saw several projects, (sales/purchases and lease expansions) put on hold; interestingly some of these have since transacted with a growing confidence as we have “flattened the curve.” Businesses will be opening up again, albeit in a completely different way. Some market sectors, industrial for example, have remained strong and we are seeing things carry on without much change.
The office sector is rethinking what their premises will look like in the future with social distancing and working from home. The most impacted has been the retail sector and anything tourist related. The recent announcements of the easing of restrictions, has provided some tentative optimism, but the best that can be hoped for is the reduction of the negative impact and without government intervention, the outcome remains uncertain. Looking to the future there are still so many unknowns. Our expertise is information, networking and by staying informed, connected, and supportive, it allows us to be in the strongest position to give advice when/as the change manifests itself.
What advice are you giving yourself and your team for riding this out?
These unprecedented times will not last forever, maintain the essence of who you are, your contacts, fitness, networking, socializing, and finding balance to get you through these tough times.
What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and Colliers?
Our business is long term. Leases are typically five or 10 years and in any given year 18% to 20% of leases come available. The changes may not be so immediately visible. Understanding current and future changes within the different business sectors and how that translates to space requirements will be the challenge. When this pandemic comes to an end, we will realize just how important it was to stay connected with our clients, family, and friends.
What are your resources right now?
I am fortunate to have an amazing group of colleagues and clients, along with friends and family. We have had regular Zoom and Skype meetings sharing experiences and providing support for each other. Nationally Colliers has provided us with tools and information to share with our clients as we all work through this pandemic.
Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group, books you read?
I have and continue to learn from so many people everyday, so everyone is a mentor to me.
I recently read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on a true story about Henrietta and the immortal cell line known as HeLa. The book and story are completely relevant to today’s situation.
What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Keep busy, be positive, be patient and stay connected. We will all get through this even though it may not feel like it some days but, as Dr Henry says, “This isn’t forever, this is just for now.”