EAST COUNTY — Three commercial real-estate veterans told an audience full of industry peers to push consumers to buy now — a growth model Manatee County is trying to follow.
Panelists at the June 18 Commercial Real Estate Symposium, hosted by the RE/MAX Alliance Group Commercial Division, included Erick Shumway, of RE/MAX Alliance Group in Sarasota; Richard Juge, of RE/MAX Alliance Group in New Orleans; and Stan Rutstein, of RE/MAX Alliance Group in Bradenton.
They described a market in which U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are readily available and crowdfunding is more prevalent.
Recently, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, indicated historically-low interest rates might rise. The panel recommends buyers take advantage of the low rates now.
“We have so much cash in the country now,” Juge said. “You have to think we’re in growth mode. Buy real estate now, because it’s a great hedge against inflation.”
Rutstein, a former corporate executive in retailing and importing who represents businesses such as Dunkin Donuts and Wells Fargo, has argued against inflation for years.
He says rates won’t inhibit the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans.
“You are in the business of real estate. You forget Americans are very creative,” Rutstein said. “Leave the rates alone, and let Washington figure that out.”
Locally, Rutstein is seeing less new vertical construction, but more investors who buy property to sell it.
Benderson Development serves as a model for others to follow, Rutstein said.
“Benderson wants to slowly come in and control the market, to dictate the market rate,” Rutstein said. “It helps that they have a lot of cash in the bank, to close quickly.”
The panel also criticized Sarasota’s 2050 plan, a development plan to create urban-style, walkable communities in undeveloped areas of the county.
Developers say the plan limits economic growth with overly stringent regulations. Shumway sees the plan as a reflection of Sarasota’s reluctance to grow and diversify.
“Manatee County is ahead of Sarasota in terms of planning,” Shumway said. “Sarasota has to do some catch-up.”
Rutstein credited Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker for a creating new pro-growth mindset — one that seeks to capitalize on emerging industries, such as sports.
Manatee County hopes to build on a sports industry that features IMG Academy, Nathan Benderson Park and The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch.
“Hunzeker doesn’t want to hear the word, ‘no,’” Rutstein said. “He has brought an absolutely different attitude. This sports thing is the unspoken opportunity of the community. It can be the engine for the future.”
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].