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Mark Read

Senior managing director steers CB Richard Ellis’ ship in San Diego

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Mark Read, CB Richard Ellis senior managing director, said the primary goal for his company is to be "the most trusted adviser to owners and occupiers of commercial real estate."

The firm has its main office in the University Towne Centre area, along with offices in downtown San Diego and Carlsbad, with about 200 employees plus another 25 offsite. About half of these workers are professional brokers, mortgage bankers and appraisers.

Read said his offices' revenues are running about 25 percent higher than 2009. Gross sales and leasing volume amounted to $1.55 billion in the local offices last year.

Read said the business in the local offices peaked in 2007 before declining by 16 percent in 2008.

"It went down another 20 percent in 2009. That was the bottom," Read said. "We're predicting another 15 to 20 percent improvement in 2011."

During the recession, the local CBRE offices kept busy by relying on its sales and leasing volume, as well as being heavily involved in third-party property management, as it has for many years. The firm oversees more than 16 million square feet of office, industrial and retail assets in San Diego County.

"That has been very helpful during tough times," Read said.

Read, who believes the apartment market will only get stronger with the recovery, added that CBRE, through its Debt & Equity Finance Group, also aided its cause by arranging the refinancing of apartments through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD.

Now that sales and leasing activity is slowly improving, CBRE can rely on all of its strengths.

"Investment properties are picking up nicely and the tenant representation and corporate services businesses are booming," Read said.

While sales volumes are still not what they were three years ago, Read said he is seeing increased transaction velocity and the return of larger deals.

Read has also made note of the amount of life science space that real estate investment trusts have been garnering lately, including BioMed Realty Trust’s (NYSE: BMR) development and purchase of space on and around the Torrey Pines Mesa, Sorrento Mesa and Sorrento Valley.

The financing for many types of REITs and institutional investors has become favorable again, he said.

Office and industrial leasing languished during the recession, but Read sees that activity slowly returning to normal next year.

Read started his career with CB Richard Ellis in 1982 in sales for the firm's Rancho Bernardo office. In 1988 he moved to Jacksonville, Fla., to manage the firm's office there. He returned to San Diego in 1996 to manage the Carlsbad office, as well as the firm's industrial staff in San Diego County, until he was promoted to his current position in 1998. He has spent more than 30 years in the commercial brokerage business.

Read also is a co-founder and the president of the San Diego chapter of HomeAid America, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building and renovating temporary housing for the homeless.

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