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Local organization offers networking, resources for commercial Realtors

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Networking opportunities for real estate professionals abound for members of the Commercial Real Estate Alliance of San Diego.

One of the organization’s biggest goals is connecting members with others in the industry, which could also help with future transactions.

“It’s a relationship business,” said 2014 president Curtis Gabhart. “You’re on the phone a lot and don’t get a lot of face-to-face time.”

But if Gabhart knows the person at the other end of the transaction, then he’s able to interact with someone he knows, which can be especially beneficial in the case of competing offers.

One such event was the 2nd Annual CRASD Commercial Cup Competition, on Oct. 16. Teams competed in five rounds of fun games and quizzes in hopes of winning the commercial cup.

About 170 people attended, cheering on the teams competing in everything from sumo wrestling to math events.

Prior to the Oktoberfest celebration, CRASD also offered two classes. Gabhart and Rick Alexander, president-elect, taught Commercial 101, which focused on selecting and evaluating commercial properties. Architect Michael Stonehouse followed the course with Entitlements 101, on working with entitlements and land development in the city.

CRASD typically offers one or two classes or events each month.

“We’ve really worked on getting a great calendar, and we’ve been a lot more active with representing our members in the commercial industry,” Gabhart said.

Gabhart is the chief executive officer of Gabhart Investments Inc., a real estate firm specializing in acquiring, renovating and upgrading multifamily properties. He’s also affiliated with KW Commercial Brokerage. He was previously a and principal of ACI Apartments Inc., recognized as the most successful income property brokerage firm in San Diego.

Gabhart Investments buys and sells properties and also advises clients. Current projects include a retail strip center in San Diego, flipping a luxury home and the purchase of a San Ysidro industrial building that has long housed a swap meet. It was foreclosed on, and the purchase is now in escrow. Gabhart Investments is taking a route that many other commercial Realtors might reject.

“We felt the highest and best use was to keep it as a swap meet,” Gabhart said. “A lot of people know about it already, and it made the most sense for us.”

Joining CRASD was one of the best decisions Gabhard said he’s ever made on the commercial side, as it’s allowed him to learn and network alongside new friends in the industry.

“I think membership and going to events pays for itself many times over,” said Gabhart, who was also president of CRASD in 2009.

Established in 1993, CRASD is one of 34 commercial associations of Realtors nationwide. The organization’s key missions include keeping members educated on real estate trends, identify tools that members can use to effectively compete, facilitate deal making and promote designation programs.

Membership has been going up lately, and CRASD has about 400 members now.

The organization is also becoming more involved in government outreach and political support.

Jordan Marks, director of government affairs for the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, said the organization has worked on behalf of its members in many ways locally, statewide and nationally.

SDAR may have been quiet, Marks said, but it was one of the top funders to oppose an increase to the linkage fee in San Diego. The association also opposed a proposed point-of-sale retrofit included in an early draft of the Climate Action Plan; Marks said it would have come at a tremendous cost to the real estate market with little impact on reducing greenhouse gases.

CRASD and SDAR also worked to oppose changes to Proposition 13 and the split-roll property tax, as commercial real estate was poised to take a loss of the protections of low property taxes. SDAR held a 300-person awareness breakfast and funded a case study.

Coming up in November, CRASD will hold a breakfast focused on proposed changes that would eliminate 1031 Exchanges. Marks said if enacted, the reforms would have a negative economic impact on businesses and taxpayers who are trying to move ahead and build their wealth.

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