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Close-Up: Cybele Thompson

PM Realty VP stays involved in market, community, properties

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For Cybele Thompson, understanding the importance of responsiveness and community involvement has equated to greater industry knowledge and an increased standing as a player in the San Diego County nonresidential real estate market.

Cybele Thompson, regional vice president of the San Diego division of PM Realty Group, enjoys her dual role as a support system and a leader.

Thompson, who relocated to San Diego in 1989, is regional vice president of the San Diego division of Houston-based PM Realty Group, a privately held real estate service firm that manages more than 140 million square feet of office, retail and commercial space valued at more than $8 billion.

Thompson oversees more than 3 million square feet of that space, which is spread throughout the county. It's a job she admits was unforeseen.

"Property management and real estate in general isn't something you think about (doing as a profession)," she said.

However, after performing hospitality appraisals in what was, at the time, a struggling hotel industry, Thompson took a job as an asset manager overseeing 227,570 square feet of office space in La Jolla, which eventually led to a job with PM Realty.

Having been with the company for six years, her responsibilities include leasing, acquiring and selling facilities, construction management, advising clients on the current market and tending to tenant needs.

"I really like being a support system and in a leadership role," she said. "Providing them the support they need gives you job satisfaction."

PM Realty is responsible for Hazard Center, which contains the best office building in terms of maintaining tenants in the Mission Valley area, according to Thompson.

Being responsible for properties in different submarkets throughout the county is one reason for the continued success of the company, as it has maintained a portfolio of more than 3 million square feet of properties since Thompson has held the position.

"We definitely have a lot of competition," Thompson said. "The way we set ourselves apart is that a lot of companies like us also do brokerage, but we're strictly property management," which includes doing construction management -- overseeing tenant improvements, retrofitting lighting, making sure the property and buildings are energy efficient. PM Realty has managed construction projects in excess of $750 million.

In addition, PM Realty maintains an in-house department that provides both strategic positioning and program implementation for the firm, its clients and independent third-party clients, according to the company. The company also aids clients in buying property by giving them market trend reports.

Currently, "the San Diego market has been pretty frothy. Tenant retention is good ... the market has been pretty active on the transaction side," Thompson said, adding that rental rates are increasing, which is a function of office space availability.

In addition, office building supply continues to increase in suburban areas.

"When you see population growth you'll see retail and residential building increase ... when you see employment increase then you'll see absorption of office space," she said, adding that many of their clients are waiting to see how the market will turn before they purchase or sell a property.

While the company provides many forms of property management, what makes the company successful both locally and nationwide is tenant relationships.

"The most important thing is responsiveness," she said. "Tenants want to have a personal connection with the company who owns the building in which they lease space, and the property manager is that connection."

The manager must provide a superior level of service, which typically equates to quick response time from management on a variety of potential issues, from lease administration questions, to accounting questions, to something as simple as getting a light bulb changed or a thermostat repaired, Thompson continued.

A tenant tends to be more concerned with a building's functionality and amenities than with its management company. However, Thompson said there are many examples of properties that have had real physical and location challenges and yet have some of the highest tenant retention rates in the market.

Thompson also stresses the need for community involvement. Currently, she serves as immediate past president of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), California and is a past president of BOMA San Diego.

"The more involved you are the more people are going to know who you are," she said. This opens the door for future business opportunities and keeps her knowledgeable of the market and its movement, she said. Thompson also has been on the board of directors for the Lincoln Club and the California Business Properties Association.

Her visibility has resulted in several awards honoring her role in the industry, such as the Southern California Real Estate Journal's Most Influential Women Award and the Metropolitan Magazine's 40 Under Forty Award.

"I'm just happy they found something good about what I was able to do," she said.

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