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Athena Harman

Successful broker runs 'small but mighty' firm

Athena Harman calls her property management, leasing and brokerage firm “small but mighty.”

The eight-person office in La Jolla offers one-stop shopping, with all the expertise to help clients purchase a property, manage the property or an entire portfolio of properties, and provide due diligence, financial reporting, leasing services and property management. Leasing and sales are handled by Harman Realtors Inc., and the management side of the business is handled by Harman Asset Management.

“Some bigger companies offer the whole thing, but you’re dealing with different departments, and different people,” she said. “Some companies, all they do is sales, or all they do is management; there’s no overlap. We can handle all of that for the prospective client.”

Harman started her career in real estate in 1962 doing title and escrow work. She then started doing residential sales, and now focuses on commercial sales, leasing and management. Her husband Robert founded Harman Realtors Inc. in 1955, and she joined him at the company in 1975. When he passed away in 1995, Harman became president of the company, which manages properties throughout the Southern California region.

She attributes the company’s success to her team’s length of experience in the business, education and professional designations.

The last year has been a “remarkably good year,” she said. Despite a dearth of sales activity, leasing has carried the company.

Earlier this year, Harman handled the $6 million Adidas Flagship lease renewal in Santa Monica. The Adidas Flagship Store comprises 20,000 square feet in a building Harman manages along the Third Street Promenade, an area she likened to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive. Lease rates on the three-block promenade run about $8 per square foot for ground-floor retail, compared to $1.25-$2 per square foot in suburban shopping centers.

Harman’s firm also does a lot of work in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and in 2011 inked the 10-year lease renewal of Dick’s Last Resort, which paid $4 per square foot for 10,000 square feet downtown.

“Currently we are involved in putting a Chipotle and a Starbucks in a 5,000-square-foot space in downtown La Jolla,” Harman said.

“We deal with all the national credit tenants who do big rents over long leases, and those result in hefty lease commissions. Those go a long way toward keeping you going even when sales kind of drop off.”

Harman noted that even though the economic forecasts call for a turnaround in 2013, she has seen an uptick in leasing activity during the last three months of the year. Properties that have long been vacant are almost completely leased.

“There’s a certain positive attitude among tenants who are willing to take a risk to go into a property, and among landlords willing to give tenants a chance by leasing the property to them,” she said. “I think things are going to turn around quicker than people expect.”

The native San Diegan has been through a few real estate cycles, and said she’s glad to live in the region.

“Being a native, I’ve seen a lot of business cycles, and San Diego always comes out on top.”

Klam is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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Harman Asset Management AMO

Company Website

7835 Ivanhoe Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Harman Asset Management AMO Executive(s):

Athena Harman

  • President