How is the Columbian real estate market developing and how has your portfolio changed accordingly?
CARLA MARTINEZ SERRANO The Colombian market ranks as the fifth-best market in the region, and our goal is to push it to third by 2021. Most of our business lines now have a presence in Colombia, and our Colombian operations have recorded average YoY growth of 66% over the last three years. In terms of our portfolio, we are currently serving almost 92% of the fortune 100 companies in the world. This is our main advantage in serving clients throughout the world. We also serve the majority of real estate investment funds in Colombia; therefore, we try to get the knowledge of our best practices and develop them here.
JEAN-BAPTISTE WETTLING The Colombian corporate real estate market is still new, but it has matured on the back of economic growth. It has switched from a sale model to a rent model. During the process, sophisticated money is being used to finance real estate projects. The office and hotel segments experienced a boom similar to that of shopping malls. Meanwhile, our portfolio has developed more than it has changed because we have almost the same set of clients at both regional and global levels. We target office and logistic developers, helping them conceptualize their product with market consultation and investigation. Over time, we have also developed other services. For example, once the project has been completed, we provide assistance with leasing. We have implemented the experience we have gained at the global level while dealing with Fortune 500 companies in the Colombian market.
What are your competitive advantages that clients can rely on?
CMS Our angle is to get our globally acquired knowledge and offer it to local businesses. If an investor opts for a local company, it will find unfamiliar strategies and practices. In comparison, CBRE is renowned for a better service with standard global processes. On top of that, there is no language barrier. Since we have a vast global presence, we can fly in our best talent without additional charges.
JBW Since we have been operating in Colombia for more than 18 years, we have a sound knowledge of the local market. What differentiates us from the rest of the competition is our consulting approach. JLL is not just a brokerage company; we are highly involved on the investment and consulting side. Brokerage is looked upon as an easy job that earns high commissions, but that is not the case; it adds great value when done with our consulting approach. Clients are extremely satisfied with us because they are aware of our focus on adding value to their business.
How was 2017 for CBRE?
CMS We had a great year in 2017 with a YoY growth of over 66%. The presence of our business lines has allowed us to develop our local relationships and bring in practices that have been successfully applied in other developed markets. Through our expertise, our clients in Colombia are able to extract significant benefits. Hence, our client's confidence in CBRE has resulted in our outstanding growth, and we hope to continue to grow at the same levels.
How important has the Colombian operation become compared to other Latin American countries?
JBW Between 1999 and 2002, we registered legal entities in nearly every Latin American market. We had potential clients who wanted large facility management contracts, so we established offices in Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Bogotá, Lima, Puerto Rico, as well as in Costa Rica. We started a full-service operation in Santiago where the potential and growth is similar to the Colombian market; however, growth in Colombia has been more consistent because there are multiple cities that present market opportunity.
What investment perspectives do you have in Colombia's real estate sector in 2018?
CMS Colombia has one of the best atmospheres for real estate in the entire region. Every investor should know that the country is seeing its greatest growth in decades. Investors chose to invest in Colombia because of the country's geographical location in South America, its healthy economy, and a stable political climate as compared to the rest of the region. We expect to have consistent growth in all lines of business. The prediction is based on the rise in the number of local clients. One of our main goals for 2018 and the years to come is to fully establish the brand recognition that CBRE enjoys across the world.
JBW The management, stability, and vision of the company has remained outstanding despite the change of CEO two years ago. The company is extremely focused on investing in new technology and to remain on top of the industry changes. This is an industry that is changing fast, and there are more competitors coming into the market. We want to continue to be market leaders in research and consulting. Our primary goal is to keep developing new service lines that will allow us to further establish our dominance in the market.