Members of Nordblom´s multifamily investment division include: (from left) Jonathan Close, Michael Girard, Marie Imbres, Terence Scott and Ted Tobin.

One might call Nordblom Co.’s multifamily investment division the home team.

Bucking real estate’s tradition of individual brokerage, Nordblom has assembled a diverse group of professionals who work together to sell multifamily assets throughout Northern New England. The unique formula of sharing customers, information and compensation is key to Nordblom’s success in one of the industry’s hottest sectors, according to Senior Vice President Jonathan Close.

It’s the only approach to take, said Close, who has traded more than $300 million worth of commercial real estate in his 16-year career, the past nine of which has been spent at Nordblom selling apartment properties. One broker alone cannot do it today.

Close and colleague Richard P. Robinson developed the Nordblom team strategy after recognizing the evolution of the multifamily arena, which has moved quickly from mom-and-pop ownership to one increasingly targeted by institutional investors. The need for in-depth knowledge and research has grown as well, Close said, requiring sales specialists to understand every facet of the market to meet those demands, and to work cooperatively to share their various insights. Nordblom keeps its information in one system, allowing each member of the multifamily group access to the data, while every sale is carefully scrutinized by the team to ensure it makes sense.

It’s much better to have four sets of eyes to make sure everything checks out, said Close. We bounce ideas and numbers off each other to make sure they are respectable numbers, and that’s really important … It’s the best way to provide exceptional information for our clients.

Nordblom has certainly established itself as a leader in multifamily brokerage, having sold more than 2,000 units during the past two years. Most recently, the company negotiated the sale of the Charles Daniels apartments in Malden, with Archstone Properties Trust paying $14 million for the 104-unit property. Nordblom also handled the sale of the same property three years earlier, purchased by LaSalle Investment Management for $10.7 million.

Other significant deals brokered by Nordblom include Union Square in Allston, which sold for $26.7 million; the $14.7 million purchase of the Yorkshire Court Apartments in Shrewsbury by SSR Realty; and Springdale Manor in Canton, a 227-unit complex that fetched $30.5 million.

LaSalle Senior Vice President Richard Van Wert praised Nordblom for its performance with the Charles Daniels apartments. Close was recommended to LaSalle when it began seeking multifamily opportunities in the Greater Boston area, explained Van Wert, who is based in San Diego. After LaSalle acquired and repositioned the property, the firm went back to Close to sell the asset.

He truly is one of the best brokers in that market, or in any market, said Van Wert, adding, They did a great job for us.

‘Market Fundamentals’
In addition to Nordblom’s familiarity with what has always been an insular, closely held market, Van Wert said he was impressed with Close’s understanding of how an apartment building operates. Close has 10 years experience in residential management, serving several years as regional property manager for the Dolben Cos. prior to joining Nordblom.

Close said he does believe Nordblom’s multifamily team brings something extra to the table, with each member having different skills that help contribute to the division’s mission. Close’s background in property management allows him to delve deeper into a building’s operation to see whether the new owner could improve the property’s returns, perhaps adding a new amenity such as washing machines or installing more efficient mechanical systems.

Real estate finance is a specialty of Nordblom Vice President Terence M. Scott, a 25-year industry veteran who has concentrated on the multifamily market for the past eight years. Scott, who handled the liquidation of 35 multifamily properties while at Recoll Management in the early 1990s, can look at a building’s finances to see whether the debt might be restructured, for example, or gauge other ways to give an investor additional upside. Scott also oversees Nordblom’s dealings in New Hampshire, a market where the firm has done several sizeable sales.

Also on board is Ted Tobin, an expert at land development for multifamily use. Tobin has previously sold sites to such national apartment developers as Avalon Bay and is well-versed in the state’s comprehensive permit process, more commonly known as Chapter 40B. Most recently, he helped permit and sell a parcel in Methuen that can support 146 units. Tobin also provides research into a market’s demographics, information that can help a developer decide whether to pursue a given project.

Investment broker Michael R. Girard brought a retail background from the May Co. when he joined Nordblom in 1999. He is responsible for assembling the in-depth marketing packages put out to support a sales effort, shows properties to potential buyers and has also helped implement a high-tech digital storage and database management system for the division. Investment analyst Marie A. Imbres provides additional research support, tracking such things as property sales, rental trends and employment growth.

I think we’ve got a very strong team, said Close. The track record speaks for itself.

Nordblom currently has another Malden apartment project, Park Place, under agreement to an undisclosed real estate investment trust, and is marketing a 707-unit multifamily portfolio in New Hampshire. Close said activity has slowed recently, adding it is difficult to determine what sort of a year 2002 will be for multifamily sales. Regionally, the biggest challenge has been finding institutional-grade assets, especially with some owners reluctant to put their property up for sale during the recession. Despite that, investor interest is likely to remain strong in the region, Close said.

The market fundamentals for the long term are great for New England, he said.

Nordblom Brokerage Team Reflects Evolution of Industry

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 4 min