Real Estate Q&A with AEI Consultants' CEO Holly Neber

Q: What are you seeing in the commercial real estate market right now?

A:  We’re seeing continued diversification of capital sources searching for opportunity in commercial real estate. Our work supports lenders, investors and developers on thousands of transactions every year, and it’s exciting to see the US as a global draw for capital. A more stringent regulatory environment for banks and global economic conditions have opened the door for more opportunities for foreign capital and non-traditional lending sources to get involved in the market. We also see continued movement of hot spots of activity. Transaction volume has moved away from the primary markets that may be seen as overheated, and towards metros where there is still opportunity for value growth.

Q: What are you seeing in the retail sector?

A: We have seen many retail sites that have switched gears away from retail and others that are reinventing the concept of what retail is. We’ve worked on suburban mall projects transitioning to data center use, shipping facilities, farmers markets, educational facilities, etc.  We’ve also worked on centers where the focus is the customer experience and bringing the community together. These types of projects can transform neighborhoods and bring new vitality to old centers. Retail is the tale of two worlds – one of old retail uses dying off and being replaced with non-retail occupancy, and another of reinvestment in the retail centers that have the potential to serve as a heartbeat of the community, the way an old-fashioned downtown may have done prior to the age of the mall.

Q: How is technology influencing your business?

A: Commercial real estate is ripe for disruption and so many technology innovators are realizing the potential. The challenge for owners and their service providers is choosing between the variety of options and having a cohesive technology strategy. Since our clients are using many different technology solutions, we’re adapting and using a variety of tools to complete comprehensive assessments of clients’ physical assets, including tracking current conditions using bar code technology, field tablet data collection, and geo-coding, as well as tracking all historical data from building plans and energy usage data. For owners with large portfolios and clients like universities and hospital systems, this data is then used to identify critical needs for immediate repair and outlining specific timeframes for corrective action regarding system refurbishment, replacement, or upgrade. We’re watching the new technology innovations carefully, so we can be prepared to help our clients with whatever they choose.

Q: What are you most excited about right now?

A: At AEI, we strive to connect our staff with the deeper purpose of our work – which is centered on the life story of the land and the buildings and how to take that story forward with good outcomes for investors, occupants, and the community. With the recent 2018 omnibus bill and BUILD Act, we are optimistic about redevelopment opportunities for brownfield sites nationwide. We love being part of projects that transform and revive communities.

About AEI Consultants

AEI Consultants is an employee-owned international consulting firm that provides comprehensive services to commercial lenders, property owners, managers, tenants, and developers, industries, institutions, government agencies, and insurers, including many Fortune 500 companies. These services include environmental, property and facility assessments; zoning and energy consulting; site investigation and remediation; industrial hygiene; and construction risk management. Founded in 1992, AEI is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with offices across the United States and Europe.  More information is available at

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