As we embrace the new year, we welcome new leadership for the Commercial Real Estate Alliance (CREA), with 2023 President William Wilson, CFP®, CCIM, at the helm. William is energized and enthusiastic about the challenges and opportunities that 2023 will bring, and he is poised to make this year an exceptional one for the Alliance. This February marks 28 years for William’s career in the banking and finance industry, and his wealth of experience and industry knowledge will serve him well in this new position. Along with his impressive resume, William brings a unique perspective on the world of commercial real estate.
William received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and earned an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. He is a Certified Financial Planner®, holds the prestigious Certified Commercial Investment Member designation (CCIM), and is an honorably discharged Army Reserve Officer.
William serves as Vice President and Business Development Officer for Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, an SBA Certified Development Company covering Florida’s Southwest Coast. The company is a large, federal government-chartered, non-profit financial institution. William has financed tens of millions of dollars of projects in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Northern California before joining Florida First Capital. He is also the 2023 VP of Administration for the CCIM Chapter Leadership for Florida and was recently awarded the 2022 CREA President’s award.
“I help commercial Realtors® and bankers get government funding for small business owners who want to own their own building and obtain the proper funding. I love what I do, and working with RASM, and CREA has bolstered my success and opened so many doors for me professionally. There is no network to ‘crack’ at RASM, no pretense. Whether you’re a multigenerational Florida native or a transplant like me, both RASM and CREA have a welcoming culture of inclusion and acceptance.”
Rich Tradition Of Commercial Inclusion
William is a RASM Business Partner, and therefore has the exclusive privilege of serving as CREA’s first non-Realtor® President.
“When I joined the CREA Executive Committee and later became the Treasurer, the board had to make a change in their bylaws to allow a non-Realtor® to assume the position,” said Wilson. “In addition, the bylaws were revisited once again to allow a nonRealtor® to become President. CREA now has two nonRealtors® on its board of directors, with Neal McCurry as the Treasurer. This willingness to work with professionals who don’t fit the standard mold, is just one of the many reasons why CREA is so successful. We are a welcoming, non-exclusive group that truly thinks outside of the box, and we greatly benefit from it.”
RASM 2022 President Tony Veldkamp, CCIM and Senior Commercial Advisor at SVN Commercial Advisory Group, was RASM’s first commercial Realtor® to hold the position since the merger in 2015. Veldkamp is an industry leader in commercial real estate and a mentor to many. The Association has also had the privilege of having Erick Shumway of RE/MAX Alliance Group, with a solid commercial background, as the 2010 president. In addition, Joe R. Hembree of Hembree & Associates, a leader in commercial real estate and land development, was the president in 2007, prior to the Association merger.
“In many times, commercial groups are afterthoughts, and there is more attention placed on residential real estate. But that’s not the case at RASM because our leaders recognize the importance of both entities, because you truly can’t have one without the other. Residential real estate is built on the foundation of commercial infrastructure. We have a history of making the commercial Realtor® an integral part of the equation.”
Goals For 2023
William’s goals for CREA in 2023 are, in part, to continue the strong legacy that the Alliance does best: inclusion and working together with other RASM specialty groups, creating long-lasting relationships with trusted Business Partners, and broadening their overall reach. The goal is to create more synergy with the other specialty groups at RASM, which are the Global Business Council and the Young Professionals Network. CREA started doing this in 2022 by opening their Holiday Party to all RASM specialty groups.
“In 2023, CREA will continue hosting its Weekly Marketplace sessions, which is a networking and educational opportunity every Friday from 9 – 10 a.m. at RASM South. We will also hold monthly ‘Lunch & Learn’ membership meetings, which feature a different topic with expert panelists. We’re also hosting our annual signature events, the Sporting Clays Tournament in March, Downtown Horizons in April, and the Golf Tournament in October. We have added additional committee members to help organize these programs and ensure their ongoing success. These events are a great way to expand your community network,” said Wilson.
New for 2023, CREA is also introducing a “Commercial Summer Series,” which offers continuing education classes discussing commercial real estate topics such as Core Law, Commercial Contracting, Investment Properties, and more.
“As we plan these great events, we are also encouraging the return of fully in-person events and overall involvement,” said William. “We’ve done a great job of this last year, but it’s still a work in progress, and we need to keep at it. All our members need to get involved and stay involved, which is achieved best through face-to-face interaction. It’s crucial to ongoing success, and I promise you’ll gain more by involving yourself in more events than you can imagine.”
While no one has a crystal ball, William believes that the ongoing success in any business market is due in part to involvement.
“When the commercial and residential market is on fire, people tend not to show up at events or get involved because they are too busy, but that mentality is a mistake. Staying involved and connected is equally as important because it’s the foundation to that next piece of business,” Wilson added.
For example, the CREA Friday marketplace meetings have built a reputation for being a hotbed for leads, referrals, and even finalizing a challenging deal. A lot of business takes place in these meetings, based on trusted, professional relationships versus deals that might come together from being advertised on listing services alone.
“I think this year will be a good year for our local economy and for both residential and commercial real estate, but it’s going to require a lot more effort,” said Wilson. All the factors that go into making Sarasota and Bradenton a desirable place to live will continue to attract a steady influx of new residents daily, which brings added demand on available housing and area business. We are experiencing a complete shortage of nearly everything from contractors and laborers to housing and materials of all kinds, and none of these shortages will be remedied for years to come. So, it will take more to close the deal, patience, expertise, and reliance on personal relationships with business professionals you know and trust. There is no way that I could penetrate the market as I have without the connections I’ve made with RASM and CREA. If I need a general contractor, a commercial Realtor®, or an attorney, I have a rolodex of qualified colleagues that I can access and refer business. The combined professional experience and knowledge in our CREA membership is mind-blowing, and everyone is there to support one another.”
In addition, William believes the future market will include a decline in interest rates, most likely by 2024. The rates will normalize to a healthy number, higher than we were used to in recent years, but at a more normal, sustainable rate.
“Higher interest rates mean no more ‘free’ money – now it’s ‘normal’ money, so having those good connections and good relationships are especially important. Realtors® will have to think about cap rates when they didn’t have to before. Financing will be harder but not impossible. So, now more than ever, we need to focus on being educated advisors to our clients,” added Wilson.
Education Is Paramount
Becoming an educated advisor to your customers starts with a solid dedication to ongoing education and professional development. In today’s business climate, it just takes more to succeed.
“RASM offers so many essential education classes, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of as many as you can fit into your schedule. Consider additional designations and certifications, whether you’re a commercial or residential Realtor®. You need to know at least a little bit of everything. The business climate is more demanding, and your clients expect more. You need to know how contracts work and understand the basics of construction, financing, law, and taxation. You don’t have to be an expert or put on airs, but you must have a fundamental knowledge of what questions to ask a lender, an architect, and the closing attorney,” said Wilson.
Looking Forward To The Year Ahead
William and his wife Grace moved from San Francisco to Florida in 2017 and currently reside in Fort Myers where they enjoy sightseeing all around the area, especially taking their dog to all the wonderful beaches in Southwest Florida.
“I am excited to be the 2023 CREA President. My wife and I relocated to the beautiful west coast of Florida just over five years ago. To think how far I’ve come in my business in just a short period of time is a true complement to the inclusive, encouraging leadership of both RASM and CREA. I am a true example of what you can achieve when you combine hard work with a welcoming group of equally hardworking professionals. The future looks bright, and I am grateful to be a part of it,” added Wilson.
The Commercial Real Estate Alliance (CREA) is a special interest organization of RASM with more than 280 professionals active in the commercial real estate market, including commercial brokers and salespersons, lenders, attorneys, insurance agents, and professionals. Membership is only $50 a year. For more information about CREA and to join the Alliance, visit www.myrasm.com/commercial.
THE CREA DIRECTORS SERVING IN 2023 ARE:
- Darrin Desmarais, NDC Commercial Real Estate
- Saralyn Dorrill, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick
- Kyle Hembree, Hembree & Associates, Inc.
- Ken Hoskinson, Hembree & Associates, Inc.
- Amy MacDougall, CCIM, Ian Black Real Estate, LLC
- Ken Swan, Wagner Realty
- Barbara Williams, Mapp Realty & Investment