Tere Blanca is a legend in Florida. She has been in commercial real estate for over 35 years and is the founder of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc. Since Microsoft and Blackstone set up their headquarters in Florida, her company has been at the heart of an unprecedented office boom.
Since founding her own firm in 2009, she has worked on the design, construction, marketing and master planning of new projects. Her client roster includes corporations such as Allianz, Blackstone, Agave Holdings and WeWork.
She has been at the forefront of the corporate migration to south Florida, which remains strong. Brands like Millennium Management and Apollo Global Management have made their way to south Florida, just as Miami’s migration rate tripled in 2021.
The leasing momentum in Florida is being driven by Class-A office space, according to Blanca, especially in Miami Dade county, where rents have seen a significant increase over the past year.
Blanca spoke to Leverage.com about her storied past, CRE trends in Florida right now, women leaders in the business and what she hopes for the future.
Why is Florida the hottest CRE market right now?
We have experienced record-breaking net migration rates amid the pandemic; nearly triple than the previous two years. Florida’s business-friendly environment, no state income tax, sunny weather, people-first approach, and cost of living fueled the migration state-wide.
Most of the migration came from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago; a trend we expect will continue throughout 2022. South Florida, specifically, has captured a significant share of the demand across CRE sectors with significant leasing generating solid rent increases, especially for trophy assets located in the most established urban centers.
Tell me about the corporate migration to Florida.
In 2021 we saw record-setting new-to market-demand in South Florida from global and domestic companies. Many companies followed suit when Blackstone announced it was relocating to South Florida. Our team has led the leasing of the MiamiCentral offices from pre-leasing through full lease-up and is excited to now be working on behalf of the owner following the most recent sale.
To date, we have seen over 650,000 square feet of new-to-market office lease transactions closed with companies within a variety of industry sectors, but finance, tech and professional services are driving the moves.
What else are you seeing happen in Florida?
New companies entering the market are looking to establish their footprint in neighborhoods and office buildings that will align with their brand and facilitate attracting and retaining top talent. Among the key drivers for establishing a workplace environment where people are motivated and productive, include top-tier efficient office space, walkability, high-tech capabilities, wellness, on-site and nearby amenities, connectivity to mass transit, and proximity to highways and varied residential offerings.
When you first founded your CRE company, did you notice a gap in the industry?
When I first started in the industry, there were not many women or minorities in the industry. Over the past few years, these dynamics have begun to shift, and we are seeing more women excelling in CRE. At our firm specifically, 50% of our team consist of exceptional women, and nearly 85% are considered minorities. We have created an inclusive and diverse team that supports the development of women and all minorities but recognize there is still significant work required to create opportunity and cultivate inclusiveness and diversity across the CRE industry.
Why aren’t there more women executives in CRE today?
The real estate industry is historically more dominated by men, but there has never been a better time for women to enter and thrive in this industry, or any industry for that matter. It’s our responsibility to work collaboratively to inspire that movement and perpetuate the positive change.
What is the biggest demand for commercial property in Florida right now?
There is a continued flight to quality assets. Demand for top-tier commercial property is at the forefront of all major sales and leases throughout the region. New office developments have captured a significant share of the leasing activity during the past two years, further evidencing the flight to quality trend that translates across all sectors within CRE. Although rents and sales prices have increased across the board, rents and values across South Florida remain below other major U.S. metro office markets. As a result, we will continue to see the absorption of top-tier commercial space over the course of this year.
What do you see happening this year for CRE in Florida?
First of all, flight to quality will be evident. There will also be a modest increase in rents for existing assets, as well as a significant increase in rents for new top-tier office assets.
I also see something else happening: an expansion by local and new-to-market companies that are within the finance and TAMI sectors, with a string following of professional services that compliment these industry sectors.
Is Class A office space really driving momentum?
Yes, Class A assets have experienced strong demand and achieved rent increases across various office submarkets throughout South Florida. For instance, two properties we represent include The Main Las Olas, which is 88% leased, and One Cocowalk, which is 100% leased, respectively, within 14 to 16 months of TCO.
What has been the key to your success?
I deeply care about the success of our clients and our team. I am curious, enjoy growing professionally and personally, and show up with genuine positivity and enthusiasm. I believe our teams’ collective energy, commitment to excellence, innovation, drive, sense of urgency, and can-do attitude result in positive outcomes for our clients.
What’s next for you?
Like I say to my team: “We are just getting started.” We are only turning 13 years old in April of this year. It is an exciting time to be in the CRE industry, embracing and leveraging technology!