Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS

Landlord’s beware and know what your broker is saying! A problem in the Mississippi Delta

It has bothered me for weeks of whether to write this particular blog or not. Less than 2 months ago I had the opportunity to tour the Mississippi Delta and other parts of the great State of Mississippi with one of my national retail clients whom two of the five participants had never been in this area of the country before. When I first encounter the Delta region about 30+ years ago I was not that that impressed with the expansiveness of the flat land and incredible evidence of poverty in this region. Over the years I have come to appreciate the rich culture from its agriculture roots to the birthplace of the blues. It is a beautiful area of the country rich in tradition and abundant in Southern hospitality. I wanted to make my clients first trip into the region worthwhile and fruitful for expanding their retail base.

As we toured “Blues Highway” Highway 61 from Tunica to Natchez we experienced much of the area from the Crossroads in Clarksdale to the stately antebellum homes in Natchez and Vicksburg. It had been a few years since I have been in Vicksburg and Natchez and I very impressed with the progress they have made in the downtown core areas. Rejuvenation has definitely taken place for the better.

Despite the addition of casino’s the Delta region still boasts some of the nation’s worst poverty, high retail vacancy rates in excess of 20 percent and negative growth rates. This area is starved for any expansion! I am real estate broker licensed in the State of Mississippi (as well as Tennessee and Arkansas) and I encounter for the first time in my 27+ years in the commercial real estate business a throwback to the old days. We came across an “Old School” broker in the region who had a majority of the listings in one of the targeted communities. You think he would be happy that I was coming to his community and bringing another new business to lease some of their and his abundant vacancies. Despite the fact that his community had some of the highest vacancy rates in the entire region he indicated that he did not want to cooperate with an outside broker and that any commission would need be paid directly by my tenant client. For the majority of the readers of my blog you understand that commissions to both the landlord broker and tenant broker are typically paid by the landlord. I spend allot of my time consulting with both rural communities and economically challenged urban communities in recruiting retailers and the first thing I emphasize is the need for property owners and their brokerage community to work and cooperate with the tenant brokers who represent the majority of the clients they are seeking. The Delta region or really any area cannot afford to have this type mentality being the voice of your community and usually the first impression. It should be the landlord broker’s job and responsibility to facilitate a profitable lease transaction on behalf of their client. If they are chasing away even one retailer away due to the archaic mentality such as this then the whole community has potentially suffered a loss of a new business in their town.

This might be anomaly in our profession as the majority of property owners, good commercial real estate brokers and community economic development people understand that you may only have one chance to land a new business. Landlords beware and know what your broker is saying! You may be losing deals due to your brokers unwillingness to cooperate and collaborate. I hope this post provides the property owners reading a caution to check their broker’s philosophy on cooperation with other brokers.

The remainder of the trip was both pleasant with Southern hospitality blooming from the various restaurants and hotels we visited. The majority of the other property owners and their brokers welcomed us with open arms. If you ever want to visit the Delta region there is abundance of history and culture that awaits your visit.

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Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS is a partner with The Shopping Center Group a 3rd party retail real estate advisory firm in their Memphis office, an adjunct professor in the graduate real estate program at The University of Memphis and a co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Memphis Business Academy charter schools (K-12th grade) in the Frayser area of Memphis.

For all your retail real estate needs (tenant representation, landlord representation and property, investment & land sales) I hope that you will choose The Shopping Center Group and me to represent you and your business. We understand that representation is a privilege and that you have a choice!

The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. They should not be considered the opinion of The Shopping Center Group, LLC in which I am associated.

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One comment


    You have hit the nail on the head. I have worked in MS for a number of years and was treated like a true outsider since I live in TN. This is a non-disclosure state and trying to verify sales prices for land and for residential property was a real challenge.

    I applaud you for attempting to assist an area that has been experiencing a true recession. Farm land has been on the rise, but new commercial development in the rural areas is non-existent. Please continue to try to promote growth.MS needs it!

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