New tenant-rep group plans commercial during Masters

One of the city's top office brokers is launching a new tenant-rep group with a TV commercial after the Masters golf tournament on Sunday.

Jon R. Owens, a principal and senior vice president in the local office of Cassidy Turley, said the spot was filmed on Monument Circle and will air on CBS following the awarding of the Green Jacket and before 60 Minutes.

The three-broker team, dubbed The Owens Group, includes former developer Brian K. Meeks, also a principal at Cassidy Turley, and attorney Russell A. Van Til, a senior associate. Together, they have 55 years of real estate experience.

"In this environment, with competition the way it is, we’re of the opinion it’s hard for users to differentiate one broker from another," Owens said. "It’s a relationship business, always has been. But there are definitely people out there who aren’t sure who to turn to."

The group, which will operate within Cassidy Turley, hopes to shake up the world of tenant representation. Television advertising is unheard of for commercial real estate firms. The Owens Group also has posted videos on YouTube outlining its services.

"Commercial real estate can be pretty mundane, and this economic downturn hasn't really served to weed out the ranks of commercial brokers," Owens said. "We don’t know of anybody who has done this. (Cassidy Turley Managing Principal) Jeff Henry looked at me like, 'Huh?'"

For the brokers, the advantage of drumming up tenant-rep business is to give them more control over the process. If you control a tenant, you're probably going to do a deal somewhere. Representing landlords, on the other hand, means chasing a lot of deals that never materialize.

There's also a commission advantage. Market-rate commission for tenant-reps averages about 4 percent, while brokers representing landlords earn 2 percent to 3 percent.

Finding the right space for a client is a "more gratifying experience," Owens said.

But that doesn't mean Owens is giving up listing properties for landlords. He and his partners in The Owens Group have several prominent listings, including M&I Plaza and the office space at Lockerbie Marketplace.

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