• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

National commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates begins to establish its presence in Richmond

ByWillie M. Evans

Sep 19, 2022

John Colan, left, and Josh Simon lead the expansion of Lee & Associates in Richmond. (Photo courtesy of Lee & Associates)

Seeking a slice of Richmond’s thriving market, a major West Coast commercial real estate brokerage recently planted its flag in town.

Southern California-based Lee & Associates is taking its first steps into the area, starting with a small group looking for listings.

The effort is led by Josh Simon, John Colan and Pierson Kreutzer of the company’s Washington, DC office. Simon, president of Lee & Associates, said the goal is to eventually hire a local field team in an official Richmond office.

Founded in 1979, Lee & Associates has more than 1,500 agents and 70 offices across North America, each broker-owned. Simon said the company is working on all kinds of transactions, including investment sales, development sites, rentals and more. He said the private company made more than $18 billion in revenue last year.

As Lee’s DC office has grown since its launch in 2019, Simon said Richmond has gradually established itself as a place of growth, prompting the company to expand into the region.

“What we’re seeing is that demand for capital pushing further south into other areas like Richmond, Raleigh and Charlotte and other places,” Simon said. “There is this gap between (Charlotte and DC). We really see Richmond as an area that obviously continues to grow, and we’re going to see more migration from here for years to come.

The company’s customers had also noticed Richmond.

“We were told by our own clients, ‘Hey Josh, hey John, find us opportunities in and around Richmond for land development, building repurposing, or just investment deals,'” a said Simon. “It was a function of our customers telling us, ‘We want to get into this area’.”

The group said it was in talks about its first rosters in the Richmond area, but could not release too many details yet. Simon said they have historically done deals between $5 million and $50 million, but their “bread and butter are $10 million to $20 million investment deals.”

Colan, a Richmond native and UVA alumnus, acts almost like a tour guide for his co-workers.

“We spent a lot of hours in the car driving around,” Colan said. “It was about understanding the narrative of a particular neighborhood or even a particular building and getting up to speed with (Simon and Kreutzer) so that we could be fluent in the story that we might tell when marketing of a website.”

Lee’s expansion to Richmond comes about six months after a national residential brokerage came to town. In the spring, Compass expanded into Richmond by acquiring two brokerage teams at Joyner Fine Properties and Liz Moore & Associates.