NAI Saig Well-Positioned for Real Estate Rebound


Commercial real estate is making a strong come back for one Memphis brokerage firm as previously shelved projects come roaring back to life.

Edward Saig said that a rise of activity in 2012 demonstrates the ability of banks to lend in an era of tight regulation.

“In the last eight to nine months it’s really picked up, I’d say 60 percent,” said Saig, owner/president of NAI Saig Co.

“Before this recession, we were as busy as we’ve ever been in our lives. Since the recession hit and all banks have been pressured, a lot of companies held back. They’re beginning to get their budgets and plans in place. We’re seeing good activity in leasing and sales.”

Sales and leasing in the manufacturing, industrial, warehouse and distribution sectors in particular are moving, though Saig said he expects his company’s property management business to increase as well.

The company manages about 4 million square feet of space through a joint arrangement with another NAI company in Birmingham, Ala. While not Saig’s primary focus, property management helped keep the company afloat from 2008 to 2011 when the market seemingly came to an abrupt halt.

Shirley Rudd, from left, Van Spear, Elliot Embry, Edward Saig, Hank Martin, Alicia Cupples Mooney, Brian Califf and Stuart McCloy of NAI Saig Co.

(Photo Courtesy of NAI Saig)

“Land has been our toughest market simply because the banks weren’t lending for new construction, but they’re starting to ease up,” Saig said. “Most of the brokers here are seeing good activity in warehouse and distribution leasing.”

Seven brokers work for Saig’s company.

Saig cited one heavy manufacturing operation, which was ready to buy a site and build a 75,000- to 100,000-square-foot facility before the economic collapse, but then their corporate office put everything on hold. This year the company called back to start over.

Now, even after the presidential election, Saig said he and other business owners have concerns about political maneuvering, which may affect taxes.

Saig started the company in 1963 after graduating from the University of Arkansas and completing real estate coursework with the University of Tennessee. He worked for Boyle Investment Co. for only 90 days, just long enough to get training in loan analysis, and then struck out on his own.

The original office is in West Memphis. Saig opened his Memphis office, now at One Commerce Square, 22 years ago. He is licensed in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Originally the company worked in both commercial and residential real estate, but Saig learned quickly that residential was not for him, though he is encouraged to see gains in the residential market this year.

On the commercial side, NAI Saig represents both buyers and sellers.

Saig’s company is affiliated with NAI Global, a worldwide network of 175 commercial real estate companies formed in 1978. NAI Global has 325 offices with annual sales of $45 billion and 200 million square feet of space in property management.

In January, NAI Global was acquired by C-III Capital Partners LLC. Saig said that C-III represents new opportunities though he sees the effect as limited for this market.

“It’s an improvement,” Saig said. “They do a lot of outside work that filters into our office. They will go in and buy a portfolio of 10 or 12 properties and if there’s one in our area, they will call us and ask us to do some research on it. If they do acquire it they will call us to market the property. They do that all over the US.”

Since Memphis real estate suffered fewer commercial foreclosures than larger cities, Saig doesn’t expect a large influx of that business but said that C-III can provide his company with experts in fields such as asset management when needed.

Despite the increase in activity, Saig said he isn’t certain of what to expect in the immediate future.