VOL. 128 | NO. 17 | Friday, January 25, 2013
BenchMark to Relocate, Restructure
By Sarah Baker
BenchMark at Southwind Realtors LLC will soon relocate its Southeast Memphis office, add agents, integrate technology into its business practices and go paperless in one fell swoop.
The residential real estate firm inked 2,127 square feet in Highwoods Properties Inc.’s Southwind Shadow Creek I building, 3350 Players Club Parkway. BenchMark at Southwind, led by broker/owner Leon Dickson Sr., will relocate by the end of February from an office at 7900 Winchester Road, across the street from Lowe’s.
“Our company is called Southwind, so (the new location is) located in Southwind,” Dickson said. “We’re trying to present a different image as for recruiting purposes to our clients, and I think the layout of the building is just a better fit for us.”
Dickson partnered with Ric Bowman to found BenchMark at Southwind in 2006. Dickson bought Bowman out in 2009.
Dickson is a past president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors and currently sits on its board of directors, in addition to serving as the 2013-2014 division vice president for the Tennessee Association of Realtors.
“When I bought into the company, I bought into (Bowman’s) vision for BenchMark. That was not my vision, so now my vision is coming to life,” Dickson said. “It’s like everything is brand new for me all over again.”
Dickson said he is “restructuring the company,” which is a big factor in the relocation. He was able to customize the build-out at Southwind Shadow Creek I to be more conducive to what BenchMark at Southwind is moving toward, which includes a high level of professionalism and experience among agents as well as the use of iPads and tablets when dealing with clients.
“I’m demanding that any agent that works at our company work at a certain level,” Dickson said. “I want to be one of the most advanced technology real estate companies in the city of Memphis, so the agents have to come up to that level. And we are going paperless – there won’t be a file cabinet.”
BenchMark at Southwind has 26 agents, and Dickson hopes to hire as many as eight more by year-end.
“I’m not just looking for agents,” he said. “I want the agents that are knowledgeable of what’s going on in the industry.”
John Snyder, managing director of Sperry Van Ness/Investec Realty Services LLC, represented the tenant in lease negotiations. Tony Argiro, Highwoods leasing representative, handled the deal from the landlord’s side.
• In other commercial real estate news, Garden View LLC bought the 92-unit Garden View Apartments at 1127 Whitaker Drive and 1137 Whitaker Drive near Graceland from WI Memphis LLC for $1.5 million.
The two-story, Class D complex was built in 1963 and is situated on 6.7 acres on the south side of Whitaker west of Elvis Presley Boulevard, in the Oak Acres subdivision. The Shelby County Assessor of Property, which uses the address 1087 Whitaker for the parcel, appraised it in 2012 at $900,000.
Steve Woodyard, president of Woodyard Realty Corp., handled the transaction and said it was a “win-win situation” for both parties.
“It was a new hybrid form of brokerage in which the existing owner kept a percentage of the ownership along with continuing the management of the asset,” Woodyard said. “This new hybrid structure solves all the problems that many out-of-state and passive investors face when the selling owner stays in the transaction.”
Woodyard said the existing loans were modified to take on the new partners. The management and on-site staff do not change, and now there is a manager that is financially invested in the success of the property. He added that until lending improves, this will continue to happen in the marketplace.
Woodyard said Garden View was appealing to the out-of-state investors because they can watch the property from their computers or iPhones to make sure it is being properly managed. The technology has night vision capabilities as well as the means to move and zoom cameras so that every part of the property is visible.