Five Questions With: Jim Conway

Jim Conway, owner of Conway Commercial Group, launched his own commercial brokerage earlier this year, after several years of operation under the William Raveis company.

Conway, who operates his business from an office in the Calart Building on Reservoir Avenue, spoke recently to the Providence Business News about the commercial market.

PBN: What are the services offered by the Conway Commercial Group and do you specialize in any particular area?

CONWAY: We do everything that’s commercial brokerage related. I do commercial leasing. I do commercial sales, which encompasses industrial, retail, office properties. I also do business brokerage, which can include real estate and oftentimes it does not. Multifamily sales, multifamily residential and mixed-use properties, that’s a component of the market I’ve pursued. If we wanted to isolate a specialty, we would select that.

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PBN: What is the 2019 multifamily market for sales?

CONWAY: It has been and continues to be very vibrant. From an investor perspective, investors are looking at a cap rate, measuring their return on investment. The higher the cap rate, the better the return, the better the investment. Lower cap rates are being accepted by investors more and more. Years ago, they were not. They’re buying at a lower cap rate with the hopeful anticipation of increase in value over time.

PBN: What is driving that?

CONWAY: The demand for housing has really driven up rental rates. The folks looking for apartments are looking at much higher rental rates for the same apartments. It’s really statewide and beyond.

PBN: Many of your listings on your website are for small, stand-alone retail and office buildings. What is the market for these?

CONWAY: It was very, very stagnant for a long time. It’s been much better in the last 18 to 24 months. There has been a significant increase. I think there are more businesses being created. And with the onset of SBA 504 funding, which allows a buyer to put down 10% as opposed to what traditionally would have been for a commercial purchase, closer to 25%. Pretty much, of half a dozen or so commercial contracts, properties under contract, I would say most of them are being financed through the SBA 504 program.

PBN: What are your thoughts on the general commercial real estate market?

CONWAY: It’s still very vibrant. There are high demands for almost every segment of commercial. There was a time when small, neighborhood retail, stand-alone retail, was flat. There was no demand for it. Those spaces sat vacant. With the improvement in the economy over the past couple of years, people who always wanted to start their own business … as the economy improved, people felt more comfortable, so that has increased demand for those properties.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.

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