Mastering the Market: Real Estate Advice from Century 21 Alliance Group’s Nick Sommer

When it comes to understanding the ins and outs of the real estate industry and the economics of housing, few in Northwest Indiana come close to having the extensive level of knowledge and expertise than Nick Sommer, Vice President of Century 21 Alliance Group. 

Sommer comes from a 20-year background working for management, previously working for companies handling major projects such as Quaker Oats and Gatorade where he worked in customer service logistics.

“I always wanted to get into sales, “says Sommer. “I like people and always wanted to offer people something. I am always looking to find new relationships and people. That is my teacher and how I learn.”

Sommer credits his knowledge of the real estate of warehouses and industrial buildings from his previous experience to be an asset in his current position and has proven to be an asset with selling and promoting Century 21 Alliance Group.

Sommer relies on his extensive knowledge to help him with his job in the residential and commercial real estate market. The real estate market often comes with its share of challenges with a market that can often fluctuate and change with the economy.

“The market itself is the biggest challenge,” says Sommer. “It has highs and lows and because of this, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain a certain level of business when the market is fluctuating.”

One way Sommer and Century 21 Alliance Group has found success even during a changing market comes in knowing exactly where to establish the business and location among other interested businesses and to be willing to step outside Porter County and expand a business.

“When comparing Porter and Lake County, most are more willing to go to Lake,” says Sommer. “They have made downwards pricing adjustments in land to attract more business and people. Porter hasn’t seen this business migration. Its location is farther from main hubs and the value equation just isn’t there yet.”

Despite the changing market, Sommer feels that 2015 will be a good year for the real estate market and present good opportunities for those invested in the market.

“2015 so far is good for real estate, mainly based on the good interest rates and level of employment,” says Sommer. “The fear of that unstable economy and market is over, and it’s not like it was back in 2009 through 2011. People are much more confident in their purchases.”

For businesses interested in taking advantage of this good year and purchasing commercial real estate, there are a few key things to keep in mind before taking the next step.

“The thing to remember is that commercial real estate is not that different from residential real estate,” says Sommer. “There are a lot of factors you need to have a clear of idea of before moving forward, after that it’s just a process of elimination.”

Key factors that need to be known by those interested include knowing the location, square footage needed and budget. Buyers also need to ask themselves a series of questions to clarify exactly what they want.

“Do you need to be seen? Do you need certain amenities such as a large source of power or more land? These are the questions you should be asking before you take the next step,” says Sommer.

Buyers also need to be aware of legal issues and laws before taking further steps towards their purchase.

“Commercial real estate comes with fewer protections built in by the law. It’s more of a buyer beware scenario,” says Sommer. “The wider the buyer’s eyes the better.”

Sommer also says that it typically takes a team of people collaborating when making a commercial real estate purchase. These usually consist of a lawyer, banker and broker who collaborate with each other and the buyer to ensure that the buying process is always moving along.

When it comes to potential complications and pitfalls, Sommer believes this comes more from buyer hesitation rather than a complicated process.

Sommer also claims not to be able to always answer these questions but tries his best to help them through this decision period.

“I’m not going to try to be your “everything”, but I will try to give you the best advice.”

Sommer credits the rise and use of technology as another powerful tool to help buyers come prepared.

“Technology has made everything easier for everyone. It’s made it easier for me and the buyer to find information. It’s made it easier to find information on the state, municipalities and zoning ordinances.”

For the future of Northwest Indiana, Sommer sees a bright future with a slow and steady form of growth to sustain the economy.

“Our little world in Valpo is now impacted by the global economy. A lot of our market has been driven by steel and it’s great to see local governments diversifying and moving away from steel and manufacturing and broadening to other areas,” says Sommer. “While it won’t lead to explosive growth, it will lead to moderate growth for the next 2 years.”

While most would be worried about not seeing a large and substantial amount of growth in industry and real estate, this does not worry Sommer.

“Valpo has never been a boom town. Things have always been gradual and substantial, and that’s the way they most likely will remain.”