I wrote my first column in September 1984 and this is my last. I am adjusting my real estate brokerage practice to selected projects to have more time for family, travel and other activities.
When I began my commercial real estate brokerage practice in 1980, I found competing with established brokers difficult. Writing a newspaper column, I thought, would be a way to get my name out to the public.
It certainly did that, but even more the column has given me an opportunity to provide you some of the "inside baseball" of commercial real estate, to keep you current on the market, and explain, educate and occasionally voice my opinion on political matters affecting commercial real estate. This column has also required that I take the time to research subjects that I otherwise might have overlooked. All this has helped me become more informed and a better broker.
Over the 33 years of my brokerage career, the Anchorage market has experienced everything a market can do -- from boom to bust to recovery and now stability. I have gone from rookie to a young bull competing with the old bulls. Now, I have to admit, I am one of the old bulls. Life goes on.
My practice started by working on smaller properties with small investors. Over the years my practice grew, and I have handled some of the Anchorage's largest transactions for major investors and large corporations. I have had the privilege to work with some incredibly talented people. Almost everyone I have worked with has been honest, courteous and respectful, with a few notable exceptions.
I have also been very lucky. By happenstance, my timing could not have been better. I started my practice when the market was booming. This allowed me to establish myself enough that I could survive the following market bust.
Along the way, I met two other brokers, Stuart Bond and Greg Johnson, who became my partners. In 1992, we formed Bond, Stephens and Johnson, the commercial real estate brokerage that operated until this year. That company was a great success because of my partners and the outstanding brokers and staff we were able to attract.
I am surprised to realize I have been writing a column for 29 years. I've written about 400 columns during that time. (For the first six years I wrote two columns a month.) The column has been a success because Anchorage has been a dynamic market, and I viewed the column as informational and wrote about what I found interesting. By and large, readers did too.
Another reason the column has worked is I have had two outstanding editors, Judith Brogan early on and more recently LJ Campbell. These two editors significantly enhanced my mush, and I want to thank them for making me look good.
The Daily News has given me a free hand. Of course, I always had the three words "commercial real estate" in the column somewhere. Bill White was the editor of the business page who agreed to my column and supervised the column for 27 years. Bill was excellent. He was helpful, patient and provided constructive criticism that helped my writing mature.
Bill moved on about two years ago, and I now report to Pat Dougherty, the editor of the paper. I have thoroughly enjoyed Pat. He is consummate newspaper person and writer who has provided superb further editing. He is also one heck of a fly fisherman, and I am looking forward to spending time with him chasing rainbows on the Kenai River.
Finally I want to thank all of you, the readers. I have received many generous comments on the column. Thank you.
The column has been a wonderful experience and I am going to miss thinking to myself, "Oh, there is a column topic," and then figuring out how to write about it in a clear and informative way. But it is time.
Chris Stephens, CCIM, is a local associate broker specializing in commercial and investment real estate.