If you make $100,000 a year, you’d have to save every cent for 10,000 years to earn $1 billion.
For Colliers, that amount was recorded in just a single year of transactions, combining 590 sold and leased properties. Transactions included industrial, hotel, land, office, health care and retail commercial real estate throughout South Carolina.
“2021 was a very successful year for Colliers, the best ever in almost every way we measure our performances,” said John Folsom, president and CEO of Colliers South Carolina. “I am incredibly proud of our team across the state for accomplishing these results among the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The brokerage, which has offices in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg, also broke another record of 17 million square feet in its real estate management portfolio.
Real estate success in 2020 was completely unexpected, but Folsom admits that 2021 forecasts prepared his team better for potential productivity. Over time, retail has returned to pre-pandemic status, while office space is still uncertain as companies continue to determine if they want to bring staff back or go fully remote. Folsom said that could take years to sort out.
The industrial sector, however, has prospered for Colliers.
Manufacturing growth and distribution growth all lead to needing additional square feet in the industrial arena, and Folsom said occupancy levels are “off the chart” right now.
“That leads to the need to construct additional space. Then industrial land goes up and forces rental rates to go up,” he said, adding the sale and lease of land for development is going “gangbusters” right now.
“That’s anything from acre-and-a-half lots to hundreds of acres for industrial and multi-use developments and everything in between,” Folsom said. “Land values have risen significantly as the demand has increased.”
Whether it’s acquisition of land for a new development, construction of new properties, speculative or pre-leased space, or the leasing of existing properties, Folsom said activity has been unprecedented across South Carolina in all three markets.
The spike has been driven in part by pandemic retail and e-commerce booms, but South Carolina, simply put, is an attractive location for developers in and out of state also because of the highway system, the rail system, the Port of Charleston’s efficiency and the inland ports in the Upstate.
“Other states just don’t have those resources that we have,” Folsom said.
He further credited the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and the Midlands and Upstate departments of commerce, which are able to attract industry to South Carolina.
As Charleston can only develop west, Folsom sees Orangeburg — a middle ground for Charleston and Columbia — and Greenville as the up-and-coming industrial destinations.
“Upstate has so many factors that aligned to make it a great mecca for site consultants for their clients to locate,” Folsom said. “The moons are aligned for the whole state really.”
Just as Colliers was able to forecast 2021, Folsom anticipates 2022 to be just as great for the commercial real estate industry
“Those that are in retail and office have moved from the uncertainty created by the pandemic to a position where they have some confidence the markets have returned and will continue to improve,” he said.