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December 2023

NAI Hiffman’s incoming CEO John Heiberger looks ahead to 2024

Hiffman National Advisory Services

The New Year marks a fresh start for NAI Hiffman in more ways than one, as the Chicago-area real estate company will have a new chief executive officer at the helm in 2024.

A year after joining NAI Hiffman as president, John Heiberger will take over as CEO on Jan. 1, the company announced this month.

The move comes as the industry continues to confront challenges including rising interest rates, higher property costs (spurred by taxes and inflation), and limits on debt capital across industrial, retail and office markets real estate, as well as multifamily and hospitality, in 2024.

Heiberger will replace CEO Dave Petersen, who will become chairman of the board of directors, while Dennis Hiffman, who founded the company in 1981, will see his role shift to founder and chairman emeritus of the board of directors.

The executive transition at Oakbrook Terrace-based NAI Hiffman coincides with the unveiling of its Advisory Services group this month, offering project services, lender services and lease administration across office, medical office, retail and industrial properties nationally.

The Chicago Business Journal connected with Heiberger to find out what is top of mind as he heads into the new year and his new role.

On industrial real estate: “While we are keeping an eye on industrial because of [various] challenges, we still expect industrial assets to outperform in the near-and-medium term,” said Heiberger. “Steady demand for industrial space, along with limited new and speculative supply due to tightened capital markets, will keep this asset class strong.”

On retail: “We are also bullish on open-air retail and have seen higher occupancies and rents in assets we manage. Following Covid, retail was repriced and stabilized, and a new wave of retailers filled vacancies left behind by traditional department stores and big-box retailers,” he said. “surviving retailers have succeeded in integrating their brick-and-mortar strategies with their online presence. In Chicago, rising crime will need to be addressed for the continued health of this asset class.”

On office space: “We expect the office markets in the city and suburbs to continue to be challenged in 2024 as tenants are still grappling with return-to-office initiatives,” said Heiberger. “Lack of equity and debt capital for office will also stress owners in the near-term. However, we’re seeing strong activity in the suburban office markets for smaller spaces in buildings with good amenity packages.”

Hiffman National launches Advisory Services group

NAI Hiffman’s new Advisory Services group is a division of Hiffman National, which provides property management, project services and accounting services to these property types.

Bob Assoian, who heads up Hiffman National, will lead the new group as executive managing director, head of advisory services.

“We created the new Advisory Services group to guide our clients through today’s real estate market as well as future cycles,” Heiberger told the Chicago Business Journal. “As the market changes, clients increasingly have asked us if we can handle receiverships and other specialty offerings, which we’ve been doing since the Great Financial Crisis. Providing receivership services in Illinois allows us an opportunity to add value and help an owner or lender to stabilize assets.”

The Advisory Services group has offices in Chicago; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Tampa, Florida; and Houston.

“The Chicagoland area has unique attributes that make it ideal for our Advisory Services group. We are particularly interested in helping bank lenders,” said Heiberger. “And with nearly 10% of the country’s 4,500 banks headquartered in Illinois, there are plenty of local banks who will need advice and help.”

The move comes as Cushman and Wakefield Inc. also recently rolled out its Asset Optimization Group, which will focus on maximizing recovery for office, industrial, retail and multifamily properties that are underperforming or distressed.

Creating new groups that provide catered services for clients with specific property types is something Heiberger said could become a trend among commercial real estate companies.

Click here to read the full story from the Chicago Business Journal.


About NAI Hiffman:

NAI Hiffman is one of the largest independent commercial real estate services firms in the US, with a primary focus on metropolitan Chicago, and part of the NAI Global network. We provide institutional and private leasing, property management, tenant representation, capital markets, project services, research, and marketing services for owners and occupiers of commercial real estate. To meet our clients’ growing needs outside of our exclusive NAI Hiffman territory, we launched Hiffman National, our dedicated property solutions division, which provides property management, project services, and property accounting services across the country. NAI Hiffman | Hiffman National is an award winning company headquartered in suburban Chicago, with more than 250 employees strategically located throughout North America.

About Hiffman National: 

Hiffman National is one of the US’s largest independent commercial real estate property management firms, providing institutional and private clients exceptional customized solutions for property management, facility management, accounting, lease administration, lender services, project management, marketing, and research. The firm’s comprehensive property management platform and attentive approach to service contribute to successful life-long relationships and client satisfaction. As a nationally bestowed Top Workplace, and recognized CRE award winner, Hiffman National is headquartered in suburban Chicago, with more than 250 employees nationally and an additional six hub locations and 25 satellite offices across North America.

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