Ask The Expert: John Lyle


COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Experienced broker raising the bar


John Lyle, Senior Advisor at Coldwell Banker Commercial Wallace, began his real estate career during 2010’s economic downturn. “It seemed like a great time to start as it could only get better,” he says. John grew his business steadily, earning top sales honors and the top spot in his company for 2020. He is ranked as the top CBC sales associate in Tennessee and among the top two percent of CBC producers nationally. 

Prior to, John started Dale Insulation in 1978, expanding it to a full-service insulation, fireplace, and closet shelving business. In the midst of that growth, he and his wife Nancy founded Cityview magazine in 1984. He sold the magazine to current publisher Nathan Sparks in 1999. John and his wife also sold the construction businesses as well, which opened the door for his real estate career. 

How is the commercial real estate business bouncing back after the pandemic?

For me and CBCW, COVID never slowed my business down a bit; it was my biggest year ever which saw a more than 200 percent increase in sales and leasing. My total number of deals increased by 45 percent.

COVID may have created more demand as companies adjusted to a “new normal” of doing business. Closures, downsizing, relocation, and expansion all created real estate opportunities! Downtown Knoxville continues to expand. My most noteworthy transaction in 2020 was the sale of the nearly 100-year old Fireproof Storage building at 201 Randolph Street. A complicated transaction four years in the works, it brought a great feeling of accomplishment to represent the seller, negotiate the purchase and work through due diligence with buyer and seller.

What should a buyer look for when purchasing a commercial building?

My best advice is to not go into it blind. Buyers of commercial real estate need an experienced professional broker specific to their area of purchase. Commercial is vast and the best brokers specialize in a few key areas, such as uses and different requirements.

Nearly all commercial sales involve zoning and use or adaptive re-use considerations. Many require construction, environmental, geotechnical, legal, government agencies, roadway, waterways, utilities, stormwater management experts, etc. Commercial brokers must have a broad understanding of the fields and know when and who to engage when professionals are needed. We are fortunate at Coldwell Banker Commercial to have a broad scope of brokers who specialize in many areas of commercial, with years of experience dealing in specific areas.

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