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Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 28, 200112:00 PM EST

Profile: Cynthia Farah

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Fran Pepis is a commercial realtor and the first woman associate vice president of Colliers Dickinson.

HOW LONG HAS SHE BEEN THERE?

Ten years. She was a broker with Walter Dickinson and was promoted to associate vice president in 1999.

SPECIALITY?

Office leasing and sales.

BEFORE COLLIERS DICKINSON?

She was with Curry Properties where she worked in sales, leasing and asset management. She carried that experience to Colliers Dickinson and has started an asset management department there as well.

WHAT IS ASSET MANAGEMENT?

“A service you provide to a third party to help them maintain the value of their property.”

WHAT ELSE DOES SHE DO?

She also works with bankruptcy courts, bankruptcy attorneys and institutions in the disposal of distressed properties.

HOW DID SHE GET INTO REAL ESTATE?

“I came in to Curry Properties as a consultant to help them put together a business plan and to help them develop future business in the real estate industry. I had an opportunity to see what they did in real estate. I developed an interest in the asset management side because it incorporates my financial background and my ability to sell. I said, ‘Real estate’s a good product, I’d like to sell that.’”

CAME TO JACKSONVILLE?

In 1985, from New York City.

BEFORE REAL ESTATE?

She owned a communications company for eight years before selling it to TelCom in New York City.

WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING IN THE DOWNTOWN MARKET?

“The downtown market is soft, but companies are still moving forward with expansions — with caution. Acquisitions and mergers are still taking place so companies do need to expand based on a consolidation of staff.” Recent mergers and expansions have caused several companies to relocate. Being close to the courthouse, available parking and rent stabilization were reasons for the companies staying downtown.

ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO OTHER AGENTS?

“To be successful in my profession you need to be focused, persistent, understand your clients needs and follow up on our promise and commitment to complete your assignment either with the tenant or landlord. Time kills deals — you need to act and react to changing marketing conditions and strategies.“

VACANCY RATES DOWNTOWN

“In the downtown area for the second quarter, class A and B space was 8.7 percent. Average rental rates are between $17.50 and $20.50 per square-foot. With a soft market, the deals which have been landlord driven in the past will soon become tenant driven. On newer spaces, rent concessions, rent abatement and tenant improvement allowances are starting to surface again. This will continue as long as there is an abundance of sublease space available in the market. I am working with a number of tenants now to sublease their space or try to assist them in negotiating or buying out their existing lease.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE COMMERCIAL MARKET?

“The market should settle down by the first quarter of next year. Fortunately, Jacksonville is somewhat insulated from the rest of the country because of our $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan and the $800 million Shipyard project. The Super Bowl in 2005 will also create an active market in the foreseeable future.”

BIRTHPLACE

Newburgh, N.Y.

COLLEGE

She has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Pace University. “My degree has helped me understand the financial dynamics of a sale or lease, including cap rates, debt to equity rates, net operation increase and cash flow analysis.”

MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT REAL ESTATE?

“Trying to control a market that you can’t control because the only thing that is predictable in this market is that it is unpredictable. You can work real hard, develop the relationships with people and encourage people to continue to use your services based on past performance, but if the market doesn’t cooperate your deals aren’t going to happen.”

FAVORITE THING ABOUT REAL ESTATE?

“The people and the different personalities you deal with each day. I don’t think there has been one day that I’ve went home and said I haven’t learned something. It is always an ongoing education.”

RESIDES

Ponte Vedra Beach.

CHURCH

Shepherd of the Woods.

FAMILY

She has been married to Rick, a dentist, for five years. She has two children: Keri Ann, 31, and Marshall, 29.

HOBBIES

She has a passion for snow skiing and also enjoys playing tennis, running and weight lifting.

FAVORITES

Her favorite place to visit is anywhere she can ski, and where there are wonderful vistas. “Pretty Woman” is her favorite movie and “Gone with the Wind,” is her book of choice. When dining out, she prefers Carrabbas Italian Grill. At home she enjoys the televison show “Frasier.”

—by Michele Newbern Gillis

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