Cresa Follows Growing Clients to OC

Occupier needs in both office and industrial are growing in Orange County. Following its growing clients, occupier-service company Cresa has opened a new office in Orange County with Mark Bennett at the helm. Bennett, who will serve as managing director, says that the Orange County region has grown from a small tenant market into an established market that is home to several company headquarters, and it is a place where Cresa needs to be to service those clients.

“Traditionally, Orange County was a relatively small tenant market. Your average space occupier was 3,000 to 3,500 square feet,” Bennett tells “That has clearly changed. Cresa has multiple transactions this year and in 2019 that will exceed 100,000 square feet in Orange County. We are a building market.”

Cresa CEO Jim Underhill underscores the importance of the Orange County market, which Cresa could once serve from its established Los Angeles hub. The recent growth, however, has required a local presence. “We handle a significant amount of business for corporations and organizations that have locations all over the world,” Underhill tells “Orange County is an important market for them in terms of locating offices, and therefore, it is an important market for us. Even without having an office there, we have had significant activity in that marketplace. We have a powerhouse office in L.A., but you can’t service Orange County from Los Angeles, at least not efficiently. It is really client demand that has driven us there, and it is a market that we are very excited to be growing in.”

The move was a natural step in the organic growth of both the market and the firm. Cresa has grown its staff by 20% in markets across the country over the last 18 months. “We are having a significant revenue increase this year, and clearly the economy is a big part of that,” says Underhill. “The other part of it is that we offer an alternative to our clients and other professionals in the business. With all of the merger activity, there are a number of really big publicly traded real estate firms that do everything and do it everywhere in the world. We are very focused on doing one thing, which is representing occupiers and tenants, and we try to be the best in the world at it.”

Orange County has seen substantial new office development and redevelopment, and that has also meant opportunities for Cresa’s clients. “I think that we are nearing equilibrium on rental rate increases, and that is going to create more flexibility for our corporate accounts,” adds Bennett about the market. “We are around an 11% vacancy on the office side, and with newer deliverables, we will see a more competitive market for our clients.”

As a result, Cresa expects to continue to grow its team in Orange County. Underhill says that there will be more “significant players” added to the team in 2019. Bennett adds that they are currently talking to several teams, but are focused on finding the right fit. For the firm—which has seen substantial growth and is poised for more—that means holding onto its company culture and unique identity. “We put a real effort into having a culture that is teamwork, collaboration and community involvement,” says Underhill. “Those are really important for us, and they don’t happen on their own. At the end of 2019, we just want to be known for great culture, great work and as a real player in the market—which we have no doubt we will be, based on what we have coming—then that will be a good year for us regardless of where we end up on head count.”

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