Monday, April 27, 2009

Tough market hits Chicago-based real estate, auction giant

There are some companies that you think are immune to even the worst slumps in the commercial real estate market.

Chicago-based real estate brokerage and auction firm Sheldon Good & Company was one of those companies.

During the real estate boom, Sheldon Good & Company soared. But during the slump, the company has struggled mightily. As you certainly know by now, the company last week filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

This, unfortunately, is becoming routine. Giant real estate investment trust General Growth Properties also filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

Sheldon Good & Company suffered a tragedy earlier this year when Steven Good, the company's former chairman, was found dead in January in what was ruled a suicide.

You have to wonder if the general public, and real estate professionals in general, are getting used to the bankruptcies of industry giants by now. Whenever I interview real estate pros these days, they're quick to tell me that the commercial industry has been through plenty of slowdowns before.

The good news is that the industry has survived each of these. The bad news? Well, more than a few commercial real estate professionals have told me that this recession, this slowdown, is a different beast than those others.

Anyone who's been watching the giants fall -- companies such as General Growth and Sheldon Good -- can't be surprised by that sentiment.

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