Sage Real Estate Strategies

Principals: Jim Norman, Val Tomey, Bill Selvage

Specialty: Real-estate strategies

Year founded: 2002

Headquarters: Seattle

After selling Norman Company to Trammell Crow six years ago, Jim Norman was ready for something else.

After running a property management, brokerage and consulting firm for 22 years, he took a job with Trammell Crow but found the company too big. Then Norman tried retiring, but he wasn’t ready.

Last year, Norman and partners Val Tomey and Bill Selvage formed Sage Real Estate Strategies. The company helps universities, health-care companies and other “users” plan long-term strategies for property, which Norman said “has always been the second-largest cost associated with doing business.” For Norman, the third try appears to be the charm.

“I’ve always gravitated to the user side as opposed to the investment side,” he said. “There’s more value in what you bring to the table. It’s not just a commodity service.”

Norman said Sage tries to help clients align real-estate and business strategies. He said Tomey worked in facilities management and corporate and investment real estate, and Selvage is an architect with project development experience. Norman said Sage hires specialists on contract.

Sage is helping Trinity Lutheran College relocate from the school’s 40-acre Sammamish Plateau campus to a smaller, more urban site along Interstate 5. Norman said Sage lined up three possible buyers for the Issaquah site, and the college plans to buy 100,000 to 125,000 square feet of existing space somewhere between Everett and Tacoma.

Seattle Public Schools, fighting a $30 million operational deficit, hired Sage to help devise a strategy to sell property. Norman said Sage’s auction-style, publicity-heavy approach helped the school district sell properties for up to twice their assessed value. “They had a strategy,” he said. “The bottom line is they made a lot more money than they would have.”

Sage also works with “a major university,” but Norman wouldn’t say which one because some clients contact the company for help solving problems they’d rather keep quiet. Norman said Sage gives clients “objective” advice by charging fees rather than profiting from property transactions.

“It is different. That was the whole purpose,” Norman said of his new gig. “I’m just thrilled with it. I’m just having a blast. We all are.”

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