Top 5 U.S. Cities for First-Time Commercial Real Estate Investors

Investing in commercial real estate can be a lucrative venture, offering opportunities for significant returns and portfolio diversification. For first-time investors entering this market, selecting the right location is crucial for success. Some key factors to think about when choosing which market to enter into are population growth, job growth, and high rental demand. Here are the top five U.S. cities that offer promising prospects for first-time commercial real estate investors:

1.) Nashville, Tennessee

Commonly known as, “Music City”, Nashville has emerged as a hotspot for commercial real estate. The city’s strong job market is fueled by tourism, finance, and healthcare, and has forced the need for more office space as well as retail space. Nashville’s business-friendly environment yields a promising opportunity for first-time commercial real estate investors. This is a prime area for not only alternative lending opportunities, but SBA products geared towards those small and/or new businesses could be an excellent route as well. 


2.) Atlanta, Georgia

Known as the economic hub of the Southeast, Atlanta boasts a thriving business environment and a rapidly growing population. The city's diverse economy, which includes sectors like technology, finance, and logistics, provides ample opportunities for commercial real estate investments. Additionally, Atlanta's favorable tax environment and relatively low cost of living make it an attractive destination for businesses, driving demand for commercial properties.


3.) Austin, Texas

In recent years Austin has experienced rapid population growth, and is home to a burgeoning tech scene and a dynamic entrepreneurial culture. The city's strong job market, fueled by companies like Dell, IBM, and numerous startups, has led to increased demand for office, retail, and mixed-use developments. With a vibrant arts and entertainment scene and a high quality of life, Austin offers attractive investment opportunities for first-time commercial real estate investors. From large commercial loan opportunities to small-business ventures, the commercial lending space here is especially unique.


4.) Denver, Colorado

Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver combines natural beauty with a booming economy, making it an appealing destination for commercial real estate investment. Its strategic location as a transportation and logistics hub, coupled with a diverse economy spanning industries such as aerospace, healthcare, renewable energy, and cannabis, contributes to its allure. Denver's young and educated population, alongside a burgeoning tech sector, further augur well for the future growth of the commercial real estate market. Notably, Denver's cannabis industry stands as a trailblazer in the landscape of legalized marijuana since the state's landmark legalization of recreational cannabis in 2012. Emerging as a leading destination for cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, the industry continues to thrive, significantly contributing to the city’s economy.

**It is important remember that the cannabis laws vary by state


5.) Seattle, Washington

Home to tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle has become synonymous with innovation and economic growth. The city's thriving technology sector, combined with a highly skilled workforce and a culture of entrepreneurship, has led to sustained demand for commercial real estate properties. From office buildings in the bustling downtown area to mixed-use developments in vibrant neighborhoods, Seattle offers diverse investment options for first-time commercial real estate investors seeking exposure to a dynamic and rapidly evolving market.


These five U.S. cities present attractive opportunities for first-time commercial real estate investors looking to enter the market. From Atlanta's diverse economy to Seattle's tech-driven growth, each city offers its own unique advantages and potential for success. However, as with any investment, thorough research and due diligence are essential to making informed decisions and maximizing returns in the competitive commercial real estate landscape.

Terry Luker's Tools for Success Featured in Scotsman Guide's March 2024 Issue

Our founder and owner, Terry Luker, is passionate about being equipped with the tools you need to become a successful commercial lending broker. From professional development opportunities, extracurricular training sessions, and mentorship programs - there are several paths that a broker can take throughout their career in the industry. Taking the time investment to build on your foundation of knowledge throughout the year will enable you to stay ahead of industry changes and be highly knowledgeable in terms of economic shifts. Learn more about how Terry Luker has continued to stay at the forefront of the commercial lending industry and what he recommends to both rookie and seasoned brokers in today's climate. Check out his article in the March 2024 issue of the Scotsman Guide using the link below!

Terry Luker and Jeff Luker Sit Down with DealMaker Talks! Podcast

Continuing the celebration of Alternative Capital Solutions' 10 Year Anniversary, Jeff and Terry Luker recently sat down with Rita Garwood of the DealMaker Talks! podcast. In this episode of the Commercial Lending Industry podcast, Terry and Jeff highlight the path to ACS' milestone anniversary...the ups and downs through the last decade as a business as well as what they are both looking forward to with the next 10 years of business. Terry Luker's motto is to provide outside-the-box lending solutions and when a loan doesn't fit a certain a new box. This interview certainly evolves around that motto and how it has provided a path for Alternative Capital Solutions' continued success.

Rookie broker? Looking to enter the Commercial Lending industry...or even wanting to learn more as a veteran broker? Catch the full podcast interview with Terry and Jeff via the link HERE!

Alternative Capital Solutions Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary!

By: Leah Waldrop, Director of Marketing for Alternative Capital Solutions

Terry Luker looks back on how creative lending solutions and outside-the-box strategies helped to solidify a decade of success.

It’s a monumental milestone for Terry Luker as he is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of his commercial lending brokerage, Alternative Capital Solutions (ACS), this fall. After founding ACS in 2013, Luker knew that the commercial real estate market was one that would take consistent adaptation, patience and hard work when building his customer-base. After spending more 25 years in the automotive and finance worlds, Luker was determined to become a networking expert in this new adventure and solidify relationships with banks and lending partners across the country – a goal that has generated a highly-successful 10 years for ACS and has further enabled Luker to mentor to others in the industry. With this strategy, he also quickly became one of the most well-connected and authentic professionals in the industry.

Putting an emphasis on networking and mentorship allowed Luker to help lead the industry away from cookie-cutter lending methods, but instead to a customer-focused approach based on their needs and goals. An approach that is centered on outside-the-box thinking. One of Luker’s mottos that aligns with this belief is, “When a deal doesn’t fit in a certain box, simply build a new box.” The team at ACS continues to stand by this motto when it comes to building lending solutions for their clients.

Luker additionally explains his stance on unique deal structure by describing how his, “Favorite thing about ACS is the fact that every client is different, and the lending needs of each client is different.” He continues this thought with noting that, “It is fun and exciting to get to work with clients and figure out the best way to meet those clients’ funding needs. Every situation is unique, and every opportunity creates a moment of learning for us – even after ten years in business.” This signature outlook that Luker holds is what has allowed him to standout within the industry early on and has led him to being awarded by the National Alliance of Commercial Loan Brokers (NACLB) in both 2014 and 2016 with accolades as both the NACLB Rookie of the Year and NACLB Broker of the year, respectively.

An additional point that has allowed ACS to grow and adapt since 2013 has been Luker’s acute sense of delegation. Luker realized quickly in the initial years that several tasks were getting in his way of building authentic client relationships – which meant the need to build a team that could take on those extracurriculars outside of his main areas of focus. Luker is a proud team leader and firmly believes that creating departments and making top-talent hires in key roles has enabled ACS to plug experts into the fields of credit and underwriting, business development, finance, and marketing throughout the years – allowing deals to be worked quickly and seamlessly while Luker is able to do what he does best — network and nurture industry relationships while also staying active in mentoring to the commercial lending community of brokers such as with his proprietary e-learning tool, The Commercial Broker Playbook.

Employment and office culture is a hot topic in today’s environment. When Luker was asked to describe the culture of ACS and what he finds important when it comes to the ACS employees, he excitedly replied that, “This is an easy one for me, family. We work together as a team, and no one is afraid of the work we have, and each person is eager to jump in and help on any project that we are working on – no matter how time-consuming it might be.” Jeff Luker, Luker’s son and the vice president and chief operations officer of ACS, echoed this belief and included that stability and trust are two of the values that are held at ACS. “The core group of the company has been together for eight years. Most of our employees have children so we truly strive to put family first.”

Looking optimistically to the future of ACS, Luker is thrilled to see the next generation put their spin on the company saying, “I am the oldest person on staff in our company. I look forward to stepping aside and watching these young people take the reins and continue to grow ACS in the next few years. We have a core of people that are passionate about what we do and to be able to watch them all grow and develop is truly a fulfilling experience for me personally.”

Thanks to Luker’s keen sense of strategy and industry knowledge, ACS has become one of the nation’s leading commercial loan brokerages and is showing no signs of slowing the momentum. Furthermore, Jeff has been passionate about learning the “ACS way” structured by his father, Luker, and works to instill the core values that have been established since 2013. Jeff recently discussed the future direction of ACS and stated, “I thoroughly believe that with the quality of our staff and their drive to succeed, there’s no limit to the number of business owners we can continue to help. Our team has a great ability to be flexible and without a ‘standard deal type’ to hold to, we are always able to quickly pivot in a way that best assists our clients.”

“Exciting. Adventurous. Creative.” These are the keywords Luker uses to describe the spirit of ACS – saying further that, “Our team over these last ten years has certainly evolved. If you would have told me ten years ago that this is where we would be today, I’m not sure I would have believed you. We are blessed with people that look for ways to help our clients and not for ways to say “no” to get a deal off their desk. We have truly been blessed.”

Join ACS in celebrating 10 years of creative lending solutions, authentic networking, and exemplary leadership – 10 years of Alternative Capital Solutions and a decade of Luker building a business that continues to exceed the expectations of all who experience the “ACS way.”

Why Site Visits Are a Must When It Comes to Working Your Deals

 When it comes to working through and closing a commercial loan deal there are numerous items that you must check-off your list, official documents to obtain, services to provide, and other administrative style tasks to complete.

However, a “must-do” activity that many commercial brokers and lenders may underestimate the value of is the official site visit. The site visit not only puts you face-to-face with your client – which can be especially beneficial if working with the client from out of area or out of state – but, it also allows you to take a proper assessment of the property, the surrounding area, and ensures a better understanding for what your client is trying to accomplish with the property and / or structures when obtaining the desired commercial loan.

Another thing to consider when working through a deal is that the commercial bank looking to fund the loan may also require photos of the property, structures, or building so that they, too, can better their understanding of the property and the borrower’s needs. Performing the site visit yourself will allow you to personally take the photographs as well as work through initial issues or hiccups that could potentially arise with the bank and/or lender – furthermore, it’ll build a strong relationship between you and your client as the deal becomes more personable.

With the ever-changing landscape of our nation’s economy, commercial banks and lenders are putting more scrutiny on the deals that come across their desks. The deal package you present will have an increased value to his competitors as you are strengthening your client’s story as well as decreasing the amount of legwork that your lender will have to do when it comes to finalizing the loan.

You have a site visit scheduled with your client…you may now be asking yourself, “what’s next?”

Here are a few tips for performing a site visit on a commercial investment property:

  • Schedule the visit during the day and ensure your client will be present. This will give you the best chance of seeing the property in its natural light as well as give you a better chance at contacting anyone who is involved with the deal and/or property.
  • Bring a checklist. This will help you make sure that you inspect all the important areas of the property. Yes – you will have a professional inspection of the property performed, however, inspecting those top checklist items will give you additional insight on the off chance that questions or other concerns may arise.
  • Take pictures! Photos will help you to remember the property as well as serve as a record for any problems you find. Photos will also not only aide you in closing this current deal, but they can also be excellent marketing resources for your business once the deal has closed and the loan has funded.
  • Ask questions. Now is your chance to build on your client relationship. Learning about the perks, concerns and information in relation to the property is much easier when discussed face-to-face.
  • Be prepared to walk away. If you are not comfortable with the property after the site visit, you should be prepared to walk away from the deal. While this is not always the outcome we want to arrive at, allowing yourself to walk away sooner rather than later can save you time and money opposed to walking away at the closing table.

Have questions about an upcoming site visit or want to know more about scheduling a site visit for an upcoming deal? Contact our team! We would love to work alongside you on a deal…or even be a sounding board for questions and ideas!

Submit your questions or deal inquiries via the contact form linked HERE.

Mentors That Last

Thank you to DealMaker Magazine for featuring Terry Luker's article, "Mentors That Last," in their latest issue. In the article, Terry champions the idea of mentorship and how everyone in our industry cannot only benefit from having a mentor, but how we can also build up the next generation of commercial lending brokers by mentoring to those who are new to this genre of lending. He also notes how this can be a revitalizing way to keep a pulse on new trends. "Working with young brokers keeps me on my toes and allows me to remember where we have come from as a company," says Terry Luker.

Terry also gives tribute to those who took the time to mentor him when building Alternative Capital Solutions 10 years ago. Terry can attest to the value and importance that mentorship can have on our successes as an individual and a professional. 

Read the article in full on DealMaker Magazine's website linked HERE. 

Terry Luker launches Deal Talk Podcast

Terry Luker, founder and CEO of both Alternative Capital Solutions and the Commercial Broker Playbook, recently launched his podcast, Deal Talk - For Commercial Brokers and Lenders. This style podcast serves to educate commercial brokers and lenders on creative deal structure, how to overcome objections in our current economy, as well as highlight meaningful discussions with other leaders in the commercial real estate lending world. Season 1 of the podcast has included in-depth background stories from his first book, "YES!," where he dives into greater detail around the ins and outs of getting his first ten deals past the finish line and funded. Season 2 is launching soon and will feature interviews and conversations from closing attorneys, the founder of The Commercial Capital Training Group, and more!

Join us for Deal Talk on YouTube and Spotify! Click the links below to view past episodes as well as subscribe for new episode alerts.

Click here to listen on YouTube.

Click here to listen on Spotify. 

ACS Welcomes New CFO

Please help us give our new Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Jordan, a warm welcome! Ms. Jordan joined our team this October and hit the ground running by joining us at the NACLB Conference in Las Vegas. Prior to her employment with us, Ms. Jordan served in several roles including Corporate Controller and CFO for a variety of financial services companies in the Nashville area. Ms. Jordan is a licensed CPA in Tennessee, and she earned her BS in Accounting from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Ms. Jordan is a member of the AICPA and TSCPA and she resides in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Our In-House Credit Team Has Two New Faces!

We are thrilled to have added Harrison Fuller and Gideon Goodmanson to our team of Credit Analysts earlier this year.

Harrison joined ACS as a member of our Credit Team in September of 2022 after spending two years in the hospitality industry. During a college study abroad program, he discovered how much he enjoyed working with and creating connections with a multitude of individuals. Harrison’s favorite aspect of his role as a Credit Analyst is building lasting relationships with clients and supporting them to accomplish their goals.

Gideon Goodmanson also joined our Credit Team as an Analyst in September of 2022.  He previously worked in the automotive industry as a salesman. Outside of his time at ACS he enjoys outdoor activities such as off-roading and skeet shooting.

Harrison and Gideon are both already off to a roll serving our clients and are looking forward to a busy 2023!