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Behind the List with Tom Skeans of SVN Imperial Realty

Delivering results to clients

Tom Skeans is managing director of SVN Imperial Realty in South Whitehall Township. The firm specializes in commercial real estate services, including brokerage, management and consulting. - (Photo / Christopher Holland)

The Greater Lehigh Valley continues to see new residential and commercial building. At the forefront of those projects are developers, engineers, contractors and more, all working together to foster economic growth.

One company with a growing footprint in the region is SVN Imperial Realty in South Whitehall Township.

Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Tom Skeans, managing partner of the firm.

LVB: There’s a huge market for commercial properties throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley. How long has SVN Imperial Realty been operating in the region and what are its primary services?

Tom Skeans: Imperial Realty was founded in 1976 by Debby and Darbin Skeans. They specialized in residential brokerage and appraisal. In the early 1980s, they transitioned into commercial brokerage and appraisal. In 2004, we joined SVN as an independently owned office. Today, we have 13 agents and employees. We specialize in commercial real estate services including brokerage (sales and leasing), management and consulting.

LVB: What is your guiding philosophy as a business leader?

Skeans: Our foundation is based on cooperation, both in our office and with the real estate community. Through cooperation, we can deliver the best results for our clients and provide a great work space.

LVB: What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Skeans: My grandfather, Ray Fassman, told me to buy something (real estate) every year. The same advice was reinforced by my parents throughout my life. If you stay on the watch for opportunities and continue investing (especially in income-producing real estate) you will enjoy extra cash flow your entire life and die wealthy. While I haven’t quite lived up to buying something each year, I sure do try.

LVB: If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

Skeans: The complexity and inefficiency of local, regional and national government. Development becomes unnecessarily burdensome because of the web of regulation caused by decentralized government (there are 62 municipalities in the two-county area that we service, Lehigh and Northampton counties), local zoning, state regulations – including those from the Department of Environmental Protection and PennDOT – and the influence of federal regulations on all of these entities. At the end of the day, this adds cost to every citizen through higher home prices and higher cost of goods.

LVB: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning to go to work?

Skeans: Every day presents a new challenge. On the brokerage side, many deals fall apart a few times before they are eventually put back together again and close. In property management, we are interfacing with hundreds of tenants and multiple owners, working with them to meet their needs. It’s extremely satisfying working with stakeholders to find solutions that are beneficial to all.

LVB: What are some of your personal interests outside of the workplace?

Skeans: Family definitely comes first. I also enjoy golf and skiing, especially when it’s with my family.

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