Veteran broker Zunder's Decathlon Commercial Realty joins forces with Vancouver-based CDNGLOBAL

Philip Zunder
Longtime real estate broker Philip Zunder's Decathlon Commercial Realty is rebranding as CDNGLOBAL (Ottawa). Photo courtesy Philip Zunder

A well-known name in Ottawa commercial real estate is rebranding after joining a Canada-wide brokerage network in a bid to tap into new sources of business.

Decathlon Commercial Realty announced Wednesday it will now operate under the name CDNGLOBAL (Ottawa). The local firm has signed an alliance agreement to become part of the CDNGLOBAL group, a privately held independent brokerage based in Vancouver that officially launched last July.

Founded by veteran Ottawa commercial broker Philip Zunder in 2008, the company formerly known as Decathlon is a prominent player in the local real estate market. It offers a full suite of services, brokering the sale of land as well as mixed-use, commercial, retail and office properties while representing both landlords and tenants as a leasing agency. 

The firm now has five brokers and is adding a sixth – Zunder’s son Ben, who previously worked as a leasing agent in Kelowna and Calgary before moving back to his hometown last summer.

The senior Zunder will retain full ownership of CDNGLOBAL’s Ottawa office based on Carling Avenue. The former sales rep at Royal LePage Commercial Realty – now known as Cushman & Wakefield – and Colliers International told OBJ he’s looking forward to once again having the power of a Canada-wide organization behind him as he scopes out new deals.

“One of the things that I missed about not being with a national firm … was the ability to do referrals back and forth,” Zunder said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. 

'Nice to have a network'

“It’s nice to have a network. You can certainly make a good living just working in the local market, but having … common themes and common trading policies, it seemed to work out very well (in the past).”

CDNGLOBAL now has eight offices – one each in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax and two in Calgary, where CEO and co-founder Agron Miloti is based. 

Zunder said his affiliation with the organization is already paying dividends. He said he’s had preliminary talks with colleagues in Vancouver and Montreal about representing clients in those cities who want to expand into the Ottawa market, and expects more of those types of referrals to keep flowing in.

“It’s nice to have those opportunities,” he said. “We’re hoping to be able to send them business as well as we expand and grow.”

With Ottawa’s commercial real estate sector riding a wave that saw investment in the local market hit a record $3.3 billion in 2021, Zunder is looking to add more agents to his office to capitalize on the flood of potential deals. He thinks the backing of CDNGLOBAL’s network will be a valuable recruiting tool.

“I believe a lot of the brokers in the Ottawa area would like the opportunity to work for a national company and maybe see a better commission split than they might see with their existing company,” he said. “If we can keep our overhead down, we can pay out more in commissions.”

Zunder, a University of Ottawa grad who started his real estate career with Royal LePage in 1984, said the rest of the country is slowly waking up to the opportunities in the National Capital Region.

He points to the growing number of outside developers and landlords – including Montreal-based Broccolini and Canderel as well as Toronto’s Main and Main among others – that are buying into the Ottawa market or launching new office, mixed-use and industrial projects.

“There’s a lot more interest,” Zunder said, citing record-low industrial availability rates and the revival of brick-and-mortar retail as key drivers of the recent boom.

“I do believe there’s a lot of pent-up demand. We have some new developments going up that are leasing nicely.”

Zunder said he’s also hoping to work with CDNGLOBAL’s Montreal office to cultivate more development and leasing opportunities on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.

“Gatineau is, I think, somewhat underserved and a portion of the National Capital Region market that’s maybe not as on the map as it could be to people from outside the region,” he explained.