Lessons Learned Part I: Broker Advice from Around the US

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We reached out to brokers around the country to ask them what their star pieces of advice would be learned from decades of working in the commercial real estate industry. Here are some of our favorites.

Josh Beaver, Vice President – The Nichols Company, Charlotte, NC

Be organized: Sometimes, being organized and responsive is just as important as knowing all the answers. I can’t tell you how many times clients say how responsive and organized I am as if that’s some incredible talent. Everyone in our business should be organized and responsive considering all the ways we’re connected today.

Richard Clarke, Principal – Lee & Associates, Naples/Ft. Myers, FL

You make money buying. Trammell Crow would always say he made most of his money on the “buy” and not the sale.  Therefore, if you buy right you should be in good shape! If you don’t buy right, don’t expect the sale to save you!

Bill Reichel, President – Reichel Realty Investments, Palm Beach, FL

Here are a few saying I think hit some high points:

God gave you two ears and one mouth, there is a reason for that. Be more interested in the needs of the people you are working with and less focused on being interesting. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t be mean about it. Time kills deals. Confucius said, “He who said he could and he who said he couldn’t were usually right.” Finally, I think Jerry Seinfeld said, “The blessing in life is finding the torture you’re comfortable with.”

Enn Luthringer, CCIM, Partner – CRE Consultants, Naples, FL

Be “the man.” When you are lucky enough to find a great prospective client in a tenant rep situation, know his/her needs like they are your own. Open-ended questions and in-depth conversation allow you to discover their needs fully, and then dig deeper. Show them all available possibilities and even ones not currently listed. Negotiate in good faith and close the deal. You will have a client for life. Oh wait, it doesn’t end there: stay in front of them or they will forget.

Jeremy Willits, Senior Vice President – Avison Young, Charleston, SC

Managing expectations is vital in our work, both for sellers and buyers. Sellers will sometimes look to a high-water mark transaction as the number they must achieve, without considering the limitations or challenges of their property or circumstances.  Meanwhile, Buyers will sometimes seek that rarely achievable “deal.” But be careful, the unrealistic buyer’s most valuable currency is your time, and they squander it. A thoughtful discussion about expectations at the onset of an assignment can help you qualify whether it is an opportunity or a time drain.

Rene Vivo, SIOR, Principal – Vivo Real Estate Group, Inc., Miami, FL

Longevity: gift forward your experience, teach someone you believe in everything you know about the business, trust that they will always use it to benefit the team, and ask them to gift the same. You will build partnerships that will last a lifetime.

Nick Banks, Managing Director – Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group, Orlando, FL

It’s all on the record. There are no take-backs in the real world.  Relationships are all that matter in life and in business. I strive always to choose my words and actions carefully and always do what is right. I know if I take this long-term view seriously with every interaction I have, I will build lasting relationships and become a trusted advisor for my clients.

Sam Hale, Founding Principal – Hale Retail Group, Atlanta, GA

Early in my career, I would work on anything that crossed my desk (land, shopping centers, apartments, etc.). It took the 1991 recession for me to figure out that it was best to be an expert in one field as opposed to knowing a little something about every property type. Both buyers and sellers respected your focus on one category.

Jay Leslie, Partner – Atlanta Land Group, Atlanta, GA

You don’t want to be a broker’s broker. If you don’t control the property through a listing or a client via an engagement agreement, you have nothing. Young brokers often hear about a need in the market and then act on that need on behalf of the broker who truly has the need. If they present a property that is listed by another agent, then they are in no man’s land. The next mistake is that they ask for a referral fee.

Don McMinn, First VP/Sr Director Net Lease Properties Group – Marcus & Millichap, Atlanta, GA

Build relationships. Don’t chase transactions. My CRE mentor taught me that transactions make you money, but relationships make you a career. These quality client relationships require focused work and persistence to build and sustain discipline and integrity to keep. It requires an obsession with adding value and always putting the client’s needs first. It’s much easier to chase the deal and a quick check, especially when you’re a new agent. However, like Robert Frost’s poem says, “I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

More from this series:

Lessons Learned Part II

Lessons Learned Part III

Lessons Learned Part IV

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Paul Cohen
Paul Cohen

National Sales Director

Paul is the US Director for Crexi where he utilizes his experience in assisting brokers in getting deals done. Paul is widely recognized as a market expert in Commercial Real Estate and has represented numerous private owners with underwriting and developing marketing strategies and has over $1 Billion in total transaction valuation.

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