Lessons Learned Part II: Broker Advice from Around the US

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Since Lessons Learned Part I prompted such an overwhelmingly positive response, we decided to gather more words of wisdom from additional commercial real estate industry leaders across the country to offer their broker advice for our second installment in the Lessons Learned series.


Gregory Haynes, SIOR – Senior Vice President – CBRE, Atlanta, GA

Don’t be afraid to fire a client when absolutely all else fails:

There are times when you might think you are getting abused by a client. You could be right. Be careful with this one because there could simply be a “failure to communicate” as aptly put by Cool Hand Luke. Make sure before taking this step that you are right. E.g., if the client passes all the cherry assignments to a competitor and leaves you to deal with the pits, it might be time to spend your time elsewhere.


Nancy Phaneuf – Principal – Commercial Realty & Development, Tampa, FL

Buyers and sellers like to have a hand in the outcome of their transactions. Even though you may actually “know” how this sale is going to go down, let the client “play” a little. They will want to be informed, of course, and maybe even assist in structuring a transaction. I try to keep my clients thinking about “what-if” scenarios, to prime the pump with a few options that have legs to them. Get your client to embrace your idea as their own and they will enjoy the ride and the outcome.


Benjamin H. Silver – First VP Investments | Director, National Office & Industrial Properties Group – Marcus & Millichap, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Specialization is key: when I started in the business, I focused on office buildings in Miami Dade. Not always the most manageable product type and rarely in the highest demand. That said, I stuck with it through the good times and bad times and became an “expert” in Miami Dade office building sales. Too often have I seen brokers chase the hot deal or the hot market or specialize in leasing, management, sales, etc.. There are no shortcuts. Study a market and be an expert in all things with that market. Know your product, the market drivers, know who the buyers are and how they look at deals. Farm that market, build long-term relationships, and over time, the business will come. The only way to do this is to be singularly focused. People will seek you out because of your knowledge or you will win business because you demonstrated that knowledge. Regardless, the hot deals and markets come and go, but to build a successful long-term business, you need to practice in a specialty.


Ben Cherry, CCIM – President – Manor Real Estate, St. Louis, MO

Below are ten rules I encourage my junior brokers to live by:

Strike while the iron is hot. Follow up quickly and often Act as if you’re the most knowledgeable, most capable broker in your market. Go a step further than what your competition will go. Dress the part. Know your market. Leverage your relationships. Be resourceful. Think from your client’s perspective. Don’t ever give up!


Paco Diaz – Senior Vice President – CBRE, Miami, FL

When meeting a new client, make sure you are the one doing the questioning and listening and “Pick ’em Clean,” meaning make sure you ask about everything, so you have a good idea of their important points. Return phone calls the same day you get them. Always come through with what you promise, no matter what. A good reputation is tough to establish and very easy to lose. Always be ethical and tell the truth. Always act in a way that is in the best interest of the client, and everything else will fall into place. Be punctual and early to meetings. Never make things up; if you do not know something, say it and find out.


George Pino, SIOR, RPA – President – State Street Realty, Miami, FL

Communicate clearly – don’t leave what you want to communicate up to a person’s perception. Be clear and effective with others in your communication, so there are no misunderstandings. Having effective communication skills is imperative for your success. Positive communication will certainly increase the opportunities you find in your career and business. Good communication skills will enable you to get ahead in certain areas where others who are less assertive may not succeed.

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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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