Posted: February 15, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


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


Greg Haynes CRE lessons learnedW. 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 just 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 CRE lessons learnedNancy 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, just 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 Silver CRE lessons learnedBenjamin 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 easiest product type and rarely in the highest demand. That being 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 short cuts. Study a market and be an expert in all things with that market. Know what you are selling, the drivers in the market, know who the buyers are and how the 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 of your demonstration of that knowledge. Regardless, the hot deals and markets come and go, but to build a long-term successful business you need to practice in a specialty.

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

Below are 10 rules I encourage my junior brokers to live by:

  • Strike while the iron is hot
  • Follow up quickly and often
  • Act as if…..(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 CRE lessons learnedPaco 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 very hard to establish and very easy to lose. Always be ethical and tell the truth. Always act in a way which 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 CRE lessons learnedGeorge 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. Having good communication skills will enable you to get ahead in certain areas where others who are less assertive may not succeed.

Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, Regional DirectorPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul