So you want to be a tenant real estate broker? You’ve heard how lucrative commercial real estate is, you’ve seen the big deals signed in the papers and everywhere you turn there’s another building being built. But how do you get started, and better yet, how do you do it right?
Below are 5 “P”s to ensure you’re not just another suit.
Pick the right team
I started off in commercial real estate three years ago at a small private firm that offered a “team player” environment. I soon came to realize, however, that no matter which firm you choose, you need to understand that the only person looking out for you is you. At the end of the day in commercial real estate, you eat what you kill. Commission lifestyles aren’t for everyone, and the team sentiment becomes more of an afterthought the more zeros are involved in a deal.
That being said, the firm you work for should fit your style of business. If you decide on a bigger firm, keep in mind that you may be representing both sides, and smaller firms will rightfully pitch against you with landlord listings. With a smaller, strictly tenant rep firm, your resources will be limited but your credibility will be bolstered. Without experience you will be starting out at the bottom of the food chain, but keep in mind you are not an employee. As a broker you are an independent contractor working under a broker license and are ultimately responsible for your own livelihood.
You can try begging for scraps from the senior brokers, hoping they pay you out fairly while relying on the firm’s name to open doors, or you can learn quickly and establish a name for yourself. Remember, no one cares more about your success than you.
Put down the phone
In San Francisco, where I work, cold calling is dead (though some would disagree).
Contrary to many broker beliefs, cold calling a company asking about their real estate needs is not the way to make it in this business. If you like intrusively picking up a phone in hopes of connecting to the right person in charge of selecting the next property, then by all means, dial away. But any successful broker will tell you this business is all about relationships, and relationship-building is evolving.
Thanks to technology, we are moving away from deals done on the golf course and moving toward online relationships. Do yourself a favor and get a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one. Your LinkedIn profile is your brand that directly communicates with your audience. It establishes your presence in the market, and sharing content can build credibility and relevance in your field.
To expand your audience of connections, attend events that cater to your target clientele. And if you need help understanding the difference between connecting with a potential client at an event and working a room, Never Eat Alone is the book for you.
Purchase the right tools
CoStar – Property searches require an MLS and in markets like San Francisco, CoStar is what you need to vet the hundreds of properties that come up in specific size ranges and neighborhoods. The data is accurate and more often than not as up to date as possible with on-market listings.
Compstak – This company is changing the game on how “comps” (comparable deals done in the market) are traded in the industry. You need comps to understand if the deal you have on the table is as good as the neighbor’s next door. Keep in mind you need to close your own deals in order to trade them like Pokemon cards for others.
CRM Platform – Keeping track of every deal you’ve done and keeping your leads organized is crucial in this industry. The right CRM should make your life easier with technology to keep you on top of your game.
Docusign – In the process of lease transactions, delaying a signature on a deal could make or break your commission. For the preliminary stages of letters of intent, Docusign is an easy way for clients to keep moving smoothly through the process to a real signature on a lease.
Play the long game
If you’re considering becoming a tenant rep broker, keep in mind that you are actually representing the tenant’s best interests, not your own. If the deal looks tempting because of the potential commission but the deal isn’t in favor of your client, do what is best for your client. There will be more opportunities—and the rare integrity your client sees in you will ensure a reputation that is built on respect. Your clients are the only ones you need to impress.
Lastly, prepare for hard work because you're going to be doing a lot of it.