Day in the Life: Commercial Real Estate Broker
Ever wonder what you do as a commercial real estate broker? The truth is, it's really hard to do a "day in the life" post for the position because no two days are alike. So, instead of just doing one, I'm going to make this a general day in the life post, from a day of mine last week, and then in the spirit of M&I do a "best day in the life" and "worst day in the life" as follow ups.
It's been a couple months now since my last column because I got promoted to the front office and my workload immediately skyrocketed. If you forget who I am or are new to the boards, feel free to compare and contrast this to my back office "day in the life" in my former role as Head Research Analyst as well as my 6 networking tips, among others.
6:15-6:30am: Wake up, check emails, ingest caffeine. My previous column had me waking up at 5:30. I'm not sure exactly why I thought that was a good idea at the time but it definitely doesn't happen anymore. Also, checking emails has become infinitely more tedious as I am cc'ed on every single project I am even tangentially involved in. Deleting emails on a regular basis throughout the day (or worse - reading them) has become a bit of a pastime of mine. Finally, I got to the point where I was drinking so much coffee throughout the day that I was more dehydrated than a marathon runner in the desert, so I now chug water and wake up with old-formula oxy elite pro. I'm not sure if it will help me lose weight, but it definitely helps you wake up. Down a protein/oatmeal shake as I'm running out the door.
8:00-8:30 am: I used to get into the office a lot earlier too. I suppose when you're in research and don't have any real responsibilities you have to impress through facetime and eagerness. Now that I can actually produce, and can impress that way, getting in super early for no real reason is rather pointless. I can't cold call until around 9:15am anyhow, I still beat the admins, and inevitably I'm going to end up having to stay late because of something that comes up, so I'm content with my level of dedication. I catch the news highlights and post any good articles on my professional twitter, professional facebook page, and my LinkedIn. LinkedIn and Twitter are actually incredibly useful. My professional facebook page is...underwhelming.
9:15 am: By now I have enough non-FDA approved chemicals flowing through my veins that I am ready to attack the telephones. I pull up my list of prospects in Excel and start dialing any number that is listed as "Left Message." The point is to set up meetings so that I can either sit down with a VP or a Principal and the client to talk about their current lease, the market, and options, or just skip that step entirely and schedule a tour if they are really lucky. I feel like every day is either hit or miss. I either schedule 3-4 meetings and feel like a badass or literally don't get one positive reaction on the phone all day.
For this specific list, I am calling on behalf of the landlord for a 1.5 million square foot downtown office complex on a unique class B property that the LA landlord is convinced is class A. In comparison to other class B downtown office properties, we are killing it. Our vacancy is way below the comparative list. In comparison to class A downtown properties, however, this specific complex is (understandably) less full, so we catch heat from the landlord on a regular basis. In two years we have increased the asset value of the complex 40-50%, but apparently a solid $50 million income is lackluster in this guy's eye.
11:00am: Today is one of those "don't get one positive reaction" type days, so after two hours I'm done dealing with this list. It is the third time I am calling these people, after all, and I'm specifically calling the ones who didn't answer or "weren't available" to talk in rounds one or two. It is summer, and vacations are prevalent, but most of the serious prospects I have already sourced and we're in contact with already.
I am finalizing the quarterly office report and continue to get into what I call "non-debates" with an admin who continues to try and overrule me. Admins are a ballsy lot and it doesn't help that this girl is a year older than me and a year more "experienced." She tries to correct my work or just flat out disagree with it, and while I appreciate having another set of eyes double check things before they get published, I'm rarely wrong. Taking statistics and putting them into sentence form isn't rocket science. On top of that, 75% of the time I'm simply relaying information to her from a Principal or a VP and yet because I am the messenger she questions it. Getting respect from my bosses is easy, apparently. From self-important admins? I guess that has to be earned...
12:00pm: Lunch. I specialize in office leasing, so I'm on the office floor, and I don't get to interact with the industrial, retail, or investment sales brokers as much. Different floors, different deals, and all that. Every now and then, I make it a point to go to lunch with them, and today it was with the industrial team. Also, one of my best friends, an older fraternity brother from college, coworker, and the guy who got me interested in the industry, announced last week that he took an amazing offer in New York starting in September. Unlike the rest of the office, I knew it was coming, but it still is rough and I want to spend as much time hanging out as possible before he leaves. The five of us discussed important matters such as dying in high speed car crashes, inheriting $100 million dollars and how we would act if we did, and whether a girl's tits or ass was more important. (Ass is obviously the correct answer.)
1:00pm: After lunch it's back to the phones, coffee in hand, this time for a new single-story office park in a rising suburban neighborhood. It's an incredible complex with great market-rate access that is priced a little too high but the developer has a history of being the guy who sets the market rates so who knows. As with most developers, he has a bit of an ego, so he's going to ask for what he wants and his buildings are quality so chances are he'll get it. I had a lot more success this round in stirring up interest and got a meeting set up. Nothing feels better than calling a CEO or a CFO of a company and convincing them of something. I feel like a dramatically less rich and more sober Jordan Belfort.
2:00pm: Tour time. Most of my tours lately have been with someone else higher up involved where I effectively serve as the "color commentary" guy, alongside a far more detail-oriented VP or Principal. Today, however, the VP who would usually do it is on vacation until Wednesday and the Principal in charge of the complex has a prior engagement. A month ago they would have rescheduled before putting me out on my own. Today, my Principal goes "You got this?" and I naturally tell him "Yes."
I meet this old, crotchety, fat, and outrageously successful personal injury lawyer and his two office managers in their current space, which is arguably one of the two nicest spaces in the complex. It used to be a major company's world headquarters in the 1960's and is still built out with that level of detail and precision. Simply gorgeous. He also signed the lease at $13.50/SF way before our firm got involved, which is a solid $6.50-$7.00 under the asking rate. We tried to throw him a bone and renew him at $18.50, but he turned it down and said we are killing him, so instead we're showing him alternative, smaller spaces at market rates.
His first question to me is where I went to college. I tell him and he immediately says "there's definitely a lot of binge drinking there." My shit state school has a quite well-deserved partying reputation, but still, hearing this from a 65-year old lawyer is odd. "A lot of people die there from binge-drinking," he continues, and now I know that he's just fucking with me because I'm young.
"Not as many as you think," I say with a smile and a shrug. He stares me down for a bit and we continue the tour, which included him lecturing me about how dogs are a liability waiting to happen, him visiting another floor to troll a friend (who is a partner at a massive CPA firm in our complex) about college football, him wanting to buy a newspaper, refusing to let me pay for it, and then giving the cashier a dollar and walking out when the paper was definitely around $3. I took it in stride.
"Both ownership and our firm really want to keep you here, Mr. ______," I tell him at one point, as I was instructed. "We're willing to work with you on price."
"No you don't," he bellowed, shaking his head. "You guys are making it so hard on me."
I tell him the landlord sets the rents and that we're just the messenger.
"I guess that means I can't kill you, huh?" He replies. What a guy.
All in all, he liked two out of the three spaces I showed him and his office manager/live-in-girlfriend and he disagreed on which of the two had better views. After this, I was his favorite person, and he just complained to me about how she always thinks she's right with everything. We parted ways with a handshake and a promise to follow up. Excellent.
3:30pm: My Principal calls from his cell. He had taken his mother to the dentist and on the way back to the dentist managed to get two flat tires. Through the tirade of swear words and obscenities, I got that apparently he needs all new tires and he's not coming back in today. Looks like I'm not saying super late either now. I tell him the tour went well and all of the weird parts of it and he laughs and says "Yeah I figured that. It's a good experience for you though."
4:00pm: My calendar tells me I need to follow up with an architect I cold called about a month ago. I get through to one of the two partners and he says he's still interested but hasn't had much of a chance to talk to his co-partner. He'll call me back. I hope he actually does.
4:15pm: Time to switch sides, from agency/landlord rep to tenant rep, and work with a different VP on drafting a letter. This guy worked for Accenture for over a decade and is all sorts of impressive and we work well together. We are still in the process of pitching what, if we get it, will be our largest corporate services account in our branch's history. This is significant for me especially because I am the one who set the ball in motion with company by contacting the private equity company as they were buying the corporation in question. My contact became the CFO of the company upon the acquisition and I got our team a meeting. If we get this, it will be enormous both for us and for me. The VP offers to take three of their higher ups to dinner and a baseball game along with his head Principal. Although I am on the account team, I was not included in the dinner and baseball game plan. Ugh. Excluding me, while perhaps a decent idea from the Principal's standpoint because I'm young, may not by the right move. In all sincerity, my contact genuinely likes me.
6:00pm: Time to get out of here. Getting out at 6pm is a sweet day and the weather is awesome. I'll be home by 7 and will be able to enjoy some hours of sunlight.