Day in the Life: Commercial Real Estate Broker

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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.

Comments (43)

Jul 30, 2013

I have a similar job. I make really good money but It's awful. Cannot wait to get out of this biz. I think some personalities are made for it and some aren't--I'm not made for the sales and customer service aspect of the business. While good at it, I abhor it every day.

Hope you're making enough money to justify it.

    • 1
Jul 30, 2013
DCDepository:

I have a similar job. I make really good money but It's awful. Cannot wait to get out of this biz. I think some personalities are made for it and some aren't--I'm not made for the sales and customer service aspect of the business. While good at it, I abhor it every day.

Hope you're making enough money to justify it.

I don't think it's what I'm going to do long-term. I love commercial real estate, don't get me wrong, and I think it is an awesome niche, but I ultimately think I want to get into the development or finance side of the industry, not the leasing end.

Dec 2, 2013

This post was really interesting and refreshing. I graduate in 2 weeks and interned with a leasing department for a mall development company last summer. After having an awesome experience and being offered a job I was approached by a local brokerage company who does retail where I currently live. I'm enticed by their small and successful business structure. They are nervous about hiring me and want me to do research on the business. Do you have any advice for me or other people trying to get into the business? Is it better to enter young, and what deters you from doing brokerage as an end goal?

Jul 30, 2013
mudkipz:

I <3 you CRE almost as much as I <3 using surf on charmander - keep them coming :)

Hah, this is terrific

Jul 30, 2013

Hey thanks for this post. I have just accepted an offer to be a CRE Investment sales associate, so I was wondering if you have any tips for me? :)

Jul 30, 2013

Do you do any work related to mortgage financing?

Jul 30, 2013
CRE:

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.)

Yes, ass is the correct answer. Loved the write-up.

Jul 30, 2013

+1 on the ass. Good post.

Jul 30, 2013
yellowmonkey:

Hey thanks for this post. I have just accepted an offer to be a CRE Investment sales associate, so I was wondering if you have any tips for me? :)

Learn Argus. Take an online class on it or buy a book on it and practice if you can. Argus runs are key.

Also, make sure your Excel skills are on point.

Jul 30, 2013
kamikade:

Do you do any work related to mortgage financing?

No, my current role is solely in leasing.

Jul 30, 2013
crackjack:
CRE:

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.)

Yes, ass is the correct answer. Loved the write-up.

Amen. Thanks!

Jul 30, 2013
SureThing:

+1 on the ass. Good post.

Hah, yes. Thanks also

Jul 30, 2013
kamikade:

Do you do any work related to mortgage financing?

I work in the finance side.

Jul 31, 2013

Great post !

I like the fact that you can get out of the office a lot and get to see all these properties.

I am going to intern on the financial side of a CRE company. Do you think there will be a chance i won't just be sitting at the desk?

ooof marone !

Jul 31, 2013
Hayekian:

Great post !

I like the fact that you can get out of the office a lot and get to see all these properties.

I am going to intern on the financial side of a CRE company. Do you think there will be a chance i won't just be sitting at the desk?

It depends so much on the role and the company. Perhaps Izzisdashiz could shed some light on it.

Jul 31, 2013

Thanks for sharing such an insightful post!

Jul 31, 2013
kinghongkong:

Thanks for sharing such an insightful post!

Glad you liked it

Jul 31, 2013

Great writeup CRE. And yes, +1 on the ass

Jul 31, 2013
Red Barchetta:

Great writeup CRE. And yes, +1 on the ass

Thanks! Ya you can't go wrong with a girl with a good ass.

Jul 31, 2013

I take the old formula Oxy Elite when I wake up and after lunch every day....coffee wasn't doing it for me anymore, great write up

"I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's." William Blake

Jul 31, 2013
W. WHITE:

I take the old formula Oxy Elite when I wake up and after lunch every day....coffee wasn't doing it for me anymore, great write up

Did you know they just went from GNC to GNC and destroyed all of the inventory? What a tragedy.

Jul 31, 2013

Great write-up. Thanks

Jul 31, 2013
The Biz Kid:

Great write-up. Thanks

Thanks for the compliment. Be on the lookout for others.

Jul 31, 2013

I'm trying to deduce what school you went to...I'm thinking WVU.

Jul 31, 2013

Gonna read this in the A.M. as I've pretty interested in hearing it. It's something I know nothing about!

Aug 1, 2013

Great insight...good to see you're a broker now. How come you don't see yourself in this position in the long term? What is it that you don't enjoy?

Aug 1, 2013
Thurnis Haley:

I'm trying to deduce what school you went to...I'm thinking WVU.

Nah. Think smaller and not known at all

Less cousin kissing too

Aug 1, 2013
Matt H.:

Great insight...good to see you're a broker now. How come you don't see yourself in this position in the long term? What is it that you don't enjoy?

Mainly, I look around at the investors or developers that own property and realize that they are creating something, either by "flipping" properties or building properties. I'm more or less just a facilitator and while that's fine now since I'm young, it's frustrating to think that I will never be in control of my own destiny.

Perhaps in another industry I wouldn't mind being a facilitator forever. It isn't the cold calls I mind, or the sales aspect even. I just can't imagine only leasing office space the rest of my life, especially in my current city.

Aug 1, 2013

That's an interesting perspective. Are you glad you choose Office leasing or do you wish you specialized in something else?

Aug 1, 2013

Another great post, man. Hope your big deal pulls through smoothly. This is probably a long shot, but have you, or anyone you've been in contact with, crossed paths with any practices within McKinsey's Infrastructure group?

Aug 1, 2013
VanillaGorilla:

Another great post, man. Hope your big deal pulls through smoothly. This is probably a long shot, but have you, or anyone you've been in contact with, crossed paths with any practices within McKinsey's Infrastructure group?

Only when trying to get hired into it haha

Aug 1, 2013
CRE:
VanillaGorilla:

Another great post, man. Hope your big deal pulls through smoothly. This is probably a long shot, but have you, or anyone you've been in contact with, crossed paths with any practices within McKinsey's Infrastructure group?

Only when trying to get hired into it haha

lol for sure. That's my goal post MBA, which I'm applying to this fall. Will be needing a very shiny MBA. The rest of my background is in-line with that focus.

Aug 1, 2013
CRE:
Thurnis Haley:

I'm trying to deduce what school you went to...I'm thinking WVU.

Nah. Think smaller and not known at all

Less cousin kissing too

Ah. I know now. Got it.

Aug 1, 2013
Hayekian:

Great post !

I like the fact that you can get out of the office a lot and get to see all these properties.

I am going to intern on the financial side of a CRE company. Do you think there will be a chance i won't just be sitting at the desk?

Probably mostly behind a desk but depends on where the company invests/lends in. Hopefully you will be able to go on some property tours. I'm an underwriter and get to see all of the deals that I work in (entire SE region). It amounts to a good amount of traveling.

Aug 1, 2013
Thurnis Haley:
CRE:
Thurnis Haley:

I'm trying to deduce what school you went to...I'm thinking WVU.

Nah. Think smaller and not known at all

Less cousin kissing too

Ah. I know now. Got it.

hah, PM me your guess

Aug 1, 2013
Matt H.:

That's an interesting perspective. Are you glad you choose Office leasing or do you wish you specialized in something else?

I am. It fits my personality.

I feel like retail people are generally more hard sales types, almost like car salesmen. Industrial guys (and I mean that. I have never met an industrial woman) are more blue collar and wear boots and button down collared shirts with their dress pants. Neither are me at all.

Investment Sales interests me, but I don't have a master of Argus and don't have enough of a finance background to be effective. I could do it, and I dabble, but I'm not an expert and being an expert is key.

Ultimately I like dealing with more professional clientele. You find this a lot more in the office world.

Aug 3, 2013

That's what I've heard too. I think office is a great way to go. It seems like it can be a gateway into investments eventually once you get more finance under your belt and experience in the industry. Solid post man..please keep them coming!

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jun 27, 2016

What's the biggest challenge in investment sales daily?
Thanks
Kalinka

Aug 5, 2013

Great post, really informative for what I am looking to learn about CRE. I'm a junior and looking at internships for the upcoming fall/spring. Right now I am an all-around intern at a small development firm specializing in senior housing and I have the option of continuing the position or taking a new one at a different CRE advisory (all leasing/market research).

I really like the development and investment side of the industry so my current position seems closer to that side than the advisory role, but I am nervous it isn't giving me any hard skills to compete for an analyst position out of college. I am curious if you had any input on which type of internship would be more beneficial to working in CRE investment (hard skills, soft skills, experience?)

Aug 5, 2013
Landlocked:

I am curious if you had any input on which type of internship would be more beneficial to working in CRE investment (hard skills, soft skills, experience?)

It really depends on your tasks. You could be at the right company in the wrong position, all things depending.

Any internship that gives you experience with excel modeling or especially Argus runs is going to be incredibly beneficial to both your experience level and your resume. Maybe ask your company if you can shadow an investment guy or help out with an investment project. If you show interest in it, a lot of times they'll be accommodating.

Aug 29, 2013
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Aug 29, 2013
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