CRE Brokers: How did you get started and how much did you make your first few years?

As a new broker undergoing training (CBRE/JLL/CW), how difficult was it to maintain a stable source of income? Some topics/questions I have are:

(1) Did you have a draw or base?

(2) Prior experience in finance or RE?

(3) How long till you were put on a team?

(4) Commission and transaction volume?

(5) Work hours and type of work?

Any general comments/info on the topic would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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Comments (29)

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Nov 7, 2021 - 9:41pm

1) 0-8 months: Had a base salary of $43k. Analysts in HCOL cities were getting about $55-60k salary if memory serves correct. Basically enough for you to not starve but you definitely aren't living lavishly.

8-12 months: Same base salary but was given 5% of the team's net fees as bonus.

12-18 months: Same base salary but was given 10% of the team's net fees as bonus.

FYI bonus is paid out of the broker's pocket and not the brokerage - entirely discretionary.

(2) I had one 4-month internship in leasing. Switched to capital markets after graduating.

(3) Day 1

(4) First year was brutal and didn't make anything other than salary. Second year a lot better and made about $70k bonus in the first 6 months. Transaction volume was probably $400m in those 6 months.

(5) Hours varied a lot. Some weeks 40, others 80. Average was probably 55. Work included underwriting, putting together marketing materials and pitch decks, and managing the marketing / sales process. Basically everything other than selling as I was not licensed and was on a very lean team.

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Nov 8, 2021 - 6:30pm

OP here-Did you end up getting your license later? Or would you say it doesn't make too much of a difference going in? Thank you for the detailed response. Really appreciate it.

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Nov 9, 2021 - 9:05pm

I never ended up getting my license but that's more due to my personal interests - left after 1.5 years to a fund manager and had always planned to go this route.

I was getting lightly pushed to get licensed but it really comes down to personal preference - I know of analysts not getting licensed even after 4 years of experience as they weren't interested in becoming a producer. My boss told me if I wanted to stay in that role I'm more than welcome to, there's just a bit of a ceiling you hit in comp.

I'd also say if nobody is pushing you to get it, don't. Worked with someone who was very eager to get licensed and paid out of pocket to do so in his first year despite nobody telling him to. Ended up getting pushed out as he never bothered to learn the ropes and was viewed as a liability if he ever were to talk to a client. (FYI this is in regard to capital markets only, might be more acceptable to go straight to sales in a leasing role)

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 8, 2021 - 6:41pm

What has your comp progression been like since then?

Most Helpful
  • Associate 3 in RE - Comm
Nov 9, 2021 - 8:56pm

Depends on the shop you go to and structure.

If you join M&M or a small shop without a senior support, 90% chance you will fail or get lucky.  

If you go to CB, JLL, etc as an analyst and learn from a solid group, your odds go up materially!  Some of the best brokers I have met, came up through the analyst track.  I have also seen former CPAs, business owners or people that come from the principal side that go to brokerage and use those relationships to score deals.  Even though, your first year or two might be tough.

Brokerage isn't rocket science but joining the wrong team where senior guys steal deals from junior, and everyone is a SHARK will leave you with a bad taste of the industry!  If you are 22 to 26, I would say go with one of the big shops or use a family connection to get you on a team.  

If you are a white guy, you can tell everyone you got the job on your own even though mom, dad, frat brother, friends parents, neighbor, etc probably got you that gig.

  • Partner in RE - Comm
Nov 10, 2021 - 2:09am

Started at a small 3 man shop doing tenant rep. $10-15k first year, $40k second year, $100k third year. Left to start my own shop and made about $150-300k next 3-4 years. Ramped up since and now consistently net $1-2m - 90% coming from repeat and referrals.  

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 10, 2021 - 8:01am

How long ago did you start your shop? Is this all from you or do you have brokers under you?

  • Partner in RE - Comm
Nov 10, 2021 - 7:57pm

Started about 10 years go. That's what I generate. I make a bit extra from a couple guys under me, but it's not really a profit center and more of just having people below me to kick things I don't want to work on to.

Nov 10, 2021 - 1:06pm

I haven't started yet, but will be joining a team as a junior broker and will be given a small 40k salary plus 40% of commissions that I earn for my first two years. After that will be 100% commission with a 60/40 split. Small team but do a good amount of volume.

Nov 10, 2021 - 5:07pm

Im in a rapidly growing second-tier city and started at a small boutique that merged with a rapidly growing national player. I also focus on a niche market type (Infill/Covered Land), so my response may not be the most relevant but think it could be helpful. 

(1) Did you have a draw or base? Yes, bare minimum draw/loan of $24k per year for 3 years. I had to work as a delivery driver on the weekends for the first 2 years to make ends meet. Just got off draw last month and am on pace for my 1st 6-figure month this month and hopefully hit 7-figures next year. It takes an eternity to sell land and covid wiping out all of our deals just as we were getting started the first time didn't help.  

(2) Prior experience in finance or RE? Yes and no. I worked as a municpal redevelopment and economic development consultant prior to becoming a broker. I had plenty of exposure to real estate, but little on the private side. Took REFM and other online courses to get my private side knowledge to a competent level. I had a Finance degree so modelling came easy to me, and my exposure to land development and public process has been a huge help in the transition. 

(3) How long till you were put on a team? I was actually brought in off the streets to start our land team. I delivered the owner some food and a resume while job hunting and because of my prior experience and exposure to land/development considered my the most knowledgeable about land, but I knew absolutely nothing abut brokerage. The owners knew a lot about brokerage but not land/development so figured we could figure it out. It really took off when my current partner joined me when he left a big shop after a bad merger, and it's been gangbuster since then. Now we lead a team of 3 brokers an analyst and TC. 

(4) Commission and transaction volume? Total under contract and pending as of today should have me taking home ~$600k within the next year after team and company splits. It'll likely be closer to $1m since we do get deals that will close in 3-6 months vs the standard 12+ months we normally see for land. 

(5) Work hours and type of work? It was brutal in the beginning while growing the book of business from nothing. 70+ hour weeks regularly with me putting in 5-10 hours of delivery work on the weekends to survive. Work was literally everything involved in creating a new line of a brokerage business. Tons of cold-calling, prospect research, database management, marketing, tracking, contract management, negotiations, sooo many coffee meetings, comps/data pulling, public meetings, sales training, proposal and OM creation, as well as the standard fun booze and schmoozes and fancy dinners thrown in. It's a fun business, but requires a ton of up front work with little pay. Nowadays it's 40-60 hours with the ability to take time off here and there whenever I want. 

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Nov 15, 2021 - 1:14pm

Thank you for the detailed response. Extremely helpful.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Nov 11, 2021 - 5:15pm

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Nov 13, 2021 - 9:31pm

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