What separates top Commercial Real Estate brokers from the rest?

Curious what separates top Commercial Real Estate brokers from the rest outside of natural abilities and skills?

Trying to understand if certain regions/areas of focus/organizations play a big role in the top 25-10% of CRE brokers vs the bottom 50%.

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Comments (37)

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Apr 24, 2019 - 12:36pm

One of my internships was in the south east working under two of the top multifamily guys. One of them was a great golfer, the other was great at tennis. They have their own Rolodex of contacts and mostly handle their own deals while sometimes securing deals together. I think what makes them so good is their ability to individually tap into different groups of the key players while still representing themselves as a broker team. So like the above said, contacts and hustle

Apr 24, 2019 - 12:46pm

They sell ! :)

Good team (From analyst to VP/MD) (With enough staff to answer our many questions quickly :) )

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Apr 24, 2019 - 4:07pm

Usually only after an MRED/ MSRE/ MBA

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
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Apr 25, 2019 - 6:09pm

Natural charisma helps, but is low on the list of what makes a top broker. Top things in no particular order are a good mentor, interest in the position (i.e. it's enjoyable), enjoys networking, discipline.

Eh, I think you are heavily discounting the impact of charisma, both in that top broker meeting and interacting with the necessary buyers as well as that top broker winning pitches with the necessary sellers. There are different types of charisma - from reserved and intellectual to outgoing and fun and various other types - but every big dog broker I know pulls people in like gravity.

Commercial Real Estate Developer

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Apr 26, 2019 - 10:36am

A top broker does one thing incredibly well:

They follow up.

Email people when you say you will email them. Stay in contact. Do this for 100 contacts. It's all about staying top of mind. Taking sellers to lunches. Sending them emails about new deals. Connecting them with property managers or financing contacts. Once again, this all goes back to persistence, identifying a need, and following up.

Apr 26, 2019 - 11:18am

Everyone keeps saying relationships.

I never find that the top producers have relationships in the abscene of being able to provide value - you can't just been a nice guy/girl and expect to get hired for every assignment. I think that you have to be likable enough but above all you need to drive value for the client in order for them to want to maintain the relationship with you. That's what allows you to make a relationship and actually keep it.

I had a flair for languages. But I soon discovered that what talks best is dollars, dinars, drachmas, rubles, rupees and pounds fucking sterling.
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Apr 26, 2019 - 12:09pm

Exactly. No smart buy-side shop takes any stock in a broker's bullshit 10-year forward pro forma or ridiculous lease-up assumptions. Most of their value proposition is their lender/investor/buyer list and historical success of running a process touching as many potential parties as possible to maximize terms/price. Obviously a good OM is helpful too as it consolidates the information gathering process to speed up underwriting.

I've worked for brokers who spend stupid amounts of time running bullshit forward CF analysis and obsessing over every single assumption on value-add assumptions, as-if a sophisticated institutional buyer could be fooled.

Oct 29, 2019 - 7:05pm

I won costar power broker award for 2018 the only independent broker to win in many years I close a handful of big transactions a year which basically make up 80% of my income you need to be creative recognizing the highest and best use for a property and know the zoning code. Over the years I have developed my own system for prospecting. I mostly sell off market development sites between $5mm to $50mm in the outer boroughs of nyc and nassau county

Apr 6, 2021 - 4:35pm

I remember touring a building and asking the broker about the plumbing (galvanized vs. copper, etc.) and the broker assured me that the plumbing was in good condition, had all been replaced, etc. 

His property manager/maintenance guy shows up and I ask him the same question and not only is the plumbing at least 50% galvanized, there had been several major leaks over the past few years...

Brokers, in general, are better than used car salesman, but only barely.

Nov 8, 2019 - 12:43am

To echo what others have said, charisma and follow up are huge. Follow up can be learned. Charisma comes in many forms and can be built on and improved...but someone who is not naturally charismatic in some way will be unlikely to thrive in or enjoy the business.

Outside of prospecting and in relation to the actual role a broker plays, the best brokers are excellent facilitators. They are not like lawyers or UW who have a clear function and have to do it perfectly. Rather, a broker's job is to take on whatever role is required to get the deal to the point where the other guys can execute and close. This process is time consuming and fluid, varies greatly on each individual transaction, and requires knowledge and competence in every aspect of the business.

The heavy hitters all also share a complete lack of fear or hesitation. This doesn't mean recklessness (that's a terrible quality for a broker) it just means that no matter what happens, they take action, respond definitively, and keep the process moving forward. The good ones also know when a deal is dead and they let it go, move on, and keep the relationship alive for the next one. The bad ones get caught up in saving their fee and piss everyone off in addition to not getting paid.

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