5 Must Knows Before Starting Out in Commercial Real Estate

September 4, 2014 Don Catalano Don Catalano

If you've ever wondered what it's like to switch sides and become a commercial real estate broker instead of a client, read on. This is a great industry -- and an exciting one -- but it isn't an easy one. Here are five tips that you need to know to make it in our business:


1. Get Ready to Work Hard

Brokers are able to accomplish what they accomplish because they not only work long hours, but also work extremely efficiently. Imagine having to make 50 calls, go to two meetings (each of which are 30 miles from your desk), manage five deals, analyze a new property and keep your team working smoothly. For a broker, this is a typical day, not a busy one.


2. You Are Your Network

Commercial real estate brokerage isn't really a "building" business. It's a "people" business. Successful brokers have large networks of people in and around the industry that they can lean on to find business, put deals together and deliver integrated customer service. This means that networking is a fundamental part of the business.


While building a network is part of making yourself successful in commercial real estate, you also need to be able to leverage that network. Part of leveraging it comes from extending it online by strategically using social media. Another part comes from maintaining the network through not just using, but mastering, the use of CRM software.


3. Amass Knowledge and Training

Brokers aren't just back room deal makers anymore. Advanced degrees and training are common in the industry. Even entry level positions typically require business or finance training, and an MBA can be helpful, as well. Many people in the business also choose to go back for specialized training like that offered by the CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) Institute.


In addition to the formal training requirements, gaining knowledge is key to success. Brokers are truly market makers, but to make a market, you need to know what is going on in it. While third party sources amass some commercial real estate data, the rest is collected by going out, talking to players in the market and doing custom analysis.


4. It's Just Business

Commercial real estate is nothing like the rest of the real estate world. Here, clients are worried about the dollars and cents of the properties they buy, sell or lease. They look at properties differently and negotiate deals from a more rational perspective. Then again, just because it's a matter of dollars and cents doesn't always mean that negotiations are simple or straightforward.


5. The Money....

Finally, yes, commercial real estate can be a financially rewarding business. The rest of the story, though, is that brokers earn their rewards. Most work on a 100 percent commission basis, which means that if they don't close a deal, they don't get paid.


Commercial real estate deals can frequently take months or years to close. This means that brokers work for free for a long period of time, hoping that everything will work out. For some, the uncertainty of this lifestyle can be stressful. Brokers, on the other hand, strive on it.


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