Saturday
August 23, 2014

How to Succeed in Commercial Real Estate as a Residential Broker

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How to Succeed in Commercial Real Estate as a Residential Broker

For residential agents hoping to break into commercial real estate, David J. Murphy, senior vice president of CBRE Inc., wants to dispel the myth that commercial real estate is an intimidating venture. Instead, Murphy insists that residential agents' strong sales skills provide enough of a foundation for success, so long as they differentiate within their market, understand their unique niche, and build a strong personal brand. Beyond that, the job requires passion and discipline as well as a mental toughness during those inevitable times when deals fall through.

"You've got to be like Mr. Miyagi if you're going to be in commercial real estate," Murphy said during his Nov. 9 presentation at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. "You've got to focus."

According to Murphy, the first step to getting started is to sell yourself as a promising REALTOR®. Because few companies advertise for commercial real estate professionals, in order to begin your commercial career, you must create your spot within a firm and convince management that you're worthy of the task.

Once hired, decide on what submarket you will serve — for instance, medical buildings in central Florida — and learn everything about that submarket, or "farming area," by familiarizing yourself with tenants and cataloging properties.

"People want to work with someone who is ingratiated and who understands the market," Murphy said.

Murphy suggested taking a drive around the neighborhood to discover properties you might be able to sell. The audience chuckled when he described his experience as a young broker, pulling up to the back parking lot of countless industrial buildings, and asking workers on their cigarette breaks about the property. "You know that person isn't going anywhere for the length of that cigarette," he added, before stressing the importance of developing your own technique in order to find potential sales.

After your first deal has been made, it's essential to alert prospective clients about your achievement. Murphy suggested hand-signed postcards. "Clients save that stuff," he explained, "and it's the little things that will make the difference for you."

Outlining the noteworthy particulars of a deal — assuming client approval — also allows prospective customers to know that you're not just a "random facilitator" trying to make a commission but that "you want to sincerely add value," he said. "If you have the metrics about how you've added value, share that with them."

But this desire to add value is all part of the passion Murphy emphasized as being integral to commercial success. "This is a brutally tough business," Murphy admitted. "It will rip your heart out if you're not into it."

-- Melissa Kandel, REALTOR® Magazine