How to Get Started in the CRE Biz

by | 20 April 2016

It’s not always easy to join the ranks of commercial real estate professionals. If you didn’t study real estate in school, you’re basically starting from scratch, which can be scary. I’m always happy to introduce others to the industry, so hopefully this post will help to guide those seeking a chance at becoming a successful broker. There are many aspects of brokerage that are important to understand if you want to be successful, but consider these as the basics of the business.

Also: How to read a commercial property survey | Four CRE trends in early 2016

Get Started On Foot
I know it doesn’t sound like much fun, but canvassing is critical if you’re new in the business. You’ll need to understand each building in your market, the people/organizations that own them, the tenants that occupy them and everything in between. The only way to figure that out is to be there, in person, knocking on doors and taking notes. The more you know about what’s happening in your market, the more sought-after you’ll be as a broker. By making your rounds at each building, you’ll be better equipped with up-to-date information than many of your potential competitors.

Plus: Fintech, robo-advisers and robo-brokers | Let’s talk about activity based working

Have an organized CRM
Your CRM (Client Relationship Management) database is critical. By placing clients or prospects into a database, your notes and thoughts will stay orderly. (It will also be your future cold-calling list, which we will get to shortly.) Of course, it is up to you to make sure the database is organized. You can’t just throw information in a CRM willy-nilly and expect to find it at a moment’s notice; you’ll need to work out a system that works for you. Use a taxonomy that fits your personality and work habits.

Get in early and stay late
I’m not generally a big believer in spending 12 hours a day in the office, but it’s vital to spend as much time as you can working when you first start out. Rise early, get to the office and get started. Maybe that means gathering your materials and canvassing for six hours a day and making calls for another few hours when you return. Like anything else, the more time you spend practicing, the better you will get. The same applies here. The more you canvass, cold call, and talk to prospects/clients, the easier your job will become.

Make Cold Calls
Cold calls are an important aspect of my business. More important than just making the calls is understanding your hit rate. Track how many calls you make, how many times you speak with the correct person, how many meetings you get, how many deals you close and how much you earn. After collecting and analyzing that data, you’ll better understand how many calls you need to make to hit your goals.

Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to reach out to senior brokers in the CRE industry. There’s probably no shortage of people in your office that can help mentor you, so there is no need to go at it alone. Ask for help when you need it. You never know what kind of relationships you might forge when you open up and speak with others in your office.

Ultimately, CRE brokerage is not a one-size-fits-all occupation. You’ll need to discover what works best for you, but never forget this: Commercial real estate is a service industry. Work hard for your clients, do what’s right on their behalf and you’ll be rewarded. Best of luck on this exciting journey!

The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, we cannot guarantee it. No responsibility is assumed for any inaccuracies. Readers are encouraged to consult their professional advisors prior to acting on any of the material contained in this report.

Based in Princeton, N.J., Vinny specializes in tenant and landlord representation for Colliers International, working directly with his clients in the acquisition and disposition of office space. For more commercial real estate insight and trends, follow Vinny on Twitter.