What Commerical Real Estate looks like from the inside and do you want to become a part of this industry? Is it worth it?
This article is dedicated to my younger self and every young person who was in my shoes 12 months ago.
I was born in the small town of Alice Springs, Australia to Eyon and Noelle Land. I quickly moved to Richardson, Texas, where I grew up selling popcorn and phonebooks door to door to pay for my dues. My parents thoughts our family of six wasn’t large enough, so they had six more kids to make an even dozen in the household. Yep. Ten kids running around, bumping into each other, trying to figure out life in a lower-middle income household held together by Elmer’s glue and scotch tape. I had to get out.
I applied and attended Texas A&M University, got married during my senior year, and decided that my life wasn’t hard enough. So, my wife and I decided to have our first child. I graduated and moved in with my pregnant sister who, despite having an accounting degree, worked at Starbucks. Her husband also shacked up with us, but he was still in school. And my wife being pregnant stopped working and mostly slept at this point in her first trimester. This all happened in a 500Sq Ft apartment in Fort Worth. Life was not easy, and it was getting harder by the minute.
Of course, during my time at A&M, I found a mentor who had owned and sold a business within the last 10 years, and at the time, he was currently facilitating development deals in Austin. Being inspired by his work, I told him I wanted to be a Real Estate Entrepreneur like himself. He told me that if I want to start a business, you should be in a business first. I thought being an analyst was my path to success, but despite my 50 job applications, no company wanted to hire me.
It was fair, I had no experience in analytical work and my degree was in General Business -not Finance, Accounting, or Real Estate. So during a hard conversation with my mentor, he told me, “Listen, you have a wife and a child on the way. You can’t hold out much longer. I know you’d do well in brokerage, why not apply for a job there?”
So there I was, on Linkedin, hovering my mouse over an “Apply” button for an Associate role at Whitebox Real Estate -a boutique Tenant Representation firm based out of Dallas. I hit the button and two weeks later I was hired.
My company put its best foot forward right off the bat. With a beautifully adorned office looking out to an incredible view, I was in awe. I had made it. I wanted to tell everyone about my fancy new job. Put on my only suit and my only tie, and I showed up to work at 7:00 AM, an hour and a half before anyone else besides the Director of Operations, who was the one that hired me to begin with. I went through the first week of training, getting fire-hosed with information about what Tenant Rep was and what it means to be a Broker. Pretty soon, I took my Real Estate Exam and I was off to the races.
Paul was the guy who sat across from me in the identical white cube that gave us little privacy -but I didn’t need privacy, I was a workhorse, and I never stopped. Someone gave me Irving/Las Colinas, a submarket of Dallas-Fort Worth, to study every square foot of office space. I sent myself to walk every building in my market, note down every tenant, and introduce myself as the new kid on the block.
In my first few months, I made 100 calls per week, 40 doors knocked on per week, and the goal was to set 2 meetings per week. We had Monday meetings to keep track of our prospecting progress, and on Tuesday we had company-wide sales meetings to go over deal-work progress.
My baby was born a few months after that and I was pressed for time. I had to buckle down and do my best because time was running out. This was a young man’s game and I felt like a 30-year-old with at-home obligations. I would wake up between 3:40 AM and 4:30 AM to head to the gym. Bumped my calls up to 200 a week to get some food on the table for my family. I was still bunking with my sister and her husband, but plans to move out were on the horizon.
But I made it out alright. I closed my first two deals in my first three months. In fact, made twice as many calls as the next most active brokers. I was relentless on the phones, although fairly passive in conversation. My skin was getting thicker to people closing doors in my face and people hanging up on me mid-sentence.
I still have dreams of being a facilitator of CRE development and investment deals. But for right now, I am doing my best to support the ones I love.
The Reality Check
The reality check that I encourage people to face, is that CRE Brokerage is not easy. It’s not all suits and golf courses with flashy white prosthetic teeth and plastic surgery. It’s a very hard, very painful profession. Especially starting out. If you aren’t willing to go through rejection (daily), failure all the time, people who don’t take you seriously, and a high amount of pressure, this is probably not the job for you.
But if you are one of the few people who can stomach that. Then take the bull by the horns and go for it. Find a supportive firm, that has mentorship, and team members who are happy for your success. Additionally, you want to look for a culture in the company that fosters growth. I was lucky to find that at Whitebox, but the horror stories I’ve heard about brokers stabbing one another in the back and competing for the same clients are tough. Don’t join a firm that throws you a phone book and a phone and says “call, kid.” Find a firm that has direction, and mentorship, and will lead you toward success. Find a company like Whitebox.
This is my experience in the industry. If you have any questions about becoming a Commercial Real Estate Advisor. Or if you are in Commercial Real Estate and are unhappy with your current situation/company. Feel free to reach out to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and my LinkedIn.