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Commercial Real Estate

So You Want to do Commercial Real Estate? Don’t – Stay Away!

We don’t want you in

sharkSimple. It’s too hard to understand. It’s too complicated. There is too much money.  You have to be really smart.  You can’t be emotional.  It’s REAL business.  I’ve busted my ass for the last 10 years to establish myself…what makes you think you can do any better and so on and so on.  Well, how’s that for a friendly (“did you get your residential license online?”) statement?

Let’s not compare

Let’s not waste each others time going into the technical comparisons between Residential and Commercial Real Estate.  We’ve heard all the different arguments for and against each type for… EVER.

Your local market

Think about where you practice real estate NOW.  Is it a Top 50 market?  Why waste your time?  Look at the business journals for your local area.  They most likely have lists of the top 10 firms and the big hitters, their deal stats,(biz glam shots) resumes and college affiliations (god forbid the old school be forgotten.) along with the pet projects you can’t understand.  If you are in a smaller market you know the “guys” who have been around forever and own everything and do all the deals.  Oh, and their son’s are being “brought along” in the business too.

You don’t have the skills

Check out the resumes of the boys above.  What makes you think that anything but a degree in Econ, Business, Poly Sci, Marketing, or the old MBA is going to give you the business basis to compete?  How about networking?  The little neighborhood events are fine …ya know, keeps the face in front of the community.  The real networks have a hierarchy that takes years to establish.  Which is exactly what you have not been doing?

We’re not really worried

We’ve heard little rumblings, but truly it’s not really any different.  Do you think the internet levels the playing field?  There is a lot of data out there and most of it is free data too.  We keep most of the real stuff to ourselves anyway.  Mapping makes it easy to find a property these days.  So you can see a pretty picture of a property.  What good is that? That new Social Media…. Thing.  We are hearing a lot about that stuff and so tell me what the ROI is on that.  Show me one real deal that comes from that stuff.  Who has time for that? Marketing of listings or deals?  We have assistants for that.  Maybe we need to create a special Commercial Real Estate license.  Or maybe look at that Raise the Bar thing. Make it harder to get in the business.  How many of you in Residential would pass a Commercial Real Estate test?  Hell, I went to a good school …I could pass the thing…me and my buddy’s could help each other. Yes, we’ve heard of the ladies CREW but, they only do deals with themselves.  Not the big stuff, we get to those first.  How about the Market in general?  Think the residential market sucks…jump in ours…90% drop in volume of sales?  Come on in.  Hey and why not take the 5 years it takes to get established in Commercial Real Estate and starve doing it?

How about doing it anyway!

Not really interested in the how, what, where, when, and why you can’t do Commercial Real Estate.  That’s the attitude I like.  Most of the comments and statements  above are from conversations I have had fairly recently.  Amazing isn’t it?  Why not look at all of the preconceived ideas of Commercial Real Estate and turn them into opportunities.

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A couple of suggestions

  1. BLOG your market for Commercial Real Estate.  No one is doing in not at all. Period.
  2. Start a Realbird search for Commercial Real Estate and just refer.  Again, no one is doing it. Period.
  3. Social Media.  Look for Commercial Real Estate people. They are not there…everybody else is.  Period.
  4. Brokerage Model for Commercial Real Estate is Broken.  Period.
  5. Follow the CREW.  Period.

Create your own list

There are many many more suggestions that I could make.  Of course the readers of Agent Genius are some of the best (blatant ass kissing from me) Real Estate peeps out there.  I can’t wait for you responses.

Written By

Broker/Owner in Lafayette, IN, whose passion is Commercial Real Estate with focus on Technology, Social Media, and Networking.



  1. Trish Walden

    March 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Dude! There are naysayers in every walk of life, the fact that you gave practical suggestions is the silver lining.
    You noted the Sperry Van Ness white paper; yes the established brokerage model is an uphill battle in times like these. When the onesie, twosie leases are your bread and butter for the month. But that just means that it is time to rely on who and what one stands for, the quality of their character and the reputation that has been built. No, i don’t have all the answers, but am a go-to broker when you want the truth.
    This is the creative era, when business is found through the solid relationships that were ane are continually being built.

    • Duke Long

      March 8, 2010 at 7:42 pm

      Just to refresh:
      Not really interested in the how, what, where, when, and why you can’t do Commercial Real Estate. That’s the attitude I like. Most of the comments and statements above are from conversations I have had fairly recently. Amazing isn’t it? Why not look at all of the preconceived ideas of Commercial Real Estate and turn them into opportunities
      Your suggestions are ?

  2. Chris

    March 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I checked out RealBird when it first came (and just now to see if things changed…) out for commercial listings but it only has IDX formatted data from Googlebase. *That* was disappointing. Not many commercial brokerages are Board of Realtor (MLS) members, so you’re only getting commercial listings from residential brokerages. Let’s hope the public doesn’t think that’s all there is…

    To the larger issue on commercial sales people, I see too many “inside” sales agents – throwing up a sign, putting something on the web – and then waiting for the calls/emails to come to them. Older ones get lazy/burnt out, younger ones need hand holding. Maybe it’s just where I live.

    • Duke Long

      March 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm

      Thanks for commenting….so your strategy is…..?? How are you making it happen compared to those above?

  3. Benjamin Bach

    March 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Great stuff. I look forward to implementing this year and beyond!

    • Duke Long

      March 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      This would be a good place to start:
      Why not look at all of the preconceived ideas of Commercial Real Estate and turn them into opportunities.

  4. John Sullivan

    March 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Mr Long , You are Soo Right ON

    Real Estate Today Has Many Diciplines and Folks who think they will bust in Easily are Sorely Mistaken . Like Being an Obstetrician one Day And Think You Can Do open Heart Surgery The Next . I do a Ton of Residential Property Management and With Recent Events I now see every Tom , Dick and Harry Calling Themselves Property Managers !! Lets not even Go into Short Sale Specialist . Bunches of Folks have done a 3 Hour Course and Now Label Expert .

    Frankly Residential MLS Systems have Pushed Commercial Out whil trying to Keep Commercial Agents as Paid Subscribers . I completely Understand why they are Dropping REALTOR status Like Flies

    So Sad We Could Not Find Ground in MLS to Cooperate

    I do Love the Commercial Broker License Idea .

    Keep Up the Honest Truth .

  5. Jared Tafua

    March 9, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Duke. Great article. I’ve been a residential guy, and I have had some of those conversations with a couple commerical brokers, as stated above. Your article does present more opportunities vs road blocks, which gets my mind racing on how to work it. The idea that a social media marketing agent can get out there and win big deals sounds promising.

    Idea: A Role Reversal? I believe you phrased it “Marketing of listings or deals? We have assistants for that.” If a would be assitant who is a whiz kid in social media can bring the $$$ or big players to him, why does he need to know how to make the deal work. He can hire one of the many commerical agents that failed, but understand the numbers to be his assistant.

    Idea: Video Bloging. No one else is doing it.

    Idea: Master Commerical Short Sales? Get your foot in the door before anyone tries to understand it.

    I’ll be thinking of other suggestions. We should compare notes.

    • Duke Long

      March 9, 2010 at 7:36 am

      Jared, Thanks for commenting.

  6. Terry L. Schell

    March 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    With many commercial brokers dying on the vine in this down-market, and not knowing if they are going to be able to keep the door open for busienss, here’s a really simple idea:
    Use your long (or short) list of previous transactions to generate a unique and new revenue source from Cost Segregation. It’s a no-brainer to identify both sides to previous transactions (Buyer & Seller) and link them up with a Cost Segregation Specialist, and earn a consideration fee for any closed deals! We work with a major International Commercial Broker to bring our specialty to their clients that is a true value-added service in these times that try man’s pocket-book. This tactic is not dependent on “new business”, yet it gives one some breathing room until the market goes into the next cycle. But, you and your readers probably already knew this…

  7. Steven Ladin

    March 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I love your enthusiasm Duke! Please keep it up.

    I believe 2010 will be the year to remember when the CRE dinosaurs start eroding away and forward thinking innovative firms will evolve from their remains. Always keep perfecting your ways and you’ll forever be ahead of your competitors.

    • Duke Long

      March 9, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      Why, did I know you would get it!!!!

    • Jason Sandquist

      March 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      yeah what Steve-O said, why wouldn’t I listen to him #bossman

  8. Candice A Donofrio

    March 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm


    This is probably the MOST ‘Level-able’ playing field of ALL real estate ‘disciplines’ now, thanks to Web 2. Has anyone made deals or acquired a portfolio via SM? Yabetcha.

    Also, wonderful educational programs like CREI’s Certified Commercial Sales/Leasing Specialization programs in AZ make ‘walking your talk’ much easier for those wanting to break in–and in a much shorter amount of time, with statewide intranetworking and statewide support systems in place.

    I would also add that NOW IS the time to break into CRE–because we are all going to be VERY busy in coming months/years and will need to hire agents! 🙂

    PS. My FB profile has the following quote from Henry Ford, circa 1916:
    “History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.”

    Making history . . . is how we roll.

    • Duke Long

      March 9, 2010 at 6:12 pm

      SWEET, and thanks for commenting.

  9. Office Space Chris Hancock

    March 9, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Top 50 city, check
    less than 5 years in, check
    starving market, check
    networking my ass off, check
    utilizing internet age as leverage, check
    doing my own marketing and prospecting, check
    deal just completed utilizing social media

    its a new age, look out bigboys

  10. David B Bittrich

    March 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Amazing timing! I just got off the phone with a company that helps mainly residential real estate agents. I had to let them know that I’m changing my focus to commercial/investment property. I appreciate the encouragement. After completing the CCIM introduction course & the CCIM101 course, I’ve experienced resistance from various firms when discussing getting into the commercial field. I also asked if the use of Social media like blogs, facebook & twitter is being used. The answer was blank stares or a resounding no. Good for anyone that realizes the wave of the future. I just got back into the business & went through the e-Pro & web 2.0 course. I hope to convert the info to the commercial side. Any help and encouragement from good people like you is valued. New ideas & different prospectives is needed in the commercial market today.

  11. Duke Long

    March 12, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks for commenting….you are dead on..and CCIM is excellent. CRE is a great profession and I dearly enjoy it. My opinion..make your own rules…. have a little fun and embrace the challenges. Stay in touch!

  12. Dana D. Dowling

    March 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    As soon as we saw things start to slip in the fall of 2008, my business partner, a CCIM, and I started talking about opening our own firm. We left general brokerage last October to focus on investment clients and properties in NC. We include cost segregation specialists among our referrals and use online and local networking vehicles. We offer consulting services for buy/hold/sell strategies as well as portfolio analysis. I’m on my way to CCIM designation myself, and within the first 3 weeks of starting our business, we had $6M in listings – amazing what focus can do! Worked on our “business funnel” reports today to check our pipeline, and although not every prospect is at the 50% or better mark, we have over $150M in possible transactions for the year – “zig when others are zagging”…

  13. Barb Davis-Hassan, CCIM

    March 13, 2010 at 7:42 am

    The CCIM designation, being affiliated with a Realtor Commercial Alliance, volunteering on Commercial Boards, attending local Econ.Development Meeting, Regional and Local Planning Boards, Chamber Events, great web presence, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groups, and on and on is definitely the way to go. As a female working in a predominently male oriented business, without the CCIM designation I would never have been able to break into the commercial industry. It definitely is not who you know…..the world needs to know who you are and what value you bring to the table. This generation of consumers is more informed and more inquisitive about the service they demand. As Jonathan Salem Baskin writes “Branding only works on Cattle”. The old way of doing business no longer works and only the brighest, most well connected, most diversified, hard working will survive over these next five years, thank God!

    • Duke Long

      March 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      Wow…yea..Now that’s what I’m talking about…. your statement ..
      “The old way of doing business no longer works and only the brighest, most well connected, most diversified, hard working will survive over these next five years, thank God!”…says it all.
      Thanks for the comments and opinion.

  14. jay jarrett

    March 16, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Start a Realbird search for Commercial Real Estate and just refer. Again, no one is doing it. Period.

    Please expand on this im a rookie.

  15. Chris Fyvie

    March 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I disagree, there are people blogging, tweeting (@ChrisFyvie) and using social media like Facebook and LinkedIn that focus on individual markets. With that said, you are bang on that commercial real estate, at least in Toronto, is a boys club that has the philosophy of “keep everyone out, keep the information in and don’t share anything – that’s how we make money”. The biggest revolution in commercial real estate will be when agents open their book of business and start working between brokerages and across vertical specialties on a regular basis. It will be a long struggle but I can feel it coming.

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