CPE’s Stars to Watch 2019: Found His Niche in Industrial

Cody Learner attributes his early-in-life success to being guided into industrial brokerage by Avison Young’s Stan Nowak.

Cody Lerner, 26

Vice President, Avison Young

Cody Lerner describes himself as a blue-collar real estate professional, who loves field work and who recognizes de importance of always following up with potential clients. Image courtesy of Avison Young
Cody Lerner describes himself as a blue-collar real estate professional, who loves field work and who recognizes de importance of always following up with potential clients. Image courtesy of Avison Young

Cody Lerner attributes his early-in-life success to being guided into industrial brokerage by Avison Young’s Stan Nowak. “I was brought on to do office, and I just wasn’t getting through and relating to the office users and the city that we’re in,” Lerner admitted. “So I started calling on industrial product. I’m a blue-collar guy, not a fancy kind of guy.”

Last year, Lerner’s transaction portfolio reached nearly 1 million square feet of industrial and office and sales throughout the Inland Empire. In 2017, he was named Avison Young’s Rookie of the Year for all of the firm’s 120 worldwide offices.

Lerner’s long-term goal is to become a real estate owner, so he considers each challenge he encounters preparation for that. “If I’m experiencing it firsthand and advising investors what to buy, what not to buy and kind of diving into the deals, that just makes it that much more advantageous for me for the future,” Lerner said.

One such challenge happened during his first summer in the business with Coldwell Banker Commercial. Affter arranging a complex lease for a local business, the tenant was acquired by a large Denver company right before closing. The move led to a postponement of the search for new space, but Lerner’s persistence paid off. “After two-and-a-half years of just following up and staying in front of them, we did a five-year, $2.8 million aggregate lease with them, and that was really satisfying,” he said of the “eye-opening” deal.

It’s been more than three years since Lerner switched from a relationship manager position at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, Calif., to real estate brokerage. It all happened after one of the company’s office managers took part in a Sunday brunch at the winery and found out about his plans to obtain a real estate license and enter the business. “I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason,’ so everything kind of fell into place,” he noted.

If He Weren’t in Real Estate: He would be a sports agent with the NFL or NHL. Lerner used to play hockey and still has his athlete superstitions, which makes him talk about his future aims with confidence but also hesitation. 

Biggest Mentors: Avison Young Principals Nowak and Corey Martin.

What People Say About Him: “(These qualities are) rarely seen in his generation nowadays,” said Nowak of Learner’s drive and hunger to succeed. “Cody’s unwavering dedication to always do the right thing builds a trust relationship that is vital in any advisory position. He’s a joy to work with and mentor,” he said.

Meet the rest of CPE’s Stars to Watch for 2019—commercial real estate’s top young talent.