CPE’s Stars to Watch 2019: Showing Clients the Big Picture

During her first eight years in the business, Nicole Brickhouse has contributed to $1.5 billion in transactions across multiple property types, including multifamily, office, retail and senior housing.

Nicole Brickhouse, 30

Vice President, Walker & Dunlop

In addition to her work at Walker & Dunlop, Nicole Brickhouse is also involved in charity work through several organizations focusing on training young professionals as well as providing homes for families in crisis. Image courtesy of Walker & Dunlop.
In addition to her work at Walker & Dunlop, Nicole Brickhouse is also involved in charity work through several organizations focusing on training young professionals as well as providing homes for families in crisis. Image courtesy of Walker & Dunlop

During her first eight years in the business, Nicole Brickhouse has contributed to $1.5 billion in transactions across multiple property types. Six months ago, she joined Walker & Dunlop’s Debt and Structured Finance Group as vice president in charge of sourcing equity and debt financing solutions for clients nationwide. Previously, she worked for HFF and Cassidy Turley, where she was a summer intern while in college.

“I interned with several departments during my first foray into commercial real estate and was exposed to many different aspects of the business. I was then offered a full-time position to help grow and expand the sustainability practice, and that’s where my career in real estate began.” she said.

Brickhouse originally wanted to be an environmental lobbyist but decided against it as soon as she started college at American University. In her first years in the business, she enjoyed traveling the country working with building operators and owners. “I loved the finance side, and that’s what took me back to grad school,” she said. She earned a master’s degree from Georgetown University in real estate with a concentration in finance.

Her success, she says, is due to her desire to go beyond what is expected of her and an ability to look at the bigger picture before closing a deal. Brickhouse insists on serving as her clients’ advisor rather than just a lender. Currently, she is working on deals worth more than $1 billion.

Brickhouse is an active member of several industry associations, including the Urban Land Institute, the Mortgage Bankers Association—where she is on the mPact Advisory Committee—and CREW Network. A significant part of her involvement is training the next generation of professionals. “I have helped lead real estate finance workshops for CREW, both at the national CREW convention and here in D.C. for our local chapter. These workshops allow for an honest and comfortable environment for people to learn and ask questions about different parts of the industry and how finance impacts their areas of specialty,” she explained.

What She Likes Most About Real Estate: “The people. It’s a very people-oriented business. There’s a lot of satisfaction in the actual dealmaking, of course. A career in commercial real estate allows us to take a hands-on approach in shaping the city that we live in, what that environment looks like, and its lasting impact on the community around us.”

Advice For Someone Entering the Business: “I want to highlight the importance of having a strong network of peers and confidants that you trust 110 percent—even better if they have different backgrounds, areas of specialty and employers. While I believe having a mentor is critical, surrounding yourself with a group of individuals that you can bounce ideas off of, who encourage you to take opportunities, and who provide honest feedback and different perspectives is a very important factor in shaping your career.”

If She Weren’t in Real Estate, She Would… own a summer camp. “It’s one of the major foundations of my life. I went to all-girls camp for seven weeks each summer in Northern Wisconsin with no electricity or running water in our cabins—and I loved it. The confidence, independence and enduring friendships built at camp are irreplaceable tenets of my upbringing, and if I could run a summer camp and provide that experience to other young women, that’s what I would do.”

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