Top Brokers Do Deals in Bad Markets, Too

Many in the industry long for the frothy markets of 2005 when sellers experienced record low cap rates, buyers were aided by loose credit and a strong flow of funds from the capital markets, and transactions just seemed to almost close themselves. While those days might seem like ancient history, the market will eventually recover, and when it does, likely even soar to new heights in the future. The question is: “Can you survive the interim period of time, or will you be weeded-out by the exceptionally tough and competitive current market conditions?” In today’s column I’ll profile some of the industry’s top commercial real estate brokers who are still getting deals done regardless of market conditions. If you’re a buyer or seller you should be working with these brokers, and if you’re in the brokerage business you should study what they’re doing… A fundamental macro-economic reality is that when markets cycle, consolidations occur…weak players who once prospered by riding the wave of booming markets are often crushed by more savvy competitors with greater skill sets capable of competing during even the toughest market conditions. Nowhere in the commercial real estate industry is this phenomenon more present than in the brokerage community. I witnessed novice brokers with little experience or competency have seven-figure years during 2005. Many of these same brokers are now out of the business because they didn’t possess the tools, competencies, skill sets, or the sphere of influence to navigate today’s market conditions. The reality is that top commercial real estate brokers have staying power…they have reached the pinnacle of their profession because they invest in their business, have the best marketing platforms, possess better business and real estate acumen, and have the right connections. These are the power brokers that can close deals when everyone else’s transactions are falling out of bed. The following list of top investment sales brokers was derived by assessing the strength of their reputation, personal brand, market connections, marketing platform, transaction volume and their ability to dominate the markets they play in. While there are certainly other competent brokers that didn’t make the list, from my perspective the 8 brokers profiled below are worth of penny of the commissions you pay them… Jeff Dunne, vice chairman, investment properties, CB Richard Ellis Inc., New York City – Jeff leads one of CBRE’s top producing investment sales teams and was CBRE’s top global individual producer last year. Moreover he has been in CBRE’s Top 5 producers worldwide since 2000. Jeff has a stellar reputation, works across asset classes, and has a pulse on the New York Market. Jeff is a top producer regardless of market conditions and has an excellent team behind him. Jamie May, CEO, JBM Realty Advisors (JBMRA), Florida – Jamie is consistently one of the top producing multifamily brokers in the country, and is perhaps one of the most dominant brokers in his market niche. If an institutional multifamily transaction is occurring in the State of Florida, chances are Jamie May is involved. As a boutique investment firm, JBMRA consistently wins deals over larger national brokerage houses, and their offering documents are the truly the best in the business. Rob Koger, president, Molinaro Koger, Washington D.C. – Molinaro and Koger is one of the top Hospitality firms in the world and Rob is one of the top Hospitality brokers. If you’re looking to buy or sell Hotels and/or Resort properties around the globe there is no better qualified broker to assist you in this space than Rob. Stephen Livaditis, managing director and partner, Eastdil Secured, Chicago – If you’re looking for someone who owns the office market in Chicago look no further than Stephen Livaditis. Just a few of his representative transactions include the $39 billion acquisition of Chicago’s EOP Trust, The Sears Tower (Chicago), 111 South Wacker Drive (the highest price per square foot ever achieved in the Midwestern U.S. for an office building transaction), 333 West Wacker Drive (Chicago), and UBS Tower at One North Wacker (Chicago) to name a few. Andrew Levy, senior managing director, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. (HFF), Dallas – Andrew is in charge of the HFF Investment Sales team in Dallas and is also consistently one of HFF’s top producing investment sales brokers. He has been apart of a number of the largest office and mixed-use sales transactions completed in the Southwest having closed major deals in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and New Orleans. Bill Pollard, principal, co-founder, Pacific Real Estate Partners, Seattle – The consensus opinion is that Bill is one of the nicest and most honest brokers in the business. He is a dominant player year in and year out in the Seattle market. What is perhaps most impressive about Bill is that his production numbers remain huge while he is managing one of the fastest growing firms in the region. Chris Johnson, executive vice president, NAI Norris, Beggs & Simpson, Portland – Much like Jamie May (mentioned above), Chris is one of the most market dominant brokers in the business. If there is a large office, industrial, or land deal happening in Portland chances are that Chris has a piece of it. His dominance is so well known that many real estate professionals often refer to the Portland NAI franchise as ChrisCo… Steve Hermann, executive vice president, CB Richard Ellis Inc., San Francisco – Steve has been involved in the acquisition and disposition of more than $6BB dollars of commercial real estate. He is a member of CBRE’s Institutional Client Group and has been involved in many of San Francisco’s most notable transactions in recent years.