Keys to Success: Commercial Real Estate Newcomers Need Patience, Perseverance, Brokers Say

By Clements, Michael | THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 6, 2015 | Go to article overview

Keys to Success: Commercial Real Estate Newcomers Need Patience, Perseverance, Brokers Say


Clements, Michael, THE JOURNAL RECORD


TULSA - If you want to make it in the commercial real estate business, those in the know say it takes hard work, education and time - a lot of time.

"Commercial real estate is pretty high-level," said Raymond Lord, a broker in NAI Petrous' Tulsa office who's been in the business since 1987. "It can be incredibly lucrative but it takes a lot of time and expertise to truly get an understanding of it. We make sure (job) candidates know it will take at least a year to get their feet on the ground."

Lord and other brokers said the recent downturn in the energy industry and the slowly growing economy have created a slight surge in people looking for a second career. Many come to commercial real estate firms looking for information on what they see as a way to earn high commissions.

Scott Schlotfelt, a senior vice president with the Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort commercial real estate firm's Tulsa office, said many aspiring brokers know someone in the business. They may have a little experience in the field or have read about the possibility of large commissions and fees. Schlotfelt said high commissions are possible, but aren't guaranteed and never come quickly.

Jim Parrack is a senior vice president with Price Edwards & Co. in Oklahoma City. He's been in commercial real estate more than 25 years. Parrack said commercial real estate is like any other industry with cycles of prosperity followed by lean times. In his view, the current state of the commercial real estate workforce reflects those cycles.

"There are guys like me who were in the real estate markets in the 1980s," Parrack said. "Then the energy bust of the '80s sapped a lot of the talent out of the industry. So you have (brokers) who are now 50 or older. Then there's a 10- to 15-year gap and you started to see a new wave of young brokers coming into the market."

Lord said that much of the new wave were landmen from the oil industry. Their job was to ensure clear title on property that oil companies wanted drilling leases on. As the energy industry started to lose steam, the landmen started looking for greener pastures.

"That's a really nice fit because there's a lot of similarities," Lord said.

The term "landman" can be a bit misleading. All interviewed say men have dominated the commercial real estate industry, but more women are getting into the field. Parrack said about one-third of the brokers at his firm are female and the number is rising throughout the industry.

"I think it's a combination of employers seeking a broader employee base and women recognizing that this is a good business to be in," Parrack said.

Lord and Parrack both said that the best way for a new broker to get into the business is to find a position with a large, well- established firm. In that way the new broker can take advantage of the more experienced brokers and learn the intricacies of the business from those who have been on the inside. Just learning the business can be a full-time job. …

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