Broker Confidential: S_hit Doesn’t Just Happen.

This is the first of what I believe will be many “Broker Confidential” articles to come this year. What is a Broker Confidential article? It’s me allowing any broker to write and say whatever they want to the entire #CRE world and do in anonymously. Think about that, only I will know the author and I will NEVER tell. I have no input or bias in any way about what’s written. It’s all there unedited and straight from the original author. This should be more than interesting. So with that, let get started. -Duke Long

Happy New Year. With that perfunctory out of the way, I want to start this new decade talking about some shit. The kind transforming the CRE industry, a little about observations on deal execution and details, and finally generational shifts, including Millennial meatheads.

Three decades into a CRE career, focused primarily on industrial real estate in a large urban marketplace, brokerage ownership, and development, I’ve seen the industry transform itself from painfully analog to a proactively digital.

You need not look further than some of your boomer office mates to recognize not everyone falls into that proactively digital cohort.

The company I started with as a broker taught its new agents to use a paper card filing system. A card system where you wrote tenant and landlord information on pink index cards. Then scheduled recalls and appointments using an archaic card filing system I still don’t understand.

My then $4,999 newish IBM desktop with 32 MB (megabyte not gigabyte) hard drive might as well have been voodoo to the company’s principals. The secretaries had computers but 1 of 12 brokers, me, used a computer.

In 1990 there weren’t many options for real estate CRM software. After using Lotus 1, 2, 3 for a while I chose an early CRM named Broker Book. It was a DOS (no windows) based program that required all data to be stored on 3.5” disks, but it was designed specifically for CRE brokers.

The software required a hardware key which meant only one person could work on the system at any given time. For you, younger support team enabled brokers that meant long, long hours in the office solo after-hours banging the keyboard entering that important data onto those 3.5” disks. My young adult kids were too young to remember those 14 to 16 hour days. My wife remembers but the kids don’t.

Oh, how times have changed. Thankfully technology innovation evolved and presented the brokerage community options to work more efficiently.

Fast forward thirty years and we now have hardware and software that helps brokers capture, manipulate and use data to make us more productive.

The CRE industry has multiple CRM options created specifically for the industry. And like most other software today it’s offered in the cloud as a SaaS product.

In simple terms that means the iPhone, I’m banging this post out on has 1000x the power of my old IBM desktop and the GSuite Google Drive word processor allows me to literally operate as a broker remotely from nearly anyplace.

CRMs aren’t the only digital products transforming CRE. We have data on-demand products like the DarkStar, as Duke likes to call it, listing services, data aggregation services, AI, and specialty niche services that cover everything from demographics to investment analysis.

Parenthetically I really despise the DarkStar and root strongly for the Startups attempting to disrupt their monopolistic products and practices.

Newcomers to the industry have no idea just how fortunate they are to have these new products and services available to them. Speaking of newcomers…

As you will read in a moment it is my opinion the Millenials in CRE have great opportunities before them. They are on the precipice of a huge generational shift that will change the brokerage landscape before this decade is over. However, speaking generally, they also have some obstacles to overcome.

In this blog, it has been discussed before that today’s dominant brokerage earners have been and continue to be old white guys with frost on top their heads. It’s safe to say they are from the Boomer generation.

It doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to understand the process of attrition. Time has its effects on people and as a result, the industries in which they operate. When people age its human nature to reach a point when the cleats get hung up for the last time. For many boomers, that day is within view.

The Millennial generation and those that follow have a great opportunity to capture market share during this transitional period, but they could learn a thing or two from their predecessors.

As a broker, sales manager, and brokerage owner I’ve had a great deal of interaction with Millennials, training and working with over fifty new agents coming into the business. I consider many to be friends and friendly competitors. Hell, I have two Millennial kids, I want and am rooting for the Millennial generation to excel. Without some changes though it’s going to be an uphill battle for some Millennial brokers.

Why? again, generally speaking, too many have an entitlement mentality, and many can’t seem to check their egos at the door when it’s most needed. But what really bothers the shit out of me is their lack of attention to detail.

First, if you are a millennial broker under ten years in the business hear this; the industry, your friendly competitors, and your clients don’t owe you shit. Stop whining about something someone did or didn’t due or why you expect another to do something to help you make a deal. No-body-gives-a-fuck! You make shit happen by working your ass off and paying attention to details.

I recently had a Millennial broker tell me they were losing patience with our deal. Not the principal the listing team. My take was the broker needed to vent frustration with some deal points being negotiated. I get it, we’ve all been frustrated in the throes, but for the love of m#+!*>% f!/@? g%^*# check your damn ego at the door when you walk into your office.

Your friendly marketplace competitor is one of your best customers, so consider treating brokers on the other side of the deal like you would your best client. You’re not that darn special, no one other than you, your mom, and maybe your wife thinks so. So act accordingly give respect where respect is due and in return, you’re likely to receive much-deserved respect.

Getting back to details, it probably won’t shock you to hear all deals require a clear and concise understanding of the terms the parties negotiate, duh. It’s difficult to ascertain exactly what those terms are when the negotiation ensues vis a vie paper/text/verbal communications out of a desire for convenience timeliness, or laziness. Paper trails signed by the parties are what make deal terms clear and concise. Anything else is half-ass, and half-ass can get us hauled into court.

Remember Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on stone. We can at least use the more convenient and traditionally accepted protocol of using (digital) paper to reach that clear and concise agreement on terms.

Purposeful inaction doesn’t cause action. Shit only happens when we make it happen. Hoping and praying doesn’t lead us to success. Praying is what my wife is doing as I write this in the hope her Ducks win the Rosebowl. Though it’s not a tangible method to consistently earn dollars as a broker (for the record I do pray, but mostly for my family).

If you want shit to happen in this business leverage the tools technology offers to us all and apply thoughtful, methodical, and consistent effort to create positive action. For us transactional guys that means picking up the damn phone each and every day and making the Fcking calls right after we’ve checked our egos at the door.

Ps. Agree or disagree? What’s your experience working with a younger or older generation broker? What obstacles have you encountered, and how will you avoid those obstacles again? I’d enjoy hearing your take too in the comments below.

1 comment

  • This is an anonymous comment post by me for someone else.

    Just go to work and stop complaining:

    “After 35 plus years in commercial real estate and seeing 20 to 75 year old players’ one thing has not changed. Ten percent (10%) of the players are making up to 80/90% of the money and the other 10% are trying to be in the top 10%. The other 80% really are not there. Does not matter if you are brand new, young, middle or old. Does not matter if you make 6, 7 or 8 figures. Top players buy all the tools, data or people they need, they are all working all the time, no work life balance, its 24/7, even on Sundays. They never complain about Costar or how things use to be. They just run right over you and you did not even know that you were competing with them. And the real highly paid ones are the ones that you have never heard of. Follow their lead and just go to work and never complain. “