How do you find the right broker?

Find someone who will work for you and have your best interest in mind.

Commercial real estate brokers are a strange breed, but they are licensed the same as Residential brokers.

Interesting information on the disparity in brokers.

Corporate vs Local

This is a tough one!  All of my career I have been a Corporate Broker – on and off with CBRE for over 30 years (including my time with Homart/Sears ) – a long story. Corporate brokers are listed below included from the largest down:



Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

Cushman Wakefield

Colliers International

Eastdil Secured

Marcus Millichap

However, Corporate brokers have become Corporate.  HMMMM.   Anyway, I don’t believe that buyers should use Corporate Brokers, and I don’t believe that any transaction under $3,000,000 or so will get any Corporate Broker attention.  Small tenant rep or one off store leasing will not get the attention you need from Corporate Brokers.  Small industrial – 50,000 sf and down are not within the wheel house of larger firms.  Corporate firms are trying to get back into the locals business, but in general their best people and resources are bent toward  servicing larger National Firms. Of course there are some upwardly mobile – almost corporate brokers – Sperry Van Ness and Marcus and Millichap are two that cross my mind, that seem to have feet in both camps.

Local Brokers (I now consider myself to be a Local Broker) After many years in the business and over 300 transactions and over $6 billion in value, I would put myself up with any Corporate broker in ability to properly represent my clients.  There are many of us who have eschewed the Corporate life and enjoy working in a local environment.

All markets are being disrupted by the Internet, and real estate is on the cusp.  Corporate brokers are surprisingly slow at being able to get into the Wild West of the Internet, it disrupts their way of doing business.  Find a broker who embraces the internet and social medial, not one who tells you what his company is doing.  In residential, a whopping 95% of buyers and sellers first consult the internet.  Commercial is not there yet, but if your broker cant succinctly lay out their internet strategy, point your finger at them and say Legacy* Broker – stay away!

The biggest issue in working with a broker is are they willing to spend the time with you and are they knowledgeable in the field of search.

Legacy* Business vs Today’s world. (HINT -the way the world is changing, large companies who have legacy systems are very difficult to turn around)

@properties is a great example a local firm founded by two guys in Chicago 17 years ago is now the leading residential broker with over $8 billion sales.

How – a good example is that Coldwell Banker tried to teach their brokers difficult computer programs to create brochures, @properties tells it’s brokers to focus on selling and marketing and they do all the brochures in house.  The legacy accounting, computer, systems are out the door.  @properties  realize that the Brokers are their client, not people working for a large company doing their job. Legacy brokers believe that National Firms are their Clients, not the Brokers.

Once entrenched, it’s hard to get out of the ditch.

Corporate Brokers don’t share –

In probably 280 out of over 300 transactions I was involved in as a Corporate Broker my team was the only recipient of the fee.  The other 20 were probably entities of the buyer.

So if a corporate broker says he will cast a large net to catch all of the prospective buyers I would not necessarily believe him.  That doesn’t mean that he wont get you the best price – yadda, yadda, yadda, but in todays internet world this protection of their fee base is indeed a Legacy practice.

Local Brokers are incentivized to share, and do not suffer the “fee compression” that is often the excuse that is used. Smaller transactions often have a higher fee attached than larger transactions.