Being a commercial real estate agent is a lot different than focusing on residential real estate. The contracts are much different, the people involved focus on different things than their residential real estate counterparts, and the costs are often much, much higher. It’s a specialized field of real estate, but one that can offer a lot of unique challenges and opportunities for growth. We have several commercial real estate agents in our office and we’re always looking to work with more bright minded commercial agents seeking to gain the knowledge and background of what being a commercial real estate agent entails. Many people ask us how to become a commercial real estate agent, so we thought we’d take a few moments to offer some advice and tips on how to start the process and head down the path of commercial real estate.
5 Tips to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent
Discuss your idea. Now that you’ve decided to work your way into becoming a commercial real estate agent, your first step should be to talk to some people about it. Call your broker and set up a meeting. They might have an agent in the office who specializes in commercial real estate or know someone they could introduce you to. Call your title company and ask who their commercial real estate closers are and take them out to lunch to pick their brain. Seek advice from those who know and are active in the commercial real estate market in your area.
Educate yourself. Education is fundamental to any real estate specialty and becoming a commercial real estate agent is no different. Take some classes at your local real estate school or online. Take a business or economics course at your local college or university. The more you understand the business world, the better prepared you will be to talk to people in the commercial world. Once you’ve learned the basics, keep learning and never stop. The more you know, the better you can serve your clients.
Know the lingo. Commercial real estate agents don’t talk about gourmet kitchens and master baths, they need to know a whole new set of lingo. From building materials to commercial grade systems (such as HVAC and fire security) to triple net leases to net operating expenses; the world of commercial real estate has its own language. If you can’t speak it, you’re more than likely not going to succeed. This is where you education will come in handy, including business and economics classes as they are the foundations on which commercial real estate is run.
Shadow another agent. Mentorship is something that is often overlooked in the real estate industry, both residential and commercial. Find someone who is willing to give up a bit of time for your assistance. Shadow that agent and learn how the contracts work, how they deal with difficult situations, how the negotiation process works (it’s much different than the residential negotiations you might be used to), and where they find business. Many commercial real estate agents can be a bit guarded about giving up their secrets, but there are plenty out there who are willing to work with you and help you grow into a successful agent. Know your value and offer to trade some assistant work with them for the opportunity to learn from them.
Make connections. Connections and networking are important in any business, but are crucial in the commercial real estate world. If you want to be a successful commercial real estate agent, you’ll need to get to know the movers and shakers in your local business community, the developers, the attorneys, the title company closers that specialize in commercial real estate, and other commercial real estate agents. They will become your sphere of influence for your commercial endeavors, so reach out to them and get to know them.
Still think you have what it takes to be a commercial real estate agent? Then dive in and don’t forget to get up to speed by taking some classes and educating yourself. The foundation is always the crucial part of any structure and your education will serve as just that in the future. Once you’re ready, give us a call, we’d be happy to talk to you about the world of commercial real estate and help guide you to your next steps.
image courtesy of Phil Sexton