Is the CRE Marketplace Under-Exposed?

Posted: December 4, 2017 by Ashley Tate

In this modern-age digital landscape, being over-exposed is not an uncommon sentiment. From our personal lives being on full display via social media to our online shopping habits tracked, bundled, and sold to the highest bidder, it seems that sentiment is not without merit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With common e-commerce transactions, being over-exposed is a win-win for both parties. Sellers have multiple platforms to offer their goods to consumers and in return consumers have a wide spectrum of options to choose from. The same can be said for most major industries, i.e. travel, automobile, apartment rentals, and residential home sales. Even used goods that were previously only found by scouring garage sales on Saturdays are now sold on sites like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.

This begs the question of why the commercial real estate marketplace is so under-exposed?


Common sense tells us that a seller of any item cannot be successful if the potential buyers are not aware the item is for sale in the first place. It stands to reason that the larger the buyer pool, the greater the seller’s chances for success and vice versa. In the pre-historic days of BD (“before digital”), there were very limited options available for commercial real estate brokers to market their property listings. For buyers, locating properties in general largely fell on one or two websites with search parameters that weren’t necessarily user-friendly, and more importantly cost money to get basic information like the listing broker’s email or phone number.


Fast forward to present day and those options haven’t really evolved like they have in almost every other industry. Maybe the lack of technology contributes somewhat to CRE’s under-exposure or maybe the industry is just slow to adapt to the quickly changing times? Both are likely culprits but nonetheless, continuing to operate in a silo fashion without universal, shared platforms that offer an unmatched customer reach that also give insight and analytics to any marketing efforts employed isn’t a sustainable model for success. In layman’s terms, there is no Amazon for commercial real estate.


This is not to say that those who work within the CRE industry are not utilizing digital marketing strategies in their company model. After working at JLL, I can attest that they place a high value in technology and its implementation into their business model across all service lines.


However, even with all the digital marketing tools available, many CRE companies aren’t equipped to take advantage of the many online strategies like search engine optimization (“SEO”), pay-per-click (“PPC”), and marketing automation. For the larger, global CRE firms that offer multiple services across many industries with hundreds of websites dedicated to each category, implementing a strategic online plan isn’t really feasible. For the smaller boutique CRE firms that don’t have the resources to employ an entire marketing department, it’s understandable that extensive attention to online marketing doesn’t fall high on the priority list.


Without an all-in-one platform, executing a basic digital marketing plan can be time-consuming and inefficient. Many brokers and support staff use different outlets for their email marketing, contact management, reporting, and digital property collateral. The problem with this reality are the limitations of being able to quickly and efficiently differentiate ROI across multiple marketing efforts. Also, trying to make sense of insights and stats from multiple platforms produces inaccuracies and hinders the ability to get a snapshot of the overall performance results.


For example, when sending a property eBlast, how many people opened the email? How many email addresses were undeliverable, which offers hints that certain contacts need updating? If you are marketing the property on a third-party site, how many page views are there, who downloaded the due diligence materials? What information do you know about these prospects? Are you able to capture that data and recycle it for future marketing plans with similar listings?


To be able to make an informed decision, these insights can offer a significant advantage, not just for necessary adjustments for the current property being marketed, but for efforts on future listings as well. When pitching to a new client for a listing(s), wouldn’t it be great to have your relevant successes and the means to which you achieved those successes available at the click of a button?


For buyers, dealing with different listing brokers presents its own set of challenges. Submitting LOIs, offers, obtaining due diligence materials hosted on different servers that require additional software downloads, efficiently managing a closing timeline checklist when responsibilities fall across multiple departments, are all challenges that hinder a seamless, efficient transaction process.


As someone who has spent my entire career marketing commercial real estate, I have experienced these roadblocks and the limitations they place on executing an overall marketing strategy. The solution is a platform where these challenges for both buyer and broker are diminished or eliminated entirely.

Why choose CREXi?

Our mission at CREXi is to be that solution by offering buyers a free marketplace with thousands of properties, smart search filters, direct in-app messaging, with the ability to submit LOI’s/offers and a closing tracker that keeps both broker and buyer on the same page. Tools like the marketing portal for email marketing, contact list management capabilities, a two-tiered secured due diligence vault, real time alerts/activity feed, lead drawer and one-touch reporting are all tools created to alleviate brokers’ pain points. By striving to bring the commercial real estate industry into the digital age by offering new and convenient ways to bring buyers and brokers together while streamlining the sales process, CRE will no longer be under-exposed.


Watch a 20 minute CREXi Platform Overview or Request a One-on-One Demo

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CRE Tech Updates: Property Boards

Posted: November 29, 2017 by the CREXi Marketing & Product Teams

CREXi continually improves its CRE tech offerings by adding new features, oftentimes stemming from valued user feedback and requests.  For our latest Tech Update, the goal was to provide a way for the CREXi user to categorize their listings into portfolio-style groups with the ability to share the group of listings with other users, clients or buyers to better collaborate and evaluate potential acquisitions.


Check out the 30 second walk-thru below and start creating your CREXi Boards.


CRE Tech Tools

CRE tech updates

As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to share your great ideas with our product team.  Feel free to comment or reach out to

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Tech Updates

Posted: October 31, 2017 by the CREXi Marketing & Product Teams

Here at CREXi we are passionate about continuously developing meaningful product features that help CRE professionals save time & resources while accelerating their business results.

Our latest tech update is filled with a host of new features and improvements, from enhanced deal marketing to more timely notifications.  Read on to learn more about what we’ve cooked up in our latest release.



CRE brokers face a ton of challenges when it comes to email marketing: brand control, overly complicated software, tracking results, etc. The latest rev of the CREXi Marketing Portal empowers every member of your to team to send more effective emails, increase deal activity, and garner more connections with prospective buyers.

In this update, we have added the option for users to upload their own email marketing PDFs/images with the ability to add URL links to the image linking back to either the property listing or due diligence vault.

As an added bonus, users now have the ability to customize the call-to-action buttons to match your brand.


Marketing Portal Tech Update


Having multiple listings is a good thing, except when it isn’t. If you have multiple listings and lots of activity, getting real-time notifications could put you (and your inbox) into overload. While its usually a good problem to have, nobody wants to miss that critical update due to an overloaded inbox.

As a solution to that problem, you can now control when and how many buyer activity notifications you receive on your listings.  Want a summary once a day on all activity?  Or maybe you prefer real-time activity on executed CAs? No problem. You set the Activity Alerts to fit your needs.


Set Property Notification Settings


Your saved searches can be viewed in tiles on the right side of the screen with a green “New Properties” banner alerting you to any new properties added that fit the search parameters.

You can also customize notifications for each Saved Search to be alerted either daily, weekly, or not at all.


Saved Search Features


Share any of your listings on social media simply by clicking the icons in the top right of the Property Dashboard.  Now you can take advantage of your social presence and reach in just a click.


Social Share GIF

As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to share your great ideas with our product team.  Feel free to comment or reach out to


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Commercial Real Estate World Series 2017

Posted: October 24, 2017  by the CREXi Marketing Department

Here at CREXi, we’ve got more than a few heavy hitting baseball fans. Couple that with the excitement of a Los Angeles Dodgers World Series appearance that has brought a real buzz to the greater LA area and we figured it was a great time to have a little fun and share some ‘CRE by the numbers’ breakdown as the series kicks off.

The result: infographic meets tale of the tape, with a special giveaway and some wild predictions thrown in to the mix. Check out the graphic below, and be sure to click through to enter for your chance to win a more than worthwhile piece of baseball memorabilia (spoiler alert: it has been signed by a baseball playoff legend). Share with your networks and help us spread the World Series fun to the CRE world.

Enter to Win Kirk Gibson Signed Baseball

CREXi World Series Giveaway

Enter to Win Kirk Gibson Signed Baseball


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Want to Break into Commercial Real Estate?

Posted: July 5, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director with contributions from Eli Randel



It must be that time of year. We’ve had three calls from acquaintances asking what’s the best way for their child, who just obtained their degree in Greek Mythology (or some other similar study), to get into Commercial Real Estate (“CRE”). Perhaps it’s a sign of “market heat” and CRE’s continued visibility as an industry, but there is no shortage of interested applicants for commercial real estate opportunities. It’s a competitive landscape, so what can applicants do to more effectively break in?

My first suggestion to future graduates who think they want a career in CRE is: “Don’t get a degree in Greek Mythology,” but hindsight is 20-20 and interestingly, when you go through the BIOs of successful CRE professionals, you’ll find a diverse list of backgrounds which is one of the many things we like about the industry (9 Reasons We Love CRE). Anyway, who am I to judge? I got a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I used to tell clients it was the perfect major for selling warehouses by the airport.

Here is some more advice for “young Sammy” who wants to break into the world of CRE:

Nothing is easy. If you want to become a part of the CRE industry because you think it’s an easy way to get rich or because you think you’ll impress people with your fancy business card – don’t waste your time. In CRE you will work hard. You will face rejection. You will not get rich in your 20s (most likely) and if in a sales role, you may go extended periods of time without income. If you aren’t tough, find another field. Throw out your get rich quick books. Most of the authors got rich selling their books to you, not in the field they profess to be masters in.

It’s all relative. Most CRE brokers don’t get hired from a wanted ad. It’s generally a function of who you know and often that person is a relative or is a friend with a relative willing to help. If your approach is only to submit resumes online, you will have fewer options. Maybe you don’t know the person personally but, if you can get an introduction to a top professional at a national firm; it will open doors. LinkedIn is a good way to figure out who you know and who knows who. If you’re not connected to anyone in CRE then start with me: Paul Cohen.

Clean up your act. Your resume should be clear and concise and visually appealing. I personally believe in keeping a resume to one page – even for seasoned professionals. If longer, it should be for good reason. CLEAN UP your resume. It should look like it was created after 1997 not just in content, but in visual quality (I’m talking to you Times New Roman users). Take more than one copy to an interview. Customize your resume for different opportunities. Your resume is often your first impression. Make a good one.

Prepare for the interview. Research the company you are meeting with and write down some thoughtful questions. We recently had an applicant who confessed he knew nothing about CREXi and asked if there was somewhere he could get more information: “Have you looked online?” was our response. Sadly the answer was “no.” You will also be asked to introduce yourself. If you just read your resume as your introduction, you will lose your audience who will read along with you and will finish while you’re still talking. Prepare a customized “elevator” pitch that will tell your story: Where are you from? What drives you? WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE YOU? (hint: it’s probably not because of one course you took, your 3.1 GPA, or an internship you did at your uncle’s company). If you are doing significantly more talking than the other person, you might lose them. Ask questions. And last: READ BOOKS. I often hear applicants get asked: “what was the last book you read?” If you have a good answer or it’s a book they also read, you just connected. Don’t have any answer? That loud noise is dead air. Read these two recent posts for book suggestions:  Book Suggestions 1 and Book Suggestions 2.

Start with the best. The best firms usually have the best employee development. Research the best firms and brokers in your market. This will help you assess the variety of firms and will also be helpful in finding the best personal fit. One firm might be more entrepreneurial than others for the person who seeks a “jack-of-all-trades” role. Some are more specialized and structured. Fit is crucial. If you are an introverted analytical type who gets an offer for an extroverted cold-calling position it could be a waste of your time and theirs. Some people are talented enough to learn and master skill sets, but if it goes against your basic wiring, it is less likely to be sustainable.

Give good phone. Here’s the reality, to get in the door and to land that first job (or to get started in any sales career) you must be able to make calls – even if it’s only for a probationary period. There are several books and recordings: Cold Calling Techniques by Shiffman is a good start. There is a generation of people who grew up without widespread use of the telephone. Get comfortable using one or the generation that did grow up with phones, will have a hard time connecting with you.

Get skills. If you want to join an investment sales team then proficiency in Argus will give you a head start. The more you know, the more value you’ll be to the team. Excel masters – like pivot tables and macros – are valuable (Pryor). Being a social media guru can open doors. If you can help your broker trend on LinkedIn they might make you a partner. This is a unique skill set a young professional can bring to the table. Did you get a sales associate license before needing one? Are you LEED certified? Have you taken a CCIM 101? Show that you want the opportunity and are committed to a career in CRE.

Follow Up. Once you’ve interviewed, be sure to follow up. I have colleagues who won’t even consider hiring the best candidate they ever met if there is no professional follow up. For many of us who are conducting an interview, we are testing your ability to interact with a potential client. If you don’t follow up with the person who would hire you, will you follow up with the client who may someday potentially hire us?

Good luck and happy hunting!

Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul

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New to Commercial Real Estate?

Posted: June 29, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director

New to Commercial Real Estate?

Read these 10 books and accelerate your career

It started in the 1990’s and is becoming more and more pervasive.  I’m talking about the new wave of brokers and their shocking lack of reading.

I noticed it first when junior brokers in my firm would start using basic phrases that every salesperson from the pre-nineties era, who had studied the likes of Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn, would never say. Like “You wouldn’t want to make an offer on this property, would you?” I’d cringe and then take them aside, thrusting a copy of Tom Hopkins “How to Master the Art of Selling” into their hands. Months later it was clear they hadn’t read it. I once wrote on the second chapter of “See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar, “When you read this, come and see me and I’ll give you $100.” They never asked for the money but did tell me they enjoyed the book.

I have given this some thought over the years. Why do these gen-Xrs think they can just wing it? I’ve watched these brokers “grow up” in the business and they make money based upon sheer determination, smiles and their ability to instinctively connect with some clients. However, because they don’t know why they do what they do, they sometimes don’t get the business and have no idea why. Generally, they blame the client, the market or a competitor but the fact is, it’s them. I explain that sales in commercial real estate is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced. Just willing something to happen doesn’t make it so. Learning to build rapport, ask questions, growing a business over time are fundamentals that seem to be missing from the “instant gratification” generation. Don’t get me wrong, I love the optimism and over confidence but a little nuance goes a along way.

If you don’t like to read, you can download an audio book as I like to do. Check out our blog debating the reading vs listening to books. Without further ado here are the ten books I recommend every aspiring commercial real estate broker should read:

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. Warren Buffet took the course and said it was the best thing he could have done for himself when he started out.
  2. The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason. Time tested principals for gaining wealth.
  3. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill. Time tested wisdom from a man who studied the likes of Andrew Carnegie.
  4. How to Master the Art of Selling and Listing Real Estate, Tom Hopkins. It’s a little dated but you’ll learn some good basic techniques.
  5. The Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig Ziglar. In my opinion, this is best as an audio book.  Zig’s enthusiasm will get you pumped.
  6. The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy. More sales stuff. You’ve got to absorb this stuff as Brian Tracy breaks down the mind game.
  7. Seven Habits of Highly effective People, Steven Covey.  Probably the best overview of how you set yourself up to be successful in life
  8. Influence, Robert Caldini. Important if you want to understand why people decide to buy.
  9. Spin Selling, Neil Rackham. It seems that every major sales organization rebrands the principals of this book for their own purposes. Get the original.
  10. Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Napoleon Hill & W. Clement Stone. This was quoted in the Ray Kroc movie (Founder). As the words were recited it reminded me of when I started in the business. This stuff stays with you.

“Hey new broker. Yes I am talking to you.”

I know you think that because you are well liked and you work hard, you don’t need to read these books. Trust me, I’ve worked with hundreds of brokers over the years, and they all make money. However, the ones that learned these principals make much more.  Even if you make just 10% more each year, that’s almost a million dollars over a career. (That’s a Brian Tracy thing. You’ll see.) Now this is just the start, there are hundreds of books you should read. Some haven’t even been written yet. I personally recommend biographies – Sam Zell has a new one out now. Enjoy!

What book do you recommend for new brokers? Send me your recommendations.

Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul


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Top 10 Summer Reading Picks for the CRE Professional

 Posted: June 14, 2017  by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development and Paul Cohen, Regional Director of Business Development



But first, “to read or not to read” that is the question being hotly debated over a couple of brews at the local tavern.


After a busy day of work Eli and I got a couple pints and discussed life, the Universe and the books we are currently reading. When Eli mentioned that he was waiting for his next book to be delivered, I nearly dropped my beer. I assumed that he, like I, had adopted audiobooks in lieu of carrying around clunky paper books and trying to read them when time provided. He had not. Debate about the best medium for consuming books ensued. Below is how we generally remember it. Who was right? You be the judge……


ER: Call me old school – which is ironic since I’m younger than you – but reading is far superior to books on tape. Seeing sentence structure, grammar, and spelling will make you a much better communicator and writer. Listening can always be distracted by outside events and reading forces you to concentrate which is part of the value.


PC: I can’t believe we are having this debate. Yes, I am older than you but nobody calls them books-on-tape anymore, grandpa. Do you still listen to your gramophone? You are basing your entire argument on sentence structure. That’s like saying I only listen to live music so I can see how they play the guitar!


ER: Don’t get me started on music – also a passion of mine, and I do play guitar. Do you see my hand in front of your face? Good, you aren’t blind. So why are you (exclusively) listening to books? To get through them quicker? What’s the point of being able to get through more books if you aren’t properly absorbing them? There is something timeless about holding knowledge in your hands that won’t disappear when the power goes out.      


PC: You make a good point, blind people certainly benefit from audiobooks so for that portion of the population I am clearly right. As far as absorption, I don’t know that reading vs listening is superior. I think it depends on the individual. Anyway, why are you waiting for a book? Why don’t you just use a Kindle? Let me guess, because it teaches you delayed gratification? You really are old school.


ER: Ha. That’s fair. I could use a kindle. My same points would apply. Speaking of age, do you listen to a Walkman while in the hot-tub on vacation trying to “read”? And yes, visualizing words and seeing how sentences should be written has helped my writing. I owe most of my writing ability to being an avid reader.   


PC: Are you still going with the “I read so I can write” defense? It’s like debating skiing vs. snowboarding and saying snowboarding is better because you look good in baggy clothes. Here are the real reasons for audio: first, you don’t have to lug books around; next, humans are designed to listen to stories, we did it for thousands of years before we were literate; then, there is the sustainability argument; you don’t need to chop down “The hundred acre wood” to read about Winnie the Pooh; and lastly, there is the ability to do other things while you are listening to a book like exercise, drive, or carve soap sculptures!


ER: When you’re doing other stuff you’re not going to properly absorb the content. You’re missing the escape, meditative qualities, and forced concentration and discipline reading develops. An audiobook is like a home workout: yes it works, but it seldom replicates running outside for an hour or going to the gym. Not only are you forced to workout once you get to the gym, but getting there requires discipline which is an added benefit and learned skill set. And yes, writing is important. You’ve seen some of the e-mails we receive from job applicants. There is a generation raised on listening to TV or reading in limited characters who can’t structure good e-mails because of it.  


PC: Driving, running, walking, relaxing in a hot tub – all things I can do while listening to A Brief History of Time. You only have 24 hours in a day so if you can listen to how Howard Shultz started Starbucks while driving thru a Starbucks then I have killed two mockingbirds with one stone. If you think that there is a brain function benefit to reading then I’ll refer you to Daniel Willinghams study. If you believe that reading helps with sentence structure then that would be true if you are reading Melville, Bronte, Faulkner or Twain but the last book I saw you read was that annoying Jim Cramer from Mad Money. Not what I’d call a wordsmith. Anyway, your argument about writing is offset by the benefits of listening which can help with pronunciation and public speaking. The reason why resumes and emails look like they do, is because people don’t write it’s not because they don’t read.


ER: a) How can someone properly write without properly reading? It’s like learning to dance without having seen others do it; b) Confessions of a Street Addict was a good book. Had you read (or listened to) it, you would learn that Jim Cramer was President and Editor-in-chief for the Harvard Crimson before getting his JD at Harvard Law before he became a hedge fund manager; b) my position on writing isn’t about learning how to write elegant prose, it’s about learning how to communicate in written form; and c) listening to a book while doing something less productive sounds like a good way to do two things without your undivided attention.   


PC: Well, I usually do something that doesn’t require my attention while listening to a book like exercising or driving. Last night I was watching the NBA finals on mute while listening to Crushing it in Real Estate at 1.5x speed. We’ll agree to disagree. I want efficiency and you want enlightenment. Talking of enlightenment, what books are we recommending?





Pick 1 (PC) The Real Estate Game by William J. Poorvu. A Harvard professor retells stories of Investors and developers as they “play” the game of real estate.  Well written (so you can practice your writing, E) and easily accessible. Highly recommended for the Real Estate broker who dreams of being a developer/owner.


Pick 2 (ER) Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Excellent book to prepare someone for a life in entrepreneurialism and business. Many assume Nike rose to greatness at birth, but readers will learn about the challenges faced and the persistence required to overcome those challenges. The book is a reminder of my father’s motto said every day when he got home from work: “Nothing’s Easy.” Once you learn that lesson, which Phil Knight illustrates in the book, you are more prepared for a business or entrepreneurial life. In addition to being a great story, Shoe Dog is also a great study in corporate culture and the real life cast of characters is unique and inspiring.  


Pick 3 (PC) Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur by Jim Randel. Once you’ve finished the Real Estate Game; the next stop on your way to being a master investor is Jim Randel’s confessions. This is a more personal account of investing. It covers Jim’s wins but also talks about some failures. It’s not your usual “Get rich in real estate BS” but a practical guide.


Pick 4 (ER) Leadership Legacies (Lessons Learned From 10 Real Estate Legends). Not a long or complex book, but a great introduction to 10 legends who helped shape the modern commercial real estate industry. Zell, Hines, Crow and more. Many of us have heard of some of these legends and know them as the icons, but lack a background on how they became icons or what unique traits they’re famous for. The sections are not in-depth looks, but good starting points. ULI’s book is a great entry level look into the impact the ten legends made on our industry.


Pick 5 (PC) Crushing it in Commercial Real Estate by Brian Murray. Here’s another investing book. I enjoyed the read and I like Brian’s story. Started out as a teacher and then just hustled his way through his first deal. Now he runs a fairly large property company in Watertown, NY. (


Pick 6 (ER) Am I Being Too Subtle? by Sam Zell. Many know the Gravedancer (as he’s been known) as a self-made billionaire but often a rough or crude man, however in my opinion Zell is full of heart and character and has made a career as a contrarian who looks right when everyone is looking left. I don’t always agree with his politics (although he is often right and has predicted many future economic events), but I agree with his general moral compass as described in the book. Zell discusses loyalty, reputation, friendship, and independence from the pack. Like him or not, he’s one of a kind and his successes are in-deniable.      


Pick 7 (PC) The Deal by Adam Gitlin. The only novel on the list. Adam will deny this but I think his Jonah Gray character was modeled on me. In this real estate saga the protagonist, Jonah Gray, is offered a deal too good to refuse. 


Pick 8 (ER) Zeckendorf: The Autobiography of the Man Who Played a Real-Life Game of Monopoly and Won the Largest Real Estate Empire in History by William Zeckendorf. Confession: I have not read this book. It is on my “to read” list as it was recently recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value. Read the Amazon reviews and judge for yourself. Zeckendorf was an Icon and is responsible for shaping a city and industry. I wouldn’t normally put a book I haven’t read on a list like this, but I only recently heard of it and am confident it’s a book real estate professionals should read.


Pick 9 (PC) The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen.  Not a real estate book per se, but a great rags to riches story to get you motivated to take on the world (once you get back from vacation).  Well written and an easy read. It follows the twists and turns of Samuel Zemurray as he builds his banana business and takes on the market leader.   Also a great insight into US foreign policy at the turn of the last century.  Inspired by Sam the Banana man, you’ll realize that there isn’t a problem you can’t solve.


Pick 10 (PC) Commercial Real Estate Brokers Who Dominate by Rod Santomassimo. I thought I’d better include a book about brokerage. This is one of the best because it uses real examples of some of the top brokers in the country. Santomassimo breaks down 8 traits and then uses different brokers to illustrate an example of those traits.



What books did we miss? Recommendations are always graciously accepted. Is anyone still reading out there or are you, like me, adapting to more efficient ways to consume information? We would love your feedback.

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ICSC RECon Redux

Posted: June 7, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director of Business Development


In May I shared my Top Ten Tips for Surviving ICSC RECON 2017. Having now had two weeks to work off my hangover, I thought it valuable to share some additional thoughts from this year’s conference. Send me your tips for surviving and thriving at ICSC Vegas.


  1. Stay off the strip. I’ve always found it a little depressing to come down from my hotel room each morning and see an old lady on the slot machines next to an insurance salesman who has been playing Blackjack all night. This year, our team at CREXi used AirBnB to rent a five-bedroom house five minutes from the strip. Initially, the goal was cost savings and flexibility as we hadn’t finalized our roster, but what we found was the time we spent together in the evenings before going to the strip was an effective team building experience. As someone who has stayed on the strip multiple times, it was nice to see where the locals live, go for a run in the neighborhoods without inhaling cigarette smoke on my way in and out of the hotel lobby, and to support some local restaurants and bars. I’m not suggesting readers do it every year, but give it a try.

  3. Not just a pretty face. I got some blow-back on my previous Survival Guide post for suggesting that unless you are “an attractive woman” people won’t just stop by your booth. Some took that to mean that as a female professional you should use your looks and not your abilities to get business. Far from it. I was talking about paid models meant to lure passerby’s in. While the practice seems to be on the decline, when applied it often comes off as tacky and less than professional.

  5. One giant step for man. Take advantage of the vast distances walked by setting step goals for the day.  I took 45,484 Steps over the two days.  Anyone do better?

  7. Elevator Pitch Redux. I visited several booths and asked what I believed to be a simple question: What do you do? I expected a simple elevator pitch. You know, like if you were going up an actual elevator. Here’s what happened instead (on almost every occasion): first, the booth host became defensive and asked who I was while they looked directly at my chest to scan my badge. Five minutes later after completion of their “elevator pitch” I was still no clearer. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s Glass elevator on the way to Umpa Lumpa land! I am now getting emails from some of these companies and still don’t know what they do.

  9. Get better swag. Sorry but somebody had to say it. Other than the group that gave out flip flops and the sandwich guys, the swag was very unimaginative. Throw away those stress balls. I suggest that you come up with a theme based upon what your company stands for and then build around that. According to Rich Curran, owner of Expo Convention Contractors (the country’s leading Convention Services provider), “make your theme and swag match. For example, Miami based developer uses a beach theme and gives out sunglasses. You can also use your giveaway to capture leads without asking. You can set up a photographer and offer headshots or a caricature artist. A simple business card drop gets them in line.” 

  11. The booth, you can’t handle the booth. It was interesting to see how companies handled their allotted space. I saw quite a few “closed” booths, meaning booths that had physical barriers to entry and some with gate keepers behind big desks. Booths should be open in my opinion. Think of a playground for adults. They can come in and see what you are doing. Host a Happy hour in the booth. Nothing says welcome to our booth like a Goose and soda. Expo’s Curran added “a welcoming environment keeps attendees there and talking. Making connections are key, so having someone want to stay at your booth longer gives a chance to build a relationship. Make your booth about an experience not just a product or service.”

  13. Don’t go deep the first night. This was in the original post but worth elaboration.  I saw a lot of hurt people on Tuesday morning. My advice is to take it easy for the first night (or two if you’re staying longer) and stay hydrated. When you do eventually hit the strip, know your limits and stay within them. Some of my best relationships have been made with people I get a little “loose” with, but it’s a fine line. Remember this is a company function and any inappropriate behavior can hurt your standing within the firm. Whether you realize it or not.

  15. Go to the parties. I missed the Chainsmokers but got front row to Nelly (Thanks Colliers International!). A confession, I forgot who Nelly was, I was thinking Nelly Furtado so when “Nelly” (rapper from circa 1998) hit the stage I was a tad disappointed. However, once Nelly started the show I got into the mood and found myself singing my own version of his song: 


      If you want to go and list your deals with me
      We’ll stick em on da CREXi real EZ.
      Oh why do we do it this way? (Hey, we don’t cost no money!)
      If you want to go ahead and get on CREXi
      Put on a Triple Net or a storage Facilit-E.
      Oh how do we do it this way? (Hey, we don’t cost no money!)


    You had to be there!

Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, CREXi Convenient TechnologyPaul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales.  Email Paul


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Side Street vs Main Street

Posted: May 17, 2017  by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development and Paul Cohen, Regional Director of Business Development


Who will win the battle for retailers?


Traditionally in retail, traffic counts and signalized corners are the most coveted locations for retailers and therefore generally the most expensive. While I don’t expect this to change for some uses like gas stations which are dependent on ingress and egress, the theory has been posed by my Colleague, Paul Cohen, that with the advent of mobile apps such as Yelp and virtual signage via-digital word of mouth, retailers will shift from Main Street to the Side-street to incur lower occupancy costs and increase their margins?


The argument for “yes” (by Paul Cohen): Of course they will! Most people under the age of forty (and me) use apps like Yelp to determine where to find many “retail tenants.” No longer is it a function of simply driving down the street and looking for a “name yo know” but rather a selection based upon peer review in search of that special experience. For example, I was in a small town called Sylva in Western North Carolina last month and wanted to get a coffee and check my emails. I found this great bookstore in a converted house two blocks off the main drag. I would have ended up at a Waffle House otherwise. People instinctively know that the best restaurants, coffee shops, barbers, and massage parlors (don’t judge me) are not on Main Street anymore. The reason why brand stores exist is primarily so that the customer knows they are getting a good quality of service wherever they happen to be. Especially when traveling; you are more likely to visit the Panera Bread off the Interstate rather than risk Big AL’s BBQ. It could be great or it could be a short cut to the urgent care (which doesn’t need to be on main street either). Now armed with a mobile phone, the weary traveler can quickly find that awesome BBQ joint (or food truck) that was previously hidden down some side alley only know to a few locals.


The argument for “no” (by Eli Randel): Yes, the basic concept makes sense and will apply for some retailers, but not in a significant way. Retail remains dependent on foot and vehicle traffic counts and even though word of mouth can be spread more efficiently with the internet, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION is still a driving force in retail and real estate in general. Perhaps naively, I assume the smartest retailers have contemplated this strategy yet they still are choosing main corridors for their brick-and-mortar locations. The reason? Visibility, convenience, and access. The side street has become more viable for certain uses, but those are limited. Retailers which brand on main corridors and provide the best customer access will outperform less visible outlets and will continue to outsell sell-side street locations and while net profits might be slightly lower given higher occupancy costs, revenue will remain higher at main locations and any difference can be absorbed as a pseudo-marketing and branding expense. As online sales continue to erode brick-and-mortar sales, retailers may reduce store footprints, but will increasingly view stores as branding and marketing vehicles maintaining the need for visibility. Stores will change by becoming exchange centers and showrooms for online inventory and brands, but will still want to be in the best and most visible locations. In terms of digital signage, nothing replicates the real thing and a hungry driver on a main road is still a valuable entity that is harder to capture in an off-the-beaten-path location.       


Paul Cohen: Ahh, I can see where you went wrong. You’re looking at this from the point of view of the national retailer who needs visibility because they are selling brand as a way to suggest consistent experience. Walgreens and Starbucks and fast food franchises will always be on Main. I conceded that point already. I am coming at this from the local tenant perspective. These “Mum & Pop” retailers who have built a strong customer base will happily move to the side street for a fifty percent reduction in rent and will still outperform the main street counterparts as long as they have a high customer rating. Yelp is free while Main Street is expensive. Anyway, there doesn’t have to be a significant shift to the side street to have an impact. There is approximately 5 Billion square feet of traditional retail (excluding regional mall and power centers) in the US and if 20% of the tenants are local and if 20% of them moved to the side street that’s 200 Million SF of new retail. The opportunity is for the developer who can find lower cost real estate on the side street and repurpose it for these local retail tenants. For example, a warehouse or an office building a block or two off main could be redesigned and marketed to attract the local retailers. I’ll agree that they lose visibility but in many cases the location can be more convenient and accessible. There is a significant arbitrage between main street and side street and, in many of the top MSA’s across the country, it’s being overlooked.


Eli Randel: Well what are we talking about here? We’re talking about ICSC RECON; a destination event that usually attracts more national tenants. You raise a valid point that in small towns across the nation, Al’s BBQ might represent half the restaurant landscape, but as that town eventually grows and traffic counts and/or incomes increase, the nationals will penetrate the market and will roll out their Main Street strategies. Anecdotally you can name a couple concepts that work on the side street but for every great hidden gem in town, there seem to be dozens struggling to get by because no one knows they exist. Perhaps they aren’t utilizing digital signage properly, but maybe that is part of the argument. Can digital signage replicate the real thing? Perhaps I’m mistaking the familiar for the universal (one of my father’s favorite sayings: “don’t mistake the familiar with the universal”), but I personally don’t see it (yet?). Do I go to some side street stores and restaurants? Yes and I enjoy it. But do I see many of them or their neighbors go out of business? It sure feels that way. The extraordinary can become a destination and thrive on the side street, but the extraordinary are just that: outside of the ordinary. Last, I would argue that the different between main roads and side-streets in rural markets can be minor and parking, traffic, and access are not major issues.  


Paul Cohen: The reason why these stores go out of business is that they do not provide excellence.  We all know that the off the beaten path store is the gem and it’s what people want.  Particularly in “Hipster” districts which tend to be all side street and no main street.  I don’t think that anyone is saying that all retailers will move to the side street. That would be very Yogi Berra (“nobody rents on main street anymore because it too expensive”).  ICSC attracts National Tenants because they benefit from the efficiency of meeting hundreds of owners and operators over a couple of days. I agree that most Nationals will stick to Main Street but some will develop side street strategies.  I don’t think this will happen in rural markets where the town has one strip and vacancy but as towns grow and rents increase on Main Street then, obviously, tenants start looking for options. Investors should snap up those secondary locations with a view to reposition them as Main Street booms.  A percentage of local tenants have and will continue to move to the side street so retail developers should look to take advantage of this trend. In years past it was suicide to move your business away from foot traffic. Now it could almost be a positive.  Not only are you paying less rent with improved access but you’re sending the message that you’re a hidden gem. Will it move the needle drastically on the traditional retail market? Maybe only five percent but locally an enterprising developer could relocate 30K SF of tenants from the main strip into a side street center by offering lower rents and free parking. I would not be surprised if national retailers have not already developed a strategy to take advantage of this trend.  Maybe they already have, we just can’t seen them! 

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