Lender Profile – Trez Forman Capital’s Ben Jacobson

Posted: January 31, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


In addition to the honor of getting to work together while at Cohen Financial, Ben Jacobson honed his skills while modeling and executing deals for the national advisory firm’s Equity Practice Group. The group’s sweet spot was in raising LP equity and corresponding debt usually for ground-up developers across the state and nation. After three distinguished years with a rare ability to generate, model, and execute business, Ben recently moved to Trez Forman Capital, a $2 Billion South Florida based lender specializing in bridge, acquisition, pre-development, and construction loans. Among a small and unique pool of lenders, Trez Forman will lend non-recourse on land and other asset types – typically perceived as too risky by most lenders – if the sponsor is capable and the deal makes sense. More of a real estate minded lender and investor than a bank, the firm is capable of understanding and executing deals very quickly and has a significant amount of capital they are looking to place in 2017.

Please contact Ben at Bjacobson@formancap.com to discuss opportunities.

ER: What was the best part of working with Eli Randel?

BJ: We would always contemplate what time it was reasonably appropriate to have lunch; 10am was not out of the question given the early hours we both arrived at the office.

ER: How much capital do you want to place this year? What is your ideal loan range?

BJ: We are looking to place at least $300MM in 2017. Ideal loan size is about $25-$30MM.

ER: Will your firm also invest equity into deals or go further up the capital stack on the debt side?

BJ: We are beginning to look at equity deals. Right-now we’ll go up to 80% LTC for the right deal. We recently quoted a non-recourse, $33MM ground-up multi-family deal in North Carolina at 80% LTC.

ER: What is your ideal loan scenario right now? What makes your ears perk up?  

BJ: We are doing a lot of non-recourse multifamily and condo construction. We see a gap in the market as the banks are pulling back. We are also very interested in lot development loans and plan on doing a substantial amount of that business in 2017.

ER: What is the most memorable deal you were a part of (or the first that comes to mind)?

BJ: My first deal at Trez-Forman, which was a land loan that will convert to a condo construction loan once the pre-sales are in place. This type of creative structure allowed the Developer to achieve all of his financing goals.

ER: What piece of advice do you always carry with you (or first that comes to mind)?

BJ: Always be kind.

ER: What is your favorite food city?

BJ: Savannah, GA. It is unlike any place I’ve been.

ER: What was the last great book you read (or first that comes to mind)?

BJ: The Private Franklin by Claude-Anne Lopez

ER: You have a unique expertise in all-things Ben Franklin. What don’t most people know about him?

BJ: Most people don’t know that Benjamin Franklin was an avid swimmer and is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Another interesting fact is that Benjamin Franklin changed the last three words of Jefferson’s phrase “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” to the now famous “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

ER: What advice would you give a high-school version of yourself?

BJ: TRAVEL MORE!!! Life happens pretty fast after high-school. With college, jobs, getting married and having kids, high-school is the perfect time to travel before all of that happens.

ER: Your firm will look at deals all over the country, what markets are you most bullish on?

BJ: Right now, we are most bullish on the southeast (Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas).

ER: What can your firm do that banks just can’t?

BJ: Speed. Most of our transactions close within thirty days.

ER: What career advice would you give to someone finishing undergrad and looking to pursue a career in real estate?

BJ: Start off in debt or equity brokerage. I did, and it is a great way to learn all aspects of the business while building your contact base. It is a very fast-paced industry.

ER: You were recently married and are working on children, if forced to choose would you want your child to be all-brains, or all-guts?

BJ: If I had to choose, all-brains I think.

ER: What one thing do you think brokers or sponsors need to do better when presenting potential deals for you firm to lend on?

BJ: Be more organized. The more organized the information is, the quicker we can react.

ER: If money was not an issue, what non-business career would you pursue?  

BJ: Would love to be the captain of a boat and cruise around the world.

Profile of a Legend – Donald Bren

Posted: January 27, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


While east coasters may not be as familiar with Donald Bren, Bren has amassed an approximate $17B fortune through development and investment in Southern California and beyond. The OC Weekly once wrote the Bren “wields more power than Howard Hughes ever did, probably as much as any man in America over a concentrated region – determining not only how people live and shop but who governs them.” In 2015, Bren was recognized as the wealthiest real estate developer in the US, while also being considered one of the top philanthropists in the nation with total charitable contributions exceeding $1.3B.

Following his graduation from the University of Washington and his service as an officer in the US Marine Corps, Bren would form the Bren Company in 1958 and build his first house in Newport Beach with a $10,000 loan. By 1963 he would help form the Mission Viejo Company (MVC) which Bren would also preside over. The MVC would acquire 11,000 acres of land in Mission Viejo for eventual development. In 1970 the firm sold to International Paper for $34MM. Bren would eventually buy the firm back for $22MM following the recession. In 1977, Bren would join a syndicate of investors to purchase the 146-year old Irvine Company which Bren now chairs and is the sole owner of after having bought out his other partners in 1996. While still focused primarily on Southern California, the Irvine Company’s property portfolio exceeds 115 million square feet and includes 500 office buildings, 43 retail centers, 160 apartment communities, five marinas, three hotels, and three golf courses, with one-third of the investment properties residing in West Los Angeles, San Diego, Silicon Valley, Chicago and New York City. The Irvine Company has also donated 57,000 acres of land – more than half of the original ranch size – to be permanently preserved.

Donald Bren Quotes:

“I really don’t think in the past. I sit down with many friends at dinner, and they like to talk about the good old days. I’m respectful of the good old days, but I find myself spending very little time reminiscing. I’m really looking forward.”

“I’m not a public official. I’m a businessman, I’m a builder, I’m a planner.”

“It’s my view that solar energy may be the ultimate solution for energy for most of the world. I believe, based on what little I know about it, that there is a possibility of a breakthrough.”

“In my opinion, education is the finest gift an individual can give a young person.”

“I get great satisfaction from both business and philanthropy.”

“I do limit my exposure to the public. You only have so much time.”


Image Source: OC Register Sept. 29, 2015

What Did I Miss & The $7MM Question

Posted: January 25, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


I invented a drinking game. I came up with it in grad-school while…. drinking.

Here are the rules:

Ask your group a provoking choice question. If all choose the same answer, then it was a bad question and you take a drink and try again. If you can split the panel, then it was a good question and you choose someone to ask the next question. Encourage debate. It keeps the brain moving even while you’re potentially ingesting liquids that slow it down.

Some examples (it’s usually not a PC or PG game – a sense of humor is required):

(1) Would you rather be 8’6” or 4’3”?

(2) Would you rather have one or three ____­_____? (pick a body part there are two of; risqué parts usually generate great debates)?

I get to interview lots of people and consider myself good at improvising conversation on the fly. But I would like to come up with a list of questions to help me recognize patterns and establish a more consistent process. However, like my game, if everyone answers a question the same way, I think it’s a bad question. Below are questions I’ve recently been trying and why some are flawed and require me to “DRINK”.


FIRST TASK: Don’t read off your resume and give me a 60 second introduction so I know who’s on the other end. 

Better than “tell me about yourself,” followed by them and I reading their resume together. This is a task. A pitch. If this takes more than two minutes, they aren’t following instructions and aren’t concise. Both forgivable, but I believe everyone should know how to tell their story in a proverbial elevator.

1. What are your work habits: work harder or smarter?

DRINK. 95% choose “smarter.” No one wants to be perceived as working less-than-smart. In my experience those few who choose “harder” are sincere and probably have a chip on their shoulder which I like. Bad question.

2.  If forced to choose would you be all-guts or all-brains?  

DRINK. Most choose “guts.” They think it’s what I want to hear. Or maybe just the act of submitting a resume shows guts. A former boss and now partner told me years ago: “Two equally talented people are separated by audacity.” Clearly a “guts” guy.

3.  If this position gets filled by someone else but we want you to join the team, which job would you take assuming you were qualified: CFO, CMO, COO, Chief-Deal Maker, or Jack-of-all-Trades?

DRINK. 90% of the time they will choose J.O.A.T. to be safe (yawn). I immediately eliminate that option and ask for a new answer. Being forced to decide quickly, the candidate sometimes gravitates towards sincerity but usually chooses COO (another neutral pick). Two things I want to uncover (a) if a phone interview and they need me to repeat the options, they aren’t ready to take notes; (b) if applying for a sales role and they want to be CFO (or vice-versa), they might be going against their natural wiring.

4.  Politics aside, if you were hosting President Trump for dinner, what would you cook for him?

(a) can the candidate put politics aside? Opinions are great, knowing when to express them is crucial; and (b) less important, but can the candidate cook? To me it shows self-sustainability, independence, and the ability to follow a recipe. My favorite answer: “Trump probably eats $300 steaks once a week so I wouldn’t try to impress him. I would make something comforting and master the best macaroni-and-cheese recipe.” She recognized she couldn’t compete with the chefs whose cuisine he eats, and chose to differentiate and find an area where she could compete. Smart young lady.

5.  If money and ability was not an issue, what non-business career would you have pursued?

I’m genuinely curious. I want to know the candidate’s interests and roots. I’m surprised how many can’t/won’t answer the question. Did they dream of being a businessperson at age 5? If anyone wanted to be a fireman, I can assure them the business world will provide plenty of fires to put out. Me: the next Jimmy Page.

6.  What are you like outside of the office?

DRINK. An open-ended question shouldn’t generate the same answer, but I seem to always get some version of: “I like to exercise and spend time with friends. I like the outdoors and mostly relaxing on the weekend.” Considering the amount of colleagues I’ve run into at bars and restaurants in my life, I don’t buy this.

7.  What did I miss? Famous sibling? Unique talent? This is a chance to brag without being obnoxious.

Sincerely, what did I miss? Not that it will guarantee you a job, but is the candidate the son of your biggest potential customer? Were they a serious athlete (athletes are usually disciplined, coachable, and competitive)? Some people are humble and don’t like bragging. I’m asking them to brag about or share something.

It’s a work-in-process, and I hope to get recommendations to share. My goals:

(A) Catch the candidate off-script to strip away their façade so they reveal their actual selves,

(B) See if they are able to connect with their audience (me), think fast, and sell themselves,

(C) Ensure the candidate has a sense of humor, and

(D) Differentiate myself. They may be speaking with several firms and can get fatigued and go on auto-pilot during the usual fluff (where will you be in five years?). Following the job and resume related questions, I think a more loose and conversational approach sets the tone for a potential working relationship. They will also likely remember me.

LAST QUESTION FOR ANYONE WILLING TO ANSWER (I’ll have a drink and buy all respondents one if the answers are all the same):

Would you take $7MM (tax-free) today, if you could never earn money again (you can work without pay, but no salary, no interest, no home appreciation, no investing)?

Eli Randel

Eli Randel, CREXi Director of Business Development

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Investor Profile – Interview with Tricera Capital Founder Scott Sherman

Posted: January 24, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


For seven years Scott Sherman represented ubiquitous New York City retail investor, Thor Equities, most recently as Vice President of Investments. During his tenure, Scott executed over $2B in urban retail acquisitions in markets including Miami, London, Washington DC, Nashville, Austin, and Charleston. Few people in recent years have been involved in closing as many high-profile, high-street retail acquisitions as Scott.

Now Sherman, with business partner Ben Mandell and the support of several capital partners, has formed Tricera Capital to acquire and take a more entrepreneurial approach to deals both big and small. Tricera will focus on both entrepreneurial and institutional sized retail, office, and mixed-use investments with a primary focus on the southeast, Texas, and select northeast markets. Tricera generally looks for transitional deals in transitional sub-markets within stable cities.

Scott and his team at Tricera are dedicated to protecting brokers, underwriting deals quickly, and providing quick feedback about their interest level. Please send Scott deals you think may qualify within their acquisition criteria which can be found here: Tricera Investment Criteria.

In the meantime, I caught up with Scott to ask about the new venture and more.

ER: You’ve had the opportunity to work on some iconic properties. What was your most memorable deal or the first one that comes to mind?  

SS: The first deal that comes to mind was actually my first deal at Thor. We acquired the Burlington Arcade in London. I had never done anything overseas and it was a great learning experience for me. Plus, I had the opportunity to work on a unique and iconic property in the heart of London. We bought it for 104M Pounds and fully renovated the interior and upgraded the tenant. Thor recently took it to market for 400M Pounds…

ER: What was the last great book you read (or first that comes to mind)?

SS: Two books I highly recommend to everyone are “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzii and “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. These two books I would recommend to anyone as they apply to building relationships and how you deal with people, which impacts all professionals across industries on a daily basis.

ER: Do you have any career regrets or opportunities you missed that still bother you? 

SS: There are several deals I have chased over the years that I missed. You need to move on and look for the next one….letting misses bother you will only slow you down. I’d rather not do a deal than force it and do a bad deal.

ER: What advice would you give a high-school version of yourself?

SS: Enjoy your high school and college years….you will never get those back. 2) Figure out what interests you and focus on finding a career path that gets you there. If you do something you enjoy then you will be a much happier person.

ER: Would you encourage your children to follow your career path?  

SS: Yes, my son is two so we have some time, but I would love to see him follow in my footsteps.

ER: If forced to choose one or the other for your son, would you want him to be all brains or all guts?

SS: That’s a tough one…I think the best is a combination of both. In our industry, I think you need more guts than brains. I always say Real Estate is the one area in business that requires more street smarts than book smarts. If you have both then you are going to go far.

ER: Having now left a well-capitalized institutional investor, to become a business owner and entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?

SS: Very different type of stress these days. I call it good stress….the stress of building a business with my partner Ben, having employees that you are now responsible for and having to provide for my family.

ER: What can you do now as an entrepreneur that you couldn’t as part of an institutional firm? 

SS: Everything. I like the ability to look at any opportunity that I find interesting. At an institutional shop, you are always answering to someone and are typically put in a box in terms of deal type, size, returns, etc.

ER: If asked to host the president for dinner, what would you cook (politics aside)?

SS: Trump looks like a good eater but also has expensive taste. I think the best is to bring in Joe’s Stone Crabs….quintessential Miami and always a crowd pleaser. Also doesn’t require me to cook and that key lime pie never lets me down.

ER: Having traveled to many markets to look at deals, what’s your favorite food city? 

SS: That’s a tough one as I try to eat my way through every city – finding the best operators, coffee shops and new concepts. I’d have to say Nashville and Austin both have incredible food scenes and seem to be getting better. There has been a trend of emerging chefs going to cities like this to get their start because costs are much lower than starting in a city like NYC or Miami.

ER: What small city do you think is poised for a growth spurt?

SS: We have a few on our radar. I’m intrigued by Tampa, Charleston, Cleveland and Orlando.

ER: What do you think is being done wrong (or could be done better) by your peers?

SS: Technology is changing our business and the world so fast. I think the speed at which people adapt and incorporate the new resources into our business could be better. People are resistant to change or slow to adapt.

ER: What do you wish brokers would do differently when presenting you deals? 

SS: Some brokers (not all) need to manage sellers’ expectations better. I get frustrated by brokers who tell owners they can get unrealistic prices. What ends up happening is the seller now has an unrealistic price in their head and it’s impossible to make a deal. No one wins here.

ER: If money was not an issue, what non-business career would you pursue?

SS: I love to travel. The Points Guy seems to have it good….would love to do something like that.


Profile of a Legend – Trammell Crow

Posted: January 20, 2017


There’s as much risk in doing nothing as in doing something. – Trammell Crow

Trammell Crow was a famed developer, investor, and executive who for decades built iconic properties and lasting partnerships across the country before taking Trammell Crow Company public in 1997. TCC would sell to CBRE in 2006.

After World War II Crow left the Navy and eventually would build his first warehouse in 1948. By 1970 his firm had become a national developer which was unique at the time given that most developers were local or regional. By 1971 Crow was considered by many to be the largest landlord in the US an unofficial status he would again receive in 1986. Crow once had interests in 300 million square feet of developments comprised of 8,000 properties in 100 cities.

Traditionally, developers worked in mostly a third-party capacity using other people’s money. Crow realized one could make a great living this way, but couldn’t build an empire. With the help of deep pocketed investors like David and Winthrop Rockefeller, Crow would hold his assets following development noting: “You can get rich selling real estate, but you can only get wealthy by owning it.”

Trammell was famed for his ability to work with partners and nearly always did. His ability to build lasting friendships and find win-win scenarios for he and his partners would earn him a loyal network of friends and professionals to do business with. His partners allowed him to take on some risk and Crow would become one of the first developers to build assets that didn’t already have tenants calling himself “a confirmed gambler, a speculative builder.”

Trammell Crow’s legendary career is a rags to riches story of a man who grew up in Dallas in a three-bedroom house with his eight other family members. With no connections Crow relied on hard work ethic by plucking chickens and cleaning bricks before landing his first “real job” at Mercantile bank. In 1940, Crow would join the Navy and serve in World War II before launching his real estate career in 1948 when he made his first (in-part) speculative development.

Trammell Crow passed away in 2009 but he left a lasting mark on the Commercial Real Estate industry. Known for his vision, boldness, kindness, and risk-taking, Trammell Crow would build an empire in this great industry through entrepreneurial grit, work-ethic, and smarts.

His spirit and passion for the real estate business is best exemplified in his words:

Work is more fun than fun.

—Trammell Crow

Trammell Crow

Why Now?

Posted: January 18, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


When recently discussing our company mission with a well-known investor he asked one wise and Buddha-like question in its simplicity: “why now?”

While I had immediate business answers which I’ve shared below, I continue to ponder the question. The entrepreneur always says “why not now” and presses forward, however today is only a droplet of water in a waterfall of time. Why should anything special happen NOW and not tomorrow? Why hasn’t it already happened?

I haven’t found the answer to the deeper question, but now is the time to continue to grow CREXi, an online CRE platform connecting brokers with buyers and simplifying the often slow and clunky real estate transaction process using cutting edge technology. Here’s why (now):

  • There is a large demographic and generational sea-change occurring in CRE. Brokers, buyers and investors who are accustomed to and demand technology in their everyday-lives are replacing their predecessors. We are witnessing unprecedented industry wide tech-adoption. The demand for the tools exists, but many of the tools have not yet been created;
  • Most of the marketplaces that do exist are ill-suited to handle the changing demands of the market. Many were designed in the 90s or 2000s and have only slowly evolved. Complacent with their early success, many have not kept up with most technological advances and in many ways are people-heavy real estate firms more than tech firms. Most current platforms are satisfying today’s demand with yesterday’s product;
  • Incumbent fee models are widely disliked and perceived at best as necessary-evils. Much like the taxi industry, the service should be better and the costs should be lower. We believe tech and resulting transparency should empower buyers and lower their costs. Sellers should also benefit as buyers can now use their buying power to pay them and not transaction fees. Sellers also benefit from increased liquidity (“liquidity equals value” – Sam Zell);
  • Users want to help design and control their process in conjunction with market forces. Netflix and Amazon users want to promote content with their ratings and feedback. Wikipedia users create and regulate content. Uber does not tell drivers where they should drive, the market does. Brokers want to design and manage their own process and react to market forces with data and assistance from the service provider, but limited interference and friction;
  • The market cycle and overall economy is changing and change will fuel evolution. Value and demand shifts will bring demand for new tools with wider reach as market conditions will likely make deals harder to execute. Conduits connecting brokers with out-of-market buyers are needed. Assuming some distress emerges, lenders and servicers will continue to be early adopters and use online marketplaces to promote transparency and liquidity. Our platform is designed in-part with this in mind (lenders being the only non-brokers we will engage with).

NOW is the time to connect with CREXi and find out how we can help you do more deals, and reduce your professional expenses either as a buyer or broker while speeding up your transaction cycle and making your work-flow more efficient.

Eli Randel

Eli Randel, CREXi Director of Business Development

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

CREXi’s Top Ten Sam Zell Quotes

Though sometimes gruff, foul-mouthed, contrarian, and a political instigator, Sam Zell is known for his prowess in timing market-cycles, is credited with having helped create the modern CRE industry, and has been dubbed “the Grave Dancer” for his ability to “dance on the skeletons of other people’s mistakes” and profit off of distressed deals. At the LA Tribune, a newspaper he owned, a memo was sent following his profanity laden visit: “the fundamental rules of decorum and decency apply… Sam is a force of a nature; the rest of us are bound by the normal conventions of society.”

Zell’s career essentially began when he managed a 15-unit apartment building at University of Michigan in exchange for free rent. His ability to work with and attract tenants, would win him the management of 4,000 units by the time he graduated Law School in 1966. Zell and his best friend and business partner , Robert Lurie, owned about 150 of those units. In 1969 they would form Equity Group Investments. Lurie would eventually pass in 1990 but is still listed on the company’s team page with Zell’s tribute: “Bob was a business partner, a brother and a best friend. There have been many times over the years that I’ve wished I could talk to him. I’d want to show him what we’ve created here. I know he’d be proud.”

Like him or not, in many ways Zell embodies the American real estate entrepreneur and the greatness of the industry. Born in Chicago to two polish immigrants, Zell utilized his hard work-ethic, street smarts (and book smarts), entrepreneurial spirit, and toughness to build a real estate empire and an estimated net worth of nearly $5B. 

Our Ten Favorite Sam Zell Quotes: 

10) The definition of a true partner is someone who shares your level of risk.

9)  I think it was Confucius who said that ‘money talks and bulls*t walks.’ 

8)  (on hiring) I look for people who in no way, shape, or form can be intimidated. My greatest fear is somebody telling me what they think I might want to hear.  

7)  When it’s all said and done, the petroleum of the real estate industry has always been capital.  

6)  A tie cuts off the blood supply to the brain.

5)  Sentimentality about an investment leads to lack of discipline.

4)  Whatever goals you set, you need to constantly readjust them so that at no time do you reach your goals before your time is up. 

3)  (on whether opportunities are disappearing) The world always looks nigh on impossible from the perspective of a desk. But once you get out into the world and if you have what I would call the entrepreneurial characteristics, I just think this country still provides a very unique opportunity.

2)  Liquidity = value.

1)  Every day you’re not selling an asset that’s in your portfolio, you’re choosing to buy it.

Unclaimed Property

Posted: January 11, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


Read to the end to see if you have any unclaimed property….

I got my first job in sales when I was still at college. It was from a blind ad in the newspaper (no internet back then). I showed up to an office in Central London to find a dozen or so hopeful young men all looking for the same job. Turns out it was for Encyclopedia Britannica; selling the full 32 volumes door to door. Unfortunately for me, I got the job and so did the other dozen young gents! I could share many a tail of a door-to-door salesman but I’ll save that for another time (remind me to tell you). What I did want to share was the one good piece of advice I get from the sales trainer regarding call reluctance.

I don’t remember the trainers name but he had certainly found his calling in life. He got the group pumped to go sell Encyclopedia’s. He asked us this one simple question:

What if you had to call somebody and tell them they had one thousand pounds in a bank account that they had forgotten. Could you make that call?

“Of course,” we all responded.

He asked us why because this was someone we had never spoken to before, they didn’t know we would be calling and they probably had just sat down to dinner. “Well, because they would be getting a thousand pounds.” “Exactly! So just do the same thing with these,” he yelled holding up a volume of the EB.

The group was not convinced but he was ready for us. He explained how EB would look great on the bookshelves, educate their kids, satiate their curiosity; a value that was priceless. Looking back at it now I’m not so sure but at the time we all bought in (remember, this was before google and Wikipedia). We hit the streets and the phones and started selling. I lasted a month which was about three weeks longer than everybody else in my group and I sold three complete sets of EB. The reason I quit was because one of the top salesman at EB showed me a CD ROM of EB and told me that soon nobody would be buying the book version (the year was 1990).

So why do I tell you this story? Well, I find myself at a firm that is currently offering CRE brokers the opportunity to market their properties for free in addition to providing all the tools needed to manage the marketing process! All I have to do is let them know that this is available and that they can get buyers for their properties, do client reports, send out up to 50,000 emails all for Free. It’s like I’m calling to tell Brokers they have unclaimed property in a bank account!

By the way, if you think you may have unclaimed property then go to this website and claim yours.  Either way, you can still put your properties on CREXI for free by Clicking Here.

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Paul Cohen

Paul Cohen, Regional DirectorPaul 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

Short & Sweet With No Fluff

Posted: January 4, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


No, that is not my order at Starbuck’s or my match.com header, this week’s blog is meant to be short, sweet, and sans any company fluff about why you should visit us at CREXi.com (although you should).

Having grown up and spent my whole career in the commercial real estate industry, I wanted to share some concise thoughts on why I love the industry and asset class:

  1. Low individual barriers to entry. Real estate investing requires no formal education or licensing requirements and while some areas of the business can be incredibly sophisticated, many concepts are very simplistic and intuitive. The result is a colorful and entrepreneurial culture full of unique personalities and personal stories.
  1. Diverse skill sets. Within one day you can exercise your finance chops and underwrite a complicated deal, exercise your marketing muscle and promote your newest project, or put your salesman hat on to win a new tenant. There are a broad set of skills which drive the industry;
  1. Instinct and intuition. While there are many sophisticated nuances, many of the concepts in CRE are intuitive. We all live somewhere. We all shop somewhere. These are not foreign concepts. Recognize that there aren’t enough apartments for rent in your area? Buy or develop an apartment building to capitalize.
  1. Control. Some of us don’t like the idea that unless we are an activist investor we can’t control the value of our equities investments (stocks). Further, the value is at the mercy of someone else’s control. What if the CEO gets caught in a scandal or retires sooner than thought? Most CRE professionals can still directly (attempt to) add-value to their investment or business.
  1. Real estate is a hard asset. Some people (myself included) don’t have the wiring to blindly trust an investment that can only be seen as numbers on a computer screen. Real estate is a real tangible asset you can drive by and touch.
  1. They aren’t making any more of it. I hesitated to include this as I believe this idea can sometimes be a trap. This notion does not mean values always rise and I think it’s underestimated how much untouched land there is. Additionally, technology has blurred the lines of physical and virtual space. However, the fact remains, the population continues to grow while land availability continues to decrease.
  1. Use of debt. Real estate is financeable whereas financing bonds or equities investments is a tricky business. Debt allows investors to lever returns, do more with less, and creates other industry opportunities (lender, servicer, appraiser).
  1. Other people’s money. The use of other people’s money (OPM) is an important component of the industry. Friends and family or institutional capital investors are always looking for avenues where they can find returns and are willing to pay fees and promoted interests to those who can access those investments. This allows investors to further lever returns and/or play in a greater arena than they otherwise could.
  1. It’s fun. For the restless like myself, it’s an industry that often revolves around meetings, looking at properties, driving, or getting a drink with other professionals. It’s a people industry that often puts you on the move as opposed to chained to your desk.

Tell me what I missed or share your thoughts @ eli@crexi.com or 305.331.2881.

Eli Randel

Eli Randel, CREXi Director of Business Development

Eli Randel is Director of Business Development based in CREXi’s Miami office. Eli spearheads CREXi’s growth and sales throughout the east coast as well as overseeing the national sales team. Prior to joining CREXi, Eli was director of dispositions for Blackstone’s Invitation Homes. Eli has also held management positions and production roles with Cohen Financial, Auction.com, LNR and CBRE where he began his career spending three years in Investment Sales before leaving to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the University of Florida.