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.

    1. The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason. Time tested principals for gaining wealth.

    1. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill. Time tested wisdom from a man who studied the likes of Andrew Carnegie.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy. More sales stuff. You’ve got to absorb this stuff as Brian Tracy breaks down the mind game.

    1. Seven Habits of Highly effective People, Steven Covey.  Probably the best overview of how you set yourself up to be successful in life

    1. Influence, Robert Caldini. Important if you want to understand why people decide to buy.

    1. Spin Selling, Neil Rackham. It seems that every major sales organization rebrands the principals of this book for their own purposes. Get the original.

  1. 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


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! 

My Top 10 Tips For Surviving ICSC RECon 2017

Posted: May 10, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


I attended my first ICSC in Vegas when I was 22 years old representing a shopping center management and leasing firm. Boy, did I make some rookie mistakes. Here are ten tips that I’ve learned the hard way over the last 25 years of attending ICSC and other Real Estate conferences in Las Vegas.


1. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. If your plan is to stand in your booth and wait for customers to stroll on in (and you are not an attractive woman or giving out iPhones) then you’ve just wasted a whole heap of time and money. Figure out who you want to meet and reach out to them now! Your booth is just to show presence but most folks you want to meet with won’t just stroll up to your booth. Use the ICSC mobile app. It’s a great free app that you can use to see who you want to meet with, what sessions you want to attend, and it has a floor plan of the entire event.


2. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Remember it’s quality not quantity. One of the first years I went, I just hung out with two guys who were also starting out in the business. One an architect and the other a banker. We are still good friends to this day and have done a fair amount of business over the years.


3. Stay healthy my friend. First time I went to ICSC, my roommate picked up 6 large bottles of Evian in the hotel lobby store. I asked him if there was a hurricane coming. Twenty-Four hours later with my lips chapped, throat dry and head aching, I realized the value of hydration. In a related topic, getting drunk will ruin your productivity the next day (if it doesn’t get you fired). As a former boss at CBRE would tell us at conferences, “Don’t go deep the first night.”


4. Always be prepared. I was a boy scout for 3 weeks but the motto stuck. Here are some things I take with me on any long weekend and keep in a pouch: a power pack and cord for all cellphones, band aids, Advil, Emergen-C, breath mints, stain remover, cough drops, needle and thread, Tums, wipes, hand sanitizer, Blistex, hair ties, scissors, and more. CREXi will be giving away these ICSC Survival Kits at Booth C2413 so if you find yourself unprepared, stop by and stock up.


5. Your Elevator pitch. It’s going to happen. You are going to be at a cocktail reception and a great potential client will be standing in front of you. It’s your big moment. It’s the entire reason to be at ICSC. Don’t blow it. I was at a cocktail reception with a colleague one year and we were standing with another guy. My colleague wanted to break the ice so he said to the gent “Hey Bucko, I’m Greg and this is Paul and we lease shopping centers.” The gent responded that he was the Head of Blockbuster retail and his name was not Bucko. Have a better elevator pitch than that! Here’s mine: “We run a dating site for brokers and investors to find the perfect property.” This is more immediately engaging than “we have an online Commercial Real Estate marketplace” Spoiler alert: turns out it didn’t matter about the Blockbuster guy.


6. Get one to have one. Let’s face it, it can be hard getting meetings unless you have a brand-new power center in Manhattan. So, a useful tip to meet retailers or developers is to partner with an existing client and set meetings with other retailers or developers. For example, if one of your clients is the head of retail for Coffee Co, a fictitious coffee company that is opening stores across the US, partnering with Coffee Co incentivizes landlords and developers to meet with you and vice versa.


7. Choose your roommates wisely. This one is obvious but it’s worth mentioning as it has ruined a few conferences for me. The colleague who is a bit of a character at home will turn into a complete nut in Vegas. If you don’t want to be woken by random ladies at 2am and/or your roommate knocking on the door drunk because they lost their key and/or your roommate getting into bed with you and saying, “I love you Cheryl” then either spring for your own room or room with the dullest guy in your company (in this scenario, you become the problem). Oh, and don’t check-in first because they’ll take your card for incidentals. I’ve paid for bath robes, a hefty mini bar bill and a movie called “Surf Girls of Malibu 3” all of which I did not partake in or watch. Honest.


8. Leave in comfort. I personally like to leave on a late-night flight out of Vegas and arrive home in the morning. I’m a good sleeper; don’t hate me! I learned early on from a former colleague who, upon arriving at our gate, disappeared into the men’s room and emerged wearing a sweat pants suit. I recall telling him that there wasn’t a boxing gym on the flight. However, when I looked over twenty minutes in, he was fast asleep in his window seat wearing his Bose headset. I was stuck in the aisle seat wearing the same suit I’d been wearing all day.


9. Collect cool swag. There are usually some great giveaways at the booths but mostly junk. Why do firms insist on giving away stress balls with their logo on it? Do they really want people symbolically crushing and throwing their company around? The best giveaways I ever received were a utility tool and a backpack that I won. As a guy who has manned many booths, there’s nothing worse than the guy who pretends to be interested just to get your free stuff. Just take it and do everyone a favor. If you need a break come by our Booth C2413 and we’ll have a place for you to chill, practice your golf skills on our putting green, and grab an energy drink. We’ll also give you a Survival Kit like mine (only available to the first 250).  We are also giving away a Yeti cooler and you can only enter if you visit the booth.  (We will be shipping this to the winner so no worries about lugging it on a plane.)


10. Follow Up is Key at ICSC. You (or your company) just spent a few thousand dollars sending you to Vegas. Within twenty-four hours of leaving make sure you send a personalized email summarizing the meeting and stating any follow up items. Some folks like to send handwritten notes. Personally, I prefer an email because it’s easier to respond, track and set reminders etc. Either way, follow up!


Hope that was helpful. See you at RECon 2017?  Click Here and fill out the form so we can get in touch and arrange a time to meet! We’ll walk you through our CREXI Commercial Real Estate Marketplace, and show you how firms like CBRE, Cushman, JLL, Colliers, HFF are leveraging CREXi to sell their listings.

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


Pre ICSC Retail Forecast III – 8 Trending Markets

Posted: May 3, 2017  by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


Era of the Secondary and Tertiary City – Which Cities are Poised to Prosper This Cycle?

Last week I touched on why cities will see more activity than suburbs for a cycle in Pre ICSC Retail Forecast – Part II.  In preparation for ICSC, we are putting together several prediction pieces starting with last week’s opener. Driven by economic and societal trends and a quest for the next great market, I believe the next cycle will see several secondary cities emerge as major markets and several tertiary cities grow into thriving secondary cities. Based largely on my personal travels, some demographic trends, interviews with institutional investors, and a thumb in the wind, below are some markets I believe will prosper next cycle. What do these cities have in common? Most of them have access to young talent with neighboring universities, culinary and social scenes illustrating a larger societal desire for experiential living, good climates demonstrating a move away from iconic cold-weather markets, and they all possess what I’ll vaguely call “soul” posing the question: does growth create soul, or is soul discovered and then pursued?



Orlando & Tampa (MSA #23 and MSA #18)

With warm weather, affordable housing, growing job-markets, access to universities, signs of a cultural soul beyond Mickey Mouse, and a likely flock of baby-boomer retirees, these two Florida cities are poised for a growth-spurt on top of the impressive growth they’ve already experienced (14.38% and 8.94% population growth from 2010 to 2016). No longer just the home of boy-bands and Mickey Mouse, Orlando and nearby Tampa are becoming places for young people to start their lives. Job creation, good weather, and reasonable housing costs have created a good quality of life and both cities are poised to emerge as more significant markets in the coming years. I also expect to see many baby boomers retire in the area (nearby Villages had the highest growth of any MSA) bringing service jobs and an economy with them.


Charleston (MSA #74)

If you haven’t been to Charleston: go! It’s a great city with a thriving culinary scene, two historic universities, lots of history, and emerging industry. The polite residents (including Bill Murray) will tell you the growth is scary but exciting and while downtown Charleston has become expensive, surrounding towns offer reasonable home prices and a good quality of life. Boeing continues to grow its operations with three Charleston campuses, and Volvo is building a $500MM manufacturing plant (their first in North America) bringing thousands of jobs to the area. Charleston has also increasingly become a retirement location bringing new residents and ancillary jobs with them. The small city with 14%+ population growth from 2010 to 2016, is home to nationally renowned chefs and is becoming more than just a vacation spot with landscape to grow.


Boulder (MSA #155)

Always a great college town, Boulder is watching as Google builds a 330,000 SF campus which will house approximately 1,600+ employees. It’s believed Google will expand even more and that other companies will follow them into the market. The result has been a scorching housing market and strong population growth. Likely never to become a major market, the small-city is growing in wealth, population, job opportunities, and culture. Green tourism has also brought the city newfound activity in recent years and while the football team isn’t as good as it was when I was young, UC is a great school which attracts talented young students from Colorado and beyond.


Austin (MSA #31)

No secret city here – Austin benefits from being the state’s capital and also home to the University of Texas and its approximate 40,000 students. Always a stable and likeable town, the last ten years have also brought a vibrant tech market bringing high paying jobs, a strong housing market, and improved income demographics with it. In addition to local headquarters like Dell and Whole Foods, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others have turned to Austin to house many of their operations which has also sprouted a start-up scene of new companies. The result is an impressive 19.82% population growth from 2010 – 2016 – the second most of any MSA and most by an MSA with 1MM+ people. Add the culinary and music scenes (original home of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Janis Joplin, and Willie Nelson), attraction of no-state income tax, and a landscape which offers room for development, and you have a recipe for a city that will continue to grow and I predict will someday have a pro-sports team.




Denver (MSA #19)

By no means a new city, Denver has seen excellent population growth (12.17% from 2010 – 2016) and has gained national recognition in recent years. Most of us can name a friend or acquaintance who now lives in, and loves Denver. A strong real estate market, green tourism, and an emerging tech scene have benefited the city’s economy. Denver is considered a mecca for skilled job seekers searching for employment as the many growing businesses are finding a shortage of skilled labor. Nearby Universities and a thriving NFL team never hurt a city’s appeal and Denver has both.


Detroit (MSA #14)

I debated including Detroit. Many may not know how hot and active Detroit has been for the last five years and my instinct is to think that it can’t be sustained, but Detroit native Dan Gilbert and his Quicken Loans are committed to the city. Beautiful suburbs which didn’t suffer the way other parts of the city did during its decline, existing infrastructure, loyal residents committed to the city and oozing “heart”, a flock of young professionals from schools like the University of Michigan who used to have to move to Chicago to find post graduate work, and the dedication of some deep pocketed investors will help Detroit sustain its growth. If just one of Gilbert’s many portfolio companies “pops”, it could be a major growth creator for the city.


Dallas (MSA #4)

Already a great American city with the 4th largest population of all MSAs. Dallas isn’t a small town, but I believe Dallas is poised to continue its growth (2nd highest 2010 to 2016 population growth of the top 20 MSAs with 12.56%). Dallas has always had a stable economy which keeps housing costs from dropping too far or rising to high. Recently, the emergence of Deep Ellum – an arts and entertainment district near downtown – and the more polished Uptown, have brought great bars and restaurants enticing young professionals to the market. The many major construction sites you’ll find in the center of downtown signify vertical growth and new life to the once daytime-population-only Downtown. With no state income tax, several growing companies and industries, vertical growth vs. sprawl, food and social scenes, and relatively affordable housing, many are finding the American dream in Dallas and the city is poised to continue growing even if it may be stuck behind Chicago at #4 for a long time.


Miami (MSA #8)

It was very tempting to leave this often-frustrating city – my home for the last 12+ years – off the list. Miami is challenged in many ways: an odd cultural mix more comparable to a salad bowl then a melting pot, rising tides threatening its shores and beaches, dependence on foreign investment, condo oversupply, and a lack of new industries or job creators. However, long-time residents of the city know that following lulls the city always emerges stronger than ever. Warm weather, no state income tax, retirement popularity, proximity to Latin America, and tourism always seem to propel the city in times of need. Whether through retail or distressed sales, the many developments under construction will be filled. The Atlantic to the east and the everglades to the west prevent sprawl and force the city to grow vertically and stay centralized. Long-time famous northeasterners are slowly migrating to the city even if it’s only for 6 months at-a-time to exploit state income tax savings. An improving food scene and possibly the hottest arts and entertainment district in the nation (Wynwood) have brought life to the city. In many ways Miami reminds me of the New York of my youth: entrepreneurial, at times dangerous and cutthroat, colorful, diverse, and vertical. Institutional capital loves Miami and there is plenty of room for growth once the city pushes through some of the current challenges it faces. I would not be surprised to see Miami as a top 5 largest MSA within ten years (unless it’s underwater).



While I did research and spoke with many people to come up with this list, it’s purely speculation, but if accurate, look for the real estate in these markets to appreciate significantly as demographic demand puts pressure on supply bring vacancies down and rates up and institutional money follows movement and trends and competes for assets in these towns.

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,, 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. Email Eli


Pre ICSC Retail Forecast and Predictions

Posted: April 20, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


It’s nearing May signifying that retail analysis on the eve of ISCS is fast approaching. In the wake of recent store closure announcements from once iconic retail flags, the discussion has already begun. At the risk of being bold and possibly wrong, we are going to publish a series of ICSC/retail trends and predictions based on surveys, interviews, and anecdotal data. Topics to look for in the upcoming weeks:


  • Urbanization vs. Suburbia
  • Rise of the Second & Third Cities – Which Cities Will Prosper Next Cycle?
  • Smaller Footprints – Not a Baby Announcement
  • Retailertainment – Shop & Play (and Eat)
  • Survival of the Clickest – (a term coined by Paul Cohen)
  • Side Street – With Virtual Signage and E-Visibility, Do I Need to be on Main St?



We Will Discuss The Same Themes Often

We’re all guilty of it. There’s no risk in discussing something that already happened, and while the analysis might help investors, brokers, and stakeholders react, the opportunity to proactively strategize may have mostly passed. Some themes we possibly should have seen coming that we’ll discuss often:


    • STORE CLOSURES: Antiquated brands, static real estate models, and the impact of e-commerce should have probably been a focus of ICSC yesteryear. Stagnant store sales (resulting from e-commerce or tired brands) coupled with increasing occupancy costs have eroded profitability for some. Relevant, high-margin brands can partially write their (smaller) footprints off as advertising expense and showrooms for e-sales.


    • BIG BOX CHALLENGES: Occupancy costs are an expense, as are the employees and inventory large-space houses. Department-like stores selling other brands allow customers to try a shoe on, only to watch them buy it from the source ( resulting in the store-related expense without the revenue. Grocers and mega-stores might also eventually shrink their footprints (many have). If inventory can be stacked in a warehouse for say $4/SF vs. $15/SF and transportation costs remain low, others could follow suit.


    • (SUBURBAN) MALLS ARE STRUGGLING: Likely a result of overbuilding from another era, many suburban malls are struggling as foot-traffic declines and vacancy increases. Co-tenancy clauses allowing retailers to terminate their lease or pay less when an anchor goes dark, can create a domino effect. There is a rally-cry that malls will adapt and find new use for vacant space. I’m skeptical that current owners will be the ones to revive them. When the cost-basis resets following disposition, new landlords can get creative, but it can be hard for current owners to pencil-out. On the other hand, many urban malls are thriving. Seven of the top-ten malls (sales/sf) are in urban markets.


    • POLITICAL RISK OR REWARD: Few forecasted Trump’s populist win so I won’t pretend this should have been easily predictable. I hope for politically neutral discussion surrounding the presidency and resulting economy – politics will be discussed often. Hopefully before the parties start while heads are still cool.


Comments and feedback are always welcome.  Email Eli

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,, 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.

SRS Continues Momentum – Closes Two Zero-Cash-Flow Deals Totaling Close to $150MM

Posted: April 18, 2017


In two large deals illustrating the benefits of Zero-Cash-Flow net-lease properties, SRS Real Estate Partners has closed a 921K SF single tenant AT&T (NYSE: T) corporate facility in Morristown, New Jersey for $101,500,000, and a 27-property net-leased Flower Foods (MYSE: FLO) portfolio for $47,500,000.


Both net-lease deals are unique in that the lease and loan structure result in zero-cash-flow (“ZCF”) to the owner with equity rapidly growing as the loan is paid down and the property appreciates. “ZCF deals don’t meet every investor’s criteria, but are becoming more popular as they should,” notes SRS Vice President John Redfield. “Given the tenant’s investment-grade credit and favorable lease-terms, lenders are willing to lend up to 1.0 debt-service coverage resulting in a highly-leveraged loan requiring less than typical sponsor equity. Investors grow equity as the loan is paid down and achieve their accrued returns at an eventual capital event. Future lease-extensions or re-tenanting at lease expiration can propel these low-risk deals into home-run returns,” Redfield adds.


Redfield also cites the benefit of working with CREXi, an online CRE marketplace, in marketing and assisting with the transactions. “Given the structured nature of ZCF deals, having a platform to help manage the marketing process is a huge value-add. Additionally, the reach CREXi provided ensured that we exposed the opportunity to every possible buyer,” added Redfield. “Our clients hire us to maximize value, in a quick timeframe, with surety of sale and there is no doubt that CREXi assisted on all those fronts.”


Redfield, Tramontano and the rest of the team have already sold this year 62 properties at over $278MM with over $324MM currently under contract. The SRS National Net Lease Group & Investment Properties is comprised of seasoned brokers located and transacting nationally, operating under a single, open platform with all underwriting and marketing efforts strategically located in Southern California.


Founded in 1986, SRS is the largest commercial real estate firm in North America exclusively dedicated to retail services. With more than 20 offices across North America and in select global markets, a track record of over 5,400 transactions and current tenant and landlord representation in excess of 20 million square feet, our promise is to deliver true value to our clients. As one of the nation’s most respected retail services brokerage firms, we are guided by our principles of integrity, respect, teamwork and leadership in every real estate transaction.


Founded in 2015 with significant VC backing, CREXi is a commercial real estate marketplace that simplifies transactions for brokers with a suite of easy-to-use tools to manage their sale process. Bringing the traditional CRE sales process online, CREXi leverages the latest advances in technology to optimize pricing and make transactions faster and more efficient.

Profile of a Legend – Stephen Ross – The Empire Builder

Posted: April 14, 2017 by Eli Randel, Director of Business Development


Stephen Ross, with an estimated net worth of approximately $8B, is one of the wealthiest real estate developers in the world. Additionally, Ross is a generous philanthropist and team owner of the Miami Dolphins. How did the Detroit native build his NYC and beyond empire?


Stephen Ross was born in 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. In high-school Ross relocated to Miami-Beach before eventually attending the University of Florida. Ross would relocate closer to his childhood home by transferring to the University of Michigan and following graduation would obtain his JD from Wayne St. School of Law. With a loan from his uncle Max Fisher – who Ross would call “the important role model and inspiration for me in my life” – Ross would get his LLM in Tax Law at NYU in 1966.


Ross began his career as a tax attorney at Coopers and Lybrand in Detroit before moving back to New York City to accept a job in the real estate department at Laird Inc. Ross would then work for Bear Stearns before leaving with a $10,000 loan from his mom to employ his tax knowledge and construct federally subsidized affordable housing with a syndicate of investors. The venture was successful and would propel Ross to take his earnings and experience and develop more traditional deals on his own. His new projects would have an emphasis on high-quality architecture and engineering and were the basis for which the Related Companies was founded in 1972 under Ross’s control.


The Related Companies has grown into a global diversified real estate developer and investor which employs approximately 2,000 people. Among other projects, Related is currently developing Hudson Yards on 28 acres on the West-Side of Manhattan which will eventually deliver 12.7MM SF of space. At $15B, the project is the largest private real estate development in America. In Florida, where Ross also has a residence, he and his long-time business partner Jorge Perez have helped shape the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale skylines delivering thousands of condo and rental apartments. Ross is also majority owner of the Miami Dolphins and their stadium which has propelled him into a more national spotlight. Stephen Ross is also a generous philanthropist with donations to the University of Michigan of approximately $300MM in addition to several other worthy causes. 


Through familial support, education, knowledge gained from previous jobs, hard-work, natural smarts, and likely some good old-fashioned luck, Ross built a real estate empire which has helped shape the NYC skyline and beyond.


13 Questions on CRE & Work/Life Balance with Chris Sheldon

Posted:  April 3, 2017 by Christina Host, Regional Director, Northeast


In 2012 Chris Sheldon was acknowledged as a “Rising Star” at Cassidy Turley (now Cushman & Wakefield) after emerging as a net-lease market expert. Specializing in the disposition and acquisition of single and multi-tenant net leased investment properties, Chris has since grown into one of the top NNN brokers in the nation.  He and his team have closed upwards of 115 properties, for $800 million in the last two years. Bright and grounded, Chris is a loyal advisor to his many clients.  I caught up with my former colleague to get his refreshing take on the market and where it is heading, in addition to discussing topics outside of CRE.  


CH: Who do you admire most in the real estate industry and why?

CS: Anyone working hard and having fun putting deals together.


CH: What do you like about the NNN market and where do you see it going in the next 18 months?

CS: I like that the NNN market is very steady and I think it will continue to be. It will be very interesting to see how the investor market reacts to the consolidation of retail, and how they choose to invest moving forward.


CH: What markets do you think are poised for a growth spurt?

CS: I like markets where young people want to live- typically dynamic urban markets around the country. I think these markets are poised for the most growth. Markets like Denver, Austin, Nashville, Seattle, Portland come to mind, to name a few, aside from the obvious major gateway markets like New York, Chicago, Dallas, SF and LA.


CH: What is the most memorable NNN deal you worked on?

CS: We sold an 8 property SF Bay Area Bank of America portfolio in 2011 just as we were emerging from the last recession. The properties were all very established locations in the Bay Area with massive deposits and significantly below market rents, even in 2012. We received 117 offers on the properties. It was the first time post-recession we had seen such frenzied interest in real estate, and we ended up selling the properties at a blended 3.50% cap rate- which at the time was unfathomable.


CH: What industry advice do you always carry with you (or first that comes to mind)?

CS: Always be nice to people, and be humble (more general life advice than industry, but always applicable).


CH: What deal situation makes your ears perk up?

CS: Anything where there is unrealized opportunity.


CH: What role do you see tech playing in the commercial real estate landscape over the next ten years?

CS: Tough to say as the question is so general. It will be everywhere in every facet of the business, even more so than it already is. I am hopeful that it continues to make the business better and more productive, from marketing to retail to networking.


CH: If you had all the money in the world, where in the real estate market would you invest?

CS: I think there will always be demand for CBD locations in major urban markets for all asset types.


CH: If you had all the money in the world what would you do with your time?

CS: I would still work, but I could be more balanced. I’d spend some more time outdoors, and travel more with my family.


CH: What would you tell your 20 year old self regarding a) work and b) life?

CS: Don’t stress too much. Just work hard and be confident in the fact that if you work hard, and are smart, respectful and honest, that good things will eventually come your way. And have fun!


CH: What is the biggest thing you learned in 2016?

CS: Be honest and provide good advice. We are starting to see a market in transition, and now is a time to provide good advice versus what you think people want to hear.


CH: If you had to live in a state outside of California, which would it be?

CS: Hawaii, Oregon, or Colorado.


CH: How many big waves have you surfed this year?

CS: Not enough.

Chris Sheldon Work/Life BalanceChris Sheldon – Managing Director – Net Lease Investment Services

Cushman & Wakefield – San Francisco Bay Area

Specializing in the disposition and acquisition of single tenant and multi-tenant net leased investment properties nationwide on behalf of institutional and private capital clients.  Email Chris


Lessons Learned Part V – The Final Installment of Broker Advice

Posted: March 30, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director


Here’s the final installment in our 5 part series on advice from commercial brokers around the US.  In all, we heard from 25 Top Brokers who shared experience from over 500 years in the commercial real estate business.  I hope you enjoyed it.  While we won’t be posting any more, feel free to comment on LinkedIn and share your wisdom.

Lessons Learned Part I – Ten Takeaways from 25 years in CRE 

Lessons Learned Part II – Broker Advice From Around the Country

Lessons Learned Part III – More Broker Advice From Around the Country

Lessons Learned IV – Networking, Honesty and Teaming


Moss WithersMoss Withers, MBA

NAI Carolantic Realty, Inc., Raleigh, NC

There seems to be a trend of those wanting to discuss getting into the business now a days and sitting down with me to discuss.  It’s funny how that lines up with market confidence.  My advice stems around marketing yourself.  The job in itself is easy.  What’s key is convincing the market that you know what you are doing.  It doesn’t work if it’s coming out of your mouth, it needs to come out of others.  That’s clients, media, newspapers, business journals.  Get out there and meet these people, they are a great asset.

Gregg FousGregg Fous – Founder

Market America and Investments Inc., Sarasota, FL

From his blog:  Ten Things I Like to Remind Myself Every Day

  1. Focus. On the task at hand, the ball, the next step. Narrow your territory, your efforts, if you have a “to do” list focus on the first two things on it.
  2. It’s only called work if you would rather be doing something else. If you spend too much time working, change what you do.
  3. Answer the question you want to answer, not the one that is asked. Don’t let others drive your discussion, stay on track and make your presentation.
  4. It’s about the relationship. It’s not about price or product it’s about the relationship.
  5. If you see it, get it now, from where you are. Don’t wait for a better position, time or place.
  6. You can’t skip the basics. There are short cuts to the goal but to fail is just as short. Refine your basics and they will become a second nature to you. Habitualize them.
  7. Write a list. Let your ideas gel on paper. Work your list every day.
  8. Most people die in bed. Get out of bed. It’s a very unsafe place. No great philosophy here, you gotta get outta bed to make things happen. You have to move to steer.
  9. Don’t hate. Just refuse to like. Hate takes energy away from good things. Indifference takes no effort.
  10. What a great country! Bailouts, taxes, etc., BUT. . . It is still the best place in the world!


Herb LubanskyHerb Lubansky – Founder

Herb Lubansky Realty, Daytona, FL

One word that I give you not to use in any email or presentation is the word “IF”. This word in my opinion seems to leave a question of doubt to any reader or person you are talking with. Try to use a more positive phrase of words to get your thoughts and conversation across. The word “if” can be an E Z button in a fast paced society, by taking the challenge upon yourself to say or write something more positive in what you are presenting to a Buyer or Seller can set yourself apart from others.

Luli CannonLuli Cannon – Leasing Executive

RMC Property Group, Tampa, FL

Listen more and talk less. The act of active listening is an art that takes time to master. It is human nature to want to interject a conversation with questions and antidotes. These are normal parts of a conversation, but an experienced broker knows that timing is key. Know when to ask questions and know when to share stories. When the conversation allows for the perfect timing, it is your cue to delve deep into your client’s true needs. This will save you from running in circles trying to achieve a goal that is not necessarily a mutual goal.  You have to know your client’s needs inside and out. Learn what motivates the client and you will not only succeed but also develop long lasting relationships.

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

Profile of a Legend – The Queen of Mean – Leona Helmsley

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


Leona Helmsley was a fierce business woman who would earn the nickname “The Queen of Mean” for “tyrannizing her employees.” According to Alan Dershowitz, Helmsley’s famed defense attorney, when he was brought a cup of tea during breakfast at one of her hotels, Helmsley grabbed the cup and smashed it to the floor because a drop of water had spilled on the saucer. She then demanded that the waiter get on his hands and knees and beg for his job. Despite a less than pleasant reputation, and time in prison for income tax evasion (it’s been said she would say: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”) Helmsley was an excellent hotelier, assembled a real estate empire, and was as tough as they came in the largely male dominated industry at the time. Her toughness and prowess would earn her an estimated net worth of $4B by the time she died in 2007. Who inherited the majority of her estate? Specific instructions were made to benefit her dog with the majority being left in a trust to be used to benefit other dogs.  


Helmsley (Lena Mindy Rosenthal) was born in 1920 in Marbletown, NY to Polish immigrant parents and moved to Brooklyn soon after. Her family would move six more times before finally settling in Manhattan. Leona would change her name several times before landing on Leona Mindy Roberts and dropping out of high-school to seek her fortune.


While a relationship with her future (third) husband, Harry Helmsley, would provide her with capital, Leona had already proved herself as a talented real estate salesperson and is believed to have been a millionaire by the time they met in 1968. Together with Harry, Leona would begin a program of converting his apartment buildings to condominiums and the two would assemble a portfolio of assets including 230 Park Avenue and the Empire State Building. By 1989, she would directly control 23 hotels.  


The Helmsleys were well know for disputes with contractors and vendors despite their $Billion fortune. One of those disputes would lead to evidence of tax evasion for which Leona would serve 19 months in prison following the high-profile trial. Following prison, Leona would mostly lead a life of isolation and was stripped of her hotels since most of them had a bar in them requiring a liquor license and she was now a convict. When her husband died, he left the entire estate to her. Little was seen of her leading up to her death in 2007. 


Interesting facts: 

Despite the nickname the Queen of Mean, Leona Helmsley was very charitable. After 9/11 she donated $5MM to help the families of firefighters. She would also donate $25MM to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The WWF wrestler HHH (“Triple H”) took part of his name from her. Hunter-Hearst-Helmsley was the basis of his stage name as he decided his name would incorporate three famous wealthy people.



I’m a very firm believer that a liar is a cheat and a thief and a crook. I don’t like liars. I never lie. I always told my own child, ‘If you murder somebody, tell me. I’ll help you hide the body. But don’t you lie to me.’


I’ve always wanted to be the biggest real estate man to come down the pike.