So, you want to become a commercial real estate broker? Awesome! I am so excited for you!
But listen, I am going to be honest with you. This isn’t going to be as easy as hoping over to Indeed or ZipRecruiter and searching “commercial real estate broker” and applying. The fact is there is a super high probability that your search will leave your more disappointed than biting into an oatmeal raisin cookie when you thought you had grabbed a chocolate chip cookie.
Commercial Real Estate offices don’t hire. Okay, some might, but many don’t. So, what to do?
Here is how I did it.
I started by asking around. Who did I know that knew someone in the industry? I started doing research, I looked up every single commercial brokerage firm in my market. Eventually I came up with 4-5 names of people who might be able to help.
I picked up the phone, introduced myself, mentioned who recommend that I call them, that I was looking to get into commercial real estate. I asked them if I could buy them a coffee and talk to them about the business. Notice that I did NOT email them or text them, and you shouldn’t either. If making a phone call and putting yourself out there makes you feel uncomfortable use this as an opportunity to get over it. This business requires a lot of phone calls and a lot of vulnerability, don’t let it stop you.
Some were gracious and agreed to meet, others didn’t, and they are now dead to me – just kidding, sort of. I spent roughly two and a half weeks getting coffees, learning about the business, and getting introduced to new people. By the time I was done I had spoken to someone from just about every firm in town and had a pretty good idea of the top two places I could see myself.
If you do nothing else, please send each of the people you met with a handwritten thank you note. I promise it will go such a long way and will jump start your reputation in the industry. Once you are in the business you will likely be doing deals with these people and they will remember.
Here are a few questions/conversation starters to use in these meetings:
- How did you get started in the business?
- Why did you become a commercial real estate broker?
- What do you like most about the industry? What do you like the least?
- Do you specialize a particular sector (Office, Industrial, Retail, etc.) and why?
- How does a typical day look like for you?
- What advice would you give a broker just starting out?
Be sure to ask them who else you should talk to. I only started with 4 people and ended up meeting with 9 or 10. Also, avoid asking about how much they make or how much you will likely make- you can read up on that here. These meetings should really start to give you a good lay of the land and also get brokers talking.
In most markets the commercial real estate community is rather small, especially compared to residential real estate. If you are professional and come across as enthusiastic, confident and determined in these meetings- brokers will call each other to see if the other has met with you. That is a great thing.
So, after all these meetings you still want to become a commercial real estate broker? Fantastic!
Once you decide which 2-3 firms you might want to be at, call the person in charge (that may be the one you already met with at that firm or it may be the firm’s managing broker). Let them know you’d like to explore the idea of working with them further and ask for another meeting, preferably at their offices. Meeting at their offices is a great way to get a feel for the culture and see where you could potentially be working. Note: if every office door is closed, you may want to turn and run the other way.
Now the fun, and the selling, begins. I am a big fan of over preparation. Take time before the meeting to go over what skills from previous jobs you have that could transfer to brokerage. Maybe you are great at sales, maybe you are a fantastic researcher, or are great with numbers, or maybe you are just a bad-ass self-starter. Practice saying some of these awesome things about yourself out loud. Yes, out loud – multiple times.
Don’t hold back on your past accomplishments. Now is your time to shine. Let them know exactly why bringing you on will be their best decision. If you can sell yourself, you can certainly sell a property -let them see that. It is sort of like that scene from Dodgeball…“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”
Get in a great state!
One thing I have learned from an idol of mine, Tony Robbins, is the importance of being in a peak state. If you have ever been to one of his events you will know exactly what I am talking about and if you stick around here you will hear a lot more on this. Essentially it is putting your mind and body in the best possible place.
One way to quickly do this is through music. On the way to the meeting listen to the one song that gets you the most pumped up- you know the one if not, here are some ideas. Sing along, dance in your seat like the person in the car next to you can’t see you, fist pump, smile. Bring on the positive energy vibes! Getting in this state of confidence, coupled with your preparation, will make you unstoppable and irresistible.
You need to make them ask the question “would we rather have her (or him) working with us, or competing against us.” When the answer is “with us” the adventure begins and you are well on your way to becoming a great commercial real estate broker.
Now, when you come on board you will likely be working as an independent contractor and you will sign an independent contractor agreement. I get that it is all sunshine and rainbows and everyone is singing kumbaya at this point, but please, I urge you to have an attorney look at that agreement. I am sure you wouldn’t recommend a client sign a lease without having an attorney review it and you shouldn’t sign a legal document without it either. You never want to start with the end in mind, but sometimes it is just a smart thing to do.
Your real estate license
If you are committed to the path to become a commercial real estate broker from the start, I recommend working towards your real estate license as soon as possible, even before you start networking and meeting people. The fact that you are working towards your license will show commitment. Typically, you take an online course and then take the test at a local testing center. There is no special test for commercial real estate, in fact, most of what you will learn will be residential-focused.
When I was starting out a good handful of people told me how hard the test was. It really wasn’t, I passed it the first time and I am an average test taker. Don’t get too psyched out. If you don’t pass the first time, no big deal- learn from any mistakes and take it again.
Once you are on-board with a firm and a license in hand you are on your way!
That is it. That is how I became a commercial real estate broker. There may be other paths to get there but this is exactly what I did.
I hope that I have answered your questions on how to become a commercial real estate broker. But, if I missed something or you have a burning question, please contact me! I want to be a resource to help you grow and thrive in this business and I hope that you keep coming back and that I can continue to serve you.