10 Things I Learned in my 10 Years of Commercial Real Estate - Part 1

10 things I learned in 10 Years of Commercial Real Estate

Part 1

Dan Van Nada, CCIM

November 2022 – Earlier this year I celebrated 10 years in the Commercial Real Estate industry.  Not counting a couple of internships, I have spent my entire CRE career at First Capital Property Group.  Over this time, I have benefitted greatly by picking the brains of many other CRE professionals on best practices and lessons learned over their own years in the business.  Here are 10 things I learned over my first 10 years in Commercial Real Estate:

  1. Networking is Key. Meet as many folks as possible – Especially when first starting out, it’s so important to get out there and grab coffees and lunches with as many brokers as possible.  When I first started, my head broker sent me out to meet with a bunch of seasoned industry professionals, and the connections made early on, not to mention the wisdom shared with me over the table at those meetings, have served me well throughout the years.  When working on a full book of business and numerous deals, maybe the last thing you would want to do is cut out of the office early to go to another networking event (especially with young kids at home, in my case).  In a relationship business though, connecting with others within the industry is so crucial, and often leads to collaboration that actually helps you better handle those seasons of higher deal volume.
  2. Power of the CCIM pin – I cannot speak highly enough of the power of the CCIM designation. What is a CCIM?  Certified Commercial Investment Member.   Less than 10% of all commercial real estate professionals are CCIMs.  Learn more about the CCIM designation HERE.  I got my CCIM pin in the Spring of 2018, after just over 5 years in the industry.  The classes I took and the portfolio I had to put together were no easy task, but the designation has helped open doors professionally and personally.  If I get a call from a fellow CCIM, I make sure to take that call.  Similarly, when calling a fellow CCIM even clear across the country, they will often take my call for the same reason.
  3. Should I be Worrying About This? When a deal goes sideways it can really rob you of your sleep. While important to do what you can to get the deal across the finish line, it’s often helpful to ask yourself, “In one year’s time, will I be worrying about this?”.  Oftentimes taking a longer-term approach can give some needed perspective and allow for more breathing room while working through the day’s obstacles and problems to be solved.
  1. Learn to Unplug – When taking vacation time, it can feel like the world is burning down on the work front. You may be tempted to drop everything to help your team salvage a particular deal, or to put out a fire back at the office.  I can promise you though, as the years go by, the biggest regrets and the sharpest memories are not of any specific deals saved, but rather the family vacations that felt much less “family” and way more glued to the cell phone/laptop.  I would encourage you, to the best of your ability, put down the phone and be present with your family. This is also much easier to do when you have a team of solid individuals whom you trust to hold down the fort while you’re gone!
  1. Teaming up is better than going it alone – I have found that, while I am able to work on my own as a “lone wolf” if needed, I work much better on a collaborative team. On a base level, a collaborative team can help with coverage for things like vacations, family and medical issues that come up (I’ve learned that there are roughly 943 pediatrician appointments before a kid turns a year old).  It goes much deeper than coverage though, as working on a team creates the ability to “chop shop” marketing efforts to put out the very best product, to discuss how to solve complicated problems, and brainstorm creative solutions that truly enable you to provide the very best service to your clients.

To keep this from being a ’10-minute read’, I’ll make this a two-parter, so if you’ve enjoyed or gotten something from the above, check back next week for part 2!