Sponsored by Century 21
Samuel Mizrahi had no clients for the first six months of his commercial real estate career. That was by design: Mizrahi’s father, a real estate broker in Brooklyn, N.Y., told his son to spend his time visiting every commercial property available in their market. “I was running around for months seeing the inventory, doing market analyses and evaluating properties,” he says. “It was the best thing I could have done starting out.”
Mizrahi considers that experience the foundation of his education in the commercial real estate industry, because it taught him that a broker’s success depends on being more knowledgeable than the next broker. That sentiment echoes those of many CENTURY 21 Commercial® Brokers, who say education—whether on-the-job or through training classes—is a key differentiator. The knowledge a broker can bring to a tenant negotiation or to the search for a space for an industrial client may mean the difference between a successful transaction and a missed opportunity.
“Education is a way to make a commitment to your career,” says Mizrahi, a broker with Brooklyn-based CENTURY 21 Mizrahi Realty. “Brokers should take advantage of as many educational opportunities as possible. I’ve been in the business for 25 years and I’m still taking classes.”
Thayer Morgan, a broker with CENTURY 21 Commonwealth in Boston, Mass., suggests to new brokers that they spend as much time as possible building their expertise in the commercial space. A first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of the local market has helped Morgan more adroitly deal with shifting trends, from a shortage of the skilled labor needed to fit up office space for national clients to the rising demand for housing developments close to transportation hubs. “Staying informed is a time commitment,” he says. “You have to get to know other brokers and go to their open houses. You need to meet the owners of buildings and the tenants.”
While they say on-the-job education is important, Morgan and Mizrahi also have taken advantage of classes and seminars offered by Century 21 Real Estate. In addition to a slate of traditional educational programs through its Commercial Learning Platform, Century 21 Real Estate recently launched the first of four on-demand learning series that gives brokers more control over when and where they take courses (Advanced Commercial Advisor training curriculum) . Morgan says he makes sure to take any educational program offered by the CENTURY 21® brand, whether online or in person at conventions. “Some brokers may pass up a class because they don’t think it’ll pertain to them,” he says, “but I know that I may end up using the knowledge I gain in a future transaction.”
Outside of the classroom, the CENTURY 21 Commercial Investment Network (CIN) helps connect members so they can identify business opportunities and find efficiencies in the deal-making and transaction processes. The network also helps members increase the visibility of client listings by distributing them to high-traffic, industry-leading commercial websites. The number of CIN offices has roughly doubling since 2012, to more than 560 offices, while the number of CIN Sales Professionals has more than tripled.
Kenneth Kujawa, a broker with CENTURY 21 Signature Realty in Saginaw, Mich., has seen firsthand the value of tapping into that network. He might ask fellow brokers around the country for help reaching a regional representative of a national restaurant chain, or gather ideas for creative uses of retail space. “The network gives me a group of people across the country who I can bounce ideas off,” he says. “If something’s working in Provo, Utah, maybe it’ll work here in Saginaw, Mich.”
For some CENTURY 21 Brokers, education is something to be shared with clients and industry peers. Adam Von Romer, a broker at CENTURY 21 KoRes in Weston, Fla., has recorded more than 80 hours of educational videos covering a wide range of commercial real estate topics, from how to identify red flags in contracts to efficient and cost-effective marketing strategies. “I do a lot of educating, explain what this means or that means, and why it’s important to know these things,” he says.
Whether learning or teaching, brokers like Sam Mizrahi say education is a big differentiator in the commercial market. The knowledge Mizrahi gained during his first six months on the job helped jumpstart his career, and made Mizrahi more dedicated to building his expertise within the commercial real estate market. Those efforts have helped him develop lasting relationships with landlords and tenants, and delivered the professional credibility he says is so important in the commercial real estate business. “Now, customers call me when they have a property available,” he says. “You always want to be the expert that clients call, not the cold caller trying to find clients.”