Who Is the Future of Commercial Real Estate?

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

RMag_At_MidYear1Are commercial real estate practitioners too homogenous? It’s not a question with a simple “yes” or “no” answer, but the 2010 Commercial Member Profile statistics compiled by NAR Research suggests the profession could stand a little more diversity.

According to the profile, 89 percent of commercial real estate pros are Caucasian, and 74 percent are male. (It should be noted that this latter figure has actually tilted in favor of women in recent years, and more than a third of commercial sales agents are female.) Also, the average age of professionals in this area is 56 years old. Of course, there’s more to diversity than mere demographic percentages and averages, but the numbers are telling.

The profile was discussed at a Commercial Real Estate Research Subcommittee meeting Wednesday afternoon during the 2010 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo in Washington, D.C. Subcommittee chair Doug Groppenbacher, associate broker and branch manager at RE/MAX Commercial Investment in Phoenix, argued that the commercial real estate industry needed to reach out to younger people from a wide variety of backgrounds to inject some fresh ideas and energy into the profession.

Thoughts from subcommittee members on how to do this largely centered around social media. While that’s definitely important, I think they should focus more on the message than the medium. The question they need to address is: Why should young people from various walks of life want to become commercial real estate practitioners? Some of the more persuasive arguments could revolve around the financial rewards (current market notwithstanding) and the opportunity to have a big impact on their community.

What do you think? What can the commercial real estate industry do to attract some new blood? Can/should this even be addressed at this crucial time for the market?

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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  1. Duke Long

    One word,

  2. Brian Summerfield

    Sorry, Duke, but could you clarify the point you’re trying to make?

    Seriously, though, I agree that CREW can play a central role in this, as can the commercial members of WCR.

  3. The real estate industry is one of the most “perfectly” competitive professional industries in existence due to its ease of entry and lack of artificial barriers to success. A real estate license is a general license to practice real estate brokerage. This means that if a person really wants to practice commercial real estate (or any other market segment), he/she can.

    Only two things prevent an agent, young or old, from practicing commercial real estate: KNOWLEDGE and EFFORT. Many people still expect the brokerage shop or their employers to train them on the intricacies of the business. However, history proves that many commercial real estate veterans started WITHOUT any formalized training from their associated firms and they did so at a time of very limited training resources being available.

    Yet, they made it rain. They took the initiative to learn what they needed to know in order to perform effectively and applied themselves to the real estate brokerage process. And that’s the bottomline. New and veteran agents must take responsibility for their own learning and professional development.

    There are so many training resources available today than there ever has been. Agents must not wait for opportunities to come to them, they must go after it on their own accord and vigilence.

  4. Sunny

    I am a small business owner (29 years of age) and am currently working on my Real Estate License. I feel the reasons I would love to work in the commercial sector would be centralized around working with people and coming up with innovative ways to gain clients. I do favor the potential pay structure, but like anything you’ll have to break in the industry first.

    CREW is a great way to bring in new agents and brokers to the industry but lets not forget that diversity does not come only in genders or ages. Race and backgrounds from various disciplines can be places where professionals come together to collaborate to connect to potential clients.