How Did I Wind Up In Real Estate?

I FELL INTO (COMMERCIAL) REAL ESTATE QUITE BY ACCIDENT

In 2006, after leaving Corporate Affairs at The Walt Disney Company, I contacted the son-in-law of a prominent Los Angeles developer who happened to run the boutique retail leasing division of the developer's parent company.  The son-in-law put me in touch with division manager of their San Fernando Valley office.  It took me close to 3 weeks to get a sit down, but I remember walking in on a Thursday, and working there full time by the following Tuesday.  Turned out the receptionist was leaving, and I slid right in...the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  I didn't have my real estate license, but you'd be surprised how much you learn just by answering calls all day.  The manager of the office took me under his wing, and a couple of months later I had passed my real estate exam.  I was a retail leasing agent, learning everything on the job.  About a year later the manager left to start his own company, and this time the timing couldn't have been worse...it was the exact moment when the economy took a nose dive...December 2007.  He asked me to come with him and run the office, while doing deals as well.  I didn't hesitate to say yes, but there was so much uncertainty...I thought his house was going to be our office.  Long story short, we set up shop down the street in Encino with 3 other agents...I remember it was so slow that on Friday's we went to Malibu and took surfing lessons.  If you've never taken a surfing lesson, I highly recommend it.  I also recommend watching the sun set on a Friday in Malibu.  Work was slow, but these moments were truly something special.  Most of the deals we were closing were 1 year leases.  The commissions were small, but I loved being part of something from the beginning.  As Director of Operations, I helped to manage and oversee the growth of the startup.  When I left almost 8 years later in August 2015, we had grown from an office of 5 agents and no transactions to over 40 agents and $220,000,000 in sale and lease transactions.  I personally negotiated close to 200 of those transactions, representing 284,000 SF of retail space for a total lease consideration of over $37,500,000.  The deals I was part of accounted for almost 22% of all company business.

I loved working there, but with over 40 agents, so much of my time had to be spent in the office.  I was missing the interaction with the outside world.

SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

A friend of mine had been working in residential real estate for years at one of Sotheby's International Realty's affiliate offices in Sherman Oaks.  She had been trying, for a long, long time, to get me to make the switch from commercial to residential, but it never really interested me.  My favorite magazine when I originally moved to LA had always been Homes & Land (From Malibu to Beverly Hills).  I lived in beautiful Southern California, with some of the world's most expensive real estate.  It finally got me thinking...leasing 1,500 SF of retail space in the Valley, or selling multi-million dollar properties on the Westside.  I finally met the manager of the Sotheby's office in Pacific Palisades, and I never looked back.  I knew I had made the right decision, at least financially, when my first referral fee was more than any one deal I had closed in all my years in commercial leasing.  In my first year and a half at Sotheby's, I sold, referred and leased $13,730,000 in transactions, including setting a new price record in Pacific Palisades.  I learned to leverage the global presence of the Sotheby’s brand by referring clients and multi-million dollar properties throughout the world.

I love the people I work with, and I love being able to help my clients buy and sell real estate.  Every day is different.  There are always obstacles to overcome, new things to learn, and innovate ways to get from where I am now to where I want to be.

I fell into real estate quite by accident, but I stayed on purpose, and with a purpose.