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Want to sell real estate? Avoid professional time wasters

Now in the season of giving, we survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and turn our thoughts and plans toward the epitome of fall holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Time with family and friends during this holiday season is at a premium. Our December calendar is almost full with parties, luncheons and gatherings. But, today, I am writing for three reasons — therapy, education and as a personal reminder.

As commercial real estate practitioners, we only have two things to sell – our information and our time. Levels of our information are available as a commodity, for the world to see, and we only have 168 hours per week — that’s it!

Now, we can layer our expertise on top of the basic data levels – but we cannot create any more time. I realize that is trite but stay with me, here. Avoiding commercial real estate time wasters is tantamount to locking your house at night – if you don’t do it, you might get robbed!

I mentioned in the preamble my three reasons, so here goes!


Without a doubt, I have encountered (and unfortunately been engaged by) more time wasters this year than I can remember in my career that spans four decades!

And I pride myself on my qualification skills. Some were requirements unable to be filled, which resulted in lease renewals. Some were loooong drawn out requests for proposal processes or market surveys or tours or owner education or…All had the same result – no revenue!

Time invested with no return — the death knell of any commissioned salesperson! Now before you go all sappy and feel sorry for me, please don’t. I am the most blessed man on earth for myriad reasons that I’ll save for another column – but maybe you can learn from my mistakes this year.


OK, some of this is brokerage 101. But I’m going to spin it for you.

—Work with control I know, basic, right? But how many of you make this mistake? I tell the young guys in here, “Working without control is like drinking and driving” You might get away with it but when you get caught – and you will – the consequences are severe.

—Qualify, Qualify, and keep Qualifying. Qualifying is ongoing. Remember to qualify “throughout the process”, not just at the front end of the transaction.

—Think “anti-move.” Let’s face it, moving sucks! It’s disruptive, time-consuming, counterproductive, inefficient, and expensive. It’s like a knee replacement – painful but necessary sometimes. Be VERY candid with your occupants about the downside of moving locations. When things get tough in the transaction – and they will, you can relay your discussion and remind your clients why moving makes sense.

—Make the client “convince” you. How many of us have fallen for “we want to buy a building”? I always ask my clients “Why would you want to do that?” The answer is illuminating!

—Beware of the corporate “local guy”. OK, these can be your biggest advocate or CHAMPION time wasters. Is the local guy willing to give you complete access to the “real decision maker” or are you trying to fulfill his dream location that has NO CHANCE of materializing or passing corporate scrutiny?

—Beware of lengthy processes. Decisions on who to hire are rarely the result of the fattest proposal binder, the best PowerPoint or the most complete response to an RFP. They generally boil down to a “relationship” – what a concept.

—At some point, they gotta give back. My Mom taught me a relationship must be a 50-50 proposition. Why should this differ in a real estate deal? Examine how much YOU are giving and how much the client is giving in return. This can be as simple as timely returned phone calls, emails, texts, etc. or as complicated as deciding on a strategic direction.

—Out of state, out of mind. Has anyone out there ever dealt with an out-of-state company that is tremendously responsive when you are face-to-face but once the plane leaves the tarmac, so does the responsiveness?  Candidly, I’ve still not figured this one out!

Personal reminder

TRUST YOUR GUT! If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has feathers and flies south for the winter (and you are not in Eugene, Oregon) – chances are they are a commercial real estate time waster!

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104

Source: Orange County Register

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