Q&A with T.C. Macker, CCIM
“I'm very niche-focused,” T.C. Macker, CCIM, says.
In the competitive Los Angeles real estate market, that focus has proven successful for Macker, president and managing director of Coldwell Banker Commercial WESTMAC. During the past 14 years, he's earned a consistent string of awards from Coldwell Banker Commercial, and was the company's second-highest producer in 2016.
The L.A. native started his career as a leasing agent for Grubb & Ellis and joined Coldwell Banker Commercial WESTMAC in 2002. He talked to Commercial Investment Real Estate about how to stand out in a crowded market.
CIRE: How did you get into commercial real estate sales?
Macker: I was burnt out on leasing, and when I joined WESTMAC, I was able to do a sale. Once I did that, I knew selling was what I wanted to do.
But I needed to educate myself; I don't even think I could calculate cap rate. I took the CI 101 class, and all of the sudden, my calculator became my partner at every meeting. I took all the classes in about a year and earned my CCIM designation.
Today all I do is sales. I'm mostly selling buildings in the $1 million to $20 million range. I'm below the institutional level, although I do sell an institutional building occasionally.
My niche is really sales to high net-worth investors and small funds. I'm geographically focused; my market is West L.A. to downtown for office and retail on major streets - Sunset Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, and Santa Monica Boulevard.
CIRE: Has this focus made you stand out?
Macker: There aren't many CCIMs doing what I do, so that's certainly helped me. I've just focused on this particular geography and made it my turf.
CIRE: What types of marketing have been most effective?
Macker: I do it all. Snail mail, social media, and I write a blog. I try to ensure that my name is out there, so that if someone has a need, I'll get the call.
I'm active with my high school alumni, I've got three kids in school, and I tell people what I do. I'm not pitching them, but I don't just say 'I'm a commercial real estate broker.' I say, 'I sell commercial buildings in West L.A. and if I can ever help you or someone else, let me know.'
CIRE: How do you keep up with marketing trends?
Macker: I study my competitors; I like to see what they're doing. But I also look at residential agents. In their marketing, they're often ahead of the commercial side. They're the first ones who did drones and virtual tours. So I'm always monitoring what they're doing, and I've implemented some of the things they do. For example, I've used drones.
CIRE: What do you see ahead for the Los Angeles market?
Macker: We've had a nice run in the marketplace. Historically, the market changes every decade. The last time the market dipped was 2007-2008, and there's perception out there that it could happen. However, no signs indicate this will occur.
There are some things that are out of our control - weather or an earthquake - that would change things. But we have a lot going for us.
We have a really good job market; we're the entertainment capital of the world. We also have a shortage of available properties for office space, and I don't think we're over-retailed, so our market is in good shape. Interest rates might climb, but it's unclear whether that will have an effect.
CIRE: What advice would you give to real estate professionals working in a competitive market?
Macker: I'm always encouraging people to keep your head in, work hard, don't overlook opportunities, and always try do the best for your client. Keep your client first.
If you don't have a client, make sure that you're doing everything you can to make those connections. Make sure you're meeting people who are influencers, owners of commercial real estate, or people who own companies - and make sure they know what you do.
CIRE: How has the CCIM designation helped you?
Macker: A lot of times when you're meeting with someone, you have to think on your feet. People want answers as quickly as possible. If you're fumbling around or you tell them you have to get back to them, that may be the difference between getting the business and not getting the business.