The Innovator

CCIM Institute's 1974 president, Sheldon F. Good, CCIM, has excelled in marketing real estate for both buyers and sellers worldwide totaling more than $8 billion in sales. His most crucial contributions to commercial real estate, however, are his ground-breaking marketing methods, including the use of auctions to sell U.S. real estate, a technique he pioneered.

“I always tried to push the envelope in commercial real estate so sellers would come to me,” says Good, who is still active as an adviser to brokerage and auction transactions. He thought of developing real estate auctions in the U.S. when he saw them being conducted in Ireland. During the course of two years, Good figured out how he could adapt auction techniques successfully to the U.S. real estate market.

After founding and serving 36 years as the head of Sheldon F. Good & Co., Good sold his firm and founded The Good Realty Group, a consulting firm. He talked to Commercial Investment Real Estate about his far-reaching and groundbreaking 60-year career.

CIRE: Now the real estate auction is an accepted component of commercial real estate industry. In what ways did your first real estate auctions help move the pendulum from ridicule to respect?

Good: One of my first clients was the Northern Trust Bank in Chicago, one of the most conservative banks in the city. The head of the real estate department thought an auction would be a good solution for a Lake Michigan property with multiple heirs. By using direct mail, public relations, ads, and billboards, I sold the multi-unit apartment building for almost double the expected price.

Northern Trust has continued to be my client and its early belief in using my auction services gave me the credibility I needed to fuel my success with auctions. Through the years I have worked with many prominent organizations, including Trump Luxury Real Estate, U.S. Home, and U.S. League of Savings Institutions.

Running an auction is like the opening night of a play. I always visited the properties first and made sure that our auctions were professionally run down to the last detail. I held mock auctions ahead of the real ones and customized high quality marketing materials for each property.

Real estate auctions work best when there are either too many buyers or not enough buyers to sell in traditional ways.

CIRE: You served as the president of FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation, and helped establish its relationship with the United Nations. Why is it crucial for U.S. commercial real estate brokers to move into the global marketplace?

Good: It's critical to become involved because now there is a global business market for real estate. U.S. brokers first need to understand the specific needs and differences of international buyers and sellers. Those who successfully work with global buyers and sellers also differentiate themselves from their competitors.

CIRE: During the past 10 years, what are the three biggest changes you have seen in U.S. commercial real estate?

Good: The Internet has changed marketing, although I still consider eyeball-to-eyeball meetings with your clients as most important for your business. Second, the tax laws have changed dramatically. Third, financing for transactions is more risky. Seven-year loans in commercial real estate are dangerous because too many unexpected things can happen.

CIRE: You will be introducing keynote speaker Sam Zell at CCIM Thrive, Oct. 27-28, in Austin, Texas. How did you meet Zell?

Good: I met Sam Zell about 25 years ago. He is a brilliant strategist who has an unusual ability to recognize changing markets before others do. Also, Sam has hired very exceptional professionals to work with him, and he always pays attention to his business.

CIRE: In the early days of CCIM, why was it critical to establish an independent commercial real estate organization affiliated with the National Association of Realtors? Has the CCIM Institute evolved to meet your expectations?

Good: NAR members were the pipeline to build members for the CCIM Institute, and they continue to supply CCIM candidates who then earn the CCIM designation. CCIM education continues to evolve and provides those who are entering commercial real estate with the knowledge they need to compete successfully in the marketplace.

CIRE: What has been the biggest advantage the CCIM designation has offered you in your career?

Good: Being a CCIM designee has broadened my ability and enhanced my credibility to conduct business worldwide. Also, I have been able to do business with many other CCIMs. I always wear my CCIM pin and always sign CCIM after my name.

CIRE: What advice would you give to new commercial real estate brokers about developing a successful career?

Good: It's critical to educate yourself. Look for mentors, and try to copy successful people. Most important, go out and meet people. Business comes from many different sources, and you never know when a friendship, charitable, or civic involvement will turn into a business opportunity. Start by meeting me in Austin at CCIM Thrive.


Sara S. Patterson is senior editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.


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