CCIM Feature

CCIM Spotlight: Going Solo

A CCIM leaves large brokerage behind to start his own company.

After 26 years of working for a large, well-known commercial real estate company, Duane Jones, CCIM, felt that it was time to start his own business. He wanted to give more time and attention to his clients and make deals without asking permission, and of course, he wanted to keep 100 percent of the commission.

So in April he formed Duane Jones Realty Advisors in Phoenix. Staying within his multifamily roots, Jones' new company mostly focuses on investment deals. His current project is worth more than $50 million, and Jones is drawing on his past experiences to cultivate new business. He recently brokered several large deals such as the $97 million sale of the 367-unit Camelback Square Apartments and 312-unit Bacaro Apartments in Phoenix and the $52 million purchase of the 408-unit San Ventana Apartments in Tucson, Ariz.

As an industry veteran, Jones considered going solo for about a year. In preparation, he consulted with several other CCIMs who had successfully started their own companies. "Their advice helped me a lot," he says. Even though other CCIMs explained the challenges he would face such as being his own manager, receptionist, bookkeeper, and mentor, Jones used this advice to bolster his confidence.

While so far the transition has been relatively smooth, it has not been without some challenges. For example, many institutional clients have told him they prefer to list properties with large brokerages for greater exposure. "My goal is to let them know that I go after the same things. I have the same market knowledge, the same presentation skills, and the same resources as the big firms," he says.

Jones adopted "relationships are the cornerstone of our business" as his company motto and feels so strongly about this philosophy that he considered naming his company Cornerstone Realty Advisors. Unfortunately the name was already taken by another company, but he puts this mantra to use in his day-to-day business.

"It's important to remember that this is a service-based business, and service to the client is a key component," he says. Being truthful and accurate when giving clients advice is important to him, and he tries to be a "service broker" rather than a "mass-production broker." His priority is to keep his clients informed of what is happening in other markets and how this will affect their investments.

Jones' company currently consists of three employees, and he plans to grow the business slowly. When he is ready to expand, he wants high-energy individuals who are new to the industry. "If you don't have a fire in your belly, then this isn't the right business for you," he says.

Stephanie Bell

“I went through the [recession in the] 1980s and purposely set out a market plan that would not have the boom-and-bust [nature] that comes with real estate cycles.” — Joe W. Milkes, CCIM, Milkes Realty Valuation, Dallas“We were anticipating a slowdown in the market and wanted to develop an avenue of business that would create a steady stream of income.” — Yvonne Jones, CCIM, CPM, Zifkin Realty Management LLC, Chicago“I help struggling companies rethink their business models, which includes determining the most profitable use of their real estate.” — Audie Cashion, CCIM, Alpha World Properties LLC, High Point, N.C.Stephanie Bell is associate editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate.


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