With the company motto, “Performance Not Promises,” Commercial Executives Real Estate Services in Las Vegas has made a commitment to deliver. And that's exactly what Soozi Jones Walker, CCIM, SIOR, and Bobbi Miracle, CCIM, do for their clients. The mother-daughter duo has built their boutique brokerage on a foundation of best-in-class client service, a wide range of experience, and skilled negotiations tactics. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked them to share their secrets for thriving in the hard-hit Las Vegas market and running a successful family brokerage.
CIRE: In today's challenging market, what strategies do you use to keep the deal pipeline flowing?
Walker: In this climate of foreclosures, lower interest rates, and bank failures, making sure a property is truly in good standing is critical. If I am representing a tenant, it is imperative to verify that the landlord is stable and the terms they are negotiating will be honored throughout the lease term. Many tenants have moved into buildings only to learn that a new buyer or lender is taking over the property and will not honor the lease. Ultimately you have to ask a lot of questions and if the answers can't be verified, move on to the next property.
Miracle: We listen to every word our clients say and look at deals with an open mind. We are proficient mediators: Both sides are always trying to find the best deal, and finding the middle ground is the key.
CIRE: Tell us about a recent deal that came together as a result of negotiating for the middle ground.
Walker: A client came to us looking to expand from 5,500 square feet to around 10,000 sf. They saw an ad for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified class A building that served as a corporate headquarters and came fully furnished. We investigated and found the property had more than twice the amount of space they needed and it was double the price they could afford. Using CCIM analysis tools, we ran the numbers, convinced the sublessor to remain in a portion of the building, and completed minor tenant improvements to divide the space. The sublessee prepaid a portion of its rent, which convinced the sublessor to substantially discount the rent over the first 24 months, thus allowing the subtenant to grow into the space. We completed the more-than-18,000-sf sublease with happy parties on all sides.
Miracle: This deal demonstrates the results of our top-notch customer service. There were at least two moments when neither party was willing to negotiate further. We kept trying additional options, determined to find the middle ground. But this took more than solid negotiations; it came down to exceptional teamwork, strong sales efforts, and providing the perspective required to convince both sides that it all made sense.
CIRE: How has CCIM helped you build your brokerage?
Walker: CCIM education is what helped me get into the business. There was no formal commercial real estate training available when I started and built my career. My understanding of the time value of money, discounted cash flow, and lease-vs.-buy analysis not only sets me apart from other agents in the market, but also helps our clients make better decisions.
Miracle: I started in the business right out of college. The CCIM education not only increased my confidence by creating credibility, but gave me the tools to talk knowledgeably with my clients. CCIM helped to power my career to where it is today.
CIRE: As a small brokerage in one of the larger markets in the country, how do you compete with bigger national firms?
Walker: My clients like knowing we are the people working on their transactions and I am the person making the decisions in my company. Bobbi and I touch a transaction from beginning to end and therefore have a full understanding of the property and the client. In addition, CCIM tools such as STDB provide many of the same resources available to larger companies. And the CCIM network is invaluable. The day after I received my designation, a CCIM gave my name to a broker who needed a contact in the Las Vegas market. That was the beginning of a 16-year relationship in which we sold over $10 million per year in real estate to the client, leased all the properties, and were involved in the disposition when they retired.
Miracle: As a boutique firm, if you hire us, you get us. As partners we do many things the same way, but we also have different opinions, views, and personalities that help us see multiple perspectives in every transaction. Our skills complement one another's and the collaboration makes our toolbox larger.
CIRE: As the commercial real estate market slowly comes back, what trends and/or factors will lead Las Vegas' recovery?
Walker: The basics of what made Las Vegas a fabulous place to live and work 20 years ago have not changed. The available inventory of modern, lower-priced housing and commercial buildings along with the proximity to all the major markets makes Las Vegas better than ever. Hospitality and construction may lag for a while, but clean energy, high tech, and medical are three of our many blossoming industries.
CIRE: Finally, what advice can you offer about how to run a successful family real estate brokerage?
Walker: First, take the family out of the day-to-day operation and respect each other's positions. We may not always agree, but our differing opinions and styles make us better brokers and allow us to give our clients the very best.
Miracle: Come to work and treat each other as peers - nothing in the office is personal. I respect my business partner because she is amazing at what she does and because she has taught me everything I know. We are the perfect team!
Jennifer Norbut is senior editor of Commercial Investment Real Estate. If you have a story worth sharing in CCIM Q&A, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.