interviewed a number of high-profile CRE Titans and summarized their advice and
teachings. It’s a quick read and one can
take several golden nuggets from its pages.
- All of the Titans taught
themselves to stop overthinking and move forward. Doing so allows them to
assess any situation faster and make key decisions in a smarter and more
- Titans are excited to see
other projects, learn from other real estate and business experts. Their
endless curiosity drives them to explore and learn new things.
- Most of the Titans work 6-7
days per week. Many of them work while on vacation–seeing, learning, and
strategizing. The work harder than
their peers. They don’t just work hard; they work smart and efficiently.
- You can make a great deal of
money cleaning up the excess that resulted from overdevelopment,
overvaluation and over lending.
- Emerging markets, primarily
outside the US, offer the biggest growth opportunities; however, they come
with some of the biggest risks.
- Real estate financing is like
a drug; if you use it correctly, it can have incredible benefits. If you
overuse it, it can kill you.
- To succeed in real estate
investing, you must see where the market is going in the next on, two, and
- Keep construction debt to 75
percent of cost or less and have construction loan maturities that are
long enough to get you through a recession.
- Don’t close on land before
you are able to begin construction.
- Build recurring fees into
your business, such as property or asset management fees that continue in
periods of limited development activity, so that you can sustain the
- Creating a large
irreplaceable plot of land through land assemblages.
- Small investors can
outmaneuver massive companies when they understand their market in a deep
and meaningful way.
- To succeed as a developer,
you must stick to the region you know best. You must understand the micro.
- The best opportunities in
real estate are usually present when financing is most difficult to
- Real estate is a fragmented
market, that means it is very entrepreneurial. Although there are big players, there
are also millions of deals that are too small to interest them.
- Macro bets in real estate
tend to be cyclical bets about timing, which means that you need to be
able to make micro bets to generate excess returns when markets are in
- Knowing the downside of any
deal is far more important than knowing the upside.
- Always need to have an exit
plan in place for an unforeseen challenge.
- Don’t get emotionally
attached to your investments.
- Never agree to recourse debt.
- Some of the best developers
are just the best copiers. They
study successful business and projects and simply recreate them. Focus on
what is already working.
- Four major factors to success
in real estate: 1. timing; 2. location; 3. debt timing; 4. understanding
- Your best investment will
come during downturns when most of your competitors won’t be purchasing.
- Never bid first at an
auction; wait to see someone else’s opening bid.
- Take the road less traveled,
don’t follow the crowd. Do things most of your competitors are not.
- Don’t overleverage your
- Everyone should start by
focusing on a specific product type and geography and build from there.
- When seeking mentors, find
someone who is doing what you want to be doing in real estate–someone
more skillful than you yet someone who is young enough to still remember
what it is like to be in your position.
- Surround yourself with people
who will disagree with you.
- Your word and your reputation
are more important than money.
- You can’t trust bankers.
They’re not partners and they have an inability to think long term.
Because they are short sighted, they are always look for the quickest
- Early in your career, focus
on areas of innovation; learn about new construction methods,
architecture, and sales and leasing.
- Look for supply-demand
imbalances — meet with brokers, consultants, tenants, and customers.
- Look for ideas from other
industries and draw parallels on your own situation.
- Always build rapport with
sellers. Real estate is a business of relationships; the better your
relations with other market players, the more success you should have.
- Leadership skills develop in
a continuing process. If you aren’t improving them, they are atrophying.
- In real estate, patience is
the ultimate virtue; real estate is not a liquid asset.
- You should become a
spreadsheet master; the better you are with Excel and understanding
numbers, the better you’ll be in this business.
- To succeed you need raw
intelligence, vision, culture and a passion for hard work.
- No matter what you do, have
fun and enjoy the journey. Enjoy
every single day.
- The only money you will take
to the afterlife is the money you give back to charity and good causes.