It takes a certain kind of person to succeed consistently in commercial real estate (CRE). That’s because it’s a demanding job that tests people’s mettle daily. The best CRE brokers exhibit at least four defining traits: knowledge, skill, the right attitude and the tendency to take decisive action.

If you’re seeking someone to sell your commercial real estate or find you a property, these are the things you should always look for in an advisor.


First, make sure your CRE pro is knowledgeable about the market itself. It seems obvious, but not all advisors are up to speed on what CRE is doing in a given locale – or even nationwide. A person who is serious about success will make real estate a study. Ask questions of a prospective advisor. He or she should be conversant about the historic and current trends in a given market, along with the underlying causes of those trends.

A successful CRE advisor will also have an intimate grasp of brokerage: its technical processes, how transactions work, the potential pitfalls. In addition, he or she will be knowledgeable in a variety of property types, such as land, multi-family, medical office building, hospitality, office, industrial, marinas, etc.


Having knowledge is a critical foundation stone. But without the proper skills, knowledge can amount to mere theory. The skills I’m talking about here are the ones that make people successful in all sorts of fields. One such skill is time management. Effective CRE pros don’t allow themselves to be sucked into time-wasting endeavors. They do what needs doing most, when it needs doing.

These high-performers also excel in planning. They know that proceeding without a plan is to invite drift into one’s daily activities. Drifting people don’t succeed like those who take the time to nail down a detailed plan. A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln reads, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” That’s planning.

Of course, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having the appropriate skill level with regard to selling, prospecting and analyzing the market. There’s a science behind each of these and it takes time to hone such abilities. Ask a prospective CRE advisor how he or she goes about finding prospects, selling, closing. Such questions can give you a glimpse into the person’s level of competence.


Does your prospective CRE advisor appear enthusiastic, confident and self-motivated? These attitudes can help a person push through the walls of adversity … and there are plenty such walls in the world of CRE. An advisor should be assertive, too. There’s a lot of competition out there, so you want someone willing to stand up for you and get the best deal possible. An unassertive negotiator is a liability.

Tenacity and persistence are also desirable traits in a CRE pro. Laying aside the natural impulse to quit is crucial, because continuing on just a little longer is what often makes the difference in landing a deal.


In the end, knowledge, skill and attitude do little good unless the person actually does something. But it’s not just any activity that’s important. A good CRE pro will act according to the plan – the one carefully crafted ahead of time. It’s human nature to perform easy or pleasant tasks while putting off the less-enjoyable ones. Having a plan will direct action in the desired direction.

One more thing: A successful CRE advisor will evaluate the action he or she takes, analyzing to see how things could have been done better. It’s a formula for ongoing improvement.

There’s a lot at stake when you’re buying or selling a piece of commercial property. Don’t just pick an advisor and hope for the best. Look carefully at the person’s professional capabilities. Make sure you’re getting an achiever, someone whose work will benefit both of you.