The Country Club Broker vs The Broke Agent
I, like the eponymous Broke Agent, work in the exciting world that is Los Angeles real estate. I cold-call, I tour around clients, I negotiate deals, I cry myself to sleep at night when my clients jerk me around like a cheap Bangkok hooker. You know, the usual. This is not to say I don’t love my clients, I do! I wouldn’t be in real estate if I didn’t like people. But as any successful real estate professional knows, serving the client to the best of your ability is the name of the game.
“Mr. Smith how’s it— you’d like me to steal a baby panda from the San Diego Zoo?” Next thing you know I’m driving a bamboo-filled U-Haul down the 5.
Ignoring my weird digression into the client-focused nature of real estate, my practice of the time-honored tradition of selling and renting plots of land differs from your smooth talkin’ Brit on Million Dollar Listing. That’s because I work on the opposite side of the real estate coin, the commercial real estate side.
Oh what’s that, dear reader? You know exactly what commercial real estate entails because you’re not an idiot? Well, congratulations! That means you’re one of the 27 people in this city who’s aware of the fact that I do not, in fact, sell houses. Meaning I unfortunately won’t be much help in putting your Studio City bungalow to market. I’ll leave that to my dear friend The Broke Agent. I’m the Country Club Broker, and I’ll help YOU in finding some mofuckin’ office space.
As I’m a millennial who’s well-aware of the fact that none of you reading this have any sort of attention span, I’ve compiled a Buzzfeed-style list of three main differences between a Broke Agent and a Country Club Broker:
1: We’re brokers, not agents
Let’s start with some basic nomenclature, shall we? Those who deal in commercial real estate transactions— whether it’s office, industrial, retail— are referred to as “brokers.” I’m digressing a bit (the rare millennial without my own Adderall ‘script), but technically all real estate professionals are (at least initially) classified as salespersons. All of us drive out to some nondescript strip mall to take some BS government-issued test so we can make a real estate deal with some schmuck a few months later. But while a residential salesperson is an “agent”, we in the commercial real estate world call ourselves “brokers.” Being a broker means we’re able to uphold an aura of superiority contrasting us with our shallow, Phil Dunphy agent brethren. “Broker” elevates our profession to a Wall Street-level type of respectability, if that’s even a thing anymore. But since all real estate professionals are mindless people-pleasers with fake tans and veneers that are far too big for our mouths, it’s easier to say it’s just an ego thing.
2: Commercial real estate is more about the bottom line, rather than emotion
Residential real estate is a far more emotional game. After all, a realtor’s clients are looking for an emotional attachment to their new home. “THIS is the kitchen in which you’ll drunkenly microwave bagel bites after 7 vodka sodas. THIS is the bathroom you’ll vomit said bagels bites and vodka sodas in.” — and so on. As commercial real estate brokers, our main talking point is often improving a business’ bottom line. This is not to say residential agents ignore costs, or commercial brokers ignore emotion. Because trust me, buddy, I’m emotional. I teared up at The Jungle Book preview! Not even the actual movie, but the two minute long preview. And milk it for all it’s worth I do. With millennials demanding ping pong tables and bean bag chairs and petting zoos, emotion is becoming far more prevalent when deciding on office space. But as Gordon Gekko or Professor Snape or any other hard-ass business man will tell you, money is money and the bottom line matters.
3: Commercial real estate isn’t as sexy
There’s a reason for the existence of HGTV and shows like Million Dollar Listing. They’re sexy, that’s why! The granite countertops! The tight suits! The crown molding! Shit’s hot! On the other hand, there’s a reason why shows like Million Dollar Office Lease don’t exist. Most offices are pretty nondescript— cubicles, perimeter offices, a kitchenette so Patricia can microwave some leftover Chicken Vindaloo and stink up the whole 7th floor. Try to imagine a couple of fat white guys in suits measuring out space for a server room. Doesn’t sound too visually appealing, right?
(Side note— if there are any producers out here looking for a commercial real estate show, feel free to give me a call. My parents didn’t spend $1,000 on orthodontic braces for nothing.)
With that, dear readers, I hope I leave you somewhat more enlightened. Mind you, I occupy only a subset of the wide, wide world of commercial real estate (office tenant representation, in case you’re wondering). There’re a lot more types of brokers out there. Some lease warehouse space, some sell Taco Bell’s, and some sit at their computer trying to be funny when they should be cold-calling (who’s laughing now, Dad?!). Real estate’s a big world with a lot of opinions, I just happen to believe mine are more interesting.
Stay tuned for my next post, folks!
Tommy Adelson AKA “The Country Club Broker”
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