Spotlight Interview: Fred Mercaldo, CEO & Partner at Geocentric Media

LDCRE Interview with Fred Mercaldo, Founder and CEO of Geocentric Media.
Geocentric Media is the largest owner and manager of city-based websites throughout the world. LDCRE provides commercial real estate listings to all of Geocentric Media’s 900+ city and regional based websites. Fred and his team develop all their own websites, create and integrate relevant content for each of these websites throughout 900 markets while providing a number of services to businesses and consumers in each of their markets.

LD: I know you initially entered the geo-domain space (websites with city, state, regional, or country based URLs) with the acquisition of Scottsdale is a well-known city, and one of the top travel and golf destinations, it is obviously a great website. But what made you recognize it was a great investment, what did you see beyond what it was? Continue reading Spotlight Interview: Fred Mercaldo, CEO & Partner at Geocentric Media

Spotlight Interview: Bob Sattler, President Lee & Associates Orange

Bob has over 35 years’ experience in commercial real estate from developing small industrial buildings for sale and multi-tenant parks for lease to being a broker leasing and selling office and industrial properties in the North Orange County market. After 15 years at CB Richard Ellis he joined Lee & Associates in 1998 and has been a consistent Top producer. His community and civic involvement includes being president and board member of organizations such as the Rotary Club of Fullerton and the Executive Council of the College of Business at Cal State Fullerton.

LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

BS: An unusual one of getting a degree in physiology and a masters degree in business. Commercial Real Estate wasn’t on my radar until my father came to me wondering if I would be willing to build a multi-tenant industrial project on some land he owned. Continue reading Spotlight Interview: Bob Sattler, President Lee & Associates Orange

Spotlight Interview: Vishu Ramanathan/ CEO, Buildout Inc.

LDCRE is happy to announce its listing syndication partnership with Buildout! Buildout is a Commercial Real Estate marketing and document creation platform designed to unburden commercial real estate brokers of much of the administrative work that goes into creating marketing materials and listing properties on the broker’s website, as well as on third party websites. This partnership enables Buildout clients to easily post their listings and updates on LDCRE’s Free Commercial Real Estate Listing Distribution Platform via Buildout.


LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

VR: I wasn’t a career-oriented kid. I wanted to hang out and play in a band. I studied physics in college because I liked physics, not because I thought it would get me a job. Continue reading Spotlight Interview: Vishu Ramanathan/ CEO, Buildout Inc.

Spotlight Interview: Robb Bollhoffer: Managing Principal, 29th Street Capital


Robb Bollhoffer, along with his acquisition team have grown 29th Street Capital’s apartment portfolio to over 7,000 units in only a few years. Robb’s career in commercial real estate began as a Senior Acquisitions Analyst at Trizec Properties, then Managing Director at Strategic Capital Partners, and now Managing Director at 29th Street Capital. Robb and his team at 29th Street Capital focus on acquiring add-value multifamily assets in 10 high growth markets across the U.S. In addition to Robb’s impressive resume and his many successes he is an all around great guy on a personal and professional level. Search Apartments for Sale on Leavitt Digital.

Continue reading Spotlight Interview: Robb Bollhoffer: Managing Principal, 29th Street Capital

CCIM: What is it and what do they provide Commercial Real Estate Professionals?


Leavitt Digital recently caught up with David Wilson, CCIM, who was recently elected into office as CCIM President for 2018 and asked Wilson to explain the CCIM Organization. If you are wondering what a CCIM is, you aren’t alone! Only six percent (6%) of all commercial real estate practitioners wear the prestigious CCIM pin and have gone through the extensive educational program to become a CCIM Designee. CCIM stands for Certified Commercial Investment Member. Based in Chicago, IL, the CCIM Institute is an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® and has approximately 13,000 members from 31 countries throughout the world.  CCIMs are trained experts who can analyze opportunities to help clients make confident, informed choices. Employing a data-driven approach to commercial real estate, CCIMs guide clients’ real estate decisions using financial and market analysis skills, combined with their own experience and knowledge of local and national markets. With a CCIM, clients have access to an educated, deliberate process. Continue reading CCIM: What is it and what do they provide Commercial Real Estate Professionals?

Spotlight Interview: Sean Lyons, Founding Partner at Triad Real Estate Partners



Sean is a Founding Partner at Triad Real Estate Partners. He has close to 15 years of experience selling investment real estate, both in Chicago and throughout the country. Before starting Triad, Sean was a Senior Associate at Marcus & Millichap. As a Director of its National Multi Housing Group, he concentrated his efforts on selling apartment properties on the north side of Chicago and in several tertiary markets throughout The Midwest. He has also serviced his clients by diversifying their real estate investment portfolios and helping facilitate their 1031 Exchanges into other product types, including Single-Tenant and Multi-Tenant Retail, Office, and Industrial Investments. Sean and his two partners at Triad, Shaun Buss and Ryan Tobias, have brokered the sale of more than $850 million of investment property, in over 175 transactions, including 4,000+ apartment and student housing units.


LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

SL: Funny story. I was an English Major in college and had no clear path on what I wanted to do when I graduated. My senior year I was at a football tailgate at Boston College and my good friend’s Dad asked me what I was going to do after school. He owned a large beer distributor in Davenport, IA and he was a great guy who everyone loved. I said I was still debating it and he told point blank that whatever it was, I needed to be in a Sales role in some capacity. I didn’t even know that “Sales” was a career at the time so I started looking into it and I have been selling ever since.


LD: Triad Real Estate Partners has had a strong continual grow in success since its formation. Can you tell us a little bit about your niche and what sets your firm apart from other commercial real estate brokerage companies?

SL: Triad’s niche has always been brokering the sale of multifamily, student housing and LIHTC properties in the secondary and tertiary markets throughout The Midwest. Our business model is built around finding higher cap rate, higher yield deals and selling them to out of market buyers who are in search of better returns. We cover about 45 smaller markets and college towns throughout The Midwest and most of them are a day’s drive from Chicago. There are not many brokerage companies with both regional and national reach who target these markets specifically so that gives us a unique advantage over our competition when you look at our track record.


LD: In your earlier career you worked at Computer Associates. Coupling your technology background and your active marketing and sales of multifamily, student housing, and affordable housing assets influences what impacts do you see in how commercial real estate business is conducted today due the evolution of technology?

SL: I say all the time that the commercial real estate industry remains one of the most antiquated big businesses left out there. The way most brokers conduct their day to day business is cold calling owners and using prospecting tactics that have lost their relevance. Given my technology background, one of my key roles at Triad is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to leverage technology in order to maximize efficiencies and expand our brand and reach. I don’t want to give away all of my secrets, but we have found and implemented multiple tools that give us a distinct advantage in the marketplace. To me, this is one of the most interesting and exciting parts about being an entrepreneur who owns your own business. You can constantly try different things until you find something that sticks and there is nobody there to tell you that you can’t do it.


LD: Triad has been very active in the secondary markets throughout the US, but primarily in the Midwest. With the suppression of cap rates have you seen more new investors entering the secondary markets?

SL: No question about it. Everyone, especially coastal buyers, are in search of yield. The Midwest has traditionally been very fundamentally sound and it is not subject to the same peaks and valleys as several of the more volatile markets around the country. Our niche resonates with almost every profile of Buyer on both a regional and national level. The majority of our deals don’t bet on unrealistic rent growth and aggressive pro-forma projections. They are bread and butter assets that almost any investor can get their hands around because the numbers make sense. Everything in this business is relative and we have had a lot of success bringing Buyers from both coasts to these secondary and tertiary markets in The Midwest as they simply do not see those kinds of returns where they are looking to buy locally. The key is building out that network, which we work on growing and expanding every single day.


LD: Multifamily, student housing, and affordable housing have seen some of the better financing options out there when comparing against office, industrial, hotels, etc. What do you see happening with financing for multifamily, student housing, and affordable housing over the next year and how do you think that will impact the market?

SL: Honestly, I have never seen the amount of capital that is currently available in the market chasing these deals. I get 3-5 cold calls a week from different lenders asking if they can lend on our inventory and I have never experienced that prior to starting Triad. Having lived through it before back in 2008 and 2009, there is a part of me that is starting to get nervous that a correction is inevitable once interest rates tick up. That said, I still think there is a decent runway left in our particular asset classes of multifamily, student housing and tax credit deals because the underlying fundamentals remain very strong and should continue that way for the foreseeable future based on everything I read. It is obviously market specific, but that is one of the many reasons why we focus on markets where the supply vs demand dynamics remain relatively in check because you do not see the same levels of new development that you do in the higher profile core urban markets. Given that the majority of our deals trade in the 7-9% CAP range, I believe both lenders and investors will continue to have an appetite for that level of yield, especially if you are not betting on long term rent growth and unrealistic appreciation.


LD: I look at the build outs for student housing and they are a world of difference to my college dorm. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are seeing in student housing and how it has changed over the years?

SL: The answer to this question could be an entirely separate interview. I continue to be amazed by what the “amenities arm race” in the student housing sector produces with these new Class A developments. 24/7 Fitness centers that rival the nicest hotel gyms, pools, movie theaters, lazy rivers, concierge services – you name it. You would think you are in a resort when you walk some of these newer developments and see the quality of construction and the amenity packages. There continues to be a strong demand for this product type, however, as many schools have older, tired product similar to what you may have lived in when you were in college. They are capturing a certain segment of the market that is willing to pay up for the nicest assets available and since they didn’t exist until recently, there is pent up demand. You see it even more at the larger schools that have a diverse student body, including 20%+ international students, who are happy to pay top dollar to have access to all of the amenities. It is truly a sea change in how students live and I think the trend will continue to move in that direction provided the demand remains as strong as it has been.


LD: Not only has the design and quality of student housing evolved, but it appears to be a major commercial real estate investment product type these days. Over recent years have you seen new student housing investors coming over from other property sectors? What do you believe the draw has been over recent years to entice new investors into this space?

SL: We really started getting active in the student housing space around 2010, right after we started Triad. We found that several of the owners in these smaller towns owned both apartments and student housing but that they were two distinct asset classes in term of how they are operated and managed. Our timing was ideal as the student housing sector was really starting to move away from being a more localized asset class and becoming more of an institutional level investment. National players began raising large funds and looking for deals all over the country as opposed to their closest college markets. I believe this trend began as a result of the crash in 2008-9 when almost every asset class took a big hit. A direct result of that correction was that savvy investors started looking for deals that they considered to be more “recession proof” and were not as exposed to the larger macro trends of the economy. Student housing was a great fit for this investment profile because many of the smaller college towns remain somewhat insulated from these issues. Every year, a new renter pool shows up on campus and they will remain there for the next four years. Provided the overall health of the school remains intact (which is not true for every school these days) and the enrollment growth is moving in the right direction, student housing remains a great niche asset class that has less exposure than most. This has resulted in all kinds of new investors from different asset classes entering the space for the first time.


LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in the careers.  What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?

SL: Not to dodge the question, but there has not been one specific transaction that stands out as the most significant. I will say that the first few we did to break into the student housing space were meaningful because that opened up the floodgates to a whole new asset class that has been very good to us over the past five years. To that end, we do have an $85M student housing portfolio we are marketing right now that will be memorable if we are able to get it done.


LD: What advice have you received that has been instrumental in your success?

SL: My favorite kind of advice is from fellow entrepreneurs who have taken similar risks in starting their own company and everything that goes into making it a success. I admire and respect those who don’t rely on the safe and easy route and who are willing to take a few steps backwards initially in order to take several forward. I do a good amount of networking, both personally and professionally, and I always find myself most drawn to the wisdom of those who have failed many times prior to succeeding. A certain tenacity is required to be an entrepreneur and I am naturally attracted to those who are willing to accept the risks in exchange for all of the rewards that come along with owning your own business. If you have put everything on the line in order to try and create something successful, I want to hear about the good and the bad that you have learned about along the way. The three partners at Triad – Shaun, Ryan and myself – talk about this all of the time as it is a constant work in progress.


LD: What advice would you give a young Sean Lyons right out of college?

SL: Whatever it is that you do, put yourself in a position where you are in complete control of your own outcomes and make sure there are no layers standing in between where you are now and where you ultimately want to be. I have learned to subscribe to a very simple philosophy that I apply to both my personal and professional life: Only concern yourself with the outcomes that you can influence or control in some way. This is true for my family and for my business. All the rest of the noise that is outside that scope is a distraction and it goes in a separate bucket that I can give some attention to later if I want. Following this simple philosophy has helped me remain focused on the things that are important while not spending a lot of time or wasted effort on the bullshit. It would have been helpful to have adopted this thought process earlier in my career, but then again, that is all part of the journey…


For more information on Sean Lyons or Triad Real Estate Partners please visit Triad Real Estate Partners’ website:

For more information on Leavitt Digital please visit

Spotlight Interview: Lee Kiser: Principal/Managing Broker, Kiser Group / Principal KIG / Principal, KIG Analytics


Lee Kiser co-founded Kiser Group with his partner Estella Kiser, in 2005, and has developed the company into the most recognized brand in Chicagoland for mid-market multi-family commercial real estate brokerage. Kiser Group currently has 23 staff members.


LD: Congratulations on Kiser Group’s 10-year anniversary! Your team has a very impressive track record for selling apartments throughout the Greater Chicagoland area.  Can you tell us a little bit about how Kiser Group distinguishes itself from other commercial real estate brokerage firms?

LK: Kiser Group brokers are the most highly educated, best-trained agents in the market. Our brokers’ ability to lead their clients to solid investments is unrivaled. Another differentiator is that Kiser Group provides its agents with everything they need to help their clients, including the latest technology, research, and marketing tools. No other firm in Chicagoland knows multi-family investment like Kiser Group.


LD: Everything we have read lately indicates all signs for apartment investments remain strong: 1. Financing remains active, 2. Occupancies remain strong, 3. Rents are increasing.  However, there is strong market opinion that a rate hike is right around the corner.  In your opinion what will the next 1-2 years look like for Apartment Investment Sales on a National basis?

LK: Everyone seems to agree a rate hike is inevitable. The first moves will be nominal – 25 basis points per – and the Fed will monitor how the economy adjusts. I anticipate that we could be as much as 200 basis points higher by the end of 2017. If so, cap rates will also adjust. At the same time, I do not anticipate rent grow slowing; meaning NOI’s should continue to grow through the end of 2017. The effect of the simultaneous trends of cap rate increase and rent growth will be a leveling of values in multi-family over the next few years but I do not anticipate a decline in value (price per unit/foot)


LD: Throughout your tenure in selling apartment buildings in Chicago, has Chicago seen an increase in outside capital (non-Chicago based companies) investing into its real estate; driving valuations higher and cap rates lower?  Where is this capital coming from geographically?

LK: Chicago has become a world-class city in the past 10 years and with that has come world-class investment. We are currently closing Chicagoland apartments with investors from both US coasts, Canada, China, Japan, Israel, and several Western European countries. The profile buyer having a greater impact on cap rate compression, though, is the fund-driven investor, not the foreign investor. Chicago has seen institutional and pseudo-institutional investors moving into traditionally non-institutional assets. This means increased competition for the traditional mid-market private landlords. The return requirements for the fund-driven investors are substantially lower than the private market. This has been the biggest factor in cap rate compression in Chicago.


LD: Do you believe the increase in outside real estate investment dollars into Chicago is an indicator that real estate in Chicago is under priced when compared with other leading US Cities?  Has the City of Chicago has elevated itself over the years?

LK: Chicago has definitely elevated itself over the years but local cap rates are still significantly higher than other major US markets where foreign or fund-driven investors have traditionally purchased (NYC, San Francisco, LA, Miami). Chicago multi-family real estate is the best investment relative to the same asset class in any other major US market.


LD: Have tenants become more demanding on the level and quality of the amenities they expect from their landlords?

LK: Amenities are certainly more of a competing chip for landlords than previously but not necessarily due to tenant demand – due to beating the building next door. Chicagoland’s new construction pipeline boasts buildings with world-class amenities such as pet grooming areas and salons, outdoor grill areas that mimic high-end restaurants, demonstration kitchens, smart technology for laundry and parcel service, and many more.


LD: Can you tell us a little bit about what types of debt you are seeing on the acquisition side (CMBS, Agency, Fannie, Freddie, etc.)?  What types of leverages are typical on of these lenders on the deals your team is closing?

LK: The only thing I think is unusual is the return of the CMBS market. I’m seeing loans completed at LTV’s, price points, and on appraisals that make me think no one really learned anything in 2008-10.


LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in their careers.  What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?

LK: Each year brings transactions memorable for different reasons. The ones I remember most are the ones I’ve sold more, than once. I really enjoy watching the same asset in the hands of different clients over time. Each client adds value in a different and unique way. Kiser Group’s record so far is selling the same asset four (4) times, with several in the “3-times” category. Nothing to me speaks more loudly than repeat clients and repeat assets. This means that we’re helping clients create wealth over time and continually being called to assist in that process. I anticipate Kiser Group has the longevity to be transacting the same asset a dozen times. Right now I’m seeking the 5-peat.


LD: What advice would you give a young Lee Kiser just out of college and starting his professional career?

LK: Move to a big city (Chicago) earlier than you did, align yourself with an industry mentor as quickly as you can, learn everything you possibly can about your chosen field. Immerse yourself as quickly as possible in your chosen field, then as quickly as possible think about how you can make things better for your clients. Once you have the knowledge, you will create new ways of working within the field. If you do this at an early enough age, you’ll be in a position to change things in your profession.


For more information on Lee Kiser and Kiser Group,

please visit ‪


In 2014-15, Lee co-founded KIG and KIG Analytics with his Partner Susan Tjarksen. KIG is an institutional multi-family broker based in Chicago. Licensed in 9 Midwest states, KIG currently has listings in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky. KIG has 10 staff members. KIG Analytics is a data analysis and visualization company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of KIG. ‪For more information on KIG and KIG Analytics, visit


For more information on Leavitt Digital please visit


Spotlight Interview: Joey Odom: Atlanta Director, Stan Johnson Company


Joey Odom is one of the top brokers and Atlanta Director at Stan Johnson Company based in their Atlanta Office. Joey has been with Stan Johnson Company for over ten years. Odom oversees the Atlanta office and southeast region, focusing on serving net lease buyers and sellers within the geography. Odom specializes in the sale of net lease retail properties, which is arguably one of the leading investment sectors within commercial real estate.

LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

JO: My original plan in college was to go into youth ministry, and the college I attended had a strong program in this field. After a few semesters with this in mind, though, I shifted to a business focus in sales and marketing.

LD: What events in your career path brought you to your current position at Stan Johnson Company?

JO: Out of College I worked in the athletic industry for several years, but I had always been interested in the commercial real estate industry and was fortunate to know several people at Stan Johnson Company, namely Brad Pepin, who is a top producer at the company. Brad introduced me to the company and I was fortunate to be hired on soon after.

LD: Can you tell us what your “average” week of work is like?

JO: My role within SJC is the “player coach.” On the player side, our team (including Maggie Holmes, Mike Sladich & KB Yabuku) focuses primarily on representing sellers of net lease retail properties in the Southeast – it has been a tremendous year for our team on this front. In any given week, I will visit existing or prospective clients, manage current deals or strategize on upcoming listing pitches.

On the coach side, I work alongside our other teams in the Southeast. This includes Van Barron, whose team focuses on medical sales, Britton Burdette, whose team focuses on office & industrial sales, Jason Long, whose team focuses on retail sales and Jason Powell, whose team focuses on drug store and other retail sales. We are having a record year in the Southeast and are excited to continue the momentum. Additionally, my goal is to recruit top talent to join the Stan Johnson Company team.

LD: Joey, why do you believe the STNL space has become so hot? Why are there a growing number of investors entering the STNL space? Income Predictability? Less property management headaches? Perceived ease of understanding the STNL investments?

JO: The STNL space has grown hotter and hotter over the past few years. As a general statement, the space is viewed as a flight to quality and safety. It has been a safe haven investment for many individual investors deploying money from the market to alternative investments. Institutional investors have grown increasingly more active as well, with new and existing funds having larger allocations to net lease. Foreign investors have been particularly active in the space; in the past several weeks, we have closed with an Israeli group and a French individual investor, as examples. Even with compressed cap rates, yields for real estate in the U.S. are still very attractive to foreign investors, particularly those with turmoil in their own countries (Venezuela, Greece, etc.). Because Stan Johnson Company focuses exclusively on net lease sales, we are able to tap into a broad array of investor groups, and are the bridge between institutional and private capital.

LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in the careers.  What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?

JO: We were fortunate to be asked to present for a large portfolio of Dollar General properties several years ago, and were competing against several large competitors. In preparation for the pitch, I spent several days at the office until 4am! We connected very well with the client and were awarded the business. That year we sold 135 Dollar General properties for this client, and have closed in excess of 200 sites in total for them to date. More rewarding is the relationship we have developed with this client; I consider them very close personal friends.

LD: What advice would you give a young Joey Odom just out of college and starting his professional career?

JO: Some of the best advice I received was to not stress out too much about your first job. Every experience we have can be used as a stepping-stone, whether in that particular job or a future job. The key is to use every experience as an opportunity to grow, especially in turmoil or difficulty. I heard John Maxwell recently say, “Growth isn’t guaranteed in difficulty, but it’s the only environment in which it happens.” We can take comfort in difficulty or turmoil, knowing it has the potential to make us better.

For more information on Joey Odom and Stan Johnson Company please visit For more information on Leavitt Digital please visit

Spotlight Interview: Jeff Rowlett, Vice President Investments/ Dir. National Retail Group/ Dir. Net Leased Property Group at Marcus & Millichap

JR News Release

Jeff Rowlett, along with the support of his team is among the top investment brokers at Marcus & Millichap.  Over the years Jeff has honed his skills and developed a niche, concentrating on STNL assets and multi-tenant retail throughout the Midwest and Nationally.  Jeff has worked at two of the top commercial real estate brokerage firms and been pursed by many other top CRE Firms.  Jeff’s exposure to these top commercial real estate brokerage companies has given him a unique peek behind the curtains at some of the major firms and allowed him to see which corporate structure and culture worked best for his style of brokerage and most importantly, for his clients.


LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

JR: Surprisingly I have a degree in Kinesiology, Sports Medicine with an emphasis in Cardiac Rehab and my goal was to become an Athletic Trainer in the NFL.


LD: What events in your career path brought you to your current position at Marcus & Millichap?

JR: Looking back I can only say that I was guided into my current career path and I had little if anything to do with it. One of my clients that I was working with in athletic training introduced me to a family friend that happened to be one of the top investment brokers at Marcus & Millichap and one thing lead to another. I didn’t even know what commercial real estate investment sales meant at that time, but it intrigued me. Marcus & Millichap has a great platform and training program, so I jumped in headfirst and never looked back.


LD: Can you tell us a little what your “average” week of work is like?

JR: My average week consists of hours upon hours of time on the phone or meeting with clients to discuss their commercial real estate needs and if or how my team might be able to help them. This is a relationship business, so the more people you know in the business, and specifically, the more people you can help to solve a problem for, the more valuable you will be. The remainder of my time is spent organizing, tracking escrows, completing proposals and working on mentoring and building my team. I have a never-ending thirst for knowledge, so I invest a lot of time reading and listening to podcast while on the road and always advancing to get better at serving my clients and growing as a person.


LD: Majority of your listings/ sales are in the secondary markets; what are some of the differences you see in investment opportunities in Primary Markets versus investments in Secondary or Tertiary Markets?

JR: Well we have the unique advantage of working in both primary and secondary markets. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, which is where I spent the first 8 years of my career learning and doing deals. Over the past 5 years I have developed a team based out of Milwaukee, so we do a lot of transactions in the Midwest and also our single tenant business, which is a nationwide practice. There are similarities for both markets; location and tenant credit rating are always factors, but the differences are the buyer pools for various markets. The assets in secondary markets have experienced much more attention from out of area buyers the last couple of years because of the limited new construction and limited supply of quality assets for sale. For the secondary markets we see more offer activity from local buyers that know and understand the area well, but we still sell good majority of these properties to buyers from outside the market or state. The primary markets see activity from local & regional buyers, syndicators and institutional buyers alike. Pricing and cap rates for the assets of course vary as well.


LD: In 2015 – 2017 there is an estimated $601 Billion of CMBS maturities hitting the market.  What impacts do you think this will have on the market (listings coming to market, demand for debt, debt available, cap rate expectations, etc.)?

JR: The Fed’s decision last week to hold rates is further evidence that we have some time left in this current cycle and cap rates may even continue to compress for Class A assets. Low interest rates, steady NOI growth, and competitive yields are supporting investment in all categories of commercial properties. Transactions in 2015 are on course to exceed pre-recession peak levels, and most property sectors continue to see inflows of equity and disciplined underwriting by debt providers. With positive economic trends boosting property performance, commercial real estate remains a favored asset class for investors.


LD: All property types have their own cyclical natures for a number of different reasons. Can you tell us a little bit about the cyclical nature in the STNL market?

JR: An STNL property, as an asset class is actually a relatively new category for investors. The sector now even has subcategories such as Dollar Stores, Automotive users, Banks, Drug Stores, Fast Food and QSR restaurants, etc. These properties are very popular among 1031 exchange buyers because of the nature of the long lease terms and limited (if any) landlord management responsibilities. When the recession hit in 2008 these assets became even more favorable due to the predictable cash flow and low price points, which allowed investors to continue buying even with constraints in the capital markets. There seems to be no end to buyer’s appetite for STNL properties right now and for the foreseeable future. Fluctuations in interest rates will have an impact on cap rates and spreads eventually once inflation starts to kick in.


LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in the careers.  What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?

JR: Your first deal is probably the one you will never forget. There is so much excitement and you are so focused on doing everything right and pleasing your client, so I will never forget the first one. It was a CVS anchored shopping center property in central Illinois and the sellers were a local family and they had worked so hard their entire lives to develop properties and build a portfolio that supported the family financially. It was so gratifying to help them maximize the value and sell at a price that was several hundred thousand dollars above the previous offers they had received before we listed the property. I will always remember that first deal and that they were the first client to hire me and give me a shot.


LD: What advice would you give a young Jeff Rowlett just out of college and starting his professional career?

JR: I mentor new agents to this day. I just started mentoring an agent this past week and have mentored roughly 10 or so agents over the years to help them start their careers. This is something that keeps me humble and grounded in the fundamentals of our business. I advise them to practice and become excellent in the fundamentals; develop a discipline in doing the key factors of goal setting, planning, tracking your activities, prospecting (yes, cold calling is still the MAIN driver of success), and working your plan very hard the first 3-5yrs. Brokerage is fun, but it’s hard work, and there are NO shortcuts. As soon as you get traction, get some help and hire an assistant. I still work with a coach and read to get better every day.


LD: What advice have you received that has been instrumental in your success?

JR: I was fortunate to start my career at Marcus & Millichap where the training and platform is so strong. I have had a lot of great mentors to watch and learn from and some that have invested in me. I was always willing to do the hard work and when I was told, “do this and you will succeed”, I just did it until it paid off. My regional managers and private coaches that I’ve hired have always taught me to be disciplined and do the right things, like continual learning, prospecting for new business every week, and setting goals. It certainly helps that I have a great team that supports me and great clients that see the value we bring to them! I am excited for the future and the next phase of my career.

For Additional Information on Jeff Rowlett please visit Marcus & Millichap or Net Lease Property Advisors. For additional information on Leavitt Digital please visit Leavitt Digital’s homepage.

Spotlight Interview: Dave Wilson, CCIM / EVP, Lockard Companies Interview

Spotlight Interview: Dave Wilson, CCIM / EVP, Lockard Companies Interview

Leavitt Digital is conducting a number of “Spotlight Interviews” with industry leaders in the Commercial Real Estate Sector whom we feel lead by example. Leavitt Digital’s first interview is with Dave Wilson, CCIM / Executive Vice President of Development and Brokerage Manager at Lockard.

LD: What career path did you want to take when you were in college?

DW: When I was in college, I was going to school for a Leisure Services degree.  I wanted to go work at a Christian camp and be an Executive Director of a camp someday.  I really liked working at camps growing up and thought this was a great move for me.  I then got married in college and had to work full time while going to school full-time, so I got a job at a bank and went to school full time in the evenings.  I had switched schools my junior year and said, “what degree can get me through the quickest transferring my credits?”  So I left University of Northern Iowa and transferred to Upper Iowa University and went to school for a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services.  This was actually really good because I was able to study what makes people do the things they do, which really helps with sales.

LD: What events in your career path brought you to Executive Vice President of Lockard Development?

DW: As I was working at the bank, I kept getting promoted.  From working as a bank teller to becoming a repo man, I then became assistant branch manager of a branch in town, and then Vice President of a branch.  I realized that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day, so I got into the real estate business by selling some homes and quickly realized that residential wasn’t for me.  I wanted to do commercial transactions because they don’t have the “personal” feel like residential.  I was hired by Lockard Companies in 2000, and worked my way up doing brokerage, development, etc.  When I started in 2000, we had 9 employees.  Today, we have about 35 employees at the home office in Cedar Falls, Iowa and I manage brokerage offices in Dubuque, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Des Moines, IA and a partner office in Dallas, TX.

LD: Can you tell us a little what your “average” week of work is like?  Is your time spent evenly doing business development for new projects, managing your current projects, and seeking out tenants for projects?

DW: I travel a lot for my job, which I really don’t mind.  It gets me out of the office and dealing with people one-on-one which I love doing.  Business is all about people.  I think sometimes we forget to deal with people face-to-face rather than over the phone or by email.  I also get a lot more accomplished when I’m meeting with them then when I’m in the office trying to communicate through other means.  I would say that I spend a lot of time reviewing new projects for our pipeline, following up on purchase agreements, LOIs, and getting deals over the goal line.  Since I am on the road a lot, I love the ability to login to my office from wherever I am and work from the airport, hotel room, or wherever.  I actually get more work done away from the office sometimes than I do when I’m in the office – no distractions! I am constantly managing projects in the pipeline, and trying to find tenants for new projects.  We have started to hire outside brokerage houses to assist in leasing efforts, so that I can focus on new development opportunities and finishing existing projects.  We have a great team at Lockard, so everyone knows his piece which needs to get done in order for the project to be successful.

LD: Lockard Companies is based in Iowa and you are doing development projects on a national basis.  How do you target what markets and deals make sense for Lockard to pursue?

DW: Lockard is very methodical on what projects we go after.  We have a saying around here that you do business with people you know, like and trust.  So we have created an environment to build upon past relationships and on new ones.  We like to fly under the radar and go into markets/projects that we may be the 3rd develop in.  What do I mean by that?  Well, a lot of times other people have tried and failed, and we can come in ride in on the white horse, ask for incentives from cities/municipalities because of the fact that they want projects happening as much as we do.  We used to throw 50 deals on the wall and hope one sticks, and then work that one until it is dead.  We HAD to work it because it was the only project out there that made sense at the time.  Now, we throw 50 on the wall and 48 of them are sticking, so we have to be very selective on working our processes to see if they pass the “duh test.”  We determine if it is in a market that we want to do business in long-term.  Why?  Because we want to create a great long-term partner with the city in which we locate.  We want to do more than one project in the market(s) we go.  We do that by doing what we say we are going to do.  Many times we have worked with sellers of land to buy a tract and it hasn’t been the right timing for whatever reason.  We have terminated the agreement well in advance of the due diligence expiration period.  We do that because it isn’t fair to the seller to tie up there ground for long periods of time, but rather we want to leave the door open for the right time.  When the time comes for a project to make sense, it is a lot easier to call that Seller back up and say we are ready to move on your property and they know we aren’t blowing smoke.  We are ready to go.  People ask us all the time how we get our projects outside the state of Iowa.  We get them by past referrals from clients.  They tell their friends that these guys can be trusted and will get it done.  At the end of the day, all we have is our reputation.

LD: Lockard is well rounded company that focuses its development/ ownership in the Retail, Medical Office, and Senior Living Sector.  Lockard has been in other property sectors over the years, what made these three property sectors the core of Lockard’s strike zone?

DW: We have done retail developments for years.  Retail has been our backbone.  Thankfully in 2005 we started working in the medical office/senior living sector.  When the market tanked in 2008 in retail, we were still doing a lot of healthcare projects. As a result, we remained profitable during the downturn.  It wasn’t easy, but I’m really glad that our eggs were not in one basket with retail only during this time.  Since 2008, a lot of retail developers have tried to dip their toes into the healthcare arena, and we already had a leg up on them because of already being in the industry.  Retail and healthcare have seen huge integration over the years.  Many of our retail projects have medical users in them and vice-versa.  People want services nearby when they go to the doctor.  Just like retail, people want to be able to pull up to their doctor or clinic and get in and get out.  We have been constructing a lot of freestanding emergency departments in Texas, and they are on the “Walgreens corners of old.”  They want to be in retail, high trafficked locations.  We have determined that we can really focus on these three areas and be successful.  We do not try to be all things to all people, but just try to be excellent in certain areas that we can strive to be excellent in.  Our three core values are excellence, integrity and humility, and we want to exemplify those in all areas of the industries we are involved

LD: Everyone has a few transactions that stand out in the careers.  What is one deal thus far in your career that stands out to you and what is the significance to that deal?

DW: I think the one transaction that really stands out is working on a deal in Fort Worth, Texas called Renaissance Square.  We purchased 67 acres in SE Fort Worth which is a low demographic area which did not have retail services for over 50 years.  It was a former Masonic Home property that was never on the tax rolls in the City of Fort Worth.  There were 150,000 people within 3 miles with no place to shop, eat, buy groceries, etc.  We were able to secure a Wal-Mart Supercenter to locate on the property and then brought a bunch of other retailers and restaurants to the area.  We helped create job training classes for people of the area to go through in order to learn how to interview and put together resumes.  Once they completed the class, they were guaranteed at least getting an interview with some of the tenants in the project.  I will never forget walking into the Wal-Mart one day and one of the ladies who was a door greeter said to me, “you must be one of the developers.”  I wondered how she knew, and she said, “you’re wearing a suit.”  With tears in her eyes, she then went on to say, “I just want to thank you.”  I told her for what?  She said for giving me this job!  She said, no you don’t understand, see I was at my wits end and didn’t have food for my table, a job to go to, and was ready to lose my house.  One night, I was on my chair with a rope around my neck getting ready to end it all when the phone rang.  It was Wal-Mart and they wanted to interview me.  She said, that phone call saved my life!”  It was at that moment, that I realized that my job was more than just real estate.  It really does change people’s lives.  It was then that our mission statement of Lockard really came to life.  “Enhancing the quality of life in the communities we serve.”

LD: There are no shortage of Commercial Real Estate organizations, you are very involved with the CCIM organization.  Has your involvement with the CCIM organization opened doors or created opportunities that would not have been made to you otherwise?  If so, please explain.

DW: Absolutely!  It means the world to me.  I am a networker.  I love to connect deals with people, and people with deals.  Ever since I received my CCIM pin in 2002, I have been actively involved in the CCIM Institute.  I worked through the chairs of my local Iowa Chapter, was selected as a student in Jay W. Levine Leadership Academy within the Institute, and have served on numerous boards and committees throughout the organization.  I currently serve on the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and CCIM Foundation Board of Directors.  In October, I am running for 1st Vice President of the Institute.  The organization has been a huge resource for our company and me.  I have been able work with other CCIMs around the country to source deals, and close deals.  One of the deals we worked on was with a fellow CCIM in Norman, OK.  We were able to become the master developer of the Norman Regional Hospital, all because of an introduction by a fellow CCIM to the hospital.  We did several deals over about a 5 year span.

LD: What advice have you received that has been instrumental in your success?

DW: I would say that the biggest advice is to just be myself.  No matter what I’m doing, where I’m going, and whom I’m working with, it is so important to not be someone I’m not.  As I said earlier, people do business with people they know, like and trust and it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only takes one day to screw it up.  It is so important to be a servant leader and let others shine.  I want to be able to be there for others, and serve others.  I never want to lead out of desire, but out of an ability to give all that I have to those around me.  John Maxwell once said, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

For more information on Dave Wilson, CCIM or Lockard Companies please visit Lockard Companies’ website:

For more interviews please visit Leavitt Digital

~The Leavitt Digital Team

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