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My First Year in Commercial Real Estate

Written by Aleyciuss Al-Ali, Sales Associate

Entering a completely new field was very exciting for me. My first year included meeting all new people, learning a completely new business and challenging myself to step outside of the box to see everything from a new perspective. You could say that I had entered a whole new world. So outside of the obvious things such as driving the market, what new retailers and developments are going on in my area and attending networking events, from my own experience and from mentorship here are a few good points to remember:

1.  Be a Consistent Student

There is so much to learn that even someone who reads as much as I do can sometimes feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the lingo, deal making process and legalities that are an everyday part of real estate. In a world that prides itself on leadership and an individual’s ability to deliver, it’s easy to forget one basic rule:

Surrounding yourself with a good group of people who are more intelligent and/or experienced about a particular subject than you are will ensure that you will become a better resource for your colleagues and clients. In all things you must be teachable.

As the Chairman and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz said, “You can't build any kind of organization if you're not going to surround yourself with people who have experience and skill base beyond your own.”

2.  Forming Relationships Creates Value
This is something that takes time and should be a natural process. When I was taking graduate courses in business, one of my professors told us in a lecture that in the beginning stages of international expansion many successful businesses, such as Disney, thought that they could enter a new untested market considering only factors such as demographic profiling by citing their successes in the U.S. market. That way of thinking proved itself disastrous and costly.

“One of the most important factors for entering new markets and expansion,” my professor said, “is forming new relationships with members of that existing community”.

Why is this important? Because for a retailer entering into a new market, knowing who their client is and what they want allows for them to provide better service and products. Entering commercial real estate is much like entering a new country. It takes time and serious commitment.

Understanding the existing infrastructure, considering the desires and needs of the established culture and over time infusing new ideas and ways of doing things is a more stable approach to seeing success in new markets. The principals at my firm say all the time, “it’s all about the relationships.” Get to know those around you, treat each other with decency while finding opportunities to work together and develop lasting relationships over time.

3.  Perseverance Pays, Literally
My very first listing was, to put it nicely, challenging. It was a small neighborhood strip center with roughly 42% vacancy. Within the given area, we were the only center that had this much space available. We faced many challenges with this property, such as parking availability, lack of signage and the existing interior condition of the vacant spaces made it hard for some small shop retailers to envision themselves operating their business there. With a little planning, good fortune and great coaching from the supervising broker we were able to get the vacancy rate down to 7% within the year.

This first leasing experience taught me two important lessons. First, you are never too good to start out at the bottom. Second, a truly good deal means that both sides will compromise to some extent, but with the clear goal that they should both win in the long term. The landlord has a long-term steady stream of income and the tenant has a profitable business. It’s about perseverance and creativity.

Although I am still very young in the business of real estate, I feel confident that with time I will become better at doing my part in helping to create and develop livable and successful societies going into the future. Never give up on your dreams and the positive things that you desire to see in the world most. For me real estate is just one part of that greater whole.


Aleyciuss Al-Ali | Sales Associate
Mid-America Real Estate-Michigan, Inc.
38500 Woodward Avenue, Suite 100 | Bloomfield Hills, MI  48304
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