Commercial Real Estate Lessons Learned That Have Served Me Well

Leigh Richter
Leigh Richter, CPM

After spending 30+ years in various roles in Dallas commercial real estate, there are lessons that I have learned and find continue to serve me well. When mentoring other people in business (they could be younger or older), or some of the SMU Cox MBA students, I always cover these points.

Listen – Do not think you already know the answer – Be prepared with facts and information related to your discussion, but do not assume you already know what is in the best interest of the other person.  Frequently, they will tell you something that totally changes the direction of your discussion.  Collaboration typically produces a better end-product.

Outcomes – Do not be attached to a pre-determined resolution – You are in this meeting/discussion to assist in accomplishing a task for this person/client, but you may not necessarily know how the end-results will be accomplished or even what the final resolution may be.  This relates back to “Listening” to the other person.  Don’t be too quick to try to show them how smart you are – they already have confidence in you because they have asked for your input.  Be sure you fully understand what they really want to accomplish.  Keep asking “what do you really want”.

Upsets – Happen when expectations are not fulfilled – Don’t make a promise for something that you cannot deliver.  Or, if you find you have hit a roadblock, tell the other person as soon as possible and ask for their input in working around the obstacle.  Be clear on your role in the process and keep the client informed along the way.  Proactive planning can frequently prevent upsets.  Be results-oriented.

2 Women Negotiating a LeaseKeep it Simple – What “works” and what “does not work” – Following each presentation or business development meeting, de-brief by talking through what was positive and what was not effective.  Do not add emotion to this process – just focus on what would you repeat, what could be improved or should be eliminated.

Do Not Make Anyone “Wrong” – This one can be hard.  You do not have to agree with the other person’s opinion or idea, just do not make them “wrong” for having that opinion/idea or that they should not express that opinion.  If one person on a team makes the other(s) “look bad”, it’s time to regroup, clear the air and move forward.   No one enjoys being the one to be “thrown under the bus”.

Reputation - A long time ago, I took the position that real estate was my chosen field of business; Dallas-Ft. Worth is where I will always work; and that I do not plan to ever leave the industry or the area; therefore, I always want to be known for being fair – tough in negotiations, but always fair and honest. Never let a commission get in the way of maintaining your reputation.

Always be of Service – Above all else, remember that you are in this world to be of service to others – our family, our friends, co-workers, clients and even strangers.  Everyone has something positive to contribute, but it is our job to identify that special quality and create an opening for them to shine.

My greatest source of accomplishment or motivation is completing a dallas commercial real estate assignment for a client (large or small – I treat them all the same) and having them tell me “thank you – you got me just what I wanted”.   All I really have to “sell” is my time and expertise.  Being of service is a way of life.  Make a difference in every aspect of your life.  It brings joy to everyone that you encounter.

Leigh C. Richter, CPM, Executive Vice President –Investment Services & Retail Marketing. She specializes in the leasing and brokerage of retail, office, industrial, self-storage properties and land for development, representing both buyers and sellers. 
August 21, 2020

Not sure who to contact?

Looking for Space?