Friday, August 2, 2019

5 Things our Grandkids Taught me about Commercial Real Estate

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We just finished an awesome but exhausting week with our four - another on the way - grandchildren. We have been blessed with three boys and one little girl - the oldest of whom turns four in September. The youngest - not counting number five who protrudes from Mom’s middle - has yet to walk. Two potty by themselves, mealtimes are messy and eventful, and never were they all in the same mood.

As I reflected on our week together - my thoughts drifted to commercial real estate. Specifically, what did I learn from our self inflicted day care?

The lessons were column worthy. So, here goes.

Youth helps. My wife and I are in our early sixties - prime grand parenting ages but a bit creaky to hoist and tote a thirty pound toddler. Their parents sling them around like sacks of potatoes. Commercial brokerage requires the energy of youth as well. The hours and rejection enjoy a young resilience. Plus, starting from zero each year gets old after a few grey hairs.

Patience prevails. Everything it seems takes longer with someone under four. Lunches were akin to an Elizabethan opera - as long but not quite as tragic. Once we got everyone bathed and dressed - it was time to eat again. Head to the park? Countless stops to check out the lazy lizard sunning himself on the sidewalk or the latest bloom of a bird of paradise. Commercial real estate transactions are endless challenges to our patience also. Rarely does everything proceed as planned. The sooner you learn to embrace the delays the better. You’ll be well served if you learn to pivot.

Creativity counts. Yesterday, we placed two of our boys in the front yard with a cardboard box full of all manner of Mattel. Our hope was a few precious minutes would be salvaged as they experienced the new toys. What we witnessed was quite remarkable. All of the toys found their way out of the box only to be replaced by two giggling little fellas. The box became a cocoon, a “broken” Apollo spacecraft - we watch Apollo 13 with our almost four year old - and a wheelless wagon. Problems abound in commercial real estate transactions. Generally, to solve them you must tax your innovation. Frequently, the solution lies in the problem itself. Simply allow your mind to consider the possibilities.

Urgency rules. Let’s go now - Papa. What better time than today? And why not today? My rule? Treat a commercial real estate process like a game of badminton - return that birdie as quickly as you can to the opposite court. An instant response should follow any client request for information. Don’t postpone until Monday something that can be accomplished on Friday.

Question everything. Our oldest grandson was recently bitten by the “why bug”. You know - why this and why that? Please wash your hands. Why Papa? We’re going to the store. But, why? You know - you’re right! Amazon Prime will deliver our item in an hour. Why waste time driving to a store and waiting in line for an attitude. Sometimes questioning a client’s motivation proves insightful - and his response enlightening. Why do we tour buildings in a certain order? Why must an escrow eclipse a season? Uh oh? Looks like the “why bug” was contagious.
Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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