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The Voices of Land blog

Get insight on current land trends and issues from experts across the land real estate industry.

10Jul

Why Relationships Matter for Land and Commercial Real Estate Brokers: Building Bridges, Not Walls

By Shawn Massey, ALC

I recently had the pleasure of moderating an online panel for the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) about buying and selling commercial land. During the discussion, I made a seemingly simple comment that resonated with a few: building relationships with municipalities, utilities, and other stakeholders is crucial for continued success in the brokerage business. RLI asked me to delve deeper into what I meant, so here we are.

If you're in the land brokerage business, you better be ready to develop relationships—not just with buyers and sellers, but with surveyors, environmental consultants, municipal planners, utility companies, architects, engineers, lawyers, insurance agents, and a whole bunch of other folks who can make or break your deal. Think of it as assembling your very own Avengers team for every transaction. Because let's face it, working in a silo won't get you very far in this business.

Why Do Relationships Matter in Our Brokerage Business?

Enhanced Communication: When you know someone personally, it’s much easier to communicate effectively. People prefer to do business with people they know and trust. It's our comfort zone!

Repeat Business and Referrals: Strong business relationships can lead to repeat business and referrals. Plus, having a good rapport with key players can speed up approvals and other processes.

Better Team Functioning: When you collaborate with partners you have relationships with the whole team functions better. It’s like playing in a band where everyone knows their part.

Collaboration is Key: Collaboration and deal-making are paramount in land and commercial brokerage. Strong relationships are the foundation of this collaboration.

Social Business: Business is a social act. The network of team members can greatly influence the success or failure of a project. Remember, it takes a village to raise a development.

Driving Results and Productivity: Relationships drive impressive results and boost productivity. When trust and understanding are high, the wheels of progress turn faster and smoother.

The most effective business relationships are rooted in mutual trust, sincere listening, and productive back-and-forth conversation. By prioritizing the ongoing management of relationships, CRE brokers can ensure a steady flow of business and build a formidable reputation in the commercial real estate market. This goes beyond just closing deals; it is about forming lasting partnerships that create opportunities for future success.

A Real-World Example

Let me share a story to illustrate the power of relationships. In 2024, I closed a large commercial land transaction (20 acres) for a national restaurant group. We were under the gun with a very short due diligence timeframe. To reassure my client that their development would go smoothly, I rallied the city planner, code enforcement, utility CEO, public works, and even our previous mayor (the new mayor had not taken office yet) for an all-hands-on deck meeting.

Why did they all show up? Because we had strong relationships built on trust and past teamwork. They trusted that I cared about our city and would only bring in top-notch developers and retail operators. Without those relationships, pulling this off would have been nearly impossible.

So, next time you are working on a deal, remember that building bridges, not walls, can make all the difference. Relationships are the secret sauce to success in the land and commercial real estate world. Keep fostering them, and you will see the results speak for themselves.

Shawn Massey is an adjunct professor at The University of Memphis where he teaches a graduate class in real estate development and undergraduate/graduate in real estate investment. When he is not teaching, he is a full-time retail real estate advisor with TSCG. He holds the following designations CCIM, ALC through the National Association of Realtors and CRRP, CLS, SCLS designations through ICSC. To contact Shawn Massey please call (901) 461-7070 or via email at shawn.massey@tscg.com

About the Author

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