Working it out in a new market

By Jennifer LeClaire


If the first principle of real estate success is location, the second principle is relationships. Particularly in a market that’s inching its way back from collapse, where business as usual no longer works, local real estate leaders recite that mantra as a path to survival.
“Your perspective has to be about the client’s business as opposed to just doing the deal,” said Tere Blanca, president & CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate in Miami. “You have to [take] the time to understand client goals so you can continually look out for your client’s interests.”
Exceptional service is rooted in demonstrating enthusiasm for clients, prospects and every other relationship, according to Blanca. Relationships, trust, service, experience and attitude may sound like a simple formula, she said, but the strength is in the basics.

From architects to attorneys to power brokers, the themes that run through South Florida’s industry shop talk today are relationships, passion, trust, service and experience. It’s still about a close, but the means, in these days of scant opportunity, are more important than the end.

John Sumberg, managing partner at the Miami law firm Bilzin Sumberg, said that level of attentiveness goes beyond the relationships you already have. He said his attorneys get out in the community and actively work on developing new relationships and strengthening existing ones. In so many words, they have to adapt or die.

“A lot of investors and developers are changing their models, so there’s an opportunity for brokers, lawyers and others to develop relationships around those changes,” Sumberg said. “You have to be out there building relationships more than ever before.”


In terms of changing models, Sumberg said working with distressed properties on such a large scale creates new opportunities, but only if these new paths can be navigated. Banks and other lenders are understaffed, which gives brokers an opening to make things happen for them as conduits to developers who need profitable workout strategies.

Workouts, it appears, are South Florida’s new condo towers. Jack Studnicky, a vice president at International Sales Group, an Aventura-based luxury broker who has worked with several Trump Properties, did his first workout in 1975, leaving him with a unique perspective on today’s distressed market.

“Experience is important, and so are relationships and trust,” Studnicky said. “Emotions generally run high when people are fighting over big money. People have to know you are going to do what’s best for their business. Every deal requires individual analysis.”

Bernard Zyscovich, president of Zyscovich Architects, a Miami-based architecture firm that developed the master plans for Downtown Miami and Midtown Miami, also adds experience to the relations-trust equation. With fewer buildings to design, he said, clients are looking for architecture firms that go the extra mile — and then some.

“Things are tough out there. People need to know they can trust you. You need experience and relationships,” Zyscovich said. “And it’s not just enough to provide good service anymore. You have to provide exceptional service.”

“Persistence, discipline, perseverance — all of these things are vital to surviving and thriving in this economy,” Blanca said. “This is the equation for business success. Every cycle represents opportunities for success. You just have to be proactive.”