Keys To Success in Chicago’s Commercial Real Estate Market. Lessons and Advice from Managing Broker Brian Kochendorfer

January 26, 2021

Welcome to “Five Questions,” a monthly series where Essex Realty Group, Inc. brokers share their observations and experiences gained while working in Chicago’s real estate world. This month we are getting to know Essex Managing Broker Brian Kochendorfer.

Introduction: Brian joined Essex Realty Group, Inc. in 2014 as a broker focused on the sale of multifamily investment properties throughout the Chicagoland area. He led the firm’s suburban team and closed more than $650 million in transactions throughout his career. In 2021, after 14 years working as a broker, Brian was promoted to Managing Broker, where he is responsible for company operations and training Essex’ Analysts and Directors. Prior to joining Essex, Brian worked as a Senior Advisor for the Chicago office of SVN.

Brian graduated from Columbia College in 2001 with a degree in Business Management.

Q: Why were you interested in starting a career in real estate?

Brian: My interest in real estate began at a young age when my parents owned a 6-unit multifamily building. When I was in grade school it was my responsibility to mow the lawn and clean up around the property on the weekends. This was my first introduction to owning and operating investment property. As I learned more about investment real estate, it always intrigued me that you could own property that other people paid for while building equity and receiving cash flow. After college, my first job was in the insurance industry. I worked in this field for most of my 20’s, but I was always drawn to real estate and investing and thought that being a broker was a great way to start a career in the industry. So in 2007 I joined a suburban firm and have been in the industry ever since!

Q: Tell me about one major difference between being a broker today vs. 2007, when you first started?

Brian: When I started in real estate in 2007, it was right before the great recession and technology was just starting to make an impact on the industry. At that time, the senior brokers at my company were still using the phone book and their rolodexes to reach out to retail tenants and property owners. Now there is such an overwhelming amount of technology that you can incorporate into your business that you need to be careful not to spend too much time trying to learn the new tools that are available.

Q: If you could teach someone starting as a broker tomorrow just one thing, what would it be?

Brian: One thing I try to engrain into my team members and new brokers starting out is to remember to focus on the process and not the results. Brokerage is all about consistency, especially during the first couple of years when you are building your relationships. The people who do the right things day in and day out are the ones who set themselves up for long-term success.

Q: Has the global market opened up opportunities for investors to invest in Chicago over the last 30 years?

Brian: Absolutely! Just in the last 24 months, we have sold properties to investors from Israel, Asia, and Canada. The vast array of opportunities available, favorable pricing, and economic stability are all reasons investors are coming to the US from all over the world. Chicago and the Midwest still offer a hybrid of cash flow and appreciation for a lower cost than many east and west coast markets, which make us competitive nationally.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not doing brokerage?

Brian: Skiing is my favorite thing to do when I need to unwind. Being in the mountains is so relaxing to me and I love the whole atmosphere of ski towns. I try to spend 6-8 days on the mountains each winter and it gives me a chance to unplug a little and come back feeling refreshed (and a little sore).

Since 1990, Essex Realty Group, Inc. has served Chicago’s investment real estate market as a top multifamily real estate brokerage firm. Contact us to learn more about our recent Chicagoland multifamily and mixed-use property sales and talk to a Chicago multifamily broker today.

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