The life and lessons of a CRE executive
Jeremy Neuer, Executive Vice President, New Jersey Capital Markets at CBRE Group, breaks down some of his biggest projects, unique challenges, and the importance of personal branding in corporate real estate (CRE).
CRE is an industry constantly on the forefront of innovation. As times and technology press forward, so do tenant and landlord expectations. Managing those expectations and providing clients with the spaces they need isn’t always easy — but it comes with the territory.
No one knows that better than Jeremy Neuer. As the Executive Vice President, New Jersey Capital Markets at CBRE, Neuer is an award-winning CRE executive whose journey in the industry started over 20 years ago. His extensive background has seen him work with tenants throughout the United States and some of New Jersey’s leading landlords. He now specializes in the sale of office and retail assets in the tri-state area. We caught up with Neuer to chat about his personal journey in the industry and some of the big lessons he’s learned along the way.
You’ve now moved on to working in capital markets. That said, out of the numerous projects you’ve spearheaded as a tenant and landlord representative, which one are you most proud of?
Candidate: Two years ago, I switched from the leasing side of the business to capital markets. However, if you want me to pick one deal from my leasing career, I certainly can. That said, what I’m most proud of overall is that there are companies I did dozens of deals with and landlords that I represented throughout several buildings, if not their whole portfolio.
If I was looking back as a whole at what I’m most proud of — it’s that. The fact that people trusted me and my partners over and over again because there are certainly a lot of options. When you get those repeat clients, it speaks to the job you did and how well you handled yourself along with your personal integrity. My repeat clients are what I’m most proud of in my career.
As far as a specific deal I’m proud of, the easiest and most predictable is the 340,000 square-foot space we did to anchor Bell Works in Holmdel, New Jersey for our client iCIMS. That was the largest deal on a square footage basis we did, but it also anchored an unbelievable redevelopment that is truly special in the central part of New Jersey. What Ralph Zucker and his team at Somerset Development have done there is nothing short of spectacular. To have a part in that with iCIMS and WorkWave, another tenant who we represented, is pretty cool — especially given the fact that I know some of the other tenants only went there because iCIMS signed on as the anchor.
Working in CRE also comes with a host of unique challenges and constant client demands. What would you describe as your biggest challenge on a personal level?
Candidate: Somebody once asked me “what is your biggest challenge in business?” This came from a client who was on the sales side for his organization and I knew he wanted a thoughtful answer. I thought it about it for about an hour or two as we toured properties together and I told him “my biggest challenge is having every client feel like they’re the most important one.” Nobody ever wants to hear “I’ll get to it after I get to this for someone else who is more important than you.” Even if you don’t say it that way — that’s all they hear.
The biggest challenge for me has really been trying to fit everybody’s needs into the course of a single day. I’ve had certain clients who’ve been more understanding of the fact that they weren’t my only client and some that were less understanding. Some didn’t care that I had a life outside the office. It’s really juggling those kinds of things, especially when I got to the point in life when I had kids. The work-life balance continues to be a challenge, but it always will be.
When you were still working as a tenant and landlord representative, what insights and metrics were CRE leaders using to manage their portfolios properly? How do you think those metrics have evolved?
Candidate: When I was still doing it, we used to talk about price per square-foot and near the end we were really looking at price per seat. How efficient can we be? How is the space being utilized? When you look at the options people have in today’s market, they’re more robust than they’ve ever been.
Companies are now looking at co-working facilities because they don’t want to spend the capital and figure out if their team is going to be happy in a particular market and neighborhood. Ten years ago, that didn’t exist. If you wanted to open an office in a town, you just went and opened it up. Now you’re seeing people have the opportunity to do what I’ll call “test cases.” They’ll put five people at a WeWork building in Charlotte and see if they can grow that group from five to twenty-five. When they get to twenty-five, then they can decide if they want to get their own space or just stay at WeWork.
I think it’d be irresponsible for me to say what corporate users are utilizing as metrics today. Given the presence of agile working and co-working solutions, it’s a whole new ball game. That being said, the smarter companies get it and understand why it’s such a great tool and the companies that don’t may be in a more challenging position.
You’re a unique figure in the CRE industry in that you operate your own blog with the tagline “corporate real estate with personality.” What was the inspiration behind starting NeuerSpace and how has it helped strengthen your personal brand?
Candidate: I was reading Bill Simmons all the time and his writing was a cross-section of sports and pop culture and he made it interesting. I wanted to do that for CRE and see if people wanted to read it. My voice and tone changed over time and it was a creative outlet for a while before it became something people looked forward to getting in their inbox or on LinkedIn, however they consumed it. When people tell you that it’s fun and cool, you just keep writing more.
We’re all trying to differentiate ourselves in some way, shape, or form. My personality lends itself to being out there a little bit. I don’t think I ever get hired because I write a good blog post, but it’s part of my brand awareness. If you spend the time to try to figure out who I am, it’s pretty easy.
When I’m interviewing someone in my office, if they haven’t tried to take the time to figure out who I am then I know that they haven’t done their homework. It’s the same way I’ll look someone up when I’m meeting with them. If someone walks into my office and starts talking about the Yankees, we can have a fifteen-minute conversation about that before I figured out that the interview has started. Now we have a rapport. To me, it’s a way for people who I may or may not be working with to gain insight into who I am.
Speaking of brand awareness, how important do you think having a digital footprint is in that regard? Do you think CRE brokers should be active on social media platforms and other digital outlets to attract clients?
Everybody has their own opinions. The most successful broker in my office has no social media or digital presence whatsoever. Zero. He doesn’t even have a LinkedIn account. I don’t think there’s one right or wrong way. There’s a right way for me and there’s a right way for him. It’s like music, I could tell you who my favorite band is and you could tell me who your favorite band is and we can exchange reasons why we love them, but at the end of the day — your opinion is yours and mine is mine.
Social media and digital presence are the same. Three social media consultants will tell you to do it three different ways. That broker who sits in the opposite corner from me in the office is making more money at CBRE in New Jersey than anyone else and you can barely Google him. He just lets his work speak for itself and that’s it.
Visit Jeremy’s blog NeuerSpace and follow him on Twitter for more CRE insights and opinions.
What do you think are the biggest challenges CRE professionals are facing today? Join the conversation and leave us a comment below.
Photos: Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay, Rawpixel, Rawpixel