Jim Lob: Commercial Real Estate and the American Dream

Jim Lob
Jim Lob

The other day at a real estate industry function, I looked around the room and didn’t recognize fully half of the attendees. It kind of shook me up a bit. It used to be that I knew virtually every single member at events, and if I didn’t, I made it a point to go introduce myself. Networking, you know? On reflection it occurs to me that this is a very, very good sign. Commercial real estate as an industry it now fully back as an alternative for graduates (or even non grads) to believe they can enter the business and succeed.

Thirty years ago I felt that way myself. Fresh out of Kansas University, I knew two buddies who had chosen to come to Dallas two years before me, and by all accounts, they were doing very well. What did they have that I didn’t, I asked myself? Likely nothing. So I decide to put on paper what it was that would allow me to achieve my goals. And how did that match up with what was happening in Dallas-Fort Worth?

The American Dream has been trashed a bit lately by college graduates, some media, some politicians and even some parents I know. Can our kids achieve this dream? Heck, does this generation even aspire to this? And are they willing to work as hard as necessary? Those are other questions entirely.

Can our kids have a higher quality of life and be better off than preceding generations? Is it possible to enter a career field with limited barriers to entry? And succeed? If you are willing to work hard and be persistent, can you find success without being raised with a silver spoon or in the right ZIP code?

I believe they can. Many professionals in our business are proclaiming this time as the best it’s ever been in North Texas for our industry! Lending, development, service providers, property management. Wow.

Job growth is steady in Texas. CMBS loans are at the highest level since 2006. The Small Business Administration loaned $595 million in DFW the first nine months of the fiscal year—up 37 percent for the region. Development is seen across most sectors, and office space absorption is tracking for a fantastic year. North Texas continues to be viewed as a magnet by corporations (i.e., the State Farm’s of the world).

It makes sense to me that many people want to get into this industry again. And that is a healthy sign. These young adults can find success, just as the preceding generations have. There are even some formalized training programs out there, in a business historically notorious for its “sink or swim” mentality. Our firm, DTZ has one of the best early-stage training programs I have ever seen. CBRE also has a program for mentoring and training talented young professionals.

This has always been a business where there is a direct correlation between a person’s hard work and an unlimited upside. And in my experience, the people who make up this industry are as interesting and driven a cross section of the human race as you will ever see. Every day is an adventure. And I personally love an adventure!

As senior vice president of UGL Services, Jim Lob co-manages the firm’s brokerage operations in Dallas. Contact him at [email protected]