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Tips for success in commercial real estate: 2020

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We’ve updated our Tips for Success in Commercial Real Estate post from 2013 with new tips for 2020!

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to succeed in commercial real estate, we’re sharing advice from some of our successful Holladay associates. There are a variety of tips on everything from how to start, to how to when to quit.

Read on to gain the kind of knowledge that usually only comes with experience…in both success and failure. 


“There will always be a million reasons why you *can’t* do a project. Focus on the reasons you *can*.”

– Chase Smith, Developer (Indianapolis, IN)


“Tip # 1: Make triple sure you control the dirt before you start spending any real money.”

–  Drew Mitchell, Vice President – Development (LaGrange, IL)


“Real estate is a long-term asset and success does not happen overnight.  Instant gratification is rare in our business, so focus on milestones to keep momentum moving forward.”

– Allen Arender, Executive Vice President – Development (Nashville, TN)


“Get to know the local jurisdiction where the project is located. Understanding permit process, fees, inspections, utility providers and all the nuances that go with each is vital information when completing the project budget and schedule. Don’t proforma the least cost or the shortest time provided — those can be hooks that reel you in! Be prepared for the project to face the opposite. Don’t underestimate these aspects that you cannot control.”

– Manette Tepe, Senior Vice President – Development (South Bend, IN)


“Tip # 2: Everything takes longer than you’d expect.”

–  Drew Mitchell, Vice President – Development (LaGrange, IL)


“Always ask questions, even of the experts, and seek niches that the crowds may not see.”

– Allen Arender, Executive Vice President – Development (Nashville, TN)


“Place special emphasis on assembling a great project team. The project team will play a vital role in determining the overall success of any project.  They will touch and shape the project from concept to completion and have a big impact on the overall quality of the project, including budget and schedule. So be proactive when it comes to engaging the various engineering/design consultants and contractors that will be needed to ensure your project is a success.”

– Ryan Kelly, Vice President – Planning & Design (Portage, IN)


“Tip # 3: Don’t be afraid to kill a project — even if you’re in love with it — when foreseeable hurdles become too great.”

–  Drew Mitchell, Vice President – Development (LaGrange, IL)


“Be patient and persevere.  Deals are a long and winding road that sometimes run into walls.  Stay with it and you will eventually reach your destination of a closing or a leased property.””

–  David W. Holt, Vice President – Development and Community Affairs (Indianapolis, IN)


And one more, from our company’s founder:


We hope you have enjoyed this edition of Tips for success in commercial real estate. We plan to bring you many more tips in the future as we work toward our vision of being a 100-year old company. We can’t achieve that goal without success in commercial real estate, and we are always happy to pass on our knowledge to others, and to enrich lives through investment and service.

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