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There’s No Substitute for Leg Work in Real Estate by George Grace

There’s No Substitute for Leg Work in Real Estate

I was at a networking event recently where we were asked to do an intellectual exercise. The speaker posed the question: If you had a magic wand, what would you change—even if it was disruptive—to make your life better? The point of the exercise was to get us thinking about our businesses and the services we offer from a different perspective.

As I listened to other people respond, I had a realization: there can never be a magic wand in the real estate business. That is because what separates real estate from most other industries is that finding the customer is only the beginning.

Every space out there is unique from a variety of perspectives—and this is especially true in New York, where there are old buildings and new buildings, good locations and not-so-good locations. And a good location may be one thing for one client, but bad for another.

For example, I was recently viewing some spaces with a representative from a company, based in California, that was unhappy with a location it had inherited—a space that was obtained by the prior management. Evidently, the deciding factor in choosing the building was its proximity to a key executive’s apartment. While that must have been convenient for the executive, the space did not work for the company because the location did not help them attract, or retain, employees. It quickly became a critical issue as the business languished.

Once we started looking at other properties, the client revealed something very important: staff at the company would be working well into the night because of the time difference between New York and California—which meant that it would need to be in control of its air conditioning, which in turn would dictate what kind of buildings were suitable.

In real estate, you have to pound the pavement with the client to find out things such as this—things that clients do not always remember or reveal while sitting down in an office. As nice as the exercise of imagining a magic wand was, I didn’t find it particularly useful for real estate professionals. The value that we bring to our clients is the result of an extreme attention to detail, including:

  • Listening to what the clients say;
  • Seeing how they react nonverbally in real time; and 
  • Integrating what we’ve learned with everything we already know, so that when we go out the next time it will be more focused on the types of properties that meet their needs.

If you have any questions about this process, contact me.

George Grace

George E. Grace
G.E. Grace & Company, Inc.
232 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016