If you are an attorney or a physician, or if you have friends in these professions, you are probably acutely aware that they spend a lot of time doing things that are not quite so glamorous as a weeknight television drama would suggest. For every “Matlock moment” in a rapt courtroom, attorneys file dozens of motions, type hundreds of memos and research thousands of cases. Similarly, most doctors spend more time writing prescriptions, reading X-rays and sewing up incisions than they do performing life-saving procedures.
If the mundane is such a big part of being a highly specialized professional, why do we tend to value them so much? The answer is expertise. When faced with a legal or medical problem, we need motions and prescriptions, and we turn to qualified professionals for those things. But more than this, we need counsel: Someone to assess (or diagnose) our situation, and then file just the right motion on our behalf or recommend the best treatment for our condition. This is the kind of insight that we are really paying for when we visit a doctor or lawyer.
Private investing—particularly in something like real estate—puts you in a very similar situation. To execute a commercial real estate sale or a lease transaction, you need a broker. But before getting to those steps, you need a trusted advisor to give you a diagnosis and prescribe a course of action. There are many things to think about before taking action. Just a few of these are:
- Investors’ goals, risk tolerances and liquidity needs
- Neighborhood-level economic and demographic trends
- The property’s fundamentals (rental income, occupancy, operating expenses, etc.)
- Future capital needs at the property
- Day-to-day management of the property
Why buy (or sell) a commercial property or sign a lease without first consulting someone who lives and breathes these complexities every day? It would be like stitching up your own wound or filing your own lawsuit. You might be able to get it done, but without the advice of an expert, the result will probably be painful.