Switching from Residential to Commercial Real Estate

Renae Virata | April 3, 2015 | Real Estate Agent Industry Reports

Switching from Residential to Commercial Real EstateHave you ever thought about switching from residential to commercial real estate? Depending on where you live (Houston and Dallas, for example), commercial real estate can prove quite lucrative. But there are some things you should know before changing your real estate focus so you don’t have any surprises.

Commercial vs. Residential Real Estate

Commercial real estate is obviously different from residential real estate for many reasons. First, it’s all about business. When you help a client buy or sell a home, you have to consider their emotions – which can be emotionally draining for you. However, if you like the personal relationship-building that results and you care deeply about taking part in a client’s life changes, then commercial real estate may not be a good option for you. Of course, selling commercial properties involves working with people and lots of great people, but most of the transactions will boil down to the numbers.


Speaking of people, do you like networking? Many commercial real estate brokers, especially new ones who don’t have a strong list of leads to start with, rely heavily on pressing the flesh and making connections. This means joining commercial real estate associations, attending them regularly and partnering with real estate investors and people in other commercial service fields to start generating faster, more meaningful leads.

A Whole New Animal

Keep in mind, too, that you need to invest quite a bit of time on the front end knowing a whole new area of real estate and the market you are working in, from the kinds of clients you’ll be dealing with, how they think, their motivations to different factors that need to be considered like zoning and more complex permits that commercial deals require. And while different types of residential properties are similar in scope and purpose, commercial real estate has more disjointed property types that you’ll have to know inside and out. It’s also worth getting certified as a commercial real estate professional to give you the most credibility and knowledge to give your leads confidence.

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As much patience as residential real estate requires, you need a fair amount in the commercial sector, too. The lead time from meeting to closing is a lot longer (though the fees are, of course, much larger). It may give you a lot of time to prospect, but you’ll need time at the beginning to build your list and see results further down the road.

Also, as you are dealing with business professionals as opposed to clients on a personal level, you won’t be expected to respond immediately at all times of the day.

Changing your real estate career from residential to commercial may seem easier than diving in cold turkey, but, especially if you’ve been in the residential market for years, you’ll have to not only learn a whole new ballgame but switch your perspective and frame of mind, too.

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Renae Virata