Broker of the Month: Mike Wafer, Jr., Associate Director, Newmark Knight Frank

Wafer and his team worked on Crossroads Commerce Park, a modern, master-planned development of nearly one million-square-feet of Class A industrial space, situated near the prime interchange of Interstates 25 and 70 in Denver.
Associate Director Mike Wafer, Jr., NKF.

Newmark Knight Frank (NKF) Associate Director Mike Wafer, Jr. specializes in providing tenant, landlord and investment representation services focusing on the industrial/flex market throughout the Denver metropolitan area. He has expertise in complex build-to-suits, business park development and redevelopment assets. In 2018, Wafer participated in 45 transactions and has increased year-over-year production by an average of 50 percent annually over the past five years.

1. What kind of mentorship, if any, do you foster at your firm?

NKF recognizes and promotes the importance of mentorship opportunities at all levels, and as the youngest person on my team, I am acutely connected to the importance and value of those relationships in the commercial real estate industry. The guidance and insight that I have received from top industry and brokerage professionals within the NKF office as well as developers and investors has proven invaluable in my growth in the commercial real estate industry. Through organizing coffee and lunches and attending industry events, I have been able to build strong relationships and seek meaningful advice from tenured brokers that I respect. Based on my experience as a mentee, I want to apply all that I have learned to my future as a mentor in the commercial real estate industry. Being open about the strategies and experiences that have helped me to earn business in my first five years is something that I share with my peers and younger brokers at NKF.

2. What was a defining moment and/or turning point in your career in the commercial real estate (CRE) market?

One of the turning points in my career was the completion of the first transaction that I sourced and managed from start to finish. My client – who was operating with four different leases in two different locations with varying lease expirations and terms –
wanted to purchase a new space and consolidate operations. Our team identified a building with the client’s desired features and after complex negotiations, we took a creative approach and restructured the transaction financing to utilize a seller-carry loan. This commercial real estate transaction, and the work done to execute it, was an exceptional win for all parties involved. Seeing the client’s reaction and satisfaction with our creative problem solving and hard work was extremely rewarding. The seller was so pleased with the results that he hired me to dispose of another one of his assets in 2018, and, in 2019, I am working with the buyer again on acquiring a second facility to service Northern Colorado.

Experiencing my hours of work coming to fruition in an excellent result for my client gave me confidence in my abilities to undertake complex transactions. Playing an important role in helping a local entrepreneur aggressively grow his business likely resulted in a lifetime client.

3. What has been one of the greatest challenges you have overcome in your career in the CRE market?

I find some of the greatest challenges in my career to be when a transaction falls apart for reasons completely out of my control, especially after months of significant time invested. In situations such as these, I have learned that one of the best qualities a brokerage professional can have is to be flexible and always put the client’s needs and goals first, regardless of your own expectations for a transaction.

Ultimately, the relationships being built with clients are the most important part of the commercial real estate industry. It is hard to quantify the time spent making impressions, prospecting, following up and building relationships with clients; all of these actions compound on one another and you begin to see opportunities come along due to the credibility and momentum you have established.

4. What impact, if any, have you seen in the surrounding community based on the support you provide to your clients?

The work that my team and I did on the Crossroads Commerce Park development in north Denver had a resounding impact in the surrounding Denver community. The site, located at the interchange of I-25 and I-70, was a former brownfield site. When we began the project, the site was a raw piece of land and over a three-year time span, we worked with the developer to complete ten modern buildings to become a Class A business park. Through the marketing, leasing and sale of the assets, our team played an important role in the overall efforts to help redefine a formerly contaminated site and the Globeville neighborhood. The project brought significant improvements to infrastructure as well as hundreds of local jobs to the Globeville neighborhood.

Additionally, I strive to impact my community every day, by putting my clients’ needs first and providing a positive experience for all other parties involved in the transaction. I aim to apply the same work ethic, communication style and honest approach to all people — clients as well as parties on the other side of a transaction. This type of commitment to respecting and connecting with those in the commercial real estate community helps to make future transactions seamless and fun to be a part of.

5. Which transaction/project deal are you most proud of and why?

I have participated in several noteworthy transactions throughout my career. I am most proud of my work on Crossroads Commerce Park, mentioned above. Our team marketed, leased and sold nearly 1 million square feet of over a three-year span. The project was honored with several industry awards, including being named 2016 Industrial Development of the Year by NAIOP Colorado and 2017 Infill Project of the Year by the Urban Land Institute’s Colorado Chapter. My involvement from start to finish provided an invaluable learning experience.

6. What advice would you give commercial real estate brokers just entering the industry?

I would advise new brokers just entering the industry to connect with a great mentor or mentors. It is extremely important to learn through example, and teaming with a successful, well-respected team of senior brokers is invaluable to the learning process of a new broker. The experience I’ve gained and advice that my team has offered me throughout my career has been an important influence on who I am as a brokerage professional.

Additionally, prioritizing client needs before everything else is another extremely important aspect of being a successful real estate broker.

Lastly, I would recommend that brokers remain disciplined in business development endeavors and good practices, as well as setting aside time to prospect for new business.

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